Monday 10th December
Another storm rolled in this afternoon. The usual culprits, rain, wind, thunder, lightning attended. The temperature dropped and we needed the doona on the bed. Nothing exciting except for cutting the grass and beginning to harvest the garlic.
Tuesday 11th December.
I felt that today was a mirror image of yesterday except the rain started earlier, lasted longer and it was a colder night.
Wednesday 12th December
We have been planning a day trip every day this week but the lousy weather has kept us close to home. Ho hum. Garlic harvesting time. Otherwise it was a windy and wet day without the thunder and lightning but patches of sunlight in the afternoon.
It is cold especially at night and early morning. Love the doona.
In the shower tonight I got a nose bleed! I quickly pinched off the nostrils and after a minute the bleeding stopped. Hmmm! I thought the procedure last week would have stopped my nose bleeds, at least for a few months. All we can do is trust it was just a one-off bleed and there will be no more after the two weeks the specialist told me to wait.
Thursday 13th December
The day started out cold and windy but by the time we arrived at Armidale the sun made an appearance and it was a pleasant day. Pleasant enough to remove our bulky jackets while walking around town.
Have I mentioned McDonalds McCafe? They have a deal of a small cup of coffee ( I could argue the point about what they mean by “small” but why should I complain about a large cup of coffee if they want to call it small?) with a toasted ham cheese and tomato sandwich, or a slice of banana bread or a slice of cake all for $4.95. Or for $3.95 the same small cup of coffee with a muffin or a slice of raisin toast. That is my usual Thursday ritual when I go to Armidale to do the shopping and a general walk around town and sticky beak at the shops and people. As well the Armidale McDonalds actually brings the coffee etc to your table.
Donnis went inside a “health food” store and I waited outside in the mall. I was approached by two teenage girls. They asked if I had any change. No I said. No change. The smallest of the two was circling me on her Razer Skooter and started to explain why they needed money. Just an excuse really. Again I said no, I do not have any change. Their body language and language got a little aggressive. I said I am not a working man, just a pensioner but regardless I still did not have any change. They started to become abusive in their language and threatening in their stance but by now other people were walking into the mall. The taller and seemingly the elder of the two was of aboriginal descent and started yelling that she only wanted my change and she will get her brothers to teach me a lesson. They then started to saunter out the back door of the mall abusing all whiteys as they went.
Apart from that episode we had a long day in town, spending money and buying Christmas groceries.
Friday 14th December
I woke at 6am and noted a thick fog outside. That usually heralds a fine sunny day but around here we can have fine sunny days with a freezing wind. By 8 am the fog had rolled itself into a sausage shape and was filling the hollows in the valley below the house. It was warm enough to wear shorts and T-Shirt today. The same type of clothing I would wear in the summer but around here summer is a variable season.
When I say I do nothing some days I do not really mean I do nothing. Apart from normal stuff needing attention around the house I spend about an hour cutting the grass each day. The block is about an acre and with the rain and lightning followed by sunlight the grass is incredibly green and grows quickly.
This week I have been harvesting the garlic. I have been kneeling to do the job using a hand spade. That way I can get to all the garlic hidden by the companion plants without damaging either plant. After harvest I then wash off the excess soil and leave in the sun to dry.
Today I started the process of stripping away most of the dry leaves and revealing the fragrant bulb and removing any clinging soil.
The bulb and stalks are placed in the sunroom to dry when the roots will be cut off with a sharp knife and the garlic will be ready to plait and hanging .
The whole job is labour intensive which probably explains why the local Oz product is so expensive compared to the imported stuff from China. So far I have prepared about 100 bulbs…only 200 to go.
Saturday 15th December.
A long day, mostly satisfying but also tiring as well as trying.
OK. Let’s get the trying part out of the way first. Shortly after waking I got a nose bleed. This one was not a simple bleed. An hour later I sort of had it tentatively under control and after another hour I could move around with confidence and not have tissues in every pocket in case of an emergency. The bleed also left me tired so all that happened in the rest of the day was tempered by a bit of lethargy.
The day started sunny and bright but by lunchtime clouds had rolled in and rain was threatening.
I decided we should visit Wollomombi Gorge about 40 Klms out of Armidale on the Waterfall Way. Just out of Armidale I saw a sign to Gara Gorge, part of the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park and on the spur of the moment changed plans.
The gorge is spectacular although not as deep as say Dangars Gorge or Ebor Gorge both of which I visited recently.
The further we walked into the gorge, the more impressive it became. We also learned the first commercial hydro- electric power station was built here in 1894. http://www.armidaletourism.com.au/accom_result1/gara-gorge/
Parts of the original dams and flumes can still be seen.
Some walks go to the top of the range and look down across the gorge back towards Dangars Gorge but that walk is 5.5 Klm return and neither of us was prepared for such exertion today but it is on our “to do” list.
The hydro- electric scheme was built by and for the Hillgrove Gold Mine about 25 Klms further east along the gorge.
After leaving Gara Gorge we drove towards the east another 20 Klms looking for the original gold mining town of Hillgrove. We found a turnoff called Old Hillgrove Road and followed the gravel road until we found Bakers Creek Falls. A lookout built on a sheer precipice
gives a breathtaking view of the falls which tumbles into several pools before rushing off to join the Macleay River within the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.
Wild Rivers is a good name as most of the park is within deep steep sided gorges and mostly difficult terrain.
We continued along the gravel road around a corner known as “Devils Elbow” until we reached the original gold mining town of Hillgrove. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillgrove,_New_South_Wales
The town no longer has any operating stores or businesses.
It now seems to have an inordinate number of rusting cars per capita.
When the original mine closed down, most of the houses and businesses were transported to Armidale.
Where they once stood there are now timber plaques, painted green, showing the name of the business which stood at that spot.
It seems there were at least 6 hotels operating in town and beside one hotel an “Oyster Bar” operated. Sheesh! How many towns these days can boast an Oyster Bar? There are a number of modern houses mixed with the old shanty dwellings which remarkably are still occupied.
The old mine has been started up again, producing gold (which was the reason for the original mine and the towns existence) and a product called antimony. http://www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/sb.htm
Public access down the steep range to Bakers Creek is now closed due to the mining. I had hoped to see the steep cliff up which tram cars, powered by hydro-electric power, would carry ore to the top and from there to the outside world. http://www.nnsw.com.au/hillgrove/tourism.html#HISTORY
All in all we had an enjoyable drive and visit around the area and perhaps we can next visit another settlement, Metz, on the opposite side of the gorge and apparently with views to the original mine site.
Sunday 16th December
The sun came out today and instead of making a brief visit it stayed with us all day. In fact it was quite hot when we visited Armidale. Temperatures around Guyra are usually at least 5 degrees cooler than surrounding districts and today was 10 degrees cooler than several towns in the region.
We went to Armidale to attend a Gaelic and Celtic Music Recital at the Uniting Church.
There were about 50 people in attendance.
The New England district stretching to Tenterfield in the north has a strong Gaelic and Celtic influence, so much so that a Celtic Festival is held in Glenn Innes each May. After the music we attended a market in the mall at Armidale.
I was a bit surprised as most markets have a lot of junk products from overseas, but today we saw more home grown, home made products. Some people came from as far away as Grafton and Lismore.
Late in the afternoon I stripped more Garlic and spread it for drying.
Tonight we only required a light blanket on the bed and wore summer jammies.
Perhaps Guyra has a summer after all!