Early Winter Activities


Well, Winter has only just started in the Riverina district of New South Wales (Australia), and we have already had plenty of cold days. But over the last week, I have managed three very un-winter-like nature-based adventure activities – at least to my way of thinking.

Last Sabbath (11th June) I had a hankering for some walking. The sun was shining, and from inside the house it seemed like too good a day to waste it being inside. Outside it was still rather cold, but the sunny sky seemed to be promising a beautiful, albeit coolish, day. My darling wife must have sensed my hankering because she suggested we go for a walk in the Woomargama National Park (WNP), about 40 minutes drive away from where we live. The WNP is bisected by the Hume and Hovell Walking Track (H&HWT), a 400+ km walking track between Yass (NSW) and Albury on the Victorian border, and it was part of that walking track that we decided we would walk. So we packed a picnic lunch and drove towards the WNP. As we drove merrily along we noticed that the closer we got to the park, the more cloudy the sky got. And by the time we reached the Samuel Bollard Camping Ground on the H&HWT it was looking more than a tad threatening. But we started off on our hike anyway. The plan was to hike the part of the H&HWT between the Samuel Bollard Campground and Tunnel Road – not a long hike by any means, but as we had never walked in the WNP or the H&HWT it seemed like a good starter hike. We hiked a total of around 4km, and the photos below tell the visual story of our hike.

On the Sunday (12 June), it was an early start to be in Albury by 7:45am to meet up with the Albury Wodonga Pedal Power group (AWPP). The activity for that day was a group bike ride planned from Tumbarumba to Tintaldra then some lunch and on to Walwa – a distance of around 75km. About 13 riders were going, and 2 support vehicles to attend to any mechanical or other ‘breakdowns’ and to carry all our cycling kit except for water bottles. That was a good test of my new Jamis mountain bike that I purchased about a month ago and my general fitness. Both the mountain bike and I performed fairly well – the bike seemed really at home on the asphalt roads (I was admittedly a bit surprised at that), and my fitness level must have been ok too because I managed the climbs without any real need to stop and rest for any sigificant period of time (I was admittedly a bit surprised by that too) although the fact that I had two really long rests waiting for everyone else to catch up mght have had something to do with that. It was cool (well, it is winter), but the sun was shining with not a cloud in the sky as far as the eye could see, but I did spot some cloud clinging to the sides of some of the higher mountains as I pedalled along. Having ridden the road between Tumbarumba and Tintaldra a few times before I had a reasonable idea of what to expect although it’s always different on a bicycle as there is no motor to help get up the hills. I knew that from about 1/2 way along the ride I would have some more level riding and some downhill into Tooma. There was also the 270 degree vistas across to the Snowy Mountains, towards Tumbarumba, and towards the Murray River valley.

By the time I got to the Southern Cloud Lookout, I decided I had better wait for everyone to catch up. So while I waited (and waited) I stared in wonder at the view across to the Snowy Mountains with their snow capped peaks glistening in the sunlight. Eventually the rest of the group arrived at the lookout and it was decided, rather wisely, to have a late lunch (it was around 1:30pm by this stage) of all the munchies and teas and coffees that everyone had brought along. After some munchies and a chat, and deciding to terminate the ride at Tintaldra due to the time, we got back on our trusty steeds and either barrelled or sedately rode the brakes down the hill, or anywhere on the spectrum between those two extremes, all the way into Tooma. At Tooma there was a sign saying 18km to Tintaldra pointing along a steep dirt road, and one saying 20km via the asphalt and more level road – we took the 20km option. And within about an hour of that turnoff we had started arriving at Tintaldra – by this time it was about 3:30pm, and a bit too late to continue on to Walwa so we made the right decision to stop the ride at Tintaldra – a 55km ride in total.

After a bit of a rest, putting the bikes on the support vehicles for the trip back to Albury, drink and snacks at the pub (tetotaler’s lemonade, packet of chips and Mars bar for me), we all piled in the support vehicles and enjoyed a drive into the sunset…

Then on Monday (13th June) which was the Queens Birthday Holiday, with another uncharacteristically sunny Winter day, and a weather forecast which included a lot of rain later in the week, I decided it was just too good a day to waste it being inside. So this time I decided to ride towards Holbrook and see how I went – remembering that I did a 55km / 900+ total climbs ride the day before and I wasn’t really sure how I would go. I needn’t have worried about being able to make it to Holbrook. I made it there and back with energy to spare although my legs were starting to complain a little by the time I got back home.

I learnt something interesting on the two rides over the weekend. On both I took a mixture of trail mix (nuts, seeds, sultanas), cashews, and dates for some sustenance along the way. I also carried and drank plenty of water. It seems that the combination of those munchies (a nice mix of carbs, proteins and fats) and the amount of water helped keep my energy levels up considerably so I think I will make that munchie mix a standard for future longer distance rides. I also re-discovered the ‘after-ride-glow’ – a sense of persistent euphoria!

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.

Young_7337

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.

An almost all-new cycling adventure, day 2


The weather forecast for today for the Lockhart and Narrandera region was for a mostly sunny day. But over night I was woken up a number of times by the sound of heavy rain on the roof of the hotel where I was staying. That didn’t bode well! But by the morning the sky was starting to clear in the west, with a just a few short rain showers. I decided I would get on the road early today as I knew I had a long ride to Narrandera (Riverina district, New South Wales), some 70km away. So I consulted with the written description of the route to take to get to Narrandera and off I went. I turned down a street that I thought was what the Google Maps route description indicated, although I did have some doubts regarding whether it was the right way. I should have listened to those doubts. As I headed roughly west out of Lockhart on the Urana road I seemed to be travelling in the right direction and was eagerly waiting for the township of Boree Creek to come into view, where I would turn north for about 40km before turning to the north west for last few kilometres in to Narrandera. The kilometres went by, and the scenery opened up to a very flat landscape and a big big sky. Rain in one direction and a clearing sky in the other.

Flat landscape and big sky

Flat landscape and big sky

Flat landscape and big sky

Flat landscape and big sky

I started to feel very very small amongst the huge flat landscape that unfolded before me. By about the 25th kilometre I was starting to get a little concerned. Boree Creek still hadn’t come into view and I was sure it should have. Never mind. I continued on and then there was a milepost saying that Urana was 20km away. Hmmm! By this stage I though I better phone Bec and let her know that I was probably going to finish the ride in Urana as I knew if I had to get to Urana before heading towards Narrandera that I would never make it – that would be more than 100km for the ride. Some time went by and at last I saw a sign indicating the distance to Boree Creek, and it was 35km away. More than it should have been at the start of the ride. So Urana was now definitely my destination after all. Urana is not a large town. But I spent some time photographing the old silos and railway formations and equipment, and also took some photos of two buildings in the main street which I found interesting.

Soldiers Memorial Hall, Urana

Soldiers Memorial Hall, Urana

Hotel Urana

Hotel Urana

Old Horse Trough, Urana

Old Horse Trough, Urana

Although I didn’t ride to Narrandera that doesn’t mean that I didn’t get to Narrandera. After Bec and family arrived at Urana and I folded up the bike and putting it into the car, we all headed towards Narrandera together. None of us had ever been to Narrandera before and after some lunch in one of the parks next to the main highway we had a look around. At one end of the park was a Tiger Moth exhibit. The Tiger Moth is a bi-plane, and it’s connection with Narrandera was that there was once an Elementary Flying Training School there between 1940 and 1945.

Tiger Moth Memorial, Narrandera

Tiger Moth Memorial, Narrandera

Tiger Moth Memorial, Narrandera

Tiger Moth Memorial, Narrandera

Tiger Moth Memorial, Narrandera

Tiger Moth Memorial, Narrandera

In the exhibit there is a description of ‘Airmanship’, which goes something like this:

  1. Every take-off is optional, every landing is mandatory.
  2. If you push the stick forward, the houses ger bigger. If you pull it back they gt smaller. That is, unless you keep pulling it back all the way, they then get bigger again.
  3. Flying isn’t dangerous, crashing is whats dangerous.
  4. It’s always better to be down here wishing you were up there than being up there wishing you were down here.
  5. The only time you have too much fuel is when you are on fire.
  6. The airscrew is just a big fan to keep the pilot cool. When it stops you can actually watch the pilot sweating.
  7. When in doubt, hold your altitudes as no one has ever collided with the sky.
  8. A good landing is one from which you can walk away. A “great” landing is one after which they can use the plane again.
  9. Learn from the mistakes of others. You won’t live long enough to make them all yourself.
  10. Stay out of the clouds. Mountains have been known to hide in them,
  11. Always try to keep the number of landings equal to the number of take-offs you have made.

We also saw the world’s biggest playable guitar. I am guessing that there is a guitar that is bigger somewhere else in the world that it isn’t playable. My darling wife is standing in front of it to give you an idea of it’s size.

Worlds Biggest Playable Guitar

Worlds Biggest Playable Guitar, Narrandera

Then we went and had a look at the Koala Reserve, in the hope of seeing at least one koala. The Koala is sometimes referred to as the ‘koala bear’, but it’s not related to the ‘bear’ family at all and is actually a marsupial and feeds on the leaves of certain types of eucalyptus trees. The park is bordered by the Murrumbidgee river on one side and fenced on the other. Not that the fence would keep the koalas in as there was a gap in the fence to let homo-sapiens in! We did happen to see a koala, perched quite high up in a tree.

Narrandera Nature Reserve

Narrandera Nature Reserve

Koala

Koala

Koala

Koala

Then we continued on and I saw some red river banks that were higher than us. Eventually we got a good view of them, and the Murrumbidgee river.

Murrumbidgee River red cliffs

Murrumbidgee River red cliffs

Murrumbidgee River red cliffs

Murrumbidgee River red cliffs

So although I didn’t ride all the way to Narrandera I still got there in the end and had a good time exploring not only Narrandera but other towns and places along the way as well.

Lockhart metal


Back in April we visited the town of Lockhart, in the Riverina district of New South Wales. There were a number of metal sculptures featured in that post, but the camera batteries ran out and so I couldn’t shoot photos of a number of the metal sculptures in the town. On the eastern edge of the town there is a short walk featuring a number of sculptures. Those sculptures are the subject of this post.

The sculptures are of natural things, farm scenes, outback and pioneering Australia.

Lock Hart

Lock Hart

A Drovers Life

A Drovers Life, by Stewart Spragg

Horse and Plow

Horse and Plow, by Stuart Spragg

Swaggie Silouette

Swaggie Silouette

Cobb and Co

Cobb and Co. Coach made by Sue Schneider, horses by Sylvia Mulholland and Lockhart Men’s Shed

Stockman Tom with Sheep

Stockman Tom with Sheep, by Myra Jenkyn, Time Wilson and Stuart Spragg workshop

Horse amd Wagon

Horse and Wagon, by Sue Schneider

Brolgas

Brogas, by Myra Jenkins and Sylvia Mulholland

Settler Burt

Settler Burt searching for land, by Myra and Tom Jenkyn

Swaggie and his mate

Swaggie and his mate, by Craig Lally

All the sculptures are of what appears to be scrap metal, but the makers of the sculptures managed to use the natural features of the metals to give the necessary character, contours, shapes and shading to the various sculptures. The metal sculptures weren’t the only photogenic things around the walk. It is wildflower season in eastern Australia and the wildflowers were also in evidence along the roads and on the walk.

Walk flowers

Walk flowers

Wildflowers

Rustic and natural beauty, all in the one place.