After I wandered around Machattie Park, quite a few weeks ago now, I decided to spend the next lunch break wandering around our other main park, along the river. It’s just taken me a while to get around to sharing it with you.
This area looks so very different from when I was a kid. You see, I lived just up the road and the river was our playground. None of us could swim much, but that didn’t stop us being there all the time.
Bathurst has two main river crossings, “Evans Bridge” on the highway (which replaces the earlier “Denison Bridge”) and “The Low Level Bridge”, or officially “The Gordon Edgell Bridge”, but no one ever calls it that.
This isn’t the bridge that we grew up with. The pic below shows all that remains of the original old bridge. It had a 5 ton limit on it, but when an occasional mining truck was being taken to Western Australia in the 70s they had to break that rule, as the tipper trays wouldn’t fit between the sides of the Denison Bridge on the highway. It would be quite an event to watch. They would take the prime mover, on a low loader, over the Denison Bridge and then park it. They would then hook the towing truck up to the front of the truck towing the tray and the two trucks would tow the tray up the hill on the western side of the low level bridge. All us kids from the street would be there to watch.
The other event that had us all down at the bridge was a flood, and there were a few during the 70s. We would be there putting sticks in at the edge of the water and regularly going down to check if the water was rising or receding. After a flood, we would then go river combing (for want of a better description). We’d find old bits of china, bases of the round bottomed lemonade bottles, bits of old earthenware ginger beer bottles and all sorts of bits and pieces. They were fascinating to us. Fortunately, during those years our house wasn’t flooded.
Anyway, back to my walk. I’ll start at one end and go for a stroll.
Firstly, this house, No 1 George Street, was the museum when we were kids and it was exciting to visit and go up the steep stairs to the second level. It was a lovely, pokey type of museum, unlike the modern versions. It is now a private residence and the garage is a recent addition.
Out the back of No 1 is “Government Cottage”. This is the oldest surviving building in Bathurst. It was part of the museum, but has languished somewhat over recent years. A few years ago the local Historical Society has become involved in its care, opening it once a month and providing afternoon tea. That is something that we must do soon……add that to the list……. The Garden Club have also become involved, providing some care to the ancient apricot trees (and using the fruit for jam for the afternoon teas), and returning the grounds to what is in keeping with the era.
The Historic Car Club has donated a lovely garden bench for this area. It is now looking so much better than it did.
We’ll cross the road now. This area was just a wasteland when we were kids, but that has changed. Bathurst has a sister city relationship with Ohkuma in Japan. Unfortunately, Ohkuma is very close to the nuclear plant that was affected by the Tsunami a couple of years ago and many of the residents are still in temporary housing.
Anyway, back to the park, as part of our relationship, we now have a lovely little Japanese garden by the river. It is only small, but quite delightful.
Now we will follow the river upstream. Back to my childhood…….This was also pretty much a wasteland. The best thing though was that there was an island. How many kids had their own island to play on? It was the best……..it no longer exists. It was sort of where the person is in the photo below. The river was causing bad erosion in the steep bit you can see to the left, so they filled in the channel and straightened the course of the river. It was a sad day to see, even though it needed to be done.
This stone seat has always been there, although I’ve never really known its significance.
I thought the seat was older than 1985. Maybe my memory is playing tricks, or maybe it is only the plaque that is newer. Who knows.
Bathurst’s main Bicentennial project in 1988 was the beautification of the river bank and the renaming of it as “The Bicentennial Park”. It was an ambitious project and there were sceptics, as it was previously known as “Peace Park” and had been let get into a state of disrepair. Happily, the park has been well maintained and is now a feature of the city.
As we stroll along we pass the plaques for the Citizens and Junior Citizens of the Year. Many familiar names are there.
On a nice day there will be lots of people having picnics on the grass and walking, jogging and cycling along the paths.
There appeared to be a Mother’s Group having a picnic while I was there.
A controversial purchase by Council back in 1988 was the sculpture “Conversation”. Some liked it, some didn’t and a lot questioned the expense. We always liked it.
As I was walking along, I couldn’t help but notice that a lot of the trees were wrapped in pink and mauve tulle, as was the area around the Cairn. Not yarn bombing, but it certainly caught my eye.
So I followed the row of trees and found this. There was a week’s festival of circus on the riverbank. It is great to see the area being used so creatively.
There is still quite a bit to see in the park so I will leave that for another day.