Friday 25 April 2014

Anzac Day

Mick and I usually attend the Dawn Service in Bathurst on Anzac Day.

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However, this morning we attended the Dawn Gathering in a paddock at O’Connell.  There was quite a sizable number of locals up nice and early.

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O’Connell has only been having a gathering for the past few years.  The momentum to start was the efforts of the local community to save the Memorial Avenue of Trees.

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They line the main road from Bathurst to Oberon through the village and there was a big push a few years ago to have them removed to widen the road.  Due to the locals’ efforts this did not happen and the trees have been saved.

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Back to this morning.

We all met around a flagpole.  In true country style, it consists of a long stick with an old electrical insulator on top.  It is fully functional to raise and lower the flag.

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Around the flagpole was a semicircle of banners, each with the surname of a local family who had someone serve in WW1.  Like all communities, not all returned.  Many of the names are still familiar in the district.

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It was a lovely way to commemorate the significant events of 99 years ago. 

It was also a special day for me, as for the first time I opened the little box that came to me from Dad.

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I wore his miniature medals with pride. 

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Tuesday 22 April 2014

A Visitor

We have been visited by lots of different birds this year.  Whether it is the season or the fact that our garden is becoming leafier, I don’t know.  I do know that I love it and my bird book is getting quite a workout.

On Sunday I heard a different bird call while I was hanging out the washing.  It was a definite whistle.  As usual, I went looking for the source.  I couldn’t see anything in the vineyard behind us, or on the sheds.  Eventually there was a small movement in the wattle tree.  To my surprise the culprit was  grey bird, about the size of a starling, but plumper.  For some reason I had expected a larger bird.  I watched it for a little while, and as it made no attempt to leave the tree went to get my camera.

It was still there when I returned, but hopped from limb to limb, higher and higher, so no photo. 

Then I heard a second bird.  They started to have quite a conversation and it had obviously also landed in the tree, as I could hear it hopping about. 

I crept around to the other side of the tree, expecting another grey bird.  To my surprise it was bright yellow……and sat still long enough for me to take a photo.

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I had never seen one of these before and had no idea what it was.

Out came my trusty Simpson and Day.

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After a bit of hunting I found them.

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A Golden Whistler.

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I hope they visit again, as they were rather lovely.

Good Friday Motorcycling

Although we enjoy doing spontaneous things it is good to look forward to a regular event. Good Friday is one of those times.  Each year we join with the Vintage Motorcycle Rally that travels around Bathurst for a week.

This year we took Sophia, the Moto Guzzi for an outing.  That is her on the right of the below photo.  She doesn’t get out very often.  Looking back, I haven’t been on her since late 2012.  It feels strange getting on a solo again……..and I had to struggle to find some bike trousers that still fit…….Oops!

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There were over 200 bikes involved in the week, ranging from the very early veterans to the most current.

Early bikes

This year there was a lot of rather tasty examples from the 70s.  Colours really came into their own during that era.

70s bikes

Wherever you look, there were men checking out the finer details of bikes.

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Discussions on finishes, what is original, what isn’t. 

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Get out of the way when the veterans get going, as they don’t have a clutch and can’t stop.  It is a real art to ride them.

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The route on Friday is always the same, travelling to Oberon via the back roads, where we regroup and have morning tea.  The local bakery always has lovely, fresh hot cross buns and good coffee.

After our break, we continued on our way to Tarana for lunch. 

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As there are so many people, it is rather a slow process to get a meal at the pub, so we opted to take a picnic.  We had quite a group from the Historic Car Club, who were quite settled under a gum tree, soaking up the sun.

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A rather lovely way to start the long weekend.

Sunday 20 April 2014

Happy Easter

I hope you all have a wonderful day.

Today is the day of The Eggs.

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….But we won’t eat them all today.

It was also the day of our first decent frost.  0.3 degrees C on the thermometer, so it would have been a quite a bit cooler at ground level.

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We had a very slight frost on Friday, but there was definite ice on the ground and the tomatoes and beans.

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My few dismal bean plants that survived the summer have been giving us heaps of beans over the last few weeks, but this will be the end of them.

However, once the sun came up it was warm enough to sit on the verandah for breakfast and take in the view.  Who needs to get away from it all at a B&B when you have it all here?

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It is quite cold again tonight, so we are expecting another frost tomorrow.

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.