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.
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Ford Bridge which was superceded when it could no longer cope with the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.
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.
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.
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.
Is there such a word as
Added during the later reworking of this page: The verb
inclosed? Perhaps it should be
in closed As long as it's not "Inn Closed".
inclose is the old-fashioned form of
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.