Chifley Cave at Jenolan Caves

We seem to always be travelling and, on this occasion, we were heading home … the back way. The road took us through Kanangra Boyd National Park located in the Central Tablelands of NSW. Our destination … Jenolan Caves. We had been to the caves a few times and given the complexity of the site we had not yet seen them all. The caves are renowned as the oldest discovered open caves in the world.

Today’s expedition, Chifley Cave. As the story goes in 1880 it was the very first cave in the world to have been lit with electricity, this only eight months after Thomas Edison patented his vacuum light bulb. The original light bulb still features in the cave.

Jenolan Caves are limestone caves. The formations within the cave were fantastic. Our personal favourites were the shawls. Two of the features in Chifley Cave are still illuminated using a modernised version of the historic coloured lights, lending a totally different feel and mood to the formations. The coloured lights were part of a tradition of old and still maintained in select locations.

For us the old world feel of the property is beautiful. We have stayed and dined in the main house and can attest to its charms. The sense of stepping back in time has a way of taking one away to another time and place.

With one more cave on our list ticked it was time to continue home.

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The Unsung Hero – NSW Rural Fire Service

January 2018 was a month of crazy weather and bushfires that occurred around the state of NSW Australia. We had spent the month in Goulburn, NSW photographing the National Indoor Hockey and it was time to head home. Always lovers of the “scenic route” we opted to travel west of the Hume. We were aware that Bannaby had been hit hard by the fires, at its peak it had consumed 2660 Hectares. Being diligent we confirmed the roads were still open, what we never expected was for the Rural Fire Services of NSW to have set up base in Taralga, NSW right along the road we were travelling.

The trucks from the local and regional fire brigades lined the road along with those of the State Mitigation. Across the street there were four helicopters of various sizes and capabilities. Whilst there a reconnaissance helicopter took off with another carrying water and a fifth helicopter flew in to pick up the RAFT team for winching into the fire. Everyone had a role to play in controlling and putting out the fires. For the most part these brave men and women are volunteers, giving back to society and contributing their time when needed no matter how harrowing the assignment.

Like many volunteers, these unsung heros go unnoticed, we may never hear their name or see their face. For the rest of us, we can show our appreciation and support by donating to our local Rural Fire Brigade.

 

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Goulburn Historic Waterworks Museum

 

 

Having a bit of time off we took the opportunity to further explore the history of the Goulburn township. We are huge technology and history buffs, so it was not hard to find something to do, we just had to decide what. The decision was the waterworks.

The Waterworks is an impressive venue allowing visitors step back in time to 1883 when Goulburn was one of the first country regions to supply piped water the residents. At the heart of the venue is the waterworks building itself which houses the original Appleby Beam Engine, a vertical steam engine. It was one of four installations in NSW and the only complete steam powered municipal water supply still operating in its original location in Australia.

If you can visit on steaming day (a day when the engine is run) be sure to go by. The hot days of January pose a risk as the pump is fuelled by a very large firebox. The engine is fills a room and the location facilitates a 360 view of the engine plus top and bottom views.

The museum was also given the opportunity to relocate, restore and display a horizontal steam engine built by Hick, Hargreaves & Co, England in 1866. This engine is pristine and adds to the history housed at the location.

Keeping the water pumping to the community was a twenty-four hour a day job. To ensure the requirement was me onsite staff was required. In this case the job title was “Fireman” and they lived onsite in a cottage situated on the property. Since the reclaiming of the venue the fireman’s cottage has been turned into a museum. Currently on display at the cottage is a collection of “Steam Punk” memorabilia. Steampunk, coined in the 1980’s, is 19th century science fiction and uses the technology of the time to imagine an even more amazing technologically advanced future. It was this era that authors such as H.G. Wells and Jules Verne wrote their stories about.

 

Rocky Hill War Memorial and Museum

Goulburn, noted as the first inland township is seemingly the keeper of history in New South Wales Australia. It is a living town that represents a modern version of a township from hundreds of years ago who along the way have documented and restored the stories of the people and technology that helped shape the community and our country. On recommendation we wandered up to the Rocky Hill War Memorial. It origins were to honour the memories of those who fought in World War 1, here the local township has both honoured and preserved history.

The memorial rises high above Goulburn and offers a fantastic 360 degree view of the township. The tower was built by Mr E C Manfred a builder of bridges. This skill is seen in the thickness of the walls of the structure as well as the impeccable use of stones. The monument celebrates the people of the district and their part in the preservation of freedom.

Within the tower is a revolving light, which symbolises the souls of those who gave the greatest sacrifice. Each night if you are in Goulburn you will see it reaching out over the community representing their souls looking out over us.

Symbolism is only part of what this location has to share. On visiting the tower and climbing the stairs to the top I was awed by one of the best collections of photography I have ever seen. As you wander up the stairs a gallery of Black and White photographs lines the walls, these for the most part have been reproduced from glass plates. As a photographer I can only imagine how long the photos would have taken to reach a reader. As a lover of photography I cannot recommend sharing this bit of history enough.

Before leaving we wandered down to the museum and shared the history of life and technology experienced by the soldiers. It is rare to see a story so well told that celebrates the people of a district and its part in Australian history both here and abroad.

 

Goulburn Rail Heritage Centre

The Goulburn Rail Heritage Centre is a museum showcasing the history of trains in Australia whilst highlighting Goulburn’s role is this iconic mode of travel and commercial transport. The roundhouse (nearly demolished in its entirety) is the largest in NSW and shares the transition from steam to diesel engines

The museum, run by volunteers is funded by donations. When you arrive be sure to take the offer for a guided tour as the knowledge of the volunteers is as important as the collection of rolling stock and exhibits, which includes the roundhouse and privately owned locomotives and carriages. Our guide on the day we visited we knew only as Russel, a former conductor. With out his knowledge the roll trains played in the history of Australia would have been lost. Be it the mail car which housed a rolling post office or the pay buses which were buses on wheels you will not be disappointed in the wealth of history that can be gained in a short time.

The site is not just for visiting it is also houses cars being restored by enthusiasts, some may end up as accommodation, others as restaurants and the rest we will leave to you to learn more about from the tour guides at the centre.

Three Sisters…Echo Point

Katoomba, NSW home of the well-known Three Sisters, is one of the most popular destinations in Australia. On this occasion Echo Point was the destination of choice. We have visited here many times so our goal was to find a different experience. This time our visit was about the food, the crowds and the magnificent views that attract more than 2 million visitors each year.

We bypassed Scenic World to take in the atmosphere at Echo Point. We had a quick look and wandered upstairs to Restaurant 1128, the food was lovely and the staff accommodating. After a bite to eat we wandered down to the main lookout and were not disappointed. The crowds at the lookout were crazy, people from around the world were there for the day visiting the area and enjoying the views. Everyone was taking selfies, group photos, and asking for assistance so they could “all” be in the photo… we happily lent a hand.

After taking in the views and enjoying the sea of activity we wandered over to the bar at the main building …. also owned by the same company as 1128. The atmosphere was relaxing, the views a bit nicer and the food pretty much the same as upstairs, with a few more “fun” things on the menu. We finished the day with a jam session by Gravity Belt, a local group of boys who write and play their own music.

The whole point of the day was to have an experience from a local perspective…engage the crowds on one of the busiest days of the year eat what they eat, see what they see how they see it. The opinion, crowds or no crowds this is a gorgeous place to visit. The people as much as the location create the experience.

 

Christmas Comes to Medlow Bath

 

Medlow Bath, a township in the Blue Mountains, is nestled between Katoomba and Blackheath. Some might say its best known for the Hydro Majestic renowned for its old world accommodation and stunning views out over the Megalong. Others may not even know there is an airstrip, or stunning views looking out into the Grand Canyon.

Medlow is also home to a flagship Rural Bush Fire Brigade who every Christmas come together for their  annual Santa’s Run. This acts as an opportunity to interact with the local residents as well as a fundraiser to raise necessary funds to ensure their tools of the trade are always state of art. Earlier this year Medlow Bath Rural Fire Brigade Station was the recipient of a brand new category 1 tanker. Here we can see it in action along with a few of or tireless heroes who work and train hard behind the scenes, ready to defend and protect our community. They are a great team and the residents of Medlow are fortunate to have them.

If you happen to be a local, watch for them next year, wish them a Merry Christmas and lend your support.

Conquering ” The Nut”

After arriving in Stanley we knew one of our goals was to tackle The Nut. The Nut is a sheer sided bluff that is the remains of an ancient volcano. Our conundrum was after arriving the rain settled in and a climb to the windy unprotected Nut was certainly not ideal.

On our last day in town the weather broke and to our delight we set off to conquer The Nut. Feeling a bit lazy we rode the chairlift up. From the top the views were exquisite, we had a fine day and could see across the Bass Strait, the myriad of beaches dotting its shoreline and a fine view looking down into the village of Stanley.

Not only were we delighted by the panoramic views, as we wandered down into the lush foliage of The Nut’s eco system we also discovered a colony of Pademelon’s. The Pademelon is a small to medium marsupial most closely related to the Wallaby and Kangaroo.

The entire walk took about an hour and was a beautiful way to wrap up our visit in Stanley. Sadly this concluded our stay in Tasmania we would soon be crossing the same Bass Strait on our return trip to the mainland.

Feeling a bit peckish and still having a few hours to kill we decided one last meal and a bottle of Pinot Noir was in order. After perusing the options, we decided on Ghost Rock Vineyard. Here we were greeted by a lovely team who were keen to share their love of their wine and food. With e few bottles in tow to bring home we continued on our way to the Spirit of Tasmania and our return trip home.

Stanley – Around Town

 

Stanley was the last destination for our stay in Tasmania. We left Hobart and made our way to Stanley and on arriving were captivated by its charm. We looked at each other, smiled and raised the question … do you think we can stay a bit longer?  With that thought on our mind we rocked up to The Stanley Hotel for lunch. While enjoying a meal of fresh local seafood we moved our sailing back a couple days and booked a room at the hotel.

With nothing but time on our hands we wandered around town. We met a few characters, most notable was at a shop in town offering Single Malt Whiskey tastings. Now I have tasted wine, beer and cider but never whiskey. The proprietor of this establishment was a collector of fine Tasmanian Single Malt. Not only did he have an extensive and yummy collection his storytelling was equally as engaging.

As we continued to wander we learned more about this seafaring town, from the local fishing port, the scallop pies to the cattle on the edge of town grazing on what is proposed to be some of the finest grass in our nation each.

All we had left to conquer was, “The Nut”.

 

 

The Derwent Valley and Surrounds

Another day in Tasmania. Another day to explore more of this gorgeous place. Today’s expedition took us inland towards the Derwent Valley.

We left Hobart and headed for the Jeffries Track, a medium grade track for off-roading that runs between Lachlan and Crabtree, the track was pleasantly solid albeit the recent rains had made a few puddles. There is little doubt getting off the beaten track into the thick of the bush is decidedly satisfying. Once we got to the base of the track we raised the vehicle for added clearance. Having a vehicle that monitors traction for each tyre is a must especially when you cross through a large pool of water and do not know what is underneath.

After a bit of exploring deep in the bush we headed back into town. Tasmania is hands down renowned for its seafood so on the advice of the locals we headed over to the Salmon and Trout Farm to learn more about the history of inland fishing. The mere mention of Salmon and Trout in Australia hedged the question .. Are they native? … The answer is no.

In the mid 1800’s the settlers of Tasmania were determined to ensure the sport of fly fishing was available in the colonies. After generations and much funding a successful breeding program was started with live ova brought from England. Soon the rivers were plentiful with trout. Today the ponds are still home to breeding pools for a variety of trout and salmon. Visitors can toss fish food into manmade streams designed for breeding and watch the fish create a frenzy of bubbling water as they rise to the top to feed.

On walking through the property, I was reminded of another world. The air smelled like Autumn, the leaves on the trees were changing colours and falling to the ground. I watched children building piles of leaves, giggling as they jumped into them and the leaves flew around them. The feeling of being in another land we decidedly profound.

Alas the day was coming to an end so we headed in to town to relax have a chat, some dinner and watch the sunset over the Derwent River.