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Showing posts from January, 2011


Here we are at Clandulla (population 350) and our own bush block Whistler's Rest (below).   I will take you exploring some of the towns in the district next but in the meanwhile, if you want to know what Clandulla is like please follow the story over at my blog Whistler's Rest .  I am showing a map of the town today.

State Forest

The natural forest around here is beautiful.  On a quick drive down a side track we found these pretty ground orchids in flower ... it isn't really surprising that these are known as hyacinth orchids.

Bywong Valley Way

Time to turn off the main road to Mudgee onto the Bywong Valley Way towards Kandos.  Getting close to Clandulla now and I'm slill loving the scenery.


Today is Australia Day... wishing all Aussie readers a great day in our wonderful land. We're at Ilford (population 250) which is a little bit past Running Stream.  I think the protest is about an extension to one of the coal mines risking the springs and creek, There is not much to Ilford  - a closed road house, a closed cafe up for sale, a cluster of houses and churches of both varieties ... the one below recently auctioned as residential.


Oops does it get cold out this way in winter?  I was glad to find we were coming up to the crest of Cherry Tree Hill, elevation 1100 metres and soon after descended.  Clandulla is at 700 metres (the same height as our home at Lawson) so expect winters are chilly but not freezing.

Mid Western

Here we go, we're crossing the boundary into OUR region ... Clandulla (the home of Whistler's Rest and the destination of our journey) is not big enough to rate a mention but our near neighbours are Kandos and Rylstone.  Diane was asking for a map so you will find one here . Just before this sign we pass through the locality of Round Swamp.  I remembered that on a previous trip I had taken a photograph of hay bales here, and kept an eye out for them to add to my haystacks series, but each time we passed there was none.  It's been raining a lot. The sun was out this day and the farmer was making hay while the sun shone.


Someone is doing a good job of marketing Capertee (The scenery seen on the right is indeed spectacular) and they also claim the valley is home to more species of birds than anywhere else in the Southern Hemisphere (235 species apparently). The town of Capertee is small with fewer than 100 people but it too has a  Royal Hotel .

Ben Bullen

If Cullen Bullen is small then Ben Bullen is much much smaller.  Not much more than a turn in the road that crosses the railway line and a disused railway station. It is also on the edge of the Gardens of Stone National Park. Rail played an important role in opening up this area in the late 1800s. Each of the little towns we pass along the way is on the line.  Most the stations are closed but the line itself is still used for goods trains. CountryLink buses serve the passenger traffic with one service each way each day. By the way, Ben Bullen is said to mean high quiet place in the local aboriginal language.

Cullen Bullen

The next place with pass through is the small town of Cullen Bullen (the name apparently means Lyre Bird in the local aboriginal language.)  It started as a stopping place on the road to the gold fields at Sofala and Hill End and later thrived through coal mining.  But today is a small town of around 200 people with only the Invincible mine still in operation.  But no matter how small it is it's important, after all it's home to a Royal Hotel . With all this talk of mining you might be getting the wrong impression of the scenery.  You don't really see the mines.  It's grazing country as well as extensive native forests, not much industry or cropping.


The power stations are of course associated with coal mines.  We are driving through an area known as the Western Coalfield.  I've noticed signs for the Springvale, Invincible, Ivanhoe North, Airly and Baal Bone mines. That's Invincible that you can see behind the truck below.

Road less travelled

Passing signs urging us to fossick for opal at Lightening Ridge (just 6.5. hours away), sleep for the night at Bathurst and visit Dubbo jail we choose the road less travelled. It passes by the Wallerwang and Point Piper power stations. For some reason I really like them.


Soon we find a string of fast food outlets that today seem to announce arrival at any place of size.  We are passing through the small mining and industrial city of Lithgow. Of course in places like the Blue Mountains where they continue to fight a valiant battle against fast food this does not occur, we just have the highway signs telling us how many minutes to reach Lithgow and our next Big Mac. The old car below is on a farm just before Lithgow and the first Royal Hotel we see on the trip. The one at Donnybrook .

Hartley Historic Site

A little further along the valley and we pass by the historic almost ghost town of Hartley. A pretty place with lots of well preserved sandstone buildings and to my joy I recently discovered from a map of the site that one of them is the old Royal Hotel. Royal Hotel Hartley

Safety Ramp

After Mount Victoria we find ourselves descending quickly down the Western escarpment via Victoria Pass.  I actually saw a truck in one of those safety ramps recently.  In the old days they had to put logs behind the coaches to slow down the descent. In no time we are on the lowlands of the Hartley Valley with the mountains behind and beside us.

Opening 2012

Whizzing along the highway we pass through Medlow Bath and past the famous Hydro Majestic.  It's a bit like the highway ... always a work in progress. From this old hotel there are wonderful views across the Megalong Valley but they are hidden from the main road.  It would be so easy to just rush along from East to West without taking in the majestic scenery and the beautiful forests that are only really appreciated on foot.  So if you are ever travelling this way, do yourself a favour, turn off the highway and get out of the car.

Explorers Marked Tree

The yearn for going west is of course nothing new.  Just outside Katoomba we pass our first roadside sign,  a relic from the time of those first white men who found a path over the mountains in 1813. The monument is actually very amusing.  It is no longer a tree but rather a cement plug with a bit of old bark wrapped around it. And to add insult to injury there are even people who question whether the tree was originally marked by the explorers or an early tourism fake. Follow this link for an article on its history and authenticity which ends thus "Whatever conclusion we come to about the tree’s links to Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth, the fact remains that its symbolic association with the period of exploration is well established. The quaint little wayside shrine that it has become is, nonetheless, one of the most powerful icons of Blue Mountains folklore."

Happy New Year

Wishing you all a Happy New Year with lots of enjoyable travels. We're starting a new trip today, heading west over the mountains along the ever widening Great Western Highway to our new rural retreat , learning a little by reading roadside signs along the way.