header

Page 58





Singleton

But First, An ambitious Plan for 2008

Welcome to Page 58. As you'll doubtless remember, whilst in Port Macquarie in February of 2007, we drew up a ten month plan which we followed fairly closely. A visit to Australia by my brother Mike and his wife added Sydney to the original plan. Our final destination was to be the annual Country Music Festival in Tamworth. That still stands; when we leave Singleton our destination will be Tamworth.

Whilst in Singleton we formulated a new plan to commence when we leave Tamworth on February 3rd. It will take us, not only from the east of the continent to the west, but from the south to the north then back to the south again along the way. About half the places where we'll stay will be familiar to us - that's unavoidable - but the rest will be new. The total distance will be just short of 10,000 kilometres and our final stop on the plan will be our home town of Perth where we'll spend Christmas.

Future Plan Map

Our draft plan for 2008 will take us from east to west and from south to north and back to south.

I know you're now asking, "Is that it? Are their travels over when they get back to Perth?" Go on, admit it, you were wondering, weren't you? Well, the answer is no - unless something unforeseen should happen. Our intention is to stay in a caravan park in Perth just as we would anywhere else. Once we've renewed our friendship with family, friends and neighbours we'll hitch up and head east again. If you look at the map above, you'll see a state labelled "VIC" down there in the bottom right hand corner. We have sadly neglected Victoria and, from what we hear, it has a lot to offer. Even worse, there is yet another state that isn't even shown on our map, a state which is always being overlooked. Yes, the Apple Isle, Tasmania. And where better to catch a ferry to Tasmania than Victoria?

Hey, I'm already well into 2009. Do I think I'm going to live for ever? You bet! Growing old is mandatory ~ growing up is not.
Singleton in the Great Wine Producing Region of the Hunter Valley

Not only is Singleton in the fertile Hunter Valley, it is actually on the banks of the Hunter River. Just two bridges span the river, one a comparatively new concrete structure which carries the New England Highway and its traffic. The other is the 1905 iron Dunolly Ford Bridge which was superceded when it could no longer cope with the traffic. It now has a three tonne weight restriction imposed. The two pictures below were taken from the top of the concrete bridge.

Singleton Traffic Bridge

Traffic crossing the 'new' bridge into the town. We saw semis and B-doubles
hauling huge earth moving equipment through the town centre.

Many of the town's buildings date back to the latter half of the 1800s and the new bridge directs a large volume of traffic, much of it heavy haulage, right between them. The old problem, modern traffic using roads designed for horses and carts.

Just an aside: Do you remember the days when a passing car's engine and exhaust made more noise than the car's radio? The problem seems to be associated with the attachment of those 'P' plates, have you noticed?

The Tourist Information Office provided us with a booklet called the Singleton Town Walk, a do-it-yourself walking tour of significant features within the town. We needed the exercise so off we went.

The nearest feature to the caravan park was the twenty year old concrete traffic bridge which afforded a good view of the 1905 bridge which still carries light traffic.

Old Bridge

The old bridge over the river doesn't look too safe on its single pier. It shakes when traffic crosses it.
The picture was taken from the new bridge. The Hunter River was brown and swollen from recent rain.

It has to be said that we were disappointed with most of the features on the tour though the Burdekin Park in the town centre was quite nice. In the tree tops were several hundred fruit bats, also known as flying foxes. Notices warned walkers not to touch any bats found on the ground as they may carry disease.

Bats

Fruit Bats hang in the tree tops like large seed pods. Burdekin Park, Singleton.

On the subject of notices, we passed the sign pictured below on our walking tour. Can any of you learned scholars in cyberspace tell me please, is there such a word as "inclosed"? I can't find a dictionary reference to it but a Department of Education couldn't be wrong . . . could it? Perhaps it's a legal term.

Misspelt Sign

Is there such a word as inclosed? Perhaps it should be in closed As long as it's not "Inn Closed".

Added during the later reworking of this page: The verb inclose is the old-fashioned form of enclose.

Many of the buildings featured on the tour had minor historical significance but looked either run down or had been converted into business premises. Five or six were old pubs, not much different to a thousand other old pubs. Most were in need of a spruce up but with the New England traffic thundering past every day it's no wonder. Apart from two churches, none of the buildings warranted a picture so I took pictures of the churches. It's the only time I ever go near the places.

R.C. Church

St. Patrick's R.C. Church built in 1860. The 'twin towers' were added in 1920. The buiding is stately and
beautifully proportioned. Unfortunately it was locked so we couldn't see the interior.

And just to keep the balance, below is the interior of All Saints Parish Church opened in 1913, a lych gate being added in 1924. Hmm, 1924, that's just four years after the Catholics added their two towers. Trying to keep up with the Micks, do you think? A lych gate was originally used by pall bearers to shelter from sun or rain while awaiting the clergyman. Did you know that? Not that the Dear Departed cared much either way.

All Saints Anglican Church interior

The interior of All Saints was even more impressive than the outside. It had beautiful stone arches emphasised by spotlight illumination, stained glass windows, a pipe organ (left of the window) and a rather nice pulpit with a very ornate canopy above it.

The pews looked very nice but, as usual, were rock hard to sit on. Would God really mind if the congregation was comfortable? All Saints Parish Church only had one tower but that tower sported a clock on each of its four sides, and they were set correctly. The chimes, however, seemed to have been overlooked when daylight saving started. At three o'clock they chimed twice.
The Hunter Valley Gardens

Within easy driving distance of Singleton are the Hunter Valley Gardens and Pam was keen to visit them. In the absence of anything interesting, such as an airfield or a steam museum, I agreed to accompany her. Having said that, I have to admit to being very, very impressed. The gardens - there are twelve, each with a theme - cover sixty acres and are magnificent, full of colour and fragrances. I particularly liked the children's Storybook Garden which was excellently done and even had appropriate music playing. One of many examples is the Mad Hatter's Tea Party; you'd be amazed at the people who gate-crashed that party. You'll notice that they're all keeping a wary eye on the intruder.

Hatters Tea Party

Take some more tea, the March Hare said to Alice, earnestly.
I've had nothing yet, Alice replied in an offended tone, so I can't take more.
You mean you can't take less, said the Hatter. It's very easy to take more than nothing.

Here are three more of the characters from the Storybook Garden.

3 Lewis Carroll Characters

Left: Georgie Porgie kissed the girls and made them cry. Georgie must seek counselling or improve his technique.
Centre: His latest victim considering whether to sue for sexual harassment or suggest going back to hers.
Right: Wee Willie Winkie who ran through the town. Never mind, Winkie, they say size isn't important.

If you'd like to see a few more photos from the Hunter Valley Gardens, click here: Hunter Valley Gardens. If not, let's move on to Page 59. Oh, I nearly forgot. To get to the Hunter Valley Gardens we had to pass through the small town of Branxton. As we entered Branxton there was a thought-provoking sign on the verge:

WELCOME TO BRANXTON.
PLEASE DRIVE CAREFULLY.
WE HAVE TWO CEMETERIES BUT NO HOSPITAL.

Footnote: This re-working of Page 58 was completed on 9th June 2013. It conforms to HTML5 and CSS level 3.