Thumb prints in the Australian desert

Anne Beadle High, South Australia

 

This is actually a close up of the bark on a tree!

 

Photo:  Janet-Planet in the Australian Bush

Janet-Planet

Milparinka – Outback Australia…

There is something very special about the Corner Country that has kept Janet and me coming back for as long as we can remember.

 

Perhaps it is the wide-open plains where the sunburnt land meets a deep blue sky on a far-away horizon, perhaps it is the golden sunsets as the sun slides below the western skyline, or maybe it is just the people and characters you meet out there…

In late May I will be acting caretaker at the Milparinka historical precinct and museum.

Milparinka is a tiny community located in far north-western New South Wales, about 40-kilometres south of Tibooburra and 300-kilometres north of Broken Hill. It is the oldest proclaimed township in the Corner Country, and is situated on the banks of the Evelyn Creek, named by Charles Sturt during his 1845 Inland Expedition.

Hey, be sure to drop into the museum and say g’day, if you’re out that way…!

Oh, don’t worry, if you can’t make it I’ll be sure to be capturing some of our spectacular outback in photo’s…

Photos: Baz – The Landy, Corner Country, Outback Australia…

Barry O'Malley
Baz – The Landy

Dog on the Tucker Box…

Well I’ve left the “big smoke” behind and pointed myself westward towards Mungo National Park to watch the lunar eclipse in a couple of days.

But hey, with time on my side what better way to wile away that time than being camped beside the mighty Murrumbidgee River at Gundagai reading poems and short stories by one of Australia’s greatest story tellers, Henry Lawson.

And of course, apart from the river the town is famous for the “Dog on the Tucker Box”…

Photos: Baz – The Landy, Gundagai…

Exploring Australia (One moment at a time)

Australia is a remarkable country, with a remarkable history…

An island continent inhabited by our first nation people for ten’s of thousands of years, and more recently, through European settlement. At times, it can be an unforgiving place where water can be scarce.

Australian aboriginal people moved from water-hole to water-hole to survive in the harsh desert country relying on “dream-time stories” to guide them…

Stories told in song, carvings and engravings, and rock art.

For our early European explorers’ finding water was critical as they surveyed our vast sunburnt country. At times, it was a critical life and death situation and there are many tributes to these explorers’ dotted across Australia.

Two explorers, John and Alexander Forrest, both surveyors, travelled into the vast Western Australian desert region in 1874. One can only imagine what was in their thoughts as they stood atop Mt Allott looking back across the vast plains to Mt Worsnop in the distance…

Perhaps it was the need to find a water supply before thirst from the relentless heat of the desert claimed them.

Standing on Mt Allott I reflected on how you can only live in the moment you are in; the past is irrelevant and the future may never arrive – you can only survive one moment at a time…!

That’s a great way to live your life, one moment at a time. Hey, what do you reckon?

Photos: Baz, Outback Australia (somewhere…!)

Beach Shacks and Lazy Summer Days…

Beach shacks and lazy summer days along the fabulous Australian Coastline, you got to love it, hey…!

Photo’s: Baz, Kangaroo Island, Southern Australia.

An Oasis in the Desert – Boodjamulla National Park

lawn hill NP

Situated in the Gulf Savannah country of northern Australia, with its deep gorges and craggy rocky outcrops, is the rugged and spectacularly beautiful Boodjamulla National Park…

 

This is an ancient, sunburnt land, and archaeological evidence suggests the area has been continuously occupied for at least 30,000-years, possibly longer than anywhere else in Australia.

 

The attraction is the permanent water source of Lawn Hill Creek. During arid times, when other sites where abandoned, this area was like an oasis in the desert for aboriginal people, Australia’s first people, who gathered here to camp, fish, and hunt.

Janet, TomO, and I have explored this region previously, but it has drawn us back like a magnet on many occasions, and being in North Queensland I could not resist the lure of another visit, to walk through the country and swim in Lawn Hill Creek.

In the Dreamtime stories of the Waanyi people, “Boodjamulla” is a spiritual person, the creator of all animals.

In the words of the Waanyi people…

“He made all the animals in the Lawn Hill area, and all the billabongs such as the green swamp, and all the bush tucker. Boodjamulla’s dreamtime travels started in Waanyi country at Cabbage Tree Spring, up above Riversleigh, giving water to O’Shanassy Creek, Lawn Hill Creek, the Gregory River, Louie Creek and Lilydale Springs.

Waanyi believe that Boodjamulla created these rivers as healing waters – known in Waanyi language as Bougli Water”…

Perhaps for the Waanyi people, the “Bougli Waters” has a different interpretation, but I certainly found the cool spring fed water of Lawn Hill Creek soothing after a day of walking in the gorges and climbing the Constance Range.

As a base for this trip I stayed just outside of the national park at Adels Grove, a private campground that we first visited in the early 1990s. Not much has changed over the years, and that is a good thing.

Adels Grove was declared a ’Miner’s Homestead Perpetual Lease’ in 1920, being within the Burketown Mineral Field at that time.

According to the history provided by the current owners, Adels Grove lease was purchased by Albert De Lestang, a French botanist, who experimented with the growing of tropical trees and fruits and had in excess of 1,000 trees and sold the fruit to supplement his income.

Lawn Hill

Tragically, in the early 1950s the ‘Grove’ and buildings were accidently burnt down. By this time Albert was in his seventies and after loosing everything, including all of his written records, he succumbed to depression and died age 75 at Charters Towers in 1959.

‘The Grove’ has certainly provided shade and comfort from the heat of the winter sun during my stay, with temperatures reaching up to 36 degrees throughout the day and around 15 degrees at night…

Apart from the rugged and rocky outcrops surrounding the gorge, the country has a prolific amount of wildlife. This includes the Johnstone’s crocodile or Freshie as it is usually known, turtles, the olive python, a large variety of birds, and a favourite of ours, the Gilbert Dragon, or Ta-Ta lizard due to the peculiar little wave it gives with its front legs before scampering away.

I managed to photograph some of the wildlife on my walks and at other times, simply sat back and enjoyed the calls of the birds flittering through the trees, and of the birds of prey soaring overhead.

And yes, I did swim with the Freshwater Crocs. Unlike their Saltwater cousins, the Freshie’s are generally timid and will leave you alone, if you stay out of their way…!

Boodjamulla National Park, truly an Oasis in the Desert in Australia’s Gulf Savannah.

Photos: Baz – The Landy, in the Gulf Savannah, Northern Australia…Hinchinbrook Island

 

 

 

 

Seaside – On the English Channel

 

Slapton Beach, a pleasant beach on the English Channel, which was one of the launching sites on D-Day in World War Two, and the site of a large American presence during the conflict…

Photos: Baz – The Landy, Slapton Beach, England…

The Wisdom of Merlin…

“Spend time not pondering what you see, but why you see it…”

Did Merlin actually exist and impart this great wisdom on a young King Arthur – crikey, who knows, but not a bad quote to reflect on, hey…!

Photos: Baz – The Landy & Janet-Planet, at Merlin’s Cave, Tintatgel, Cornwall (we’re believers!)

Moreton Island – A different kind of sand dune…

Toyota 79 Series Dual Cab

 

Our touring vehicle “The Landy” is booked in for a major service tomorrow having done 100,000 kilometres of touring this great country of ours over the past three-and-a-half years.

Much of it in the sand and desert country that is a feature of our Australian landscape…

At the end of the week I will be heading off to experience another type of sand country – Moreton Island, just off the coast of Brisbane.

Despite having lived in Brisbane for a number of years, Janet and I have never visited, so Janet has suggested I head off and do a “recce” of it so we can spend some time there together in the future.

Perhaps she is planning some “girlie shopping” ahead of our trip to Devon, in the South of England, during June and July and needs some space!

Moreton Island, which is reached by ferry, has around 400-kilomtetres of sand tracks to be “Xplored”, pristine waters and wrecks that you can snorkel around, and a historic Light-house built in the mid 1800’s…and they say the fishing is great – well I’ll put that to the test at some stage, but knowing my track record the fridge in “The Landy” will be stocked with a few steaks, just in case!

And I will be leaving the TVAN, our touring camper-trailer, at home in favour of swagging it – simple and easy.

The camera gear is packed, so hopefully the weather will be kind on Moreton so I can get “Out and About” and experience a different kind of sand country…

Photos:  Baz – The Landy

 

Steampunk meets Napoleon – on a World War 2 Battlefield…

The sound of a shell fired from the World War 2 tank rang out across the field, the boom and compression of the explosion sending a shiver down the spine of all in proximity…

 Men in khaki and camouflage fatigues were hitting the ground to avoid the inevitable fall-out from the shrapnel, weapons at the ready as they lay silently waiting for the order to advance on the German line.

The rattle of machine gun fire ringing out from the bunkers and motorcycle side-cars was deafening as the Germans fought to protect their ground, shrouded for a time behind the white plume of smoke that was by now drifting across the battlefield.

Mind you, some of the soldiers ambushed on “patrol” were a about a quarter-of-a-century too late for the encounter given it was a mock battle between American and German World War 2 forces; the advance party were dressed and kitted out for the jungles of Vietnam…!

But hang-on, what are those Vikings doing on the battlefield?

Didn’t they have their run a few centuries ago marauding and pillaging their way across England?

And aren’t those fancy looking blokes dressed to the “nines” with the feather plumes on their headgear “Frenchies” from the days when Napoleon was barking out orders as he roamed the countryside looking for trouble?

The scene was unfolding at Ironfest 2017 in the Central Tablelands township of Lithgow.

Ironfest is an arts festival that explores the relationship between humans, metal and identity and is held annually at the Lithgow Showground. It brings together artists, designer-makers, blacksmiths, and performers of all kind, musicians, Steampunkers, as well as historical re-enactors and steam-machine enthusiasts from all over Australia…

TomO, the Crown Prince, is a member of Ausreenact, a non-political World War 2 living history organisation made up of members who share a common interest in history and militaria, with a particular focus on the uniforms, equipment and vehicles of the Allied and Axis forces in the period 1939-1945. He re-enacts as a member of the US Forces 2nd Armoured Division and has quite a collection of gear and equipment he has assembled from the era and which he proudly had on display in his “bunker” during the weekend.

Each year Ausreenact, along with a number of other military groups, including those dedicated to Napoleonic re-enactment and Knights from medieval times, are invited to attend and take part in the festival.

No wonder the “battle-ground” was chaotic…

Medieval swords flashed and clashed to the boom of Napoleonic guns that were challenging the armoured vehicles from more modern times.

When the Knights were not swinging their swords in battle they were charging at each other in a medieval jousting match.

And here I was thinking how macho I must look wielding the whipper-snipper with menacing precision each time I trim the moraya hedge at home. Strewth, talk about starting to feel just a tad inadequate.

So I’ll just move on…

Away from the “battlefields” there was the sound of iron striking iron on anvils as blacksmiths demonstrated their craft, beads of sweat rolling down their faces as they forged metal into works of art.

And hey, what about all those Steampunk people…?

Steampunk I hear you ask? I too had to look up the definition of a “Steampunker” and I am still not sure I have it right.

One of the best definitions for a Steampunker I have come across is from Jess Nevins, author of the Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana (it hasn’t come up on my book club read list yet) who said…

“Steampunk is what happens when Goths discover brown.”

The costumes were as varied as the people that dressed in this fashion genre inspired by the Victorian era of steam and industrial machinery. I think it was the default costume for many who attended the festival.

But the Steampunkers seemed a happy bunch even if the women’s corsets appeared three sizes to small and their mode of transport was from another age if not simply strange…

Without doubt this weekend is possibly the two days of the year the various groups can safely come out from behind closed doors and still look normal; safety in numbers, so they say.

The activity was as diverse as it was frenzied, but somehow it all worked and integrated in a way that you would not think possible and I even got to take Janet-Planet on the cruise she has always wanted to do…

On the infamous “Love Boat”…

Photos: Baz – The Landy & Janet-Planet, Lithgow, Australia…

 

Hangman’s Rock…

Devine's Hill

On the rural outskirts of suburban Sydney, a little more than an hour’s drive from Sydney’s CBD, stands the small village of Wiseman’s Ferry.

Wiseman’s has a history steeped in early European settlement in New South Wales and at the heart of this historic village is the Wiseman’s Ferry Pub – a haunt that is popular with the weekend motorcycle crowd and families alike.

And I use the word haunt literally, as it is rumoured the upstairs guest rooms are haunted.

The pub is now owned by former Wallaby Bill Young and if you are visiting on a weekend be sure to take a look upstairs as it has a small museum and the accommodation rooms do look inviting, even if you might be sharing with a ghost from the past…

And if you ever stay there, let me know how you get on!

The village stands alongside the Hawkesbury River, which travels further upstream towards Windsor and downstream to an opening at the sea near Barenjoey. A car ferry transports you to the other side where you can travel towards either Spencer or the small Hamlet of St Alban’s, either of which are a very pleasant drive.

We are frequent visitor’s to the area and have spent many hours wiling away time in the park next to the river.

On a recent visit we took the ferry to the other side and walked up Devine’s Hill to a place called “Hangman’s Rock”.

It sounds ominous and folklore suggests that in the early days of settlement and at the time the Great North Road was being built, that convicts were hanged at this rock. But history does not point to this ever occurring.

But it isn’t hard to see why the folklore surrounding the rock evolved…

Devine's Hill

What makes the walk worthwhile, apart from being Out and About in the Australian bush, is the opportunity to view the magnificent work done by convicts on the road that was built northwards towards the Hunter Valley. In fact, it is along this walk that you can best observe the Great North Road as this part is now closed to vehicle traffic and has been preserved.

So if a bit of a hike up a small mountain, some history and a magnificent steak washed down with a cold beer is your thing, then head out to Wiseman’s Ferry for a day – I guarantee your first visit won’t be your last

Photo’s: Baz – The Landy & Janet-Planet

So Many Tears…

Art has a wonderful ability to transport us to a place in our mind’s eye…

A place where we can explore the meaning the artist is endeavouring to convey and perhaps even challenging our own bias or prejudice.

Currently, there is an exhibition of wonderful sculptures, hand-crafted by talented artist’s of all backgrounds, in a picturesque harbourside park with sweeping views of the city and the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. We spent a morning wandering around Clarke Reserve at Woolwich, an old historic harbour suburb where the exhibition is being held, viewing and photographing the many artworks on display.

For us, one stood out…

 “So Many Tears” by Keith Chidzey”

In creating this work, Keith used two old wharf timbers and embedded glass tears into the wood.

It was simple, poignant, and a very moving tribute to the artist’s great-uncle, Private Ryles, who perished in the mud of Passchendaele, Belgium, over 100-years ago.

The choice of the wharf timbers is to recognise they most likely witnessed the embarkation of Australian Troops onto ships from the many wharfs dotted around the harbour. Loved ones waving, wiping away their tears as they strained to catch one more glimpse as the troop ship pulled away from the wooden dock.

 “We shall remember them…”

Each of the timbers has a carved relief, one of a slouch hat; the other with the inscription on Private Ryle’s headstone where he lays in the cemetery at Tyne Cot.

And, sensitively, one of the timbers is facing the sunset, the other the sunrise.

We reflected on this wonderful piece of artwork, its simplicity amplifying the ultimate sacrifice that too many of our fellow countrymen and women made so we can enjoy the freedoms that we have today; to be able to sit in a quiet reserve on Sydney Harbour’s foreshore in relative safety and free from the anxiety that conflict and war brings.

Bravo Keith, you have created far more than a wonderful sculpture to be admired, it is a wonderful tribute to your great-uncle, to all those who served, and to those who currently serve.

“We shall remember them…”

 Photos: Baz – The Landy, & Janet-Planet, Sydney Harbour, Australia