Archive for November, 2012

284. Let’s go on a pub crawl…

26/11/2012

In our travels we have seen many pubs…mostly from the outside. Some we have had a cool refreshing ale or two. Some we have had a meal with the ale. In no particular order and nothing special about the pub except that it is a pub. The older the better. Even better if it is the only pub in town. Sometimes it is the town. Enough of the build up and chitter chatter. Lets get on with the pub crawl.

The Railway Hotel Barcaldene. So named because it is across the street from the railway station. It is also across the street from the tree of Knowledge. Perhaps it should have been named Tree of Knowledge Hotel!

Holbrook is one of the few towns in New South Wales where the Hume Highway passes through the main street of town. (Not for long though as a bypass is being constructed) The first pub when travelling from the north is, strangely enough, called, The Holbrook Hotel.

Holbrook Hotel.

Pioneer Valley west of Mackay boasts many small towns most with their own pub despite the small size of the town or village. This came about due to the old days of sugar cane harvesting when the cane was cut by hand and small armies of men came to town for the harvest (also known as “the crush”) Each settlement needed a local pub to satisfy the needs of the thirsty workers.

 

One of a dozen hotels in the Mackay CBD is the Palace Hotel. Mackay is beside the Pioneer River which runs through the Pioneer Valley where many of the small towns are located.

The first pub “up the valley” was the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel at Walkerston.

Still in Walkerston is the O’Sheas Hotel.

 

Rebuilt on the site of the original pub in the canefields is the Pioneer Valley Hotel at Gargett.

 

Only five kilometres from Gargett is the village of Pinnacle with its famous pub. Cricket grounds are beside the pub which is famous for its award winning pies….and cold beer of course. I have had many of both here.

At the end of the Pioneer Valley and at the top of the range is the Chalet at Eungella. Spectacular views of the valley can be seen from the hotel and its beer garden, swimming pool and hang glider launching ramp.

Harrigans Hotel in the centre of the Hunter Valley Wine district.

Nindigully Hotel is one of those places where the pub is the town. Famous for its giant burgers and huge meals. Worth a visit for a meal, a beer and a look at the photos and memorabillia.

Lets go on another pub crawl  real soon.

 

 

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283. Sunday 25th November 2012. A week of thunder storms in New England…

25/11/2012

Monday 19th November

Garden duties was the order of the day and nuthin’ else to report.

Tuesday 20th November.

Today was a bit more exciting.

In the morning I visited the local doctor who used me for target practise with his liquid nitrogen gun. I have several sun cancers which were burned and all going well they will scab up and fall off over the weekend.

In the afternoon I drove to Armidale to visit the University of New England…UNE. I was looking for a book on the history of the Commercial Bank of Australia Limited. Briefly the bank was established in 1860 and in 1982 merged with the Bank of New South Wales and in the merger a new name was formed, Westpac. Both banks lost over 100 years of history in the merger. I was interested because I worked for the bank when I left school in 1960. In our travels throughout New South Wales I have photographed some of the old branch buildings which are still standing. I had expected the book would give a list of all the branches but after finally finding the book I was disappointed there was no such list.

Wednesday 21st November

Today was trimming overgrown garden shrubs and cutting grass. Then I put the awning out on WWWGO and set up mats outside the door and set up a row of solar LED lights and generally make the area look neat and lived in.

WWWGO set up behind the rose bushes and honeysuckle vine.

Thursday 22nd November

Today I drove with Greg to Armidale where we both visited CentreLink. Now without going into details I will just report that as usually occurs when I visit one of these Government offices, I come away less than happy. Without going into a full scale rant I will just say today was no exception to the rule. Apart from getting some grocery items and a new set of very nice rubber floor mats for TERIOS we had lunch at the – of all places – the St.Kilda Hotel.

On the drive home we could see another of those pesky thunderstorms building up across the range. We arrived home in time to ensure windows and hatches were closed before the thunder, lightning, wind and rain began.

Friday 23rd November

Another quiet day of garden duties and or general loafing around.

Saturday 24th November

Today was, well today was a day which made up for all the apparent non happening of the rest of the week. Today I drove to Inverell 88 klms west of Guyra.

About 10klms out of Guyra is a location known as Wandsworth. Of the five houese, two have been abandoned.

Not far out of town I came across two lots of cattle feeding on the grass verge of the road. This is often referred to as the “Long Paddock” or more officially a “Travelling Stock Route”.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stock_route

It is wise to slow down as there are hundreds of big beefy cattle on the roadside edges and they are prone to skittishness and run in front of a car. In fact I had one bull do just that…luckily I was down to 40Kph and was able to avoid a collision.

The cattle come right to the edge of the road.

Sixty six Klms from Guyra is the small, once prosperous, tin mining town of Tingha.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tingha,_New_South_Wales

Tin is no longer mined although a new exploration license has been issued and exploration is expected to commence in 2013. Tingha is supposedly an Aboriginal word meaning “flat or level”. Well, I am here to tell you it is anything but flat or level.

Rocks high up on Guyra Hill above the town of Tingha.

In some respects the town reminds me of a smaller less affluent version of Lightning Ridge (see our Post 159).

Royal Hotel, Tingha. Most of the other shops have murals painted on them.

Many houses are constructed (or thrown together) in as a cheap and easy method as possible, the moonscape of holes and mullock heaps and the general dusty look about the town.

A house being enclosed by concrete blocks. It seems small mining towns such as Tingha, Ruby Vale and Lightning Ridge have at least one house being built in an “individual style”.

I was intrigued by the many waterholes, pools, dams, ponds and man-made watercourses. It seems these are the remnants of mines which are no longer worked and have been flooded. The best example is what is called the swimming hole which is bigger than a football field and very deep according to the locals I spoke with. The water has an emerald green tinge to it. The locals call it a blue tinge. View the photo and make your own choice.

Tingha Swimming Hole in the flooded remains of a tin mine.

Tingha Swimming Hole.

On the way out of town on the Inverell side is a sign to The Old Mill. What the heck, it’s only 4 klms off the main road. I arrived at Old Mill which is not an historic site or relic at all. It is a small settlement (the locals call it a village but there is no shop) of a half dozen 5 acre blocks with handyman houses built on them.

Another 10 Klms closer to Inverell is the smaller and dustier town of Gilgai.  Tin mining was carried on here and there are some holes in the ground filled with water although I am not sure if the town name is a result of mine waterholes or natural waterholes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilgai   This was another town famous and wealthy during the heady tin mining days.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilgai,_New_South_Wales

Inverell itself is another established mining town better known for diamonds, sapphires, zircon and yes tin, to name a few. They call the town variously “Sapphire City”, “Gem City” or even “Diamond City” and it sits beside the McIntyre River. One of the first buildings to catch my eye as I drove into Inverell was the once famous landmark, Byron Arcade, built 1901 and destroyed by 2010.   http://newenglandaustralia.blogspot.com.au/2010/01/fire-guts-inverell-historic-byron.html

Fire ravaged Byron Arcade.

A chat with locals reveals the town is still doing OK but some fringe type businesses have closed. Although the locals would not agree, it would seem there is a problem with anti-social behaviour as Closed Circuit TV cameras have been set up on main intersections and business district. The cameras were only finally installed this week.

Some locals believe they do not have a social problem but why else were CCTV installed?

There are lots of nice old buildings in town and it is worth another visit to see the places I never had time for today.

Courthouse.

Look at the date the Oxford Hotel was established. 1886.

Inverell Post Office

Original Inverell Town Hall.

The CO-PILOT, Donnis, is due home next week after three months away in Canada and Mexico so we can plan a few trips after she recovers from jet lag.

All in all it was a long and tiring day with over 180 Klms of travel with frequent photo stops.

On the edge of town is an historical village with this imposing windmill at the entrance.

Along the road i saw lots of Native Mystletoe. It is a parasite but most do not harm the host plant. See http://www.northwestweeds.nsw.gov.au/mistletoe.htm

Tonight the daily thunderstorm, lightning and rain rolled in to give a few hours of a light show and top up the already topped up rainwater tank.

Sunday 25th November

Today I visited Dangars Falls in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. ( It should not be confused with the Dangar Falls near Dorrigo)   http://newenglandaustralia.blogspot.com.au/2010/01/fire-guts-inverell-historic-byron.html

It is about 16 klms south of Armidale with about 11klms being gravel and of that about 4klms is washboard gravel. The final klm is steep. On arrival there are signs saying to beware as there are steep slopes and cliffs and to be cautious especially with children. “Holy Guacamole Batman!” They are not kidding it is very steep and although there was only a trickle of water over the falls it is easy to see the 120m straight fall.

Dangars Falls with sheer cliffs.

Dangars Falls showing the 120m drop.

Even with safety fences along the walkways and strong viewing platforms I still felt a trifle nervous looking straight down to the valley below.

This suspended viewing platform extends over the falls. It sure made me nervouse looking straight down.

It certainly came as a surprise to find the gorge as the surrounding countryside is gentle hills and suddenly there is this deep gash through the land.

On the other side of the falls is a “look down” viewing platfom where you can see just where the falls viewing platform is located.

Looking straight down to the pool of water at the base of the falls.

The cliffs are carved out of a mixture of granite and basalt rock. The scenery is breathtaking as apart from the falls there is the deep gorge running off into the distance.

Dangars Gorge

Camping is permitted here…at a price, at $10 per person per night it is almost as steep as the falls.…although the only facilities are pit toilets, fire pits and water which must be boiled before use. I would have liked to have been here yesterday when the lightning, thunder and rain crashed through.

Thunderstorm building up over Dangars Gorge.

On the drive back to Guyra a Severe Weather warning was issued including strong winds, lightning, rain and hailstones! Hmmm! There is nowhere to get the vehicles under cover so all I could do was bring in WWWGO awning and park TERIOS behind a very large shrub.

At the time of writing this the storm has had its way with us mortals. Thankfully it was only mild with thunder lightning and some rain. In the darkness to the south I can see more lightning flashes so perhaps stage two of the storm is on its way.

282. Sunday 18th November 2012. Exploring New England…

18/11/2012

Lots of photos this week

Monday 12th November

Woke to a clear sunny morning with birdsong. The howling winds of the last two days was replaced with a gentle freezing breeze.

You might recall in post 280, I mentioned the house was reportedly haunted almost 100 years ago.

Last night as I was sorting text and photos to include in the blog I heard a bit of a thump. Hmmm! It must be Toto the dog so I got up and went in search of her. She was asleep on her favourite cushion.

Hmmm! Toto often growls menacingly at something I cannot see until she goes in search of whatever it was bothering her or she settles down and goes back to doggy sleep.

I settled down to typing once more and there went the sound again. Toto was still asleep. Now let me just set a bit more of the scene. The house is cold. Always. I was suitably dressed in several layers and was not cold so much as reasonably comfortable. The strange noise came again. Hmmm! I locked the two doors to the outside world. Then another strange noise and although I was not thinking ghosts, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end and a tingling cold sensation started at the back of my head and spread across my shoulders down both arms to my fingertips. Then it started in my hips and down my legs to my feet. As well as tingling and cold I felt paralysed and I could no longer type or use the mouse. A strange buzzing commenced in my head (no, it was not the tinnitus I live with 24/7) NOW the thoughts of a haunted house came into my mind along with the thought that locking the doors would only make my exit slower. Thoughts of a cozy doona onboard WWWGO also entered my mind but what to do with Toto the dog? No way was she sharing with me. Eventually the tingling cold numbness subsided and I felt calm.

Calm and umm err rational.

Maybe I was up late and overtired.

Maybe it was the persistent strong winds.

Maybe it was that darned freezer in the sun room. The freezer that cycles on and off 24/7 and sounds like an out of tune unmuffled tractor.

Maybe it was possums or birds or rats or whatever in the roof. After all, the eaves are not sealed and anything could get in there. Even giant Pythons

Maybe it was the house settling.

I published the blog and set about turning off the computer and lights.

The bedroom is cold. Cold 24/7. Tonight it felt colder and maybe, just maybe a little menacing. Toto the dog slept on. OK so if she can sleep, her sixth sense is not bothering her so why should numbing cold and tingling and hair standing on end bother me?

I crawled into bed with the doona pulled up around my ears and as I finally drifted off to sleep my last thought was, I hope Toto does not jump up on the bed during the night!

The above was typed this morning in the near warmth of the sunroom. The sun was shining directly on the windows and onto me but it seemed to have no warmth in it. Toto was asleep in the sunlight and woke growling at something only she can see, hear or sense, her nose twitching, her nostrils flared then she lay down again after a yawn and a stretch.

With the sun in the sky and a nice day offering I decided to visit Captain Thunderbolts Cave.

Even from 200 metres away it is still not easy to see the cave.It is the darker area in the mid right of the photo.

Captain Thunderbolt was a bushranger.   http://www.nedkellysworld.com.au/bushrangers/ward_f.htm

He probably holds the record for the most holdups. He also seems to have been able to find natural hideouts. Once I turned off the highway the track quickly deteriorated to a sort of paved track made from hand sized stones. The walk from the carpark to the cave was down a steep thickly wooded hillside covered on those hand sized stones and a natural walking hazard.

This is /was Captain Thunderbolts Cave. There are places where a man can stand upright. Note the remains of a fire at the back of the cave then see the following photo.

From the rocks above the cave entrance is this natural chimney ideal for getting smoke out of the cave.

I found the cave and thought two, umm err thoughts.

Bushranging was a poorly paid occupation with no holiday pay, no superannuation, no sick leave and terrible conditions. The housing was less than desirable and does not have that location, location, location factor.

The other thought was Captain Thunderbolt must have been a skilled horseman and bushman in order to find the cave and use it for a hideout. One of many actually.

Basically life was pretty tough for the average farmer or even the local townsfolk but bushrangers really had a difficult life.

At the cave I could hear the traffic climbing the New England Highway over the steep range known as Devils Pinch. Perhaps the cobbled track I came in on was the original road through the area. The area is quite isolated and thickly wooded and it amazes me how anybody found it in the first place and then somehow managed to find his way back many times. (I later spoke with a local who has lived here all her life, now in her 70’s, she believes that rough track, which appears to have been an early cobbled road is the original horse and buggy road from Armidale)

Apart from three or four insignificant signs and a rough slippery track, finding the cave is not that easy. There are no interpretive signs, posters or protective fences around the site. There are no toilets, shops or other signs of a national folklore icon (heroic or otherwise). If this was an American outlaw there would be paved carparks, concrete pathways, safety railings, ranger station and hot food outlet and souvenir shop.

Sigh!

On the way back to Guyra I stopped at the cemetery and looked for old headstones. ( no, I was not looking for Captain Thunderbolts grave, he is interred at Uralla to the west of Armidale.) I was only able to find one headstone prior to 1900. What became obvious was the hard life in the early days of 1900 with many children’s graves.

A lonely isolated grave at the Guyra Cemetery.

Tree within the Cemetery with worn down volcanic plug, Tabletop Mountain, in the background.

In the afternoon I did some walking around town to see what caught my eye.

Anglican Church built from local bricks. Many other buildings and churches in the district are also built from this distinctive austere brick.

Guyra has an annual Lamb and Potato Festival in January each year. This statue was erected to commemorate the event. The little football shaped items below the sheeps belly are potatoes.

Tuesday 13th November

Today I took a 160 klm round trip to the village of Ebor and nearby Ebor Falls http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebor_Falls

The drive commenced with vistas of rolling hills which are reminiscent of the steep rolling hills of the High Plains Country of the NSW Alps in the Kosciusko National Park near Kiandra. On one side of the road were the hills into the distance and on the other were thickly wooded slopes. On arrival at Ebor I was amazed to find a sheer valley carved out of the rock by the Guy Fawkes River.

Valley carved by the Guy Fawkes River at Ebor.

As well I was not expecting to find any water over the falls despite the heavy rain over the weekend. I was pleasantly surprised.

Ebor Falls including upper and lower falls.

Ebor Lower Falls.

Ebor Upper Falls which themselves are comprised of two falls.

Ebor is located on the western edge of the Ebor Volcano which last erupted 18 million years ago. It also explains why on the drive here I could see what appears to be the remnants of volcanic plugs in the distance.

Lunch was a hamburger (the old fashioned type where you need two hands to hold it while the juices, including beetroot and sauces run down your arms to the elbows) and a chocolate milkshake at the Fusspots Café.

The Fusspots Cafe. Probably the cleanest and most inviting place to eat in Ebor.

While lunching I saw photos of a Kangaroo in the water at the top of Upper Ebor Falls. Have a look here   http://www.seenaustralia.com.au/2012/08/hopping-across-ebor-falls/

Then go to the Gallery then Wildlife section.

It has been a long time since this bowser was used. The price of the last sale was 17.75 cents per litre! Up the road at the only petrol station in town the price is now $1.57.9 cents per litre.

While in Ebor I visited the local cemetery and viewed the assortment of grand and simple graves.

Thick lichen encrusted fence around the cemetery.

Interesting grave. Enlarge the photo to read the inscription but look carefully and you can see a bas relief depiction of a Jackaroo.

During the night while watching a movie I could see flashes of light which at first I thought was somebody with a torch. After the movie the flashes were happening more often. I went outside to look and an almighty thunderclap and lightning bolt shook the ground and set Toto barking incessantly. I checked to ensure TERIOS moonroof and WWWGO hatches were closed. I went to sleep with the sound of thunder but no rain.

Wednesday 14th November

In the morning I went to the doctor and had some sun cancers and a skin tag – all on my face – burned with liquid nitrogen. The skin tag was beside my nose near my eye. I have never squeezed my eyes closed shut so tightly before.

In the arvo I drove out of town looking for the volcanic feature known as Chandlers Peak. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Tablelands

I followed the weathered signs until I came to a farm gate. Although the peak was now within walking distance, access was via private property and on properties out here it is better to have an invitation or advance notice of your arrival. So…I got as close as discretion and valour would allow.

Chandlers Peak. If you enlrge the photo and look carefully at the top you can see a Trig Station.

Could this be an old shepherds hut?

Afterwards I took another walk around Guyra to view parts I have not previously taken any notice of.

I cannot help making comparisons between the New England district and the Illawarra District where we spent a couple of months earlier this year. Both are volcanic in origin and both have the rich volcanic soil. Both have lots of rocks which keep pushing themselves out of the soil and which the farmers harvest. The soil is similar in both districts although the Illawarra has been used mainly for cattle, dairy farming and potato growing while in Guyra the land was used for sheep and potato growing. The Illawarra is prone to more frequent rains whereas the New England suffers from a drier climate and snowfall in winter.  In the Illawarra, especially around Kiama the rocks are used to make dry stone fencing around the hills. Here some farmers have done the same although the fences are not as well made. Most farmers are content to just throw the stones into a heap. Either way they are a haven for snakes.

Local dry stone wall workmanship.

Late in the arvo the black clouds rolled in, lightning flashed and thunder rumbled and several showers passed through.

Hmmm! It seem Guyra has more than its fair share of lightning. Perhaps it’s the height and the volcanic ironstone which is an attractant. I have encountered several places where lightning seems to strike a place more often than neighbouring districts.

Thursday 15th November

Greg T came with me to Armidale when I went to do my weekly shopping expedition. I took the opportunity to stroll along the Armidale main shopping precinct and enjoy the mall.

Armidale open air mall.

Many fine examples of early architecture have been maintained in the town.

Armidale Courthouse.

Armidale Post Office

Armidale Commercial Bank of Australia Limited building.

This is also an Armidale bank building. Not sure which.

A fine example of Federation style cast iron lacework on this old pub.

A more modern pub in the Art Deco style probably built in the 1930’s.

It started out as a warm day and quite hot by midday and then the black clouds rolled in. In the afternoon, back at Guyra the power went out for a couple of minutes. Most likely due to the thunder and lightning in the district.

Friday 16th November.

Another quiet day devoted to cutting the grass (I almost said “lawn” instead of grass but lawn is too tidy a word to describe the grass) and doing a bit of housework. HoHum. A mans work is never done.

Saturday 17th November.

Another day just like yesterday. No plans to go and visit historical and or natural sites. Instead I spent some time cutting the grass – again. Storm clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped. The storm began with just the distant rolling of thunder then fat drops of cold rain began. The rain got heavier and the lightning more frequent and closer and thunder shaking the house. Toto got aggressive and ran outside to bark at the thunder. It was a good afternoon to spend time reading or watching a movie. Which I did. After dark Toto changed and suddenly found the lightning flashes with thunder was a little frightening and instead of barking she became my shadow, following me with tail between her legs. The rain continued and when I went to bed after 11pm there was still lightning and thunder.

Sunday 18th November.

Woke at 5.45am and there was still thunder, lightning and rain. By 9am all three had stopped and the same made a brief appearance before midday. While I had sunshine I drove to the village of Ben Lomond about 25 klms north of Guyra.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Lomond,_New_South_Wales

Abandoned house on the Ben Lomond Road.

Astute readers may recollect we were in Ben Lomond early December 2010 but apart from a quick visit with the Taylor Tribe we did not write much about the village. For good reasons too. Apart from a sign on the highway pointing to BL and another sign saying it is an historic village and other signs giving the height above sea level as being 1,350 metres to 1,530 metres, there is not much to see. The only store closed in 2007, the railway shut down 20 years before that and I saw only one person cutting the grass in a front yard. I did see a trig point on Big Brother Mountain  but could not find a road or track to take me to it.

Big Brother Mountain Trig Station.

The imposing Anglican Church stands in a large field surrounded by trees and no access road or pathway. Hmmm!

Overgrown Anglican Church. Note this and the Catholic church are built out of the same brick as was used in Guyra churches.

Ben Lomond Catholic church at the foot of Big Brother Mountain.

The BL Railway Station is in pretty poor condition but nonetheless is still an historical site.

Overgrown Ben Lomond Railway Station.

An interesting letterbox at Ben Lomond.

On my way home I stopped at the Guyra Railway Station which is not in as bad condition as BL but nowhere near the condition of Black Mountain which I visited earlier this week.

Guyra Railway Station.

The sun stayed out all afternoon  and the clouds drifted away. The University of New England has a book, one of only eight in the state, that I very much want to gather information from. That could be a project for next week.

See you then.

281. Sunday 11th November 2012.Its cool being in Guyra…

11/11/2012

Monday 5th November

The local caravan park claims to be the highest van park in OZ.

Woke to a thick fog through which I could not see WWWGO in the yard. Later I gave an hour of time to cutting the grass and tidying the yard a little.

In the afternoon I drove to the village of Black Mountain. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Mountain,_New_South_Wales

On the 8Klm drive I was reminded (I did not need a reminder, I am already acutely aware) that this is the season when snakes are on the move. I saw two big fat Red Bellied Black Snakes. I guess they were on the move and did not look left and right as they were dead, most likely run over by a car. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-bellied_Black_Snake

Although not counted among the world’s Ten Deadliest Snakes, they are highly venomous so do not mess with them. By the way, of the ten deadliest snakes, five come from Australia and the top two are from Australia.   http://listverse.com/2011/03/30/top-10-most-venomous-snakes/

Black Mountain village has a population hovering near 400, at least according to the 2006 census. The railway line still runs through the town but no longer operates north of Armidale.

The freshly painted, no longer in use, Black Mountain Railway Station.

Interesting coat hooks at the entrance to the MENS.

Original hand operated signals still in place.

 

Horse and buggy hitching rail in the buggy park outside the station.

Somebody has put in a great deal of work on maintaining and restoring the old station buildings as well as the Station Masters House which is still occupied.

Station Masters House painted in the same colours as the station.

It was a busy Monday afternoon as I saw at least 5 vehicles pass through town and saw at least 3 people in their yards. I am sure there were more people watching me as I walked through town with my camera. Being a village there are no shops, the closest being Guyra unless you count the roadhouse on the highway 3Klms away.

The public school was built in 1882 and so far is still going strong.

A pretty, well maintained school in such a small village.

A complicated simple wall or is that a simple complicated wall. Potato bins filled with small rocks dug from the property and a sloppy cement mix poured over the top. Oh and of course the reo through the box handles, a concrete footing, steel uprights and who knows what else in the mix. House is next to the school.

 

The 100 year old Baptist Church has services every third Sunday.

Tuesday 6th November

Wednesday 7th November

Surprise Surprise Surprise (thanks to Gomer Pyle for that phrase   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gomer_Pyle )

Friends Glennis and Eric arrived today and spent some time with me. We had dinner at the local bowling club and they stayed overnight in their new caravan. It was wonderful to have their company and continue the tradition of catching up with each other in various places as we both travel. Their visit was totally unexpected hence the surprise surprise surprise.

Thursday 8th November

G & E left early this morning, rugged up against the cold which rolled in overnight. I drove to Armidale, spent a relaxing hour at the NERAM – New England Regional Art Museum. Then I wandered the main shopping precinct, bought groceries, had lunch and was back at Guyra before 3pm. An hour later I took Toto for a walk but after 500 metres the thick black clouds and rumbling thunder warned of an electrical storm was close by. As it turns out the lightning never happened and the rain which did fall was only light.

Friday 9th November.

Lots of heavy rain today. A dry fish pond in the front yard had 100mm of water in it by lunchtime. Nothing else to report except to say I am again sleeping under a doona to stay warm. I was warned that Guyra would be cold.

Saturday 10th November

Geez. I tell ya it has been a quiet week. The weather has not helped. I wanted to visit interesting historical and natural sites but with mostly overcast conditions all week it has not been the best for photography. The rain and cold cannot last forever although today I was back to wearing long johns, fleecy lined track pants, long sleeved tshirt and warm flannelette shirt.

Oh, I forgot to mention I am wearing fleecy lined ski gloves…inside the house

The rain was driven horizontal by the south westerly wind.

I did a Google search today to find the coldest places in Australia. Of the top 50 coldest locations only three are in NSW the rest are in the Victorian Alps and Tasmania. I am heartened somewhat to find that Guyra does not count in that top 50. Heartened somewhat but it does not help when the inside of the house feels like the freezer door has been left open. The best place to be is snuggled under the doona.

Goodnight.

Sunday 11th November

Woke to find I was completely snuggled under the doona with only a small opening for air.

Cold?

You betcha!

I was warned.

Very cold very windy although it has stopped raining. I am reminded of the words to a famous song written by Allan Sherman…

Hello Mudda, hello Fadda,
Here I am at Camp Granada.
Camp is very entertaining,
And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining.

I went hiking with Joe Spivy;
He developed poison ivy.
You remember Leonard Skinner;
He got ptomain poisoning last night after dinner.

All the counselors hate the waiters,
And the lake has alligators,
And the head coach wants no sissies,
So he reads to us from something called “Ulysses”.

Now I don’t want this should it scare ya,
But my bunk mate has malaria.
You remember Jeffrey Hardy,
They’re about to organize a searching party.

Take me home, oh Mudda, Fadda,
Take me home, I hate Granada!
Don’t leave me out in the forest where
I might get eaten by a bear.

Take me home, I promise I will not make noise,
Or mess the house with other boys.
Oh, please don’t make me stay,
I’ve been here one whole day.

Dearest Fadda, darling Mudda,
How’s my precious little brother?
Let me come home if you miss me,
I would even let Aunt Bertha hug and kiss me.

Wait a minute, it stopped hailing,
Guys are swimming, gals are sailing.
Playing baseball, gee that’s betta,
Mudda, Fadda, kindly disregard this letter!

The sun came out and although the wind was still cold I decided to drive to nearby Lake Malpas the water supply for Armidale and Guyra and also a place for canoeing, sailing, fishing and I thought it would be good to visit.

On the edge of town a house had old memorabillia in the yard. This cart, or is it a dray? had pride of place. Note the iconic Magpie on the cart/dray.

I drove 8 klms along the highway to the turnoff then another 6 klms along a gravel road only to find a locked gate.

WTF!

Along the gravel road I saw several interesting sights. What about a one room cottage with views. Somewhere to get away from it all.

Dead tree in the hills above Lake Malpasa.

 

Cute little bridge to a small Weeping Willow island in a watercourse alomg the Lake Malpasa Road.

It seems all the aquatic activities are for club members only, access to the general public is prohibited.

Sigh! Gee it would have been nice if the sign at the highway warned there are locked gates and it is not open to the public.

Grrr!

Weather willing, next week I should have more to report.

280. Sunday 4th November 2012. Reporting from Guyra NSW…

04/11/2012

Monday 29th October

If it’s Monday I must be in Guyra.

WWWGO and TERIOS in position, Guyra.

Sheesh! I thought I had left all the cold weather back in Mt.Beauty.

In case I have not mentioned this before, I am in Guyra, northern NSW to housesit until February 2013.

After spending a cold morning huddled inside WWWGO, too cold to get out of my jammies and properly dressed I eventually went outside about 10am. The sun was making a few short entrances through the grey clouds. Hugh and I talked meteorology until my knowledge ran out and he continued with my education. After lunch Shabari needed a chiropractic appointment in Armidale and I drove her. By the time we returned, the midday warmth had been replaced by the mid afternoon chill wind.

The house I will start sitting duties in on Saturday was built somewhere around 1912 and had seen additions built on several times over the last 100 years. It was believed to be a haunted house, way back in 1921. See   http://weirdaustralia.com/2011/10/22/poltergeist-rocks-town-the-stone-throwing-ghost-of-guyra/

Hmmm! I am sleeping here, alone, for at least the next 4 weeks until Donnis returns. The current owners and their dog are quite comfortable and have had no weird experiences.

The people next door have an Earthmoving business. They built a dam surrounded by these weeping willows and encompasses a 4 hole golf course on their property. They must enjoy their golf.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Quiet days just doin nuthin. Bonding with the dog Toto.

Went grocery shopping in Armidale. Nice town umm err city.

Friday 2nd November.

There was thunder, lightning and a few brief showers overnight.

Decided to get the mower working. The air filter was badly gunked up with dirt. It’s a wonder any air was getting into the carby at all. I washed the filter in straight fuel then re-oiled and re-installed and the mower now works fine. After mowing for 30 minutes or so my hands began to feel itchy and then tingled. It was then I noticed the left hand in particular was swollen so badly that when I made a fist I could not see my knuckles. In fact the skin was so tight I could not make a proper fist. The skin around the wedding ring was puffed and the muscle around the heel of the thumb was fat and tingling. Oops. The petrol is toxic! I quickly washed my hands and then washed them again. Two hours later the swelling had gone down a little and the tingling subsided. After lunch I washed my hands again and can see the swelling is still there but the left hand still looks pudgy. I will not be using petrol to wash something again. If I do I will be wearing heavy duty gloves.

Three hours after I discovered my swollen hand there is still significant puffiness.

During the day the smoke and smell from the bushfires way to the south east of Armidale drifted across the hills.

Tonight I had dinner with the Taylor Tribe, friends from when they first arrived in Oz from the US of A in the early 90’s. By bedtime the temperature had dropped even more and I snuggled into my doona cocoon and watched half a movie. Half a movie because somewhere I fell asleep. Oh well, I had seen the movie before.

Saturday 3rd November.

Woke to a cold and overcast day and I could smell wood smoke from far away. Cold? You betcha. In the morning I dressed in long johns and jeans, long sleeve tshirt a long sleeve cycle shirt and my warm jacket. I topped off the ensemble with my tuke pulled down over my ears. Yes it was cold. The creeping, gets into your bones type of cold. Outside a miserable wind was blowing straight across the hills from the south. Being one of the highest points around, we are fully exposed to winds from any direction.

View looking south from where those cold winds blow from.

I drove Hugh n Shabari to the airport then back to the old farmhouse. I spent an hour cutting the grass.

Sunday 4th November.

Dear reader. At this point I must apologise there have been no places visited this week. Next week, weather willing, I will get out and about and learn more of the history of the New England area.

The local farmers have commented how they have gone through a dry year and would love some real rain. Before Hugh and Shabari left I told them their worries are over as I have now landed in town and real rain follows me.

I cut grass for an hour this morning but at this rate, an hour a day I should have the grass looking nice by this time next week. I have not used a lawn mower since about March 2010 and then, like now, my back protests and an hour is about all I can manage.

The clouds have been building up yesterday and again today but they are thicker and darker clouds and thunder rumbled across the valley in the afternoon. Teasingly big fat raindrops fell then drifted off again.

Guyra is well known for Lamb and Potato’s and the annual Lamb and Potato festival is held here in February each year. Both are still grown here but now the town is well known for truss tomato’s grown in a glass house covering 10 hectares.  See   http://www.blushtomatoes.com.au/assets/downloads/blush-HorticultureToday-Aut07.pd

I also recall Guyra in 1960 when a young boy was lost for four days and huge search parties scoured the hills. He was found alive and a ballad was written about the saga, Little Boy Lost remains in my mind today. See   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guyra,_New_South_Wales