Riverina Reconnoitre


Reconnoitre, a verb meaning to inspect, observe, or survey in order to gain information.

Well, maybe that isn’t exactly correct as to what we were doing over the weekend just gone, but both of the words in the title start with ‘R’ and the general idea is there, so it’s close enough!

We live in the southern Riverina, and as it was school holidays, and I didn’t have to work on the Friday the wife, Miss 10, and myself travelled to town of Young about 3 hours drive north and spent the weekend there.

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Today Young is known as the Cherry Capital of Australia (hence the big sign [above] located in the railway station precinct). Young owes it original existence to that yellow precious metal, Gold, which was reported to have been found there in 1860. At the time it was known as Lambing Flat because it was a place were lambing took place before the discovery of gold. The town grew quickly in the next few years and with it the trappings and facilities of civilisation arrived – the newspaper, Post Office, court house, National School, the first race meeting (which seemed to benefit the bushranger Frank Gardiner more than anyone else), the hospital, Cobb and Co coach service, and telegraph line, along with a number of churches and a flour mill. Eventually the railway, that most excellent of transportation modes, arrived.

But the history of Young also has a dark side, as does the history of many towns – the ugly spectre of racism. In the various Australian gold rushes it was not only the anglo-saxons that arrived at the diggings in large numbers. The Chinese were also a major ethnic group evident in the gold fields. Young was no exception. And in 1861, there was the first anti-Chinese riot. The various anti-Chinese riots occuring on the gold fields of Australia eventualy influenced the introduction of the infamous “White Australia Policy”. But the Chinese and indeed many other races have contributed to Australia’s development in major ways. The Chinese, for example, often developed market gardens in and around the towns where they settled, and were also willing to search for gold in areas where other’s thought it unprofitable.

Today, the town of Young recognises and embraces the influence of the Chinese on it, in the form of the Chinese Tribute Garden a few kilometres out of town and the annual Lambing Flat Chinese Festival. The gardens have been establised “in recognition of the contribution of the Chinese community to the settlement of Young in the 1860’s and to the ongoing contributions of the Chinese people to Australia as a Nation” – a far (and vastly improved) cry from the general feeling in the 1860’s!

After attending church on Sabbath morning and experiencing country hospitality we drove out to Tout’s Lookout, where we had a great view of the surrounding valleys and hills, and a chance to try some ‘trick’ photography using the panorama setting on my camera.

The next day saw us back in the car heading towards home. Rebecca and Eliana ‘enjoyed’ some back-to-school shopping, while I decided that retail therapy was not for me so I went for a nearly 10km hike along a section of the Wiradjuri Trail which circumnavigates the town of Wagga Wagga.

The Wiradjuri were the largest indigenous people group in New South Wales that were united by a common language, with strong ties of kinship, and were hunter / fisher / gatherers throughout central area of the state. The tribal area of the Wiradjuri has been described as the “land of the 3 rivers”, those rivers today being known as the Lachlan, Macquarie and Murrumbidgee rivers. A fourth river, the Murray, was the southern boundary of the tribal area.

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Preview of a Rail Trail


Yesterday (Sunday 12h Oct) I was able to take part in a ‘not-quite-rail-trail’ ride. The reason it was ‘not-quite-rail-trail’ was because it followed as closely as possible where a planned rail trail would go, but was not on the exact route of the trail. The ride was planned by the Albury Wodonga Pedal Power group, a group of ‘lycra is optional’ cyclists who main aim is to enjoy the pleasures of cycling, having fun, excersizing and socializing ( website ).

The ride was to promote the idea of converting the disused Culcairn – Corowa railway line into a rail trail. These trails have become quite common in all areas of Australia, except NSW! Although it looks like that is soon to change.

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Landscape near Orielda Siding

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Various shots of riders on the ride

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Near Orielda Siding

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Probably the highest point on the ride, this was about 6km from Brockelsby, and a good place to have a rest before the final downhills into Brocklesby.

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Old timber railway bridge near Brocklesby

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Near Orielda Siding

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Burrumbuttock Silos and Station

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You can tell we are in the country

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Various types of bikes – Lloyd’s recumbent cycle. Other types of bikes on the ride included single-speed BMX, fold-up, road and mountain bikes.

The plan was that when we reached Brocklesby we would attend the dedication of a tourism site commemorating a mid-air collision of two Arvo Anson aircraft near the town in World War II.

BrocklesbyHotel_with_2_ArvoAnsons_0589Then we packed the bikes into the support bus’s trailer, found seats in the bus and got to enjoy the return trip to Walla Walla in motorised comfort, eating orange cake and discussing the ride and riding in general, and the future rail trail. And something happened that rarely happens for me – I had a kind-of post-ride ‘buzz’, a sense of contentment and almost extreme happiness that I don’t remember ever experiencing after a bike ride. Maybe that is because I got to spent time riding with other cyclists (a rarity for me) in the beautiful countryside and a very pleasant spring day.

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Bike trailer and packed at Brocklesby

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Some of the group.

Temora Time Warp


Temora is a fairly typical Australian country town, located west of the Great Divide in New South Wales, surrounded by cereal cropping land. The town has some silos and a railway line, a single main street with plenty of old shops and a few new ones, and houses on streets radiating from the main street. When Dad visited with us recently we spent a day at Temora at two main venues – the Temora Aviation Museum, and the Temora Rural Musuem.

Most museums have displays and machinery that are more or less static, and that have the appearance of being complete, but are not in working order. The Aviation Museum has a number of ‘warbirds’, all of which are in working order. ‘Warbirds’ is a term used to describe military aircraft that have since been purchased by civilians and have had their armaments removed. The musuem has two Supermarine Spitfires (the only two in flying condition g in Australia), arguably one of the most ascetically pleasant warbirds and one of the most influential in history (they helped turn the tides against the Nazis in the Battle of Britain). They also have a number of other military aircraft. Here are a few pictures…

CA16 Wirraway

CA16 Wirraway

CAC Boomerang

CAC Boomerang

Canberra Bomber

Canberra Bomber

Cessna A37B Dragonfly

Cessna A37B Dragonfly

DH82A Tiger Moth

DH82A Tiger Moth

Harvard

Harvard

Harvard front

Harvard front

Supermarine Spitfire Mk16

Supermarine Spitfire Mk16

Planes over Temora

Warbirds over Temora

The Temora Rural Museum is housed in a building and outdoor area that is attached to the Visitor Information Centre and is well worth a visit. It is set out like a’town’ with a street, and buildings on either site. Each of the buildings has it;s own ‘theme’, and some buildings were dismantled from their original location and moved to the museum. Rather than give a big long write up, here are some pictures of the exhibits in the Rural Museum…

Classic / Vintage Car

Classic / Vintage Car

Old Fire Truck

Old Fire Truck

Farm Machinery

Farm Machinery

Temora Independent

Temora Independent

Printing press

Printing press

Petrol bowser

Petrol bowser

Steam Traction Engine

Steam Traction Engine

Don Bradmans 1st home

Don Bradmans (the famous Australian Cricketer) 1st home

Don Bradmans 1st home

Don Bradmans 1st home interior

Don Bradmans 1st home

Don Bradmans 1st home interior

Church in the wildwood

Little Church in the wildwood. This church was originally the Presbeyterian church at ,

Church in the wildwood

Church in the wildwood interior

Home machinery

Home machinery

Small HP machines

Small HP machines

Farm machinery

Farm machinery

Farm machinery

Farm machinery

Farm machinery

Farm machinery

International Truck

International Truck

Trucks

Trucks

Radios

Before the flash drive, before the Sony walkman, before the stereo, before the getto-blaster there was… The really big heavy radio! If punks carrying getto-blasters think their tough, get them to try carrying one of these heavy beasts!

Gramophones

Gramophones.

Time got away from us and we had to leave the Rural Musuem before we had finished exploring it because we needed to get home for dinner. All the more excuse to go back there one day and spend some more pleasant hours stepping back into the Temora timewarp.

Training on the steep bit of the High Country Rail Trail


Because of an upcoming 300km charity adventure bike ride I will be part of in February 2015 called the 25000spins Great Ocean Road Adventure, I decided to try the toughest section of the High Country Rail Trail today as part of the training for that event. The High Country Rail Trail follows the formation of the old Wodonga – Cudgewa broad gauge railway line and traverses a mountain range which has (or had) the highest railway station in Victoria – Shelley railway station.

Trestle bridge between Shelley and Koetong.

Having not ridden any of that section of the trail before, I really didn’t know what to expect, although I had seen a Victoria Railways Gradient Chart which showed some long and steep (1:30 or 3%) grades. I also read about about the Tall Trestle Treadlie, an annual event which rides down from Shelley to Darbyshire, and then some of the flatter sections of the trail from Old Tallangatta to the Sandy Creek bridge. And that ride is downhill from Shelley. But as I didn’t know where to access the rail trail except at Shelley I decided to start at Shelley, and go down through Darbyshire and then ride back up to Shelley, a distance of about 43km in total.

View near Darbyshire station site

I figured that as it was going to be a warm to hot day I would leave as early as possible (around 6:30am), so I could start the ride and hopefully finish it before the heat set in. I also figured that as the section I was going to ride was higher altitude than where I normally ride it would be cooler than elsewhere, which it was but only by about 4 degrees. There was also the added benefit of the body having to work harder (but not that much harder) in the higher altitude.

View of Koetong fromn Rail Trail

Although I wasn’t specifically riding the trail for sight-seeing, I was glad I took my camera as there was some awesome vistas along the way, and some trestle bridges I had never seen before. The rail trail is not a road bike friendly surface, but is ok for hybrid bikes, and well suited to mountain bikes. My bike is a foldable bike with mountain bike rims and tyres so I didn’t think there would be any problems with the bike travelling along the trail.

Long trestle bridge south of Darbyshire. The views from trains travelling over this bridge when the railway was open would have been amazing!

Hint of the view from the long bridge south of Darbyshire. The railway formation on both sides of this bridge has almost vertical drops at the side, and this bridge was very hight offering unobstructed views to the mountains over in the distance.

The whole ride took about 3 hours, including stops for taking pictures (more than I thought I would), and exploring some of the surrounds of the trestle bridges I encountered along the way. The whole ride had total ascents of 600 metres (1800 feet), 400 metres of that being on the return journey back UP to Shelley. So I am now looking for some other mountain climbs to try to help me get ready for the ride in February. The ascents in the 7peaks challenge offers some interesting possibilities for some pretty hard ascents up Victorian mountains, as does a mountain road between Tawonga and Mitta Mitta which gets near the highest mountain in Victoria.