Tuesday, 18 November 2014

All quieter on the Western Slopes

The day began a tad unquietly with a freight train going through at about 0115 but we slept until 0615.  The quilt was used after 0400 as it was rather cool!  It was still much quieter than the previous night!

Our plan for the day was to see a few things in the city and then to visit some villages on either side of the City.  After the fairly long drive of the day before this was to be a quiet and peaceful day!

The first item on the schedule was Gosling Creek Reserve for some birding.  After a conversation in the visitors centre I was a tad surprised to find this Reserve is canophobic while the adjoining park is pet-friendly.  So Frances went for a walk with Tammy while I scurried off to the Reserve to check on birds.

As the wind had come up again most of the water birds were elsewhere (except some coots and a pair of Musk Duck) so the best birds were the Superb Parrots in the Park displaying complete indifference to sundry pooches.

We then cut across on a driving tour to the Pinnacle, a rocky outcrop in the foothills of Mt Canobolas.  Dogs were allowed on leads so we ascended to the top and got great views across the area towards the city.
 The white areas are orchards or vineyards covered with netting.  They are also a bit visible in the next shot which is primarily indicating the rockiness leading up to ...
 .. the Pinnacle itself.
The walk was I think a City installation and there were plenty of things you weren't allowed to do.  You were warned about falling branches and the unevenness of the ground (but not its upward inclination!)
The big Mountain (Canobolas) was a State Conservation Area - conserving it for mineral or forest exploitation, not protecting the environment - but it was still likely to be canophobic so we didn't go there despite recommendations from many folk that we should.  Lake Canobolas which we had intended to visit for birding, had kiddies playgrounds and was thus canophobic so we passed on that.

A cider brewery was looked at but was only open on weekends - a very common situation in this area  - so we passed on to Borenore where the CWA Memorial Hall was ticked off.
This area is promoting itself as a food and wine centre with a place called Agrestic being a good place to acquire the local products.  Frances went in first and noted that most things didn't seem to be priced (and those that were, were quoting rather large numbers) so she passed but told me they were selling Badlands Beer.

On entering I found that the wine/beer wasn't priced and on asking was told that the wine had prices on the back of the bottle and the beer was $4.50 for a 300ml stubby.  Most of the wine was $30+ so well out of my range but I thought I'd grab a 4-pack of beer.  There only seemed to be one woman serving (who had told me the prices) and  she was dealing with another customer who'd got many items and kept adding to them.  Eventually I got my turn and she asked me for $20 for my 4 bottles.  When I protested that this was not not 4 x $4.50 she said "Oh.  I don't know, we charge $20 a pack."   I walked out, beerless. If she had taken a TAFE course in customer service she should ask for a refund as they clearly taught her zip.

We then trotted off to the Botanic Gardens.  They were very pleasant in the main .  We liked this Bert Flugelman arch which had some very odd reflective properties due to the angles of the plates..
 The native grass display was very well set out with good labels (although, like ANBG, many of the things we were interested in seemed not to be tagged).
The place definitely seems to be trying hard, although we questioned the priority set which sent a young person off with a leaf blower to clear an area of concrete while a nearby bed was decorated with a huge thistle and a flowering Salvation Jane Patterson's Curse!  As the latter wasn't labelled I assumed it wasn't an exhibit and pulled it up.

Next step was to go to a bakery advertised on the foodie map.  Now we knew it was in the Woolie's car park we found it,but blow me down it was closed on Monday!!!

On, on to historic Millthorpe. We had to ask at a newsagent's/cafe - which seemed to be the only open place in the village - to find the War Memorial which was a wall in the oval.  Very nice it was too!
 However we had missed the Memorial Gates as we drove by, as had our informants (who lived here)!
The historic walking map made much much us the word 'former' as in "Former Bank", "Former Bakery " but mentioned Lister's Grave in the Cemetery.  As claimed on his stone he seems to be the discoverer of gold in Australia.
We found the track we were walking to be heading off into the wilds so bailed out and looked at the (former) Railway Station.  Good that they are selling wine but note the opening hours.
We had got to about 2pm by this stage and decided to get permission to visit, for birding, another Reservoir for which permission was needed from the Council.  A Birdlist we had got from the Visitor Centre said to enquire at the VC.  So we did.  No-one there knew anything about this and the people who were thought likely to do so weren't answering their phones to tell the VC people the secret.  VC person passed the message to a colleague in Customer Relations at the Council and suggested I go to the Council Office and chat with her. So I did, finding that the two people at the front counter had sat at the next desk to the bird at Agrestic when doing the course.  Despite this they eventually seemed able to contact the person I was after but she couldn't make contact with the guys at the depot who were the holders of this mystery,

Bugger.  Back to the camp for some reading time.

It was a bit of a worry watching the night's crop of new campers coming in.  Most of the grey nomads in vans had bailed in the morning and there seemed to be a stream of young persons coming n, looking to be in party mode (possibly party 'til you puke mode).  This didn't bode well for the coming hours of slumber.  In fact there was one burst of chanting "Down, down, down" and one pillock wandering about making inane comments into a mobile phone so not too bad at all.  The quilt was again deployed at about 4am keeping us snug until 0615.

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