MT KAPUTAR AND THE FINAL LEG
1500 metres of volcanic residue rising from the flat mid western plains-amazing place and on a par with the Warrumbungles for visual beauty. As mentioned previously, we arrived after what appeared to have been a pretty vicious storm and of course at that altitude most of the rain appears to have fallen as hail. Still on the ground by midday the next day. Tried for a couple of walks, but some of the tracks were either ankle deep in ice or under running water. We finally found the summit lookout-fortunately a drive up, although 60 odd steps up to a viewing platform and a 360o view of the surrounding plains. Enjoyed the cabin and the solitude-just us and the kangaroos. Tore ourselves away (we will be back) for the final trek home after catching up with an old friend at Warialda.
In the three weeks since we left home there has been such a dramatic change in the country side. Amazing what some rain will do! Miserable weather continues and at the elevation of The New England Ranges, very cold and windy. Called into Glenn Innes to visit the Standing Stones and attempt to pull Excalibar from the rock.
Stayed at Tenterfield last might, -Peter Allen and The Tenterfield Saddler- but also a lot of history as well. The rainy windy weather continued all day, but so good to see the grass growth and full dams that where three weeks ago, nothing but dust and stubble. The farmers must be so pleased to see a good green start to summer that will tide them over until the wet season in January/Feb.
Of course weed growth, long grass, and lots of work ahead for us, but not complaining-I can wash with out worrying if I am taking too much water out of the dam, and no more carting buckets of grey water-YEA!!
A great trip, over 4,00km by the time we rolled in the gate, lots to see and lots of different experiences, which I guess is what a road trip is all about. Already planning the next one
Thank you to all who have followed along.
Location: MT KAPUTAR N P
BACK TO THE BUSH!
From the Valley to the Mountain, with a bit of gold dust thrown in.
Made our escape from Canberra and fled up the Federal highway to Goulbourn. Quick stop to get last biggie-the Big Ram. Very impressive and apparently the rear end is as impressive as the front. However as I took the photo from across the road as we passed through, you will have to use your imagination!!
Turned off for the Wombeyan Caves and arrived on the valley floor after a teeth rattling 22km, the last 5 km a tight switch back.
Booked into our cabin and started counting kangaroos-the valley floor a huge kanga nursery-joeys everywhere. Beautiful environment-grass, flowering trees, warm sunshine, birds etc. But of course there are draw backs in Eden.....
NO TV, NO RADIO, NO PHONE SERVICE, NO I/NET!!
However, sitting on the deck, glass of vino to hand, watching the sun set behind the trees-who needs it.
Another self guided cave tour next morning. Wombeyan caves are bigger and better lit than Yarongogilly, although the catwalks are a little more white knuckled material, cantilevered out over yawning chasms as they were.
Another peaceful evening (although I did catch Arthur staring longingly at the blank wall at news time). So we broke out the Scrabble board-of course I got soundly thrashed. Ill get my own back at Mt Kaputar-again no nothing up there in the national park
Away back up the escarpment and north west to Hill End- an old gold mining town, that amazingly the NPS hasnt bulldozed. Staying in the Royal Hotel, that dates back to the 1870s.The town-or what is left has been well sign posted, preserved and documented thanks to a photographer from the time and the discovery of his glass photo plates in a garage in the 1950s. NPS are actually attempting to restore some of the other buildings.
The Royal Hotel has retained its early character, and Ill swear hasnt been updated since then. Creaking narrow stairs and floor boards, no mod cons, somewhat dusty, but the bed is reasonably comfortable and the linen clean. Dinner and breakfast thrown in for $120.
Tried to get off some photos from Canberra, but the only way I could get any phone reception was to hang over the 2nd floor balcony railing-enough to make a couple of phone calls home, but nothing more.
A lot of walks around the old gold mines, history ++ and certainly deserves more than a passing glance and a 1 night stay.
However the journey must continue.
MT KAPUTAR NATIONAL PARK
Away from Hill End for the journey to Kaputar NP. A long days drive, but OK once we got out onto the Castlereagh and Newell Highways.
As we approached Narrabri, the turn off for Mt Kaputar, the sky got darker and more ominous and it looked as though we were going to do the last 50km up the mountain in a storm.
Fortunately the storm passed ahead of us, and just as well. The road is very narrow, and unsealed, except for the last 10 km, and as we gained altitude what looked like snow blanketed the ground, turned out to be pea sized hail.
Arrived at the cabin in a refreshing 10C temperature. BUT there is an open fire, plenty of dry firewood and in no time Arthur had a roaring fire going.
Heaven on a stick! Settled back with a glass of the good stuff and warmed up. Of course, no TV but to our delight plenty of phone service and radio reception, so I guess we will cope. Besides I have to get my own back with Scrabble.
Hopefully fine tomorrow and we will get out and do some walking. The sun came out just on sunset, so that may be a good sign.
More to follow
CANBERRA- Finding G for George, and Tip toeing through the Tulips.
Two days only allocated to Canberra, so rather than run around trying to do all the touristy things we settled for the Australian War Memorial and Floriade- the reason for being in Canberra at this time of the year.
Monday started with an early storm with showery weather threatening to follow, so the war memorial won. The last time we visited, the WW2 Lancaster bomber G for George, was in pieces and under restoration. Now fully restored and installed, it was high on Arthurs list.
Being totally organised (yes organised) we started with the WW1 Gallery and minutes later most of the lights went out-(had they not paid their power bill?). Good excuse for a coffee. Found George and of course lots of photos later I was finally able to drag Arthur away for the rest of the WW2 Galleries and after lunch, back again for WW1. Even then there was a lot we didnt cover.. took a wander down Anzac Parade to the Service Nurses Memorial- not as big as I thought, and very difficult to photograph.
Today-a beautiful day-not a cloud in the sky, so off to Floriade. After being entombed in the War Memorial for hours yesterday, the out rageous colours of the bedding displays were overwhelming as we wandered along the 1km walk. Retreated to the shade of some oak trees for lunch just to rest the eyes on green grass and leaves. Floriade finishes next weekend and some of the beds are looking tired ,but the total effect is still blinding-tulips, poppies, pansies and a million more, in colours from purple, pink, red, orange and yellow. We asked what happens to the beds when Floriade finishes and the whole lot gets bulldozed!
Back to Anzac Pde after dark to see if the Nurses Memorial was easier to photograph -but it wasnt. We did however get some nice shots of the flood lit War memorial.
Back on the road and heading for the bush tomorrow-a couple of nights at the Wombeyan Caves.
May not be able to get the next lot of photos away-depends on mobile access.
Catch up later
THE SNOWY MOUNTAINS HIGHWAY
On Dams, Caves, Echos of gold-(oh and one Biggie)
After a week of the luxury of staying in one place its now back to packing and unpacking (and generally getting more and more disorganised)
Away from Mansfield and a smooth shot up the Hume Highway-the 400km going by a lot faster than than the trip south. Turned off onto the Snowy Mts Highway for Talbingo, our 1st night back on the road. Spotted the sign for the Blowering Dam and began our education of the Snowy Hydro Scheme. Huge dam and dramatic lake at 74 % capacity, also is 3 times the size of Sydney harbour. Lots more statistics but wont bore you except to pass on the bit of trivia, that is was the site or the world water speed record in 1978. Just as well it was then, as the dam actually dried up in the drought of 2007.
On to Talbingo-picture perfect town-Miles Franklin country, on the shores of Lake Jounama , and one of the three towns to be drowned with the creation of the Snowy Mts hydro Scheme dams. Consequently planned and laid out and very neat. The motel boasted a Chinese Restaurant. People come from Canberra I was told. Hmm-a bit of a stretch and no one in their right minds would want to be on the Snowy Mts Highway after dark, given the amount of road kill. However, the food was good, and the locals appreciate it with the number of people in the restaurant.
Only a 90 km drive planned for the next day, but a very busy day. Our first stop was Yarongobilly Caves-a tortuous 6km drive down into a valley on a gravel road (and a 6km drag out again). However it was worth it. We elected to do the Self Guided cave, mainly so we could do some photography. The walk was supposed to take 45/60 but for us 1 ½ hours. A vey strenuous route, down stairs and up stairs and a final climb out up a series of steep narrow ladders. Was glad to see the sunlight again!!
On over the Snowy Mts with a lunch stop at Kiandra, the sight of the shortest and highest (1400 metres) gold rush in Australia in the 1800s. Also the site of the birth of skiing in Australia. In its hey day of course, hotels, banks and brothels. The court house is the only remaining building and it is being restored after being a Chalet/hotel up to the 70s and then a national parks works depot. The rest of the town has vanished-either through deterioration or at the hand of NPS who bulldozed the remaining buildings- a very bitter point with locals of Adaminaby. There is a heritage trail which, on a warmer day, we would have followed-however the wind chill factor was pretty steep.
From there to Adaminaby for the night. Called in to look at Old Adaminaby- another town drowned in the Eucumbene Dam (the 3rd one, Jindabyne) not much to see now except some old footings along the shore line, but again in the drought of 2007, streets and houses began to reappear.
Adaminaby was rebuilt about 6km away-again neat and sterile and on a Sunday morning deserted. Stayed in another old huge motel, with grand name of the Snowy Mountains Resort and Conference Centre that reminded us of some of the motels along Route 66. Forty eight units and we were 1 of 3 patrons. However the lady at the post office (yes ,open on Sunday) and also a history buff about the area, said Anaminaby is bedlam after Christmas, so maybe they need 48 rooms.
Spent a fascinating couple of hours at the Snowy Mts Authority Museum-the history and conditions for the migrant workers and their familes during the construction of the tunnels and dams in the 50s and 60s, especially in winter, is amazing.
And yes -another Biggie-every one comes to lake Eucumbene for the trout fishing.
Arrived in Canberra this afternoon (Thank you Madame Lash) and settled into a cabin in caravan park-only 5km from the city centre and for Canberra relatively cheap accommodation for the next three nights.
Working on the photos from the last couple of days at the moment. Weather will dictate what we do to morrow and the next day.
Catch up soon.
Location: MANSFIELD VIC.
Saturday 30th and Sun 1st.
Cold and showery so despite our good intentions of getting out and walking, we went to ground for two days and just enjoyed the rest. Tried a couple of times to walk down to the lake, about 500 metres from the cabin but got chased under cover fairly smartly.
Gently eased into some exercise with a trip into town to restock. A couple of km walk along the Rail Trail, through wet lands and then around town a few more kms, so didnt feel too bad about the week end down time.
Weather remains sunny and mild-the surrounding country side so green it makes Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz look very lack lustre.
A perfect day in paradise so headed for Mt Buller, about 45kms away. A really nice resort and so different to Perisher or Thredbo. Were not skiers, but just wandered around and enjoyed watching the beginners skiers, and not so beginner snowboarders on the easier slope that parallels the main village walk. The serious slopes are further up the mountain out of harms way. Decided to walk the km up to the Arlberg Hotel-as far as the road goes and the beginning of the summit walk in summer. A tad steep but we made it and ticked the Exercise box for the day. Beautiful views and lots of snow gums. When we win the lottery, this is the Snow resort we would return to.
ANOTHER perfect day in paradise. This time packed up the picnic basket and drove about 30 km up one of the valleys to Jamieson, a heritage village on the banks of the Jamieson River. Once was a supply centre for the gold mines up in the mountains and a thriving community of the usual dozens of pubs, banks, shops etc. It is now consists of a pub, a café, a museum and some old cottages, and relies on tourism. Never the less it is far enough off the beaten track to retain its heritage character with out being a theme park. Walked the Heritage Trail then retired to the banks of the river for a relaxing lunch and another walk.
On the way out called into the High Country Maze and Gardens . A bit run down and at the end of winter not looking its best. The amazing thing is the amount of work this family has put into creating the gardens over a 14 year period-from a bare paddock of clay soil and no trees to a big maze with hedges over 2 metres tall. Lots of topiary, parterre gardens, rose gardens etc. Can only imagine what it would be like later in the season when all the trees are in leaf and roses flowering.
Sadly today is our last day and the weather has turned grey and rainy again, so we have no excuse but to pack and clean up. It has been a relaxing week here and we have enjoyed the rural isolation and bush land setting-LOTS of kangaroos and birds -and if I could have convinced the cockatoos to tone it down a bit
No Biggies or bushrangers in this part of the world. Tomorrow we head north for Canberra via Talbingo and Adaminaby.
Photos of our stay here on the way.