The Last Epistle

This is the last report from me, The Professor, for this 4 month journey through Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland.

My travel diary will continue from the last week in October into early November, when Linda and I will be spending 2 weeks in New Zealand. So dear readers, put the date of the last week of October in your diaries, and follow the adventures of Linda and myself in the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’. I’ll explain that name when in New Zealand.

In the meantime, read on, for the conclusion of our adventures.

Monday 11th September

Yarrawonga & the King Valley

Linda and I had a much better sleep last night, so it was going to be a day of activity. Firstly Linda did our washing, the last lot before we head home to Creswick tomorrow. She needed to do some otherwise we would have no ‘smalls’ for the next few days. Washing having been done we all, Bob and Maureen included, headed off for a drive down the King Valley south of Wangaratta, heading for the small town of Cheshunt. The road south of Wangaratta follows what was once a narrow gauge ( 2′ 6″ gauge ) railway line from Wangaratta to Whitfield operated between the early 20th century to the mid 1950’s

The drive to Cheshunt was along the wide King Valley for around 40 Km following the King River through very fertile cattle, sheep, and dairy county; the foothills of the Great Dividing Range surrounding us on the east and western sides of the valley. Initially the valley is a few kilometres wide, but once past Whitfield the foothills close in on the valley. Very pretty country all the way.

At Cheshunt we turned west for about 2 kilometres to the Chrismount Vineyard set on the side of a hill that was our object of today’s trip. Here Bob parked the car and we were welcomed by a very friendly and very wet Chocolate Labrador dog; it had just returned from a swim in the vineyard dam. We entered the vineyard tasting room where we were greeted by a very friendly woman who then lead us through a tasting session of the vineyard’s wines. All the wines we tasted were of excellent quality, and all with an Italian heritage as the vineyard was established by a local Italian family.

The King Valley
From the Chrismount Vineyard

It was now lunchtime, and as the vineyard has an attached restaurant, we decided to stay for lunch. As with the wines, the food was of Italian heritage and excellent. Whilst ordering our excellent lunch, the waitress asked about where we lived in Victoria. On telling her Creswick, she told us that it was in Creswick she had started school as a child, and lived but a few kilometres north of our town; small world.

Having enjoyed our lunch we then returned to the tasting room and bought some wine to take back home tomorrow. Having purchased wine we all began the return journey to Yarrawonga. On passing through Cheshunt Bob took the opportunity to look at a small camping/caravan park on the banks of the King River. It was a pretty little park with grassed sites and lots of shade. Linda and I thought we might come back soon and spend a few days at Cheshunt. The excellent Chrismont vineyard is within easy cycling distance of the caravan park. See arrived back at Bob and Maureen’s place at Yarrawonga around 4pm. As we had had a big lunch, we are only having light snacks for dinner.

Tomorrow Linda and I had home to Creswick for the end of our 4 month travels.

 

Sunday 10th September

Yarrawonga

Both Linda and I didn’t sleep too well last night, strange bed I suppose, so we really didn’t feel like doing much in the morning at least. Spent most of the time catching up on all the news with Bob and Maureen, then Bob and I watched a DVD I had bought at the Cosmos Centre in Charleville back in late May; The Universe and its Origins. Bob then went off to play a pre-arranged golf match.

After lunch Linda and I decided to drive to Rutherglen, 45 Km east of Yarrawonga, a major wine producing area in Victoria. It was a pleasant drive through flat farmlands following along the banks of the Murray River. At Rutherglen we called into our favourite winery; Chambers Rosewood Winery, to get some of their clean skin wines. As usual on arrival at Chambers we were greeted by their dogs, two very friendly Kelpies. We purchased a dozen mixed red and white wines, plus a couple of extra bottles of more up market wines.

From Rutherglen we drove the 16 Km to the border town of Corowa in NSW where we called into the local liquorice factory; once a grain loading complex, and bought some of their excellent liquorice both plain and chocolate coated. From there we drove back to Yarrawonga via the minor road on the NSW side of the Murray River to Mulwala and thence back to Bob and Maureen’s at Yarrawonga. That was the sum total of today’s activities.

To the Land of the Kangaroo

Saturday 9th of September

Lake Cargelligo to Yarrawonga

Linda and I awoke this morning to a clear blue sky and no wind, but despite this, it was still quite cold. After breakfast we packed the camper and were leaving the Lake Cargelligo caravan park at just on 10am heading south towards Rankines Springs about 70 Km south of Lake Cargelligo. Initially the trip was through wide flat pasture land with mainly wheat and canola being grown, and the odd small flocks of sheep here and there. As we approached Rankines Springs we had to cross a low range of hills that were quite picturesque with the road turning here and there through the various saddles in the ranges. Through the ranges the countryside became mainly the native Cedars. Having passed over the small range we descended to Rankines Springs.

We stopped at Rankines Springs for morning tea and for Linda to take over the driving for our continued journey southward to the large rural city of Griffith. Griffith is the heart of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area ( MIA ) with the surrounding area given over to citrus fruits, almonds, and grapes. The grape growing and its associated wine industries were introduced to Griffith post WW2 by Italian immigrants to the area. Unfortunately the Maffia connections of many of the early Italian Immigrants was also introduced with the resulting organised crime. Fortunately, from the late 1970 this influence died out as the original immigrants passed on.

LInda and I didn’t stop in Griffith despite it being a nice city, but again, it is a large rural city, so we avoided trying to stop and park there at all. From Griffith we continued south to the next town south, Darlington Point situated on the Murrumbidgee River, where we intended to have lunch. But it being a late Saturday afternoon, we could not find a cafe where we could get some lunch. So we continued on with me driving hoping to find a cafe at the next town about 30 Km south of Darlington Point, Colliambally. But as with Darlinton Point, no cafe’s were open there, so we continued on to the next largish town, Jerilderie, on the Newell Highway. But again we were nearly disappointed as the cafe’s there were just closing as we arrived just before 2pm. But we did manage to get a light lunch at the local bakery.

A little south of Jerilderie we turned off the Newell Highway towards Berrigan, where Linda once again took over driving. The countryside between Griffith and Berrigan is typical dead flat plains country, but after Berrigan it becomes slightly undulating as we approached the Murray River, the border between NSW and Victoria. Soon we arrived at the NSW border town of Mulwala, and then crossed over Lake Mulwala and into its twin town of Yarrawonga where our friends Bob and Maurine reside. About 5 minutes after arriving in Yarrawonga we arrived at Bob and Maureen’s home. Greetings all round, and then we unpacked the ute for a 3 or 4 night stay with Bob and Maureen.

Linda and I have now virtually completed our 4 month wanderings around NSW and Queensland. It is but a 5 hour drive from Yarrawonga to Creswick, a drive we have done many times before.

A Very Windy Day

Friday 8th of September

Lake Cargelligo

Linda and I had slept well last night and were not out of bed until around 7.30am for the first cup of tea for the day. Unfortunately we had been bad last night and not done the dishes from last night’s dinner. So after the cup of tea we washed last night’s dishes before having breakfast. After breakfast we showered and dressed in heavier clothing than previously as it was quite a cold morning and remained so for the remainder of the day. Admittedly it was a sunny day with scattered cloud cover, but a very cold and strong wind blew from the south-east all day.

We had walked the streets of Lake Cargelligo yesterday afternoon, so we needed something else to do today. As we had not walked the banks of the lake to the south yesterday, we decided to walk that way this morning. Despite the cold wind it was an enjoyable walk along the lakefront to a free-camp area where a couple of caravans were grazing. Groups of caravans together remind both of us of grazing cowes. Whilst walking through this area beside the lake a local farmer pulled up beside us in his ute and began talking to us about the area, the lake, and the lack of rain. He said that the days this time of year are usually better, but it was currently like Ballarat around here. We immediately responded that we were from Ballarat, at which he laughed.

Lake Cargelligo

From the lake edge Linda and I walked along the road we came in on yesterday back to the centre of town where we called into the local bakery for a cup of coffee and to buy a litre of milk. Whilst having our coffee, Linda and I discussed the weather and what we might do in the next few days. We decided to skip going to Griffith, but continue on to Yarrawonga tomorrow and stay a few days with our friends Bob and Maureen who live there. Bob and Maureen once resided in Creswick for around 35 years before moving to warmer climes. Having had our coffee and bought our milk, we returned to our camper at the caravan park.

The remainder of the day was spent out of the wind inside our camper, reading and playing computer games. Linda cooked a stew for tonight’s dinner. The caravan park has a well equipped camp kitchen that conveniently has a lovely slow combustion heater that had been lit for the night and so the kitchen was nice and warm. Linda and I decided to take our prepared stew over to the kitchen and eat it there in the warmth of the heater. We were joined by about 12 other campers all with bottles of wine and food, so a good night was had with all together discussing anything from politics, religion, Donald Trump, and all our adventures around Australia and overseas. Around 8 of the people were keen ‘Twitchers’ ( Bird watchers ) and had spent the day around the lake watching birds. They thought we were twitchers too and asked us to sign some papers listing the birds we had seen today. We had to disappoint them. The only birds I am really interested in are those with bikini plumage, and there was none of them around the lake today.

I Thought I was in Ireland

Thursday 7th of September

Narromine to Lake Cargelligo

As has been usual for each of the mornings at Narromine, the morning is dead still with no wind, but as soon as the sun begins to rise higher in the sky, the wind begins as a gentle breeze, and soon becomes a howling gale. Unfortunately the gale nature of the wind begins before Linda and I begin packing up the camper. Nevertheless, we were packed and leaving our tourist park at Narromine by 10.30am, heading south and later west towards Lake Cargelligo. The route we were taking was via Condobolin rather than via the main Newell Highway and Parkes.

Initially the drive was through the billiard table country of this area as we drove to the town of Tullamore, where we stopped for coffee and a change of drivers. Naturally a town called Tullamore has an Irish Shamrock as its town emblem; think Tullamore Dew, an Irish Whiskey liqueur. The road we had been following was a back road paralleling the main highway and was mainly used by road trains and other large vehicles, so it was a good quality road.

From Tullamore the countyrside became mor hilly but being quite low rolling hills, the road generally kept to straight lines with only a few sharpshooter corners now and then. The crops as far as Tullamore from Narromine were mainly wheat and canola. From Tullamore to Condobolin much the same, but with sheep also. From Tullamore the road headed south west to Condobolin and eventually joined the Lachlan Valley Way, about 10 Km short of Condobolin.

Condobolin is a quite large country town situated on the main east-west continental railway line from Sydney in NSW to Perth in WA. Asks it was now near 1pm we stopped at Condobolin and bought some lunch before I one again took over driving and with us heading due west to Lake Cargelligo. Still a good road passing through the same slightly hilly countryside and with huge acreages of wheat and canola each side of the road; less sheep past Condobolin.

Eventually at around 2.15pm we arrived at the small town of Lake Cargelligo, situated on the banks of the lake of that name. We soon found the tourist park; though here still called a caravan park, and obtained a grassed site for the next two nights. Having set up camp and had the obligatory cup of tea to test out the water quality, Linda and I then went for a walk into the town centre along she shorline of Lake Cargelligo. It is quite a big lake, and at a guess with a circumference of around 25 to 30 Km, the shore all lined with River Red Gum trees.

The town of Lake Cargelligo has one main street that extends down to the shoreline, a nice wide street but with that ridiculous parking requirement found extensively in NSW and some parts of Queensland, ie: Reverse angle parking. On walking the main street of the town I noticed a preponderance of local Solicitors. Makes one think that the town must be rather lawless! Lawless or not, Linda and I called into the largest pub in town for a drink before returning to the ‘caravan park’ for dinner; leftover ratatouille and lamb chops made into a ragu for a pasta dinner.

Flights of Fancy

Wednesday 6th of September

Narromine

Linda and I have decided to stay another day in Narromine, though not with plans to do much except for me to visit the attached Aviation Museum at the aerodrome. Because of this planned ‘not doing much’ day, we took some leisurely time over breakfast before doing the morning ablutions. Linda then intended ‘doing the books’, not cooking the books, of our expenses so far. I then took the opportunity to visit the Aviation Museum.

The museum opens at 10am, so at about 10.30 I walked to 50m to the museum and entered and paid my $7 entry fee to,the bloke manning the front desk. As I was the only visitor to the museum at that time, he kindly spent around 20 minutes explaining all about the museum and its displays before letting me roam freely around the place.

The Aviation Museum

As mentioned previously, Narromine Aerodrome was an RAAF base during World War 2, and became a civil aerodrome after then. Thus the museum had a large display of the RAAF history of the place: It’s main initial purpose was as a pilot training facility as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme to supply pilots initially for service in England during WW2. Training was done on the famous Tiger Moth biplanes, a few of which are still in operational and airworthy order around the world, though none are based at Narromine.

The displays for the RAAF history of Narromine Aerodrome consisted of pieces of equipment and various parts of aeroplanes, plus many photographs of trainee pilots, with some of the more famouse or noteworthy given prominence. Lots of photographs of the WW2 aerodrome from the air, which on close examination showed that where we have pitched our camper for the last 2 nights, was once the site of a Sergeant’s Quarters. At the end of WW2 lots of wartime equipment was disposed of simply by burying it at the aerodrome. Recently someone excavated a complete Rolls Royce Merlin aircraft engine in good condition, that has been fully restored to working order. The Merlin powered the famous Spitfire fighters and the Lancaster bombers of WW2. Near the end of WW2, the Narromine RAAF base became the location of a secret bomb development based on the well known skipping bombs of Dam Buster fame. This was, for whatever bureaucratic reason, kept secret until 1976.

After the war the aerodrome became a home for the Narromine Aero Club, and the Orana Gliding Club, both still in existence. In the 1950’s Qantas used the aerodrome for its pilot training for the well know of the last piston engines passenger planes; the Lockheed Super Constellations. With the introduction of the Boeing 707, Qantas training moved to Sydney. In my humble opinion, the Lockheed Constellations were the most elegant and beautiful passenger aircraft ever built. Modern jet airliners are just flying tubes for as many passengers that can be stuffed in.

But to me, the best part of the museum display was a fully operational replica of the famous Wright Flyer; the first fully manoeuvrable and controllable aeroplane flown in 1902 at Kitty Hawk in the USA. The replica was constructed from original plans that the Wright brothers passed to the British when the British were considering military aircraft. The Narromine replica is fully operational and has been flown on several occasions since it was constructed in 2008, though only within the confines of the Aerodrome for safety reasons. ( The Wright Flyer was built with negative dihedral on the wings that makes an aircraft unstable in lateral control. Later more advanced aircraft all have positive dihedral, ie: The wings are bent upward by a few degrees. ) The museum has DVD’s available showing the replica Wright Flyer in action.

The Wright Flyer Reproduction

I spent around 2 hours in the museum talking with the volunteers that run the place, and taking some photos of the Wright Flyer. I spent around half an hour admittedly, minutely inspecting the construction of the Flyer. Having spent my time at the museum I returned to Linda, who had completed cooking the books, for lunch.

We had nothing really planned for the remainder of the day, but rather than just sitting around reading or playing computer games, we decided on a short drive out into the country south of Narromine. Billiard Table County I call it; dead flat pasture and sheep country. Despite the flatness of the countryside, Linda and I enjoyed our drive there through before returning to Narromine.

We have decided to change our route home slightly, and rather than going through Cobar to the north west, we have decided to go directly to Lake Cargelligo, around 300 Km south west of Narromine and spend a few days there before continuing on to Yarrawonga on the Murray River where we will be staying a few days with some very old friends of ours now living there.

No Longer Cruelly Caged

Tuesday 5th of September

Narromine & Dubbo

Today’s planned activity for me and Linda was to visit the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo. We have been wanting to visit this zoo over about the last 10 years as we passed through Dubbo on numerous occasions, but for whatever reasons, we were unable to visit. Today then was deliberately set aside for a visit to the Zoo. After breakfast and the usual ablutions we set off for Dubbo, 35 Km to the east of Narromine, arriving there around 11am; we are not in a hurry.

The first thing on the agenda at the zoo was to have a coffee in the cafe’ there before paying our entry fee and entering the zoo proper. As an open plains zoo, all the various animals have very large open areas in which to do their animal things without being cruelly caged as has been the case in the past. Like Mogo Zoo that we had visited down on the south coast of NSW in early May, the Dubbo Zoo has active breeding and conservation programs in cooperation with other zoos world wide.

One is able to drive ones own car around the zoo, take a bicycle tour, or as Linda and I did, walk. There is a set road one follows around the zoo with walking offshoots to various animal enclosures, with the total road trail being 5 Km in length. Each of the animal enclosures is surrounded by an earth mound allowing close and high viewing of the animals on display, with you being separated from the animals by either an electric fence, or in the case of of the ‘big cats’ a sturdy wire enclosure. The Zoo cannot have the big moggies snacking on small children or adults.

Cute

It would take too long to enumerate all of the animals we saw, but typically we saw big cats, cloven hoofed animals, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, hippopotamus, and surprisingly, not too many simians ( monkeys ). A feature for children, and adults, is always the meerkats. Australian animals also feature with one being able to walk amongst free ranging kangaroos, emus, echidnas, etc., as most Australian animals are rather harmless, ( Crocodiles excluded. None in the zoo anyway ) although the wild dingos were kept separate from us mortals by a high wall. On looking closely at the beautiful dingos, Linda and I could see the heritage of our recently passed away dog Amber, a Queensland Heeler, as healers have dingo ancestry.

Teenage Moggie

Despite walking around 7 Km during the day ( 5 road Km plus side tracks ), Linda and I thoroughly enjoyed walking around the zoo rather than driving or riding. It was around 3.30pm when we had finished a most enjoyable day at the Open Plains Zoo and headed back to Narromine. We actually stopped in Narromine proper for about an hour whilst we did some required washing of bed linen and clothing at a local laundromat. We had not had any lunch whilst walking around the zoo, so we called into a local cafe for coffee and a snack while the laundry was in process. Small cafe that had the best quiches we had had for a long while, the proprietor’s grand-daughter makes them. We asked the proprietor to pass on our compliments to his grand-daughter.

Amber’s Ancestry
Amber

With the washing complete we returned to our camp at the Narromine Aerodrome.

Crossing Our Path

Monday 4th of September

Coonabarabran to Narromine

Our squatters on our camp site at the Coonabarabran tourist park left around 9am, so Linda and I were able to pack up and be leaving Coonabarabran by 10.30, heading for Narromine that is about 35 Km west of Dubbo. We originally wanted to stay at Dubbo, a rather large rural city in central NSW, but the tourist parks there charged like wounded Bulls. So we decided on nearby Narromine, and besides, we are heading west to Cobar in a few days, Narromine is more convenient. Our reason for wanting to visit Dubbo was to go to the well known open plains zoo there, an annex to Sydney’s famous Taronga Park Zoo.

The drive out of Coonabarabran was through the hilly foothills of the Warrumbungle Ranges, but on a good fast highway despite being a bit ‘up and down’ in nature. Soon we descended from the Warrumbungles to the wide Western Plains of NSW with flat roads with long straight stretches. The Western Plains of NSW extend over to the South Australian border, then continue to the Flinders Ranges of SA. The Western Plains are about 800 Km wide as far as the Flinders Ranges in SA. Southward they extend down to the Murray River border with Victoria and then on as far down as Creswick where we live, around 800 Km south of here. So it is flatland driving all the way home from now on.

Once on the plains we came to the town of Gilgandra where we stopped for lunch. We passed through Gilgandra many weeks ago as we were coming up from the Hunter Valley to Lightning Ridge, this time though we were heading south. I had been driving as far as Gilgandra, then Linda took over for the remainder of the drive to Narromine. About 20 Km south of Gilgandra we turned off towards Narromine. We were really in plains country now; sheep and cropping being the main rural professions here with vast sheep paddocks and vast expanses of both wheat and canola.

Out Onto the Plains

After 50 Km along this road we finally came to Narromine and soon found the tourist park out on the road to Bourke. The tourist park here at Narromine as actually located at the Narromine Arrodrome which was once an RAAF base during World War 2. It is now a civil Aerodrome hosting an aircraft museum, commercial operations such as crop dusting, and a large gliding club. Being a past glider pilot myself I will try and call in on the club tomorrow if they are operating.

Having set up camp on the perimeter of the Aerodrome, Linda and I drove the 4 Km into the town centre for some essential shopping for tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s meals. One unfortunate aspect of the camp at Narromine today, is the very strong north westerly wind. Being perched on an Aerodrome there is no significant buildings or trees to moderate this howling wind. Hopefully it will drop with the approach of night time.

Sausages (gourmet) and mash for dinner tonight.

From the Big Bang to Now

Sunday 3rd of September

Coonabarabran

Today’s major activity was to visit the Siding Springs Observatory, 25 Km west of Coonabarabran high up in the Warrumbungle Ranges. We had no ancillary jobs to do this morning like washing or shopping, that came later, so having finished breakfast etc., we drove out the road to the observatory. It was a slowly rising and sinuous drive through the foothills of the Warrumbungle Ranges, and then a couple of steep climbs up to the observatory itself.

The Warrumbungle Ranges

The observatory is officially known as the Anglo-Australian Observatory, and is managed by the Australian National University in Canberra, and operated in conjunction with other observatories throughout the world. The main telescope has an around 4.5m diameter mirror, and is the largest optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. There are numerous other telescopes of various apertures and types within the Observatory complex. The Observatory had a large interpretive centre open to the public with excellent descriptive and audio visual displays concerning astronomy and all its aspects, including the latest research into exoplanets and dark energy.

The Anglo-Australian Observatory

The telescopes are not open to the public but the large 4.5m telescope has a viewing gallery where the public can see the telescope up close. It is daytime when the public a can visit the observatory so it is not operating. It was freezing cold in the viewing gallery as the telescope hall is kept refrigerated at night time observing temperatures to minimise thermal distortions of the telescope optics.

Continue reading From the Big Bang to Now

A Light From The Past

Saturday 2nd of September

Tamworth to Coonabarabran

Linda and I were packed and leaving our tourist park at Tamworth at around 10.30am, and headed into the town to visit the Power House Museum on the edge of the Tamworth CBD. The museum is only open on the weekend, so this was our only chance of seeing it. It is an electrical engineering museum, mainly devoted to electric lighting for reasons I will give in a moment. As a Professional Electrical Engineer myself, I was naturally very interested in visiting this museum. We found the museum easily enough and parked the ute nearby.

Background: Tamworth was the first ever Australian city to install electric street lighting in November 1888, using mainly the crude carbon filament lamps of that era, plus a few carbon arc-lamps at major areas within the town. The museum concentrates on this history of Tamworth having restored the two d.c. generators used to illuminate the town, including the two steam boilers and engines that ran the generators. They run the system on special occasions, though no longer lighting the streets of the town.

Since the place is an Electrical Engineering Museum, it also has a huge collection of preserved electrical apparatus from that era to the near present: The largest collection of electric lights in the world dating from 1888 to the present, domestic appliances, measuring equipment, radios and televisions, and other equipment of the electrical industry. They also have a small teaching laboratory where school kids are shown the basics of electrical energy and with a hands-on approach to teaching. It was an excellent museum run by volunteers and is well worth a visit if one is passing through Tamworth.

I could have spent more time there looking at things familiar to one of that profession, but we had to move on as we were travelling to Coonabarabran, 200 Km to the west. The countryside to the west of Tamworth is rolling plains supporting pastures, sheep, and some cattle. The green and gold of huge paddocks of canola could also be seen around the area as we travelled. At around 1pm we came to the next big(ish) town on the route, Gunnedah. Here we stopped for about 20 minutes for a coffee and a bite of lunch before Linda took over driving.

The Liverpool Plains Near Gunnedah

From Gunnedah onward the county becomes quite hilly as we left the Liverpool Plains and entered the foothills of the Warrumbungle Ranges. Luckily though, the road through these hills was basically straight, so we could maintain full highway speed all the way to Coonabarabran. As we left the plains and headed into the hills, the paddocks of the plains gave way to wooded hills, and for much of the way we were in light Australian Cyprus forests. The Australian native Cyprus tree is a member of the Cyprus Pine family and is one of the Australian trees that is resistant to attack by white ants. For this reason it makes an excellent building material where termites are a problem. The resin in the Cyprus pine wood is very fragrant and pleasant to smell. When sawing the wood the most beautiful perfume will assail your sense of smell. When burnt, the wood smoke is also highly and pleasantly scented.

The Cyprus Pine Forests

At around 2pm Linda and I finally arrived at Coonabarabran, and soon found our tourist park for the next two nights. We checked in and found a nice grassy site where we set up camp. Our friends from Caloundra, Keith and Jean, with whom we stayed over a week ago were expected in Coonabarabran tonight also on their way south, and we had arranged to meet them for dinner tonight. At around 4pm we had a message from Keith and Jean informing us of their arrival at a motel in town. I consequently phoned Keith and got the address of their motel, so Linda and I called in to see them for a while before returning to camp.

At 6pm we met Keith and Jean at a local pub where we had dinner together before us all returning to our respective abodes. We will not see Keith and Jean again until November when Keith, Linda, and I will be all riding together in a scheduled cycling event down in South Gippsland.

Country Music

Friday 1st of September
Spring

Tamworth

It was quite a mild night last night with the temperature a few degrees above zero. This is to be expected as we are now at a lower altitude than Tenterfield, and on the edge of the western plains of NSW. Despite it not being really cold, there was a slight frost in the shadows around the place, so again Linda and I did not arise from bed until around 7.30am. Having arisen and then had fried mushrooms for breakfast, Linda did some essential clothes washing whilst I assembled our bikes for a ride into Tamworth.

With washing and such done, we left our tourist park at around 10.30 and headed the 7 Km into Tamworth. Our first objective for today was to visit the Golden Guitar Centre on the highway out towards the Hunter Valley and eventually Sydney. But before I speak about the Golden Guitar Centre, it is necessary to note what Tamworth is world famous for, and that is its Country Music Festival held every January that brings thousands of County Music Fans to Tamworth along with many world famous County Music performers. Tamworth has held this festival yearly since the 1960’s, with the event becoming larger and more famous year after year. Not only does it feature Australian CM stars, it has also hosted such famous CM performers as Dolly Parton and Glen Campbell, plus others I cannot recall. (I’m not really a CM fan, despite most of such music being quite pleasant. I’m an old and rusted on classicist.)

Linda and I cycled out to the Golden Guitar Centre that naturally features a golden guitar; a huge one out front of the centre. On entering the centre, Linda and I first went for the cafe’ therein for a much wanted cup of coffee. Having had our coffee, we then entered the centre proper. It’s main displays are twofold: One. The guitars used by numerous national and international CM performers, and two; Madam Tussaud type wax statues of Australia’s most famous CM performers, along with various pieces of memorabilia that belonged to each. As I am not a great fan of CM, I was not familiar with all, the CM stars in the display, but the few I knew of were: Tex Morton, Smokey Dawson, Frank Ifield, Chad Morgan (All fairly ancient CM stars like yours truly and mostly now dead, except for me) and more recent and still live stars with whom I am unfamiliar. At each wax figure, a biography told about their respective lives, and the songs/music they were famous for. Despite neither Linda nor I being great CM lovers, we did find the displays and information very interesting.

The Golden Guitar

Having seen the displays and read all about the CM stars, it was now lunch time, so Linda and I cycled back into central Tamworth and then walked the Main Street, Peel St., looking for a suitable place for lunch. We finally settled on sushi from one of those sushi places where the food comes around on a sushi train.

As well as the Golden Guitar Centre, there is the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame, so we walked with our bikes along Peel St., to where Mr. Google’s Maps said the ACMHF was. But once there we could not see any indication of an ACMHF. A certain hamburger chain stood out like canine balls, but no signage indicating the ACMHF. But. On closer investigation, a small brick building behind the hamburger chain, seemed to resemble a guitar. On closer investigation of the brick building we found a very small sign: “ACMHF”. So much for Tamworth promoting its hall of fame. The hamburger joint had greater prominence. Linda and I were so disappointed with this lack of pride by Tamworth in its ACMHF that we decided not to grace it with our presence. Besides, it was most likely a similar exhibition to the GGC.

Linda and I then cycled back to or tourist park, getting back there around 3pm. As we had been cycling on a warm day, we both needed a shower to clean up. As it was getting on in the afternoon, we decided to do no more except prepare for departure tomorrow for Coonabarabran, about 200 Km west of Tamworth. Continue reading Country Music