Posts Tagged ‘Forbes’

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


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. ( 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 (  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


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 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 (

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.

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


Monday 1st October

I woke to a temperature of 5°!!!

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

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

Matong and Grong Grong.

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

(Doncha luv that name? Grong Grong!)

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

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

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

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

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

and from there drove through to Ariah Park

Campsite at the sportsgrounds in the town of Ariah park.

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

Tuesday 2nd October

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 3rd October

Decided to stay another day and move to Temora tomorrow.

Thursday 4th October

Hi Ho Hi Ho it’s off to Temora I go.

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

Friday 5th October

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

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

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

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

Saturday 6th October

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

SPITFIRE. Nuff said.

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

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





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

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

Sunday 7th October

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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