Thursday, January 6, 2011

3rd January 2011

We left the beautiful spot in the Warranbungles promising ourselves that we would be back one day to observe the observatory. An ex employee who worked as a scientist at the nearby space observatory which is a research centre only has built his own telescopes etc and charge people to view the universe at night.

We moved on to Mendooran? Where Stuart used to work in a bank about 40 years ago. The bank was gone – what is that an indication of?????

Just before Dubbo is a free camp on the banks of the Macquarie River. It is very muddy and fast flowing and where we camped was well below the water line only recently from all the rain.

The fast flowing Macquarie River

 By the time we settled in there were about 11 other travellers with us and we met a young couple from Mackay (Salonica Beach) who have been travelling with their 2 little girls since June and are just heading home.

We’re heading into Dubbo soon to revisit the old Dubbo Jail which we saw many years ago but it has been revamped with a lot of animated and electronic type stuff and so will be a whole new experience.

Dubbo Jail was great and gave a wonderful insight into life in the penal system in the early 1900’s. I think today’s penal code could do with a major review.

We stayed the night about 30kms out of Dubbo for the night just off the road at a gravel turn-around about 30 mitres off the road. Just far enough away from the highway that the trucks didn’t annoy us.

An interesting stopover was at a little place out of Parkes called Peak Hill which used to boast a gold mine. The open cut hole is about 100 mitres off the road and looks like a miniature Mount Morgan Mine Hole. There has been fairly extensive re-forestation done on all the truck ramps with eucalypt and bottle brush trees about 8 mitres tall growing on them.

A stop at the Parkes observatory gave us a chance to stretch our legs again.

and then it was into Elvis land for lunch and a visit to “Elvis Central” to pick up a program and an apron and stubby holder for Kathy and even though it was only Tuesday, Elvis songs were blaring out through speakers on every light pole in the main street.
Our first stop in Parkes was the Tourist Information Centre to pick up our tickets for the Poet's Breakfast on Thursday and have a look at what was on.
the Museum is also incorporated into the Information Centre and as well as that was the home for the  Wongalea School where Stuart attended for primary school.  We were fortunate to meet up with one of the people who were instrumental in organising the reunion a couple of years ago and she opened some files presently closed to the public which put a smile on Stuart's face - that is until he spotted the loyer cane standing in the corner and cringed.  Was that because he could feel it again or just imagine how it might have felt way back then.  It was lovely to see photos of his family past on the walls.

Stuart's father Gordon in front on the left

Also at the Information Centre is housed the entire collection of Elvis Presley Memorabilia which is owned by ex Wiggle Greg.  There isn't a larger collection outside Graceland USA.

As we had time to spare before calling in to Stuart’s cousin Colin and wife Robyn we went to Forbes for a drive. Of course a stop at the information bureau was a must and it is located in the old railway station so of course in a few small rooms. Every nook and cranny was taken up with craft type products for sale along with a few cloth dolls and other nick knacks. The lady at the desk said that we could go into a small room where they were playing a short movie about Ben Hall the bush ranger who was killed not far from there. Of course the room was very dim and we walked a few steps into the room and Stuart indicated a couple of people sitting on a bench in front of the tv. I glanced at them and then, thinking they were cloth dummy's sitting there (indicating that we could also sit and watch the movie) I nearly poked my head round in front of them to get a better look at them (to see how well the creator had moulded the head (as in cloth dolls) Just as I was about to do it one of the ‘dummys’ said “the movie is about Half way through” I thanked her and got out of the room before I burst out laughing.

Into Parkes we came and out to Colin and Robyns who live about 5 kms out of town and parked our van in the usual place amongst the shrubs and trees on his block. Following a few drinks and cheese and bickies Robyn put on a great dinner and next morning we went into town then went for a drive out to Stuart’s old farm at Gunningbland and had the afternoon with the Dunfords who now own it.  The Dunfords were on the neighbouring property to Stuart;s parents and subsequently bought the farm.  Wayne and Stuart were very good friends and have remained so.

On the way there we went to a little place called Ootha whose only claim to fame is the “UTES IN THE PADDOCK”

where there are presently 20 Holden utes painted to depict all kinds of Australian cultures and way of life. The intention is to have a total of 25. This is a unique display in the middle of the bush.

Thursday saw us visiting Stuart’s Aunty Elsie who at about 95 and lives on her own, does her own cooking and washing and just gets in home help once a week. She is such a lady and is the wife of Stuart’s father’s brother. As she wiped a tear from her eye she genuinely thanked us for coming to visit her and said she may not be here next time we call and even though she had grandchildren in town they do not come to see her but she supposes they will all attend her funeral. “I would sooner they visited me while I am alive” she said. Her son Col and daughter Jeanette visit regularly and do a lot for her and although her hearing is bad and she is a bit unsteady on her feet she is as smart as a tack.

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