Thursday, 10 April 2014

In Our Own Back Yard – A Walk in Machattie Park

The other day, I visited the Begonia House in Machattie Park.  You can see it here.

Today I thought I’d share a bit more of our lovely old park.

Firstly, for the history lesson.  The park is on the site of Bathurst’s first gaol, which was demolished in 1888.  A few local dignitaries lobbied for a park to be established on the site, including Dr Richard Machattie.  The park was established in 1890.

OK, let’s go for a stroll.

I hadn’t gone too far into the park before a movement caught my eye.  The last thing I expected to see in the middle of town was a water dragon about two feet long.

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He was very photogenic, turning his head just so for the camera.

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I was able to get to about six feet away from him and he was quite happy sitting there in the sun.  Rather a stunning chap.

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Anyway, I couldn’t stay watching him all  day, time to continue on my way. The camellias were looking lovely in the shade.

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As did the cosmos.

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You can just see the rotunda in the background in the photo above.  Here it is a bit closer. It is still used occasionally by bands, most notably for Carols by Candlelight each December, when the park fills with families.  Notice the big bunya pine in the background.  There are a couple in the park, both currently barricaded off, so no one gets donged on the head by one of the huge bunya nuts that drop at random. 

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Next along the way is the Crago Fountain. However, on reading up, it isn’t the “Crago Fountain”, but the “Great Fountain”.  Mr Crago was the mayor at the time.  Sorry, it will always be the “Crago Fountain” to me and I’m guessing many others. By the way, that’s the Uniting Church you can vaguely see in the background.

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Wandering back we pass the Begonia House again, this time with the dome of the Courthouse in the background. 

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Next to the Begonia House is the Fernery.  I used to love going in there as a kid.  I hadn’t thought of it for years, until the other day there was an article in the paper advising that Council will have to arrange for some major renovations of the roof.  One of those “I’d forgotten all about the Fernery, I must go and have a look one day” moments, then promptly forgotten again.

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The Fernery was established in 1890 when the park was first opened, and as you can see, is quite a sizable structure.

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There was a plaque at the entrance commemorating Charles Darwin’s visit to Bathurst in 1836.  I suppose I’d heard of that before, but had totally forgotten the fact. I learned lots about the park and our local history on my short lunchtime walk.

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Come and have a look inside.

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It wasn’t as wet and drippy as I remembered it, but everything looked lovely and fresh, and it may be my distorted memory.

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The main feature of the Fernery is the beautiful marble statues.  The Council website tells me they are Psyche, (daughter of Diana) on the left; La Prigioniera D'amore (prisoner of love) in the centre; and Dispacato D'amore (messenger of love) on the right.

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Dad had a lovely black and white photo of them he had taken while he was here doing his army training here before heading off to Singapore.

Look at the beautiful details.  Just humour me, as I took loads of photos.

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The sad fact is this is what greets you inside the Fernery.  Over the years these delightful ladies have been the victims of malicious damage on several occasions.  You can particularly see the damage to the lady holding the flower in her palm. Fortunately, there has been no further damage since the fence was installed.

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On that cheery note, let’s head outside again.

The other building in the park is the Caretaker’s Cottage.  It has had many uses and tenants over the years.  I don’t know what it is used for currently.

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If we turn around, we will see “Lake Spencer” named after one of the other main people who lobbied for the creation of the park.  Most people in Bathurst will have never heard of it.  It is normally just known as “The Duck Pond”, where generations of local kids have come to feed the ducks.

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Of course, what would a duck pond be without fish.  Huge koi carp are always happy to be fed.

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The other famous residents are the black swans. 

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There have always been swans in the duck pond and there is much excitement when cygnets hatch.  You can also read all about that in the local paper.  This year’s three babies are at that “Ugly Duckling” stage, but it won’t be long until they turn into graceful swans. 

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They were just having their lunch of lettuce leaves when I came along.

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Look here to see the cygnets back in November and there is even mention and a photo of the water dragon I saw.

There is more to see in the park - the tree where you can usually see a possum, the drinking fountains and several commemorative gates (although there is no fence between them), as well as all the ancient old trees.  However, it was time I was heading back to work.

Just to finish off, imagine kicking your feet through deep leaves here in autumn. 

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It was one of my favourite things to do as a tiny tot.  Heck, I still like nothing better than kicking through autumn leaves.  Blame my mum and Machattie Park for that.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

In Our Own Back Yard – The Begonia House

A few days ago there was a small article in the local paper telling that the Begonia House was open.  A similar article appears each year, and each year I tell myself “I must go and have a look”, and each year that is as far as it gets.

Not this time!  Yesterday in my lunch break I finally went.  Please join me.

Here is the reason for my visit.  I can’t remember when I last visited, I’m guessing it is probably about twenty years ago.

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The Begonia House, situated in Machattie Park, right in the middle of Bathurst, was opened in 1936.  The collection came from England and the house is only open during the flowering season for March and April, so I think I am seeing them at their best.

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Let’s go inside.  There was no one else there, so I could take my time to soak it all in.

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The colours are so vibrant, however there is no scent.

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Here are just  small few.

PicMonkey Collage

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Notice the buds on the next two.  See how they open like a clam shell.  I almost expected to find a pearl in the one on the right.

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There were also a few other varieties of begonias where the flowers weren’t so flashy, but the plants were lovely just the same.

PicMonkey Collage variations

When you see the flowers at their peak, you start to realise why this collection is so famous.  It really is a credit to the council staff who maintain them in such wonderful condition.

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I’ll have to make a return visit a bit sooner than 20 years into the future.

I’ll be back tomorrow with some more of our lovely park.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Another Weekend

You will probably think I am obsessed with mushrooms.  I’m not, but due to this unseasonably warm, wet weather, I keep seeing interesting ones.  These were beside the driveway.  Much bigger than the previous ones, being about the size of a small saucer in diameter.  No, we won’t be eating these.  I loved the way they went to a peak in the centre.  Very cute.

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Yesterday morning, it was not raining, but everything was very damp and there wasn’t a  breath of wind.  Perfect conditions for burning the pile of rubbish that has been accumulating down the paddock.  We had planned to have a bonfire at some stage, but it just hasn’t happened, so it was being burnt anyway.

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Mick wasn’t sure if it would light, but once he got it going it burnt beautifully and left very little ash.  I love the way the heat shimmer showed up in this photo.

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We had to go into town today and were greeted by this glorious rainbow as we drove home.

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The kangaroos were all sitting around down the driveway.  We don’t normally see this many in a mob.  They were quite happy to sit and have their photo taken.

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Off they go.

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Wednesday, 2 April 2014

What a Surprise

Remember a couple of weeks ago I went along to the Farmers Markets.

Well, the Council had a competition going in conjunction with the Sustainability Expo that they held…….and…….I was one of the lucky winners.

I didn’t win the pretty pink push bike (probably just as well too) but I did win four gift vouchers to the local Whole Food Co-Op for a weekly family sized fruit and vege box.  How good is that!

Today I picked up my first, rather large, white box. 

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It was quite exciting to open it and see what was inside.

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Here are all the goodies.  They are all so lovely and fresh. 

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Basil, grapes, lettuce, two types of beans, onions, potatoes, apples, spinach, spring onions, carrots, egg plants, beetroot, tomatoes, broccoli and bananas.  What a bounty!

I was going to make spinach crepes yesterday, but ended up not picking any spinach in case some came in the box.  We will have spinach crepes tomorrow.  Tonight we will have a stir fry with lots of veges.

I already have some nice cabbage and cauli in the fridge and we are finally picking some beans in our garden.  Our egg plants are also ready to pick, so we will be having loads of vege meals for a while.  It will be so good.

It is the perfect time of the year to receive this prize.  I’ll probably try to arrange for my next box in a fortnight’s time.  We should be through all this lot by then.

PS. I don’t know why the photos in my last post displayed blurry, as the originals are nice and clear.  I hope these display better.

Less is More

We’ve been gradually decluttering our house in readiness to put it on the market.  Our collection of kitchenalia has grown over time and taken over a corner of our kitchen.

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We just squeezed each new item in among the others. What a mess.

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Much, much less is so very much more.

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That’s better.

Now you can actually see what is there…..Grandma’s cake tin with a hunting scene, my first little patchwork wall hanging, a few interesting green handled bits and bobs to rummage through, a souvenir tea strainer with a “Municipality of Bathurst” on it that I found in the southern highlands, “Ashelford” soft drink bottles from the time that Bathurst had its own brand.  The round blue and red Arnotts tin has Australian prime ministers shown around the top and is a great resource for trivia questions.  The Milo tin celebrates 60 years of the company, we also have one for 70 years and I’ll have to keep an eye out for one this year as it is 80 years this year.

The timber top of the dresser was made by me at woodwork classes in the early 90s, when TAFE still did lifestyle courses.  Mick and I learnt lots in those classes. I also crocheted the scalloped shelf edging.

We still have all the other bits and bobs packed away and once we have moved we will work out a better way to showcase small sections of the collection on a rotational basis.  The dresser will probably go into my new sewing room.

And now, a before and after.

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