Hamish and Annie Say:

Remain close to the Great Spirit.
Look after the well being of mind and body.

     

      Pam's Journal For February 2008

  Friday 1st February 2008.
Today we said our goodbyes to Ken and Fay. We will miss them. Then we noticed Helen and Ron were leaving so we wandered over to say goodbye, only to be told Betty and Barry were also leaving. These are friends we made before the Festival began. When that was all done we returned to the caravan to finish breakfast. We didn't do much else other than read and play computers.
Saturday February 2nd 2008.
I wanted to get some washing done before it rained so I was out early, getting it done. We then went shopping for groceries; we had to stock up as we don't know what shops we will find in the next two towns. From what we have been told we shouldn't expect too much. Once back at the caravan I packed everything away and vacuum packed the meat. Marvellous machine. Then I ironed everything I had washed and before I knew it, it was time for Happy Hour.
Sunday February 3rd 2008.
I did some more washing and ironing and then cleaned the caravan. Pete Mate did the outside. We then packed everything away, for tomorrow we leave Tamworth for pastures new.
Monday February 4th 2008.
We were up early and ready to leave the caravan park by 8:00 a.m. Pete Mate took the caravan to have some repairs done and I walked into town to try and sort out the mail and have a browse through the shops. I really didn't want to sit in a hot car for hours whilst the repairs were done. As it turned out we couldn't leave Tamworth today as the silicon on one of the repairs has to have time to 'cure' before we travelled. The mail turned up at lunchtime, one week three days for an Express Bag!!! The receptionist here reckons that is pretty good as most mail takes much longer. Once we were set up again in the caravan park we did our usual things, read, played computers and knitted.
Tuesday February 5th 2008.

We were up and not ready early this morning - two mornings in a row is too much to expect. We were, however, on the road by 10:00 a.m. and had a good run through to Gilgandra. On arrival at the caravan park we were greeted warmly by the managers and shown where we could set up camp. We had just set up when a huge storm came in. Thunder, lightning, wind and rain; the works. Peter got trapped in the Gents and had to wait for a break in the rain to run back to the 'van. He still got very wet. It didn't last too long so we walked into town to see what the pub was like. It was very nice with very friendly people. In fact Gilgandra is a very friendly town.
Wednesday February 6th 2008.

I went for a walk at 7:00 a.m. to buy bread and milk. Usually the bakery opens long before we are up but not in this town. I eventually found a café/takeaway shop that had milk for sale but not bread. After I smiled sweetly, the man sold me a loaf. Once back at the caravan, and breakfast out of the way, we got ourselves ready for the next leg of our journey. We again had a good run through to Cobar but didn't receive a warm welcome here. She was efficient but you couldn't say friendly. We set up camp and had a rest as we are to explore the town tomorrow. People in the park seem friendly enough and apart from very basic amenities, it is a pleasant place. There are four showers in the Ladies. One has a broken tap and another has a broken soap dish with a jagged edge, leaving two useable. Both those were pretty dirty as a mop hasn't been provided to clean up after yourself. Not the best park we have ever stayed in.
Thursday February 7th 2008.

Some days I wake up and feel 55 years old, other days I wake up and feel 35 years old. Today I woke up feeling very, very old. Two days on the road doesn't really agree with me. I guess I should be grateful that I wake up at all! We went to the much recommended museum and information centre. It was okay but nothing exceptional; I guess we have been to so many museums that we are looking for something other than the old washing tub or egg beater. The mining section was quite good and they did have some funny stories about people that had lived here. Norman Ferson lived to be 109 . . .
 
     
 

Norman Ferson  -  1800-1909.  In 1903 aged pensions were reviewed. Norman Ferson was among those required to appear before local magistrates and produce evidence of birth. Examination proceeded as follows:-

 
 


Bench:   What is your name?
Ferson:  Norman Ferson.
Bench:   What age are you?
Ferson:  103 years old.
Bench:   Where were you born?
Ferson:  Quebec, Canada.
Bench:   Married or single?
Ferson:  Married.
Bench:   Any children?
Ferson:  Yes.
Bench:    How many?
Ferson:  Three.
Bench:   Where are they?
Ferson:  Dead.
Bench:   What did they die of?
Ferson:  Old age.


Pension was granted. His birth certificate revealed he was born in Quebec in April 1800. Norman, known as "Old Norman", was shipwrecked off the north Australian coast and came ashore near Normanton in the Gulf of Carpentaria. He lived in that area with the Aborigines for 17 years.

Arriving in Cobar he supplemented his pension by chopping stove wood for housewives. He was a tall erect man, wore no boots and raised his knees high as he walked. His clothes were gifts of benevolent humourists. A claw hammer morning coat exposed his grey flannel shirt and dickey front. Trousers were rolled up to the knee. His greasy, smoky grey locks protruded through the cracked crown of his straw boater.

Fond of reading, he cherished books. When he saw a book that he had lent to a wheelwright in Dierke's blacksmiths shop, put up for auction, he went to Dierke. The wheelwright saw him coming and fled out the back of the shop. As he climbed the back fence Norman hit him on the head with the spoke of a wheel. The wheelwright died six months later from injuries received. Norman was charged with assault and sentenced to three years. He said he just "gave him a tap on the napper with the spoke of a wheel". He was then 103 years.

He served his time in Cobar, dining at the gaol and during the day, sitting on a form on the boardwalk of the Commercial Hotel.

Ward and Lebb's Store, Linsley Street, was burnt down in April, 1909, and the fire assessor gave Norman a case of pickles from the salvage. The case would have weighed about 38 kg. As Norman, with the case on his shoulder, stepped on to the footpath, he slipped and broke his hip. He was put in hospital, where he wanted his leg removed, for he knew the chance of healing was slight. His request was not granted and he died in hospital in September, 1909.

 
 
Both the photo and the text are reproduced from the Cobar Information Centre and Museum.
 
     
  Thursday February 7th 2008 (continued)  
 

After a very nice lunch at one of the coffee shops in town we went out to a mine lookout. Now that was interesting, watching a working gold mine. We saw vehicles moving in and out of the mine and it looked quite hairy. I decided that it would not be a job for me.

After the lookout we visited the pub where we met a couple of friendly people. Heading back to camp we had a nap before getting ready to move on tomorrow.
Friday February 8th 2008.
We were up early and on the road by 8:30 a.m. as we have a long way to go today. For most of the journey the road was long and straight without much traffic. The landscape was very flat and the earth had the deep reddish colour that is 'so Australian', to coin a popular phrase. I just love to look at the harsh isolation of the outback, it makes me wish I could paint. We saw plenty of feral goats and sheep grazing on what seemed dirt but I am sure there was some sort of grass. We, of course, spied the beautiful wedge tail eagles high in the sky.

We stopped off at a roadhouse for morning tea and to stretch our legs. What a dump! It was for sale at $303,000 and it would need at least that spending on it to clean it up. So, no, we didn't buy it.

Eventually, at around 4:00 p.m. we trundled into Broken Hill and found the caravan park. They were friendly and the park is nice enough. The important things are in order, i.e. toilet and showers are clean and well maintained.

We discovered that during our journey we had lost one of the vent covers from the fridge, so once we had set up camp Pete Mate dashed off to the local Jayco agent to buy a new one. We do not know how the vent came off as one of the checks Pete Mate does before we set off is to check that they are secure. He managed to buy one for an exorbitant price and has been advised by the Jayco person to screw it on this time - they are designed to clip on. Mmmm, why didn't they screw it on in the first place?
(Answer: So they will fall off then they can charge an exorbitant price for a replacement. Ed.)

Once all the chores were out of the way it was time for Happy Hour . . . or was it? We had to turn our clocks back half an hour as Broken Hill operates on South Australian time even though it is in New South Wales. Confusing as the ABC programmes come from Sydney and they are on New South Wales time. We will probably get used to it by the end of the week and then it all changes because we will be in Victoria for a few days. Then it will change again as we cross into South Australia. Confused? So are we.
Saturday February 9th 2008.
The caravan was full of dust; we think we collected it along our journey because of the missing vent. It was major clean up time, plus I did a heap of washing. After lunch we went to do some shopping and visit the information centre. I cannot believe people say there is nothing to do here, there is so much to do we may have to stay longer than a week.
Sunday February 10th 2008.
We packed a picnic lunch and managed to leave the caravan by a reasonable time. We first went to The Conservation Centre as they had machinery on display. The tourist information guide gave conflicting times for the opening hours. Luckily we went as it was closing at midday. I sat in the car and did crosswords whilst Pete Mate enjoyed himself. Why, oh why, is ugly old machinery so interesting to look at? I don't know. The Blue Bank is now in debt, big time. Roll on a pink day.

We then went to a lookout which is also a disused mine on a small hill. It was very interesting having a look around, it was well documented by the placards dotted about the site. After we had finished looking we had our lunch. The next lookout we intended to visit is a 'must do' place which we would have done if the gate had not been padlocked! The lookout has a café and it would appear that if the café is closed, so too is the lookout. Being the experienced tour guide that I am I quickly slotted something else in its place.

The GeoCentre is a mineral museum which houses the famous Silver Tree, pictured here. We only know it is famous because we read the tourist information - we'd never heard of it before.

The tree, sixty eight centimetres high and made entirely of silver, weighs 8.5 kg. It is exquisite and well worth a visit if in Broken Hill (though photography isn't helped by its glass enclosure). The whole museum was interesting with so many beautiful specimens on display. We spent quite a bit of time in there reading and listening to everything, plus Pete Mate was taking photos.

There was an interesting story about Saint Barbara, the Patron Saint of Miners, as well as being the patron saint of many other professions. The story follows . . .


Once upon a time in the third century AD, a beautiful maiden named Barbara had a father Dioscurus, who imprisoned her in a tower because she wouldn’t immediately agree to marry a wealthy suitor whom he had chosen.

After she was imprisoned, she had builders put three windows in the tower against her father’s wishes. To her the windows represented the Holy Trinity, for Barbara was secretly a Christian.

Unfortunately for Barbara, her father was a heathen and when she finally told him she was a Christian and could not marry a heathen suitor, Dioscurus turned her over to the Roman forces who tortured her and condemned her to death by the hand of Dioscurus, her father.

Dioscurus gladly beheaded his own daughter. However, as he did so he was struck by lightning and died instantly.

The flash of lightning and the crash of thunder avenged Barbara’s death and she became the patron saint of armed forces, explosive workers, people in thunderstorms, foundry workers and miners. As Barbara was imprisoned and because she had windows installed in her tower, she is also the Patron Saint of prisoners, architects and carpenters.

Immigrants from many places brought her protection with them to Broken Hill and so she came here by many nationalities.

 
     
  Monday 11th February 2008.
Lay day. I didn’t feel well, another blasted cold.

Tuesday 12th February 2008.
We drove out to a mine for Peter to do a tour. What we didn't know was we had to go 13 kms. down a dirt road so poor old Billy is covered in red dust. Peter enjoyed his tour and I enjoyed not going on it. I chatted to the owner and one or two other people. The pink credits are accumulating big time.

Once we left the mine we went into the town of Silverton . . . .
 
     
   
  Silverton, a ghost town, population now 45 to 50.  
     
  The town became famous when Mad Max 2 was filmed there. We saw a replica of the car outside the pub. Actually a lot of movies were filmed there, one being A Town Like Alice, a favourite of mine. The town itself has very few buildings left but even so it is a fascinating place. The landscape looks so desolate you could even film a moon landing here and people would believe it was the real thing.  
     
   
  The Catholic Church at Silverton.  
     
 

We visited the pub twice, not because we wanted to but we had to see the owner and give him a message from a mutual friend. That's our excuse and we're sticking to it. Plus it was the only place you could buy lunch. We spent a bit of time going through the museum in the town, which was interesting, but they had so much stuff it over-faced you. From there we went to a lookout and then the reservoir.

The area surrounding the reservoir is so dry and barren it amazed us to see so much water in the middle of nowhere. We saw a strange sight; a group of people dressed in business clothes were walking across the dam wall. Then when we got to the pub, there were some more 'suits' drinking - the State Minister for Tourism and Housing and his entourage. What were they checking out - the beer?

After that we decided we had had a full and interesting day so we headed home and on our arrival found a Happy Hour in progress so we dragged our chairs over and filled our glasses and a good time was had by all.
Wednesday 13th February 2008.
Today was supposed to be a mixture of pink and blue. We started off at the Railway Museum but alas it was closed. We walked around the perimeter of the property trying to find a way in. Yes, we were keen. Well . . . one of us was. It was all locked up tight. So off we went to the Line of Lode Lookout and Miners Memorial - the place with the locked gate that we'd tried to visit earlier.

It was pretty good, the memorial was very sad but the views from the lookout were excellent. We now travelled into south Broken Hill which is 'very historical' according to the tourist book, they also have a 1950's milk bar and museum. I would have described the place as scruffy and run down and that goes for the milk bar as well. The coffee was good, or so I am told by Mr Coffee Expert. After all this excitement we did some shopping and then went home.
Thursday 14th February 2008.
Today we walked the town. We did the self-guided walking tour which was very interesting. Along the way Pete Mate managed to slot in some blue time, looking at old mining equipment in a park and as we passed the Railway Museum we saw it was open, so in we went. The most interesting display for me was the Immigrant section; it was fascinating reading about how and where the people of Broken Hill originated.

We called in at one of the many art galleries here which had the added attraction of also being a chocolate factory. Big disappointment; it was just a shop with no one in attendance, just a sign promising they would be back in 45 minutes. But 45 minutes from when? The art work was pretty good.

Back to the walk; we saw a lot of really fine old buildings and some not so fine. The War Memorial was pretty grand, with a huge section dedicated to the Vietnam War. Usually that is just tacked on the end somewhere, poor beggars.

Broken Hill produced a lot of illustrious characters, some famous. To name three of the more famous ones:-

 
 

Dame Mary Gilmore was the first woman to join the Australian Workers Union. Her image appears on the 1993 $10 note.

Lieutenant Vivian Bullwinkel was the sole survivor of the Japanese massacre of nurses on Bangka Island during WWII.

June Bronhill, the world famous opera singer.

 
  Broken Hill also produced Selena Hearn McHugh, the first lady Blacksmith of Broken Hill and Tess Alfonzi, the gun toting boss of the Triple Chance Mine. Now if you had been paying attention you will note that I haven't mentioned any men; there were a few of those but as it was 'supposed' to be a pink day I have left them out.

I read an interesting item in the museum, and again on a placard whilst on our walk, that Labour Day which we celebrate in Australia (in W.A. it is in March) originated from the 'Eight Hour March'. This march was a protest by the miners who wanted to work an eight hour day, play eight hours and sleep eight hours. Why I find it so interesting is that when we arrived in Australia 26 years ago and asked, "What is Labour Day?", no one could tell us. Over the years I have heard different versions.

The tour ended in the Black Lion Hotel where all good tours end. It was then home to a very hot caravan for a rest before happy hour.
Friday 15th February 2008.
Today we had planned to do a walk to look at some sculptures and to visit a mine museum that was also a dolly and teddy museum. Well, we didn't go because I cannot shake this cold off and today I felt worse. So Peter played computers and I read and knitted.
Saturday 16th February 2008.
Get ready day. Usual stuff - packing away, cleaning, washing, ironing and some shopping.
Sunday 17th February 2008.
We left Broken Hill quite early for us - around 8:30 a.m. We would like to revisit Broken Hill some day as we both enjoyed it and we still haven't seen the dolly and teddy museum! Our trip took around four hours and was uneventful. We arrived at Mildura in time for lunch with good friends Phil and Dawn who live just outside the town. We then went to the caravan park and set up camp before returning to Phil and Dawn's for dinner. It was a beautiful dinner, we drank good wine and most importantly enjoyed the company of two very nice people.

The caravan park is a little dusty as the water restrictions here do not allow any watering. Apart from that it seems okay, the amenities are clean and well maintained with soap provided. The staff are friendly enough.
Monday 18th February 2008.
We didn't move ourselves until the afternoon when we visited the information centre. It was a very good centre and the staff were very helpful. On leaving there we rushed off to Wentworth to look at where the Murray and the Darling Rivers meet. We climbed a lookout and were dismayed at all the sludge that was about indicating very little flow in the rivers. From there we walked a short walk through some bush to view the Number 10 Lock. We couldn't see much from the viewing point so we retreated back to the car and drove around to it. It was interesting but I found watching the pelicans have a good feed more so. We then went home for some dinner. In the evening Dawn and Phil came over.
Tuesday 19th February 2008.
Dawn and Phil collected us at lunchtime and we went to a very nice tavern for lunch. They then took us on a tour of the area - we seemed to go everywhere. We saw a huge tractor thing called Big Lizzie and Lindemans Winery which is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. We visited so many places that it was a very full and enjoyable afternoon. We went to Phil and Dawn's local club for a drink before they took us home to their place for another beautiful dinner. After dinner Phil drove us around the vineyards in the dark, in search of a mechanical grape picker working in a vineyard. We drove around for a while but in the end Phil gave up as he couldn't find one working close to the road. We had a really lovely but tiring day so I think tomorrow might just be a lay day.
Wednesday 20th February 2008.
Yep, today was a lay day.
Thursday 21st February 2008.
We went for a walk along the river in the morning. It was a pleasant walk but dusty. We saw a man fishing and he actually caught one! Heaps of times we have watched people fishing but never seen one caught before. After lunch we went to a museum in town. It was an Aladdin's cave of memorabilia directly connected to Mildura. It was privately owned and the lady showed us through. I enjoyed it more than Pete Mate as she had over a 1,000 dolls. I guess that counts as a pink credit. Later in the day Dawn and Phil came over for Happy Hour and then we all went to their club for dinner. It was a very pleasant evening.
Friday 22nd February 2008.
We were up early to pack everything away, ready to leave tomorrow. We were then collected by Dawn and Phil and driven out to their friends' houseboat. What a day! We had a wonderful time, John took us along the river at a sedate pace whilst Dawn took over Mel's kitchen and prepared heaps of yummy food. We seemed to drink and eat from the moment we got on the boat until we got off. Phil's sister and her husband joined us in the evening for dinner. It was an excellent day.
 
     
   
  Skipper John and First Mate Phil taking us up the Murray River  
     
 

Saturday 23rd February 2008.
We set off fairly early and had a good run through to Renmark. We arrived around lunchtime but gained and extra half hour as we are now in yet a different time zone. We unpacked, set up camp, had lunch, a nana-nap and then our friends Gavin and Jo arrived to say hello. We had a drink together and then got ready to go over to their house for dinner. We met some other friends of theirs and had a really enjoyable evening. What laughs we had at the different stories told but alas I cannot retell them as there was a house rule we couldn't take them away from the table. It was a very enjoyable evening with good food and wine but most importantly, good company.
Sunday 24th February 2008.
It suddenly occurred to me last night that I hadn't driven Billy since we were in Cairns in September so I decided that I had better remedy that at once; you never know when my driving skills will be needed. Are you listening, Pete Mate? So off we went to Woolworths for some fruit and vegies with me driving. (We weren't allowed to bring fruit or vegetables into South Australia from Victoria due to the danger of transferring fruit fly and other nasty bugs). Pete Mate rode shotgun just in case he was needed. Well, it must be like riding a bike (if you can ride a bike in the first place) because I had no problems at all. With that little challenge out of the way I was ready for bigger things.

In the afternoon we were collected by Jo and Gavin in their boat. Yes, I went in a boat. Not a big liner or a ferry but a little pleasure type boat. A pleasure it was too; I had a really good time. We cruised up and down the river before stopping and disembarking for afternoon tea in the bush. Then it was home again, right to the door. Getting out of the boat in a dignified Mrs Bucket way was not possible, but at least I didn't end up in the water as she did in one of the Keeping up Appearances episodes.
Monday 25th February 2008.
Pete Mate wanted to catch up with his emails and web site but we were going for a walk later. Later never came and he seemed to stay in the one spot all day until Jo and Gavin came for Happy Hour. I did the cleaning and some washing, and then took Billy out for another run around to the shops. I was pretty sure I knew the way but asked for Alice to be programmed just in case. Well, I did know the way which was a good thing as Alice didn't talk to me until I got there to tell me I was there!

(Alice serves one master. Ed.)

I returned home the way I had come but Alice wanted to take me another way so there was a lot of "Off route - recalculating" and me laughing because she probably thought Pete Mate was driving as he does that to her all the time. Whilst in Woolworths I bumped into a couple we met in Tamworth, it's a small world indeed. In the evening Gavin and Joanne came over for Happy Hour. I set the table and chairs up on the river bank and it was beautiful, sitting there watching the sun go down. We had such a good time, Happy Hour lasted for hours.
Tuesday 26th February 2008.
We went for a walk into town in the morning. We called in at the information centre and found the young lady there very helpful. Before heading home we called in at the Renmark Hotel for coffees which were as every bit as good as Gloria Jean's.

In the afternoon we collected Joanne from home as she was to be our personal tour guide. First on her list was Rushton's Rose Garden, Australia's largest rose garden. It boasts 50,000 bushes with 4,000 varieties. Well, the poor old roses had been hit hard by the drought and were not at their best. The pathways were very dry and dusty. Jo and I walked amongst the roses whilst Pete Mate viewed a collection of vintage cars owned by the garden's proprietor and displayed in an area adjoining the coffee shop. Sorry, Pete Mate, this does not count as 'pink' time as you had the cars. Once Jo and I had seen enough roses we wandered back to the coffee shop where P.M. was still drooling over the cars. We all enjoyed a very nice coffee before we headed off to Olivewood House.

Olivewood House was built in 1889 for one of the Chaffey Brothers. (Chaffey is pronounced Chay-fee.) The Chaffey's were Canadian and had been invited by Arthur Deakin, a Victorian politician, to investigate the possibility of establishing an irrigation system in what is now known as Mildura. The South Australia Premier of those times, a man called Downer, also contracted them to work on the Renmark Irrigation Colony in Feb 1887. This made Renmark the first irrigation colony in Australia. The house was built in the Canadian log cabin style and is full of antiques and lots of early Renmark history. As you might guess from its name, the house had, in its day, a prosperous olive oil industry. Today it still has a lot of olive trees and they still make their own olive oil, though no longer on those premises. We viewed a lot of old photos of a major flood in 1956. There is a sign at the caravan park showing the 1956 flood level. The whole town was inundated.

It was now time to return our very kind tour guide to her home and for us to go and get ready for Happy Hour. For Happy Hour tonight we were joined by Jo and Gavin with two of their friends, Yvonne and Brian, whom we had met on Saturday. We had a lovely evening despite Pete Mate and I getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. So much for those flipping mosquito coils!
Wednesday 27th February 2008.
We walked into town to do a few errands and then we found ourselves at the Renmark Hotel drinking coffee yet again. In the evening we met Jo and Gavin for dinner at the Renmark Hotel. We are becoming regulars. It was a really lovely evening, the food was superb, the wine flowed and the company was excellent.

 
     
   
  We didn't drink all that wine, honestly. The waiter kept putting empties on our table.  
     
  Thursday 28th February 2008.
I need a lay day; all this enjoying myself is wearing me out. Joanne came over with some fresh peaches that Gavin had picked the day before. They were delicious. We said our goodbyes which is always hard when you have enjoyed people's company so much. I have got a little used to it now and always tell myself I will see them again soon. Mind over matter. I used this 'technique' when we were first in Australia as saying goodbye to family was a nightmare. Apart from going to the shops, I did very little else.
Friday 29th February 2008.
Yes, it's a Leap Year. We went to the McCormick Centre today to learn about how they are looking after the Murray River. Well that's what we thought we were going to learn but in fact all we learnt was how many committees they have formed to solve the water problem. Trouble is most committees seem to meet to talk about 'mission statements' and such like so at the end of the day nothing is done. The centre itself is used for educational purposes which is good, but the very thing we went to see - an interactive display which is computer generated - wasn't working. We were a little disappointed but that happens sometimes. We went on to a lookout which just gave views of vineyards and some morons had broken heaps of glass all over it. We decided this was enough excitement for one day and went to fill up with diesel and wine.