Where are we now?

Where are we now?
Where are we now? Tahmoor, NSW. Updated 7th December 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 221. Bourke

A day of Bourke discovery

Today we were going to squeeze in as much touring of Bourke as possible. We started with a visit to the 'Back O' Bourke Exhibition Centre', which is a multi-million dollar new attraction to the town of Bourke. It covers Bourke's rich cultural history of the past through to the future of the Australian Outback. There are a series of interactive displays and stunning visual screens showing explaining stories of the Australian Outback.

Display at the Outback centre

There were fascinating exploits of early exploration in the area by Hamilton Hume and Charles Stuart. Poetry and stories of famous poets in the area such as Harry 'Breaker' Morrant and Henry Lawson. And information on the colourful local bushrangers, Captain Starlight, Captain Midnight and Thunderbolt. We all had a great time at the centre exploring the very interesting culture of Bourke. The people here are really proud of their amazing heritage, and it shows in this center.

'Historical Crossley Engine'
Next on the agenda was the midday start up of the 'Historical Crossley Engine'. This engine is located down on Bourke Wharf, which is an historical replica of the original wharf built in 1898 to load wool and other goods aboard paddle steamers bound for South Australia. The Crossley Engine is a fully restored 1923 vintage oil fuelled stationary engine manufactured by Crossley Brothers of Manchester England. The engine was used originally in the Sydney Power House to generate electricity for Sydney. It's still in perfect working order, and is started everyday at midday for the tourists. Shane and Scarlett really enjoyed seeing it run, while I made up a picnic lunch on the river bank nearby. We sat and ate ham and salad wraps under the coolabah trees, listening to the water birds in the river below.

Fox at Mt Oxley
After lunch we took a drive 28km's out of town to 'Mt Oxley'. This rather large monolith was discovered in Jan 1829 by Captain Charles Stuart, and he named it after the late Surveyor General John Oxley. Being situated on a private sheep and cattle station, we had to obtain permission for access. The old Cobb & Co coach route ran through this property in a bygone era, with the 'Mountain House' hotel being the changing station at the base of the mountain.

We found a number of strange craters on it's top; and to this day a number of theories exist about them, but nothing has been proven to explain their existence. While driving to the top we startled a fox on the road, came across feral goats, almost ran over bearded dragons, and were mesmerised the the soaring peregrine falcons and wedge tailed eagles. The view was amazing, and the wildlife made the drive all worth while.

The Strange Craters

How many locks does this stupid gate have

'PV Jandra' Paddle boat
We arrived back in Bourke just in time to take a leisurely ride on the 'PV Jandra', which leaves from behind our caravan park every afternoon. It's a replica paddle vessel built locally by the Mansell family in 2000. We did an hour long cruise along the Darling River, giving us a glimpse of  the river days of old. The river used to be a major transportation route for pastoralists, with wool bound for S.A. Along the river we saw a myriad of water birds such as African geese, wood ducks, major mitchell cockatoos, cormorants and whistling kites. It was a very relaxing afternoon indeed.

Darling River

I had one more item on my agenda before calling it a day, so after the paddle boat cruise we headed back into town to the local cemetery to see Fred Hollows last resting place. After the amazing work Fred did in the region helping people restore their sight, his wishes were to be buried here. Fred's grave site is surrounded by beautiful native trees and encircled by boulders from nearby Mt Oxley which are laid out in the shape of an eye. There is a sculpture carved from sandstone at the western end of the site, with 64 “eye” perimeter boulders, symbolising Fred’s age when he died.

Fred Hollows Grave

Fred's old headstone has been replaced with a black granite sculpture who's polished surface is reminiscent of the surface of those small medical marvels, pieces of clinical grade perspex called intraocular lenses (IOL). IOLs replace the natural damaged lens of the eye and restore sight to those living with cataract blindness. There is also a small ring of stones around a camp fire where a smoking ceremony by members of the indigenous community is regularly held in Fred's honour. It is am amazing tribute to an amazing man.

In the Veggie Patch
This afternoon after a quick fuel up, and grocery stop, Scarlett and I did a run down to the caravan parks veggie patch. We picked some spinach, snow peas, sugar snap peas, parsley, lettuce, and oregano to supplement our menu this week. After a quick call to mum, I had her yummy recipe for spinach slice (usually called something more fancy I can't remember right now) with ricotta, fetta and filo pastry which I will whip up in my oven tomorrow. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Took this funny pic of Scarlett today on the boat, I just had to put it in.

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