We lounged on the ancient chairs on the verandah of the hotel, sipping drinks, taking in the view and watching small birds flit in the grass -- they were tiny wrens and red beaked finches. The birds were too small and too far away to get a shot so I settled for the chicken scratching around on the verandah, while we wondered if the rich people from the resort would dare to venture down here for a drink.
At the very end of the road is a great camping ground, with green grass, a good sized creek and magnificent cliffs surrounding the site. We have camped here before but every time I visit I love the fission of joy that bubbles up from within in such places. But there was no camping this time, we retraced our tracks to the Newnes Hotel for a drink before returning home.
Talking of ordinary folk, almost at the end of the road you come across the Newnes Hotel, the last remaining fragment of the old township of Newnes which sprung up during a shale mining venture which operated from 1906 to 1932. The ruins of the mining operation can be explored today but we gave them a miss on this trip.
Inside the hotel (which sells no beer) is the kind run down and cluttered establishment you might find in any remote country spot. No upmarket meals to be had here, just a soft drinks, ice creams and a few supplies to meet the needs of campers down the road.
The little house on the left of the counter is a collection box to raise funds for a new toilet block.The current arrangement is some tents pitched outside with chemical toilets installed. A note at the entrance warns people that they are for patrons only and that if they want to use them they need to put some money in the box. Even though the current arrangement is rough and ready I guess there are people who prefer…
At the end of the trail we turned along the bitumen road (which eventually reverts to well maintained gravel) out through the Wolgan Valley to Newnes. With a view like this at the top, you can imagine it's spectacular in the valley below as well.
It's remote and beautiful but remote for how much longer? On the way we passed the construction site for the six star Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa which they say will offer a rare opportunity to experience true luxury in a spectacular Australian bush setting. It opens in October 2009 so not long to go. But being for the world's super rich I guess they won't be bother us ordinary folk much.
Just when I was getting sick of the rutted track and wondering whether we had taken a wrong turn the stunning section that I had been waiting for came up ... tall cliffs coverered in green moss. The cliffs are about twice as high as I could get into this photograph. It makes it worth the rough drive, but if you are wanting to do it the easier way come in from the Lithgow side
These forest roads are not peaceful tracks. It's a four wheel driver's playground. City folk with big shiny rigs maraud in 4WD tag-along packs (there's safety in numbers) and video their brave exploits. Dirt bike enthusiasts multiply in similar numbers. I must admit that after recent rain the track was pretty rough, so it was a slow bumpy ride weaving our way around deep puddled pot holes. And no I didn't photograph my husband driving our 4WD down a rough rock ladder, but I did snap through the windscreen a few of the people sharing the road.
Here's what the natural forest in the area looks like. I'd say from the blackened trunks that a controlled burn has been done around here. Controlled or hazard reduction burning is conducted during the cooler months to reduce fuel buildup and decrease the likelihood of serious hotter fires. It's a contentious issue. Conservationists worry about it's affect on wildlife even though our forests need fire to germinate seed. Every time we have big fires, like the recent devastating fires in Victoria, the debate heats up again. Musing: From Fire-stick Farming by Mark O'Connor "To grow flowers in Blackheath, Australia, set fire to your field. Let flame singe the delicate dust-seeds of native shrubs. Soon they sprout, a thin patchwork of tufts, nameless and mixed, on ground bare, as if hoed."
After bumping along the road for a while we reached Bungleboori camping area which is at the cross roads of a number of tracks. As this was a quick trip we gave the road to the interesting glow worm tunnels a miss and took the Blackfellows Hand fire trail. Yes, I know it was a cool damp day but you really have to wonder who would drive off leaving coals glowing red at any time of year. Musing: Reminds me of an old Girl Guide song "Fire's burning, fire's burning Draw nearer, draw nearer In the gloaming, in the gloaming Come sing and be merry."
Newnes State Forest is a little closer to home that our last trip, being just over the mountains near the industrial and mining city of Lithgow. As its name suggests it is a state forestry area with both plantation and natural timbers. Today's photo is of the Clarence Saw Mill which we pass just after turning off the main road. Musing: From Driving through Saw Mill Towns by Les Murray "The mills are roofed with iron, have no walls: you look straight in as you pass, see lithe men working, the swerve of a winch, dim dazzling blades advancing through a trolly-borne trunk till it sags apart in a manifold sprawl of weatherboards and battens."
Our day tour ends at Glen Davis, a very small town nestled below tall cliffs. Most of the place seems to be crumbling but there is an upmarket boutique hotel.
And that ends this wayfaring adventure but recently we went for a drive to Newnes which takes us back into this region from a slightly different angle. While Newnes is 100 kms away by road from Glen Davis it is apparently only 10 kms apart on foot. We didn't walk it. I'll start our trip to Newnes tomorrow.
We spotted this building on the road back from Dunns Swamp. The scenery in this area is simply magnificant. I have to go back one day to try photographing it at leisure to begin to hope to show you it properly. Tomorrow we'll be ending our whistle stop tour of the Mudgee District.
We saw this old hut with an aboriginal style painting of a goanna on its door on the road to Dunns Swamp. Dunns Swamp is a popular camping area in the Wollemi National Park a huge wilderness area. I am sure we will go back there one day to camp.
Dunns Swamp was formed by trapped waters of Kandos Weir, established in the 1920s when the Cudgegong River was dammed to provide water for the Kandos Cement Works.
Lake Windermere, outside Mudgee, is another reservoir showing the effects of the drought. The drowned trees caused such interest in my shot of Lake Hume earlier in the year I wanted to capture these too but there were all sorts of obstacles in the way, including a trampled down barb wire fence that tripped me up and sent me falling heavily to the ground, spraying dust and stones on my camera lens. I didn't care much about the photo after that.
Musing: From Lady Windermer's Fan by Oscar Wilde "It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious." Lord Darlington, Act 1.
This is the only photo I took in Mudgee -- a historic town that sits well with its modern persona. Today Mudgee is vibrant town of around 8,500 people, much larger than the other towns we have been visiting. The district is well known for its fine wine, superior rural produce, and is a popular destination for city weekenders and more permanent "tree changers".
We intend travelling back to spend a full weekend and I will capture the essence of the place then.
Another crop grown in this region are olives. Olives have been planted in Australia from the 1800s but have had a checkered history. It is only now that we are seeing extensive plantings, so many of the olive groves are still very young.
Musing: The Olive Australia website says "Our Anglo Saxon population is discovering what Australia's southern European migrants knew all the time. That is, that we do have large areas of well priced land with the perfect climate to grow olives, and that olive oil is a very healthy and necessary part of our diet. The olive oil that was produced back in those pioneering days didn't have a market (other than for medicine), and consequently the price received for the product was very low. Now the demand in this country far exceeds the supply and technology along with modern orchard practices and suitable varieties is seeing the establishment of an internationally competitive industry."
At Kandos you begin to see the vineyards for which the region is well known. But perhaps more intriguingly at Kandos is the arial ropeway used to transport limestone from the quarries. I didn't get a good photo of that on this trip.
Musing: Love Poem by William Butler Yeats "Wine comes in at the mouth And love comes in at the eye; That's all we shall know for truth Before we grow old and die. I lift the glass to my mouth, I look at you, and I sigh."
Gardens of Stone is the name of the national park in this area and I agree with a comment Julie made the other day ... a superb name. The stones are massive, compare with the horse you can see in this picture.
Musing: How happy is the litte stone by Emily Dickinson "How happy is the little Stone That rambles in the Road alone, And doesn't care about Careers And Exigencies never fears -- Whose Coat of elemental Brown A passing Universe put on, And independent as the Sun Associates or glows alone, Fulfilling absolute Decree In casual simplicity"
I decided to show the haystacks at Round Swamp after all.
Musing: Haymaking by John Clare "Tis haytime & the red complexioned sun Was scarcely up ere blackbirds had begun Along the meadow hedges here & there To sing loud songs to the sweet smelling air Where breath of flowers & grass & happy cow Fling oer ones senses streams of fragrance now While in some pleasant nook the swain & maid Lean oer their rakes & loiter in the shade Or bend a minute oer the bridge & throw Crumbs in their leisure to the fish below ---Hark at that happy shout---& song between Tis pleasures birthday in her meadow scene What joy seems half so rich from pleasure won As the loud laugh of maidens in the sun."
Post boxes like these are seen frequently on country roads. I've been meaning to take a photo of them for some time. As these were on the roadside at Round Swamp I snapped them while I was there.
Musing: Reminds me of the schoolyard game of drop the handkerchief "I sent a letter to my love, And on the way I dropped it, One of you picked it up, and put it your pocket. ... it's you, it's you it's Y-O-U"
At Round Swamp I stopped to take a photo a hay field but found this photo on the other side of the road more interesting.
Musing: From Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox "Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone. For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth, But has trouble enough of its own. Sing, and the hills will answer; Sigh, it is lost on the air. The echoes bound to a joyful sound, But shrink from voicing care."
My husband bought some fresh fruit from a roadside seller while I picked my way around a decaying kangaroo carcass, a dog skeleton, the remains of a campfire and debris left by wayward youth to grab another shot of the lonely old railway station at Ben Bullen.
Musing: From In a Waiting Room by Thomas Hardy "On a morning sick as the day of doom With the drizzling gray Of an English May, There were few in the railway waiting-room. About its walls were framed and varnished Pictures of liners, fly-blown, tarnished. The table bore a Testament For travellers' reading, if suchwise bent. ... But next there came Like the eastern flame Of some high altar, children--a pair - Who laughed at the fly-blown pictures there. "Here are the lovely ships that we, Mother, are by and by going to see! When we get there it's 'most sure to be fine, And the band will play, and the sun will shine!"
It rained on the skylight with a din As we waited and still no train came in; But the words of the child in t…
Why does nearly every town have a Royal Hotel? Here are four from my recent soujourns ... and I have already shown two more in this blog. And I missed photographing the one in Blayney! I'm wondering if collecting pictures of Royal Hotels is wierd like train spotting
Royal Hotel Carcoar Royal Hotel Mandurama Royal Hotel Cullen Bullen
We met Peter who stopped for a smoke at Peason's Lookout. He urged us to extend our tour into country seen from lookout. We decided to do it on the way back.
Musing: What on earth do these nursery rhymes mean and why do we never forget them? "Peter Peter pumpkin eater, Had a wife but couldn't keep her. He put her in a pumpkin shell, And there he kept her very well."
So here we are off on our next trip -- we are off to Mudgee or more particularly a drive in the Mudgee district. This time I expect to concentrate more on scenery than buildings. It was just a day trip so not a lot of time for stopping for photographs. This was our first stop, at Pearson's Lookout just outside the small town of Capertee.
The flat topped mountain is known as Pantoney's Crown.
Musing: This is the first poem with a crown in it that sprung to the my mind. A standard in schoolbook anthologies. From Death the Leveller by J Shirley "THE glories of our blood and state Are shadows, not substantial things; There is no armour against fate; Death lays his icy hand on kings: Sceptre and crown Must tumble down, And in the dust be equal made With the poor crooked scythe and spade."
Millthorpe's population is around 700 people. The lady at the tea rooms said the town's wealth comes from people working in a nearby gold mine. Also, according to her, as the Blue Mountains have become more populated people seeking small town life are moving further west. I understand the appeal.
Millthorpe is an attractive town that clearly caters to city tastes with good eating, bed and breakfast accommodation and tourist gimmicks like coach rides. Nonetheless, there is enough of the authentic to give it real charm.
Musing: Traditional nursery rhyme "Cobbler, cobbler, mend my shoe. Get it done by half past two. Half past two is much too late! Get it done by half past eight."
We are on our way to the last small town of this tour.
Musing: From Miss Killmansegg and Her Precious Leg. A Legend by Thomas Hood. “Who hath not felt that breath in the air, A perfume and freshness strange and rare, A warmth in the light, and a bliss everywhere, When young hearts yearn together? All sweets below, and all sunny above, Oh! there's nothing in life like making love, Save making hay in fine weather!”