Friday, 27 January 2017

Our Australia Day - Part 1

For many years we have attended "official" Australia Day events.  This year we were ready for a change from the same old, same old. so had a think about what we would like to do.

Mick came up with the idea of heading to Lithgow, visiting the Blast Furnace and having lunch at a cafe hidden in a wildlife sanctuary.  It all sounded great, except when I phoned to book, the cafe was closed for Australia Day.  Good on them for taking a day off to enjoy our special day, but sad for us.......another time.

We still headed down to Lithgow, a town about 40 minutes from us, that we drive past or through and very rarely stop at.  As a kid I spent many holidays at Grandma's farm, just out of Lithgow, but we only ventured into town to do the shopping, not play the tourist.

Our first port of call was Hassan's Walls Lookout.  I remember having visited here once, but I was so little that I have absolutely no recollection of it.

We drove out a winding, narrow dirt road for quite a few kms, and it became apparent that the valleys were full of fog.  I laughed!  It was about 11am on a summer's day and you couldn't see any view whatsoever. Well, we were nearly there so may as well keep going.

Apparently we were to see a wide vista of the valleys and distant hills.

What we did see was the silhouette of the stunning pergoda rock formations.

A boardwalk had been built to the main viewing point only a few years ago.  It certainly made the access easy.

As we weren't distracted by the view, we enjoyed the mountain heathland vegetation.  The plant at the front was particularly beautiful.  It appeared to be some sort of casurina.  I wouldn't mind one of those in my garden.

The vertical leaves(??) needles(??) were really striking and the colours ranged from bright green to a deep russett.

Mick found some interesting rainbow coloured leave on one shrub.

Interesting seed pods.  A tea tree I think.

If you look carefully in the second photo from the top, you can see a little mesh fence in a hole in a rock.  You can go through the hole and look back up at the main look out.

Rather a stunning cliff underneath.

Apparently there is aboriginal art in the area but the locations aren't publicised.  The sign says you may just stumble upon it.  I don't think this "art" is aboriginal, although it certainly is colourful.

Of course the mountain goat had to climb onto the top of the rock....Notice something in the above photo?  A bit of blue sky!!  While we had been roaming around the fog finally started to clear.

I saw the prettiest butterfly and it even sat still long enough to take its portrait.

We went back to the main look out and there was a group of visitors enjoying the view.  Three of them were all dressed up for Australia Day.  They looked so good.

Somewhere down there is Grandma's.

It was interesting getting our bearings now that the fog was lifting.  That is the road works at the 40 Bends.  There is a rock formation you see on the top of the cliffs as you drive along there that Mum taught us was known as "King George's Head".  It doesn't seem to be standing out as much these days.  I learnt two things.  "King Georges's Head is at Hassens Walls and the reason it doesn't stand out as much is that the top has toppled off, as you can see in the above photo.

We had been pottering about for over an hour so it was time to move on if we were to see anything else.

As we walked back to the car we came across a cute little skink.

He was also happy to do a photo shoot. Such cute spots.

And more gorgeous butterflies, being very photogenic this time.  I had no idea what they were so had to do a little research.  They are "Sword Grass Browns". You can read a little about them here.

Next stop, according to the sign posts was "Bracey Lookout", named after the founder of the local department store. On the way we came across a couple of fellows out for  a ride.  There were also quite a few cyclists, runners and walkers on the quiet roads.

This time the view was overlooking the town.

You couldn't spend a nicer Australia Day than being in the Australian bush, but we were a bit wary.

We had to keep our eyes peeled for those "Big, Bad Banksia Men". They were Mick's fear.

I was a bit more worried that the "Nargun" may be lurking somewhere.

We kept on our way and all was well.  We followed the track further and ended up popping out at the top of Brown's Gap in the Vale of Clydd.  

After all that fresh air it was time to find a cafe for lunch.  One with crocheted bunting should do the trick.

We had a little wait for our meals, as many cafes were closed, but when it arrived it was delicious.  My Slovinian Beef and Mushroom pie was quite different to the usual meat pie, but oh, so tasty.

A quick walk up and down the street revealed a couple of quirky art installations.

This one was only put up last year.

So clever and bright.

Further down we came across "Secret Lane" with little paintings.

I know there are others further down the long Main Street, but this is all we found this time.

Time to hop back in the car and keep exploring, but I think that is enough for one sitting.

More soon.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Flashback to December - Checking out a Camping Spot

Now that we have our caravan we would like to disappear for the occasional weekend without travelling too far from home.

We had read about a hidden gem called "Bakers Shaft Campground", about an hour away from  home.  We hadn't heard of it, so just after Christmas we hopped in the car and went to check it out. It looked okay on any websites we could find.

We discovered it was on the Bellubula River, just near Junctions Reef, which was a popular swimming and camping site up till the mid 80s, when it was closed.

After travelling down a little dirt road, we came to a gate, which was the entrance to the camp site, which was then a further couple of kms in.  To our surprise, it was hidden, but unfortunately, not a gem.  The drive in was narrow with long grass right up to the track.  There were low overhanging gum trees that would have scratched the van and probably taken out the antennae and air conditioner unit.  

When we got down there, there was a nice new barbecue shelter, a park bench overlooking the river and a drop dunny.  The only problem was, the grass was about four feet high everywhere and the ground was quite steep.  No where to park the van.  To the left of the entrance there was a concrete culvert that had big chasms either side of it, presumably washed out from all the rain in the winter.  We guessed that this was the access to the main flat camping area. It didn't look like anyone had been there for quite some time.  

As you can imagine, we were a little disappointed, but glad we went to check it out before taking the van in, as it would have been rather interesting turning it around to get it back out.

Not to worry. we got to explore a new to us road, that had quite a few interesting buildings along its length, as this had been an old  mining area.

We had plenty of time, so lots of pics on the way out.

This gives you an idea of how long the grass was at the camp site.

What a cutie.

When I  was a kid we had one of these army huts from the Cowra Army Camp in our back yard as Dad's workshop and garage,  We even had a cubby house in one of the rooms.

All sheep yards need a big shady tree.

Don't you love the patina on the old shearing shed.

I'm sure the little shearers' huts would have been hot in summer and cold in winter, but aren't they still in great nick.

Plenty of grain storage.

Our next port of call was Carcoar Dam.  There is a popular camping found there, which to our surprise is a free camp.  That is somewhere we may look at for taking our van for a weekend.  It is a picture at the moment as the dam is nice and full.

It was so nice to go for a leisurely drive after all the hoo haa of Christmas. a nice unwind sort of day.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Going For a Paddle

As we had nothing pressing to do today, during the week I suggested to Mick that we should take his kayak out for him to have a paddle somewhere. You see, he's had it for about three years and used it about three times, and not at all in the last couple of years. The next question was where to go? That I left up to him, and he decided that Oberon Dam would be nice. Whether or not any of this took place was then in the laps of the weather gods, hopefully not too hot or windy.

Those gods were looking down on us, as today was cooler than last week, and next week it to hot up again. Oberon is also quite a bit cooler than Bathurst, so off we set.

All ready to head off for a paddle and maybe, by sheer fluke, catch a fish.

Oberon dam, or "Lake Oberon" as it is now known, is a really pretty spot. We drove out here a while ago to have a look see in anticipation of some paddling. The good old blog archives tell me it was back in October 2014, and it has taken all this time to actually get here. You can check it out here.

There is a bit more water in the dam this time. However, it was somewhat greener last time we visited. I'll show you a few comparisons.

2014 - Nice green paddocks around the rocks.

2017 - It must be summer.

2014 - Notice the rock just behind the tree and the tree stump down closer to the water's edge.

2017 - Notice the rock at the water's edge and the tip of the stump out in the water. That gives you an idea on how much more water is in the dam this year.

When we visited last time there were no amenities, but now the access road is much better and there are loos and picnic tables. A sign advises that all this took place in 2015.

So, what did I do while Mick paddled? Just a little hand stitching. It was lovely and quiet, just me, sitting in the shade under a tree, with a slight breeze in the leaves and the occasional bird singing. There were a few other kayaks on the dam, but they'd taken a picnic to have somewhere else.

There were a couple of blokes just a bit along the bank fishing. They didn't have much luck there.

Another couple of blokes came back to the car park with a nice little haul of red fin.  

Two dogs came to visit the dam with their owners. This fellow "Bob" was quite happy sitting in the water and would not obey any commands to go back to the ute.

After Mick had had enough of paddling (no, he didn't catch anything, just had a couple of small bites) we headed back into Oberon to get some fish and chips for lunch.  

I noticed a rather quaint letter box on the way back into town.

We sat in a park we haven't visited before "The Town Common".  After we had finished eating we went for a bit of a wander.  They seem to be doing quite  a bit of work there, improving the facilities with new barbecue areas and exercise machines. The centre piece is a small lake.

We were quite taken with the pictures set in the Local History Wall.

And finally there is a floor in a gazebo decorated with scenes from the district, including the Oberon Dam.

I think the poem in the middle of the floor sums up the town nicely.  Sing it to the tune of  "I am Australian".

Another nice day, exploring somewhere close to home. Oh, and I think it even fits in with my "Reconnect" theme for the year.