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Page 190




Goulburn and crazy weather

We received a wonderfully warm welcome from Peter and Karen who run the Governor's Hill Carapark in Goulburn; they are such nice people. We had stayed in their park from 19th January to 26th March this year (2014) and enjoyed it so much that we returned. Remember the garden railway I 'worked' on when we were here previously? Karen and Peter had kept all the trains operational and added some rolling stock plus some seasonal Christmas lights. It looked spectacular in the dark.

The Goulburn weather played up in a similar manner to that in Temora. The wind could suddenly rise from almost dead calm to a raging, swirling mini-tornado and then, within minutes, settle back to calm - a calm you couldn't trust. This matters to caravanners in particular because roll-out awnings can quickly be destroyed, even if tied down with guy ropes; the wind exerts a lot of force if it lifts one side and gets under the sail-like vinyl sheet. As well as providing shade an awning also shelters folding chairs, tables, etc. from rain. The first night Peter warned me about the wind but as it was really calm I decided to leave the awning deployed. Wrong decision! In the early hours we were awoken by the caravan shaking and expensive noises coming from the violently flapping awning. It's not my favourite way of waking up, to go from sound asleep in a cosy bed to outside in the dark, wind and rain, doing battle with the awning, all in the space of 60 seconds.

All I could do initially was cling on and use my excessive weight to hold everything down. Each time the wind dropped a little I made some progress until eventually the awning was rolled in and stowed safely. The problem is, dare we leave the awning out when we're not at home? I think the answer is No.

One night we were awoken by the most violent thunderstorm I've ever experienced. There had been rumbling noises in the distance for most of the evening, then suddenly it was upon us. There was scarcely a moment when the sky wasn't flickering with lightning and often a brilliant flash illuminated the whole area accompanied almost immediately by a deafening crash. It sounded like the world was being torn apart and everything shook. All this was accompanied by torrential rain which sounded like it had hail mixed in with it. It certainly made a great job of cleaning the skylights! Thunderstorms normally pass over and recede into the distance but this one lingered over us for what seemed like an eternity, sleep being impossible.

Hello Leigh and Suzanne

One evening Peter, the Park Manager, told us that he'd had a phone enquiry as to whether we were still in the Governor's Hill Carapark. The enquiry was from somebody interested in coming to visit us. Having said that, the rotten devil would say no more. In the ensuing days the Tour Director wracked her brains to try and work out who it could be. Sly questions to try and extract a clue from Peter were met with laughter.

Then, one morning, a familiar 5th wheeler* drove into the park and settled right next to us. It was Leigh and Suzanne Curtis from Canberra; we met them at Bell Park in Queensland. It was fabulous to see them again.

Suzanne and Leigh

I didn't take any photos while Suzanne and Leigh were in Goulburn; these are from my files.

Leigh and Suzanne stayed two nights; three days after they left the Tour Director was still recovering so we must have had a really good time. On Leigh and Suzanne's second night we were all invited to have happy hour with Pete and Karen in their home. I can't remember what we drank overall, nor how much, but wow! . . . Leigh and Suzanne, maybe it was as well you didn't stay longer.

*A 5th wheeler is the name given to a caravan which is supported by two axles mounted well to the rear. The front is shaped like a gooseneck and rests on a turntable mounted on the bed of a utility vehicle (pickup truck), usually directly above the towing vehicle's rear axle. The advantage is greater stability when towing, no requirement for safety chains, a breakaway switch or stabiliser bars. The name comes from counting the four wheels on the ground and the turntable as a 5th wheel. The principle goes back at least 100 years to when horse-drawn wagons had the front axle assembly mounted on a 5th wheel so the front axle would follow the horse(s) when turning.

It's the 10th anniversary of the day we became Grey Nomads

Yes, we've now lived the nomad lifestyle for exactly ten years since leaving Perth on 4th December 2004. How long will we keep going? That depends on health and wealth but, fingers crossed, we have a few years left in us.

We decided to celebrate the anniversary by taking a drive out to a pretty little country town called Taralga just 45 km from our base in Goulburn. There we toured around and saw many of the town's attractions such as the eighty-year-old Christ The King Catholic Church ...

Church Porch

The twisted brick pillars supporting the porch at Christ The King church are quite unusual.


Church Interior

The church interior is stunningly beautiful.

In addition to all the historic buildings we saw some signs worthy of note.

Dog Sign

You can't find anything much more Australian than this sign.

One Way signs

Or can you? Even the Tour Director looks perplexed.

When we came to the town's cenotaph and we found the same contentious date for the end of the Great War that we've seen in many towns on our travels. When did Word War 1 end - was it 1918 or 1919? If I may quote from an Australian War Memorial website: This year 11 November marks the 97th anniversary of the Armistice which ended the First World War (1914–18).

Cenotaph

The Great War 1914 - 1919???
Is it not a historical fact that WWI ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918?

Pam wanted to buy a greetings card so we crossed the street to the general store and look who we found inside.

Coloured Hair

This Irish lass really didn't need any adornments. I think she'd be perfectly lovely without the psychedelic hair.
The studs draw attention away from those beautiful eyes which this geriatric thinks is a shame.

And then it was time for lunch in the Taralga Hotel, famed for its meals and in particular, the size of the servings. As the Tour Director and I accept that we have a few grams too many on-board, we are trying to keep the calorie intake down. I ordered salmon and salad and really struggled to finish it. Pam had salmon and veggies which defeated her - each salmon helping was large enough to feed three.

Lunch in the Taralga Hotel

The Tour Director and Driver relaxing after a busy morning.

In the afternoon we left the bitumen for a hike along some pretty hairy dirt roads through the Swallow Tail Pass along a fire trail high above the Tarlo River. Surprisingly this was at the Tour Director's suggestion; she usually hates driving on what she calls goat tracks. Perhaps she'd forgotten her dread but she soon remembered - the shear drops were all on her side of the car. The water dips didn't thrill her either, the depth being unknown. She liked the suggestion that she walk in front even less.

Eventually the dirt road gave way to bitumen and we ended up in Marulan on the Hume Highway which took us straight home.

A Fun Day at the Water Pumping Station

The Tour Director asked I'd like to go to Goulburn's historical steam-powered pumping station where there was a Steampunk and Victoriana Fair one Sunday. Need she have asked? Big steam engines running, it was a no brainer. As it turned out the steam engines only served to make a really good day perfect.

Dancers

This was the sight that greeted us as we descended from the high-level 4 x 4 parking area.
(Everyone else had to park at the gate and walk 500 metres.)

Probably more than 50% of the people at the fair were attired in Victorian period costumes and some were dressed in any old costumes that took their fancy. One chap had a very elaborate false arm.

False arm

What a very elaborate arm. In the picture below the same bloke is officiating in a Parasol Duelling contest,
the rules of which were a total mystery to me (and apparently to him).

Parasol Duellers

Contestants in The Ancient and Honourable Art of Parasol Duelling doubled over with laughter.
The referee was no better.

Top hatted dancer

The dancers looked very smart and - as far as we could tell - were very talented.

Everyone was invited, nay urged, to join in. And many did.

Mass dance

At this point things started to get a little out of control.

All the time this was going on outside the pumping house, others were sweating away to keep the steam up to the engines.

Boiler man

Hot work on a hot day. The boiler was wood fired and supplied steam to two engines.

Exhaust steam

When the engines had finished with the steam it was exhausted through underground pipes and vented to the air.

Steam Engine Flywheel

Inside the engine house this flywheel seems to be spinning frantically. In fact, it wasn't rotating fast.
A too-slow shutter speed on the camera caused this optical illusion. Poor photography.

Do you know Pru Goward? No, not in the biblical sense, I mean have you heard of her? She's the N.S.W. Minister for Planning and the Minister for Women. She is a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly representing Goulburn for the Liberal Party since 2007. She has previously served as Australian Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Commissioner Responsible for Age Discrimination with the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. She was the Minister for Family and Community Services in the O'Farrell government between 2011 and 2014.

What does Pru Goward have to do with our day at the Steampunk and Victoriana Fair? Well, as the local member she popped in to judge the costumes contest along with actor, John Howard.

Pru Goward

Ladies and Gents, Prudence Jane Goward. Despite appearances, I don't think she was asleep ... but she did seem to be having a bad hair day. Sorry Pru, we admire your work.

I really shouldn't write this but it was so funny ...

A bus arrived with a group of intellectually impaired people and their carers. They wandered around seeing the sights. A carer, pushing a wheelchair with one hand and dragging along a handicapped man with the other, was concentrating on avoiding hitting people with the wheelchair. She was perhaps wondering why the man she was pulling was walking so slowly. Everyone else could see the reason - his trousers had fallen down around his ankles so he could only shuffle with very short steps. Very soon only the carer was unaware of the situation. She even turned to tell him to hurry up without immediately noticing his predicament, poor bloke. Later on, some of the carers were dancing with their charges. That was really nice to see.

The afternoon wound up with some Tea Duelling in which the two contestants sat and faced each other across a small table upon which there were two hot cups of tea. The rules were then explained to the contestants (and the audience). Both contestants would pick up a biscuit from the table, dangle it with the fingertips above the tea and then, on command, lower it into the hot liquid. The judges and the crowd then counted loudly to five, after which the contestants withdrew the biscuits and rotated them into the vertical, the fingers now gripping the bottom of the biscuit. After a minute of abuse by the judges who tried to make the contestants shake - the poor old bloke was shaking before anything started - then the soft, wet biscuits were rotated to the position shown in the picture below.

Tea Duelling

As can be seen, the lady's biscuit is already bending, but if neither breaks, the biscuits are rotated laterally so they are flat above the table. There are some very technical names for the result of a biscuit breaking; terms like splash or splodge or splat, depending on where the soggy half lands.

Who wins? Presumably the one with the last biscuit to disintegrate, but ... who knows? There is a Tea Duelling Association of Australia and this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40af8FMTf18 might help you to understand the rules ... but probably not. The large lady with a voice like a rusty nail is the selfsame judge who presided over the duel we witnessed. And she was just as loud.

A visit to the robertson cheese factory.

The Cheese Factory opened in Robertson in the year 1936. As a cheese-making enterprise it ceased trading in 1989, a quarter of a century ago. The building now houses an assortment of small touristy shops, a restaurant and ... a cheese shop. The name, The Old Cheese Factory, still adorns the end wall of what more closely resembles a long, dilapidated barn rather than a row of shops. The shops probably profit by the deception of the name; we went there expecting to watch cheese being made and to have the opportunity to try and buy. Had we know what was actually there, well, we wouldn't have gone. It seems others have been similarly fooled and some have become angry.

The cheese shop was actually good, though a bit expensive. The range of cheeses on offer was better than you'd find in a supermarket and we were able to taste before buying. The lady who served us had had a lot of her stock ruined by a recent prolonged power outage so we forgave the absence of some cheeses we particularly wanted.

It was raining when we left - it seems to do little else - but the countryside has greened up beautifully.

A day out to Exeter and several other towns - plus two look-outs.

The Tour Guide excelled herself! She planned a drive out to a place called Sutton Forest along the Hume Highway (110 km/hr) and then back on country roads visiting several towns and two look-outs.

Trip Map

Starting from Governor's Hill (lower left) we visited all the towns marked with red circles
and two look-outs marked in green.

We lingered for a while in Exeter, a lovely little town with a historical railway station with a signal box. Pam thought this would be a treat for me but everything was locked up and deserted.

Exeter Railway Station

Exeter Railway Station, N.S.W. Clean, neat, picturesque even, but lifeless.
It is still, however, an operating station.

To compensate, right across the road was Exeter General Store cum café cum bookshop cum Post Office cum delicatessen cum you name it. As it was lunch time we went in and found most of the population inside.

Exeter General Store

As you can see, the ground was dry when we went into the store. Not so when we left.

So we left Exeter in the rain which persisted on and off all afternoon. It was pretty miserable when we drove through Bundanoon so we didn't stop but continued to Tallong where we succeeded in locating Badgerys Lookout. It was high on a mountain overlooking the Shoalhaven Gorge. I knew it was a sight worth seeing from photos on the 'net, but mostly we saw mist and rain. Disappointed, we retraced our steps down the mountain where we saw ...

Fallow Deer

There were many Fallow Deer in the paddock; one was white, others were growing horns.

Fallow Deer are the most common of the deer species found in Australia. They were introduced and released with a view to hunting them, however the conditions suited them so well that they multiplied until they became a pest, damaging the environment. But it appears they are protected by law.

We drove back into Tallong and enquired where Longpoint Lookout was to be found as our GPS was messing us about. We were told to forget using a GPS in Tallong as the map programmed into it is full of errors in and around this little village. The directions were quite simple: turn left and then left again just before the railway bridge. We did and followed that road to the lookout. The view was much the same as the one from Badgerys though the rain had stopped and a photo of sorts was possible. However, we returned a few days later in perfect conditions and took the photo below from Badgerys Look-out.

View from Badgerys Lookout

The Shoalhaven Gorge with the river of the same name meandering along 1,500 feet below.

Tallong village, population 715 in 2011, has an interesting history. It used to be called Barber's Creek after cattle farmer George Barber who extended his farm to 4,000 acres then fell off his horse and killed himself. In the early 20th century the village was renamed Tallong, an Aboriginal word meaning 'tongue' or 'spring of water'. This, in itself, is interesting; normally Aboriginal names are discarded in favour of the name of some governor or politician. Here the opposite occurred.

Convict labour was used to clear the grazing land and prepare a route for the Main South railway line to Goulburn. Tallong was selected as the location for a railway refuelling point, and the town's initial population consisted of convicts, woodcutters, railway workers and their families. The opening of the railway in 1869 brought shops, a school, hotels and a post office to the town. The text in italics is taken from Wikipedia.

When walking in an old cemetery have you ever ...

Haunted Cemetery

... felt a presence behind you? Glancing over your shoulder you see ... or do you? A chill runs down your spine, the hair on the back of your neck stands on end. Suddenly it's very cold. You pluck up all your courage and turn around to see ...

An Empty Cemetery

Nothing! Just an empty cemetery on a beautiful, sunny day. Your pulse starts to slow. But there had been something there! A woman in a red and black striped dress. What did she look like? You can't remember her face! Was she headless?

It's time to leave. Quickly. Now!

A Visit from Cindy and David Bell.

In the week before Christmas (2014) we received a phone call from a friend of long standing. Cindy Bell called to say she and husband David were coming all the way from Sydney to visit us.

I first met Cindy when we both worked for Tektronix which must have been back in the 1980s. Cindy was the Personal Assistant to the C.E.O. in the company's head office in Sydney. I was a Service Technician in Perth, over 4,000 road kilometres to the west, so our paths seldom crossed.

I must have retired at about the same time as Cindy and we had discovered that she and David were also travelling with a caravan. We kept in touch after that but, not surprisingly, we were always in different places, Australia being a largish place. One day in May 2006 we had received a text message from Cindy; her message read:
Where are you and where are you going next?
On our way to 1770, we replied.
So are we, said Cindy, See you there.
How about that?

It was fabulous to see them, both then and again now. We all went to the Paragon Café in Goulburn for lunch. The Paragon certainly lived up to its name and we had an excellent (and huge) lunch. We look forward to next time, Cindy and David.

If anybody is wondering about the reference to 1770, it's the name of a little coastal village in Queensland about six kilometres north of Agnes Water. It was built on the site of the second landing by Captain James Cook and the crew of H.M. Bark Endeavour in May 1770.

Mother Christmas at Governor's Hill

'Twas still eight days before Christmas when we spotted Karen, the park's joint manager, dressed in a bright red jacket and hat with the usual fur trimmings, wheeling a laundry basket containing gifts ...

Karen in a Fether Christmas outfit

Lovely Karen distributing Christmas gifts to the Carapark permanent residents.

Karen was distributing Christmas gifts to the permanent residents in the park. We've never heard of a caravan park manager who cares enough about their permanent residents to do this and we've stayed in well over two hundred parks around Australia. Not only had Peter and Karen bought gifts for the permanent residents, they have invited the Tour Director and I to share Christmas lunch with them and their family in their home. They are truly lovely people.

They Came, They stayed two wonderful days, they left.

This time it was Greg and Bev Wetzler from Sydney with their friend Judy from London. You perhaps remember Greg and Bev; Greg is the one who answers the phone with, Whadya want, ya Pommy Bastard?. This, from an Australian, tells you that we have been good friends for a long time - 32 years in fact. Bev is his schoolteacher wife and Judy is also a teacher. Of the five of us, Greg is the only one who was born in Australia. However, we never hold that against him.

When Bev learned of the recent siege in the Lindt Café in Martin Place, Sydney, she was more horrified than most people. Just fourteen days earlier she had taken a group of children into the café for a hot chocolate following a school outing. 'What if' scenarios have haunted her since.

For two glorious days we ate, drank, visited lots of lovely places then drank some more. The Australian wine industry owes us a debt of gratitude. Judy loved Australia so we took her up to Badgerys Lookout, (the view is photographed above). We had only just re-boarded our Pajero and set off when Greg suddenly yelled Stop! Stop! Stop! I was driving so I stopped as quickly as possible though I could see nothing amiss. Everybody out, Greg said. I still could see no reason for all this and all I could think of was that Greg had farted!

That was not the reason, however. Greg had spotted an echidna snuffling along in the bush. Surprisingly, Greg had achieved the grand old age of sixty without ever seeing an echidna. This mammal resembles a hedgehog in size and appearance though they are not related. The echidna belongs to a family called 'monotremes' of which there are five members, four being varieties of echidna and the fifth is the duck billed platypus. The monotremes are peculiar in that they don't give birth to their young like marsupials (kangaroos) or placental mammals (us). They are the only Australian mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young. The mother pops the egg - just the one - into her pouch where she incubates it for about ten days. The baby, or puggle, is born blind and hairless. Hey, I'm becoming a puggle myself.

Echidna

Here is an echidna we met on Phillip Island. It was very shy and difficult to photograph,
rolling into a ball at the slightest movement.

Echidna

I was squatting to take pictures and under my bum must have seemed like a good, shady hideaway.
So the echidna decided it would crawl in there. I decided it would not. Very definitely not!

Unfortunately most of the echidnas we see on our travels are dead on the road though sometimes we see them crossing ahead of us.

Greg, Bev and Jude

Left to right: Bev, Judy and Greg. Far left: The Baileys bottle and the Tour Director's hand.
Hey, remember one of those glasses is mine, Bev.

Vale Alice

Our faithful GPS has been mortally injured ... by me. Her new battery, having worked beautifully ever since installation, was completely dead one morning. Attempting diagnosis, I broke off a tiny pin on a circuit board, far too small for me to repair. I probably would have attempted it many years ago but now the eyes are dim and the hands tremble. Did somebody say alcohol?

After the Christmas holiday, Alice's remains will be sent to hospital, perhaps to become an organ donor. A replacement will become Alice 3rd. Fond fairwell Alice 2nd, you served us well for three and a half years.

On that sad note we'll move on to Page 191.



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