Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Exploring the Pilliga - Part 3 - Sandstone Caves and Pilliga Pottery

Finally, I am getting back to our recent trip to the Pilliga Scrub.

On our second day up there we drove back down to Coonabarabran and up the Newell Highway to find the Sandstone Caves.  You have to ask directions, as it isn't sign posted from the highway.  The reason is that it has aboriginal artifacts that need preserving.

It was relatively easy to find and once we drove in there were quite a few cars in the car park, but definitely not crowded.

We set off on the walk which was around a sandstone outcrop.  The weather was nice and warm, with a beautiful blue sky.  You couldn't ask for better.

Finally, some grass trees that had the typical trunk, rather than the short ones at Dandry Gorge.

We were blown away by the scale of the cliffs.  The rock looks really soft and very weather worn.

The first little cave we came across.  It would make a good home for some little critter.

There are several caves, but only two with visible aboriginal carvings.  The first mainly had tool grinding marks.

You can see them at the front of the rock.

You can also see where there has been modern day carving as well.  It is now behind a cage to protect it, which is a sad reflection on the mentality of some people.

Onwards and upwards.  The path was excellent and a lot of the stairs looked very new. 

The site is co-managed by National Parks and the local aboriginal people. They should all be very proud of what they are doing.

Once we were a bit higher we were treated to this view.  Wow!  Such a vast landscape, and this is just the very south east corner of  the Pilliga.

We continued to be awe struck by the way the weather had sculpted the soft sandstone.  

Then, we came across some holes right through the rock.

We started to play peek-a-boo through the holes.

Once again, just look at the scale of this place.

And me, in the same cave.

We came to the next site with carvings, this time emu and kangaroo feet as well as the grinding grooves.

You can just see them on the rocks.

Now for a reality check.  This is what you have to look through, to protect the artifacts.

I don't this this carving, on the rock just outside of the cage in the above photo is very ancient.

I was checking out little caves to see if there were any animal footprints.

These were the only ones I found.  I'm guessing they are from a tiny lizard.

There were lots of these footprints everywhere.

You can certainly understand why this place is of significance to the aboriginal people in the past and to the present day.  You also wonder how much of their art has been lost, simply from the weather wearing away the soft rock.

It was another highlight of our trip to the area.

Next, we headed back down the Newell Highway a bit, before turning off onto a dirt road and travelling for about 10kms.  

As we drove along we came across a sign "Grass Tree Ridge".  Look what was there.  Aren't they beautiful.  This was by far the best group we saw.

Our destination for lunch was the Pilliga Pottery.  We have seen the sign on many occasions as we drive past, but have never had the time to call in. 

Once you arrive, there is quite a complex. Not only is there the pottery, there is a cafe and quirky farmstay accommodation and camp sites.  One of my work colleagues has stayed there a couple of times and rated it very highly.  We had to go and see what all the fuss was about.

We walked through where the pottery is made and they appeared to be giving classes as well.  Then it was through to the main shop.  The pieces were beautiful, with many featuring blue wrens and other Australian flora and fauna.  There were both decorative and practical items.  I think my favourite were the water purifying fountains.  No, we didn't bring anything home.  I would have liked to have found a little something with a blue wren for my Mum, but they were all too large to suit her room.

Next stop was to the cafe for lunch.

Open sandwich with lettuce, tomato, grilled halloumi and zucchini and tomato relish.  It was delicious.  Of course, all table ware was made by Pilliga Pottery.

After lunch we had a wander around the garden, which also featured some of their pottery.

Even the pump shed was quirky.

And that completed our exploring of the Pilliga Scrub.

After lunch we drove back to Baradine, hooked up the caravan and started out for the next leg of our little trip.

More soon.


loulee said...

Looks like a lovely day. The pottery is beautiful and lunch looks amazing.
Sadly we have the same caged artefacts here in NZ as people have taken to defacing Maori art. Such a shame that there is so little respect for history and culture these days.

Chookyblue...... said...

Such fond memories of the sandstone caves as a kid....

Jenny said...

Such a lovely day out. Plenty of exploring to do, seeing ancient art, followed by a tasty lunch.

Nancy said...

The caves and the weather-worn sandstone are amazing! Thanks so much for sharing your trip with such great photos and descriptions.

Gail said...

Amazing places you visit! We have the same issues here with the defacing-my Gran always said "Fool's names and fool's faces always seen in public places!" Many early First nations sites have been defaced as well was some Oregon-California trail sites, so sad.

I had to move my blog-long story, you can read about it at gailhickamfines.blogspot.com

Blessed be!

kiwikid said...

That was a great day Janice, the caves are amazing, the stone is sculpted by the weather , shame people can't just look and enjoy at those kind of places. I am fascinated by those grass trees, Raewyn and I stopped at a rest stop on the way to Barradine that had grass trees all around and of course caches to find!! The pottery looks wonderful, so much to see, your lunch looks great, I really like that pottery water fountain! Thank you for sharing your trip, I really want to come and look around here one day.

ButterZ said...

Wow. Amazing photos and scenery as well as interesting places you visited. Another journey to share

Michelle Ridgway said...

Thanks so much for sharing....loved everything xxx

Raewyn said...

The sandstone caves are amazing - like you say, the sheer scale of it all and the evidence of so much history. Yes, Sue is right, we did stop and see some great looking grass trees! Nice that you had time to finally get to the pottery place - aside from the pottery, such a fascinating place. Thanks for taking the time to share your adventures.

Jocelyn is Canadian Needle Nana said...

Janice, what a wonderful post and so interesting for someone like me, a world away, to read and learn so many things. It is remarkable that all those carvings are still visible considering how soft the rock is. Thankfully preserved and now protected too from humans who lack understanding of the vast meanings of such things. And that pottery is so beautiful too. Lovely outing to a wonderful site and lovely lunch too which I also love to see. Thanks for sharing it all.

jude's page said...

Beautiful pottery, and lovely photos of very interesting places, love the grass trees, and lunch looks yummo.

dq said...

I am amazed at how similar our interests are. I loved the rocks and ancient writings.