It's funny how you don't visit somewhere for many years and then you visit twice in a month. Our second visit to "The Lake" wasn't planned.
In my post about our visit to Lake Cargelligo in June, I mentioned that I had an aunt and uncle who had lived there and that my Aunty Helen turned 100 just before the COVID-19 lockdown. Well, sadly, she passed away in mid July and we travelled out for her funeral. It was a relatively small affair due to restrictions on travel, but was a true celebration of her long and interesting life. It was nice to briefly catch up with a few of my cousins, as we are spread far and wide. Her passing leaves just one of my Dad's siblings, as we lost another of my aunts, who was 95 back in April. He was one of nine, and the baby of the family, who is also my godmother, is ninety one and the only one left.
Seeing as we were travelling out for the funeral on the Saturday, we decided to make another weekend of it. We left on Thursday and travelled out via a different route to our previous visit, this time through Parkes.
It was a rather frosty start to the morning, but ever so pretty seeing the frost right up into the trees near Orange.
Parkes is the home of the Elvis Festival in January and there are a few art works appearing to celebrate the theme.
This quirky mural by Lightning Ridge's John Murray seems to be new. I love it.
We had our lunch at Bogan Gate, a small village west of Parkes.
Our destination for the day was Condobolin. On our last trip out, we just called in briefly to buy some meat at the butchers, before checking out the Utes in the Paddock. This visit we had time to have a proper walk up and down the street.
We saw a sign for a craft shop and book exchange, so of course we have to pop in. It turns out the building is the old Commercial Hotel and was closed in the 1970s. The local Council purchased the building and it is used as a community centre. The craft shop is in the old main bar, complete with old beer mirror and the original bar.
Out the back in what was the old dining room is the book store. It was in chaos when we visited, as they had been freshly painting it. We didn't go upstairs, but apparently they have yoga classes and a function room. The building is also used for their patchwork group as well as other craft groups. I was surprised to see the original old range in the kitchen and the old vintage telephone hanging on the wall.
There are some beautiful old buildings in the main street. The butcher's has a lovely painting on the glass windows at the front. It looks really old.
We were delighted to find a small garden between a couple of buildings. It has shady vines and water features. It must be a lovely, cool oasis in the very hot summers they experience. The hotel next door is on the site of one of the original coaching hotels from Cobb and Co days.
We camped overnight at Gum Bend Lake, just out of town. This is a man made lake that was created as a Bicentennial project back in 1988. It is filled from the Lachlan River. However, due to the ongoing water shortages due to the drought, the lake is only a small puddle. No one will be going water skiing here for quite some time yet.
The free campground was a nice area and there were about 20 caravans and motor homes there. It even has free hot showers. It can get really busy at times.
This is what the lake looks like now. We do hope to visit again when it is full.
We went for a walk in the late afternoon. This is Gum Bend on the Lachlan River. It is just near the lake and where the water is pumped from to fill the lake.
It was still rather lovely in the afternoon light.
The night was really cold, getting down to minus two degrees. That isn't ordinarily too bad, but as we were free camping, we had no electricity and therefore, no heating. Brrrrr! We were toasty in bed, but had a rather early night, as it was too cold to sit around. We now have a diesel heater for the van on order.
We woke up to a really thick fog, which lasted most of the way to Lake Cargelligo.
There were a few spots where the sun came out and it was a glorious morning.
The season is wonderful this winter. It is so hard to imagine that this was just bare earth and dust at the beginning of the year. The farmers are now hoping that there are no late frosts to damage their crops.
It was still quite early when we arrived at Lake Cargelligo and this time we camped at a different spot beside the lake. This was "Frog Hollow" camp ground. There was a thick fog over the lake and it looked quite eerie, but stunningly beautiful.
It didn't take long to burn off to a gorgeous blue day. This was the view from our camp site.
The reason we arrived early was that we had to be at Larne Draught Horses by 10 o'clock. We had hoped to visit last time, but they weren't open on that day. We were really looking forward to it, as we had heard so many good things about Steve and Jan and their beautiful horses. Well, all I can say is that it lived up to the hype.
Steve and Jan have been breeding working draught horses for over forty years.
There were six of us on the tour on the day. After an initial talk, we were treated to freshly baked scones with jam and cream and cake by Jan. Very civilised.
As well as the horses, they have a really interesting museum. They take their horses to various events, including the Royal Easter Show.
Yes, even little sewing machines.
The van in the left of the photo is their horse drawn caravan, which they regularly use.
This is just some of Steve's old hat.
There are lots of old wagons and implements, as well as a shed full of working wagons, sulkies and carts.
We had a demonstration of how a horseworks works.
Steve does all his farm work with the horses and makes hay with the old varieties of wheat, which are getting harder to source, and makes stooks in the traditional manner.
The horseworks drives a chaff cutter, pump and grister.
At the end of the tour we visited his leather working shop, where he makes all his own harnesses.
Steve is determined to pass on the trades he has learned along the way before they die out.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and believe it or not, we were there for four and a half hours. Steve is passionate about his horses and everything related to them and loves sharing them with his visitors. Such a treat.
We had a lazy remainder of the afternoon.
On our previous visit we had noticed an antique shop, but it was closed. This time it was open, so we popped in. I was so happy when I found the little glass with blue peanuts playing cricket. There were a series of them in different colours and they were a promotional peanut butter jar. I had the identical one as a glass beside my bed when I was a kid and it was broken. I have an orange one I came across, but this is the first blue one I have found in years of searching. I also bought the sweet little kitty with its wool.
And an overview of the campground.
The following morning I was up with the lark to get sunrise photos. How good is that view from our bed.
After we had breakfast, all of a sudden there was a huge number of birds descending on the lake, just near us. There must have been a huge school of fish, as there was one almighty feeding frenzy going on.
The little jetty looked quite different without the fog.
After the funeral we went for a drive to find the Lake Weir. The lake is natural, but the weir was added in the early 1900s to regulate it. The stones form a fishway.
The lazy old Lachlan River. There we a few local families up there fishing. It was nice and peaceful.
We went exploring around the lake, which was quite different from down near the town and were delighted to see a few pairs of black swans.
Another morning, another beautiful sunrise.
A nice Sunday breakfast was definitely needed.
And, finally, the ever changing view across the lake before we headed for home.
We did a loop up through Euabalong West on the way back to Condobolin. The road followed the train track and we saw a couple of goods trains along the way.
Don't little country churches pop up in the most unexpected places.
So that was our unexpected weekend away. We were blessed with beautiful weather once again, but did come to the realisation that we definitely need to invest in a diesel heater if we intend to free camp during the winter. We still want to visit the area again, particularly when there is water in Gum Bend Lake.
I wonder where we will venture to next?