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Showing posts from February, 2010

New trip, new old house

Whew, that last trip was a marathon journey! Thank you all for staying the course, it was great to read your comments and have some good discussions on the way. You'll be pleased to know this is just a day trip and in fact covers some of the same ground as last year but with the change of seasons and good rains it's a different world out there now. We are on our way to see what is at Hargraves near Hill End. Despite several trips into the old gold fields west of the mountains we seemed to have always missed Hargraves so the plan was to get there by some back roads that we haven't travelled before ... I've done a map for you and changed the blog banner to match. On every back road you are sure to find an abandoned house of two, so here is the first of them. I found this one quite poignant because the sunlight was falling on pressed metal wall cladding and made me realise, perhaps more than others, that a proud housewife and family once lived in that little home.


We are climbing now through the rain and mist towards our dear Blue Mountains home. But turning into the driveway and looking at our garden you may well think they should be called Green Mountains ... what a soothing sight for sunburnt eyes.

Taking stock at Woodstock

We took one last detour into the tiny town of Woodstock. I loved this little place which encapsulates everything I found so endearing in the dozens of small towns we have passed through on this trip. A bank with residence atop and a sturdy brick Post Office. Shops, some empty and some going strong. Remnant signage from bygone times Impressive buildings that have seen better days One for the men and one for the ladies, a soldiers memorial and a CWA (Country Womens Association), An Anglican church with a bell and Catholics up the street as well. A railway station with a level crossing. But best of all a Royal Hotel.

It's raining

We are on our last day. We had thought to stay out an extra day but had got very wet setting up camp the night before and the rain was still bucketing down when we packed up in the morning so we decided to head for home. How welcome this rain would be across the land ... a burnt out paddock and nearby burnt orchards a reminder of the ever present threat of fire. I could smell the ash being lifted by the raindrops and see the sheen of green so quick to appear after the slightest drop of rain.


We called into Junee because I remembered it to be a lovely town with a nice railway station and buildings with iron lace verandahs. Can't you see the squatter's daughters on their way home from posh boarding schools alighting from the train and heading over to this hotel for the night. In Australian history squatters were the people who took over large tracts of land often with no legal rights other than being the first Europeans to get there. Over time the squatters/pastoralists became among the wealthiest people in the colony assuming high social prestige. This whistle stop tour simply didn't give us time to enjoy and explore these lovely towns ... we resolved to go back soon as we set of to Cootamundra for our last night's camp.

River bridges

At Wagga Wagga we said goodbye to the Murrumbidgee at the old river crossing, so typical of the river bridges around New South Wales.

Hills and rocks

I got so excited as we neared Wagga Wagga ... a mountain! Later there were rocks and the hills began to roll. This was feeling much more like home.

Sleepy towns

I just remembered that I haven't shown you a photo of any of the country towns. Lockhart is a nice example. It calls itself the Verandah Town. While most old towns have verandahed shops like this they generally are not as intact. Remember it was Christmas day so no wonder the town looked sleepy. The photo below is of Pepperina, a tree often favoured as a street tree in such towns. Just looking at it makes me think of hot sleepy country towns, singing cicadas and crows cawing. I didn't hear a single cicada on this trip ... where were they?


It was Christmas Day. This colourful fellow I found by the road is known as a Christmas beetle because they come out at this time of year.

Wide brown land

We are on the road again retracing our steps through the big wheat and sheep country, but taking a little different route to see some more towns on the way.

Goodbye Murray

We spent the night at Tocumwall, the last of our Murray River towns and our last look at the Mighty Murray. We leave this beautiful river with some of its facts "The Murray is the third longest navigable river in the world, after the Amazon and Nile. It is 2756 kilometres long and continuously navigable for 1986 kilometres ... Nowadays the River Murray is under threat from various sources. It contains a high salt content, meaning that it has an impact on all who use it. The intense pressure placed on the Murray from overuse is also a concern which can lead to erosion and overall poor water quality. To experience the diversity of the River Murray is truly amazing. Compared with other rivers in industrial nations, the Murray is in great condition; however that's no reason to get complacent. It is truly a remarkable living river we all need to protect for the future - requiring a balance that needs constant attention." I agree ... to have experienced the diversity of this ri


Our next stop was Echuca another old river port and home of the riverboats and houseboats today, together with it's wonderful old wharf and a busy historic precinct. While we were there some rain came through. What a relief. The previous day it was 41C at 7.30pm and the overnight minimum 30C so the day was off to a hot start.

Dairy country

We are on our way out of Swan Hill and for the first time in a long while see dairy cattle. The intriguing old building at Gunbower turned out to be the old butter factory. Once upon a time every country town with a dairy industry had a butter or cheese factory but I guess these days the milk is transported in tankers to bigger processing plants.

Birds and Fish

And while we are on collections here are some of the birds spotted on the trip. I had thought that at Swan Hill we might find swans but the place where they said they swim was a salt pan. I also wanted a shot of the wedge-tailed eagles but by the time the car had stopped they had soared too high. The fish is the Big Murray Cod at Swan Hill. Australians have an odd obsession with creating big things as tourist attractions but I think this was the only one I saw on the tour (other than a few close to home).

The royals

Royal Hotel Caragabul We had a rest day at Swan Hill, so this is the perfect day to show you the Royal Hotels I collected throughout the trip. A big boost to my collection . I don't do any advance research to know if there is going to be Royal Hotel in the town. It's such a good reason to explore every country town we pass through. Many had wonderful colonial hotels and the Royal turned out to the rattiest run-down pub down the bottom end of the main street but I decided to stay true to my mission and not be lured by the Imperial, Crown, Commercial, Railway and Bridge hotels which also frequented these towns. Royal Hotel Boorawa Royal Mail Hotel Jerilderie Royal Hotel Berrigan Royal Hotel Kerang Royal Hotel Wentwort h Royal Hotel Euston Royal Hotel Temora Royal Hotel West Wyalong Royal Hotel Grenfell Royal Hotel Blayney

Another War Bird

That man at the Temora aviation museum told us about the Catalina museum at Lake Boga near Swan Hill. I had to go see it because my Dad was an engineer on Catalina's during the war. We were disappointed to find the museum closed for renovations (Government stimulus spending at work) but they let us in anyway to see the aircraft. Catalina's are flying boats. I checked my Dad's Flight Log Book and while he did over 3,000 hours in Catalinas there were just a few hours in the A24-30. As it is today Lake Boga would not a be a lot of use for Flying Boats! But at least they could land on dry land so not as useless as the Yacht Club, Sea Scouts and other aquatic activities I saw a signposted at the Lake.