Saturday, April 27, 2013

FUN, FRIENDS, FAMILY, FOOD and WINE

We set off on our last leg of our road trip from Tamworth to Windella in the Hunter Valley. 
(We are home now)

The weather and the scenery was superb. After 3 hours we arrived at Windella in the Hunter Valley where we stayed overnight with friends Margaret and Peter. The next morning we drove 15 mins to Pokolbin in the heart of the Valley and met our daughter Carol and SIL David, who drove the short distance of 200km from Sydney to meet us.

photo from  google images.
The first vineyards were planted in the Hunter valley in 1823. The first accommodation was built in 1974.
Today the Hunter Valley is one of the Australia’s most well-known wine regions in Australia and throughout the world. The Hunter Valley has produced many fine, world recognised wines and with over 150 wineries, 65 restaurants and 180 accommodation properties, the Hunter Valley has become a tourism mecca for food and wine lovers alike.
And Carol and David are food and wine lovers. We met them for breakfast at Enzo's restaurant. I liked the sign hanging on the door . I just had to get those two to pose next to the sign.

The food was delicious and served interestingly. The tea was delivered not on a tray but on an old story book.  The apple juice came in a recycled jam jar.


After breakfast we booked into the hotel and then visited wineries, the Smelly Cheese Shop and a Chocolate shop.

wine tasting

grape vines

Carol's friend recommended Robert's restaurant for dinner. So we went there to make a booking. It didn't have a big impressive entrance but a little rustic door.

We entered a very old house converted into a restaurant. There were a few different rooms.

 The back of the old house opened up into a large restaurant but still in keeping with the rustic timber look with a roaring open fire. The dinner was very nicely presented.

The next day we did it all over again. It was a lovely relaxing time and wonderful to be with our daughter and SIL. We were supposed to meet up with our other daughter too from LA. Unfortunately, their plans to visit Sydney were squashed by Bernie's previous employer. So sadly we won't be seeing them this year and it is Banjo's birthday today, he is one.

The Hunter Valley is also a big coal producing area. This is a coal fired power station showing its big carbon footprint. Actually I think it is only steam going into the air here.
The following day we set of for home. we intended taking two days but we got  news that our guest speaker for the Camera Club was not able to attend the meeting in our place tomorrow so we had to drive all day (11 hrs) to get home to prepare a talk for the next day. The last 2hrs in the dark over the ranges was not very pleasant but we made it. Luckily I found a talk that I had prepared earlier in the year so all was well.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

TAMWORTH TOWN


The internet was so slow in the Hunter Valley that I gave up blogging on the road. We are home now
and I will continue with our trip. On the last day in Tamworth our friends, Dianna and Graham showed us around the town. It is a bustling country town famous for its Country Music festival every year and its equestrian events.

It was the last day of our reunion too. So our little group of ex Judo Club and Scooter Club members posed for our 2013 photo. Graham took the shot.

Penny, who belongs to choirs suggested that our theme song should be "Stayin' Alive". We all thought this very appropriate for our aged group. Every meal together we toasted to "Stayin' Alive"






Main street Tamworth
Old and new council chambers.
The new Equestrian and Livestock Centre
Inside the Equestrian Centre
I liked the bright orange seating.
Afterwards we went to visit the Botanic Gardens
 The gardens mostly comprised of native flora.

Grevillea and bees
Finally we drove up to the lookout where you can see over the whole town of Tamworth. Then we headed back to our motel for a rest before our Farewell Reunion Dinner at the Cattleman's Restaurant (Where else when in cattle country?)

 Yes and we toasted to "Stayin' Alive". Unfortunately the Bee Gee twins haven't stayed alive. Did you know that they started their career in Oz and I saw them perform on the Gold Coast when they were children?

Friday, April 19, 2013

A COUNTRY DRIVE

We left Wallabadah and headed towards Quirindi, the hub of the Liverpool Plains Shire and 354 km north of Sydney. The hills and valleys around Quirindi offer some of the most picturesque scenery in NSW. We went up to the lookout where there was a 360* view.
Looking over Quirindi and the Liverpool Plains
Overlooking The Great Dividing Range
We visited the craft shop on the railway station just as the only train of the day arrived to take locals to Sydney. This family were saying an emotional goodbye to a young man going to the 'big smoke'.

We drove north to Werris Creek, the town developed when a camp of railway workers was set up to build the Northern line. The station was built in 1878 and it was the junction for the northern and north western line. The town became a bustling railway town. The station now houses the 'Rail Journeys Museum'

Charles checks out the signalman sculpture
Next to the Werris Creek station is the 'Australian Railway Monument' dedicated to the men and women who lost their lives in the course of duty whilst working for the railways.

There were interesting sculptures of railway workers surrounding the monument. The artist was Dominique Sutton

There are over 2700 names inscribed on the walls. There were three of these trenches with a wall for each state.

It was time to head back to our motel at Tamworth after a big day exploring the surrounds.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

TIME TOGETHER

It was fun to spend time together with old friends from way back. We had our little reunion in Tamworth this year, where Diana and Graham live. They took us sight seeing. The first day we did a country drive from Tamworth in a circuit to Goonoo Goonoo, Wallabadah, Quirindi, Werris Creek and Currabubula. Don't you just love those country town names.
In Wallabadah we stopped at "The First Fleet Memorial Gardens". It was the passion of Ray Collins, to make a memorial for those who were on the first fleet of ships to transport convicts from England, the first white settlers in Australia. The Liverpool Plains Shire Council supported his idea. Collins discovered that he was a descendent of a convict on the first fleet after it had been kept a secret in his family for years. For over a hundred years it was the norm for people to hide the stigma of being a descendent of convicts. However, today it has changed and Australians who can trace their heritage back through many generations to the first fleet are now very proud to be from a line of the oldest Australians. They call themselves "The First Fleeters"
The First Fleet left England May 13, 1776 and arrived in Sydney Cove on Jan 26, 1777 with over 1000 convicts, soldiers, sailors and a few free settlers. It so happens that one of our friends, Dianna, is a First Fleeter. Naturally she was proud to show us the memorial gardens and plaques.
The shade sails over the picnic tables are in the shape of sails of the 11 ships that were in the first fleet.

Dianna and Graham provided us with morning tea.

There is a plaque for each ship and nearby are plaques with the names of all the passengers on that ship. These plaques are scattered throughout the gardens. The flag is a replica of the 'Union Flag' flown by Captain Arthur Philip over the first settlement in Sydney to show that it was a colony of England.

 Dianna shows me the name "Ann Martin" who is one of her forebears. She was transported for stealing 2 scarves. 

 Ann Martin came on the Lady Penryn Ship.

 Bill is reading part of this amazing story.

The story is set out on a huge board.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

TRAVELLING TO TAMWORTH

On the second day of our road trip we only needed to drive another 3 hours to reach Tamworth and meet our friends. So we decided to check out some local attractions in Glen Innes before setting off on the next leg of our journey. We visited  "The Australian Standing Stones"

"The Australian Standing Stones began as an ambitious project by a small, dedicated group of citizens who wanted to mark Glen Innes's Celtic heritage. It was in Australia's 1988 Bicentenary Year that the Celtic Council of Australia developed the idea of erecting a national monument to honour all Celtic peoples who helped pioneer Australia. Glen Innes responded with a 46-page submission for Australian Standing Stones, inspired by the Ring of Brodgar in Scotland's Orkneys." 
TOH sits at a picnic table made of stones in front of the circle of standing stones.


The main feature of the Australian Standing Stones is a circle of 24 stones, representing the 24 hours of the day. Read more information here:

There is a big Celtic Festival here in a few weeks.

The gigantic boulder of granite rests precariously on a 300 millimetre point amongst other rock formations.
We drove on towards the next town Armidale on the way we stopped to view the 'Balancing Rock.'

 Then we passed through rich farming country. There were many sheep and cattle farms. 

 The countryside was absolutely beautiful.


 We were in Armidale in time for TOH's coffee break. Armidale is a beautiful university town with glorious churches and Autumn trees.

 Next stop Tamworth but first we stopped to see "Thunderbolt's Rock". It is a shame the graffiti vandals have defaced this natural rock formation with a very colourful history of Australia's bush-ranging days.
"Originally known as Split Rock, the boulders afforded 'gentleman bushranger' Frederick Wordsworth Ward, better known as Captain Thunderbolt, the perfect vantage point for monitoring the approach of unwary mail coaches. He first visited the site in 1863 when, after a daring escape from Sydney's notorious Cockatoo Island prison, he and fellow escapee, Fred Britten, used the rock as a hideout. They were surprised by passing troopers while lying in wait at the rock to bail up an approaching mailman. Thunderbolt was shot in the knee during the fiery exchange of gunshots that ensued."

By the afternoon we had reached Tamworth, quite a big country town famous for it's huge annual Country and Western Festival. Here we met our friends for a three day get together to celebrate our time together in Papua/New Guinea in the 60's when we all belonged to a Judo Club and a Scooter Club. Unfortunately we haven't been able to locate all the past members.

Monday, April 15, 2013

TOWN IN A TIME WARP

Glen Innes is one of the highest towns in Australia
 and its citizens are very proud of their Celtic origins
On Sunday afternoon we pulled into the town of Glen Innes on our road trip to Tamworth and Hunter Valley. We found a Motel for the night and then looked for somewhere to eat. That was a little tricky because some country towns close up on Sunday. The only place open was McDonalds, (not one of our favourite places to eat) but when you're hungry and nothing else is open a burger will have to do.
We bumped into Del and her sister, Merle another couple on their way to the reunion in Tamworth. After a chat with them I took a walk to explore the town centre.

The National Bank
 The sun was disappearing but I was enthralled with the old buildings in the town centre which was basically one main street with some big roundabouts. 
The Town Hall

The  Town Hall from the other side of the road.

One of the many old hotels.

For Rent. Hopefully the new tenants will repaint this old beauty.

The Post Office
All these building are from the late 1800's or early 1900's and are still in use today. I got the feeling that this town was trapped in a time warp. Have you noticed the lack of people or even life?

The main street in Glen Innes on a Sunday afternoon.
 It looks like a ghost town.