Friday, July 14, 2017

Orange Snapshots - Discovering Towns and Villages

Brother commented that he couldn't believe how much Tony and I did when we visited Orange, and we have so many photos to show for it. That's why I couldn't confine this trip to one post!

Within 100km, about an hour's country drive, there were a number of towns and villages that we visited:

And a natural resting stop on the journey between Sydney and Orange is Lithgow.


Unfortunately, my friend in Cowra caught the flu just before we left for Orange, and was still ill while we were there. We'd planned to meet in Millthorpe for lunch early in our stay. Instead we ended up dropping in for a short visit at their home in Cowra before heading to Canowindra for a late lunch.

We lunched at Taste Canowindra, a cafe that our friends took us to in 2009. Taste Canowindra is primarily a restaurant and a performance venue for artists like Christine Anu and Casey Donovan. It also sells local hand craft and wines, and conducts wine tasting.

Down the road was the Ages of Fishes Museum.

In 1955 a slab of rock of fish fossils was uncovered during council road works.

In 1993, a dig at the same site resulted in more slabs being removed that revealed over 3,000 fish fossils from the Devonian period.

Many of these fossils are housed at the Ages of Fishes Museum.

In the 1955 slab is the only know specimen of Canowindra Grossi, a lobe-finned fish approximately 50cm in length.

Every year, Canowindra hosts the Canowindra International Balloon Challenge and the festival started a couple of days after we arrived in Orange. Every day at 6:00am and 3:30pm, depending on the weather, people could watch the balloons being inflated and launched, and then follow the balloons in their cars.

I was looking forward to photographing all the hot air balloons in flight but the day that we were in Canowindra the 3:30pm balloon flights were cancelled. Hopefully we'll see them another day.

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Manildra is a small town between Orange and Parkes. As we wound our way into town from Orange, we came around a sharp bend, crossed over Mangdagery Creek and found ourselves driving past these huge concrete and steel silos.

The Manildra Flour Mill is the largest flour mill in the southern hemisphere. On the way home from Parkes we stopped to stretch our legs and photograph the mill.

We parked across the road from the rest area beside the mill. Two of the nearby telegraph poles were painted with pictures of native animals, and it looked like there were also paintings on other poles in the rest area.

Because it was late on Easter Monday, the stores were closed but after photographing the mill we wandered along the street looking at the buildings. There were a couple of buildings that piqued our interest but, for which, we could find no information.

A web search suggests that one of the buildings that looked like it was currently used as a community hall was once a convent school, another that I thought might be a shop was a private residence built in 1902.

Manildra is also home to the AMUSU (pronounced "amuse you") Theatre—art deco (an architectural style that I love!)—and the oldest, continually-operating theatre in Australia. It'd be nice to return to Manildra another day and explore the town.

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Millthorpe is a historic village about 20 minutes drive from Orange. The entire village is classified by the National Trust, and the main street is lined with stores and eating places.

Being the Easter weekend, some places were closed but there were still a lot of people wandering in and out of different stores and enjoying meals. I think you need to be in the mood to shop, and although we checked out a couple of gift and homeware stores on the main street, we mainly window-shopped.

At the end of the main street was the railway station. It was built in 1886 and is the only remaining example of a symmetrically-designed station with verandah in country NSW.

From the railway station we wandered back up the hill to the Golden Memories Museum. The museum grounds comprise a number of buildings housing some eclectic exhibitions. The main entrance building is the Good Templars Hall built in 1881 and used as a hall for many community events, and contained exhibitions related to everyday life, community events and aboriginal history.

The building that houses the Pioneer's Gallery was the St Joseph's Convent School, which closed in 1969. The school was run by the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, the congregation founded by Mary MacKillop.

There were exhibitions dedicated to rural technology, transport, and Australian inventions.

There was a craft store onsite, a replica of a blacksmith shop, and metal sculptures and old farming equipment throughout the grounds.

A strange but interesting place.

Other photos

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Parkes was originally known as Bushman's but was renamed after Sir Henry Parkes visited in 1873.

My impression was that it was a smallish town but also a major hub for the surrounding community.

The main attraction for us was the Parkes Observatory (more informally known as "The Dish"), 20km north of Parkes, and about 1½ hours drive from Orange. The radio telescope was one of several used to receive televised images of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Tony and I enjoyed The Dish, the movie loosely based on the role of that the observatory played in the landing, so I was looking forward to seeing the Dish in person.

The Dish is surrounded by farm land, and our first glimpses are of The Dish rising just above the tree tops on the horizon.

There are actually two satellite dishes at the site: the 64m-diameter radio telescope and an 18m-diameter antenna. The 64m-diameter radio telescope is part of the Australia Telescope National Facility network of radio telescopes, which are operated together to act like a single telescope for astronomical observations.

The 18m-diameter antenna was used in conjunction with The Dish for observations and as a transmission antenna in the Apollo programme, but it is no longer used.

We viewed the exhibition, including winning and highly commended photos from the 2016 David Malin Awards, and then lunched at the Dish Cafe. We even got to see The Dish moving, albeit very, very slowly.

After lunch we visited the Parkes Visitor Information Centre before heading up to Memorial Hill for views of Parkes.

We followed the public art trail up the main street, although the art styles weren't really to our taste, then did some grocery shopping before heading back to Orange.

Other photos

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On our last day in Orange we travelled along the "Animal on Bikes" paddock art trail to Yeoval.

The "Animals on Bikes" project was to raise morale in the community after eight years of drought and draw tourists into the smaller towns. The sculptures are created by local people and groups in the community, and are displayed in paddocks and yards along the road from Molong to Dubbo via Cumnock and Yeoval.

Hurtling down a country back road at 100km/h, one-lane in each direction, it was very difficult to concentrate on driving and look for sculptures. I tried to note the location of some of them to stop on the way back to photograph them. However, that was also difficult without knowing landmarks and distances.

Yeoval is a (very) small town central to Forbes, Dubbo and Orange. It is the childhood home of Banjo Paterson, who lived on the nearby property of Buckinbah, and many of the attractions are related to him.

We parked in Banjo Paterson Bush Park, a sculpture park where we spent some time photographing the sculptures.

Across the road was the "Banjo Paterson ... More than a Poet" exhibition and Clancy's Cafe. The cafe was small, every table was filled and a couple of people were eating lunch at a side table, which I don't think was normally used. We discovered that all these people were part of the one touring group.

Next to the cafe was the exhibition, so we decided to look while the touring group finished their meal. The exhibition showed photos and artefacts related to Banjo Paterson's life, including information on his childhood at Buckinbah, his work as a War Correspondent and journalist, early editions of his poems, and background stories to his poems.

When the touring group had finished, the cafe was empty and unattended so we walked up the main street passing the local newspaper office and the adjacent street mural until we reached the general store that seemed to be the hub for the local community providing everything they might need: groceries, gifts, hardware, DVDs, computer services, and food! We sat outside watching locals pull up for coffee or lunch whilst enjoying steak sandwiches. Yum!

It was school holidays and all was quiet in Yeoval. I'm not sure how much busier it would be even if school was in. Tony discovered an old notice on the community board announcing a "crow-off" battle at the Yeoval Show for noisy roosters and, if we wanted to visit the museum, there was a list of phone numbers to call to arrange for someone to open the museum.

Given Yeoval was such a small, quiet town we took a lot of photos most of them of the sculptures in the Banjo Paterson Bush Park!

Other photos

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After two hours wending our way along the Bells Line of Road to cross the Blue Mountains, we descended steeply into Lithgow - a perfect place for a rest stop.

We lunched at Queen Elizabeth Park, a green oasis surrounded by shops, residential buildings and the Lithgow Bowling Club.

On entering the park, the Lithgow War Memorial caught my eye. Flanked by trees touched by Autumn, the white statues stood out against the mountain range and the grey clouds rolling into the valley.

While looking for information on the memorial, I stumbled across this interesting photo of the models that posed for the statue.

Opposite the park was the Theatre Royal, built in the 1920s as a live theatre then used as a cinema and most recently a night club. The theatre was listed for sale in August last year, and is still available for ‘just’ $1,125,000!

Lithgow is the birthplace of Australia's iron and steel industry. The blast furnace was established by William Sandforth in 1886 and it was used until 1928 when production was moved to Port Kembla.

The site is now Blast Furnace Park, and we stopped here on the way home to rest and photograph the imposing ruins and surrounding landscape.

Other photos

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Other posts and photos

Following are the other posts in this series on Orange:

... and on my From Deb's Kitchen website: Away from Home - Orange

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