Russ on 21 August 2019

Well you can’t win them all.  I called in at Gympie to see the water tower art there and it was a construction site.  Fenced off with 4 or 5 construction machines, a work shed and lots of other stuff.  I managed to sneak through the gate and get one clear photo.  The artwork is very well done and appears to be of a magic forest.

Gympie Water Tower

From Gympie I headed for Noosa, it was a good journey winding through green hills and rainforest, so good to be surrounded by green countryside after 3 weeks of brown desolation.  I then set up camp at Habitat Noosa which is about 25 Km north west of Noosa, it is a small enclave surrounded on three sides by National Park and Lake Cootharaba on the fourth.  Very peaceful, big sites, a cafe and micro brewery positioned on the edge of the lake, thanks Trish for the heads up.

Camp at Habitat Noosa

The water tower at Peregian Beach was on my list so I headed off and did some shopping on the way.  Struck out for a second time in a row, very disappointing.  The artwork is basic, there is nowhere to get back to take a decent photo and it is surrounded by a cyclone fence.

Peregian Water Tower

In the afternoon I went on a 2.5 Km walk from the campground to Mill Point, the site of a timber mill set up in 1870, less than 100 years since the first fleet arrived in Botany Bay, shows how quickly the Europeans moved out across the country.  They harvested Kauri, Red Cedar, Beech and Hoop Pine, all wonderful furniture timbers.  The 25 hectare mill site is now all regrowth rainforest, but there is an old boiler standing like a sentry in the bush as guarding remnants an earlier era.

Elana Mill Boiler

The mill was equipped to saw logs up to 4 ft 6 in in diameter and processed 3-1/2 million superfeet of timber a year, a massive output, equal to 8,250 cubic metres of timber.  Because the mill was surrounded by swamp, a 5 Km tramway was built to bring the timber into the mill with horses pulling the logs.  The last part of the walk is along the low embankment built to carry the tramway through the swamp.

Walk to Mill Point

A nearby cemetery held the graves of 5 women, 10 men and 30 children illustrating how tough life here must have been in dirt-floored slab huts, cold in winter hot in summer, and they had to cope with things like these that attacked me on the walk.

What are These Things

Wednesday saw me heading for Caloundra to see the water tower there, it was great, lots of detail and very well painted.  I approached the tower from the north and this was my first view.

Caloundra Water Tower North Side

I crossed the road to see the east side, which was just as good.

Caloundra Water Tower East Side

The rear of the tank was not accessible, not sure if it was painted or not.  I thought the Kookaburra was excellent.

Caloundra Water Tower Kookaburra

I also liked the frangipani flowers, Margie had frangipani flowers as the central focus of her wedding bouquet.

Caloundra Water Tower Frangipani Flowers

Next to the frangipani flowers behind a fence there was a seascape with a surfer in the centre.

Caloundra Water Tower Surfer

The urbanisation of the Sunshine Coast matches the Gold Coast, it is not longer a quiet holiday destination, the traffic is very heavy and shopping centres abound.

From Caloundra, I headed for Mooloolaba and Point Cartwright where there is another water tower.  There is a small park at the end of the road where the tower and a lighthouse are located, and very little parking, but I was lucky to get a spot as before I was out of the car the other two spots were filled.  The view south was great, the smoke is from a bushfire in Bribie Island where a controlled burn was not!

View South from Point Cartwright Mooloolaba

The artwork on the water tower was very good but lots of trees so it was hard to get good shots.  The tower was painted in 2016 by three artists and designed to capture the tranquility of looking out to sea.

Mooloolaba Water Tower

Mooloolaba W/T Square Tailed Kite

The square Tailed Kite was a frequent visitor to the site while it was being painted, maybe to make sure the artists got it right.  I liked the butterfly on the back of the tower, it was a Richmond Birdwing Butterfly that is a threatened species but the council is doing work at Point Cartwright to assist its survival.  I was lucky there was just enough gap between trees to get a reasonable photo

Richmond Birdwing Butterfly

On one side there was a humpback whale but to many trees to get a reasonable photo.   The sea turtle which frequents the area was part of the artwork.

Mooloolaba W/T Sea Turtle

Back at camp a Black Bittern visited me.

Black Bittern

No more water towers until I move on from Habitat Noosa, I might visit a information centre to check out what things I could do.  Nothing tomorrow (Thursday) as my car is being serviced.  Weather is still perfect with mid 20s during the day, nights get a bit chilly at around 10 °C but the heater covers that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Russ on 18 August 2019

On Saturday I set off for Biggenden and visited the water tanks at Monto on the way.  There are two tanks painted with artwork, one looks quite old and is a depiction of Three Moon Creek Farm.  The story is that the farmer went to the creek to get a billy of water when the full moon was up and he saw the moon, its reflection in the creek, and a reflection in the billy, hence Three Moon Creek.

Monto Water Tank #1

The second newer tank is close to a pump shed and the artist has painted a man with his dog on the shed and their shadows are projected onto the water tank for a very good effect.

Monto Water Tank #2 and Pump Shed

This is the Monto pump shed.

Monto Pump Shed

The Monto tanks are surrounded by a cyclone wire fence making taking clear photos difficult, for one photo I reached up over the top of the fence and for another I squeezed the camera through a gap in a gate.

From Monto I drove to Mundubbera where there is a small tower servicing a pump shed.  The artwork was very good representing the geography, the flora and fauna of the area.  In this view you can see a mountain range in the distance known as the Seven Sisters and the Burnett river .

Mundubbera Water Tank South Side

In this shot you can see the staircase that winds up the tower.

Mundubbera Water Tank North Side

Mundubbera Tower West Side

On Sunday I visited two National Parks close to Biggenden, Mt Woowoonga and Mt Walsh.  Both mountains are the result of vocalic activity 220 million years ago.  A massive eruption created a giant caldera, like a meteor crater.  Then pulses of magma pushed up but did not break the surface and then solidified into granite.  Erosion over the millions of years ground away the soft rock leaving the mountains.  Mt Woowoonga is covered in vegetation while the top of Mt Walsh is exposed granite with vegetation on the lower slopes.

Mt Walsh Panorama

I had made a wrap before I left camp and had that at the picnic ground at the base of Mt Walsh.  It was very peaceful and relaxing.  I got a bit of a boost from a young woman setting off to climb the mountain (2-1/2 hour climb and descent).  I asked her if she was going to climb it and she responded “Yes, I did it when I was 15, are you going to do it?” I replied “Do I look like I could” and she said “Yes you do”, made my day!

At Mt Woowoonga there are lots of Hoop Pine trees that tower over the rainforest.  It’s hard to estimate the height but my guess would be 100-125 feet, they grow to a maximum of around 200 feet and live for up to 450 years.  Hoop Pine gets its common name from the outer layer of bark which forms scale-like horizontal hoops.  I took a vertical panorama to try and capture their height.  To give you an idea of the height, it took four frames to capture this panorama

 

Mt Woowoonga Hoop Pines

Although these National Parks are small, around 2,500 hectares, about 450,000 hectares of former state forest in Queensland and around these parks is managed by the National Parks Service as conservation areas, implemented in 1999.

The rainforest at Mt Woowoonga was very dry just like most of this area of Queensland.  On my travels I pass areas of irrigation and it seems that Queensland has sufficient irrigation water, unlike NSW.

I enjoyed the walk at Mt Woowoonga and in places you catch glimpses of the hoop pine towering above the forest, this would have made it easy for the timber getters to find them to cut down.

Hoop Pine above the Rainforest

These hoop pine are relatively young so as the age they will emerge to a much greater height.

Tomorrow I am off to Noosa Habitat a small camping area next to the Great Sandy National Park – Cooloola Recreation Area and I will be there for 8 days, i’m looking forward to that stop.

 

 

 

 

Russ on 17 August 2019

Not  far from the camp there was a rock overhang known as Bigfoot for obvious reasons.  It is a bit hard to see but there is another Staghorn on the top centre of the rock, it is amazing they survive in such harsh positions.

Cania Gorge Bigfoot

I took a short walk (1.3 Km) to Two Storey Cave, no idea how it got the name because you would have to crawl to get to the end of it.  However the walk was enjoyable up the escarpment then across to the cave and down again.  It was a sunny day, but there were clouds and dappled shade to keep me cool.  Along the way you passed massive boulders and walked between two on the track that formed a tall cave.

Cania Gorge Rock Formation

I then got to Two Storey Cave which was about a 1/2 storey.

Two Storey Cave

After that it was downhill return, but I got a bit of a shock when I came across a Lesser Grey Tree Python.

Lesser Grey Tree Python

After the walk I drove into Monto for some shopping and lunch, but the restaurant I wanted to go to was closed so I had a counter lunch instead, which was very good.

Tonight I got the OzPig out and lit a fire, the first campfire I have had alone since Margie died.  It was an emotional time bringing back lots of memories, but what was amazing was that there was a full moon and puffy white clouds in the sky.  The night I first met Marg and when our relationship started was exactly a night like this and at that time I said how beautiful the sky looked.  Until I said that Margie had been non-committal because she fancied someone else, but she later told me that she then thought that this guy could be sensitive and alright.  When we got to the coffee lounge we were holding hands and the relationship was sealed, Marg was 15 and I was 18.

On my last day at Cania Gorge, Friday, I walked along the gorge to a dripping rock and a rock overhang.  It was a rough and rocky walk, maybe that’s a book opening in there, like “it was dark and stormy night”!  But it was and up and down 346 rough rock steps, I counted them on the return walk which was 3.2 Km return.  I was lucky along the way to see a Southern Boobook Owl about 6 metres up a tree.  It was hard to get a photo with the bright sky in the background but here he/she is:

Southern Boobook Owl at Cania Gorge

Or as it looked from the ground using ten times zoom.

Southern Boobook at Cania Gorge

The walk travelled along one side of the gorge through a dry rainforest, may sound like an oxymoron but that is what it is called, and at times you see the sandstone cliff from the path through the trees.

Cania Gorge from Dripping Rock Walk

Surprisingly the dripping rock was still dripping even after a prolonged dry spell, but the drips were about one every second from 3 or 4 different spots.  If you look carefully at the photo you can see them.

Cania Gorge Dripping Rock

Only joking!  After that you walk another 600 metres to get to a big rock overhang at the start of a short valley.  A very peaceful, quiet spot with a few ferns and noticeably cooler than along the walk.

Cania Gorge Rock Overhang

All in all it was a delightful walk with dappled shade most of the way.

Tonight I joined a few fellow campers around a fire and had a very enjoyable evening, the park sold homemade pizzas, which we ate around the fire and washed down with some red wine, a good way to end a very enjoyable stop.

My stay at Cania Gorge was a good one, but tomorrow, Saturday, I move on the Biggenden and then to a stop near Noosa.

 

 

 

 

 

Russ on 14 August 2019

Today, Tuesday, I headed off to Moura and Biloela, the most north that I will travel, and then onto Cania Gorge.  I will stay at Cania Gorge for 4 days and it will be good to have a break from packing up and driving most days.  I have to say most of the roads in Queensland have been crap, I thought Victoria’s rural roads were bad but Queensland’s are worse.  They have the same system of putting up signs “rough road” rather than fixing them, as is done in Victoria, but the roughness is worse and there are massive undulations that have the car and the caravan bucking wildly.  Hopefully the journey back down the coast will be better.

On the positive side I bought a punnet of Queensland strawberries today and they were great, red right through, the first time in years that I have eaten strawberries that are not white in the centre, delicious.

I woke up about six after going to bed early and I was on the road by 7.15, my fingers got a bit cold packing up in 3 °C, but the day has been perfect, clear skies and sunny at 19 °C.

The water tower at Moura was very well done, but the main feature was facing a green shed, not sure why they did that.  You can just see the corner of the shed roof on the left in this photo which is why the tower is off centre.

Moura Water Tower

The detail on this tower is excellent and the colours are vibrant.

Moura Water Tower Galah

The back of the tower is just as vibrant but with less detail.

Moura Water Tower from the Back

On the journey to Moura I passed several massive coal mines and a train of coal wagons about one Km long.  The country was very dry with little grass and the dams were mostly dry.  The next town was Biloela where the town has created artwork on a water tank.  The painting is very colourful with lots of detail and is very well executed.  It shows the development of the area on three panels of the water tank.  The first panel is of the Jurassic period.

Biloela Water Tank Jurassic Period

The next panel is of the period that aborigines dominated the area, the Jurassic period panel is on the left.

Biloela Water Tank Aboriginal Period Panorama

The last panel detailed the European settlement of the area which faces the road.

Biloela Water Tank European Settlement Panorama

This photo shows the whole tank with the aboriginal panel on the left and the last part of the European settlement illustration on the right.  The only way I could get it in one photo was to do a panorama on the camera.

So on to Cania Gorge which looks just the same as when Marg and I were here, I have good memories of our stay here.  Given that I have been following a public art trail it was a surprise to see lots of art on the cabins and toilets in the caravan park.  The toilet mens and ladies signs were good.

Mens Toilet

Ladies Toilet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cabins in the park are all named after Australian birds or animals and are painted with artwork that matches the name.

Kookaburra on Kookaburra Cabin

Koala on Koala Cabin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Wednesday I had a bit of a lazy day, spent a couple of hours talking with my neighbours and then went on a walk to Giants Chair Lookout.  It was a steep 900 metre climb with about 400 steps the forest I walked through was delightful with hundreds of grass trees dotting the landscape.

Grass Trees at Cania Gorge

The gorge is about 100 metres deep and runs for about 10 km.  The view from the top is good but not spectacular.

 

Cania Gorge from Giants Chair Lookout Panorama

Another view of the gorge.

Cania Gorge from Giants Chair Lookout

On one of the rock faces there was a staghorn fern growing that looked to me to be 30-40 years old.

Cania Gorge Staghorn Fern

Tomorrow I will drive into Monto, the nearest town and have lunch at a cafe, Marg and I did that on our last visit here and maybe another walk in the afternoon.  It may be a few days until I have enough material for the next blog.

Russ on 12 August 2019

My daughter Nadine let me know that Banjo Paterson wrote a poem on the town I passed the other day, “Come by Chance”, and the poem is worth a read.  You can read it at:  https://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/paterson-a-b-banjo/come-by-chance-0001046

On Saturday I set off from Yelarbon to go to Possum Park 20 Km north of Miles which is 250 KM inland from Noosa.  The camp is set in bushland but the camping area is bare gravel with no trees, but the outlook is OK.  I put the drone up in a howling gale and was able to take some photos between gusts.  Went the wind blew the drone would tip over a bit as the wind was too strong but it levelled out between gusts.  The camp was a RAAF ammunition store during WW2 servicing and airbase in Miles.  There are 30 bunkers around the camp and some have been turned into accommodation.

Camp at Possum Park

The owners of the park have bought TAA Viscount, which they plan to turn into accommodation.  When the park was an RAAF store a railway line that joined the line to Brisbane was laid and there are some railway cars retained in the park that are now accommodation.

TAA Viscount at Possum Park

Railway Car Accommodation at Possum Park

On the way here I visited Goondiwindi and the water tower art in the town.  It was a small water tower but the artwork was good.   There is no info available on the artist or the theme but it does look like the artwork is about the sun, land, water and water birds.

Goondiwindi Water Tank

Goondiwindi Water Tank

The next water tank I visited was at Wandoan on the way from Miles to Theodore.  Painted by members of the Wandoan Progress Association in the 1990s.  A member of the community Trish Rowen won a competition to decide the design, another local donated the paint, a real community effort.  They painted it at night using an overhead projector to project the image off a sheet of paper.  A local visited the painters and picked up the paper image to have a look and copped some abuse, but he did it again twice, the blistered paint had to be scraped off and repainted!  The tank still looks good but is faded.

Wandoan Water Tank

You can tell how much the art has faded on the truck and the flag.

Wandoan Water Tank West Side

I am staying a couple of nights in the Theodore showgrounds and tomorrow will visit Isla Gorge National Park.  Theodore is a small town on the Dawson river.  The map below shows my last five days travel to Theodore.

Journey Day 11 to Day 15

On Monday I visited Isla Gorge National Park.  It is one of the twenty five separate mountain ranges in Queensland that branch off the Great Dividing Range.  From Isla gorge the range extends to Robinson Gorge, Mt Moffat and Carnarvon Gorge.  The range is sandstone that was laid down under the sea in the Jurassic period 190 million years ago.  Uplifts and erosion have made the gorges.  In some places volcanic basalt caps the ranges.  Three creeks flow in the gorge eventually flowing into the Dawson River which rises in Carnarvon Gorge and flows into the Fitzroy river to the coast near Rockhampton.

The gorge looks just like Carnarvon gorge except you can only see it from the top, at Carnarvon you walk along the base of the gorge.  But the views are great and from the car park you look over towering sandstone cliffs that photos do not do justice.  There is a short walk to other viewing points but trees seem to be in the way at every turn.  I set up the camera and took a couple of panoramas.

Isla Gorge from the car park

 

Isla Gorge view from the walk

These are the views you see when you step out of your car.

Car Park View West

Car Park view East

While at Isla Gorge I had lunch, I made a wrap using a hamburger I cooked last night plus avocado, tomato, lettuce, cucumber, capsicum and dressing, it was yummy.  I sat on the other side of the table for lunch so I could enjoy the view you see in the photo.

Lunch at Isla Gorge

Tomorrow I am off to Carnia Gorge where Marg and I enjoyed a great stay twelve years ago, I may even have a campfire in her memory.

 

 

 

Russ on 9 August 2019

I drove 430 Km from Coonamble to St George in southern Queensland on Wednesday.  It was sad to see bare red earth, little vegetation, and trees dying or dead, the country is crying out for rain.  Strangely there were a few paddocks with crops going OK, but others with crops barely out of the ground and browning off already.  On the news this morning they reported that Stanthorpe (Qld) and Gunnedah (NSW) have only ten days water remaining, no doubt there are other towns as bad or worse.  On the way I passed a signpost to a town “Come by Chance”, I guess that says it all about the size of the town.  I did consider going to see it but I was worried I may miss it!

The big industry for the St George Shire is cotton and the roadsides are scattered with little puffs of white.  I don’t like the massive water dams on every property when I think of all the problems the NSW farmers are facing and the state of the Darling river.  Exporting cotton and rice is like exporting water from the driest continent.  Surely we can grow dry land crops of crops that need much less water.  What makes it worst is that a lot of the biggest farms are overseas controlled.  Cubbie Station is 51% owned by a chinese company, it is the biggest cotton grower in the southern hemisphere.  Profits go overseas with our water.

St George is a small town on the Balonne river which has a weir about 7 Km south of the town so it is quite full but not flowing.  I am camped at at Kapunda Fishing Camp right on the river 9 Km north of St George.  It has basic facilities plus power but little need for that as last night dropped to only 11 °C and today it will be 24 °C.  Only four other camps here so it is very quiet.   After I set up I went to a winery near the town, Riversands, which makes a range of white and red wines and a vintage port, which was what attracted me to visit the winery  Their Chardonnay and Shiraz were good but the port was more like a tawny, but I still bought a couple of bottles, I doubt they will make it back home!  The photo below is of my camp at St George.

 

Today I drove to Thurston National Park, a 220 Km round trip, it is an undeveloped park renowned for its birdlife.  Sadly when I was there I didn’t hear a bird so it was not a successful trip.  Maybe I should have guessed that with the drought the birds would have moved out.  But I put the drone up in very gusty winds and took the first drone photos of the trip.  The 20 Km drive off the highway is on a fair dirt road, but the seven gates each way got a bit tiring.

 

Back in St George I visited their riverside picnic area and it was good to see some green grass.  Very well maintained area with lots of tables and a free BBQ.  There was also a flood marker showing the height of the floods over the years.  The biggest was in 2012 at 13.95 metres and the river flow at that time was 328,000 megalitres per day an incredible volume, about two thirds of a Sydney Harbour per day!  The top of the flood marker was about five metres above my head.  The bottom marker is the height of the bridge which would have been four metres under water at the flood peak.  Most of the town had to be evacuated to Dalby until the river subsided.  Old timers say the 1890 flood was higher, but the flood marker was washed away so it is only conjecture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The photo below is of St George in the the 2012 flood (I did pack my time machine for this trip).

 

Today, Friday, I set out to Thallon about 80 Km south-east of St George.  The silos there are called “the waterhole” and depict the Moonie river, wildlife, trees and sheep, with a sunset in the background.  The painters are two Brisbane-based artists, Travis Vinson and Joel Fergie.  The silos look great as you approach the town from the distance.

 

A couple of closer views:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way I called in to Ninidigully to see the historic hotel, established in 1864 it is the oldest continuously licensed pub in Queensland and is on the banks of the Moonie river.

 

 

From Thallon I travelled from through Goondiwindi to Yelarbon where I will stop for the night at the recreation ground – $15 a night with power and water, clean but small amenities.  The silos here depict a boy playing in the Yelarbon lagoon “when the rain comes” and floating a boat he has made out of a newspaper.  Four silos have been painted with another three having been cleaned and painted white ready for more artwork.

 

The boy is painted across two silos.

 

 

Tomorrow is Saturday and I am heading off on a two day trip to Theodore from where I will visit Isla Gorge National Park, a park I have wanted to visit for a while but on that never quite fitted into our various journeys.  So no blogs for a couple of days and only one silo on the way at Wandoan.

 

Russ on 6 August 2019

I have included an map of my travels so far.  The map shows the zig zag journey necessary to pick up the art sites, 2400 Km and not even in Qld yet.

 

On Monday I stopped at Gunnedah where the old water tower is now a museum.  The artwork commemorates the Australian Army battle at Long Tan in Vietnam.  Two thousand  Viet Cong attacked 108 young and mostly inexperienced Australian and New Zealand soldiers on patrol on a shattered rubber plantation, Long Tan.  For 3-1/2 hours they held off the attackers until support arrived. The Battle of Long Tan is one of the most savage and decisive engagements in ANZAC history, earning many individual gallantry awards.

 

 

A couple of close ups of vignettes on the tower:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I stayed at the Top caravan park, the only one in town which was a very nice park but one of the toilets was so small you had to stand beside the pan to open the door to get out!  Another early start, on the road at 7.30 which gets me to the destination by around 1.00 leaving the afternoon for whatever I want to do.  I have averaged 300 Km per day on the days I have travelled which is comfortable for me.  I could do more as I arrive on site not tired, but I enjoy an early finish to the days travel.

Today, Tuesday, I was heading for Coonamble via Gulargambone.  The country I have travelled in NSW is barren except for the gum trees, very dry and most farms are empty of stock and the dams are nearly dry.  For example, Tamworth is down to 22% capacity in their water supply dam.  There has been so little rain that some crops are hardly out of the ground and some are browning off already and will deliver no grain.  But in some areas crops are doing quite well, so they must have had some good rain but in a narrow area.  Mudgee was sad to see, usually green with nice gardens and parks, everything is brown, there is no green grass anywhere and bushes in the gardens are dead.  Only the trees are green, which is typical in most of the towns I travel through.  You really feel for people living in these areas who are trying to make a living.

The Gulargambone water tower is a relatively new tower and was painted by Jenny McCracken and she named her Kingfisher artwork “Lucky Dip”.  The detail in the artwork is excellent showing a kingfisher diving under the water to catch a fish.

 

A closeup of the kingfisher:

 

 

On the approach to Gulargambone there is a series of Cocky artworks and some more in the town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Gulargambone it was on to Coonamble where I will spend the night.  Coonamble is near the Pilliga scrub and Timmallallie National Park where I camped in 2017.  The sculptures in the park are wonderful.  The tower in Coonamble is decommissioned and the artist who painted it is John Murray from Lightning Ridge, it is the first mural he has painted.  John included galahs, which he thought represent community, plus fence posts to signify the rural aspect of Coonamble, and the sun, moon and Southern Cross.  The tower art is very well done and impressive.

 

 

Galahs are pictured right around the tower and here are a couple of close ups:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another couple of views of the tower:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow (Wednesday) I am off to Queensland but no silos or towers for a couple of days, so maybe no posts for a couple of days.

Russ on 5 August 2019

As I crisscross NSW I am finding the GPS ignores minor roads which can significantly extends the journey.  Today I had Google maps on the iPad, the inbuilt GPS and the Tom Tom all programmed to the destination and none was going the way I wanted.  So I had to pick intermediate towns and include them to get the GPS’s going on minor roads, which can be a bit rough with potholes but I find are generally OK.  Today there was a difference of 100 Km between the route I wanted and the one the car GPS chose.

The drive on Sunday was through very hilly country with a couple of long descents where I had to select first gear so I didn’t have to use the brakes all the time.  Into Sofala was very steep with an equally steep climb out.  Marg and I visited Sofala in 2014 and this is what Margie had to say about that visit

“The countryside has been very hilly and we were looking for a place where we could buy a couple of sandwiches for our lunch.  We came down a very steep hill into Sofala and found a little General Store, selling food.  Mrs Mac was the grumpiest little old lady I have ever come across.  After ordering two ham and salad sandwiches, she clicked her tongue when I asked for salt and pepper and when I said that $16.25 was quite expensive, she went on a tirade about the cost she has to incur because of EFTPOS.  She asked me if I wanted to see her telephone bill and see the charges.  Russ took a photo of the old Sofala Hotel on the main street, which is only wide enough for two cars to creep past each other.  The hill into Sofala from the north is the steepest we have encountered on a main road and is about 1.2 Km down all the way.”  So I didn’t call in for a snack this time!

 

I visited the Merriwa silos on the way and I was disappointed with them compared to others I have seen on the way.  They lacked detail and were missing the extra elements such as trees and birds that the others included.  The buildings in the background are new grain storage sheds.

 

 

Another couple of views of the silos:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am camping tonight at Willow Tree where a power site in the rec ground is $15 a night and there is a water tap to connect to as well.  Monday will see me heading through Toowoomba and Baraba.

On the way to Toowoomba I visited the railway museum at the Werris Creek railway station, the museum wasn’t open but I could view the statues outside.  They are made of stainless steel tubes welded together and they are set in a landscaped area.  I parked away from the station and approached the station through a memorial wall thaat has the names of all the railway workers killed in Australia, 150 in total, which is quite amazing to me that there were so many.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The statue shown above if of a gatekeeper who opened and closed the railway crossing gates.  They were usually the wives of fettlers or other railway workers and worked a 12 hour day.

At the entrance to the memorial wall is a statue of a fireman:

 

 

I wish that person had not parked their van there!  There were two more statues, one of a signal woman on the left, not sure why she is on a diving board, and a station master on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next stop was Tamworth where the water tower was at the top of a steep climb plus a steep but short walk, had me puffing.  The tower was behind a cyclone fence so it was a bit hard to exclude the wire and in a couple it was not possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I particularly liked the Cocky:

 

But the butterfly and the rainbow lorikeet were also very good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The descent from the tower was first gear all the way plus regular braking to reduce speed build up.   From Tamworth I went to Barraba where there are three painted silos.  While in the town I bought a caesar salad wrap which was delicious with two chicken fillets, bacon, an egg and salad all for $9.50, what a bargain.  The silos were all painted with the same water diviner on each and painted by Fintan Magee.  The artwork was excellent but I would have preferred a different character on each silo.

 

 

 

From Barraba I headed for Gunnedah where I will spend the night and visit the water tower and the artwork that commemorates the battle of Long Tan that the Australian army fought and won.

 

 

 

Russ on 3 August 2019

On Friday I moved on from West Wyalong to Bathurst where I will stay for 2 nights.  It was interesting to see that the crops were quite stunted but still green, in contrast the grazing lands were mainly brown with faint tinges of green.  It would seem the rain in NSW has been quite patchy, with some areas getting little rain.

The only silo on the way to Bathurst was at Grenfell where Margie broke her wrist tripping on a footpath discontinuity on the third day of a 2 month holiday.  She was taken by ambulance, a painful journey, to Orange hospital where they fixed and set her wrist.  I was eventually able to get a good settlement from the insurers for the caravan park.

The lady who painted the silo took 5 weeks and used 180 litres of paint plus 800 paint spray cans.  The silos are owned by a company run by locals who financed the painting as a legacy to Grenfell.

The silo art reflects the farming nature of the shire and has the Weddin Mountains National Park in the background.  We had a great day in the national park including the usual picnic lunch, visit to Ben Halls Cave and a visit to an early farm where the dirt floored cottage and farm sheds and equipment were still in place.

 

The sheep were so realistic you felt you could touch them and feel the wool, the cows were also very real.  In the photo of the cows the lines down the photo are from where one silo meets the next, the middle silo is in shade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Bathurst I stayed at the showgrounds where there are no facilities except an old but clean amenities block; but only $25 a night with power and water on the power sites.

I visited the cement silos in Portland on Saturday.  The cement we use today is called Portland Cement but not because it was made in Portland.  The cement name is derived from its similarity to Portland stone, a type of building stone quarried on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, England.  In his 1824 cement patent, Joseph Aspdin called his invention “Portland cement” because of the its resemblance to Portland stone.

Portland is about 50 Km from Bathurst through hilly scenic country, an easy drive.  There are five silos painted in sepia tones all of workers from the old cement works; they were painted by Guido Van Helten.  They are excellent but I’m not sure why some are painted from a rear view.

 

The photo below shows the two end silos and part of the old cement works.  The chimney would have been on the kiln because the process of making cement involves roasting crushed limestone, silica, alumina and iron oxide.

 The next photo is of a woman who worked in the office of the cement works:

 

After visiting the silos I travelled to Tarana about 30 Km away and the nearby Evans Crown Nature Reserve which protects 425 hectares of remanent dry eucalypt forest scattered with large granite boulders (Tors).  It was proclaimed in 1975 and named after George Evans who followed Blaxland et al across the blue mountains and went further into the bathurst area.  He did this in 1813.  I started on the climb to the top and got about halfway but after about 150 steps I thought better of it.  It was good to hear a lot of different birds, but there were no wildflowers or orchids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the showgrounds there was also a circus, Circus Rio, being set up and it had quite a fancy tent shown above.

On Sunday I will travel to generally north to Willow Tree and on the way visit a silo in Merriwa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Russ on 2 August 2019

The weather on Thursday was beautiful, but the start was very chilly; when I set of at 7.45 it was still 0 °C.  The max was 16 °C and sunny blue skies all day.  The water in the hose from the tap to the caravan froze so I had to use the caravan tank water, the first time that has happened to me.  I’m glad the van was coupled up as my hands were freezing just lowering the roof and packing up the power lead and water hose.  I also had to de-ice thick ice from the windscreen.

The drive to Wagga Wagga was though farming country and everything was green and the crops looked good, which was the same on the next phase to Narrandera.  The water tower at Wagga is on top of Willans Hill which overlooks the city.  I’m glad I came in from the southern end of Captain Cook Drive as the descent I exited by would have been a very steep climb with the caravan, I had the car in first gear all the way down.  The view over the city was extensive but it was a bit foggy so no photos.

The theme of the tower was water but there were no information boards to explain the thinking.  This photo shows all the artwork.

 

 

I took a couple of other photos of the two boys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Narrandera tower was at the top of a hill with a view over the town.  It was interesting to learn that Narrandera is an aboriginal word for “place of many lizards” hence one of the artworks was of a frilled neck lizard.

 

The Koala was chosen because Koalas were common in the area at settlement, but the Koala population had been wiped out by 1950 through hunting for the fur trade.  Community action in 1972 saw four Koalas put into a reserve and a few more added in the next couple of years.  They are now very well established and have spread up to 100 Km from Narrandera, a real success story.

 

The blue line weaving around the tower represents the Murrumbidgee river which flows through the town.  The tiger moth is part of the towns history as they were used at the RAAF base in the town in WW2 for initial pilot training.

Next stop was a Weethalle, this time for silos rather than water towers.  On the way I went through Barellan and dropped into the pub for lunch.  The only sign that meals may be available was a chalk board with “Kitchen Open” printed in chalk at the top of the board.  The barmaid didn’t know the cook’s name, she had to ask the owner, on her way to get him to explain what was available – pizza, spag bol, fish and chips and beef schnitzel with chips.  When I asked for salad he explained he had only been there two days so no salad.  Still the fish and chips were good.

The silos at Weethalle had a farming theme and were very well done:

 

 

I especially liked the shearer:

 

I’m off to Bathurst tomorrow where it is forecast to be -2 °C overnight both nights, I’m glad I have a heater and electric blanket, but I may throw another blanket over the doona (I turn the electric blanket off at night).  Tonight in West Wyalong it will be -1 °C, so maybe it will be a late start!  I will have to drain the water hose before I go to bed.