The weather in Wellington was sunny, warm and glorious and a change from what had been a constantly grey wet week in the city. The townsfolk were kind enough to acknowledge that we were having a good weekend but couldn't resist mentioning that they were anxiously awaiting rain. They dry landscape was dotted with windmills faithfully pumping much needed groundwater to the surface. Water restrictions in the city and Blue Mountans have been lifted a little now the catchment has 66.7% storage. We can wash our cars again. The other side of the picture is that the drought has not yet broken in the bush, Lake Burrendong near Wellington is still at a mere 25% Musing: From Summer in the Country by Peter Skrzynecki "... watching grasses and grains shimmer in paddocks or sheep and cattle grazing beyond a windbreak of pines. Galahs clanged over the homestead. A windmill turned when a breeze sprung up. Cockatoos screeched from the pepper tree."
Another memory, my Dad showing us the traction engine that he used to drive, by then rusting and languishing in an overgrown paddock near the saw mill. Musing: From The Dog Beneath the Skin by W.H. Auden a play he wrote with Christopher Isherwood "Now through night's caressing grip Earth and all her oceans slip, Capes of China slide away From her fingers into day And the Americas incline Coasts towards her shadow line. Now the ragged vagrants creep Into crooked holes to sleep: Just and unjust, worst and best, Change their places as they rest: Awkward lovers lie in fields Where disdainful beauty yields: While the splendid and the proud Naked stand before the crowd And the losing gambler gains And the beggar entertains: May sleep's healing power extend Through these hours to our friend. Unpursued by hostile force, Traction engine, bull or horse Or revolting succubus; Calmly till the morning break Let him lie, then gently wake."
Down this end of Gulgong is the local musuem, a wonderous place full of every conceivable object from country life. Having grown up in the bush where nothing is thrown out and in an era when 'old things' were used much longer, there is much that is familiar in the museum. The old mangle reminded me of Monday mornings (before the washing machine) -- the boiling copper, sheets rinsed in blue, school clothes dipped in starch and my mum semi-whistling hymns as she turned the handle of the old mangle mounted on the cement wash tubs. As it happens, my Mum was a member of the Salvation Army, so this poem by a famous American poet amuses me just about as much as the museum. Musing: Washerwoman by Carl Sandberg "The washerwoman is a member of the Salvation Army. And over the tub of suds rubbing underwear clean She sings that Jesus will wash her sins away And the red wrongs she has done God and man Shall be white as driven snow. Rubbing underwear she sings of the Last Great Washday
Gulgong is another tidied up town -- in fact the main street has been so tarted up I found it hard to distinquish between real history and "Ye Olde" fake. But off the main street I was pleased to find the real thing. I like wrinkles on old faces and things being just a little astray. Musing: Delight in Disorder by Robert Herrick "A sweet disorder in the dress Kindles in clothes a wantonness: A lawn about the shoulders thrown Into a fine distraction-- An erring lace, which here and there Enthrals the crimson stomacher-- A cuff neglectful, and thereby Ribbands to flow confusedly-- A winning wave, deserving note, In the tempestuous petticoat-- A careless shoe-string, in whose tie I see a wild civility-- Do more bewitch me than when art Is too precise in every part."
After Yoeval we drove to Gulgong because we had heard the Henry Lawson Festival was on. I admire Henry Lawson's writing, particularly his short stories. Henry, a quintessential Australian writer from the turn of the century (last century not this one) apparently lived his early life in Gulgong. Musing: From Faces In The Street by Henry Lawson They lie, the men who tell us for reasons of their own That want is here a stranger, and that misery's unknown; For where the nearest suburb and the city proper meet My window-sill is level with the faces in the street Drifting past, drifting past, To the beat of weary feet While I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street. And cause I have to sorrow, in a land so young and fair, To see upon those faces stamped the marks of Want and Care; I look in vain for traces of the fresh and fair and sweet In sallow, sunken faces that are drifting through the street Drifting on, drifting on, To the scrape of restless feet; I can sorrow for
We took a drive to Yoeval, for no particular reason other than to see what was there. We found a small historic town with all the things you would expect -- shops, schools, churches, masonic temple, RSL club, vet and ag supplies, football field, picnic spot by the creek, no doubt a CWA branch somewhere and of course a Royal Hotel. I'm sorry to say this, because the good citizens of Yoeval are obviously very proud, but I don't like this town, it has somehow tidied itself up too much.
In Wellington I kept saying "I really like this town" to which my husband responded "You say that about EVERY country town we visit." But it's not only the town, I like the the surrounding countryside too.
This shop window had me remembering bygone words -- drapery, manchester, haberdashery, millinery, napery -- such words tripped off my mother's tongue with ease. Musing: According to wikipedia "Draper is the now largely obsolete term for a merchant in cloth or dry goods, though often used specifically for one who owns or works in a draper's shop or store. A draper may additionally operate as a cloth merchant or a haberdasher. The drapers were an important trade guild."
There is a large and rather strange sculpture at the gateway to the town. I bet this one divided the locals. Musing: Words of explanation at the sculpture "Made from the old Wellington bridge which collapsed in 1989, its form is based on the shape of a seed pod, representing the fertility of the valley and the future potential of the town ... growing out of the pod are large metal and mosiac plants starting with kangaroo grass, spreading out to the large purple Patterson's Curse."
Like many towns in this part of the country, grain silos dominate the scene. Musing: From The Solitary Reaper by William Wordsworth Behold her, single in the field, Yon solitary Highland Lass! Reaping and singing by herself; Stop here, or gently pass! Alone she cuts and binds the grain, And sings a melancholy strain; O listen! for the Vale profound Is overflowing with the sound.
Here's the river but I can't quite see the troll? Musing: The Three Billy Goat's Gruff (continued) Trip, trap, trip, trap, trip, trap, went the bridge. "Who's that tripping over my bridge?" roared the troll. "Oh, it's the second Billy Goat Gruff , and I'm going up to the hillside to make myself fat," said the billy goat, who hadn't such a small voice. "Now I'm coming to gobble you up," said the troll. "Oh, no! Don't take me. Wait a little till the big Billy Goat Gruff comes. He's much bigger." "Very well! Be off with you," said the troll. If you don't remember the story you can check out the ending here .
Yesterday we saw the goats, today the bridge. Musing: The Three Billy Goat's Gruff (continued) "Who's that tripping over my bridge?" roared the troll . "Oh, it is only I, the tiniest Billy Goat Gruff , and I'm going up to the hillside to make myself fat," said the billy goat, with such a small voice. "Now, I'm coming to gobble you up," said the troll. "Oh, no! pray don't take me. I'm too little, that I am," said the billy goat. "Wait a bit till the second Billy Goat Gruff comes. He's much bigger." "Well, be off with you," said the troll. A little while after came the second Billy Goat Gruff to cross the bridge.
One thing I like about camping is how after a short drive and setting up camp you have a different view from the kitchen window. In Wellington we had a lovely view of the Macquarie River with a small flock of goats grazing by the water's edge. Musing: The Three Billy Goats Gruff a folk tale from Norway "Once upon a time there were three billy goats, who were to go up to the hillside to make themselves fat, and the name of all three was "Gruff." On the way up was a bridge over a cascading stream they had to cross; and under the bridge lived a great ugly troll , with eyes as big as saucers, and a nose as long as a poker. So first of all came the youngest Billy Goat Gruff to cross the bridge. "Trip, trap, trip, trap! " went the bridge. "Who's that tripping over my bridge?" roared the troll . "Oh, it is only I, the tiniest Billy Goat Gruff , and I'm going up to the hillside to make myself fat," said the billy goat, with such a small
Wellington has a large attractive public garden. I was interested in the war memorial within this setting. Not that it was surprising in any way to be there, as just about every town in Australia has one, but this particular memorial was more elegant than the the soldier standing on a pedistal so commonly seen in country towns. Musing: From The Fourth of August by Laurence Binyon "Now in thy splendour go before us. Spirit of England, ardent-eyed, Enkindle this dear earth that bore us In the hour of peril purified. The cares we hugged drop out of vision, Our hearts with deeper thought dilate, We step from days of sour division Into the grandeur of our fate. For us the glorious dead have striven, They battled that we might be free. We to their living cause are given; We arm for men that are to be."
We went wayfaring at last over the long weekend, staying over for a couple of days at the country town of Wellington. It's apparently the second oldest town west of the Blue Mountains and carries its history well. Reminds me that a few weeks ago my husband was picking me up from my office via a different route and rang for some guidance on how to get there. You turn into Wellington Road I said. Sometime later he arrived somewhat frustrated, having found his way via Waterloo Road. Photo: Wellington Post Off ice Musing: From the Eve of Waterloo by Lord Byron "THERE was a sound of revelry by night, And Belgium's capital had gathered then Her beauty and her chivalry, and bright The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men. A thousand hearts beat happily; and when Music arose with its voluptuous swell, Soft eyes looked love to eyes which spake again, And all went merry as a marriage bell; But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell! Did ye not hear it? -- No
Not all of the buildings in Sofala are falling apart. The hotel is still going strong. Photo: Sofala Royal Hotel Musing: Friday Night at the Royal Station Hotel by Phillip Larkin "Light spreads darkly downwards from the high Clusters of lights over empty chairs That face each other, coloured differently. Through open doors, the dining-room declares A larger loneliness of knives and glass And silence laid like carpet. A porter reads An unsold evening paper. Hours pass, And all the salesmen have gone back to Leeds, Leaving full ashtrays in the Conference Room. In shoeless corridors, the lights burn. How Isolated, like a fort, it is - The headed paper, made for writing home (If home existed) letters of exile: Now Night comes on. Waves fold behind villages. "
Photo: Main street, Sofala Grocery shopping isn't what it used to be in Sofala. Nor what it used to be in Brisbane according to a recent post by bitingmidge . I also remember the "Cash and Carry" which was so much more sophisticated than Mr Symes General Store or the shop down the road that had a petrol pump like the one in today's picture.