275. Sunday 7th October 2012. I get a little further North each week…

Monday 1st October

I woke to a temperature of 5°!!!

I had expected when I moved away from the mountains and Spring had arrived it would be warmer. So far that has only been the case for a day in my most recent travels. The heater struggled to warm up the inside of WWWGO enough that I could eat breakfast without shivering uncontrollably. I planned to move to Ariah Park (pronounced AREA) around 90 klms north west of Coolamon. Instead of just driving the straight line via Wagga Road I headed west on the Canola Road which parallels the railway line and passed through the towns of Ganmain,

Way back in the heyday of the Golden Grain harvest (wheat) Gainman was a thriving town and the local pub, the Farmers Home Hotel was a reflection of the wealth of the town. Now, sadly, the wealth has gone, the town is in decline and the pub is just crumbling having been abandoned some years ago.

Matong and Grong Grong.

At Grong Grong as with all the towns along this stretch of railway line, passenger services no longer operate or if they do it is only once a week at widely spaced stations. For example there is a station at Coolamon and the next is Griffith 150 klms to the west, no longer stopping at the small towns. Most towns have kept the station buildings as an historical site. Grong Gong lost not only the station building but all the platforms and other associated infrastructure. All that is left is one of the signs.

(Doncha luv that name? Grong Grong!)

The Royal Hotel at Grong Grong is still active and the two styles of architecture reflect changing times and financial stability.

The land for the most part is flat and stretches away to the horizon in all directions. Most land is cultivated with wheat, canola, barley and lupins. At Grong Grong I picked up the Newell Hwy through to Ardlethan the home of the original Kelpie dog

Ardlethan lays claim to the home of the breed of dog known as a Kelpie. Another town in Victoria claims ownership of the breed but only Ardlethan is on the Purebred Register.

Towns in the area seem to have had a puritanical streak in the population and hotels and liquer licenses were opposed. This building started life as a Coffee Shop with accomodation. When you think about the cost of building and maintaining a large building like this you would have to sell a lot of coffee and in such a small town that would be a big ask, to cover expenses. Ardlethan was once a thriving community, with railway station and many silver and gold mines in the district. The building became a pub somehwere along the line but this is another closed pub and the building is falling into ruin, much like many of the other buildings in town.

By contrast the London Hotel on the outskirts of town and on the other side of the railway tracks is doing great. Mind you, town is small and you could walk from one end to the other in a few minutes.

and from there drove through to Ariah Park

Campsite at the sportsgrounds in the town of Ariah park.

the home of Wowsers, Bowsers and Peppercorn trees. Ariah Park lives in a self-proclaimed 1920’s time warp. Most of the shops are closed and window spaces have become window dressed with items of furniture, clothing, food and artefacts from the 1920’s including old petrol bowsers. Each window or yard display uses a different theme of the 1920 lifestyle. The story of the wowsers goes something like this. It seems that sometime in the early part of the last century the local publican was disliked. Some citizens tried to obtain a liquor license to open another pub. Of course the publican opposed the application and had enough support from the community (locals say he enlisted the support of the strong Methodist Church group of teetotallers to take the matter to court. He and the Wowsers won and to this day there is only one pub in town and believe me it is struggling. The petrol bowsers came later as did the imported Indian Peppercorn Trees. I walked around the town and in the space of 200 metres, the length of the main street I counted 10 very old bowsers. It was sad to see the degeneration of all these towns and the local agriculture no longer needs manual labour and many of the wheat silos are no longer used.

Tuesday 2nd October

For such a small town, Ariah Park has about 10 of these old bowsers lining the street. Of course none of them operate and most seemed be outside any store which wanted to sell fuel.

Look at the price of the last sale it was in dollars and cents which makes it after 1966 when Oz converted to decimal currency but is in gallons which is before Oz completed metrification in 1988. There it sits, locked in time mocking our fuel prices of today and a reminder that once upon a time the price of fuel was not a daily topic of conversation.

I used today to do nothing. Well, not all nothing. I did drive into town and walk around looking at the empty shops and feeling even sadder than I felt yesterday as I looked at the other old towns falling further into oblivion. I walked into a grocery store to buy some milk. The huge barn like interior had so little stock I thought at first it must be a museum store. Even the milk in the fridge was out of date! Two other couples had arrived in their caravans yesterday and we struck up a conversation and enjoyed happy hour together. The day was sunny and hot but as the afternoon shadows crept in after 4pm a chill breeze arrived.

The street and central park diving the road was planted with Peppercorn Trees imported from India. Strangely it does give the feeling of an Indian background especially on hot days.

Wednesday 3rd October

Decided to stay another day and move to Temora tomorrow.

Thursday 4th October

Hi Ho Hi Ho it’s off to Temora I go.

The plan was to do a grocery shopping trip, top up with diesel, empty the toilet cassette and set up camp for the night at the showgrounds. I got all those things done and moved into the showgrounds. I must mention the showgrounds campsite at $15 per night must be one of the worst I have encountered. The showers or toilets appear not to have been cleaned, at least in this financial year, the campsites are a long way from the toilets and there is no lighting at night, except for a switch inside which you can turn on and off. That is no help when you are walking in the darkness. I thought I would move on tomorrow to West Wyalong but after discussion with other campers I have a new plan in mind.

Friday 5th October

In the morning I watched the harness racing trainers put the horse through their paces on the track.

Harness Racing or Trotting as it is commonly known is big in Temora. Training goes on every morning. Note the little puffs of dust kicked up by the hooves but not by the wheels.

As part of the new plan I drove back to Ariah Park to camp for another two nights. WWWGO is parked in the same before I left yesterday. The plan is to stay here two nights so I can visit the Temora Aviation Museum  ( http://www.aviationmuseum.com.au/ ) and see the air show on Saturday. Admittedly it is a 35 klm drive each way but it is better than staying at the Temora Showgrounds and cheaper than staying at the caravan park.

Today was very hot. I dressed in shorts and singlet and thought if this is spring, summer is going to be very hot.

Saturday 6th October

Overnight the temperature dropped and a few spasmodic drops of rain fell. The aviation museum was interesting as we the flying displays of a half dozen planes. The theme today was “from trainer to fighter”. For some reason I thought there was an annual air show but the museum has air displays on the first and third Saturday each month. Of all the planes on show and in flight the one I enjoyed most was the Spitfire.

SPITFIRE. Nuff said.

Its clean lines, sleek appearance and throaty exhaust note would appeal to any aircraft enthusiast. It seems the most difficult task in flying the Spitfire is landing. The nose must be kept up to avoid the prop hitting the runway which means the pilot cannot see over the nose and has to watch the runway via peripheral vision. Just look at the photo and you can see why vision from the cockpit is so difficult.

BIRD DOG. All aircraft enthusiasts please forgive me if get the names of the planes incorrect.





I seem to have a fascination with old houses. When I was a kid we called them “haunted houses” and scared ourselves silly. Now I am more interested in knowing the history of the house and why it is abandoned.

From the highway, zipping past at 100kph this house still looks “norma”. It is far from normal and gradually returning to mother earth.

Sunday 7th October

Daylight Saving madness began today. As I started to pack ready for departure I developed a bad nose bleed which brought my activity to a halt for an hour while trying to bring it under control.  Finally at midday I was away to join the Newell Highway and follow it to West Wyalong. I found a busy town with food shops and bakeries open on a Sunday.

Once, when I worked for the Commercial Bank of Australia I knew the location of all 138 branches in NSW. Alphabetically! Here is the West Wyalong branch now sadly abandoned, even the local council no longer uses it.

A vast difference in comparison with Temora with all shops closed Saturday afternoon. I enjoyed a walk along the zig zag main street which according to history was originally built that way to avoid chopping down any trees. That is a pity as 120 years later the trees are all gone anyway.

The Globe Hotel. One of about eight in the short stretch of zig zag main street.

Doncha just love the name some wag has given this business? It is Thoms Building on Thoms Corner so the business gets called Thom Dick & Harry.

Gold was found and mined at nearby Wyalong but later as the gold gave out West Wyalong was established as the centre for the grain industry. When a railway line was proposed, both towns fought to have the station in their bailiwick. Common sense prevailed when the station was agreed on midway between the two towns and Central Wyalong was established. Another pity really as only goods trains run here now.

I found the showgrounds where I intended to stay the night but the price has jumped to $15 per night and the dustbowl and unfriendly looking caretaker and his three wild dogs convinced me it was not a place to stay. Besides, not one motorhome or caravan was camped there. That was enough for me so I set course to Forbes another 90 klms to the north. On the Newell Highway I saw my first serious hills in the distance. For several days since leaving Mt. Beauty the land has been mainly flat, disappearing into the distance with crops. Now the hills and the varying countryside, including wetlands has provided welcome change in the driving routine.

Forbes is another town among many in NSW, Victoria and Queensland which sprang up as a result of gold being found, prospected and coaxed from the earth. No wonder Australia was known as an El Dorado 150 years ago.I arrived on the outskirts and found many fellow travellers camped on the banks of the Lachlan River in a free campsite.

Camped beside the Lachlan River at Forbes. You can see the river to the left of WWWGO.

No power, no toilets, no water, no lights, no showers but a wonderful spot. Most of the other people camped here are waiting for the gates to open on Tuesday at the old racetrack 34 klms out of town for a Country Music Festival.


It costs $60 per person until Sunday but no power or tap water or showers. There will be lots of good music. Will my batteries and solar panels keep me going that long?

Lots of Hmmming and Hmmming before I make that decision although one camper gave me the negative when he cranked up his generator, at sundown, with  little consideration for other campers. Two other lots of campers also said they were going to the festival and yes, they would be using their generators.

Why the #2%^ don’t they use the genie in daylight hours and charge up the batteries when people are not trying to settle down for the night?


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6 Responses to “275. Sunday 7th October 2012. I get a little further North each week…”

  1. Red Nomad OZ (@RedNomadOZ) Says:

    Ardlethan may have the purebred register, but Coleraine (I think) has the Kelpie festival!

    Grong Grong is SO COOL! Joan over at ‘Sweet Wayfaring’ might appreciate your pic of the Royal Hotel – she ‘collects’ Royals! Check my profile blogs followed for details if you’re interested!


    • frankeeg Says:

      Hi Red, yeah the people at Ardlethan said there was some kind of disagreemwent about Kelpies. I will have a look for Joans site and send her a link to this post or maybe even send her the original photos. Cheers


  2. Nicole Says:

    The pub in Ardlethan you have named the Royal is actually the “London”hotel


    • frankeeg Says:

      Well picked up Nicole, thanks for that. I must have been up late that night and a bit brain tired. I have now edited the photo. Thanks again and looking forward to any other comments as you read further. Cheers


  3. Mary-Therese Edgerle Says:

    I am an Aussie living on the island of Guam half way between Australia’s north and Japan. I happened on your story and loved it. I grew up at Blackheath on the Blue Mountains, spending many school holidays at Condobolin visiting Forbes and West Wyalon Parkes and the near by towns. My mother knew all those towns history well and we always took time out to see headstones and other relative historical sites. I nursed at Coolamon Ganmain hospital in the mid 60’s and use to go to all football matches on weekends at the towns you mentioned. In those days the little towns seemed very lively and we had lots of fun. Sad to hear they are now very sleepy. I feel very blessed to have been part of era. Thank you for your detailed sharing I enjoyed it.


    • frankeeg Says:

      Hello Mary-Therese, thanks for your comments and thank you for reading the blog. I hope you take the time to read all of it. I took a month to travel from Mt.Beauty in Victoria to Guyra in NSW. I visited many of the small western NSW towns and felt privileged to visit them and see them before many disappear. What I found in western NSW is true of many small towns in all states. It is sad to see the decline. Part of my reason for visiting those towns was I once worked in the correspondence department of a bank. I knew all the NSW branches of the bank alphabetically. The trip was to try to visit as many of the 137 branches and photograph them before the buildings totally disappear. Parkes is a case in point. The town is thankfully, growing. Part of that growth, unfortunately, meant some buildings disappeared to make way for a new shopping mall. The bank branch I was looking for is gone and the location is a shopping centre.


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