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Pokolbin to Canberra

...by way of the Convict Trail to Christmas

semi-overcast 27 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

Before leaving Pokolbin and the Hunter Valley, we visited the Audrey Wilkinson vineyard which offered some attractive views, then took a scenic route which took in the Great North Road. For much of the journey, we drove through national parks and forests, such lovely scenery and very relaxing. While travelling on the Great North Road, we were driving along what is known as the Convict Trail, as much of the original road was constructed by convict labour and many relics remain, such as culverts, retaining walls, graffiti and bridges as monuments to their labours.


We hadn't realised at first that ferries would be involved but we crossed the Hawkesbury River at Wiseman's Ferry and had a very good lunch at Wiseman's Ferry Inn. The town was named after a former convict, Solomon Wiseman, who received a land grant and established the ferry service which continues to be used.


The road then wound through the country to the extent that we had to recross the Hawkesbury, again by ferry, at Sackville. We then travelled across the top of the Blue Mountains National Park, ending up with an overnight stay at Bathurst. The scenery was, as far as we could see through the mist and rain!, very beautiful. The weather was such that there are no photos for this part of the trip!

The Hawkesbury River was named by Governor Phillip, in 1789, after the 1st Earl of Liverpool, Charles Jenkinson who, at the time, was the Baron of Hawkesbury in the Cotswolds.

The day we left Bathurst, we went to Mount Panorama and drove round the track. When we lived in Australia, we used to watch the Bathurst 1000 and were great fans of the late Peter Brock. Apart from driving through the pits and around the track, there were great views from the top of the mountain. We visited the National Motor Racing Museum before heading on to our next one night stop in Cowra. Inside the museum we were surprised to find a Mini which had won the Rhodesian Saloon Car Championships in 1969 (my first year of living in what was then Rhodesia).

Mateship was evidently established early in Australia's history as Bathurst was named, in 1815, by Governor Macquarie after the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies (don't those two portfolios seem appropriate bedfellows?!), Henry Bathurst, 3rd Earl Bathurst.


On the way to Cowra (the name derives from an Aboriginal word meaning 'eagle on the rocks - refreshingly original after the colonial administrators naming favours!), we saw a sign "The Town that Time Forgot" so we had to follow that and we found ourselves in an attractive little town, Carcoar, which had been bypassed and retains some lovely old buildings. Carcoar's name is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning either frog or kookaburra.

In case anyone wonders why we stopped at Cowra, this was due to my interest in World War II history. Cowra was the site of a prisoner of war camp and on 5 August 1944 over 1.000 Japanese prisoners staged a mass escape. 231 Japanese prisoners and four Australian soldiers were killed in the process. The remaining prisoners were rounded up quite quickly but the whole action left an indelible mark in the memories of Cowra folk. We visited the remains of the prisoner of war camp which was quite eerie and then drove down the hill to visit the most tangible sign of reconciliation, the Cowra Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre. The garden was beautiful and very peaceful and, as a bonus full of birds and skinks etc.


Feeling at peace with the world, we drove to the Bellevue Lookout which gave excellent views over the city. The day ended with a drive down to an area by the Lachlan River so that we could see the murals that have been painted on the bridge supports - very interesting.


Before leaving Cowra for Canberra, we had a look at the Peace Bell in Cowra. There are 23 Peace Bells throughout the world, all made from melted down coins donated by 106 countries. Cowra is the only centre to have a Peace Bell that is not a capital city.


On our way through to Canberra, we stopped for a coffee break in Boroowa, a very pleasant small town whose name is believed to have its origins in an Aboriginal word for the bustard, and travelled through some attractive farming country, near Murrumbateman, with some rather good looking merino sheep (I am not a Kiwi but they looked healthy!). Murrumbateman seems to have a variety of claims to the origin of the name, mainly from Aboriginal sources, but the one I like best is that a local wit insisted that the town's name came from a regular customer ordering rum from a Mr Bateman at the local pub and calling out "More rum, Bateman (thanks to Aussie Towns website for this gem).


In Canberra we stayed with our 'old' friend, Tilly and her Tenterfield Terrier, Tumbleweed, generally known as Tumble. Tumble was quite cautious at first but soon realised that both Judith and I were suckers! Even without moving from Tilly's home, we kept up with wildlife sightings, other than Tumble that is!

Canberra's name is generally believed to have its origins in an Aboriginal word for 'woman's breasts', relating to the two mountains Black Mountain and Mount Ainslie. I wonder what the pollies make of that?!


Posted by SteveJD 02:17 Archived in Australia

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Those mural paintings were brilliant, and fancy the mini being in a Rhodesian car rally, and of course I can’t leave Tumble out. He is just so gorgeous, looks like quite a character. I noticed Jet set still on the dashboard, where was his friend.

by Lorraine Wilson

The Possums..here in NZ they are considered as vermin and are caught in their numbers for their pelts. Decimate whole forest tops.
Over in Australia they are protected. We had an abundance of them in Warrandyte, Victoria. Many of whom Jasmine fed jam sandwiches to. Bit difficult not to hate them when they turn up with their babies on their back.
Great stories.
Kev & jas..

by Kevin & Jasmine Thompson

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