Tuesday 30 April 2019


As I mentioned in my previous post we travelled to Eugowra for lunch on Friday.

Eugowra is another of those little towns I have a soft spot for.  In the mid to late 1990s banks closed in all the little towns and government services were somewhat lacking.  Add to that the increased use of the internet, but not all that many people had their own computer or internet access in their homes. 

A federal government initiative was started to create Rural Transaction Centres (RTCs).  The first ever RTC was established in Eugowra.  The credit union I worked for provided the financial services and I occasionally travelled out to provide relief staff. 

The service is still there, however is now in a different building.

This is the building I worked in, which is now home to a hairdresser's.

After a delicious lunch in the recently refurbished pub we went exploring.

Eugowra is a town that has lots of murals.  This is not just a recent initiative, it's been going on for years.  They do add to them each year and next weekend will see a further three added to the town.  Come for an explore.

I didn't know that the granite in the new Parliament House comes from Eugowra.

This benign little creek can become a raging torrent and cause serious flooding in the town.

The old Imperial Picture Theatre is now the supermarket.  It was also used for dances, but due to changes in movie watching became a supermarket way back in 1967.  I'm sure it could tell some stories of events held over the years.

This is Ben Hall country.

"The Fat Lamb" was a rather popular pub in the area and sadly burnt down in 2012.

It's nice to see that it lives on in a mural.

This is as close as you will get to a train in Eugowra these days.

While looking for murals we came across another park  with an impressive War Memorial, complete with wreaths.

We were surprised to see an old fashioned metal slippery dip like we used to play on when we were kids.  You don't see many of them left.  Mick was disappointed there wasn't a rocket to climb in as well.  The church in the background was nice and tidy.

There is even a butchers and coffee shop.

Not a good photo, with the sun in the background, but there is a nice little craft shop in the building next to the pub.  Some yummy sauce came home with us.  They even have a sign in the window advertising their monthly craft gathering.  Good to see.

I hope you enjoyed our wander. The weather was perfect for doing some exploring, with no time constraints. 

Eugowra is only small, but it is nice and clean and tidy and has a positive feel about it.  So nice to visit.

The wind picked up quite a bit on our way back into Canowindra, raising quite a bit of dust.  There would be no balloons in the sky that afternoon.  We had noticed that as we travelled west of Canowindra the landscape dried out considerably.  They are still in desperate need of rain.

On our driving through the country side we came across this historic old woolshed on the property "Bangaroo".

I had a little look online to see what I could find and stumbled upon an aerial photo here.  From the little I could find, "Bangaroo" was one of the earliest pastoral stations in the area.  There was a school and even a small railway station had that name.  The adjoining homestead, which I couldn't get a decent photo of, is a huge sprawling weatherboard home.  You can see that it was an impressive property in its hay day.  Sadly, the shed is in very poor condition, but there was sheep work going on in the yards as we drove by.

Canowindra Balloon Festival

April each year sees the Balloon festival at Canowindra and we have visited the last two years, so had to go again as it is great fun.

We travelled up on Thursday, after the Anzac Day event.  The autumn trees are still looking good, although coming to the end of their show.

This time the bare paddocks we saw were planted to crops.  Fingers crossed they get enough rain for them to provide a harvest later in the year.

After we got ourselves set up on our camp site we went for a wander up the street.  Supplies of nibblies were required.

Their War Memorial was completely surrounded by wreaths.  It was quite a sight.

We came across the side fence of a house festooned with balloons.  It's good to see people entering into the spirit of things.

Last year where we camped was quite steep, so this year we opted for the camp sites on the edge of the showground main area.  It was a great spot.  Vans ringed the entire area, in addition to the rest of the showground being full of campers as well.  The evening light was nice and soft.

On Friday morning I got up nice and early to go for a walk.  I didn't get very far initially, as over on the sports ground balloons were getting ready to fly.  The competition balloons had left much earlier for somewhere out of town.  These are called the "Fiesta Balloons section". Mick had stayed in bed, but a quick phone call had him come over to see them all too.

This blob intrigued me.

Meet "Iwi the Kiwi".  He was the only novelty shaped balloon present this year.  It appears that he was stolen late last year, but fortunately was recovered.

They all looked lovely as they took off in the early morning sunshine.

While I finally headed off on my walk, Mick went back to the van, just in time to see "Iwi the Kiwi" land in the middle of the showground, right in the centre of all the vans.

It's funny walking through a town with hot air balloons hovering over the top.

Canowindra has some really beautiful homes.  It must have been very prosperous in its early years.

Such a lovely morning to be out and about, and perfect for ballooning, being nice and still.

When I got back to camp the sky started filling with balloons again, as the competition section arrived back in town.  Unfortunately, no one hit the target, as they were blown slightly off course.

After a very late breakfast Mick suggested we drive out to Eugowra for lunch, which was a great idea.  More on that later.

The wind picked up in the afternoon, so no more balloons on Friday.

Saturday 27 April 2019

"Mountain View" Homestead

Way back in 1979, when I was about 14 years old,  our very small church youth group went for a camping weekend to "Mountain View".  I think it was probably the first time I had pitched and slept in a tent.

"Mountain View" had a hall designed for various groups to visit, and lots of room to run around, a suspension bridge over the creek and an interesting old house to walk around and peer through the windows.  An old gentleman also gave us a demonstration of gold panning in the creek. I took a few photos on my little Kodak Instamatic camera.

The old house really intrigued me, being two stories and of wattle and daub construction. It was pretty derelict at the time.

Move forward forty years........yes, forty years....OMG!!!  Where did that go??!!

On the Easter weekend the National Trust, in conjunction with the new owners, who became the custodians of this historic old building in 2014, held an open day.  Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to visit again after all that time.

The area was settled by a family by the name of "Todd" in the mid 1800s.  David Todd bought this land and opened a general store, while living in a slab hut.  He built this home, completing it in 1894.  It is rather unusual in that the design is quite elaborate for such a rustic building method.  There were lots of  wattle and daub and also pise houses in this area, as it was the first area settled west of the Blue Mountains, when Bathurst was declared a town in 1815.  Not far from here is the oldest pise barn in mainland Australia, but it is also, unfortunately, in deteriorating condition.

When you see it now, you just marvel at the poor state of the building, but this is so much better than it was.

The old house had continued to be neglected and when you see some photos of when the current owners took possession, it looked like it would blow over in a breath of wind.  Everything was leaning very precariously, particularly the second storey balconies,  all the stumps had rotted out, so it wasn't actually attached to the ground, the window frames had moved so much that the glass had gaps on the two diagonal corners, where the frame was very out of square. The mud walls were very deteriorated and the internal floors were rotten.

Anyone with any sense would bulldoze it.  Fortunately, Ken and his daughter Jenny didn't have any sense and they didn't bulldoze it.

You see, it appears that this is the only surviving two storey wattle and daub house left in Australia.  There was at least one other in the district, just a stone's throw from where we lived, when we lived out that way, but it was bulldozed in the 1960s.  "Mountain View" homestead is on the historic homes register and deserves to be preserved.

The other thing that you see after viewing the "Before" photos is how very much work has been undertaken to get the house to the stage it is at now.  The building is now straight, there are gutters, so the rainwater is being directed away from the walls, to prevent further deterioration.

See the poor state of the timbers, where they were just buried directly into the ground.

You can see in the above photo where they have now laid a narrow concrete footing, installed an ant cap and tied the uprights to the footing with a timber beam.  They have also repaired the wattle and daub walls next to the corner post and just above the footing.  It is all very inconspicuous, but should help save and restore the structure.  

Also around the perimeter of the verandah, there are discreet little black plastic circles - termite treatments.  A very wise preventative for the future.

It is interesting around the front door, where all the mud has been removed and you can see the timber construction.  They are currently working on this area and the black plastic is covering some recent restoration.

Even the stone chimneys have cracked from all the movement in the building.  I'm not sure how they plan to fix them.

The back of the house is also in poor condition.  An unusual design feature was that there was no internal access to the second storey.  The two timbers leaning from the top balcony are the remnants of the access staircase/ladder.  The shed to the right of the house is detailed more in the photos below.

There is a second building of interest on the property as well.  This was a general store servicing the local farmers, and also those travelling to the newly opened gold fields to the west.  Surprisingly, they even have a ledger from those days, showing who bought what, and when they restocked, etc.

You can still faintly see the sign writing.

In more recent times it was used as a shearing shed.  Once again, when you see the "before" photos, they have done a tremendous amount of work to conserve the building.

There was an activity on the day to identify some mystery objects.  Some were simple, but others, like the one above, were rather tricky.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to find out what they were.

It was a beautiful autumn day when I visited.  Old Mr Todd certainly selected a lovely spot to build his home.

A local vigneron, who was our next door neighbour when we lived out that way, had been giving advice on how to care for this very ancient grape vine.  He has also taken some cuttings to help perpetuate its survival.

There wasn't a large crowd visiting, but just a nice number, so that everyone could have a chat to the owners.  There were a number of Todd descendants in attendance, as many lived in the close vicinity until recently.  Ken and Jenny are keen to learn as much about the house and local families and community as possible.  There was also the best carrot cake served from their little refreshments stall.

I really enjoyed my visit.  It was a pity that Mick couldn't join me, as he would have found it very interesting too.   It was very good of the owners to share their progress with the public.  Hopefully, down the track, there will be another such day when we can see more progress on this rather ambitious project.

If you are interested, there is a Facebook page with more information.