Posts Tagged ‘Dubbo’

486. Sunday 17th April 2016. A drive through parts of western NSW…

20/04/2016

Monday 11th April

Heading west from Gymea we picked up the Great Western Highway. Much of the highway climbs over the Blue Mountains and passes through the fertile plains beyond the Great Dividing Range. The highway begins a steady climb through umpteen small heritage listed towns and is only one lane – both ways. Road works are an ongoing works in progress. I would call it simply the Western Highway and omit the “great”. That said the area is steeped in historical sites. More sites than we can expect to have time to see on this journey.

First up we stopped at the town of Katoomba which sits atop the range at 1050 metres above sea level. In the winter it snows here. Today however it was a pleasant 27° and winter is still around the corner.  We paid the parking fee to visit the Three Sisters

The iconic Three Sisters at Echo Point, Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Enlarge the photo and look at the first sister on the left. You can see a narrow bridge from the cliffs to the sister.

The iconic Three Sisters at Echo Point, Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Enlarge the photo and look at the first sister on the left. You can see a narrow bridge from the cliffs to the sister.

Three early settlers found a way to bring horses and wagons through the Blue Mountains and the plains beyond, Their endeavours opened the region to expansion. Those historic expeditioners were. Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson. Suburbs have been named after them along the road they surveyed. These statues at Katoomba are in honour of the original convict labour used to build the road, the soldiers appointed to keep the convicts working and also to the local aboriginal population who did their best to harass and stop the invasion.

Three early settlers found a way to bring horses and wagons through the Blue Mountains and the plains beyond, Their endeavours opened the region to expansion. Those historic expeditioners were. Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson. Suburbs have been named after them along the road they surveyed. These statues at Katoomba are in honour of the original convict labour used to build the road, the soldiers appointed to keep the convicts working and also to the local aboriginal population who did their best to harass and stop the invasion.

Tourists simply cannot get enough of the views.

Tourists simply cannot get enough of the views.

at Echo Point

Echo Point is the location at Katoomba where all the tourists buses and other visitors spill their passengers to gawk and go OOOh when they see this spectacular view of valleys and steep sandstone cliffs.

Echo Point is the location at Katoomba where all the tourists buses and other visitors spill their passengers to gawk and go OOOh when they see this spectacular view of valleys and steep sandstone cliffs.

This viewing platform is an on the edge experience

This viewing platform is an on the edge experience

Donnis enjoyed the scenery.

Donnis enjoyed the scenery.

Look beyond the bearded guy in the crumpled hat and note the huge sandstone cliffs of the Grose Valley.

Look beyond the bearded guy in the crumpled hat and note the huge sandstone cliffs of the Grose Valley.

and gape in awe with thousands of tourists at the huge vista which are the Grose and Jamison Valley’s. It is sort of a green version of the Grand Canyon. A very steep narrow staircase leads down to an equally narrow bridge joining the sandstone cliffs to the first of the three sisters.

Atop the first sister with the Grose Valley in the background.

Atop the first sister with the Grose Valley in the background.

Closeup of the foot bridge to the sister. For some reason the bridge is named Honeymoon Bridge.

Closeup of the foot bridge to the sister. For some reason the bridge is named Honeymoon Bridge.

On this occasion my knees failed to live up to the expectation of my mind so we left the walk to braver souls.

Next on the agenda was Scenic World where the operators provide a free multi story carpark. A good thing they do as the lines of people willing to spend big dollars to be terrified meant we would run out of daylight before being able to join the Scenic Railway

This is the end of the Scenic Railway, Note that it sits atop a steep drop to the valley floor.

This is the end of the Scenic Railway, Note that it sits atop a steep drop to the valley floor.

which offers a 52 degree incline whilst dropping over the edge of a cliff then hurtling towards the valley floor before brakes and safety cables bring you to a stop at a platform dangling over yet another cliff above a valley floor further below. See   www.scenicworld.com.au

Scenic Skyway is a cable car suspended 270 metres above the valley floor. The floor is glass!

The Skyway with the glass floor moves slowly across the chasm between to cliffs. To add a little terror it stops halfway while  controller explains something trivial.

The Skyway with the glass floor moves slowly across the chasm between to cliffs. To add a little terror it stops halfway while controller explains something trivial.

Equally thrilling is the Scenic Cableway which descends 545 metres to the floor of Jamison Valley.

Scenic world has three rides which make the strongest person feel trembly in the knees. This is Cableway.

Scenic world has three rides which make the strongest person feel trembly in the knees.
This is Cableway.

But… we had to find accommodation for the night and continued on the Not So Great Western Highway, followed the steep Victoria Pass to Lithgow, a once great Coal Mining Centre and the Military contracted Lithgow Small Arms Factory. The town still has a strong community spirit which accounts for the very modern Workies Club where we had dinner.

Tuesday 12th April – Happy ..th Birthday Donnis

Looking at a map I now realise we will have to compress our days, missing some sights, in order to use the planned route and find our way home by the weekend. We skipped the attractions at Lithgow and pushed on to Bathurst where we drove around the famous Mt Panorama Motor Racing Circuit.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Panorama_Circuit    Most of the track and some of the pit area is open to the public.

Entrance to the Mt Panorama Race Circuit.

Entrance to the Mt Panorama Race Circuit.

The start lines for races.

The start lines for races.

...and the race is underway. Top speed of 60 Kph has been achieved.

…and the race is underway. Top speed of 60 Kph has been achieved.

At the top, Skyline Pass with terrifying steep off camber left and right bends. around the

At the top, Skyline Pass with terrifying steep off camber left and right bends.
around the

I have been watching the Mt Panorama Race, on television, in October each year for all my adult life. It was thrilling driving the same track, at 60 Klm per hour where the professionals are racing at speeds up to 300 KPH. How is it possible?

There is lots to see at Bathurst but we are on a mission to fit in as much as possible every day.

We picked up the Castlereagh Highway and drove to Sofala, an old gold mining town established in 1851.

Boot Hill, the dead centre of Sofala.

Boot Hill, the dead centre of Sofala.

Most of the original houses pre 1900 are still intact, some habited. The narrow street follows the Turon River for all the 300 metres which comprises the town.

At one time Sofala was big enough to have sufficient population to justify a gaol.

At one time Sofala was big enough to have sufficient population to justify a gaol.

Donnis looking for a book at the Sofala Book Store. It was the only store, apart from the pub, which was open.

Donnis looking for a book at the Sofala Book Store. It was the only store, apart from the pub, which was open.

This ancient building was an eatery but not open when we visited Sofala.

This ancient building was an eatery but not open when we visited Sofala.

I was a bit cruel and left Donnis hanging around for awhile.

I was a bit cruel and left Donnis hanging around for awhile.

There is so much history here but we only had time for a walk around, a quick lunch then on to Mudgee.

Mudgee is also an old gold mining town but survives today due to sheep farming. It is a wealthy town, full of attractions but many of the old historical shops and houses have been modernised and in our opinion has lost a lot of its character appeal.

We drove on to Gulgong, birthplace of Henry Lawson, arguably Australia’s greatest poet and the man who appears on the original $10 note along with some town buildings.

The Henry Lawson Centre at Gulgong.

The Henry Lawson Centre at Gulgong.

I have been a keen reader of the collective works of Henry Lawson. Regrettably while travelling my collection of books were stored in our garage. After 4 years in storage and several years just sitting on the bookshelf the books had become musty smelling. I did not feel like moving all those books once more only to sit on a bookshelf and perhaps never be looked again. I gave away my collection.

Sob sob.

For those interested in why I liked the stories  and poems by Henry Lawson, please refer to the following site.   http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poems-book/verses-popular-and-humorous-0022000

The wonderful thing about Gulgong is that it is still old. The gutter/footpath edging is made from rough dressed sandstone.

Gulgong have left the original rough dressed sandstone on place for the gutters and foothpath edging.

Gulgong have left the original rough dressed sandstone on place for the gutters and foothpath edging.

I am so pleased they retained this feature. There is minimal attempt to modernise the buildings.

Musty old building in Gulgong. Despite its appearance it has been fitted out inside with a couple of flats.

Musty old building in Gulgong. Despite its appearance it has been fitted out inside with a couple of flats.

Mmmm. This buthchery has been on this site for 100 years.

Mmmm. This butchery has been on this site for 100 years.

We stayed overnight at the Prince of Wales Hotel, built somewhere around 1875 or earlier and much of the old building is retained and incorporated into a newer but still old style interior.

ONe of the dining areas at Prince Of Wales Gulgong

One of the dining areas at Prince Of Wales Gulgong

POW outside Dining area.

POW outside Dining area.

POW Fireplace for the outdoor dining area.

POW Fireplace for the outdoor dining area.

Wednesday 13th April

Today we elected to turn more northerly and miss the large towns/cities of Dunedoo, Dubbo, Orange and Wellington. I guess my driving plans were too ambitious for the time we have available.

Shortly after leaving Gulgong we turned off on the Black Stump Way, a back road in fair condition. For those unfamiliar with Oz, the Black Stump is/was a mythical/real place in the middle of nowhere with unexplored territory beyond. To say you went west of the Black Stump meant you have gone into countryside unexplored by white man. One such town is Coolah which sits squarely in the middle of Black Stump countryside.

A mechanic shop/panel beater/spray painter at Coolah had a great many old cars dating from around the 1950's. This looks like a Vanguard. Then again it could be another British motor car. Anybody know what it is?

A mechanic shop/panel beater/spray painter at Coolah had a great many old cars dating from around the 1950’s. This looks like a Vanguard. Then again it could be another British motor car. Anybody know what it is?

Trains do not run anymore  in many of the older established towns. This example in Coolah has all the bits and pieces removed from this signal post. Even the station has disappeared and only the tracks, overgrown with thick grass are the only indicators a train once came to town.

Trains do not run anymore in many of the older established towns. This example in Coolah has all the bits and pieces removed from this signal post. Even the station has disappeared and only the tracks, overgrown with thick grass are the only indicators a train once came to town.

In fact Coolah calls itself the Black Stump capitol.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Stump   It is a small town and like many small towns is struggling to retain is character and to stay alive in the 21st century. It is sad to see many closed shops and knowing young people have to leave town to find work. By coincidence Donnis worked at the hospital here for three months in the winter of 2014.

The road eventually joined the Newell Highway at Gunnedah. (By taking this route we also cut out other towns such as Gilgandra (where I have a cousin – Hi Lance) and Coonabarabran. We stopped for lunch then decided to stop for the night at Tamworth, famous for the Country Music Festival in January each year. We arrived earlier than expected and drove as far as Bendemeer where we stopped for the night.

i30 parked outside Bendemeer Hotel.

i30 parked outside Bendemeer Hotel.

The old pub was built in 1864 and apart from a few modern touches still looks and smells like 1864. The old highway which ran through the town brought traffic and customers to the small town was diverted in 1983/84 and the town is trying to re-invent itself and find new ways to attract customers off the highway.

During dinner tonight we received terrible news. Our good friend Glennis passed away last Friday. Glennis was diagnosed with tongue cancer only a few months ago. She made the decision not to have radiation therapy so she could enjoy her remaining time as best she can.

 

No longer will we meet at various country locations while travelling in our motorhomes. Last Thursday she and partner Eric were married in a simple ceremony on their property in the Daintree Rainforest. Glennis died the next day.

Vale Glennis.

We also heard from my cousin Bob, he has three types of cancer and has elected not to take any radiation treatment as it will only detract from his quality of life and may not give him any longer to live.

Sigh!!!

Thursday 14th April

Woke to a chillier morning than we are used to and drove to Armidale. Wow! It is even chillier here. Having lived at nearby Guyra for 5 months back in 2013/2014 I realised at this altitude (just on 1,000 metres for Armidale and over 1,300 metres for Guyra) it can be cold all year round. Two days ago we were at Katoomba also on 1,000 metres and on first getting out of the car noticed a chill in the breeze. Here the chill occurs without any breeze.

We stopped here to visit friend Greg T who is in a nursing home. Greg is only a few years older than me but has suffered Parkinsons Disease for about 10 years. Recently he acquired Alzheimers Disease. Doctors believe he now has Lewy Bodies, another degenerative disease and he needs constant care. While visiting he stayed awake long enough to recognise our presence but fell into a deep sleep and could not speak with us. His wife Linda and two of their sons, Jason and Gavin spent a good hour with us. I am sure in Greg’s subconscious he knew we were there.

Sigh!!!

Passing through Guyra we stopped to speak with Greg’s third son, Justin, before we travelled the New England Highway to Warwick in Qld before taking some back roads through to Beaudesert and Canungra and arrived home after 10 hours on the road.

Gee it was wonderful falling asleep in our own bed.

276. Sunday 14th October 2012. Forbes, Parkes, Dubbo and a trip to the zoo…

14/10/2012

Monday 8th October

Woke to a fine sunny day tempered by a cool southerly breeze. You know the type of day I mean. Anywhere in the shade is cold while anywhere in the sun is comfortable. I emptied the black water cassette and drove around Forbes picking up useful bits of information. Did you know a bad boy bushranger lived and died here? Like all bushrangers his story has grown as the telling increases. There were then and are now, people who believed he was just a poor misunderstood boy who got in with the wrong crowd. Hmmm! Have you ever heard that before? He is credited with hundreds of robberies, armed of course and came to an end in a shootout with Police on 5th May 1865 aged two days short of his 28th birthday. Forbes the town started life as a gold rush town (and attracted bad types such  as Ben Hall), and like West Wyalong it seems the streets were made to avoid trees so there are a number of zigs and zags in the main street. At one time there were 40,000 people living in a tent city. Like many of the other towns I have visited, the passenger trains no longer stop here but freight trains continue to zoom through.

On the outskirts and various places around town I have seen the signs that Forbes is an RV Friendly town. On the evidence seen so far – 86 motorhomes or caravans parked beside Lake Forbes, rigs driving around town and water taps placed strategically where camping is permitted for self-contained rigs and a Dump Point – I have to agree it is RV friendly. I can walk to the shopping centre and main street with an easy 10 minute stroll.

Tuesday 9th October.

Most of the rigs were gone in the morning, headed off to the Bedgerebong Country Music Festival. Only 6 rigs remain.

The sun shone and the cool breeze continued and for the first time in a long time I sat outside in the sun and read a book.

In the morning I drove to the cemetery (yeah, yeah, I know, I always visit cemeteries) and visited the site of the grave of the bushranger, Ben Hall

The well maintained grave site of bad boy bushranger Ben Hall.

and discovered nearby, another two graves of famous by association, persons.

Kate Foster

The well maintained grave of Kate Foster (nee Kelly)

was sister of the infamous Ned Kelly, bushranger from around Glen Rowan and Beechworth in Victoria. It seems Kate married a man from Forbes and at some point she drowned in the Lachlan River.

Even more remote by association famous was Rebecca Shield the great grand-niece of Captain James Cook the man who is credited with discovering Australia. No matter it was discovered 40,000 years before by the Aboriginals.  I digress.

In the afternoon I visited Gum Swamp

Gum Swamp

and its bird blind. This swamp is a happy hangout and breeding ground for all manner of birds, not just the water birds. The swamp can be seen from the highway an attracts 9 species of duck although to be honest I had trouble telling them apart except perhaps for smaller ducks which seemed to be chasing each other across the pond either in a game of “catch me if you can” or perhaps a mating ritual. Of course there were not just ducks but from my perspective I was impressed with the huge dead trees partly submerged and more impressed with the very large eagle nests high uppermost branches of the trees furthest from any bank.

Wednesday 10th October

One of many footbridges over Lake Fobes.

In the morning I visited the McFeeters Motor Museum where 62 cars are on display, 42 of them owned by the McFeeter Family

McFeeters Motor Museum.

A 1953 Austin A50 Convertible. My first car was an A50 Sedan with an MGB sports motor.

(I suspect the family is a well-heeled sheep grazier) The huge shed was purpose built to house the display of cars from around the world with the oldest being 1905 and the youngest a Kia / Alpha experimental prototype sports car. Only 6 were built and never went into production and the other five cars were destroyed. I enjoyed wandering amongst the old cars especially the early models which were so intricate and have a grace and charm lacking in most modern vehicles.

My passengers are Grace and Charm.

Model T Ford.

Now this convertible really appealed to me.

Next I wandered the main streets of Forbes looking at the historical buildings and statuary.

Forbes Courthouse.

Fountain in the Forbes Courthouse/Post Office Square. The fountain is over 100 years old and still operational.

Forbes Post Office.

The guy driving this car with the large oversized and illegal bull bar was not happy about having the photo taken. The bull bar is so low it scrapes when driving down slight inclines.

Late in the afternoon I found the old Commercial Bank of Australia building, now a real estate office. Inside, many of the dark timber counters, partitions and staircase has been retained as has the strongroom.

The original Commercial Bank of Australia branch of Forbes.

Thursday 11th October 2012.

The rain woke me at 3am and I could not go back to sleep so read until tiredness took over. Dawn arrived cold windy and wet. The rest of the day was much the same.

I continued along the Newell Highway a main thoroughfare for big trucks from Adelaide and Melbourne heading to Brisbane. I drove to Parkes a huge drive of 34 klms and set up camp at the showgrounds. It is a bit primitive but with the cold wet weather having shore power will be a bonus. I took a walk along the main shopping centre looking for the old Commercial Bank of Australia building. After speaking with an historical society lady it seems the old building was torn down and the site is now part of a shopping mall. The local council is not interested in historical sites. I found Parkes to be busier and less friendly than Forbes. Although a bigger town it looks untidy compared to Forbes which boasts a tidy town award.

Parkes is named after Sir Henry Parkes, often referred to as the Father ofAustralian Federation. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Parkes) A larger than life statue of Henry Parkes is in the main shopping street.

Sir Henry Parkes.

Australian readers will no doubt remember the film The Dish (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dish  which is a fictionalised version of the true events of the radio and TV signals being received from Apollo II and Neil Armstrongs walk upon the moon. Nasty looking black clouds smudged the distant hills as I drove out to the CSIRO Radio Telescope better known as the dish. This thing is huge and at 64metres stands out in the near flat land just outside Parkes.

The Dish as seen across the fields of wheat.

The Dish up close.

The locals I spoke with welcome the rain claiming they have not had any worthwhile rain for many months and are quite happy if it buckets down. Much of the showgrounds is hilly red soil and turns quickly to a thick red mud after rain.

Late in the afternoon the sun briefly came out of hiding so I drove to the highest, steepest hill in town to a War Memorial site.

Parkes War Memorial.

Looking across the Parkes basin from the War Memorial site.

As the afternoon and evening rolled on, it got colder and colder. I was dressed in layers, including long johns and the heater was blasting away.

This is Spring,…isn’t it?

On the news tonight there were reports of snowfall in the Adelaide Hills and a Victorian town.

Friday 12th October

Woke to a bitter cold morning. I leapt out of bed, turned on the heater and crawled back into the warmth of the cocoon formed by my body and the doona during the night. I found this little weather report from one of the Alpine Centres but all centres had a similar report.

“Time and Date: Friday 12 October 8:57am

Today:

It’s Snowing! Winter just won’t stop. Heavy, dry snow has been falling since yesterday morning and is expected to continue today. “

Hmmm! No wonder it is cold. The wind is coming straight off the southern alps. As well as cold a light drizzly rain is falling. It also snowed in the southern highlands, Bathurst, Katoomba, Orange and Guyra. The Great Western Highway near Bathurst was closed and three hundred vehicles were stranded in the snow.

Saturday 13th October

It was a biting cold wind which greeted me as I hooked up TERIOS this morning.  Continuing along the Newell Highway to Dubbo I stopped first at Peak Hill and while looking for the original Commercial Bank of Australia building

The original Commercial Bank of Australia Branch at Peak Hill. The new tenants, CentreLink and Aboriginal Council sure need to do a bit of cleaning, tidying and maintenance.

I found a sign to a free open cut mine experience. This gold mine started as a simple vertical shaft in 1889. The mine closed in 1918. A new approval was granted in 1993 and open cut mining commenced. The new open cut is 100 metres deep, 600 metres long and 300 metres wide.

Peak Hill open cut gold mine.

I enjoyed the self-guided tour walk but I was on a slight timetable so will somehow have to do the remaining trails another time.

Peak Hill is another of those western towns struggling to survive.

Old Holden motor cars in storage in a disused garage workshop.

The shops are old, most are closed and crumbling.

Carrington Hotel at Peak Hill.

Although on a major highway truck and domestic travel route there seems little to entice travellers to stop.

The Club Hotel at Peak Hill.

I met the 92 year old barber who has lived here for 86 years. He still cuts hair in the old short back and sides style and even at $7 a haircut business is slow. At present I am in the long, thick and unruly hair style so passed on the opportunity to contribute to the local economy.

The countryside has changed from open flat grain crops to thick brush and hills which become frequent, steeper and longer.

Driving into the City of Dubbo is a huge contrast with busy shops, lots of traffic, including traffic lights (I have not seen lights since Wagga Wagga 300 klms further south)

In the afternoon I called on John Riley, a fellow blogger      http://yeoeleven.blogspot.com.au/ who is camped at Terramungamine Reserve about 15 klms to the north of Dubbo. John and I have kept in touch via blog comments, Skype and mobile calls and it was a great opportunity to meet him.

Sunday 14th October

I visited the Dubbo Western Plains Zoo (http://taronga.org.au/taronga-western-plains-zoo)

Entrance to the Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo.

I have been wanting to visit the zoo since before we started on our full time travels in September 2010. It is a shame Donnis is not here to share the trip with me.

Composite photo of waterway at the main entrance to the zoo.

The zoo is a 300 hectare site where the animals have enclosures much closer to nature and plenty of room to move around and none of the traditional miserable concrete cages with bars.

Lots of covered observation decks are provided around the zoo grounds.

The zoo is open and to get around the 300 hectares you can walk…yeah right…ride a bicycle yeah right again…your own or hired, hire an electric cart

Electric zoo carts.

or drive your own vehicle. I drove TERIOS. Most of the power to run the zoo is provided by a huge bank of solar panels which cover an area larger than the roof area of three good sized houses. It was a hot day…yay about time… and by the end of the day I was worn out. I parked TERIOS in parking bays and walked around several exhibits then move the car and do the same thing again. In reality I managed to get halfway around the zoo so I am going again tomorrow as the ticket is valid for two days. I enjoyed my day and in fairness to the zoo, myself and my readers I have decided to make a separate blog post in a couple of days just on the zoo. That way if a zoo is a bit boring you can skip my next post Or you can enjoy the photos dedicated to the zoo visit.

For those regular readers who have noticed trig points, I have found another at the zoo,

Trig Point.

This trig point came with a brass plaque explaing why trig points are used and where they are sited.