Page 95: More from in and around tamworth
  During our Sunday afternoons at the Banalasta Winery I keep finding myself watching the cloud formations. This undoubtedly comes from my days as a glider pilot. I have to admit to a strong longing to be up there again. Very often I can see strange images in the clouds. When I took the picture below it was more from nostalgia than anything. It wasn't until I put it onto this page that I noticed a creature in the towering cumulous. Can you see it?  
  Some fascinating cloud formations viewed from Banalasta.  
  This is another of my hair brained ideas; clearly I don't have enough to occupy my time.

We have 'gone metric' in terms of currency, temperature, linear measurement, weight and so on. But what about time? Our present system of measuring time is antiquated and illogical. Where's the sense in having two five o'clocks in every day? Why is the day divided into twenty four hours which are subdivided into sixty increments of one minute, then those minutes into sixty increments of one second? Strangely, to measure time smaller than one second we do adopt a metric system - milliseconds, microseconds, nanoseconds etc.

Suppose we adopted a full metric system with each day divided into one hundred 'units' of whatever name? Each unit would be 14.4 minutes long - quite a handy time interval near enough to a quarter of an hour. Dividing by ten, the next subdivision would give a unit equivalent to 1.44 minutes then 8.64 seconds and so on. Now that would create some employment!

Why do it? Well, for the same reason other units of measurement have been decimalised; it's a far simpler system once you get used to it. You and I probably never would get used to it, but following generations would. It's almost bound to come eventually - except in the U.S.A., of course, where they still use the old Imperial standards which, ironically, were legally established in Britain. (Quote from the Macquarie Dictionary.)
  Easter at the hunter valley.  
  Easter (2009) presented an opportunity to renew our friendship with Greg and Bev Wetzler. Greg worked as a supervisor in the Sydney office of Tektronix, the company I rejoined on arrival in Australia in 1982.  He was extremely kind and hospitable to me at that time and we've remained firm friends ever since, though a huge volume of water has passed under that proverbial bridge.

We rented a lovely little cottage - Murray Cottage - in the village of Pokolbin (pronounced Puh kol bin with the emphasis on the 'kol'). Using the cottage as a base we carried out raids on wineries over a wide area, carrying back the spoils to drink in the evening.
  Easter in the Hunter Valley; three glorious days with Greg and Bev, two very good friends of long standing. Notice something missing? There isn't a bottle or glass in sight. Don't be fooled, this was taken on the morning of departure. We left a big stack of empties near the back door.  
  Anybody for a ride with Bev? Bear in mind there's no pillion seat - you sit on the mudguard, just until she opens the throttle. Then you sit on the road. The sign on the wall actually read "Brewery Tours" but these days the camera can be made to lie.  
  Back in Tamworth  

Do you remember how I finished Page 93? No, of course you don't. I boasted that I was not on the scrap heap yet in relation to finding employment. Well, I may have spoken too soon. As you'll be only too aware, the whole world is in recession and employment has become almost impossible to find as more and more workers are laid off. I found the following quotation, which came in by email, particularly poignant:


Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity and natural gas, health care expenses, as well as current
market conditions, the Light at the End of the Tunnel has been turned off. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Never mind, it was probably just a train coming the other way.

I probably told you that I had applied to do voluntary driving for the local Community Centre. First I had to get a doctor's certificate to say I am fit to drive the public. Well, the doctor has decided I am not. Not for six months, anyway. See what I mean? I can't even get an unpaid job.

As an alternative I became a volunteer carer which involves assisting elderly and disabled people to go into a town centre shopping mall once a fortnight in a community bus. I was amazed at the memory of one blind lady who directed me around Woolworths. My task was to steer her trolley to ensure we didn't collide with anybody. She would regularly stop, point to the shelves and ask for a specific product which I would find almost where she pointed. As a reward she insisted on buying us both a coffee and donuts. All the passengers on the bus were elderly, all ladies, all very pleasant, friendly and grateful too. It was a pleasure to help them.

I am also a guide at Tamworth's Power Station Museum; I just hope I don't get to show anybody knowledgeable around; not at first, anyway.

  Tamworth's Power Station Museum  
  Hands up all those that knew that Tamworth was the first town in the whole of Australia to have electric street lighting? It's true, Folks. Little old Tamworth. This happened way back in 1888. The 9th November 1888, to be precise.  
  Signs like this were displayed in New York when electric lighting was installed in 1882.  

Not a lot was understood about the efficient use of 'elec-trickery' in 1888 and the system used 240 volts D.C. (as opposed to A.C. which is universally used today). As a result, when the cable feeding the electric street lights was strung out along Peel Street they discovered that the available voltage reduced as the distance from the power station increased. Bulbs rated for 240 volts worked fine close to the generators but lower voltage bulbs were required to obtain the same light output from those further out.

Who invented the first incandescent electric light bulb? American Thomas Edison was working on this project at the same time as Englishman Joseph W. Swan. The two men worked independently and came up with very similar light bulbs. Swan demonstrated his invention a few days ahead of Edison, but Edison's design was more practical. Instead of wasting money on a court case to decide which man was to take the honours, the two men combined forces and manufactured bulbs under the brand name, "Ediswan". Generally, outside Britain, Edison is given the credit for inventing the bulb.

  One of two restored John Fowler under-type semi-portable steam engines at the Museum. They are the only two of their kind to be found in the world. This one's boiler is fired up about three times a year and drives the engine beneath it and another in the main museum building. See picture below.  

A working Belliss and Morcom compound high speed steam engine (in black) driving an A.C. alternator (painted green). A pair of engines similar to this were added in 1907 to supply the first electricity to houses and shops in Tamworth though those engines drove D.C. dynamos. The engines' rotational speed was so high that direct coupling to the generators was possible. It was run at night to light homes and also charged a bank of batteries which supplied current to the town during daylight. Remember, electricity was only used to power lights at that time - no other electric domestic appliance existed.


When electricity was first made available to houses and shops it was for lighting only. In 1907 there was no other use for it! Radios, televisions, air conditioning, electric irons, fridges, electric stoves, water heaters, washing machines, clothes driers, fans, pumps, microwaves, computers and so on, didn't exist.

Allow me to use my father's life to put electrical progress into perspective. He was born five years after Tamworth made electricity available for lighting to houses and shops. When he died in 2004, all the items on the list above - and many more - were commonplace. In his lifetime he had seen them all invented, marvelled at them, and in due course seen them all accepted and taken for granted.

Right: In 1882, D.C. current was fed beneath the streets of New York
through Edison copper conductors. The three conductors were kept
apart by jute rope twisted between them. A thinner rope was wound
around the whole bunch to prevent it touching the steel pipe.
Pitch was then injected to lock everything in place and
prevent the ingress of moisture.

In 1907 the dynamos were run at night to supply lighting current. During the day, when the demand for power was low, Tamworth was supplied from a bank of batteries situated near the dynamos. The batteries were recharged by the generators each night.

  Hey, I feel old! There, in the centre of this picture, is a Hotpoint washing machine. The same, or a very similar model, to the first washing machine I ever had, handed down from my mother. Now the machine is a museum piece.  
  Millions and Billions.  

Did you listen to the Federal Treasurer handing down the 2009 budget? Did you notice how the words 'million' and 'billion' were bandied around with abandon? Do you really appreciate the immense difference between a million and a billion? Listening to the radio a day after the budget, I heard this difference beautifully emphasised:

One million seconds is equal to 12 days.
One billion seconds is equal to 32 years.

It's true, check it for yourself. It gives a whole new meaning to the size of the budget deficit, doesn't it?
(The above uses the broadly accepted definition of a billion as one thousand million.)

  It was a Saturday and the Tour Director, having been imprisoned in an office all week, wanted to visit somewhere we hadn't been before and she picked out Quirindi (kwuh-rin-die).  
  Quirindi from the "Who'd A Thought It Lookout".  
  The 64 kilometre drive took us along the  Werris Creek Road which follows the railway through Duri, Currabubula, Werris Creek and Quipolly. Lovely names, aren't they? And what about the Who'd A Thought It Lookout itself? The name is said to have originated from an exclamation by a traveller in times gone by who, believing himself miles from anywhere, rounded a clump of trees to find a hostelry and the early beginnings of Quirindi.  
  Just in case you thought I was making it up, here's a photo of the notice board.  

Also at the lookout there was a pedestal declaring that the lookout had been officially opened on 31st May 1963 by His Excellency, the Governor of New South Wales, Lieutenant-General Sir Eric Woodward, K.C.M.G, K.C.V.O., C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O., K.St.J.

Sir Eric's title and decorations took up three full-width lines on the plaque.

The lookout was just the first stop on the Tour Director's list. Next was the Quirindi Heritage Museum and what a fabulous place that was. Just out of town, at the side of the road, we came across a miniature railway (not operating) and several large sheds. An elderly couple, Eric and Marjorie, seem to have inspired the museum and are still the driving force behind it. They proudly told us that the site was just grass ten years ago. Two years ago the size was doubled.

I've already shown you enough museum photos on this page so I will just show you one here. Well, two, but in the form of a roll-over image. You know the sort of thing, one image with the mouse cursor over the picture, another when you move it off. Hint: Don't click the mouse, it takes you to the top of the page.


Pointer off the picture: A Kenworth prime mover semi with a flatbed trailer.
Pointer on the picture: It's really a 7/16 full size model with a 2 litre diesel engine.


Now isn't that something? The man who built it borrowed the real thing for two days and measured everything. The scale was set by the size of the wheels he was able to obtain. The driver, of course, has his head and shoulders protruding through a hatch in the top of the cab. The story is that the truck used to be registered, making it legal to drive on the road. The man standing at the side of the truck is Eric. The exhaust stacks were the same height as I am (5' 8" in the old money.)

On leaving Quirindi we took a different route home along a minor road to Wallabadah where we visited the First Fleet Memorial which was a garden containing 'headstones' for every member of the first fleet and a wall which listed every name. There was a picnic area with shade sails over it which had been cleverly designed. The next page starts with a picture of it. From Wallabadah we took the New England Highway back home.