Posts Tagged With: Historical Museum

Mount Morgan (Queensland)

20/08/17 After a night at the Futter Creek camp, we headed west through lush cattle country that is undoubtedly the reason nearby Rockhampton promotes itself as the Beef Capital of Australia. The cattle we saw were glowing with condition – the fats were very fat and the bulls very bully. Our intended campsite at Biloela and another further north at Goovigen were both bypassed as we’d been making good time and chose to go on to Mount Morgan for a couple of days pursuing family history links.

I was last in Mount Morgan as a seven year old holidaying with my family, and for that short time my elder brother and I were enrolled at Calliungal North State School where our maternal grandfather, Connor Connell, was the principal and sole teacher from 1950 until his retirement in 1965. My memories of that time are very patchy – Grandad circulating around the single classroom as he taught each of the year level groups; sitting with the other students on bench form seats in a vaulted-roofed music room singing “A Scottish Soldier” with Grandma playing the piano and occasionally emphasizing with her hand the metre of the song; the musty smell of wooden school desks, chalk dust and wet writing slates; constructing meccano contraptions on the front veranda of the school residence that seemed the size of an aircraft carrier deck; collecting eggs each day from the wire and corrugated tin chook yard out the back – so I was looking forward to seeing if the buildings still existed and if they evoked any additional childhood memories of that time.

On the outskirts of town, after asking a local for directions to the old school, we very soon pulled up at an old school building now functioning as a private residence. We introduced ourselves to the very elderly owner who was more than happy to chat and recount stories about the building and school days. After an hour or so, I remarked that the school residence didn’t seem at all familiar, so my grandfather may have lived elsewhere away from the school. I said he’d been listed on a number of census returns for that time as living in Baree – to which she responded that Baree was the next community just out of town. “Well then, I guess he must have lived away from the Calliungal North State School to have that address on the census returns.” “This wasn’t Calliungal North State School,” she said, “This was the old Walterhall State School. Calliungal North is further out of town at Baree.”

We had a good laugh, realising that for the past hour we’d each been speaking about totally different schools and still making good sense of it all. Regardless, she was a lovely lady and the chat had been a very enjoyable reminiscence of those times. Now following her directions, Di and I headed off to hopefully locate the correct school. A wrong turn on the way and we pulled over once again to ask directions from a chap standing in his front yard.

“G’day. I’m looking for the old Calliungal North State School. Would you know where it might be?”

“I should. I did my primary schooling there.”

“My grandfather was principal there for fifteen years,” I said. When I mentioned my grandfather’s name, he said “Old Pop Connell! Yes, he taught me the whole time from Grades 1 to 6. Great teacher and great bloke!” After introductions, Keith asked us inside his home and we chatted for an hour or so, with him digging out old photos and ringing his sister a few doors up the road to see if she might have any others that included my grandparents. He also asked after a couple of my uncles who were at school with him in those days. Lovely guy. Keith promised to have a look for more photos and we met up with him again the following day. What’re the odds of a person you meet quite by chance knowing your grandfather and some of your uncles really well! Small world. But then again, Baree is a very small place. Keith had been born and raised in the small weatherboard cottage that he still lived in.

Once again, and now following Keith’s directions, we went off to find the school; this time with success. There it was perched on top of “that bloody hill” that the kids trudged up and down each school day. Tooting the car horn at the rather large guard dog sign on the front gate, Di and I introduced ourselves to the owners, explaining why we were there. They very graciously allowed us a tour of the building that had opened as a school in 1904, closed at the end of 1971, and was now a family home.

Keith had confirmed that my patchy recollections of the internal layout were pretty accurate. But the original internal timber walls had been removed some time ago and the arrangement of rooms considerably altered. The impressive old building has undergone a number of transformations in the almost half century since it ceased being a school, including conversion into flats and for a few years as home to a rather dubious and secretive religious cult till that faded away. The exterior, though, has remained very much as it had always been, aside from the addition of a few windows when a false ceiling was installed inside.

Through renovation gaps, we caught glimpses of the glorious original vaulted ceilings of tongue and groove timber and the original double-height windows now lighting the unused void above the false ceiling. I could see why, with such raking ceilings and windows, I‘d remembered the classroom being like a cathedral; a high lofty space. Thankfully the current owners wish to retain as much of the authenticity of the building as possible as they continue to renovate it into their home.

Calliungal North SS – Old Principal’s Residence (Qld)

They took us next door to the old principal’s residence and introduced us to that owner, who was pleased to show us through and relate what she knew of the buildings past. We had a very pleasant chat with both owners about the history of their buildings and the area, and most especially with Keith, the past student, who shared several warm memories of my grandparents.

In all, we spent six days in Mount Morgan. The town’s past, present and future focusses very much on the gold mine that in its day was the richest in the world. It’s been closed now since 1990. The locals hint at the possibility of rejuvenation due to modern techniques for extracting gold from the old tailings, but they seem unconvinced much will happen soon. With very little other industry in town to support the community, the general downturn was evident. It’s a great shame that the once wealthy, vibrant and historic mining town now appears to be in its twilight years.

“Towns are like people. Old ones often have character, the new ones are interchangeable.” – Wallace Stegner

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Queensland | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Kooma View Farmhouse – Nuttbush Retreat – Jamestown – World’s End Reserve (South Australia)

18/12/16  After Ceduna, we met up again with Charles and Joy at Kooma View Farmhouse, 60kms or so west of the town of Kimba, the halfway point across Australia from east to west. That brought home to us that we were halfway back on our return leg to Queensland. Kooma View is a disused farmhouse that the property owners make available to travellers to camp at no charge, although donations are welcomed to help with the upkeep of the basic facilities (the dump point and flushing outdoor toilet). The house was open and visitors were welcome to look through, which was interesting but clothes hanging in cupboards and crockery set out on the kitchen table were a little eerie. Some furnishings and contents were very familiar, dating back to our childhood. It felt like someone should be living there – like those movies where everyone vanishes suddenly leaving everything undisturbed. We spent the night camped in the grounds near to the house. No ghosts or green alien abductors bothered us.

The following morning, we headed on east through Kimba and Iron Knob to spend two nights at Nuttbush Retreat on Pandurra Station, near Port Augusta. We’d previously stayed there when travelling across to WA in June. I replaced a broken brake pad sensor in the Landy, finally extinguishing a dashboard warning light that had been in my face for more than a week.

Our next leg took us around the top of Spencer Gulf through Port Augusta and over the high South Flinders Ranges to quaint, historic Jamestown, with its lovely stone residential and commercial buildings. Charles and Joy pulled in shortly after us, having taken a separate route, and we joined them for lunch and a leisurely walk around the town from our semi-bush campsite at Robinson Park Reserve on the northern edge of town.

In the morning, we took the Hallett Road to one of our favourite towns, Burra, which we’d spent a couple of days exploring last year. We were just passing through this time, and had lunch and refuelled before heading 30kms south to our bush camp at World’s End Reserve on Burra Creek. In spite of the creek being dry, it was still a very pleasant camp with just our two vans in amongst old river gums near the creek. This was our last night with our travel buddies, who were heading on to the vineyards of Clare while we continued east towards home. We generally don’t travel with others, preferring the flexibility of doing our own thing, but have done so now with a few couples who we’ve enjoyed camping with. We’d thoroughly enjoyed Charles’ and Joy’s company and had great fun together, sharing seven camp sites since first meeting them at Esperance in WA, and we’re looking forward to getting together again and doing more free camping when they’re travelling around Queensland next year.

“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer Abroad

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - South Australia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Peterborough – Burra – Clare: Wheat to Wine (South Australia)

3/11/15  From Melrose, we headed south through lots and lots of wheat country, then east through even more wheat country to our next stopover at Peterborough. It doesn’t take very long at all for one IMG_7008wheat field to look like all the rest. Seen one, seen them all; but occasionally the scenery included a ruined stone cottage standing amongst the wheat. We called in for a look around and lunch at Jamestown, a pretty little historic town with many nicely maintained or restored stone buildings, and a little further on, we reckoned the small township of Yongala could have been lifted straight from a period movie about our colonial past. The only things missing were horses and carriages and ladies in bonnets and long skirts.


Peterborough struck a chord as it used to be a junction station linking South Australia’s narrow gauge rail track with the standard gauge track from New South Wales, and became a major transhipping point for transferring cargo and passengers from one gauge to the other. My father was a railway employee in Queensland and, for a decade or so, worked at a similar transhipping point at Wallangarra Railway Station where Queensland’s narrow gauge rail track met the standard gauge track coming up from New South Wales.

In this part of South Australia, we kept coming across wind generators perched on the ridgeline of hills in the distance. South Australia is the largest producer of wind energy in Australia, and there are currently sixteen wind farms operating across the State. We didn’t mind the look of the large wind turbines turning slowly on the horizon; there was something artistic about them, but I guess we don’t have to live with them all the time.

South of Peterborough, the showground at Burra was our next camp. We loved the architecture of the stone buildings in this very historic town, and thought it more reminiscent of England than Australia. You don’t find houses like those in Queensland. It took two days to complete the heritage trail around the town and nearby Monster Mine, and we were provided with the key to gain entry to a number of locked sites including the remnants of primitive “dugouts” excavated into the banks of Burra Creek. In the mid-1800s, around 600 dugouts, some with white-washed walls and glass windows, were used for free accommodation by miners.

Our next camp at Clare was at the pleasant grassy Clare Valley Racecourse which we shared with just one other van until they moved on. We stayed four nights. The first day was a biggie visiting a few of the many wineries in the Clare Valley and restocking the mobile cellar – Mad Bastard Wines, Knappstein Wines, Kirrihill Wines, and O’Leary Walker Wines where we had a ploughman’s platter lunch, then on to Taylors Wines, Shut the Gate Winery, and finally Annie’s Lane at Quelltaler Winery. The next day saw us at the heritage town of Auburn, then to Reilly’s Wines for a terrific lunch in their old cottage cellar door and restaurant, and on to Paulett Wines for tiramisu and coffee. We were totally stuffed, and our wine cellar was well and truly restocked, with bottles shoved into every available spare space in the van and car.

With the sky looking foreboding and the forecast of thunderstorms, we stayed an extra day at the racecourse and spent Melbourne Cup beside the manicured Clare Valley Race Track, just the two of us and the view. Taken to the cleaners ourselves, we gave the Landy and Kruiser a wash, shedding layers of red desert dust that had built up since Alice Springs. It was so nice to be able to touch or lean on the rig without coming away dusty.

“A race track is a place where windows clean people.” – Danny Thomas

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - South Australia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Beltana Station (South Australia)

23/10/15  We were sorry to leave Marree as we’d made such good friends in Jo and Brenton, the owners of the Drovers Run Tourist Park where we had been camped.

Just a little south of Marree, we pulled in to Farina Station for smoko and a look through the ruins of the old Farina Township, comprising remnants of quite a few stone buildings. We happened upon two Nankeen Kestrels and their juvenile chick that were happy for us to get close enough for some photographs.

148kms south of Maree, we took the turn-off east to Beltana Station, not too far in along a good gravel road. On our way down, I’d reinflated the tyres at Lyndhurst when we’d hit the bitumen, and IMG_6120wasn’t going to drop them down again for just seven kilometres of gravel, so they stayed as they were and we just took it steady. Emus and wild goats were plentiful, including a kamakazi emu that almost t-boned the Landy as it dashed across in front of us. We camped next to the 1860 shearer’s quarters at the homestead, originally intending to stay just one night, but were so pleased by what we found that we stayed on longer.

The property was established in 1854 and many of the buildings date back to that time, constructed of lime-washed stone. Many have been tastefully renovated to provide accommodation and entertainment for the tourist trade, but the 1876 square kilometre property is still very much a working sheep and cattle station. The station had been the starting point for exploration expeditions including one made famous by Ernest Giles to Western Australia in 1875.

Judging by the sizable museum in the shearing shed, nothing at all must have been thrown out since the property was established. There were heaps of photos and old wares on display, providing a great insight into the history of life on the property.

In the afternoon, we gave Michelle a hand to bottle-feed the orphans – five kids (goats), a calf, and a three day old lamb.

The following morning, we went on a camel ride with Kamahl who, with his Canadian partner, Marie, had walked their group of eight camels south from Alice Springs in April last year. By the time they’d arrived at Beltana Station in November, there had been four births along the way, taking the number of camels to twelve. It was appropriate they were now located at Beltana Station as this was the first property in South Australia to import camels from the Middle East back in the 1860s, and became one of the largest and most successful breeding studs and depots for camels in Australia. So it’s had a long connection with camels and cameleers. Portions of the movie Tracks, about a young woman who goes on a 1,700 mile trek across the Western Australian deserts with her four camels and a dog, had been filmed on Beltana, and it has also featured in the movies “Gallipoli”, “Thousand Skies”, “Stealth” and “Rabbit Proof Fence”.

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On our last night, we had dinner in the Saltbush Restaurant in the shearing shed with the owners, Graham and Laura, all the station staff, and the four other travellers staying there. We’ve always enjoyed station stays and this one was definitely up there with the best.

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – Albert Einstein

Categories: Bird Watching, Travel News, Travel News - South Australia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Arltunga Historical Reserve – Ross River Homestead – N’Dhala Gorge (Northern Territory)

17/09/15  Ross River was 73kms further along the rough Binns Track from Ambalindum Station. We were on what was referred to as Section 2 of the track and were now well into the East MacDonnell Ranges. The country had become more spectacular with every kilometre and the track took us past massive ridges and hillsides as the ranges closed in around us. We could see in the strata of the exposed cliff faces how enormous forces had lifted up and twisted the ancient flat seabeds to form these mountain ranges. In some places the strata was almost vertical; in others it twisted back on itself like rope. White, blue and pink wildflowers covered the hillsides, and in the flats between the ridges, River Red Gums lined the presently dry sandy creek beds. Photos go nowhere near to capturing the physical presence of these immense ranges.

The Binns Track passed through Arltunga Historical Reserve, the site of Central Australia’s first major settlement following the discovery of gold in the late 1880s. At that time, Alice Springs hadn’t yet been established. The harsh conditions, lack of water and extreme isolation caused most of the activity to cease within twenty years. But the dry conditions that were so harsh on the miners helped preserve the sites and the historic buildings have not altered much over time.

We looked through the Police Station and Gaol built in 1912 and the ruins of the township site, and walked the trail to the old MacDonnell Range Reef Mine located in the surrounding hills.

The Arltunga Visitor Centre contained lots of information and displays about the history of the area.

 When we entered Arltunga Historical Reserve, we also crossed back over the Tropic of Capricorn and were now officially in cooler climates. Whether there is any truth to that theory or not, I don’t know but the days and nights since then have been noticeably cooler – our reason for heading south. The next morning, we took the back track from our camp at Ross River Homestead to N’Dhala Gorge and walked the narrow gorge trail to view the spectacular scenery and some of the 9,500 Aboriginal petroglyphs (rock engravings) that are up to 10,000 years old.

In an absolute fluke of luck, Di found on the walking path a rubber tip for a hiking stick to replace the tip she’d lost at Gunlom Falls two weeks earlier. Hope its previous owner is heading up that way so they can perhaps replace their lost one with ours…

“It was the kind of pure, undiffused light that can only come from a really hot blue sky, the kind that makes even a concrete highway painful to behold and turns every distant reflective surface into a little glint of flame. Do you know how sometimes on very fine days the sun will shine with a particular intensity that makes the most mundane objects in the landscape glow with an unusual radiance, so that buildings and structures you normally pass without a glance suddenly become arresting, even beautiful? Well, they seem to have that light in Australia nearly all the time.” – Bill Bryson

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Northern Territory | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tambo – Blackall – Lara Station Wetlands (Qld)

27/05/2015  116kms north of Augathella, we pulled into Tambo, a nice little outback town with a population of 500. It was a great little stopover. We spent some time looking through the Post and Telegraph Museum housed in the Post and Telegraph Office built in 1876. Next to this is a small building that was originally built onto the Post and Telegraph Office a one room addition. Both the old buildings now house a collection of post and telegraph artefacts as well as displays of the history of the Tambo area. We both thought the town looked very well presented and preserved. A lot of the building along the main street dated back to the 1800s and 1900s and appeared well maintained and pretty much unaltered from their original design. So it gave an impression of how the town may have looked back then.

An hour north, we pulled into Blackall, located on the banks of the Barcoo River. We now felt we were well and truly in the Outback as this was the site of the famous Black Stump. Standing on the eastern side of the stump, we were still “This Side Of The Black Stump”, and on the western side, we were “Beyond the Black Stump”. Surprising how one small step made you feel more remote and uncivilised. I was surprised to see that the Black Stump was actually an impressive petrified tree trunk, replacing the original blackened timber stump destroyed by fire.

A splash-‘n-dash fuel stop and we were on our way to Lara Station, 80kms north on the Landsborough Highway, then 13kms of dirt road into the Lara Wetlands, just beyond the station homestead. The wetlands is a real oasis in the dry outback, formed by the runoff from bores that drain to this central point forming a lake that has existed among the eucalypts for more than 100 years. It is very special spot.

Of the 52 known species of birds, we photographed 26 and quickly realised that we needed bigger lenses than the ones we had – straight onto the Present List. We set up camp in a large area right on the water’s edge and with plenty of privacy away from the nearest neighbours, and spent two relaxing days birdwatching, watching the colours of the bush and water change during the day, and stargazing at night sitting around the camp fire.

This is definitely a spot we’ll come back to. IMG_7439 “The traveller sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.” ― G.K. Chesterton

Categories: Bird Watching, Travel News, Travel News - Queensland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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