A Travellerspoint blog

February 2018

Tenterfield to Coonabarabran

...following in Thunderbolt's footsteps

sunny 32 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

"Thunderbolt" was a bush ranger who, like one or two others had a 'rank' applied to his nickname. Like many bushrangers, he was revered by folk who lived in the country through which he ranged until he was shot by police near Uralla. This reverence was possibly a bit misplaced as his list of crimes is quite long, although he never killed anyone. His real name was Frederick Wordsworth Ward.

From Tenterfield we eased our way south to Glen Innes through countryside which began to give us some idea of why this area is called New England. We also stopped at one point where some superb blue wrens posed for us. Glen Innes itself was a delightful 'find' with many historic buildings but a thriving modern society. We thought this would be a very livable place, in terms of friendliness at least. After coffee and a (early) mince pie we headed out to the Standing Stones. This area is heavily influenced by Scotland and the Scots and these stones are a replica of the sort of stone circles found in Scotland, particularly on the islands. New South Wales's equivalent of WA's Stonehenge (see earlier blog)!

The name, Glen Innes is believed to have been given in honour of Major Archibald Clunes Innes, a soldier and pastoralist originating from, surprise, Scotland.

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A lady in the Tourist Information Centre suggested that we take a scenic route just south of the town and we found this gave lovely views and a nice quiet drive. A little further on, now on the Australia Country Way (Tamworth was yet to come), we drove through Guyra and then found signposts to Thunderbolt's cave. As well as the cave, we found some colourful (mating) butterflies (moths?).

Guyra's name, not surprisingly has Aboriginal origins and means either white cockatoo or fishing place. We didn't see enough of the area to determine which meaning was more likely!

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Our final destination was Uralla but we detoured through Armidale, a very attractive large city. Once we had checked in we went exploring and found Thunderbolt's rather understated grave. We were late enough to get just outside town for some sunset photography before catching some well-earned kip.

Uralla is named from an Aboriginal word being meeting place. For those of a mathematical bent, Uralla's postcode, 2358, is he only Australian postcode that is part of the Fibonacci sequence (thanks to New England: High Country for that little gem and the name derivation information)!

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The following day we indulged in a little retail therapy in Armidale before driving out on the Waterfall Way to Wollomombi. At the General Store we found an inexpensive but very good lunch to give us strength for tackling the walks around the gorges. We found Wollomombi Gorge easily enough and although it was pretty dry, it was a stunning sight. Wikipedia let me down on the origin of the name Wollomombi so I just have to presume it is an Aboriginal word, probably referring to the nearby gorge and river.

The other 'falls' that we visited were Baker's Creek Falls - again, very little water but fabulous scenery. Back in Armidale I asked for a short back and sides and was scalped - I haven't had to have my haircut for two months! Armidale's name is yet anotherh one with Scottish origins. It was named after Armadale on the Isle of Skye, the ancestral home of George James McDonald, Commissioner for Crown Lands in the late 1830s. What would I do without Wikipedia?! Before leaving Uralla, we had to have a photo of the statue erected in Thunderbolt's honour.

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After a far too short stay in Thunderbolt country, we set off for Coonabarabran. I had a dose of hay fever at this time, thankfully rare since being in Australia, and Judith was a bit weary so our driving was turn and turn about rather more regularly than usual. We took advantage of a rest area for a coffee break and, as it was quite hot and the area was not shaded, we made good use of our awning and put up the banner that Judith's brother, Bob, gave us before we left England. On the way we passed through the Country Capital of Australia, Tamworth, but were rather underwhelmed. We were more impressed with Gunnedah where we had a very edible lunch. Gunnedah is another Aboriginal word but this time takes its name from the local Aboriginal people who called themselves the Gunn-e-Darr.

As we were a bit late getting in, we did not get any exploration done before hitting the hay. The following couple of days were quite busy photographically, so I am bringing this blog to an early end in the hope that I can begin to catch up!

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Posted by SteveJD 03:24 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Caloundra to Tenterfield

...and another (last?) tumble!

sunny 33 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

Barry & Shirley took us out to a viewpoint from which we could see one of our favourite old stamping grounds, the Glasshouse Mountains (the peaks apparently reminded Captain Cook of the glass furnaces in Yorkshire). From there we went to Yandina to see the Buderim Ginger Factory (moved from Buderim to Yandina some years ago). Yandina derives its name from two aboriginal words (yan = 'go' and dinna = 'feet', make of that what you can!). Buderim comes from another Aboriginal word, badderam, referring to the hairpin honeysuckle - wish I had known before, I would have tried to get a piccy! There we enjoyed the rainforest gardens before taking the very informative tour complete with tastings - we both love ginger, so the shop did some business too! On the way back we watched some surfers at Coolum Beach and when we got back to Caloundra we found two young Willie Wagtails being fed by the parent bird. I have been unable to find the derivation of the name Caloundra but suspect another Aboriginal origin.

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During our time based in Caloundra, we visited Pelican Waters, where we saw an amazing bug, and Golden Beach (on the opposite side of Bribie Island from Caloundra) where we did some people-watching as well as looking for birds. We joined Barry at Caloundra Golf Club where he carried out the daily bird-feeding duties. At the apartment, we had various visitors of the avian variety both on the balcony and in the trees across the road by the beach and a parade of interesting vehicles as part of a pre-Christmas celebration. Another popular activity was spotting the various ships heading to and from Brisbane.

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We then moved on to Barry & Shirley's apartment in New Farm (Brisbane), calling on old friends, Tony & Glennis, in Clontarf. It was good to catch up on the intervening years. In New Farm we enjoyed walks along the river, all new and so different from when we lived in Brisbane and Judith and Barry walked to Newstead House while I watched the Test Match! Brisbane was named after the Brisbane River which had in turn been named after Sir Thomas Brisbane who was Governor of New South Wales from 1821-1825 - there was no such thing then as dual citizenship! At various times, for a change, we found the opportunity to take sunrise/dawn and sunset and night photos. One fine evening we had dinner on the South Bank (ferry there and back) with Barry & Shirley and Chris and Stephanie (Chris was Barry's partner when Judith worked for Barry).

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A trip to O'Reilly's on the Lamington Plateau was a highlight although it was a more tiring drive than Barry had anticipated, particularly with roadworks on the winding road up to the plateau. By way of explanation the replica aircraft is a commemoration of Bernard O'Reilly's feat of finding the crashed aeroplane in 1937. He noticed a distant change in the forest and trekked through to find two survivors who owed their lives to him. There were many birds there and we were amazed at the variety of blue items collected by a satin bowerbird for its bower. I don't think the Lamington Plateau is named after the cake but can't find any other derivation - yet!

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We also were able to catch up with a couple of Judith's 365Project friends. Terry met us in Roma Street Parkland (another eye-opener for us) and the we went back to his place where we met 365er Rachel and enjoyed a sociable and photographic lunch.

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The day we left Brisbane turned out to be quite a game-changer. At some stage we had left the Land Cruiser lights on (no names, no pack drill) so when we came to leave, the battery was flat. The RAC came to the rescue, although I have to say the guy who came was not as helpful as others we have met. He couldn't replace the battery but was able to get enough charge in for us to get going but he said that the battery would not charge as we drove as it was too damaged so we must keep driving until we could find someone who could replace it. It was a Saturday so many places were closed. We found our way through Brisbane and were avoiding motorways hoping to find a samaritan in centres off the main drag. At one stage, our satnav, Gladys, warned us that we would need to take a ferry which would entail turning our engine off, so a quick re-routing exercise! In Karana Downs we found a very nice chap who had come into his garage to do some bookwork but broke off to provide us with a new battery - phew!

We were heading for Goondiwindi as an overnight stop on the way to Lightning Ridge and stopped in Toowoomba as we needed a mini-shop and a post office. Judith got out of the vehicle and had only taken a few steps when a car park took a second victim. She stumbled and fell full length, cracking her head on the ground. A very kind lady tended to Judith, telling us that she had been brought up to care for the elderly - what?! Someone else called an ambulance and a paramedic came and attended to Judith before taking her (in a station wagon) to Toowoomba Hospital, with me following. It took about four hours before Judith could get a repair to her eyebrow and an x-ray revealed a fine fracture so we had to stay in Toowoomba. This meant cancelling Goondiwindi and Lightning Ridge. We had been going from Lightning Ridge to Uralla so I then had to book a motel in Tenterfield to break the journey from Toowoomba to Uralla - once we started moving again. Toowoomba is believed to be derived from an Aboriginal word meaning 'swamp' - a most unkind description of the lovely Garden City.

After a few days R & R in Toowoomba, we set out for Tenterfield, in the New England area of New South Wales, through mainly rolling downs and agricultural areas. The scenery was attractive but we have become spoiled so this was enjoyable but lacking in excitement! Some way down the road, we were waylaid by a cheese factory just before Stanthorpe. We are cheese lovers so have to stop when we see a 'cheesery' and have never been disappointed. Had a lovely lunch and bought some cheese before continuing. Stanthorpe has an interesting derivation. Stannum is the Latin word for tin and when tin was found and mined in the area a township of Stannum developed. As the town grew, a more suitable name was sought and hence Stanthorpe or tin town, 'thorpe' being Middle English for village - not very Australian but a lovely place nonetheless.

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Stanthorpe itself proved to have very photogenic inhabitants with a lovely park in which some lads enjoyed the water! Not a great distance further on a detour to Girrawheen National Park was also very rewarding. The motel in Tenterfield was really comfortable and we even had our windscreen cleaned! That's service. Tenterfield is another place that has Scottish origins. Sir Stuart Donaldson was the first Premier of New South Wales and ran a station which he named Tenterfield Station after a family property in Scotland and the town which later developed, adopted the name.

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Posted by SteveJD 02:30 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Carnarvon Gorge to Caloundra

...back to civilisation!

semi-overcast 31 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

On our only full day in the Gorge, we had a look at Baloon Cave which was a bit disappointing, nothing like the Aboriginal art that I had seen in other caves many years ago. We carried on from there to Rock Pool where many people were enjoying themselves in the pools - quite tempting but we had not brought our cossies with us. Had a chat to the Ranger at the Information Centre and found him very easy to chat with and a fount of knowledge. Back to the cottage to cool down and watch blue-faced honeyeaters in the albizzia flowers outside - delightful.

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In the afternoon, when it had cooled down a little, we took off again and walked through forest, some of which had been burned in a fairly recent fire, down by Mickey Creek to the point where it flows from a gorge which joins the Warrumbah Gorge and were surprised to find a lovely hyacinth orchid on the track. We then decided to head into Mickey Gorge which started to test my newish hip out. It held up well but we then came across some boulders which would have required me to risk dislocating my hip to negotiate, so Judith went on alone and reached a part where she could easily touch both walls. On her way in she passed a bloke coming out and when I chatted with him, it turned out that he had worked at the Oasis only a few years before my stay in 1986, so he was able to remind me of things that I had forgotten about.

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We left our noisy neighbours, the flying foxes, behind at Takarakka Resort (not sure what this name means but would guess at Aboriginal origins) and again, we stopped at Rolleston where we enjoyed more good bird watching. From there to Rockhampton, the drive was through very varied scenery - brigalow country with acacia sp. being predominant, more bottle trees, an open-cast coal mine and farming areas (cattle and cotton). We were amused to enter Banana Shire but enjoyed a lunch break at the Dawson River Rest Area near Moura. The shire gets its name from the first township in the area and this in turn was named not for the fruit but because it is the burial site of a "huge dun-coloured bullock named 'Banana'." (Thanks Wikipedia for that bit of trivia!). Moura is also almost directly on the 150 degree meridian and just outside the town they have put up two boulders with holes in and when you align the holes, that's where the meridian crosses the Dawson Highway!

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Again I turn to and quote from Wikipedia for the origins of the name of our overnight stop in Rockhampton: "In January 1854, the New South Wales Government proclaimed two new districts: Port Curtis and Leichhardt (roughly today's Fitzroy Region), and the Archer brothers returned in August 1855 to set up their pastoral run at Gracemere. The Fitzroy River provided a convenient waterway for shipping of supplies and produce, and the Archer brothers constructed a wool shed just downstream of a bar of rocks which prevented further upstream navigation from the coast. These rocks were incorporated with the traditional English term for a village, and the name "Rockhampton" was first coined by Charles Archer and the local Commissioner from Crown Lands, William Wiseman." On our way out of the City, we stopped at the Spire which marks the Tropic of Capricorn as we were returning to sub-tropical areas after a good long spell going 'troppo'!

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The Bruce Highway was painful with seemingly endless roadworks and the countryside became less interesting, although there were a few attractive stands of forest. We had a coffee break at Mt Larcom and bought some pies which we had that evening, some of the best we have ever tasted, so we thoroughly recommend Mt Larcom Cafe! While relaxing with our coffee, we watched a few oversize loads passed by, carrying huge mining machinery. We discussed the route at this stage and on the basis of the roadworks and oversize vehicles, we decided to divert through Gladstone in the hope of avoiding at least some of the roadwork. On the way in we passed some very long trains loaded with coal for shipment and then, as we drove through the suburbs, we came across Reg Tanna Park. It is nor big but we took quite some time to get round as there were many birds and other critters which we decided needed to be looked at though a viewfinder.

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On our one full day in Bundaberg, the weather was not as kind as we have been used to but we made the best of breaks to explore the Botanic Gardens which were excellent and especially so when we found a lake with an island in the middle which was swarming with birds nesting. There were also more water dragons than we have seen anywhere else. Progress was quite slow! Rain drove us into the cafe then we braved the wet to dash over the road to the Museum which was absolutely absorbing, crammed full of so much interesting stuff.

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Having become 'museumed' out, we headed over the Burnett River (I had never realised how many lovely rivers Australia has on the east coast - not decrying the Swan of course!). We found the Bundaberg Barrel where we had a tour through a little 'museum' which told the story of ginger beer before tasting the 18 varieties of 'fizz' that they produce. Neither of us could recall tasting ginger beer before but are now devoted fans. Some of the 18 flavours were excellent, others for different tastes! We bought a selection including some of their special Spicy Christmas Ginger Beer.

I had hoped to visit the Bert Hinkler Hall of Aviation and his former home from England which had been shipped out brick by brick and rebuilt! However, when we got back to the Botanic Gardens, we found that they had closed so had to be satisfied with exterior views of the house. Nothing for it but to have another look at the birds! This time we took Jet Set for an outing - he was a bit worried by the water and the dragons, a bit of a wimp.

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On leaving Bundaberg we headed west towards GinGin where we had heard of some mystery craters! Just before reaching the town we found a sign inviting us to see the mystery craters. It was a fairly damp and dismal day but we decided to have a look and there were indeed 35 craters (probably more to be uncovered). Several theories have been offered for their origin but none is certain. It seems that the craters are very deep and have been filled with silt and red ochre is quite evenly distributed. My own guess is that the rock was boiling at some stage (this would possibly account for the even spread of ochre) and that bubbles formed and remained as voids when the rocks cooled - or something like that! Anyway, an interesting side trip.

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We then hit some rather heavy rain (we have been very lucky with weather general thus far) which meant that we had to concentrate on driving rather than photography but we did note that sugar plantations gave way to some lovely sub-tropical forest before we reached Caloundra where our friends Barry & Shirley were waiting for us in their lovely unit. Barry was Judith's employer when we lived in Brisbane and we have always kept in touch.

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Barry managed to persuade Judith to try to park our LC in his garage but as the vehicle came up the slope, the back of the awning holder jammed against the roof of the garage! I then found that I could, painfully, deflate the tyres but could not re-inflate them as the gadget I had bought from AutoBarn in Perth had wrong fittings! The RAC wouldn't come out to deflate the tyres but the following morning, I deflated the tyres and the RAC came out to re-inflate them. We then parked across the road! In the interim, we enjoyed the lovely views from the unit with plenty of birdlife. Barry & Shirley enjoy 'brain games' and introduced us to Sequence which we played regularly over the next few days!

Posted by SteveJD 02:49 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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