RAVENSWOOD – A GHOST TOWN

It has been a few months since the last blog thanks to Covid 19 and all the restrictions placed on us.  At the start of the year I imagined the travel side of this blog would be all about Iceland.  Our trip was booked, the wedding planned and all was in place – until the Pandemic struck!  So, we are biding our time and hopefully will be able to get to Iceland in the future.

Meantime we are exploring our own backyard and last weekend we did a little road trip to Ravenswood.  This charming heritage listed township is 89 kilometres west of Charters Towers and was once a thriving gold mining town.  There are lots of stories and history is at every turn you make.  Apparently in 1868 whilst mustering cattle, a local pastoralist by the name of Marmaduke Curr stopped to have a drink of water from Elphinstone Creek and saw specks of gold at the bottom of his pannikin. The area quickly became part of the gold rush.  IN the boom era there were over 50 pubs and a population of over 5000.  Today it is a virtual ghost town with a population of around 255.

We set off on the 130 km drive from Townsville on an all bitumen road.  Recent rains had turned the country into a palette of greens and small farms with Brahmin cattle are interspersed along the route.  An hour and a half later we drove into the historic town.

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The main road into town

It was quiet and the first stop we made was at the Miner’s cottage – on the right in the above picture.  This was a brief history lesson for Bea – age 9 – who has not spent a lot of time in the bush and who was fascinated in the lives of the children at that time.

The last time I was here was years ago with my daughter’s school class and we visited the school at the time.  Bea was intrigued to know it was a one teacher school, with all students from years 1 – 7 in the same room and taught by the same teacher!  Then there were about 17 students in total.

The old cottage is original and displays how the miner and his family would have lived in the late 1800’s.IMG_7253IMG_7254IMG_7257

The kitchen was an eye opener, as was the bedroom.  Seeing this made young Bea thankful for what she has at home!IMG_7255

Outside was the laundry and the outhouse – I had to marvel at the fortitude of the pioneers, both male and female, who sacrificed so much to live the dream of finding that large gold nugget. For many it was hardship and disappointment and for others there was success in measured amounts. This is related as well at the local cemetery where gravestones tell of mining and horse accidents, illness and child influenza.  Pioneers came from all over the world in search of a new life and many descendants are still in the area.

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The old London Mine built between 1903 and 1915 consists of a headframe with mullock heaps to the north and south.  Today we can walk to the entrance and stare down and imagine the miners toiling in impossible circumstances years ago. There are old chimneys, rusting machinery and old shafts throughout the town making the journey an informative one, especially for eager young minds.

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The quaint shops – no longer trading – show some of the merchandise that would have been available at the time.  A fun thing to do is to pose for a photograph outside and imagine you are out for a Sunday stroll in the early part of the century, dressed in your Sunday best and carrying a parasol for the sun.  Note the bag of money held by the male!

We had lunch at the historic Railway hotel where little has changed.  There are some original fittings and furniture, the ceilings are pressed metal and there are large french doors opening onto the verandas at the side.  It is possible to stay here and during the winter season it becomes quite busy with passing travellers keen to experience a night in the old town – along with ghosts and wildlife!

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We had a delicious home cooked lunch here and wallowed in the feeling of yesteryear.

On the way home we stopped at the White Blow Environmental park which is about 4km from town along the road to Ayr. The large quartz outcrop is a prominent feature of the park and is about 15 metres in height with a diameter of 45 meters and is the largest of several masses of quartz in the area. The quartz is estimated to be about 300 million years old.

We took the road to Ayr which gave us spectacular views of the Leichhardt ranges and was devoid of any traffic.  We did see wildlife, including this curious little fellow out for a munch of newly grown grass.

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An easy day trip and a little bit different.  Now to explore some more although the island calls this weekend!

HONG KONG – a welcome stopover

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Our Rugby World Cup trip to Japan ended – not quite the way we expected with travel plans disrupted because of typhoon and floods – but we were still able to get to Hong Kong and connect with our final flight back to Australia.  This meant an unexpected night in a city I love and one in which I grew up and consider more as my “childhood home” than the UK.

The unrest from earlier in the year continued and although we witnessed a riot in September, this time all was quiet. It is interesting to get the perspective from local Chinese residents as well as expats.  Everyone has a different opinion but suffice to say, I am saddened by what has happened and am thankful for the many memories I have.

We had a day to wander around and this we did in Kowloon as we were staying at the Prince Hotel near the harbour.  There is a lovely walk along the harbour called Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade and even on the hottest day there is a breeze.  Shizuoka-08

This is the old clock tower which was at the old Kowloon/Canton railway station – now long gone.  I am glad the clock tower was saved as it is an icon from the early colonial days and I have many memories of getting off the Star Ferry and walking to the station amidst crowds of people and lots of rickshaws!  Now there is a memorial pool and fountain and it is quiet place to contemplate.

This area is also close to the Art Gallery and Theatre – the gallery was closed for renovations but we did see a lovely exhibition of Russian folk art in the foyer.

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The harbour is not as busy as in the past – cargo ships unload at the docks, cruise ships go to the terminal, the ferry still goes back and forth but the vehicular ferry has gone, replaced by tunnels under the harbour.  However, lovely old junks still cruise up the channel

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There are statues and even an Avenue of Stars path commemorating film stars past and present. New buildings, shops and restaurants along the Promenade make the walk interesting – each time we come here, there is something new.Shizuoka-07

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We came to the incredible new K11 Musea – Hong Kong’s new Art Gallery inspired Mall with luxury shops alongside a public art space. The architecture is amazing and the concept is to merge art and culture with commerce.

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This was opened in August 2019 and promises to be a “must” on every visitor’s list.

The Harbour Light Show is world famous and just keeps getting better.  We found a little outdoor bar at the Ocean Terminal with a fabulous view so we sat with a glass of wine and watched this incredible show synchronised to music downloaded on our phones.

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Our final lunch was with local friends at a Dim Sum restaurant – renewing old friendships and savouring the taste of Hong Kong.

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Until the next visit…….

 

KOBE – and a step back in time

6th OCTOBER 2019:  Our next destination was Kobe, a city which opened as an international port in 1868.  It is a beautiful location that stretches between mountains and the ocean. For me this has a personal connection.  My grandparents were married here in 1914.  My grandfather worked for Lever Brothers – now Unilever – and was sent to Japan in 1912 to open a soap factory for the company.  Foreigners began working and settling in Kobe only forty years beforehand and the settlement was in its infancy. The area known as Kitano was where the foreigners built their homes, it was close to the port and on the slopes of Mt. Rokko.  I was keen to see where my family lived and worked, especially as I have done a considerable amount of research on life in Kobe at that time.

Our train journey from Oita took about two hours to Osaka which is very close to Kobe. We had booked a hotel right on the water and close to the old foreign settlement.  As it happened this was where the Rugby Fanzone was situated and so we were able to wander down to the area and see a match on the big screen, have a few drinks and enjoy the atmosphere and try to win prizes!

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This area is relatively new and the port has grown in recent years.  In 1945 during World War 2 the main area of Kobe was destroyed by bombs but the Kitano area was saved as it was a foreign settlement.  However, years later earthquakes devastated the city and many areas were affected – although once again, somehow Kitano escaped relatively unscathed.

The Port area – known as Harborland – is full of restaurants, shops and bars and we had no trouble finding a great place to eat as well as watching entertainment.

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Many of the restaurants had plastic images of the food on their menu – including one for children complete with an Australian flag! This is quite useful when language is a problem – just point to the dish you fancy.

We took a taxi up to Kitano which has now been designated under the “Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings” act by the government. Immediately we could see the attraction the early foreigners saw – on a hill with cool breezes and a view.  Several houses have been restored and are open to the public either as museums or restaurants and it is a lovely area to stroll around.

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Some of the streets are very narrow and steep and in the past would have had rickshaws as transport or maybe just two feet! This is where my grandparents had a house, which is sadly no more but the block is there with a remains of a building.

Close to Kitano is the Shin-Kobe Ropeway which is a ten minute cable car ride up Mt. Rokko. At the top is the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden which is one of Japan’s largest herb gardens with about 75,000 herbs and flower gardens with around 200 varieties plus a series of Glasshouses, fragrance museum and cafe and restaurant.

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It was a beautiful day and we had stunning panoramic views on all sides of the cabin.  We could also see the western part of Osaka and the Seto Inland Sea.  Passing over waterfalls and cultivated gardens, the ride was a surprise to say the least.

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At the top we found a European style building which was the Fragrance Museum and cafe and a pleasant outdoor seating area.

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After a cold drink and a wander around the museum and shop, we were advised to walk down to the mid station and along the way admire the herbs and gardens and the Glasshouses mid way.  It was fascinating; the herbs were all grouped in various categories – the Potager (kitchen herbs) was lush and sweet smelling, as were all the herbs which are tended daily and made me wish I could do even half as good a job at growing!

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Then we reached the Glasshouses and another surprise awaited.  This was a tropical paradise with masses of flowers, potted plants and a mini waterfall and stream in several greenhouses.  It was totally magical and in one we came across what was to be my favourite of the whole exhibition – a beautiful statue of a Mother and Child, presented in 1993 by the Italian city of Terni to Kobe.  The sculpture embodies the desire for eternal friendship and for love to be nurtured throughout the world.

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The lushness of the tropical garden complete with butterflies and birds made it hard to to tear ourselves away, there is so much to savour and enjoy.

In another section is an area representing the interior of a home – with a dining setting and bunches of dried herbs.  Outside is a gorgeous terrace where we had a glass of wine before taking the cable car back to the bottom.

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This Ropeway and Gardens is definitely something every visitor to Kobe should do, it is surely one of the best places to be in Kobe.  At night the views are apparently amazing with the sunset and then twinkling night lights of the city.  We didn’t do it this time but if we ever return, that is on the Must Do list.

Our time in Kobe was short but sweet and once again, we felt that it warranted another trip to Japan – next time to visit the onsen at Arima which is close by.  For now though we have lovely memories of this “City of Love” with strong feelings of family.

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HIROSHIMA and a call for PEACE

OCTOBER 3RD 2019 : We decided to spend a night in Hiroshima on our way to Oita for another rugby game.  It was a good decision.  Hiroshima is far from depressing – it has new buildings and wide, leafy boulevards.  The public bus system is easy to navigate and our first destination to visit was obviously the Peace Park.  On 6th August 1945 Hiroshima became  the target of the world’s first atomic bomb attack. The Peace Park is a reminder of that day and has many moving messages of Peace.  I personally found the museum a bit confronting and could only take in so much sadness, however the Park itself is wonderful with lots of statues, memorials and the central feature, which is a long tree lined Pond of Peace leading to the cenotaph.  This is a curved concrete monument holding the names of all the known victims of the bomb. The Flame of Peace at the pond is set to burn until all the world’s nuclear weapons are destroyed.
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Hiroshima-03Just beyond the cenotaph is the Atomic Bomb Dome which is a very sobering sight.

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This building was built in 1915 by a Czech architect and was the Industrial Promotion Hall until the bomb exploded almost directly above it.  Everyone was killed but the building was left standing and a decision was made after the war to leave the shell standing as a permanent memorial.

I loved the Children’s Peace Monument which was inspired by a little girl who was 2 years old at the time.  When she developed leukaemia at the age of 11 she decided to fold 1000 paper cranes.  In Japan the crane is a symbol of longevity and happiness and she believed that if she achieved her target she would recover.  Sadly she died before she reached her goal but her classmates folded the rest.  The monument was built in 1958 and her story inspired a nationwide spate of paper cranes which continues to this day – we were given some on arrival in Sapporo for example.  Surrounding this monument are strings of literally thousands of colourful paper cranes sent by children all over the world as well as Japan.

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We walked all over the park and enjoyed the serenity of it all as well as the monuments which are artistic in their own way and very meaningful.

Later we walked to Hiroshima Castle which was originally constructed in 1589 but was totally destroyed by the bomb.  It was rebuilt in 1958 and is now a museum.  The Castle is surrounded by a moat which is full of carp – and weeds – and is impressive.  We climbed up to the 5th floor – looking at the historical artefacts on each floor which didn’t have much explanation in English, so again imagination came to play – and we had a wonderful view of the city and surrounding park.

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Strolling through the Park we came across a Shinto Temple and a wedding party had just arrived.  It was a thrill to see the traditional dress.  The bride in a Shinto gown and the groom in a dark coloured costume which involved a skirt.  This prompted a google search on Shinto weddings!

We enjoyed this cosmopolitan city and the covered shopping malls but most of all we came away with a deeper understanding of the dreadful nuclear event of 1945 and the ramifications it has had for generations afterwards.

 

 

TOKYO

September 26th 2019 and we had a two and a half hour journey to Tokyo from Kanazawa aboard the Shinkansen Hokuriku line.  Knowing we were travelling during a meal time, we decided to buy bento boxes from the well stocked shop at the railway station.  These lunch boxes came elaborately packed and with a variety of foods inside.  I opted for a smart red and black box with matching chopsticks and inside were tasty morsels of rice, pickles seaweed salad and a couple of other things I didn’t recognise but which were delicious!

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Richard’s box was called “The Samurai” and was larger but what was in it was anyone’s guess.  I think I made the right choice!

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The train – a super high speed Shinkansen was comfortable – we were in the Green Car – and scenery flashed past almost too quickly!  My only comment overall about these high speed trains after travelling on them for almost 5 weeks, is that there are far too many tunnels!

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Stations are clean and very well organised – with hostesses for the Deluxe and Green cars. On board snacks and drinks are sold from a trolley and cool towels are handed out at the start of your journey – which is a lovely touch.

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Tokyo is easy to get around.  The sprawling city can be accessed readily by public transport which runs very regularly and efficiently.  We were staying in Shinjuku but managed to get around with our Suica transport cards allowing us to travel on buses and trains merely by swiping the card – and topping it up when credit ran low.

A modern city in many respects, I love how the old blends with the new.

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There are a lot of parks and gardens and iconic structures such as the Tokyo Tower and the Skytree Tower.

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Everywhere we went there were reminders of the World Cup Rugby being played all over Japan – that is why we were there after all.

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And even at the Fish market – where we had THE most delicious lunch, we were promoting the rugby!

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We attended an Australian Rugby Union function at Tokyo Bay – which was quite a long way from Shinjuku but we took the train and found that, the world over, people are the same and obsessed with their devices!

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Tokyo Bay is close to Haneda airport – the old International Airport – with lovely views from the park close to the cruise terminal.

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The function was prior to the game Australia v. Wales and was an opportunity to meet up with old friends, hear about the team and meet some new people along with delicious food and wine/beer.  An ingenious way to refill beer glasses was a roving waiter with Heineken beer on tap…..

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We were given a bag containing memorabilia and cheer aids – including these rather fetching “Happy Coats”

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Then it was off to the Tokyo Stadium for the game – with a capacity crowd, of which around 40,000 were apparently Australians, the atmosphere was electric.

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It was a good game but sadly we didn’t win this time.  One win and one loss so far with two more games to go.  Meanwhile we have more exploring to do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAPPORO – JAPAN’S NORTHERN CITY

Four days in Sapporo is not nearly enough! The city has a lovely feel to it – unhurried, clean and very friendly. It is easy to walk around and the public transport is very frequent, efficient and cheap. We didn’t get into the mountains but did visit the pretty little town of Otaru.

The local train to the port city runs several times an hour and the journey takes about 40 minutes. Otaru flourished from the Meiji to the Trisha Era and was known as “the entrance of the North”. It is a fun place to walk around and our first encounter was with the fish market, situated next to the station.

This is a popular place for the locals as well as visitors and the variety of seafood on offer is staggering. We found a little restaurant behind one of the stalls and had a wonderful lunch of sashimi and rice with roe – the roe is plentiful and is sold in jars and buckets!

The Otaru Canal is a beautiful attraction and is reminiscent of days gone by. Old warehouses line the canal and are now shops and restaurants. There are other lovely historical buildings nearby which have been preserved and are also banks and offices.

That night, back in Sapporo, we went to Odori Park where the Autumn Festival was in full swing with food and drink stalls and tents in abundance. We wandered through the Park and ate the biggest scallops we have ever seen

Plus other delicacies and ramen noodles – which is a speciality of Sapporo.

The Hokkaido Historic Village is an open air museum of relocated and restored buildings that represent the history of Hokkaido from 1868 to the 1920’s. We reached it by local train from Sapporo and on entering took a short ride around the village in a horse drawn tram. In all there are 52 buildings representing the Town, a Fishing Village, Farm Village and a Mountain Village. Each building shows the lifestyle of the people of that era.

It was easy to imagine life in those days – and wonderful to see local schoolchildren enjoying an excursion to learn about the history of their region.

HONG KONG – AND A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE

Hong Kong isn’t just all about shopping and crowds.  It is easy to get away from all of that and find some relatively quiet places whether by the beach or in the hills. This trip I wanted to do just that and revisit places I knew well as a child.  Things have changed, of course, but some things remain the same and then the memories come flooding back.

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Far from the madding crowd and mayhem in the city below is a beautiful walk around the top of the Peak.  This is where we lived and today it is exactly as it was – quiet, peaceful and leafy.  It is much cooler than in the city and the views are stunning – but different to our day as the construction of multi storey buildings has filled the landscape below and the vista to the islands beyond is now hazy due to pollution.

 

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A view from above

The Star Ferry has been crossing the harbour for decades and is, to my mind, the best way to go from one side to the other.  The trip takes no more than ten minutes and is a pleasant way to travel.  We did this so often as children – there were no cross harbour tunnels or MTR trains in those days.  A vehicular ferry was available to take cars and passengers and on weekends we would often “drive” to Castle Peak or the New Territories and part of the excitement of the day was taking the car ferry!

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Kowloon today is so different from the island – it is a mixture of crowds, smells, hustle and bustle, jewellers, hawkers selling copy watches or handbags, tourists galore and shop after shop.  In spite of all this it was lovely to see a couple of colonial buildings preserved and now used as hotels or for retail.

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The Peninsula Hotel was another favourite and although the decor has changed, the lobby is still magnificent and the staircase – which featured in every Ball or formal event – is the same.

Towering skyscrapers dominate the waterfront and reclaimed land is making the harbour even smaller – however, I could still find the old Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club which seems to be dwarfed these days.

A bus ride to Stanley is always a great outing.   This little village was a quiet residential area with a small beach and good swimming.  There was also a market where we bought Christmas gifts and local wares. Today it is a really pleasant place to stroll along the waterfront, visit one of a number of cafes or restaurants and, of course, wander through the market.  There is a lot of history here as a Prisoner of War Camp was located in the village during the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong during the Second World War.

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Blake’s Pier, which used to be in the city and where we met to go out on launch picnics, has been relocated here and is used by many pleasure boats each weekend.

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The beautiful little temple of Tin Hau, the Goddess of the Sea, features very much in the lives of local residents here.  On entering the temple the smell of joss sticks and the smoke wallowing all around is almost overwhelming.  There is a row of gods and goddesses on each side of Tin Hau and they seem to be watching you. To see the locals pay their respects and bow and pray is humbling and it is obvious that their beliefs are very strong.

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And finally there is the food – a plethora of choices, any number of cuisines but always present are noodles – oodles of noodles and it is fascinating to watch them being made!

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FROM THE OUTBACK TO THE COAST AND HOME

 

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Our last leg before home and quite a few kilometres to put in front of us yet but the roads are straight and there is little traffic compared to the coast road, so it is easier driving. We take breaks very couple of hours and at Coonamble stopped for a picnic by the (dry) river which was one of our favourite meals – sushi and sashimi from a sushi bar in Dubbo.

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Country folk are proud of their towns and so many in this area have large, ugly wheat or grain silos by the side of the road.  One way to brighten up the vista is to engage an artist to create “Painted Silos”.  One very good example is at Weethalle where the art beckons you almost from the horizon!

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It would be worthwhile doing a road trip just checking out all the painted silos!

On the Queensland border we found a typical outback pub – corrugated iron and hitching rails but with so much character.  This one is at Hebel and there were several old timers contemplating the world problems over the never ending glasses of beer!

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Soon it became dark and this always poses a problem whilst driving in the country as the kangaroos, wallabies, goats and sometimes pigs wander onto the sealed road or are attracted by the car lights.  There is always road kill at the side of the road so the message is “don’t drive at night” .  Nevertheless the sunsets in the outback are glorious and this one was no different.

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The clouds seemed to set the horizon alight, everything was still and it was total magic watching the colours change quite quickly before the sun dipped over the horizon altogether.

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We spent the night in St George and had dinner at the local pub where the message was very clear to all and sundry

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The next day we had a short break at Surat – a small rural town on the Balonne river and which has become known for its fishing and its park along the banks of the river.

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The area around is scenic and there are vast reserves of oil in the Surat Basin – as the website states: “Hydrocarbons in this part of the Surat Basin are generated in the underlying Bowen Basin Permian sequence and are liquids rich.  Oil is also trapped in the Triassic age Showgrounds Sandstone and in the Jurassic Age Evergreen Formation. It is estimated that the “potential recoverable resources” are between 200,000 and 300,000 barrels.” 

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Our final stop just before we reached home was in the historic town of Charters Towers.  Beautiful heritage buildings line the main street and this is where the first stock exchange in Australia was built in 1888 and is indicative of the rise and fall of fortunes in the Charters Towers goldfields.  Today it is an Arcade of shops and cafes and is a perfect spot for a light lunch before resuming one’s journey.

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It has been a wonderful trip and an eye opening insight to the vastness of Australia.  We covered 17,500kms in just 7 weeks and yet there is more to see and experience.  What will remain foremost in our minds are the long, straight roads, the vast open country, rolling hills and fertile farmlands, cotton balls by the side of the road in the cotton growing area, the never ending sunsets both on the coast and in the outback, the Nullarbor cliffs and coastline, oysters and seafood, road trains and fabulous Kakadu  as well as all the Aboriginal history throughout the whole country. There are termite mounds by the thousands, millions of sheep and lambs, wallabies and wildlife and, of course, the fabulous little country towns and the welcoming people in every place.  This is Australia!

I can’t wait to go again!

 

FROM OYSTERS TO VINEYARDS

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Another long, straight road awaited us for the next leg of the road trip – this time to finish with the Oyster Trail and get on to the vineyards.  A nice combination – oysters and wine!

Last stop on the Oyster road is Cowell – a pretty little town on the eastern side of the Eyre Peninsula and situated on Franklin Harbour. The waters are sheltered and are very popular for fishing – and oysters.  We found a shack close to the jetty which supplies oysters to various outlets in the town.  On entering we found the proprietor busy shucking the oysters which had just come in from the bay – so without further ado we purchased a couple of dozen and together with fresh lemons and in a cardboard box, we found a table in the park and indulged for lunch!  The verdict?  Excellent!

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Our overnight stop on the way to the Clare Vallety Vineyards was the port town of Whyalla.  Named Hummock Hill in 1802 by Matthew Flinders, the town’s name officially changed to Whyalla in 1902 which is an Aboriginal name possibly meaning “water place”.  The steel industry here is over 100 years old but fishing is also of primary appeal. We were there just before sunset and went up to Hummocks Hill – a local lookout – to witness the change of colours.

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The next day the road was clear and, for a lot of the way, was backed by the beautiful Flinders Ranges.

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We drove through many little towns and villages but the one which captured us was Crystal Brook.  This quiet rural service centre is in the heart of South Australia’s most productive sheep and wheat country and has retained its charming historical links.

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Beautiful shady peppercorn trees line the main street and there are several art pieces in iron, reminders of the part the camels played in this part of the country in the early years.

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The Clare Valley is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions where there are heritage towns, boutique wineries, galleries and beautiful scenery.  We had booked lunch at the Skillogallee Winery where we had been before.  The vineyards here are resting – grapes picked and wine made but the vineyards still looked beautiful.

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The road to the boutique winery is shady and winding at the end of which is the restaurant which seats both indoors as well as in the garden.

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The menu features local produce with wine suggestions matched with each dish. Unable to resist the sashimi, I had, yet again, fabulous South Australian Kingfish and tuna served in a very artistic way.

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Then came the wine tasting and purchasing – thank goodness we had a large car !

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Staying in a little apartment in the centre of the town, we were perfectly placed for a choice of restaurants in the evening.  And that is what you do in these regions – eat great food and drink fabulous wine!

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THE ROAD TO GOLD AND KALGOORLIE

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Beautiful Salmon gums lined much of the road north from Esperance to the Gold city of Kalgoorlie. Located in the Eastern Goldfields area, Kalgoorlie/Boulder is Australia’s largest Outback city and one of the oldest – and many beautiful old buildings remain as a link to the past.  We had heard a lot about this city and the mines and the first sight we came across was the Super Pit Lookout.

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Here we could see a working mine in action and watched a blast.  This pit is 3.7km long and 1.5 km wide and 600 metres deep.  It is quite incredible to watch the workings and see the trucks weaving their way up and down- like little ants in a hole.

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A shovel of a 994F loader is here for visitors to step into showing the sheer size of the machine.

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The tyres are bigger than a man and the vehicle itself is a monster!

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Later, at Hannans North Tourist Mine we had the opportunity to climb inside and then fully appreciated what the drivers of these machines have to do day in and day out. This mine gives visitors the opportunity to experience gold rush history  and modern day mining. Wandering through the re-created part of the mining camp, I really felt for the Pioneers and gold seekers in the heady gold rush days.  Living in tents and huts of corrugated iron in the dry, hot and dusty town must have been hard but all were hit with “gold fever” and were sure they would find their fortunes here.

In a tribute to the Chinese who flocked here in large numbers and contributed to the community in many ways, the city has built a beautiful Chinese garden.  Wandering through with soft Chinese music playing in the pavilion by the lake, it was easy to see how some of these people would have been very homesick and missed their country.

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One attraction in Kalgoorlie that links to the heady gold rush days is “Questa Casa” which is Australia’s Oldest Brothel  it has been in operation for 115 years and is possibly the world’s oldest working brothel. There are countless stories and books about how it was in “old” Kalgoorlie for these ladies of the night and the lonely miners who visited them.

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This brothel has the famous “Starting Stalls” which are still operating and the girls throw open the doors nightly. Tours are available daily – sadly we didn’t have time to do one!

We wandered through the wide streets of the city and marvelled at the beautiful historic buildings – many of which have been restored and are now shops and businesses.  With the golden light of late afternoon, this was a perfect time to appreciate the architecture and imagine the city at the turn of the century and earlier.

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Even the interior of some buildings has retained its past glory – as we saw when we had breakfast the following day before hitting the road across the Nullarbor.

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