outback

An incredible Japanese Garden…

 

On our recent road trip to the farm we are presently looking after, we stayed 2 days in Dubbo. A township in the western outback of New South Wales. Miles from anywhere but a bustling and busy centre where 5 main road systems bisect.  It is linked by national highways north to Brisbane, south to Melbourne, east to Sydney and Newcastle, and west to Broken Hill and Adelaide. Trucks far outnumbered cars on the road.

It also had a Botanic Gardens, always a magnet for me.

Within the gardens was a Japanese Garden.

“Shoyoen” is the name of the Garden. ‘Shoyoen’ means ‘strolling and refreshing garden’. Shoyoen is recognised as being one of the most authentic Japanese Gardens in Australia. It was gifted to Dubbo by our Sister City Minokamo, Japan.

I was entranced by the beauty of this garden and spent hours wandering around absorbing the perfection and tranquillity.

Dubbo botanic gardens pc 064_4000x3000

Dubbo botanic gardens pc 057_4000x3000

Dubbo botanic gardens pc 010_4000x3000

 Every where the attention to detail and the love of gardening was evident and I stopped to talk to this gardener.

He told me that a team of gardeners came from The Japanese sister city, Minokamo, each year to prune and train the Japanese Black Pine into large forms of Bonsai and supervise the training of the local gardeners in Japanese methods.

Dubbo botanic gardens pc 036_4000x3000

As I strolled around I thought of Jude and her love of gardens and passion for benches. Look how many I found here.

Dubbo botanic gardens pc 076_4000x3000

It was a morning filled with pure sensory delight. The shapes, the textures, the gentle perfume from the many

gardenia, the play of shadows across rock, the ripples across the pond, the sound of the waterfall as it cascaded over the rocks.

Dubbo botanic gardens pc 067_4000x3000

Dubbo botanic gardens pc 123_4000x3000

This is the best Japanese Garden I have seen in Australia…

On the way out past the sensory garden look what “EYE” saw…

 

Advertisements
Categories: Australia, bench series, botanic gardens, Dubbo Japanese Garden, eye, outback, photos, Weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , , , | 30 Comments

Travel Theme : Freedom

In 2009 we decided a major downsizing was needed to create the freedom to travel. So we had a garage sale.

Getting ready

Getting ready

Lots of stuff...

Lots of stuff…

Ready and waiting...

Ready and waiting…

and the people came...

and the people came…

It is amazing how liberating it is to have a good clean-out. Things that haven’t been used, clothes that are never worn, objects that have been bought on impulse, but not really needed. At the end of the day almost all gone. The few things left went to the op shop.

Not only things were being disposed of we also downsized the space we lived in. Moving from a 3 bedroom house to a one room Granny flat/studio. Keeping a few pieces of furniture the rest was sold/given away.

Now we were ready, we had the FREEDOM to travel.

But we then downsized even further and Matilda came into our lives.

Setting off

Setting off

This small van gave us the freedom to travel around Australia. For a year in 2010 we travelled 37000 kilometres, met many interesting people and saw the incredible diversity of this great land.

Crossing the Nullabor Plains

Crossing the Nullabor Plains

To see more about this iconic part of Australia click here.

Freedom camping at the beach

Freedom camping at the beach

Freedom camping in the outback, cooking over open fires in the camp oven.

Camping alongside rivers

Camping alongside rivers and billabongs in the shade of the mighty gum trees.

Feeling as free as the birds to follow our own path.

Feeling as free as the birds to follow our own path.

Nullabor Eyre HW 012_3072x2304

The open road, the anticipation of what is over the hill. That is the great feeling of FREEDOM…

****************

Feel free to click here and go to Ailsa’s “Where’s my backpack” for many more glimpses into the freedom bloggers have found.

 

Categories: Australia, camping, freedom, freedom camping, outback, photos, travel theme | Tags: , , , , , , | 50 Comments

Travel Theme : Illuminated

A difficult theme for me this week as I don’t take many night photos, but one memorable illuminated moment was during our stay in Sydney, just before Christmas, I watched the magnificent Sydney Town Hall illuminated with magical lasers and computerized images and I took a short video of it.

*******************

Then I remembered all those magical moments around camp fires, cooking over the coals in the camp oven. Watching the sunset illuminating the sky in a rich red glow. Enjoying a glass of wine as the casserole simmered. The fire light flickers and illuminates a small circle while the rest of the surrounding bush disappears into dark shadows.

Preparing the chicken casserole

Preparing the chicken casserole

The sun sets in a ball of fire

The sun sets in a ball of fire

Enjoying a glass of wine while dinner cooks

Enjoying a glass of wine while dinner cooks

Damper cooked in the camp oven

Damper cooked in the camp oven is ready to eat

 Jack waits patiently for dinner

Jack waits patiently for dinner

Another camp site sharing a meal with new friends

Another camp site sharing a meal with new friends

Beautiful memories of time spent exploring and camping in the Australian bush. I hope you have enjoyed your short stay around some of our camp fires.

*******************************

Thank you Ailsa for this weeks theme. It has brought back all those memories. Go over to “Where’s my backpack” to see the many lights on Ailsa’s post.

 

Categories: Australia, camping, freedom camping, illuminated, outback, photos, sunsets, travel theme | Tags: , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Historical Springvale Homestead and thoughts on travel

In the middle of a burn area this sculptural group survives

Travelling I think is genetic, some people have an urge to move, explore,experience new places. Others are happy to stay in one place, making a nest, putting down roots, surrounded by family and familiar friends.

I know I am the restless gypsy type. To explore and discover new places gives me satisfaction. If I am in one place for long I get restless and start to plan the next trip.

Discovering the history of the places we pass through brings the area alive. Over the weekend we stayed in the campground behind Springvale Homestead, 5 kilometres from the town of Katherine. This has a very interesting history and is the oldest surviving homestead in the Northern Territory. Every afternoon at 3pm Wendy gives a very lively and descriptive talk about the history of the place. Since 1877 it has been through good times and bad. Many different types of farming have been tried. For me the individual character of Mary Giles shone through in the talk. She came as a young bride from the city of Adelaide and was the first white woman to to be brought onto a station in the Northern territory. What a strong, resilient pioneer, how lonely she must’ve been, but she planted a vegetable garden and fruit trees, then used the produce to make preserves, jams and chutneys.When the gold rush started a few years later at Pine Creek just 90 kilometres along the road she built a thriving cottage industry selling her produce to the passing crowds going to, hopefully, make their fortune in the gold fields. She even had a separate storehouse built for her business.

Alfred and Mary Giles and family

Eventually the station went broke. Over 4 years the 1200 sheep that had walked over 2000 kilometres from Adelaide had dwindled to 70. The spear grass had got into their gut and poisoned them, and they could not breed. In 1886 the property was put on the market and Alfred and Mary and their 4 surviving children moved on.

Historic Springvale Homestead

But the Homestead remained. It survived fire and flood and in the 1980’s joined the tourist industry with the establishment of a campground and cabins behind the old homestead. The natural hot springs were capped and a swimming pool created with a constant 34 degree temperature. The camp is situated on the banks of a peaceful lagoon. We stayed 3 days in this idyllic setting.

 

The town of Katherine was the scene of one of Australia’s worst floods in 1998. The river rose and the town was inundated. The homestead on the banks of the Katherine River had water up to the roof. Looking at this gently flowing waterway today it is hard to imagine the roaring,giant monster that swept all before it in 1998.

Railway bridge over the Katherine river

This railway bridge was covered, the water came 6 foot over the lines. It is very hard to visualise that much water pouring through.

 

In 2005 I stayed in Katherine backpackers when I travelled around Australia by Greyhound bus (that is another story….) At that time the memories of the flood and the emotions were still very raw. I visited the museum and they had a video made by the SBS TV station showing the horrors and aftermath of that flood. They interviewed locals who shared their stories of loss and grief but also heroism. Being in the town and watching that video had a great impact on me. I felt the sorrow but also the mateship and bonding that great disasters bring to a district.

Next year, 2006,I sat in disbelief, at home, and watched on TV as Katherine, once more, sank beneath the river.

This country is beautiful but capricious and can turn in a moment to danger and disaster.

On a lighter note, when the flood water went down a saltwater crocodile was found swimming around Woolworth’s supermarket meat department….

Family conference termite sculpture

 

As for these characters? We saw them along the road and just had to stop and take their photos, they seemed to call out to us….

Categories: Australia, australian travel, caravan park, floods, Northern Territory, outback, travel | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

The eccentric, quirky, iconic Daly Waters Pub

The Barkly Highway that we have followed across the outback, ends abruptly at Three Ways. It joins into the main north south Stuart Highway. We turn right to head north. To the west of this Highway is largely impenetrable desert. The landscape changes and the volume of traffic increases. This is the route that the explorer John McDouall Stuart discovered in 1860’s and then the telegraph line was put through from Adelaide to Darwin which eventually connected Australia to the world. It is still the only route through the centre of Australia.

The distances between camp grounds dwindles, only approx 150 kilometres. We start to dawdle again, getting up later, stopping for more photo opportunities, taking longer to have lunch.

Lubras Lookout

This amazing rocky outcrop stopped us in our tracks when we came round a bend and it dominated the country side. It had been so flat for days now, so this was quite startling, and I wonder about the geology of this land and how and why this outcrop survived the erosion around it. I made enquiries and was told it has significance in the Aboriginal culture and Dreamtime and the women of the tribe would use it to watch for the men coming back from a hunting expedition.

Now we are approaching the turn off to Daly Waters Pub. It has a solid reputation as the must stay place. It is an Icon in these parts. In the droving days it was a stop off as it had reliable water source. During WW2 an air port was built here and service men would spend leave here. It’s reputation now is built on its hospitality. First is “happy hour”, a tradition in the camping grounds. Then every night they put on a “Barra n Steak” BBQ and the Barramundi is wild caught and fresh from the gulf and the steak is rib-eye from the local cattle station. The salad bar is help yourself and is fresh and delicious. To top the evening off they have “Chillie” to entertain us. Well by 7-30 when Chillie arrives we are all watered and fed and feeling very mellow. Chillie puts on a great show. He is a stand-up comedian and he knows his audience. Each state plus the Asians plus the Americans are given the once over and we all love it. He sings some Country and Western songs and ends with the patriotic Australian song “We are one, but we are many”. The show is so good that Jack buys his CD. We have sat with another 3 couples and made instant friends and all agree it was a great night.

The weather is warmer and we didn’t need a thick jacket on…

Daly Waters Pub

Oops some one missed the air port

Spare thong and shoe post…

Inside the pub the walls and posts and all surfaces are covered with collections of hats, t-shirts, bras, money of all nationalities, memorabilia of all sorts. It is an entertainment just looking around.

Famous Barra and Steak BBQ

Help your self to all you can eat salad

Stand-up comedian, Chillie

Categories: aboriginal history, Australia, australian travel, Northern Territory, outback, photos, Pubs | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

The outback goes on forever

Barkly Highway, the outback way

As we drive along this Outback way I look out across the plains that stretch to the horizon. I look ahead at the bitumen strip and look in the rear vision mirror as the road unfurls behind us. For many of the miles we are on our own. Mile after mile with no other vehicle in sight. Then a small dot appears on the horizon. It seems to float as though it is a mirage till it flashes passed then disappears in a heat haze behind us. A quick wave of acknowledgement then gone.

I think about the explorers, those brave and driven men, that had a passion to find out what was in the centre of this huge and forbidding land. No track to follow, not knowing what lay ahead, where the next water-hole was. They blazed a trail, then went back to tell of the vast grassland plains they had seen.

I think of the pioneers, full of hope and ambition to carve a living from this alien land. The struggle to bring their stock and possessions into this wilderness of unknown plants and animals and indigenous people who lived such a different lifestyle. How brave they were.

Information boards put up at rest areas tell the stories of the pioneers struggle to survive. We are following the drovers way and do a detour into Newcastle Waters. This was a major meeting point of 3 main droving routes during this period of Australian history. The sweet waters of this place never dried up and a bustling settlement developed.

The large watering hole at Newcastle Waters

The drovers could relax for a day, visit the pubs, meet up with buddies, before moving on with the stock, well watered and ready for the next stage of the perilous journey..

Now it is almost a ghost town. The pub, Junction Hotel, is an empty, dusty barn of a place, but something is happening here. There are signs of work going on around it. The power is on. A fridge is standing in a corner, in the kitchen remnants of a meal lie around. Last time we came through in 2010, it was derelict. No signs of life. We look around to find some one we can question about the changes. But no one is here, just tents behind in the dusty back yard. We can only speculate. Are they changing it into a camp-ground? Are they going to “do-up” the hotel? We wander over to Jones’ Store. It is a museum but not your pristine state of the art place, this has been left as it was. Dust has settled every where, saddle bags with the stuffing hanging out are placed around the walls, and old wood burning stove has rusty saucepans sitting on it. Old, disintegrating lace curtains flutter at the open windows. It has character and a sadness about it. Information boards are around the walls telling the history of the building and stories of the people who owned and operated it. It is heritage listed. Amazingly it seemed exactly the same as 2 years ago. Although it is open and no one lives around it all the old artifacts still seem to be there and no destruction or graffiti apart from the ravages of time.

Jones store now a museum

Living area back of Jones Store

Jones store

Old saddle bags

It is lunchtime and across from the small school-house (that seems to be in use, there is a working cattle station along the road so we assume they will be the children from those workers and managers of the station) is a grassed area with an eight foot tall bronze sculpture of a horse-tailer. We were told at the Drovers shed in Camooweal that he is depicted with the saddle bags that are to be put on a pack-horse and they must be both even weight with 50 pound in each and that is an essential part of the drovers life to take care of the horses.

So we make a sandwich, have a cuppa from the thermos and travel on, with my head full of stories from the droving days…

8 foot tall sculpture, monument to the drovers

 

 

Categories: australian travel, droving, Ghost town, old derelict buildings, out back, outback, photos, travel | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Freedom camping in a ghost town among the ghost gums…

Ghost gums at Mary Kathleen, ghost town

Tonight we are freedom camping in an old uranium mining town of Mary Kathleen.

The town was built in 1958 to support the Mary Kathleen mine. A bustling community of 400 lived here until the mine closed in 1982. Two years later all the buildings were auctioned, the biggest property auction ever conducted in Australia, the buildings removed and all that remains are the bitumen roads and concrete pads that once had houses standing on them. It is quite eerie to see the large area stripped of all life and imagine the community that once lived, laughed, cried, worked and played here. Tonight there are 4 vans of various types spread around the town. As I look over I can see on one of the distant roads a couple of the campers have camp fires going, glowing in the dark. There are no facilities of any sort, no water, no showers, no power, no loos. This is camping stripped to the basics, but I was amazed to find there is internet connection here. So we can still connect to the world in cyberspace….

It is half way between Conclurry and Mt Isa on the Barkly Highway. We have just spent 3 nights in a lovely caravan park in Cloncurry. The Oasis was peaceful, grassed sites with clean amenities so decided to stay and catch up with laundry, e-mails, blogs etc.

We have now left the Matilda Highway and onto the Barkly Highway which is known as the centre of the outback country. The scenery has changed dramatically, no more sweeping plains. The road undulates along between mineral rich, rocky outcrops. This is now mining country. Long bridges span winter dry creek beds, waiting for the onslaught of summer rain. Gum trees line the road covered in glorious creamy yellow blossom. The wedge tail eagles, kites and crows cluster around road-kill and as each vehicle passes they leave the feast to soar and wheel above till the road is clear and then descend again to continue with the meal.

Mineral rich rocky outcrops

Jack exploring dry creek bed

We wandered along the dry creek beds and as the sun catches the sandy soil it glistens with a million mineral particles. I try to catch the sparkle with a photograph but it does not show it.

These are our neighbours

Apart from the few other campers these are our cute neighbours for the night…

Jack exploring dry creek bed

 

Categories: australian travel, camping australia, freedom camping, Ghost town, gum trees, outback, photos, travel | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

Waltzing Matilda

Matilda Highway

We are travelling on the Matilda Highway, through Matilda County,in Matilda, our old van. This outback highway is a well maintained bitumen ribbon stretching endlessly to the horizon through the vast plains of silver-gold Mitchell grass. Cattle are dotted across the plains with the occasional stunted gum tree. The sun beats down from a cloudless blue sky and road-trains pulling 3-4 trailers filled with cattle for the market, roar by in both directions. These are the drovers of the present day. The aroma of their cargo envelopes us as they zoom past, splattering Matilda as we chug along in their wake.

The modern-day explorer in 4 WD pulling a caravan also passes us, they fuel the income of the new trade in the outback of tourism.

Tourism in this area is based on a song: “Waltzing Matilda”.

I wonder how many of my blogging friends and readers have heard of this song. It is known world wide as the unofficial anthem of Australia.

It is the story of the swagman who drowned in the bill-a-bong when confronted by the troopers. Banjoe Patterson, the prolific poet and lawyer composed it in 1895 when he was staying at Winton. He based it on the shearers strike and stories he had heard in the district. Winton now has the “Matilda Centre“, the only museum in the world devoted to a song, it also tells and shows pictures of lives of the pioneers and settlers of that time. It is an interesting museum with interactive displays and dioramas showing the Billabong with the swagman and troopers creating the atmosphere around the waterhole.

The song was first performed at the North Gregory Hotel in 1895. The hotel has been rebuilt over the years due to fire, but is still a thriving old pub. We went for an evening’s entertainment to hear and join in with Helen in a sing-a-long of favourite old tunes from the 1950’s and 60’s. Then she told us the story of Waltzing Matilda and sang the original version followed by the modern more up-beat version. For a gold coin donation it was a good night out. Then of course we finished the night off with a roast dinner in the Hotel dining room. The dining room was full with most of the patrons being grey nomads….

North Gregory Hotel

Sing-a-long with Helen

Roast lamb dinner, $10 special at the North Gregory Hotel.

Categories: australian travel, out back, photos, Pubs, travel, Waltzing Matilda, Winton | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

Travel Theme: Tradition…

Heading for the final straight

I’m so pleased that Ailsa of “Where is my backpack” chose tradition for the theme of this week as it slots in nicely with what we are doing at the moment…

We arrived in Winton a small outback town of approx 1000 people 6 days ago, in our faithful old pop-top van, Matilda, on the Matilda Highway, in Matilda country, and birthplace of that iconic Aussie anthem “Waltzing Matilda”. But more of that later.

We stayed 6 days to coincide with the traditional Winton camel races which were held today. Camel racing is a great tradition in the Aussie outback. These amazing ships of the desert have been instrumental in the exploring, opening up and settling of the great Australian desert areas since they were brought over here by the Afghan traders in the 1800’s. In the past they escaped into the desert and are now numbered in the thousands and are regularly rounded up and sold back to the middle eastern countries.

It was a typical winter outback day. The sky was a clear azure blue (check it out in the photos) with not a cloud in sight. Way over on the horizon rose a thick column of black smoke, a bushfire burning in the spinifex country. The wind had a sharp edge to it. The crowd of race-goers were the typical Aussie outback types, Akubra hats,grubby jeans and R.M. Williams boots, driving large Utes or 4WD’s, many of them parked alongside the dusty track. Noisy kids and dogs mingling with the crowd. The atmosphere was cheerful. The beer tent was doing good business.

I was amazed to notice that the small jockeys, perched on the back of the hump, had no means of steering but just hung on yelling and whipping their mounts to go faster. It was all very exciting. A couple of the camels decided they were not going to take part and went in the opposite direction to the others. Only one jockey fell off…

We loved it, the atmosphere, the excitement, the people watching, the hot chips. It was a great day…

Go girl..

The crowd cheers them on

Categories: australian travel, camel races, out back, outback, photos, travel, travel theme | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

The soft colours of the outback

The mitchel grass plains stretch forever

I can never get enough of the outback scenery. The colours are all shades of soft, misty green. nothing vibrant and demanding. It soothes and calms you as you cruise through a never-ending landscape. This ancient land is flat and this year hides its harsh unforgiving nature under a mantle of golden Mitchel grass. If it was, as now, a time of plenty in the 1800’s when the pioneers arrived, how they must’ve dreamed of a future of milk and honey. But the land was only lulling them into a false dream of riches and security before the drought of the late 1800’s sucked this country dry.

The Landsborough Highway between Longreach and Winton is a pleasure to drive along. Almost empty of all human habitation, just an occasional station homestead in the distance and names of the stations hanging on posts at the side of the road with dirt drives winding into the distance. Pot-holes are easily avoided as not much traffic allows you to swerve from side to side to avoid them.

At convenient intervals rest areas have been created with toilet blocks and picnic tables. Signs urge you to rest, revive and survive. Travellers congregate to share a few minutes of camaraderie and their lunch and cuppa before moving on.

Soft shades of the acacia bush

The few lonely trees

Categories: australian travel, outback, photos, travel | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

poppytump@no4

photography, sketching and ...

wordsandimages

here, there and other places

Brizzy Mays Books and Bruschetta

Books, Fun and Stuff That Comes Into My Head

The Eternal Traveller

Remembering past journeys, recording current trips and planning for the next one!

Womanseyeview's Blog

Nothing profound and a few of my photos

P.A. Moed

Creative Exploration in Words and Pictures

snippetsandsnaps

Potato Point and beyond

priorhouse blog

Photos, art - and a little bit of LIT.

Life is great

Despite its troubles

Badfish & Chips Cafe

Travel photos, memoirs & letters home...from anywhere in the world

Circadianreflections Blog

“A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.” ― Eudora Welty

The Day After

Musings, Photography, Writing, and More

Andrew's View of the Week

Andrew's view of the world in poetry, prose, and picture

musingsofafrequentflyingscientist.wordpress.com/

musings of a frequent flying scientist

Zimmerbitch

age is just a (biggish) number

%d bloggers like this: