Archive for January, 2013

297. Sunday 27th January 2013. Country Music, Sneezing fits, Australia Day and Rain…

27/01/2013

Yes! Lots of photos this week!

Monday 21st January

Yeehar! Yeehar! Yeehar!

It is time for the annual Country Music Awards at the Tamworth Country Music Capital of Australia and the Country Music 10 Day Festival is in full swing.   http://www.tcmf.com.au/

Tamworth Town and one of the hundreds of Lee Kernaghan flags around town.

Tamworth Town Hall and one of the hundreds of Lee Kernaghan flags around town.

Mention must be made that we are not country music fans as such. OK we do like some country music. We also like some jazz, folk, blues, rock, classical and so on.

In the morning the weather was overcast and quite cool. In fact the ground was still wet from overnight rain. We dressed for cool weather but packed shorts and TShirts in case the weather turned hot. It did. We drove the 150 Klms to Tamworth to experience the country music festival for ourselves. On arrival at the outskirts we stopped at the toilets and stepped from an air conditioned TERIOS into one very hot day. It was a good opportunity to change into our lighter clothing.

It seems that part of the attraction of Tamworth CMF is the streets are closed off and hopeful buskers do their “thang” in the hope of being voted “peoples choice” and getting their start in the CM Industry.

Young country music hoeful Jessica Ellen who sang her heart out. One of the few singers who was at the end of the line and only had one nearby competitor.

Young country music hopeful Jessica Ellen who sang her heart out. One of the few singers who was at the end of the line and only had one nearby competitor.

Being a Monday we thought it would be quiet. Our first difficulty was trying to find a parking spot within a block or two of the action.

Slow pickin' guitar player.

Slow pickin’ guitar player.

It turned out we found a spot four blocks ffrom the action but we need the exercise anyway.

A real travelling gypsy.

A real travelling gypsy.

Next we joined the crowds moving up and down the makeshift mall.

Tamworth Country Music Festival Peel Street.

Tamworth Country Music Festival Peel Street.

Buskers set up in allocated spots about every four metres and compete to out-perform their neighbours.

Talented Jared the singing, guitar playing future star of country music. On his guitar case he has written his name and his age...6, which is crossed out and replaced with a 7 which is crossed out and replaced with an 8 which is also replaced with a 9.

Talented Jared the singing, guitar playing future star of country music. On his guitar case he has written his name and his age…6, which is crossed out and replaced with a 7 which is crossed out and replaced with an 8 which is also replaced with a 9.

They do this for most of the 10 days, at least until THE BIG DAY, Saturday when the awards are held. Big name stars perform at large venues around town or at smaller stages set up outside enterprising stores.

Hogster Stage

Hogster Stage

This study of indifferent steely bodyguard keeping an eye on the pretty singing guitar player in the Hogs Breath Hogster Stage.

This study of indifferent steely bodyguard keeping an eye on the pretty singing guitar player in the Hogs Breath Hogster Stage.

It all seemed like a great deal of organised chaos. There was music everywhere. Did I mention LOUD? Of course amongst all this loud music were the comedy acts, the stuff set up for kids, the quirky tents selling souvenirs and so forth. All trying to be louder than everybody else, all trying to get your attention and or your dollars.

All the children enjoyed the camelo rides...except the two in the centre of photo.

All the children enjoyed the camel rides…except the two in the centre of photo.

This boy inside the ball waiting for it to be inflated and tipped into the water. I know a couple of older people who wanted to have a go on these mini Zorbs.   (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zorbing

This boy inside the ball waiting for it to be inflated and tipped into the water. I know a couple of older people who wanted to have a go on these mini Zorbs. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zorbing

Kids just loved being inside these clear balls floating on the water.

Kids just loved being inside these clear balls floating on the water.

Had we planned better and had more time it would have been fun to book into a venue and pay $20 or so dollars to see a name act in relative comfort. Today all we got was a feel for the festival and a headache to take home with us. Even if country music is not your thing we feel it would be worth a couple of days to get out there and enjoy the atmosphere. Big national businesses such as Toyota and Telstra really get behind the festival and push their products and have lots of giveaways, promotional material and competitions.

This cute directional sign was outside the Toyota Fan Zone tent.

This cute directional sign was outside the Toyota Fan Zone tent.

People watching became an easy pastime at the festival as most people, us included, wear cowboy type hats.

This is the Chookman. He roams around the streets on his battery wheelchair, strumming the guitar towing a night pot for people to throw coins into. Yes that is a real, live chook at the front and yest it also was asleep.

This is the Chookman. He roams around the streets on his battery wheelchair, strumming the guitar towing a night pot for people to throw coins into. Yes that is a real, live chook at the front and yes it also was asleep.

Then there are the real hard core fans who dress up in their boot skootin’ gear and dance in the streets or sit and watch a hopeful performer.

Would we go again? You betcha! Next time we would go for longer and be a bit more organised.

An artist places all his paintings on the street. Not sure why he has an indian headdress on display.

An artist places all his paintings on the street. Not sure why he has an indian headdress on display.

This man walks tall. Its a strange pirate type costume to be wearing to a Country and Western event.

This man walks tall. Its a strange pirate type costume to be wearing to a Country and Western event.

Many temporary shops were set up like this one.

Many temporary shops were set up like this one.

Before leaving Tamworth we went to Oxley Lookout

Scenic Public toilet at the top of Oxley Lookout.

Scenic Public toilet at the top of Oxley Lookout.

View from Mens at the Oxley Lookout.

View from Mens at the Oxley Lookout.

Then along the highway we stopped to look at another Captain Thunderbolt location. Unlike inj the US of A many of our historic sites are in out of the way locations and do not get maintained but they do get vandalised.

Thunderbolts Rock. From a distance Donnis thought this historic site was reminiscent of a brain shape. it's a pity the brainless graffiti umm err persons (no way could I call them artists) could not have taken some brain inspiration from the site.

Thunderbolts Rock. From a distance Donnis thought this historic site was reminiscent of a brain shape. it’s a pity the brainless graffiti umm err persons (no way could I call them artists) could not have taken some brain inspiration from the site.

Tuesday 22nd January

The CO-PILOT has been suffering from… the best I can describe it… hay fever but it’s more than that. Her resistance to things the rest of us take in our stride she is simply not coping. The house is 100 years old and is dusty, musty, mouldy and just inhaling dust sets her off in a fit of sneezing which wears her out. She has a tightness in her lungs and has trouble breathing, she coughs, her nose runs, eyes water and itch. We moved into WWWGO to sleep and although that helped, coming back into the house for meals and reading or any other activity sends her sneezing again. I decided she is better off elsewhere while I complete our housesitting agreement. This afternoon I put her on a plane out of Armidale airport and she arrived at Corrimal near Wollongong after 10pm. She will return a few days before we are due to leave and help pack up WWWGO. That will give her almost three weeks visiting two granddaughters and recovering from whatever is aggravating her allergies.

Wednesday Thursday and Friday were just days where I mooched around the house, cooked my meals, had visits from Greg, harvested beans, looked after Toto and…nothing exciting really.

The days were hot or cold and wet. One day I was in summer jammies the next I was in winter jammies.

Saturday 26th January

Australia Day.

The day started off overcast, drizzling with moisture and cool. By the time I reached Armidale the sun was making a losing struggle to break through the clouds. It did win the skirmish long enough for the following.

The Armidale and Dumaresq (pronounced Doomareck) Shire Council had an Australia Day activity at the local showgrounds. The day included citizenship ceremonies, local hero awards, some bands and various other activities.

The Arfmidale City Band sits quietly waiting for the boring stuff to finish so they can do their thing and they too can finish.

The Armidale City Band sits quietly waiting for the boring stuff to finish so they can do their thing and they too can finish.

The local band

The local band

I am not sure how much this young man contributed to the sound but he was plugged into the amplifier and his hands and fingers moved appropriately on the strings.

I am not sure how much this young man contributed to the sound but he was plugged into the amplifier and his hands and fingers moved appropriately on the strings.

Mull of Kintyre

Mull of Kintyre

The Lord mayor, Councillor Jim Maher gave speeches and presented certificates and other awards.

Armidale Lord Mayor, Councillor Jim Maher in his robes of office.

Armidale Lord Mayor, Councillor Jim Maher in his robes of office.

I did a bit of people watching but only saw a few worthy of photos.

In November 2010 while at Redcliffe the finishing touches to this potato van was being put in place. The owner offered me work to follow the van from town to town preparing potatoes and other veggies and selling the famous baked potato. Hmmm! Wonder if the offer is still open.

In November 2010 while at Redcliffe the finishing touches to this potato van was being put in place. The owner offered me work to follow the van from town to town preparing potatoes and other veggies and selling the famous baked potato. Hmmm! Wonder if the offer is still open.

The banner carrier had to stand quietly while the pipes band did aqll their numbers. At the end he led them away.

The lonely banner carrier had to stand quietly while the pipe band did all their numbers. At the end he led them away.

Hmmm! Is this the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland?

Hmmm! Is this the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland?

Drummer in the Armidale Pipe Band

Drummer in the Armidale Pipe Band

I rather enjoyed a display of dog training, obedience and jumping by a local organisation called Back Track, (http://backtrack.org.au/about/general-information/  )

set up to aid troubled youth. Each youth is teamed with a sheepdog for whom they are responsible. Incorporated in the programme is something called Paws Up   (http://backtrack.org.au/programs/paws-up/   ) where dogs are trained to jump a fence.

Border Collie climbing a fence at 8 ft 6 inches. Enlarge the photo to see the measurement.

Border Collie climbing a fence at 8 ft 6 inches. Enlarge the photo to see the measurement.

I watched one dog jump a 9 foot 2 inch fence. Take a look at this promotional video and you will understand why I was so impressed.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kH1DFmsiMgo&feature=youtu.be

and

http://backtrack.org.au/programs/paws-up/

After the Australia Day events it was back to Guyra and the drizzling rain turned to soaking rain with heavy falls predicted for tomorrow.

Sunday 27th January

Rain, rain, boredom, rain.

I watched a movie called Dying Breed an Australian movie set in the Tasmanian Wilderness around the Pieman River. I gave up around halfway as I was fed up with the inane plot and the gorey scenes.

During the day I laminated some of my favourite photos taken over the last three years. I wasted three photos learning how to use the laminator.

Sigh!

Then it was back to rain and boring.

But wait!

All this rain could bring a bonus later in the week. The waterfalls along The Waterfall Way should have good to amazing falls of water.

Hmmm!

Time to plan a few waterfall trips when the rain stops.

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296. Dearly Beloved, We Are Gathered Here Today…

24/01/2013

As regular readers will no doubt be aware, we (or more correctly, I) enjoy hitorical sites in the towns where we travel. When I was in high school, history was my least favourite subject and I suppose like most teenagers then, as now, not much interested in anything really. Tastes change as you get older and I found that I tended to absorb historical information and sites somewhat like a sponge. All the information got stored and only starts to re-appear when the sponge is too full or it got squeezed. We like the old banks, post offices, courthouses and civic buildings. Those old buildings are often beautifully designed and constructed. We also visit old cemeteries to gather information. The other old buildings we look for are the churches. Some are grand masterpieces of architectural design. Others are basic designs built with limited funds to serve isolated communities. Generally when arriving in a new town, the churches are usually the buildings which stand out and catch the eye. Regardless of any religious feelings, these buildings are viewed as historical in their own right. Therefore the time has come for another visit to some of the churches which caught our eye. Mostly these photo’s have not previously appeared in any of our posts. The photos are in no particular chronoligical or sequential order. They were selceted randomly.

First church is St.Francis Xavier at West Mackay Qld.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Francis_Xavier_Parish,_Mackay

This is a church which is modern in design and construction but was built at a time when churches were not modern in design. It is included in the collection because grandson Chris was christened there. Photo was taken with the Panasonic NV DCF7 Digital camera. In fact several photos in this collection were taken with the older digital camera. The amazing thing about the camera is the 1.1 Mp capacity per photo. The average iPhone camera these days is 8Mp and better quality cameras are around 16Mp. Photos on the older cameras can be a little grainy, particularly when enlarged or zoomed.

Francis Xavier Catholic Church, West Mackay. Qld

Francis Xavier Catholic Church, West Mackay. Qld

…***…***…***

In 2009 on our three month visit to Tasmania we stopped in the Hunter Valley on our way home to Airlie Beach, Qld. As luck would have it we had planned to visit friends Roy and Katherine who lived near Maitland. Our starter motor decided to die on us on the Friday afternoon. Roy and Katherine graciously offered to accomodate us while repairs were being carried out on our Coaster. As it was a Friday, the Auto Electrician would not be working until Monday. Parts could not be ordered until then. It was another 5 days before the Coaster was repaired and we were once more on our way. Thank you Roy and Katherine. Part of their hospitality involved driving us around the Hunter Valley and visiting the sights. One of which is the Hunter Valley Gardens and Chapel at Pokolbin.

http://www.huntervalleygardens.com.au/hvg/function-rooms/christenings-baptisms-venues/

Hunter Gardens Multi Demoninational Chapel, Pokolbin, Hunter Valley, NSW.

Hunter Gardens Multi Demoninational Chapel, Pokolbin, Hunter Valley, NSW.

   ***   ***   ***

When we first started on the road in 2010 we found ourselves in Lightning Ridge, NSW in mid October. This was a place I had wanted to visit ever since I heard about it as a schoolboy. For some reason it had a sort of romantic self sufficient aura. I was not disappointed. By and large many of the locals are self sufficient and live in homes dug into the ground or homes built from hand made mud bricks, houses made of bottles and mud or even strange humpies built out of corrugated iron somehow attached to a caravan. More elaborate places exist so the local Chamber of Commerce got together an idea to turn the mines and interesting houses into a tourist attraction. Several self guided tours were laid out in what is called Car Door Tours. Each tour had a different set of car door colours. Just follow the self guided map and look for the coloured car door with arrows pointing the way.  As the official blurb puts it,…

“The Ridge is famous for its Car Door Tour so be sure to drop into the Visitor Information Centre for your guide to this special experience. These quirky journeys are Lightning Ridge’s answer to ‘self drive’ tours and are a great way to start your visit to The Ridge. Four tours are demarcated by colour coded and numbered car doors.

Strung in trees and leaning in easily seen places, the car doors will lead you to some of the Ridge’s greatest attractions.

You will find Charlie Nettleton’s first hand sunk shaft at the end of the green car door tour, take your cheese and nibbles and stop for the sunset at this great ridge location! On the red car door tour you will find Amigo’s Castle and the Astronomers Monument. These monumental constructions are a testament to Lightning Ridge’s self taught architects and builders, be sure to keep an eye out on the fields for all the other unique homes. Departs At your leisure.”

On one of the tours was the church built for the movie, “The Goddess of 1967”   On reflection it was probably not the best time of year to visit “The Ridge” as it was in October, summer was knocking on the door and The Ridge has a summer like climate for 9 months of the year. Regardless, we would go back again as we thoroughly enjoyed the town and always recommend it to others thinking of going there.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Goddess_of_1967

The Goddess of 1967 movie set church, Lightning Ridge, NSW.

The Goddess of 1967 movie set church, Lightning Ridge, NSW.

   ***   ***   ***

During winter 2012 we stayed with friends Geoff and Margaret C at their home in Bomaderry, NSW. They took us on a drive up into the mountains (actually the mountains is part of the Great Diving Range which stretches from near Cooktown northern Queensland all the way through NSW and into Victoria tapering out near The Grampians, another range. Total distance about 3,500 Klms). We planned to visit Belmore Falls in the upper reaches of Kangaroo Valley. The back road to the falls took us through the little community of Myra Vale the most prominent building, in fact one of only about three buildings is the church and cemetery across the road.

http://www.hawkesbury.net.au/cemetery/southern_highlands/myra_vale/index.html

The church is now a private residence, listed for sale at $749,000. This historic sandstone Church circa 1874, islovingly restored & extended in 2003 for residence and including original lead light windows.

It is isolated on a country road, no shops or nearby neighbours, no take away, no movie theatres but lots of views through the valley and decidely cold in winter. If ya wanna escape from the rat race this is the place for you.

Myra Vale ,NSW.

Myra Vale ,NSW.

***   ***   ***

December 2000 Donnis took off to visit family in Canada and I started my own journey to visit Norfolk Island. I left Brisbane Airport New Years Eve. While browsing the duty free shops I bought my first digital camera, the Panasonic Lumix NV DCF7 which was quite advanced in its time. Norfolk Island is an historically interesting island and I joined many organised tours visiting ruins and other significant sites. I also hired a small car and drove around the island doing some exploring on my own. I discovered a small Catholic church which regretably I could find no history at the time. Nothing has changed. Even with the wonders of the Internet I can still find no useful information. I was able to find information about the man whom the church is named after.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Howard,_20th_Earl_of_Arundel

Unlike most of the other churches on the island this one does not stand out and looks rather drab.

St Phillip Howard Catholic Church, Norfolk Island.

St Phillip Howard Catholic Church, Norfolk Island.

***   ***   ***

The last time we visited Kuranda north Queensland we had just attended a motorhome rally at the nearby town of Mareeba. Kuranda is a small quirky village sitting atop the escarpment above the Cairns coastline. Most of the houses are old weatherboard and tucked into the ever encroaching rainforest. Kuranda is well known as a junction for the railway with a couple of ancient steam engines which chug their way up and down the escarpment. It is also end of the line for a Skyrail experience. Tourists use one method or the other to arrive at Kuranda, visit the markets, (open every day) then take the other method to return to Cairns. mid all the hustle and bustle of people and traffic, the little St.Savious Anglican Church, tucked away in the main street is a haven of quiet and peace.

http://www.kuranda.org/?p=72

St. Savious Anglican Church, Kuranda, Qld.

St. Savious Anglican Church, Kuranda, Qld.

***   ***   ***

The ancient crumbling church and accompanying graveyard at Gretna in the south central of Tasmania is rather typical of several churches in the area of Hamilton, Ouse, Gretna, Ellendale, Macquarie Plains and Osterley. All are quite old and all are beginning to crumble and much in need of repair or restoration. Typically none have a large enough congregation to attract funds. That said, the architecture and construction, particularly the internal fitout and stained glass windows are worth seeing.

http://www.poidb.com/poi/poi.asp?poiid=317908#

St. Mary's Anglican Church, Gretna, Tas.

St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Gretna, Tas.

***   ***   ***

This church is one of my favourites. There is no architectual style. The building is non existent. There is no congregation. Upkeep and maintenance is minimal. We first saw this chapel in February 2003  when on a road trip to Forster, the Hunter Valley, Katoomba and Jenolan Caves. We even considered this as a location for our wedding in 2009. Link to the internet site to get a better explanation  of this calm, serene and spectacular scenery site.

http://www.greatlakes.org.au/spaces/scenic-highlights/pacific-palms/the-green-cathedral

Open air Green Cathedral on Wallis Lake near Forster / Seal Rocks, NSW.

Open air Green Cathedral on Wallis Lake near Forster / Seal Rocks, NSW.

***   ***   ***

Another of the old churches in the hamilton Valley, Tasmania is this equally crumbling but full of character church at Ouse. Only a dozen Klms from our base at Hamilton. Just like the companion church at Gretna it has an accompanying graveyard.

St. John The Baptist Church at Ouse, Tas.

St. John The Baptist Church at Ouse, Tas.

***   ***   ***

We visited Beechworth, Victoria about February 2012 when based at Culcairn while the CO-PILOT worked at the Henty Hospital. On this day we had a long day trip to Yakandandah then to Beechworth where we first discovered the Beechworth Bakery and their Sourdough Rye Bread. I digress. Beechworth is an historic town with lots of places to visit. We were on a tight schedule to get home before dinner but the church caught our eye. That’s easy to do really, considering its size and proximity to the main road.

http://on-walkabout.com/2007/08/14/on-walkabout-in-the-historic-churches-of-beechworth/

Christchurch Anglican Beechworth, Vic.

Christchurch Anglican Beechworth, Vic.

As always please double click on each photo and enlarge to full size.

295. Sunday 20th January 2013. From the mountains to the sea and back again. Bushfires, heatwaves and chilling rain…

21/01/2013

Monday 14th January

The storm last night seemed to go on and on with almost constant lightning and outside was lit up like day. The storm included heavy rain and strong winds. Regrettably I could not photograph any lightning as I simply could not click fast enough and could not go outside in the driving rain. Trust me it was a wild night. Radio reports during the morning advised some places had wind gusts up to 137Kph and on one farm on the other side of Armidale reported several concrete power poles were snapped off at the base. During the first hour or so of our drive we saw evidence of fallen trees and branches near the highway.

Sadly the news of the bushfire at Coonabarabran was even worse in that on Sunday alone, 40,000 hectares of land was burned out, 35 homes, 50 sheds and farm equipment were destroyed. Sixty personnel at the Siding Springs Observatory were evacuated to Coonabarabran. The fire is still out of control and with worse conditions expected later in the week, there are fears as to how bad The Warrumbungle and Barradene districts will fare.

At the end of last post, 294, I made the following comment.

“Tomorrow the forecast is for a cooler day by about 10°, almost perfect for our plans to drive to the coast but I will not pre-empt what we will be doing except to say I write up a report next week. Hopefully it will be worth the 6 hour drive each way.”

I can now comment on what that was about. We had arranged to drive to Toukley on the NSW Central Coast to view a house listed for sale. We also planned to look at a few other houses and retirement villages while in the area. Toukley is on Tuggerah Lake which itself is part of several lakes in the area. (Tuggerah Lake, lake Munmorah, Mannering Lake, Colongra Lake and Lake Macquarie) The house we planned to look at was disappointing as were another two shown by the agent. The final house inspection was of an older basic built, fibro cottage near the ocean beach at Noraville. Although I never entertained the idea of renovating an old house, the location of this one caught Donnis attention and her infectiousness spread to me. If we could get the house for the right price…

In the afternoon we drove to nearby Norah Head Lighthouse.    http://www.norahheadlighthouse.com.au/

It was here several events occurred. We stopped at a lookout and heard a helicopter making a few passes overhead. As we got closer to the lighthouse we found the action was centred here. That was when we realised we had left my good camera back at Guyra, sitting on the table where we would not forget it as we left the house.

Duhh!

We also found Donnis backup camera had a flat battery. Result, no photos of some of the wonderful scenery in the area.

On arrival at the lighthouse there were 4 Police cars, 5 Ambulance vehicles and a lifeguard vehicle all at the top of the cliffs while a helicopter hovered above the rocks. It seems a boy fell from the cliffs and was being rescued. We do not know the outcome but do know the boy was airlifted to hospital. The old lighthouse has been beautifully restored and looks great on the cliffs.

We stayed overnight at a motel at Budgewoi on the narrow channel of water joining the north and south halves of Tuggerah Lake.

Tuesday 15th January

We took an early morning walk on Jenny Dixon Beach.

http://markhall.hubpages.com/hub/ghostofjennydixon

and  https://www.google.com.au/search?q=jenny+dixon+beach&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=26a&tbo=u&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=e

This involved a climb down the steep staircase built into the cliffs. This is a wonderful rugged beach, very popular with families but the climb up the staircase is a bit taxing. Our leg muscles were left tired and shaking for 15 minutes afterwards.

We re-visited the old house at Noraville twice during the morning and discussed various thoughts on a renovation. Afterwards we visited a retirement village at Lake Munmorah and although the facilities and quality and even the price of the house we saw were attractive, we both feel it is simply too isolated for us.

The visit was intended as a fact finding project and a getting to know a location before committing to anything. Overall the visit was positive and we came away feeling good about the area. I lived here many years ago and although I no longer know anybody in the area I love the location and the rugged coastline with lots of walking and photographic opportunities. The area…including Toukley, Gorokan, Noraville, Norah Head, Halekulani and Budgewoi …is only about two hours by road to Sydney. As well the railway station at nearby Warnervale is linked with Sydney so a trip to the big smoke would only cost $2.50 return. We plan to re-visit the area later in February and spend about three nights while looking at other properties and for Donnis to feel comfortable. We have no plans to stop travelling but do need to have a new home base as it is unlikely we will ever return to Airlie Beach to live.

We left the Central Coast at 2pm and arrived Tamworth at 6.30pm and stopped for dinner at a Thai Restaurant. It was hot and humid in Tamworth and the next few days are predicted to be heatwave conditions with hot westerly winds, not good news for the fire-fighters around Coonabarabran. On the news we heard a tent city has been established at Coonabarabran for the 300 fire-fighters and their support. On arrival at Guyra a light misty rain was falling and it was bitterly cold. We were back in winter jammies and two blankets on the bed tonight.

As I visited Coonabarabran and the Warrumbungles as recently as October I am familiar with the area where the fire is raging. I recall thinking at the time how dry the countryside was and how quickly a fire could spread.

On a personal note we heard my aunt Maude who lives in Coonabarabran had a fall on Saturday and is back in hospital.

Wednesday 16th January

A quiet day in downtown Guyra. We spent the day relaxing.

 

Today was the first day of the Guyra Lamb and Potato Festival.   http://guyra-lamb-potato.com/

We took a quick look in the afternoon and noted a small car engine locomotive takes people on rides along the original rail lines.

The little rail car.

The little rail car.

Apart from that the festival location looks to be no more than a local Sunday Markets which runs for 10 days.

Part of the market stall type area spread along the side of the New England Highway.

Part of the market stall type area spread along the side of the New England Highway.

Perhaps there will be a street parade and bands and solo singers scheduled for the weekend.

Speaking with a few stall holders they told us the highway location for the festival provides good parking and attracts visitors using the highway, especially those on their way to and from the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Thursday 17th January.

It was grocery shopping day in Armidale. We visited Bunnings Hardware and priced items to establish a ballpark cost for renovating an old house.

Hmmm!

I am still in two minds about buying an old house and renovating because no matter what we do we still end up with an old house. On the positive side the location is close to Sydney, rail and air transport and although it gets hot in summer the heat and humidity does not get as high nor for as long as our home in tropical Mackay north Queensland. The house itself is only 500 metres from the ocean and receives lake and ocean breezes. The area is well served by medical facilities and shopping centres abound. The freeway to Sydney makes travel quick and easy. We also read today that Wyong Shire Council has just announced it will re-enter the bid for a second domestic airport for Sydney. If the bid for the airport goes to Wyong Shire, house and land prices in the area will increase.

It was a hot day throughout the state today with temps above 37° while in Guyra it never got above 30°.

Friday 18th January.

Temps in the state were high to very high and bushfire conditions made a turn for the worse. We had loosely planned to travel to Tamworth tomorrow to experience the Tamworth Country Music Festival. With temps expected to increase even further tomorrow we will have to check the weather forecast in the morning and decide in the morning.

Note to self. Pack the cameras tonight…just in case.

Saturday 19th January

The hot weather this morning made the decision for us. We did not drive to Tamworth.

Iain T, our neighbour called over to see us about 10am. It seems the rest of the family had gone to Armidale to shop but they could not get back into the car. The driver side door lock barrel just spun around. The car ignition system was linked to the door lock. Unless the door could be unlocked, the car could not be started. Ian had a spare wireless key to open the door but needed a lift to Armidale. We drove him to Armidale and the electronic key opened the door and allowed the car to be started. He drove off to the locksmith while we had a walk around the shops and came home in time for lunch after which a big storm rolled in, plummeting the temps below 20°. Lightning, thunder, hail, strong winds and tropical rain moved in. Winter jammies and an extra blanket on the bed tonight.

Whew! This is summer??? It is too cold and changeable.

A thick fog had also rolled in to replace the rain, thunder & lightning.

Sunday 20th January

Woke to a fog but the cold temps from last night had turned mild during the early hours this morning. The wind had died during the night and what was left was low lying cloud. Something the locals call “gooty”. It is not rain but the moisture within the cloud is deposited on trees shrubs, houses and anything else which stands still for a few minutes. A person suddenly finds themselves drenched. Later in the morning a cool breeze sprung up and the cloud drifted away leaving a cool overcast day.

We decided it was not a good day to be on the road today. Basically it was too wet and visibility especially here on top of the range, was limited. However we went to have another look at the Lamb & Potato Festival. Boy, was the place jumping.

200113 jumping

Cars parked all up and down the highway, in side streets and even the main street of Guyra. A walkway across the disused railway line joins the main shopping street with the highway. People were queued to buy Lamb & Potato meals and snacks.

Too many people waiting to buy a lamb and potato lunch.

Too many people waiting to buy a lamb and potato lunch.

Cute and simple puppets on strings. Marionettes?

Cute and simple puppets on strings. Marionettes?

Surprisingly most of the tent vendors were busy with customers. If nothing else it was good for a walk up and down the highway and people watch.

After dinner the rain returned in earnest.

Sheesh!

Did we miss summer?

294. Sunday 13th January 2013. Apricots, hot days and spectacular storms…

13/01/2013

Monday 7th January

Can you believe it is the height of summer yet last night we needed winter jammies and this morning I dressed in long sleeve shirt, jeans and a vest to keep warm from the cool southerly breeze. As mentioned in the last post we have started harvesting Apricots. Last night a small bucketload was cut in half and put in the dehydrator. This was the first time we had used such a device and we did not have an instruction manual. Nor could we find one on-line. We found lots of You Tube videos which told us how to prepare the apricots but no instructions on temperature or time. So, we took a guess and left the fruit in for 12 hours.

Hmmm! Not quite ready according to our taste test. We left them in for another three hours.

Hmmm! Too long!

We now have dried fruit which is chewy, tasty and has a slight toasted aftertaste but not unpleasant. There are lots of Apricots on the tree so we can experiment. What else is there for us to do? Heat wave conditions were felt throughout the state today and lots of bushfires have flared up. (Some, deliberately…what mental state are these people…often teenagers… in when they light these fires?) It was not overly hot in Guyra today so we are spared the excessive heat. The weather forecast is for temps in the forties tomorrow with strong winds. Bushfire season is upon us.

070113 gladioli

This is an Oyster Plant. Apparently very popular on the Continent. There is nothing edible about the plant. Some people say it looks nice and many homes around the district have it in their gardens. Once established it grows like wildfire. It has sharp thorny leaves and the flowers are also spikey. You need gloves to handle any part of the plant.  I consider it to be nothing more than an exotic noxious plant. Better off destroying it.

This is an Oyster Plant. Apparently very popular on the Continent. There is nothing edible about the plant. Some people say it looks nice and many homes around the district have it in their gardens. Once established it grows like wildfire. It has sharp thorny leaves and the flowers are also spikey. You need gloves to handle any part of the plant. I consider it to be nothing more than an exotic noxious plant. Better off destroying it.

Tuesday 8th January

As predicted the rest of the state sweltered and suffered in the oppressive heat and strong hot winds. Here in Guyra it struggled to reach 30° and as we spent most of the day indoors, really felt no discomfort. Fires have sprung up throughout the state as well as in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Over 100 homes destroyed in Tassie alone. At least one death. The predictions are, worse to come.

We used the time to turn ourselves into Apricot produce experimenters. Last night we set a couple of batches of Apricots into slow cookers (crockpots). This morning we removed the seeds, extracted the water and saved it as it was now a delightful, no added sugar, Apricot juice. The rest of the pulp was blended into a puree. Some batches had lemon juice and a banana added. The puree was then thinly spread on racks

Apricot Puree spread on one of the racks for drying.

Apricot Puree spread on one of the racks for drying.

in the dehydrator for a few hours and we ended up with lots of fruit rollup or fruit leather as it is called in the USA.

Apricot Leather after drying.

Apricot Leather after drying.

We cut the rolled leather into bite sized pieces.

Apricot Rollups...Roll up the leather and cut into pieces for a snack. Good long distance driving snack.

Apricot Rollups…Roll up the leather and cut into pieces for a snack. Good long distance driving snack.

As with the Apricot halves we may have dried them for too long as the bite size pieces are very chewy but slightly moist and a very strong Apricot flavour. We also bagged up a few kilos of ripe fruit and put them into the freezer.

Late in the afternoon we harvested a few big buckets of Apricots and looking back at the tree it looks untouched.

More fruit was bagged and frozen and more was put in the slow cookers overnight.

Once again the temp here reached 30° but the expected hot and blustery westerly wind did not eventuate but is now expected tomorrow.

After a long day of “homesteading” tasks we finally dropped into bed at a little after midnight. It was a cool night and winter jammies are still the dress code as overnight the temps will fall as low as 12° .

Wednesday 9th January.

During the night one of the two blankets was kicked off the bed but we woke to a cool and overcast morning. Not for long.  The hot wind picked up and so did the temp. The people in the rest of the state and particularly those in bushfire zones must really be feeling the extremes today.

Another day of harvesting washing, cutting cooking, blending, dehydrating and freezing Apricots.

It was a hot day by Guyra standards and I went to bed in summer jammies for a change.

Thursday 10th January.

In the morning a local visitor offered us some farm eggs. The eggs were in a box and each tray contained 24 eggs. We were given 2 trays. As a parting comment I was told the eggs had been left behind by the local pony club event on the previous weekend. Oh, by the way, the eggs sat in the sun for three days!!! When we cracked an egg we found the yolk already cooked.

Sun cooked eggs.

Sun cooked eggs.

Subsequent eggs were found to be cooked. Thanks for the gesture but I sure hope you did not use the eggs in your coffee shop! Our eggs will become landfill. They are not even fit to feed to the dog.

Hmmm! Perhaps if I left them out in the yard the snakes I saw last week might enjoy them! On second thought I do not want to deliberately encourage snakes so the eggs went straight in the bin.

The co-pilot had an on-line conference at midday so after a morning of Apricot tasks I headed along the New England Highway to Glen Innes.

Glen Innes Town Hall.

Glen Innes Town Hall.

The town was gazetted in 1852 and was named after Major Archibald Clunnes Innes who was an early grazier (sheep station). The history of the first settlers is …In about 1838 Archibald Boyd registered the first run in the Glen Innes district. Two stockmen known as “the Beardies” because of their long beards took Boyd to this area to establish his run.The Beardies’ later introduced other squatters to the best runs in the area to become known as the Land of the Beardies or Beardie Plains….On reflection we stopped at a location called Beardie Waters, an overnight rest area a little north of Glen Innes, on 26th November 2010. We camped overnight with friends Glennis and Eric who were travelling north and we were travelling south. At the time both Eric and I had long  and dare I say, unkempt beards. The joke around the barbecue that night, was that we were the two “beardies” referred to in local history. It was therefore quite a coincidence that we were back in the same district two years later. In fact Glennis and Eric visited me on 7th November 2012 when they stopped in Guyra overnight, this time on their way south. The two beardies were re-united although both of us had had a hair and beard trim recently….

The town of Glen Innes became quite wealthy due to wool, sheep, dairy and beef cattle as well as tin mining, Sapphire mining and timber. Most of the industries have shrunk in size or no longer active. Large standing stones can be found around the district, many of them classified as monoliths and some areas have been given a name such as Stonehenge.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonehenge,_New_South_Wales

Westpac Bank. Paintwork is as per the original colours as this is a Heritage Listed building. Good friend Tony was involved in the painting some years ago.

Westpac Bank. Paintwork is as per the original colours as this is a Heritage Listed building. Good friend Tony was involved in the painting some years ago.

What was this overgrown building in the middle of town?

What was this overgrown building in the middle of town?

Plaque commemorating the site of a store opened in 1848. The site is now the carpark for a Bi-Lo Store.

Plaque commemorating the site of a store opened in 1848. The site is now the carpark for a Bi-Lo Store.

 

While researching on line I found a photo of a Stonehenge type clock. I could not find any signs in town indicating where the stone “clock” was located.

The town has taken on a Celtic persona and has a Celtic festival each year. I took the opportunity to view some of the old buildings, looking in vain for a Commercial Bank of Australia Building. Alas on returning to Guyra and checking records, the CBA never had a branch at Glen Innes. I found this bit of information about the Town Hall Town Hall: One of the most distinctive in NSW, the foundation stone was laid by Sir Henry Parkes. Completed during Australia’s centenary year 1887-1888, a high Victorian grand town hall complex built in hybrid boom period French renaissance Italianate style.

Over the Town Hall clock face is a large deer head. I can find no information about why an introduced species of animal features as pride of place over the Town Hall doors. Perhaps it has some link to the Scottish, Celtic origins of the town.

Why is a reindeer featured above the Glen Innes Town Hall front doors and clock.

Why is a reindeer featured above the Glen Innes Town Hall front doors and clock.

I also visited Stonehenge on the southern outskirts.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

After seeing all the stone monoliths it is easy to see how the area is called Stonehenge.

One of hundreds of stones in the fields at Stonehenge.

One of hundreds of stones in the fields at Stonehenge.

100113 balancing

An old church has been converted to a Digital 3D movie theatre called the Chapel Theatre. Where the old notice board would have given information such as church times, name of minister and so forth, the notice board now advertises upcoming movies.

Old church now being put to good use as the Chapel Theatre.

Old church now being put to good use as the Chapel Theatre.

On my return we picked a huge load of Apricots and started to harvest the first potatoes…a small basket in just a few minutes.

Potato harvest.

Potato harvest.

Perhaps tomorrow we will spend a bit more time digging potatoes if Apricot produce duties are not too onerous.

A cold breeze and a threat of rain moved in around 7pm and I needed winter jammies for bed tonight.

Friday 11th January

It was hot by 8am this morning and the westerly wind was hot. It was a bit different to the cool blustery wind last night. Today the grass has turned a brownish grey and crackles underfoot. Hmmm! It was only a few short weeks ago that I was commenting how we had storms, including rain, almost every night. It seems summer has arrived in Guyra, somewhat behind everywhere else.

Even by 8pm the temperature in the kitchen was around 30° and with no breeze it was the first time we experienced summer conditions. All windows and doors were left open all night.

Saturday 12th January

As predicted by the weather forecasters, it was another hot day with gusty westerly winds. In fact the temperature rose to 32° inside the house. By mid-afternoon we could see storm clouds building so we brought in WWWGO awning.

Storm building up in the valley behind the neighbours Apricot Tree.

Storm building up in the valley behind the neighbours Apricot Tree.

That was a wise choice as the storm hit about 4pm and was preceded by strong winds. The thunder and lightning arrived and the afternoon became dark. At least two strikes were close somewhere in the nearby paddocks and the house shook. The storm rolled away but circled back not once but four times. In the last storm we saw horizontal lightning. The grass which had turned brown and crackly will probably be fresh and green by morning and growing again.

Sheep on the land beside us. They were rounded into a tight group and held in place by this efficient Kelpie dog.

Sheep on the land beside us. They were rounded into a tight group and held in place by this efficient Kelpie dog.

Sunday 13th January

Another hot day in Guyra today. Another day spent indoors in the shade doing research and making photo books and finishing off our Apricot products.

Late in the afternoon another storm rolled in…much later than yesterday.

Tomorrow the forecast is for a cooler day by about 10°, almost perfect for our plans to drive to the coast but I will not pre-empt what we will be doing except to say I write up a report next week. Hopefully it will be worth the 6 hour drive each way.

293. Sunday 6th January 2013. New Year, Friendship, Dorrigo, Apricots and Snake incidents…

06/01/2013

Monday 31st December

New Years Eve!

Just another day down on the farm.

We did stay up very late…until 12.15am…to watch the New Year fireworks from Sydney Harbour. Many of the vantage points around The Rocks and Circular Quay are where we visited last week and which was the subject of a “The Rocks” post. Along with the 1.5 million people who lined the Sydney Harbour foreshore we joined millions and millions of people all over the world who watched it all on TV. Broadcasters have a certain advantage in being able to choose the best locations and being able to show the spectacle to gain maximum impact. However there is nothing like being there and experiencing it, including the noise, the ooohs and aaahs of the crowd. Instead all us TV viewers got was Kylie Minogue songs synced to the action and that just took away from the event, However it was a wonderful spectacle and we are glad we did not have to battle with those 1.5 million trying find their way home. Donnis and I agreed if we could be there we would take a doona and sleep on the grass or beach and go home later in the morning.

While watching the fireworks on and around the Harbour Bridge I was thinking of the night I did the Harbour Bridge Climb on 30th December 2000, the night before New Years Eve. I saw the fireworks in sealed containers strapped to parts of the bridge. The following night, New Years Eve, I watched the Sydney fireworks on TV from my room on Norfolk Island.

Tuesday 1st January – New Years Day 2013.

Another quiet day down on the farm. Ian from across the street joined us for a few hours in the morning, tweaking the computer backup programme on the laptop and installing some new apps on the iPad. In the afternoon Ian and his brother Justin joined me at a local cricket field where we flew my A R Parrot Drone.

Wednesday 2nd January

Today started out as just another day down on the farm. I set soaker hoses and sprinklers and looking around decided to cut the grass. I was wearing leather sandals as I had not planned anything further than the hoses. Nonetheless, I cut the grass until the mower stopped. All by itself. Hmmm! Perhaps the air filter is clogged with dust again. I went to the garage to find a screwdriver when I felt a sharp sting in my foot. Hmmm! I thought I had picked up a burr or nettle or a blackberry thorn while mowing. The sting became worse. I managed to get the sandal off but by now the pain was intense and whatever it was that stung me was under the right big toe where I could not see it.  By now I was calling out in pain and Donnis said she could not see anything but ran off to get tweezers and lotions. Looking on the ground I saw a bee struggling among the grass. The pain was now so throbbing and searing in waves as far as my knee I could not concentrate but managed to hobble to a seat when Donnis arrived with tweezers. The entire ball of my foot felt like it was on fire and Donnis saw a large red area and located the bee sting and pulled it out. The muscle attached to the sting was still pumping. An essential oil, noted as being effective in treating bee stings was applied and after awhile the pain began to subside but not before a heavy duty headache arrived. Long story short the toe was still painful when I went to bed but at least I could still walk. The other blessing is that I am not allergic to bee stings. I can imagine how a person with an allergic reaction could quickly go into shock and require emergency medical treatment.

I suggested we have dinner at the bowling club but it was closed and the only place we could find was the Guyra Hotel. Against my better judgement we ordered our meals and waited. The serving window and kitchen door were closed when we sat down. I did not believe anybody could murder a salad but the woman at the Guyra Hotel proved me wrong. I will call her a woman rather than a cook. A cook would not provide the poor quality of salad which was on our plates. Chunky slices of cucumber, tomato, onion, canned pineapple and beetroot was the extent of the “salad”. Basically the tomato, cucumber and beetroot looked suspiciously like they had been sitting unrefrigerated for a day or so and the cucumber was slimey. The “salad” remained largely uneaten on our plates. No sense complaining as the people at the kitchen and the barman were in another world. (you can use your imagination as to what world they were in) We have scratched the Guyra Hotel off our list for anything in the future.

About this time every year I like to look back on our year and review our travels. On reflection our regular readers will already know the places we have visited and know our delight when we visit a new town, location, park or natural feature. When we started our journey in September 2010 the plan was to travel Australia in a meandering fashion. Part of the plan was to work a month or two as we went. Included in the travel plan was to see if any area appealed to us as a place to settle. So, in this review I will look at places we visited this year which appealed to us as a likely place to live. The difficulty with this type of review is that most of this year has been spent in New South Wales with a little time in The Australian Capital Territory of Canberra and Victoria.

Almost anywhere on the New South Wales south coast appealed to us. Wollongong and the surrounding coastal suburbs all have an appeal and the fact I lived there many years ago and retained friendships certainly has an emotional attraction for us. Errol, Nicole and the two grandchildren live there as well. Another bonus point. Plus all those beaches. Close to major airports and has its own huge choice of shopping venues. Lots of close medical facilities.

Narooma and the far south coast was another area with lots of charm and appeal therefore gets a nod. With friends in the area it also could be a place to settle. Although somewhat distant from major shopping (who really needs major shopping) and Domestic and International airports it is not all that far and has the added advantage of a pollution free environment and of course all those beaches. Lack of medical facilities is the big downside.

Canberra. We both loved the sprawl and logic of the city design. There is much to see and do but we have no family or friends in the area, it gets too cold in winter and is too far from the coast. It is well serviced by a large airport and of course has major shopping available. I think a year would probably be enough to see the sights and it would be time to move on.

Albury on the NSW/Victorian border was a surprise to both of us. Pollution free, major shopping, delightful city, close to lots of national parks and the Snowy Mountains and well serviced by air transport. Drawback is we have neither family or friends there, it is too far from the coast and gets bitterly cold in the winter.

The only place in Victoria where we spent any time was Mount Beauty. A delightful, pretty town but too far from medical services, shopping, airport and beaches.

Towns in western NSW such as Forbes, Dubbo, Tamworth, Armidale are all delightful, well serviced by air transport but limited medical facilities, too cold and too far from the coast.

Although we have not been there this year, the central coast of NSW around Toukley and the lakes is on our list to visit in 2013.

Thursday 3rd January.

Today we went to Armidale for shopping. We renewed our NSW National Parks and Wildlife Annual Pass. It entitles us to free parking in about 97% of the NSW Parks.

I have been asked about my nose. Tuesday was the end of the 14 days and so I was able to blow my nose for the first time. Have you any idea how something as simple as blowing your nose can be an enjoyable experience? So far, the good news is, no nose bleed.

Donnis bought a kilo of green banana prawns at a good price so we made garlic prawns for dinner. She is on a diet so the lovely garlic butter sauce option was excluded. The equally lovely garlic cream sauce option was also excluded. So, it was just prawns and garlic. It was a bit on the dry side and basically uninteresting…for me.

I was especially pleased to get home and removed my sneakers. The big toe was swollen and aching. Later in the day the aching was replaced by itching. Hmmm. Bee sting histamines are at work. I took an anti-histamine tablet which gave several hours relief and I was able to fall asleep without scratching at the toe.

Friday 4th January

Today was expected to be hot. Not the 41° hot expected over most of the sate but nonetheless 30° for Guyra is hot. In the morning and again in the evening it was quite cool with a chill breeze requiring winter jammies and a gown.

In the morning before it got too hot I decided to cut more grass…of course I wore my heavy duty boots. No more bee stings for me! As I mowed into a patch of long grass along a boundary fence a brown snake reared up, spun around and wriggled, slithered or snaked away. I grabbed a pitchfork and followed…at a respectable distance. Hmmm! Pitchfork prongs are about three inches apart. It is not going to be much help if the snake strikes at me but anything between me and the snake has got to be useful. Within a minute I had lost track of its course through the long brown grass just on the other side of the fence. Now is a good time to move somewhere else and cut grass. By the way, the Eastern Brown or Common Brown Snake is about number two on the worlds deadliest snakes list. OK from now on, shoes and socks with long trousers, long sleeved shirt and gloves are the order of the day when mowing.

Tonight we used the rest of the prawns for dinner. Donnis had the basic prawns and garlic. After she was served I quickly did my version. Just as the prawns turned colour to a milky white I added dollops of honey, stirred to coat the prawns and served in their sweet garlic and drippy honey sauce. Accompanied by a nice home-made coleslaw it was a wonderful meal. The prawns were succulent in texture and their own natural mild flavour was enhanced by the slightly bitter toasted garlic and the sweet honey.

Try it sometime.

Saturday 5th January.

I am currently reading a whimsical novel called A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez. It is about a witch, …nameless of course… , a witches familiar…usually a cat but in this book, a duck… a magic broom, a chaste White Knight and a Troll. Oh and a wiley fox who stays mostly out of sight of the others. All these characters are on a quest. A passage in the story begins… “A worthwhile quest always involved a great deal of nothing happening. Until that is, something does happen.” So it is that our travels are a bit like the quest. Most of our days are waiting for a something to happen day.

Last night I spoke with long-time friend, Tony J.

Frank and Tony J. Buddies from National Service Days.

Frank and Tony J. Buddies from National Service Days.

I mentioned we had planned to drive to Dorrigo today, just because we can. Tony called this morning and said they were going to have breakfast and then drive from Port Macquarie along the coast and up the mountain range to meet us in Dorrigo. That was a three hour drive for them and a two hour drive for us.

We arrived in Dorrigo where the local markets were at the packing up stage. The CO-PILOT  loves markets as she learns about a community from their markets. I learned they were packing up and most had already gone.

White Lady with harvest at the Dorrigo Markets.

White Lady with harvest at the Dorrigo Markets.

The CO-PILOT learned she can still find something to buy, even when most of the stalls have gone. By the time I co-ordinated our escape Tony and Dawn had arrived in town and being lunchtime, were ready to eat. Regrettably we did not have time to walk around town and absorb the community feel. We had lunch and sat around chin wagging for an hour.

Dawn Tony and Donns

Dawn Tony and Donns

Donnis and Dawn

Donnis and Dawn

Then we agreed to visit the local National Park, The Dorrigo Rainforest Centre.

Mural made by local primary school at the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre.

Mural made by local primary school at the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre.

A timber suspended boardwalk

Suspended walkway at Dorrigo Rainforest Centre.

Suspended walkway at Dorrigo Rainforest Centre.

took us to amazing valley views which gave views all the way to the coast.

View across the range to the coast.

View across the range to the coast.

Tony and I started on a rainforest walk but by the time we stopped to look at an interpretive map realised the shortest return walk was two hours so retraced our steps back to the rainforest centre.

Tree overcome by Strangler Vine  and the original tree has rotted from the inside.

Tree overcome by Strangler Vine and the original tree has rotted from the inside.

Young girl on natural hanging vine swing at Dorrigo Rainforest Walk.

Young girl on natural hanging vine swing at Dorrigo Rainforest Walk.

All too soon it was time to have our hugs and kisses and say goodbye.

The day was predicted to be heat wave conditions but it was rather pleasant at Dorrigo on the edge of the escarpment.

Back in Guyra it was warm enough for me to wear summer jammies…the first time during this summer it was warm enough to do so. A heat wave in Guyra gets about as warm as a mild spring day elsewhere.

Sunday 6th January.

It was a quiet day down on the farm. I dressed in long trousers, long sleeve shirt, gloves, heavy boots and hat before cutting the grass for an hour.

Late in the afternoon we harvested a small bucket of Apricots.

Ripe Apricots

Ripe Apricots

Once rised and cut in half and the seed removed, they were placed in the dehydrator. We should know how they turn out  in 24 to 36 hours.

Apricots in the dehydrater. We created five trays this size from a small bucket of fruit.

Apricots in the dehydrater. We created five trays this size from a small bucket of fruit.

We also spent some time discussing and making loose plans for a three day getaway in WWWGO.

When??? That is why there was time spent discussing the getaway. Nothing yet decided but we are working on it.

Stay tuned.

292. Sydney. THE ROCKS. Birthplace of a Nation…

01/01/2013

This post is about The Rocks, often referred to as the birthplace of Australia.

Our walking tour planned for today started with the decision to travel by train to Town Hall Station in Sydney. Donnis and I got the pensioner discount fare of $2.50 return to Sutherland. This same ticket entitled us to travel as far south as Nowra, West to the Blue Mountains and north to Newcastle.

Once at Town Hall Station we spent almost an hour underground as we wandered along the intersecting tunnel shopping malls which link up with Queen Victoria Building.   http://www.qvb.com.au/about-qvb  

Queen Victoria Building showing three shopping levels.

Queen Victoria Building showing three shopping levels.

Frank Bev N pete in the Queen Victoria Building in front of the original stained glass window.

Frank Bev n Pete in the Queen Victoria Building in front of the original stained glass window.

The QVB construction was completed in 1898.

Restoration was proposed by a Malaysian company in 1984.

In 2008 the company spent another $48m on refurbishment and  works were completed in 2009.

As a child and later as a teenager, when I worked in the city near the QVB, the building was considered a bit of a ghost town and apart from a visit when I first started work, it was just a dark and dingy building which had nothing of interest to a teenager.  Sometime around the 1959 the building was considered for demolition. The building has undergone a restoration including going underground and linking up with Town Hall Station. I could probably spend a day wandering the many floors of stores, coffee houses and displays. Two sights which stood out was the original stained glass window and the three story tall Christmas Tree, adorned with over $200,000 worth of Swarovaski Crystal Candles.

Three storey high Christmas Tree inside the Queen Victoria Building.

Three storey high Christmas Tree inside the Queen Victoria Building.

From the QVB we walked George Street as I particularly wanted to see the Commercial Bank of Australia building at 391 George Street where I started work after schooling was finished.

391 George St. This is where I started work all those years ago.

391 George St. This is where I started work all those years ago.

It is no longer used as a bank and I was disappointed to see the heavy ornate brass doors which I opened each morning at 10am and closed at 3pm, are gone.

Sob!

I recall when I first started work, electric trams operated along the streets of Sydney. They ceased operation around 1960. I was working when George Street had the tram lines dug up and the electric overhead lines removed. The entire road-base was made up of timber blocks.   http://thedirton.therocks.com/2010/03/telling-rocks-stories-historical.html

See the video   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhiYG6rnNL8

Further along at 273 George Street was the Commercial Bank of Australia Sydney office.

This is the location where once a magnificent sandstone building once stood.

This is the location where once a magnificent sandstone building once stood.

I worked here in the Correspondence Department on the third floor then Overseas Bills Department on

the second floor before being transferred to a rural branch at Toukley. I was even more disappointed to find the entire building has gone.

Sob! Sob!

So much for visiting old memories.

Next, via narrow streets and even narrower steep sandstone stairs we came to Cumberland Street and an Archaeological Dig at 110 Cumberland St. YHA Australia was granted a 100 year lease in 1994 and agreed to build their new 4 storey hostel above the dig site. The site is open to the public,  University training digs and school educational programs are run during the year. So far over 700,000 artefacts have been recovered from the site.   http://thedirton.therocks.com/2010/03/cumberland-street-archaeological-site.html

http://www.thebigdig.com.au/

110 Cumberland St. Hats off to YHA and all associated with saving an historical site at the same time as building their new accomodation on the same site.

110 Cumberland St. Hats off to YHA and all associated with saving an historical site at the same time as building their new accomodation on the same site.

Part of the Archaeological dig at 110 Cumberland Street.

Part of the Archaeological dig at 110 Cumberland Street.

Many of the original staircases, made from local sandstone, are still in use throughout The Rocks today. We crossed Cumberland Street overlooking what is known as The Argyle Cut…an extension of east and west ends of Argyle Street cut through solid sandstone by hammer and chisel by convicts.   http://goaustralia.about.com/od/nswsightseeing/ss/rockswalk_5.htm

Argyle Cut east

Argyle Cut east

We followed a staircase built as part of the Sydney Harbour Bridge approach until we reached Fort Street and the Original Observatory where weather observations and precise time keeping was carried out.

Observatory seen from the park.

Observatory seen from the park.

Observatory on Fort Street.

Observatory on Fort Street.

Fine example of a sandston block wall built on solid sandstone at the Observatory Park.

Fine example of a sandston block wall built on solid sandstone at the Observatory Park.

The original Trig Station was built here and all mapping was referenced back to this precise location.

Australia's first Trig Station. From here all other trig stations were set. Regular readers will be aware I find trig stations in our travels and report on them.

Australia’s first Trig Station. From here all other trig stations were set. Regular readers will be aware I find trig stations in our travels and report on them.

Wonderful views of the harbour and The Bridge are seen from Observation Park.

View from one of the Observatory Towers. The window overlooks a Cruise Boat Terminal in Walsh Bay.

View from one of the Observatory Towers. The window overlooks a Cruise Boat Terminal in Walsh Bay.

The observatory is open to the public and has free admission.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Observatory

From the park I could see several harbour-side suburbs as well as Luna Park and Walsh Bay.

Looking across Sydney harbour to Luna Park. As a pre-teen and a teenager I would catch a bus from my home in Balmain, a Ferry to either King St Wharf or Circular Quay the another ferry to Luna Park or climb the bridge pylon to the bridge walkway and walk across the bridge to Milsons Point. I loved going to Luna Park. I loved all the rides except the river caves and the roller coaster.

Looking across Sydney harbour to Luna Park. As a pre-teen and a teenager I would catch a bus from my home in Balmain, a Ferry to either King St Wharf or Circular Quay then another ferry to Luna Park or climb the bridge pylon to the bridge walkway and walk across the bridge to Milsons Point. I loved going to Luna Park. I loved all the rides except the river caves and the roller coaster.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luna_Park_Sydney

Below the park is lower Fort Street with the Garrison Church

The Garrison Church on the corner of Lower Fort Street and the Argyle Cut.

The Garrison Church on the corner of Lower Fort Street and the Argyle Cut.

The Garrison Church. As you would expect it smells old, musty and damp. Little wonder thet are seeking donations for restorations.

The Garrison Church. As you would expect it smells old, musty and damp. Little wonder thet are seeking donations for restorations.

http://www.therocks.com/sydney-Getting_Here_and_Around-Services-Garrison_Church.htm

and fine examples of early terrace houses

More early terrace houses in Lower Fort Street near the Garrison Church.

More early terrace houses in Lower Fort Street near the Garrison Church.

and of course that media tart, The Sydney Harbour Bridge.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Harbour_Bridge

It appears in so many photographs of Sydney, including my own.

Sydney Harbour Bridge in sunshine glory. If you double click on the image to enlarge full size you will be able to see at least seven Bridge Climb Groups at various places on the arch.

Sydney Harbour Bridge in sunshine glory. If you double click on the image to enlarge full size you will be able to see at least seven Bridge Climb Groups at various places on the arch.

Donnis and Bev lokk out over Walshes Bay at the rotunda in the Observatory Park. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an ever present landmark.

Donnis and Bev lokk out over Walshes Bay at the rotunda in the Observatory Park. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an ever present landmark.

We walked back through the Argyle Cut and noted many Plane Trees which were planted a century ago.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platanus

A huge Plane Tree growing through the footpath in the Argyle Cut west. The tree almost spans the entire road.

A huge Plane Tree growing through the footpath in the Argyle Cut west. The tree almost spans the entire road.

The Rocks Discovery Centre at Kendalls Lane and lunchtime is as busy as any other time of day.

The Rocks Discovery Centre at Kendalls Lane and lunchtime is as busy as any other time of day.

Terrace Houses in Playfair Street near Rocks Information Centre.

Terrace Houses in Playfair Street near Rocks Information Centre.

Argyle Cut runs under Cumberland Street and we climbed Argyle Stairs  – like all the original sandstone stairs they have been worn and weathered by countless feet over the last 150 to almost 200 years – to reach Cumberland Street. The Glenmore Hotel, built about 80 years ago was where we had lunch.

Our lunch spot outside the Glenmore Hotel, Pete, Donnis and Bev are sharing a table with an American women who works at the hotel. She kindly arranged to have an umbrella brought to our table.

Our lunch spot outside the Glenmore Hotel, Pete, Donnis and Bev are sharing a table with an American women who works at the hotel. She kindly arranged to have an umbrella brought to our table.

View from Glenmore Hotel in Cumberland Street. Look at the old red post box still being used today.

View from Glenmore Hotel in Cumberland Street. Look at the old red post box still being used today.

The hotel has three floors with the upper deck being used for special functions such as New Years Eve as it has a grandstand view of the harbour.

Main bar of the Glenmore Hotel.

Main bar of the Glenmore Hotel.

The men’s urinal has a window which also overlooks the harbour and International Passenger Terminal.   http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/visit/ViewAttractionDetail.aspx?ID=5053165

View from the window beside the men's urinal. Look closely and you can see the funnel on the good ship Carnival Spirit.

View from the window beside the men’s urinal. Look closely and you can see the funnel on the good ship Carnival Spirit.

After lunch we continued down Cumberland Street towards the Harbour Bridge Pylons.

These are Housing Commission units in Cumberland Street. All have majestic views over Sydney Harbour. Rents are up to, yep, up to, $80 per week. Some craft tenants who do not own cars, rent their underground car parking spaces for up to $200 per week. Not a bad deal if you can get it.

These are Housing Commission units in Cumberland Street. All have majestic views over Sydney Harbour. Rents are up to, yep, up to, $80 per week. Some crafty tenants who do not own cars, rent their underground car parking spaces for up to $200 per week. Not a bad deal if you can get it.

The Bridge Climb Offices and Training Centre are located just opposite the Glenmore Hotel.    http://www.bridgeclimb.com/

Headquarters and Training Centre of the Sydney Bridge Climb.

Headquarters and Training Centre of the Sydney Bridge Climb.

A Sydney Bridge Climb tour group almost completing their tour. A little to the left in this photo is a hole in the wall tunnel. All tours commence and end inside the tunnel.

A Sydney Bridge Climb tour group almost completing their tour. A little to the left in this photo is a hole in the wall tunnel. All tours commence and end inside the tunnel.

We then swung right into George Street

Typical well maintained historical terrace houses in George Street, The Rocks.

Typical well maintained historical terrace houses in George Street, The Rocks.

and Playfair Street and Atherden Street which is only 26 metres long. The original old terrace houses are in abundance in these three streets.

Playfair Terraces in Atherden Street. This is the shortest street in Australia at only 26metres long and there are only 4 terrace houses.

Playfair Terraces in Atherden Street. This is the shortest street in Australia at only 26metres long and there are only 4 terrace houses.

Still on George Street we saw the huge brick building, with the red old fashioned phone box outside, that at first glance I thought it was a Post Office.

Original Coroners Court in George Street.

Original Coroners Court in George Street.

In fact it was the Coroners Court and now operates as an Art Gallery.   http://walkingtour.therocks.com/s.p?m=b&p=8n4TsWqoXyMH

Crossing George Street and moving towards the International  Passenger Terminal we stopped to look at Cadmans Cottage,

Cadmans Cottage.

Cadmans Cottage.

another original building and one which is two thirds undergoing archaeological excavation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadmans_Cottage

Next we walked around the crowded public open space of Circular Quay.

Circular Quay. The busiest maritime port within Australia..

Circular Quay. The busiest maritime port within Australia..

Entertainers keep the crowds amused and it seemed there was a camera on every visitor. This is a tourist mecca and on a fine warm and sunny day the crowds are out in force. So far, on this walking tour, we have discovered there is so much to see and so much happening around The Rocks we just could not expect to take it all in at one visit. However our walking tour is not yet over and we still have to walk to the railway station.

The huge cruise liner, Carnival Spirit is in port and is being prepared for the next cruise in February 2013.   http://www.carnival.com.au/Spirit.aspx

The Carnival Spirit Cruise Ship.

The Carnival Spirit Cruise Ship.

While enjoying busy bustling cosmopolitan Circular Quay we just had to take a little time out to photograph Sydney’s second most iconic landmark, the Opera House.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Opera_House

Donnis and Frank at Circular Quay with another world famous iconic building in the background.

Donnis and Frank at Circular Quay with another world famous iconic building in the background.

Pete, Bev n Frank at Circular quay with  icon  the Opera House.

Pete, Bev n Frank at Circular quay with icon the Opera House.

This needs no introduction.

This needs no introduction.

This will be a prime place to be for the New Years Eve fireworks but at least a million other people will have the same idea. Regrettably we did not have time to walk over to the Opera House and I will have to save my first visit for another time. I still feel somewhat guilty that I grew up in Sydney and lived in and around the city and have not yet visited the Opera House.

Old Sydney Double decker buses have been put to a practical use. These buses run every 20 minutes and tours last 90 minutes.

Old Sydney Double decker buses have been put to a practical use. These buses run every 20 minutes and tours last 90 minutes.

From the busy quayside we crossed Alfred Street and walked to Loftus Street and wandered to Macquarie Place a park partially walled with beautiful original Sydney Foreshore Sandstone blocks.

A sandstone obelisk was erected here in 1818 to mark the place where all roads leading out of Sydney to destinations  within the colony were measured.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macquarie_Place

The plaque at the bottom of the Obelisk in Macquarie Place.

The plaque at the bottom of the Obelisk in Macquarie Place.

The Obelisk in Macquarie Place. All distances within the Colony were measured from this point.

The Obelisk in Macquarie Place. All distances within the Colony were measured from this point.

Also located in the park is the recovered anchor from the ill- fated ship, HMS Sirius which sank at Norfolk Island in 1790.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Sirius_%281786%29

Anchor from the wreck of the HMS SIRIUS now located at Macquarie Place at The Rocks.

Anchor from the wreck of the HMS SIRIUS now located at Macquarie Place at The Rocks.

A little further up the street we stopped to admire the ornate doorway of the original Lands Department building.

Beautiful ornate door and entranceway stonework of the Department of Lands.

Beautiful ornate door and entranceway stonework of the Department of Lands.

We continued our walk along a gradually steepening street until we reached Martin Place. We did not take time to wander Martin Place instead we entered the underground railway station (this station did not exist when I worked in the city many years ago) and caught our train back to Sutherland.

All in all, a happy but tiring day. We only saw a fraction of what The Rocks has to offer. Indeed we only saw a fraction of what the “old” part of Sydney has to offer as well. There are parts that are 200 years old, some 100 years old and some are modern. I do not know when this will happen but I will return to Sydney and spend more time visiting its fabulous landmarks and significant historical sites.

You can count on it.

We suggest you take time to “double click” on the images to view full size.

We hope you get as much enjoyment out of this mini-tour as we did.