The next destination on out trip was the town of Inverell
. Why? Well, we saw a program on ABC TV, "Restoration Australia", which featured a property in Inverell. There were some views of the town shown and it looked nice. We have been there very briefly before, but have never had a look around. It is a town that isn't on our direct route to anywhere we go.
I read a bit on line
before our trip, and there appeared to be lots to see and do. Therefore, we booked in to stay for three nights.
As a result, we timed our arrival in the town for Sunday morning. Why?
Markets! The town lies on the Macintyre River, and these terrific markets were in a nice shady park that ran beside the river.
Apparently, this was the first time they had been held since the onset of COVID -19. Markets are always good in the lead up to Christmas.
There were a few different musicians playing througout the area.
And after that, all I bought was a sage plant and a couple of old Uncle Toby Oats bags.
Our next port of call was the tourist information centre, where we collected maps and info on what there was to see and do.
We stayed at a caravan park that was quite central in town, right beside the river. Wow! What a beautiful park. It had the most up market amenities block we have ever come across. Our afternoon was quite lazy, and as the weather was still stinking hot, enjoyed a nice swim in the pool in the late afternoon.
When it cooled down a bit, Mick and I went for a walk by the river.
I even picked some weeds to put in a jar in the van.
Mick and I actually got our push bikes out early in the morning and went for a ride. The tourist office had provided a map showing the town cycle way. The path runs along the river and then lets you pretty much complete a lap of the perimeter of the town. The best bit was that it was relatively flat.
I loved this mural underneath the main bridge across the river.
On the second day we mainly mooched around the town. Overnight a weather front had come through and, thankfully, it was much cooler and there was even a little bit of rain. The town has some beautiful old buildings. The tourist office provided a little booklet on the history of the town, giving information on most of the old buildings. It was really interesting reading, and was fun to then find the actual building and have an idea of its background.
For a town of 12,500 people, the shopping centre was impressive. What was also nice, was that there was no shopping mall. All the shops were on the main streets, and there were very few chain stores. There were also very few empty shops. There was a big supermarket complex, but we didn't even go in there. I suppose it is the main centre for quite a large area and the nearest large regional centres are quite a distance away.
It was interesting seeing the new Police Station, currently under construction. Quite different to the ornate Court House next door. I'm sure there is lots of controversy over the design. However, in my opinion, as much as I love old buildings, modern architecture still has a place in towns, as we are not living in a museum.
When it was morning tea time, we headed into this store, as it looked rather nice through the window.
The window displays were rather lovely.
What a beautiful old building. The story goes that "Nesbits" was one of three major department stores in the town. The front section is a very popular coffee shop, complete with French bistro style seating.
The rear is a very up market retail area. If you were after the special gift for someone, this would be the place to come. I could have bought some gorgeous things, but was very restrained.
There were several stores of this calibre throughout the town.
My purchases actually were made at op shops, as our never ending quest for an orange mug continued. I found this vintage Christmas wreath in an Inverell op shop for the prrincly sum of one dollar, and it suited the caravan perfectly. I also found some vintage doileys, which have been incorporated in the vintage linens quilt that I am currently making.
The following day we headed out of town. You see, Inverell is known as "The Sapphire City". Of course we would have to have a go at finding some sapphires, or crystals. After purchasing a sieve at the camping store, we headed off with our fossicking sites map and leaflet on how to search for sapphires and crystals.
We found this nice little creek and had a go.
Sapphires are found out near Oberon too, and Mick used to go fossicking on his uncle's farm. They found a few good ones back then too, but he has no idea what became of them. As kids, they just put them in a little tablet bottle. They were probably thrown out at some stage.
It was a bit of fun, but we won't be giving up our day jobs any time soon.
We headed off to find another of the designated fossicking sites, at this pretty creek crossing.
It was nice to have a paddle in the cool water, but we weren't really all that interested on doing more fossicking.
It was, however, a nice place to have a picnic lunch, before taking a further detour back to town, travelling via the small town of Ashford
. It is touted as "Cod's Own Country", as there are good fishing spots to the north. The town has a population of about 500, but we were surprised at what a sad main street it had.
Even when you read about the town on the website, it says that it is struggling. The website lists the few remaining businesses, but it is out of date, as most of them have closed as well. It looks like the only businesses trading were the chemist, rural supply store and an op shop on a couple of days a week in what had been the general store.
The church looked tidy, as did the local hall.
Even the pub has been closed for some years, which is a pity, as it is a lovely old building and a pub is often the main place for locals to gather.
I suppose, not being on the main road to anywhere goes against it. The website does mention a national park just to the north and some limestone caves, so it may be worth exploring further at some time in the future.
Our visit to Inverell came to an end all too soon, with us leaving the following morning. We did a quick visit to one more place on our way out.
Lake Inverell is just upstream on the Macintyre River. Until Copeton Dam was constructed, this was the water supply for Inverell. Now it is a beautiful recreational waterway and home to loads of birds.
It was nice to see the lake nice and full after the drought conditions of the previous few years.
In the last few months there have been some major upgrades to the facilities, with an accessible walkway constructed along the foreshore and a pontoon to launch kayaks, as well as upgraded barbecue and picnic facilities. It's a pity we didn't have time to make the most of it. The town cycle ways also continue all the way to the lake.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Inverell, with the town having so much more to offer than we had expected. We didn't get to see nearly as much as we would have liked, as there was a fair bit of sitting around talking, eating nibblie and drinkies with our friends. We don't see them often, so it was just so nice to hang out somewhere roughly half way for us to travel.
Apart from what we saw, there is Copeton Dam, a Pioneer Village and a Transport Museum, as well as National Parks in the area.
Mick and I will definitely return to do some more exploring one day, maybe in the springtime.
After bidding our friends farewell, it was time to start the next leg of our journey. More to come soon.