May 26, 2020

History on the Hume: The Herald Road Guide 1950

Hume Highway: On the Way

Albury to Gundagai

The old highway through Bowna has been closed and the new route runs through Table Top. Fingerboards in Albury make the way clear.

Holbrook, situated on Ten-Mile Creek, is the centre of rich cattle, sheep, and wheat country, and has a population of 4000.

In places, the hills, skirted by the main road, are remarkable formations, while volcanic rock outcrops are frequently visible.

The land surrounding Gundagai is devoted to grazing, wheat, maize, lucerne, dairying, and fruit growing. It is estimated that more than a million sheep and 60,000 cattle are kept in the district, and the industries in the town include a cheese factory and freezing works.

Extensive changes were being made to this section of the highway when this Guide was revised in 1938. A new road was being constructed from the Adelong turn-off at Tumblong right through to Tarcutta. When this has been completed, the route will be shorter and the difficulties of this section eliminated.

Meanwhile, 23 miles of rough gravel surface, with steep grades and sharp turns, must be traversed.
The Monaro Highway enters the Hume Highway near Hillas Creek. It begins at Bega, crosses the Brown Mountain to Cooma, and passes through Kiandra and Tumut.

The Sturt Highway begins at Lower Tarcutta and runs through to Mildura.
the esegi ve Denis

Goulburn has a population of 15,000 people, and is one of the most important towns in New South Wales. It is noted for its granite and slate deposits, and its other industries include woollen mills, soapmaking, brick-making and lime burning.

Leaving Goulburn, the route first runs parallel to the cliffs of the surrounding hills, on an eminence of which is the Goulburn War Memorial.

It then passes through forests to Marulan, then deviates (at Paddy's River) from the old highway through beautiful Mossvale.

Many tourists still take the Mossvale route. The road is good and more picturesque than the new highway. At Mossvale a road to the right leads to the beautiful Kangaroo Valley and Cambewarra look-ut, from which one of the finest views in Australia is obtained. It joins the Prince's Highway at Nowra.

The new highway runs through Berrima to the Wombeyan Caves Road, then bears right into Mittagong. From there a wonderful road leads to historic Picton, The Razor-back is next climbed and the route then takes the tourist through the oldest settled districts of Australia via Camden and Narellan

From Camden the new road, built on the historic Cowpastures Road to Liverpool, cuts out the old highway and Campbelltown.

Extract from Herald Road Guide kindly supplied by Mr Hoss Bolenski

MORE: History on the Hume series

May 25, 2020

The abandoned Sofitel Heiva resort in Tahiti

Despite the resorts dilapidated look, locals continue to maintain the grounds.

Ideally located on a secluded spit of land on the French Polynesian island of Huahine, the over-water bungalows still appear alluring and the botanic garden-like grounds are meticulously maintained by locals.
Floors are swept and polished.

A closer inspection reveals a totally derelict property, battered by the elements, stripped of all fittings with gaping holes in the roofs and in danger of collapse.
Once the site of good times, the resort now lies in a pitiful state

It’s been a decade since the last guest checked out and the former Sofitel stands as a sombre monument to the change of fortunes in many parts of this onetime holiday paradise.

All images (c) Roderick Eime

[Visited in 2012]

Visiting NSW Central West (1990)

Text source: Gregory's Touring Australia 1990. Included for historical purposes only
Photographs: Roderick Eime

It was not until 1813 that the early settlers were able to cross the seemingly impenetrable barrier of the Great Dividing Range and open up the Central West's rich farming and grazing lands.

The 1850s gold rush attracted thousands of people and today towns like Hill End and Gulgong still bear testimony to this significant chapter in the history of New South Wales

Hill End 

Hill End 1993 (Roderick Eime)

Formerly known as Hawkins Hill, now under the control of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, was settled from 1851 and, by 1872, when Beaufoy Merlin took most of his photographs, had a population of 8000, more than a kilometre of shops and twenty-seven hotels.

It was at Hill End in 1872 that the famous Holtermann's Nugget, the largest gold specimen ever discovered in Australia, was unearthed. It was 1.5 metres tall, weighed nearly 300 kilograms, contained 93 kilograms of gold and was worth £12 000.

Most of the surviving buildings in the town date from 1872 and many - including the district hospital that is now a visitor centre and museum, the Royal Hotel and some of the shops - have been restored in recent years. Even those buildings that have not survived are not forgotten - plaques with copies of Beaufoy Merlin photographs stand on many of the vacant sites in the town, showing what used to occupy the site.

Storekeeper, June Durie, Sofala. 1993

Visitors can inspect underground mine workings at Bald Hill, and explore Hawkins Hill, where Holtermann's Nugget was found. They can also fossick for gold at Tambaroora, about 3 kilometres from Hill End, and slightly further afield at the villages of Sofala, Hargraves and Windeyer. Fossickers are sometimes rewarded with small amounts of gold.


Gold was found at Gulgong in 1870, and by December 1872 the population of the town and the surrounding villages was more than 20 000. Among people who flocked to Gulgong were the parents of poet and writer Henry Lawson, who was four when he went to live in Gulgong in 1871. He immortalised the town and some of the people he met on the goldfields in many of his best-loved works.

Today Gulgong is known to many people as the town on the $10 note - the old paper note (not the new plastic one which is universally hated in the town) which townspeople petitioned to save.

Mary of Gulgong's buildings have survived from the gold rush days and are still in use - 170 properties, mostly dating from 1870 to 1910, are classified by the National Trust as being of historic significance.

But Gulgong greatest asset is its Pioneer Museum, which is said by many to house the finest collection of Australiana in the country. Displays tell of the gold rush, the development of transport and agriculture, the war years and the changing way of life of Gulgong's residents. There is even a collection of faithfully restored local buildings at the rear of the museum, including the Reedy Creek Inn, which was first licensed in 1851, an 1871 blacksmith's, a cottage dating from 1891 and a late nineteenth-century schoolroom. Among recent additions is an audiovisual room where a series of presentations documents the lives of the towns pioneer women using the recorded memories of their descendants.

Gulgong's other major attraction is the Henry Lawson Centre, which boasts the largest collection of Lawsonia outside the Mitchell Library. The centre has a number of early editions of Lawson's work, photographs and newspaper cutting detailing his life, and paintings depicting some of the scenes so colourfully described in his poems and stories.

As gold became harder to find in the Central West in the mid-1870s, agriculture again became the dominant activity in the region. Today the rolling hills and flat plains of the area support cattle, sheep, wheat and fruit.


Historic Mudgee Railway Station (Roderick Eime 2017)

This pleasant town is becoming famous for it's thriving wineries, which produce wines to rival some of Australia's best. There are about twenty wineries in the area and although some are owned and run by large Australian wine companies, many are small, independent concerns. Most welcome visitors and offer wine tastings as well as cellar door sales. Quite often visitors will be greeted by the winemaker himself, and be shown some of the wine-making operations. Botobolar winery is particularly interesting because it grows its grapes organically, without chemical fertilisers or pesticides. At certain times of the year, sheep graze among the vines to keep down the weeds, and a sign in the car park warns that "trespassers will be composted". The town is also noted for its honey and at the Mudgee Honey Company, staff will explain how honey is produced, then offer tastings of more than twenty different varieties.


Further west, Orange - paradoxically best known for the apples grown in the region - and Dubbo are modern cities serving their predominantly farming communities, as well as tourists.

Orange, the birthplace and home of poet Banjo Paterson, is on the slopes of Mount Canobolas, an extinct volcano that is now a popular reserve. Walking trails lead to the summit, where visitors are rewarded with 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside.


Rhino at Western Plains 1993 (Roderick Eime)

Home of the Central West's principal tourist attraction, Western Plains Zoo, where the animals are displayed according to their geographic origins. The clever use of moats and inconspicuous barriers means there are no bars between the animals and the public - a bonus for everyone, particularly photographers. An 8- kilometre drive or cycle ride (bicycles can be hired) will take the visitor through Africa, Eurasia, North America, Australia and South America, enabling them to view a number of endangered species as well as more common creatures.

The zoo is near another of Dubbo's attractions, the National Trust-owned Dundullimal, claimed to be the most sophisticated slab homestead in Australia. Dating from the 1840s, it boasted such refinements as plastered internal walls, glazed french doors and cedar windows, and even a bell-pull system for summoning the servants.

In the city centre, Old Dubbo Gaol, dating from 1848, has been brought alive by the introduction of a number of lifelike, animated models that tell their story at the touch of a button.


Wellington Nearby is Wellington, noted for its limestone caves with their dramatic formations of stalagmites, and Burrendong Dam, which offers an abundance of watersports.


Start of the 1997 Bathurst 1000 (Roderick Eime)

The oldest city in the Central West is Bathurst, which was settled in 1815 and is perhaps best known to Australians as the home of the Mount Panorama motor racing circuit. It was the birthplace and home of Ben Chifley, Australia's prime minister from 1945 to 1949, and his humble cottage in Busby Street is among attractions in the city.

Other attractions include Abercrombie House, a grand mansion built in the 1870s, and Miss Traill's House, an 1845-built colonial cottage with fascinating displays charting the growth of the city.

The Warrumbungles 

Located just west of Coonabarabran is one of the state's most spectacular National Parks - the Warrumbungles. Discovered in 1818 by explorer John Oxley, the Warrumbungles offer good bushwalking and rock climbing opportunities. The name Warrumbungles is believed to be Aboriginal for "little or broken mountains" – something of an understatement because the rocky spires and forested ridges of the range rise dramatically from the surrounding plains. A well-signposted network of walking tracks enables visitors to view some of the most stunning scenery and to spot some of the diverse wildlife found within the 21 000-hectare Park. Kangaroos and wallabies abound, while emus, possums and numerous colourful parrots can be seen. Eagle-eyed visitors may even spot that shyest of Australian marsupials, the koala.

Just outside the Park is Siding Spring Observatory, home of the Anglo-Australian telescope, one of the most advanced in the world. The observatory is open to visitors during the day but not at night when its astronomers are at work.

May 23, 2020

Tetsuya Wakuda: A Sydney culinary icon

In Sydney, he's a culinary icon, a survivor for over a quarter of a century in one of the most competitive restaurant markets in the world. Winsor Dobbin profiles this master.

In Singapore, he is the relative newcomer whose tiny eatery keeps garnering award after award.

May 22, 2020

Florence Broadhurst: Enigmatic stylist, unsolved murder

Florence Broadhurst, one of Australia’s most remarkable creatives, continues to surprise. Acclaimed author, Helen O'Neill, recalls her own fascination with this doyenne of design.

The first time I heard her life story, told to me twelve years ago in only the sketchiest of details, I was stunned not only that her home country seemed to have forgotten her but that the world did not know.

Broadhurst’s tale, which I would tell in full in my illustrated biography of her, beggared belief. She had been born in 1899 to a poor farming family from near Mount Perry in rural Queensland. She had a strong contralto voice, singing her way out of the bush and then, using the name ‘Bobby’ Broadhurst, out of the country as part of a vaudeville troupe that spent the Roaring Twenties touring Asia.

In Shanghai she changed tack and launched her first business – the Broadhurst Academy finishing school where the daughters of wealthy British ex-pats could learn everything from elocution to the Charleston from her and her ‘expert’ staff. By the 1930s Broadhurst had reinvented herself again – this time becoming the chic Madame Pellier, a French couturier based in London who claimed to be a ‘genuine dress artist’ engaged by the famous and rich.

In the 1950s, back in Australia, a whole new Florence emerged. This time she masqueraded as an aristocratic English woman visiting the colonies to recuperate from the ravages of World War II. She painted landscapes, claimed to know the British Royal family, and happily likening her modest artistic style to that of the great impressionists and Leonardo da Vinci.

Broadhurst embedded herself in Sydney’s high-end social scene as a businesswoman, public speaker and charity fund-raiser, at one point even announcing that she wanted to be Australia’s ‘Ambassadress’. When her landscapes failed to impress she moved her on to portraiture, concentrating on images of people she considered significant.

That did not work out either, and in desperation, as her marriage broke down and her business endeavours faltered, she launched what would become her defining venture – a Sydney wallpaper business.

During the Sixties and Seventies, Florence Broadhurst produced a stunning kaleidoscope of hand-printed wallpapers from bespoke, hand-drawn designs. She took the colours of the time and magnified them but it is the sheer range of images in her design archive that continues to surprise. They range from conservative European tapestries to interlocking geometrics, romantic florals, psychedelia and charming Chinoiserie.

Broadhurst designs are still available today. Pic  Florence Broadhurst's design library

Yet however dynamic the wallpapers were, Florence Broadhurst seemed more startling still: a tiny woman with bright red hair, a penchant for false eyelashes and dramatic clothes. She did as she pleased, picking up younger boyfriends and living life to the full. She was difficult to ignore yet somehow easy to take for granted.

On October 15, 1977, the 78-year-old was brutally murdered in her Paddington wallpaper showroom. Despite an intense police investigation, her assailant was never found. Then an even stranger thing happened. Florence Broadhurst and her designs were somehow forgotten, disappearing from view.

‘Did I think there could be a biography in this woman?’ I was asked, back in 2003. I answered immediately, before I had even had a chance to see the images, then being gradually restored by Signature Prints, the Sydney business that held what was left of her designs and silk screens.

‘If what you are telling me is true, I don’t understand why there hasn’t been one already,‘ I said. ‘Could there a book on this woman? Yes indeed.’

Much has happened since then. Fashion designers such as Akira Isogawa and Nikki Zimmerman have incorporated her patterns into their own creations. Interior designers have used her designs everywhere from Melbourne to London, Fiji and Los Vegas. She has developed a celebrity following, with people such as Elle Macpherson, Mark Jacobs, Gwyneth Paltrow and Courtney Love are all believed to own examples of her work.

When my biography came out in the USA it caught the eye of Deborah Lloyd, creative director and president of the luxury brand Kate Spade which went on to make Broadhurst designs a key part of its entire 2012 range, stocked in every store. Lloyd even emailed me to say, ‘Thank you so much for writing the book that started this love affair’.

Broadhurst’s reach continues to grow as Signature Design Archive, a company that evolved from Signature Prints, finds new partners to license her work across the globe. Already you can sleep with Broadhurst (there is a range of bed linen), eat with her (on specially designed crockery), and even take garden with her using trowels made using her designs, and her trajectory shows no sign of stopping.

Florence Broadhurst is back for good and looks set to travel further perhaps even she ever imagined.


Helen O’Neill is the author of
Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret and Extraordinary Lives
published by Hardie Grant Books, $65.

Famous shark attack victim, Rodney Fox, wants to protect sharks.

In 1963, a 23-year-old spear-fisherman was taken by a great white shark. He received 462 stitches and survived to retell his horrific ordeal. But instead of wanting to kill sharks, RODNEY FOX explains why he has campaigned to protect them.

Lucky to be alive. Rodney Fox and his 426 stitches.
BEFORE I was attacked by a great white shark, each time I went spearfishing my mother would say to me "Watch out for the sharks - they are hungry this time of year!" My knowledge of sharks and attacks was limited. It was like when you were young and crossed a busy road. Your mother always told you to watch out for cars - you might get hit and killed. You understood. but never believed it would happen to you.

In hospital, in great pain, I continually thought about shark attacks and whether I would go back into the water. Those thoughts were increased by friends who didn't discuss it and others who said I would make a good golfer.

I was not sure if I could or wanted to go back into the water. When I tried my first dive, my imagination went wild - I saw sharks coming at me from all directions. I remember saying to myself "Stop this! If you don't control your mind, you will never make it."

Sometimes, when sleeping, I would drift into what could be a violent nightmare, reliving the attack.

Just after my attack I was introduced to the underwater explosive power-head. I screwed this device on the end of my rubber-propelled speargun, replacing the spearhead and barb. The explosive head was loaded with a .303 bullet which would go off on contact with the shark's skin, making a large hole and killing it.

I shot a few sharks this way, but we had lots of trouble and great difficulty in finding sharks.

I shot some while being filmed. I wanted to prove to myself and to show others that there was an effective weapon you could protect yourself with while exploring the wonderful underwater world.

Because of the huge amount of publicity the shark attack generated people were very interested. They asked many questions and were very interested in sharks. I read every shark book I could find, but not much was known about sharks and I still wanted to find out more.

Alf Dean, an Adelaide businessman and world record holder for white pointers (great white sharks), sent me a letter in hospital that really made me think. He said: "If you had seen what I have seen, you would give up diving forever". I wanted to see what he meant, so I made the first protective shark cage and organised an expedition.

Alf Dean with his record shark catch at Ceduna SA, 1959

There was Alf Dean, three victims of great whites - Brian Roger, Henry Bource and myself - and underwater cameraman Ron Taylor.

Alf caught five great white sharks between 3.3m and 4.2m long on that first trip, and from the safety of that first underwater cage, I saw just how big they were. How effortlessly they would glide through the water and turn and dive with graceful fluid movements. I saw another side to the story and wanted to find out more.

We filmed them above and below water, cut out their jaws and dumped them back in the sea. This film was the first ever made on great whites and titled Great White Death (1981). It was the start of a long career of more than 150 expeditions to film and study this feared predator.

During the next few years I caught a few great white sharks on set drums. Catching and killing sharks was easy with a good strong boat and a knowledge of the right places.

Each year I also made two or more filming expeditions. Each film company would bring with them nature experts, shark scientists and researchers from all over the world.

I didn't feel right killing sharks for fun. and I did not believe the old saying "the best shark is a dead shark". but couldn't understand why they didn't attack more people. I knew that sea water made up seven-tenths of the Earth's surface and thought there must be thousands, maybe millions of big sharks out there. Not so. Sharks aren't fast breeders and don't have many young, so just killing a few may upset the whole balance of nature.

About two years after my shark attack. my diving pals and I found a huge bed of abalone off Tipora Light, Port Hughes, and I started diving full-time as an abalone fisherman. I thought about sharks a lot, but never saw any big ones.

JAWS. (1975)
A major Hollywood motion picture company asked me if I would organise an expedition to film great whites. I felt quite proud to share my new knowledge, and we spent six weeks filming at Dangerous Reef. Only about one minute of our footage was used, because the real sharks made the big rubber models look unrealistic. This film was Steven Spielberg's first blockbuster movie, Jaws. Millions of people around the world saw this film and some queued for hours. When Peter Benchley was in Adelaide last year he told me "Jaws, the book and movie hit a nerve in so many people who had a great fear of being eaten alive." He could not believe the Jaws phenomenon.

I have met many people who saw this movie and have said because of this film they hate sharks. I felt a little responsible. and have spent years telling people that sharks aren't so bad. We are not the sharks normal prey. They don't like us - we are too bony. If they do bite us they mostly spit us out.

I started to believe we shouldn't kill and wipe out any species because of fear. We must learn to live with the sharks. On average, we only have one death out of six to eight shark attacks in Australia each year.

We need sharks in our oceans because they are a key predator. The great white is at the top of the food chain where it directly controls the diversity and abundance of all other species underneath it.

Without them, the next level in the food chain, such as the seals and dolphins. would get out of balance changing the whole structure of our local ocean ecosystem.

Then their food, such as squid and baitfish which also support other high-level carnivores, would be depleted. causing some species to displace and eradicate others and so on down the line. The health and biological fitness of these populations would suffer.

Footnote: Today Rodney Fox operates an internationally renowned shark dive experience out of Port Lincoln, South Australia. See Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions


Source: From the original newspaper clipping

May 21, 2020

Juneau, Alaska's unknown capital

Words: Len Rutledge Images: Phensri Rutledge

Travel to most places is difficult at present but planning for future travel has never been more popular. People are avidly reading about destinations that interest them and many are already booking for future travel. Alaskan tourism was booming in 2019 and it is expected to be successfully revived in 2021. While wilderness is probably Alaska’s most appealing feature, don’t forget the cities.

Most people are vague about which city is the capital of Alaska. Most would not recognise this as the most scenic capital city in the U.S. Even less would know which is the only capital city in the U.S.A you can’t reach by car. The answer to all these comments is Juneau, a natural wonder, wildlife hotspot and cultural jewel.

The 32,000 residents must come and go by plane or a three-day ferry trip. I, like most of the 1.3 million annual visitors, arrived by cruise boat. I discovered it has a great blend of extreme and relaxing activities for just about anyone.

For those looking for adrenaline pumping action there are helicopter tours, glacier trekking, dog sledding, kayaking, zip lining, all-terrain vehicle riding, taking the Mount Roberts Tramway and so forth. More relaxing activities include sightseeing, whale watching and history chasing.

Sealaska Heritage Institute

This is a place where Native people tell the Native story. You can walk through an authentic clan house, listen to an ancient story, and explore exhibits that share knowledge about Southeast Alaska through Native perspectives.

Monumental art pieces have been created for the building, representing the three tribes of the region. Outside there are giant red metal panels designed by an internationally celebrated artist and three, bronze house posts by emerging master artists. Inside you see an enormous house front and the largest glass screen in the world.

Mount Roberts Tramway

I recommend you travel 600 metres up the mountain in this thrilling ride and then explore a park offering cultural heritage education, dynamic crafts and some amazing, expansive views. This is undoubtedly Juneau’s most panoramic and breathtaking view and the tramway leaves right from the wharf.

At the top you explore the Sky Bridge and Mountain House complex. Inside you’ll find a theatre, gift shop, restaurant and espresso bar. Enjoy the complimentary 18-minute film, “Seeing Daylight”, about the Native way of life.

Alaska State Capitol building

Don’t look for a dome and don’t look for big grounds when searching for the Capito because this is one of the few that have neither. This was built in 1931 well before statehood, so originally it was a federal building.

The large, boxy building can be explored on a self-guided tour from the lobby. You see two murals of living off the land and ocean in Alaska, governmental chambers, and hallways bedecked with historical displays featuring photos, newspaper clippings and artwork.

The nearby State Administration building proved to be an interesting find. We were alerted to it by a local resident and we found a huge stuffed bear, a magnificent theatre organ and a great view overlooking Juneau and the Gastineau Channel.

Mendenhall Glacier

Juneau’s most popular attraction is a kilometre wide with ice 100 metres to 600 metres deep. This is Alaska’s most easily reached glacier and provides some of the most spectacular landscapes in the state. It is only 20 kilometres from downtown and the Glacier Shuttle provides transportation every 30 minutes.

The Visitor’s pavilion has a 15-minute film about how Mendenhall is part of the huge Juneau Icefield and it provides a great view but take a short walk down Photo Point Trail to a lookout platform which provides an unobstructed view of the Glacier’s face.

The 20-kilomere-long river of ice terminates on the far side of Mendenhall Lake. Blue icebergs float in the lake amid reflections of the surrounding magnificent mountains.

Nugget Falls

In my opinion the most rewarding walk from the Mendenhall Visitors pavilion is to Nugget Falls. This is a waterfall downstream of the Nugget Glacier which drops 115 metres in two tiers of 30 m and 85 m onto a sandbar in Mendenhall Lake.

The walk to the falls is a very easy and flat 3 kilometres round trip as part of the East Glacier Loop. The hike can be done in a leisurely 45-60 minutes but you will find that you are stopping at many points because the views are so stunning.

Black bears frequent this area although we didn’t see any. Visitors are warned to stay on designated trails, not to take food or flavoured beverages on walks, and give bears plenty of space if encountered by not approaching them.

Restaurants and shopping

The Red Dog Saloon with its sawdust floor and relics covering the walls is a popular tourist attraction. Crab lovers should head to Tracy’s King Crab Shack for some of the best crab dishes in Alaska. Seafood, Asian, fish and chips, and pizzas are also on offer.

Jewelry stores dominate offerings to tourists. Many are promoted (and some are owned) by cruise companies. Caribou Crossing features over 60 Alaskan artists while House of Russia trades on the old Russian connection. The Raven Eagle Gift Shop is one of several Native-owned outlets.

May 20, 2020

Visiting Historic Yanga Homestead in #NewSouthWales

Yanga Homestead was constructed between 1867 1872. The homestead kitchen wing appears to have been constructed in two stages with the southern half of the building possibly built around 1862. The southern half features walls of adzed drop slabs set between vertical posts while the northern side of the kitchen wing is of drop log construction (Cypress pine logs with adzed ends). This section contains a pantry, kitchen, maid's room, storage rooms and the station office.

The main homestead wing facing east is also of drop log construction but the logs have tenoned ends and painted uprights. A tenon is a projection on the end of a piece of wood shaped for insertion into a mortice to make a joint.

Local drop log construction used either logs cleaned of bark or with bark attached. Bark has been retained on the logs used at Yanga. Cypress logs have also been used to support veranda roofs and rafters.

The interior design comes from the wool boom of the 1950s, with little evidence surviving from earlier periods.

Pressed metal ceilings and door lintels in the formal dining room appear to date from the 1920s following acquisition of the property by Sims Cooper in 1919. The northern end of the homestead was converted into an apartment for the manager and his family in the 1980s.


BEFORE ALL THE DAMS, WEIRS AND IRRIGATION appeared along the Murrumbidgee River, the so-called 'flooded country below Hay' was a landscape of stately River Red Gum forests and blue lakes. Travellers to this river country' have long noted how its shade, water and lush seasonal grasses sharply contrast with the surrounding dry, saltbush plains.

For thousands of years the low 'Bidgee regularly spilled its banks as it neared the Murray River, full of snow-melt and spring rains carried from distant mountain ranges. These floods created a place teeming with fish and migratory birds that was a valuable economic resource for Aboriginal people in the area. The Nari-Nari, Wadi-Wadi and Mutthi-Mutthi people fished, farmed and hunted in what was one of the most densely populated areas in the country.

Although the river country was boggy, wet and swampy, some Europeans also saw it as a valuable resource. From the 1840s squatters such as George Hobler arrived, looking for grasslands to run their sheep. Some were driven off by Aboriginal warriors. Others either forced their occupation through firearms, or like Hobler, offered Aboriginal people work on their squatting runs. Huge swathes of Aboriginal land were claimed by squatters - sometimes up to 500,000 acres. By the 1850s a series of runs had been converted to a leasehold of nearly 300,000 acres called Yanga Station. Yanga stretched from the Nap Nap swamps in the north to Yanga Lake in the south - over one hundred and fifty kilometres of 'Bidgee riverbank. Much of the land flooded annually, so the early pastoralists made sure they had some 'high ground' for their stock to shelter on. When the floods receded each year, not only were the lakes replenished, but good grazing grasslands appeared. During the 1850s Augustus Morris and his wife Eliza built a red gum slab homestead on the peninsular overlooking Yanga lake. Eliza set about establishing a garden that was to be a well-known feature of the Yanga homestead for the next 150 years.

The Morris' simple red gum building was enlarged to a grander residence during the mid-nineteenth century and the remarkable pine drop-log homestead became the centre of operations of the largest freehold title pastoral station in Australia.


Photographic evidence suggests that the current garden layout was developed a short time before 1920 and retained its general character throughout the twentieth century. Early photographs show a profusion of annuals planted in the garden beds and a formal garden had also been established in the courtyard formed by the two wings of the homestead. Much of this was removed when a tennis court was later constructed.

A terrace between the formal garden and the lake once contained a substantial vegetable garden which produced sufficient produce for the needs of the station and sale of surplus in Balranald. A small gardener's hut is located at the northern end of this terrace. An orchard is located to the north of the formal garden.

Where: 38773 Sturt Highway, Yanga, NSW, 2711 - in Yanga National Park
Accessibility: Easy
Price: $15 for an audio set if you'd like to take a self-guided tour.
Opening times: Yanga Homestead precinct is open 8.30am to 4.30pm daily.
What to bring: Drinking water
Bookings: Collect a self-guided tour package (key, audio and map) at the Yanga National Park office on site.

TEXT SOURCE: NSW Parks & Wildlife Service

Visiting the NSW Southern Highlands

If any part of New South Wales resembles the country after which it was named, it's the Southern Highlands. Here the grass is greener, the air cooler and the countryside more prettily delicate than in the rest of the state. Tulips bloom in the spring, trees blaze russet in autumn, and sleek cattle graze on lush emerald slopes.

Situated 128 kilometres south of Sydney, the Southern Highlands stretch across a spur of the Great Dividing Range, from Mittagong in the north to Fitzroy Falls in the south. From Sydney, the most scenic route to the Southern Highlands is the steep and winding ascent over the misty Macquarie Pass.

Places of Interest 

The first Southern Highlands township you come to is Robertson, a quaint corner of old Australia, perched high on a hilltop with panoramic views to the coast. Stop for Devonshire tea in front of a log fire at Ranelagh House, a rambling old manor house where you can absorb the character of this unique area. Close to Robertson are some of the most attractive waterfalls in New South Wales – the Fitzroy, Carrington, and Belmore Falls.

Tulip Time in Bowral is always hugely popular. (Supplied)

Nearby is the quaint hamlet of Burrawang whose main street is lined with wooden cottages. The 127-year-old general store is a treasure-trove of old jars and potions. The owner makes his deliveries in a horse and sulky. From Burrawang you get good views over Wingecarribee Dam and the Fitzroy Falls Reservoir.

The main towns of the Southern Highlands are Mittagong, Moss Vale and Bowral. Bowral became a retreat for affluent Sydney folk in the late 1880s, many of whom built grand mansions here with magnificent gardens, like Milton Park which is now a luxurious hotel. Bowral nestles under Mt Gibraltar, the highest peak in the Highlands. This is a very appealing resort, especially in October, during the Tulip Festival, when Corbett Gardens blaze with colour.

Pies like these at Robertson are sought \
after all across the Southern Highlands
The showcase of the Southern Highlands is Berrima. The whole township has been listed by the National Trust and its main street, with colonial buildings clustered around a village green, is like a picturebook illustration of early Australia. Despite a profusion of craft shops and tearooms, Berrima retains the flavour of bygone days. Its impressive colonnaded courthouse was designed by Mortimer Lewis. Inside, the cells and courtroom exhibit startlingly realistic scenes with life-sized mannequins, while an interesting film explains the history of the region. The Surveyor General Inn is the oldest continually licensed hotel in Australia. Other historic buildings include forbidding Maitland Gaol, Harpers Mansion, Brian McMahon's Pub, Victoria Inn, the Barn Gallery and the Old Bakery.

Bundanoon, perched on the edge of the Morton National Park, was the honeymoon capital of New South Wales in the 1920s but today it is a naturelovers' capital with bush tracks to spectacular lookouts over rainforests, gullies and gorges. Bicycles may be hired here. Every April, a colourful highland festival transforms Bundanoon into Brigadoon.

Mittagong, on the Hume Highway, is a pleasant town with fine old sandstone buildings and craft shops. Lake Alexandra is a good picnic spot edged by a parkland reserve teeming with birdlife. A scenic drive leads to the top of Mt Alexandra.

At Moss Vale, 14 kilometres from Mittagong visitors can browse in antique shops, visit the historic Throsby Park Homestead, and picnic at the Cecil Hoskins Nature Reserve on the banks of the Wingecarribee River where eighty species of bird have been recorded.

Scenic Attractions 

Don't miss the Wombeyan Caves which are situated in a scenic valley 65 kilometres from Mittagong. These cathedral-like caverns are renowned for their unusual formations. Daily tours are available, but you can explore one cave independently. A bushland reserve surrounds the caves, with tracks leading to a creek and waterfall.

One of the most beautiful drives in this region leads from the spectacular Fitzroy Falls, down Barrengarry Mountain, to Kangaroo Valley. The medieval-style, castellated Hampden Bridge spans the Kangaroo River which meanders through picturesque countryside and is ideal for canoeing, swimming and bushwalking. The trails start from the Pioneer Farm, a delightful recreation of life on an early dairy farm.

National Parks 

Morton National Park covers over 150 000 hectares of spectacular scenery and extends for 130 kilometres from Belmore Falls in the north to Yadboro Creek in the south. Striking features of this Park are deep rugged gorges and sandstone cliffs over 250 million years old which tower over deep gullies eroded by the Shoalhaven, Kangaroo, Endrick and Clyde rivers.

The Visitor Centre at Fitzroy Falls has maps and useful information to help you identify the main features along the tracks. Check with them before starting off, as the condition of tracks can change. A picnic area with fireplaces is provided nearby.

The Fitzroy Falls Lookout is very close to the Visitor Information Centre. The falls are a stunning sight, plunging 82 metres over a sandstone cliff into the rainforested slopes of the Yarrunga Valley below.

Two magnificent walks, one on each side of the escarpment, provide stunning views from a series of lookouts along the way. Each track is about 3 kilometres long, and takes one to two hours easy walking. After one kilometre on the west rim walk, you come to the Twin Falls, an unusual double cascade. The East Rim walk which leads to Lamond Lookout is a wildflower track.

Less famous than the Fitzroy Falls, Belmore Falls provide an incomparable picnic spot. These attractive falls drop into two rocky pools and divide into two waterfalls. A short walk through eucalypt forest leads to several lookouts. There's a fantastic view of Kangaroo Valley and the steep sandstone escarpment above the rainforest from Hindmarsh Lookout. Among the many birds here are Lewin honeyeaters, grey shrike thrush, superb fairy wren and rufous fantails. For the best view of the upper and lower falls, follow the loop track to Belmore Falls Lookout.

The Bundanoon section of Morton National Park has sixteen walks which vary from short strolls to long, steep hikes. You can reach the main lookouts by car, or cycle around the Park's circular track. One of the easiest walks leads from William Street to Glow Worm Glen. As glow worms are only visible after dark, you'll need a torch to see the track. You can follow tracks to Grand Canyon, Dimmocks Creek, Fern Tree Gully and Fairy Bower Falls. A steep descent leads from Track Junction to Bundanoon Creek. For something different, walk from Gambells Rest to Erith Coal Mine, which was opened in 1860.

Animals that inhabit the Park include the grey kangaroo, swamp wallabies, red-necked wallabies, spiny anteaters, bandicoots and platypuses. You may see wombat burrows near the walking tracks. Two threatened bird species – the eastern bristle bird and the swamp parrot - various types of parrot and large birds of prey such as the wedge-tailed eagle and whistling eagle. Other birds include scrub wrens, shrike tit and the noisy gang-gang cockatoos. The satin bower bird and grey thrush are sometimes seen near Fitzroy Falls.

Budderoo National Park, currently being developed, features Carrington Falls. The Park can be reached by turning off the Jamberoo Road, Nature Reserve with its bird observatory, walking trails and picnic facilities. Carrington Falls drops 50 metres into Kangaroo Valley, and can be viewed from several lookouts. There are walking tracks, picnic and barbecue facilities, and a specially constructed track for disabled people. A 600-metre loop walk leads into a rainforest gully.

The outstanding feature of this Park is its pocket of Minnamurra Rainforest, near Jamberoo. A 2-kilometre loop walk, with access for the disabled, has been designed to show visitors the rainforest vegetation.

Macquarie Pass National Park is located along the Illawarra escarpment near Robertson. It consists of steep, densely timbered ridges and rainforest gullies towered over by cliffs. You can walk into the forest along Clover Hill Road, the Cascades Walking Track and Glenview Road. There are picnic and camping areas available.

- Original text from Gregory's Touring Australia

MORE: History on the Hume series

May 18, 2020

Lucerne: Pure Swiss

Lucerne has got the lot. Bev Malzard fell for its charms and enjoyed the city, lake and the mountains – who said you can’t have it all?

I was an hour late arriving in Lucerne from my last stop. No, it wasn’t a Swiss train running late, it was me, at the last stop huffing and puffing up stairs with my big, fat suitcase, and as I hit the platform the train silently glided out of the station – damn, I was five seconds late – and Swiss trains wait for no man or woman.

Arriving in Lucerne at midday in the middle of the week threw me into the energy of a city dressed to kill and glorying in an Indian summer. Along the shore of inlets and quays of Lake Lucerne, office workers sunned themselves, ladies lunched, dogs walked and wagged and travelling backpackers drifted, dazed by this overwhelmingly attractive city, with a range of mountains as its backdrop.

There’s a lightness of spirit here, nothing too heavy or formal, and the late summer displayed flowers in every receptacle. I trundled my way across the famous, beautifully preserved (constructed in the 14th century) Kapellbrucke (Chapel Bridge) and pondered at how well it accommodated the 21st-century foot traffic and continued to display to the world and its elements the original 17th-century paintings that illustrate scenes of Swiss life, including the histories of a few of the city’s patron saints including Leodegar and Mauritius.

I’d crossed the bridge and walked towards one of the most elegant hotels I have seen – gleaming in the midday sun, the hotel and I became as one when I entered the foyer. Happy days in my beautiful room at Hotel Des Balances, a chic, boutique hotel in the heart of the traffic-free old town.

Out and about to tackle Lucerne by foot. It’s not a vast city, and small enough to get the gist of the layers of history that unfold as you crisscross from one side of the water to the other. Between coffee, cake, ice cream, lunch and cool drink stops, I explored what’s there:

The wondrous Culture and Convention Centre, famed for its amazing acoustics. The architecture is bold and there’s a wide, sweeping platform verandah roof jutting out over the front of the building sheltering the walkways and cafes. There’s a huge pool of water in front of the building. When the building opened, the architect, Jean Nouvel, refused to add a railing around the pool as it ‘would spoil the aesthetics’. At the opening night’s gala event a woman stepped back and fell in the pool – it was the architect’s mother. There are now glass walls.

The old town still resonates of its mediaeval past, and with its intact towers, walls, bridges and old houses there’s a sense of solidarity among the newcomers to the city – those trendy 17th-century upstarts.

There are magnificent edifices and monuments, such as the Jesuit Church and the Lion Monument, which Mark Twain described as the ‘the most mournful and moving piece of rock in the world’.

On the lake is where you can see all of what Switzerland is: lakes, mountains, the city, villages, spas, mountain peak activities, lakeside beaches, restaurants in town and by the sea (lake), nature walks, ski fields, and an unspoilt rugged landscape.

Golden round trip

I catch the ferry from Lucerne along the lake to Alpnachstad and for the thrill of the day head for the world’s steepest cogwheel railway – it’s fantastic! You are pulled up almost vertically through the clouds and then the sun shines as we alight after seeing the entire mountain experience of Heidi. Ticking off 2132m above sea level, it’s time for a cuppa, on the Pilatus Kulm peak. Looking around at 73 mountain peaks within photographing distance I enjoy pure mountain air and . . . the strains of an oompah band at the restored hotel on top of the world.

Saturated with sun and a-grade ozone, I headed for the next mode of transport. The aerial cableway opened its doors and we began the gentle swoop into the nothingness of a cheeky cloud that wouldn’t budge. Left it behind and enjoyed seeing Lake Lucerne and its shoreline perimeters; graded mountainsides; eagles diving and a winding go-cart that looked like a lot of fun track going down the mountain.

The airborne finale was the trip in a gondola to Kriens, where I ambled through the suburbs, and caught the number 1 bus back to Lucerne – a 15- minute trip, with enough daylight left to enjoy a cool drink on the balcony of Hotel des Balances, overlooking the lake and city.

If you visit only one Swiss city, make it Lucerne. It’s Switzerland – the city, the lake, the mountains.

May 16, 2020

Sydney Harbour Bridges: Gladesville Bridge

Gladesville Bridge from Huntleys Point (c) Rodrick Eime

Bridges are much more than simply a means to cross a river or bay. Bridges are a barometer of progress, both cultural and economic.

From simple wooden walkways to giant iron, steel, stone and concrete, bridge construction parallels the march of human ingenuity as much as it does the expansion of our settlements.

Sydney Harbour is well known for its iconic bridge, but Port Jackson and the waterway that feeds it, the Parramatta River, has numerous bridges, large and small, that define the scenic harbour. From the Glebe Island Bridge to smaller historic crossings like the Gasworks Bridge, have all played a critical part in the growth of Sydney as Australia’s premier city.

Another bridge that helped Sydney expand, was the Gladesville Bridge. While not actually located in Gladesville, the bridge was the important link from Sydney city to the north shore suburb of Gladesville, first established in 1830.

The original Gladesville Bridge was completed in 1881, well before the Sydney Harbour Bridge opened in 1932. At the time, it was the only way across the harbour east of Parramatta with a crossing between Drummoyne and Huntleys Point. The 273m iron lattice truss bridge had an opening swing span and offered just two road lanes. A tramline was later added in 1949 bit there was no pedestrian access.

Peak hour traffic across the old Gladesville Bridge in the 1950s

By the 1950s, the old bridge was a serious traffic bottleneck and it was clear a new bridge needed to be built for the rapidly growing suburbs on the northern side and the English firm of Guy Maunsell & Partners. The Department of Main Roads had originally proposed their own conventional steel truss design but agreed it would not accommodate the anticipated increase in traffic flow that the current Gladesville Bridge currently experiences.

So, we now have a four-box pre-stressed concrete arch with a span of 305m with a total length including approaches of 579.4m. The roadway across the bridge is 22m wide between kerbs and flanked by a 1.8m wide footway on each side. Originally designed with six road lanes, the bridge was later modified to provide eight.
Gladesville Bridge at sunset with Cambridge Road Reserve, Drummoyne, at its base. (Roderick Eime)

Commemorative cover in Daily Telegraph
The now heritage-listed Gladesville Bridge was formally opened to traffic on the 2nd October 1964 by HRH Princess Marina of Kent and the Hon P D Hills MLA, Deputy Premier and Minister for Local Government and Minister for Highways and described at the time as “one of the most spectacular of replacement bridges built in Sydney” and was, at the time, the longest reinforced concrete arch span in the world. Now it’s the Chinese Beipan River Bridge at 445m.

‘Spectacular’ it certainly is.

MORE BRIDGES: Gasworks Bridge, Parramatta || Glebe Island Bridge

May 15, 2020

Time travel in Portugal

A church at Obidos. (Flickr User: dynamosquito)

Old, old, old and yet surprisingly modern and convenient are the attractions and comforts of time travelling in Portugal. Rob Woodburn reports.

Within hours of touchdown in Portugal we are time travelling, standing on the lofty ramparts of an ancient castle while, below us, throngs of people in period costume cavort along cobblestone streets set ablaze with vivid flags and sprays of crimson bougainvillaea.

This spirited welcome to the fortified hilltop town of Óbidos in the grip of its annual mediaeval festival is the fortuitous result of booking ourselves into a trio of historic Portuguese pousadas.

The Pousada do Castelo is perched in a corner of the 800-year-old walled town and has only nine guest rooms. Parking nearby requires pinpoint precision as does negotiating narrow streets originally suited to horse and cart. Our car soon bears a scrape of ill-fortune inflicted during a particularly tight passage.

Óbidos is festooned with garlands and colourful bunting throughout its three weeks of mediaeval mayhem. Pageants and period re-enactments are the focus of great jollity among a crowd fuelled by the steady consumption of ginjinha, a local cherry liqueur sipped from tiny chocolate cups.

Troubadours with early music instruments stroll the market set up beside the castle walls. The buzz of crumhorn and wail of bagpipe feels in perfect harmony with our choice of historic accommodation.

Pousadas are the Portuguese equivalent of Spanish Paradores. A countrywide network of 40 properties includes several in restored historic buildings. The variety in flavour and location makes this network ideal for a touring holiday.

Portuguese poet and politician Antonio Ferro established the first pousada in the 1940s. A decade later the first historic pousada opened in the castle at Óbidos. What better choice as our starting point?

Óbidos is one of the most perfect examples of our medieval fortress

Óbidos is also a handy base for visiting nearby Alcobaça and Batalha. The 12th-century Mosterio de Santa Maria in Alcobaça was one of old Europe’s most prestigious monasteries, home to 1000 monks and rich from taxes it imposed on ports and towns under its influence.

A popular yarn tells how these Alcobaça monks were famous for being fat and the vast monastery kitchen suggests this tale has an element of truth. Within the peaceful adjacent abbey are the white marble tombs of Dom Pedro 1 and Inês de Castro, star-crossed royal lovers lauded as Portugal’s 14th century Romeo and Juliet.

From Alcobaça we nip down to the jaunty seaside holiday town of Nazaré to stroll its beachfront promenade. Although early in the season there are rows of candy-striped tents for hire pegged out on the sand.

Batalha’s Gothic masterpiece is the Santa Maria da Vitória Monastery. Construction began in the late 14th century yet it remains an incomplete project, as we saw while admiring the intricate Manueline carvings of animals and plants decorating the pillars and walls of the Unfinished Chapels. They remain roofless and open to the elements. Leaving Óbidos we relocate to the ancient hill town of Ourém and check into a 30-room pousada created out of a 15th-century hospital and adjacent mediaeval houses, now linked and modernised.

Pilgrimage towns

Ourém’s hilltop castle lies mostly in ruins but its towers command wonderful views. The church opposite our hotel window is the resting place of Nuno Alvares Pereira, third count of Ourém. The pousada restaurant specialises in local dishes and local wines, so there’s no need to drive down to modern Ourém for a meal.

The famous pilgrimage town of Fatima, near Ourém, is a regular coach tour stop and often extremely crowded. We prefer to visit Tomar beside the Nabão River.

Tomar is the site of the extraordinary Convent of Christ, protected within a 12th century Templar castle on the hill behind the town. The citadel contains seven magnificent cloisters, a grand dormitory and the Chapel of the Magi. Our visit lasts for hours and culminates in the wondrous Charola, a circular chapel built large enough so knights could attend worship on horseback.

Evora (Flickr user: wangjs)
After two nights we leave Ourém and drive into the central Alentejo region between Lisbon and the Spanish border. Our destination is the city of Evora and the Pousada dos Lóios, one of the grandest in Portugal and tucked between a Gothic cathedral and a Roman temple. The original Monastery of Saint João Evangelista was rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake razed the town yet spared the Temple of Diana, leaving 14 of its 18 columns still standing.

Our room is Cell 116, which now has a small ensuite bathroom. Compact yet comfortable it has views of the inner courtyard and swimming pool. We breakfast at a buffet in the ground-floor cloisters.

Roaming through Evora we are fascinated by the 16th century Capella des Ossos, a crypt of skulls and bones. This macabre experience provides more lasting memories than our brief foray through a ducal palace with rooms filled with musty paraphernalia and historic documents.

Evora has excellent restaurants. On our first night, we squeeze into Botaquim da Mouraria, a tiny wine bar serving sensational tapas and excellent local wine by the glass. The next evening is spent at the intimate Tasquinha d’Oliveira where owner Manuel Oliveira solicitously guides our choice of authentic Alentejo dishes cooked by his wife Carolina.

From Evora, we enjoy a day’s outing to Monsaraz, an attractive white-walled village high in the mountains on the Spanish border. Having roamed its streets to see local artists’ studios we settle into a long lazy lunch on an outside deck overlooking the surrounding countryside.

May 14, 2020

Ten polite gestures to know when travelling in Asia

1. Don't wear shoes into a mosque or a Buddhist temple it really puts worshippers' noses out of joint.

2. Don't use your mobile phone on trains in Japan – it's against the 'train law' and extremely impolite.

3. Do not pat or touch children's' heads in Asia, it's considered rude – but who wants to touch strangers heads anyway?

4. Don't walk around sophisticated cities wearing clothes that you'd wear to a barbecue in Oz. It's not illegal but, hey, it looks so bad and you're an obvious novice 'tourist' target for muggers.

5. Leave a little bit of food on your plate in most countries when you are being hosted - otherwise, they see a clean plate and are embarrassed that they haven't given you enough food.

6. Don't point at people in Asia or you'll be loudly hissed at. In fact, don't point at people at home either!

7. Don't point the soles of your feet at anyone in Thailand, or most Asian countries - very rude indeed.

8. Do not shout or get angry publicly with anyone in Japan. You lose face, they lose face, and egg on your face!

9. Double-check all your travel details in China. People don't say what they think, but what they think you want to hear, i.e. 'Is this the right direction to so and so," enthusiastic nodding (yes) of the head. He didn't understand you, has no idea what you said, but was trying to be polite.

10. Learn to say 'hello', 'goodbye' and 'sorry' in the language of every country you visit. Not only is it polite, but it will also bring a genuine smile from people and you'll be surprised at how helpful someone is when they think you are making an effort.

- Bev Malzard/travelgal on the move

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