Just When You Thought it Couldn’t Possibly Get More Ridiculous

I know I said in a previous post that it is time to concentrate on the positives and try to ignore this covid crap… But this one just takes ‘stupid’ to a whole new level. So I have to write about it…

The Prime Minister of South Australia, Steven Marshall (and his merry men/women) have just ordered tighter restrictions without a single covid case in the state. That’s right. Not one “case” of covid; yet they have jumped on that panic bandwagon and enforced new “restrictions”. This includes mandatory mask wearing and they are calling it “pre-emptive restrictions”. What a joke! Completely irrational.

No “case”. Nothing. Not even a PCR test ‘false positive’ for fuck sake!! What the hell is wrong with these politicians? Talk about power going to their heads! They are just control freaks. Proof for sure that this is all part of some other agenda rather than virus/health related.

Meanwhile the bodies continue to pile up in the streets of Sydney. Pretty soon there won’t be enough healthy people to remove them. I wonder if there are any jobs going; walking the streets while ringing a bell and shouting “Bring out your dead”? What did they call those people? Anyone know? Now that was what a proper pandemic looked like! They knew how to do one in mid 14th century Europe.

OK, OK. I made that up. But surely by now you see how ridiculous all this is? They say sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. I am not sure about that one. But I can say without doubt that politicians like Marshall are definitely the lowest form of shit.

From “Restrictions” to “Lockdown”

After only a day of “restrictions” in the eastern suburbs of Sydney (see previous post) the powers that be have decided that too many people are out and about getting their vitamin D (it was a sunny weekend) and declared a full “lockdown” for the whole of the city. Great eh?

I don’t want to get into the subtle differences between “restrictions” and “lockdown” because I don’t think either are required. It’s all bullshit.

The coronavirus panic has also spread to other states. All copying the lockdown nonsense currently going on in Sydney to one degree or another. All state leaders jumping on the bandwagon. Well I have a theory about this sudden covid issue; something that has not been a real problem in Australia for about 16 months or more… despite the media rubbish spouted day in – day out, and is now supposedly running riot…

My theory…

My guess is this. Aussie PM Scot Morrison has just returned from the G7 meeting in the UK. He was probably grilled by those other wonderful leaders about how the hell Australia has continued to live a normal existence over this past (almost) year and a half, with virtually no lockdowns (apart from the lunatics in Melbourne). It’s my best guess that they all tod him to get moving and create more panic in the population so they all line up for those experimental vaccines.

Anyway, I don’t want to go on about this crap any more. It’s time to focus on how best to do as much as possible despite the restrictions/lockdowns.

So if anyone has any ideas of how to beat the restrictions, work around them or just of good things to do with kids during the school holidays please feel free to let us know.

In The Middle of a Cluster!

Ah shit, we’ve been “clustered”!

Well it finally happened. We are living in the middle of Sydney’s latest “covid cluster”. In fact there are a t least two but we are definitely in the area deemed to be a red (or is it orange?) zone.

As usual the muppets in charge have panicked and told everyone to wear masks (again) on public transport and in shopping centres etc. They have also banned anyone from leaving the Sydney metropolitan area. (Yes I admit I had to look that up on a map just to see how far we could get. I am sure most people did.) These “restrictions” came into effect yesterday and will last a week.

School Holiday Plans F*#ked

Which means that this weekend – the first of the school winter holidays – has had to be cancelled. We had planned to go away. Also we had plans for next Thursday for a few days but we may have to cancel that also.

It will go on, I am sure. And all because after testing hundreds of thousands of people they have found a handful of “cases”. No bodies piling up in the street. No mass hospitalisations. Just a few “cases”. Now I am not going to go into this one again, it’s really not worth it. If you still buy into any of this bullshit now then what’s the point? Really?!

Un-Australian

Naturally, everyone is jumping on the panic bandwagon. The kids football (soccer if you prefer) matches on Saturday morning have been cancelled as have other sports that kids take part in for local leagues, like netball and basketball.

Why can’t kids be allowed to run around outside, in the fresh air, keeping fit, enjoying life while getting a good old dose of vitamin D (the forecast is for a clear sunny day)? If there is a definition of being “Un-Australian” in a nation that prides itself on sporting prowess, then this has to be it. Parents can keep their distance – easier than in a supermarket – and even wear masks outside if they wish. What on earth is the problem?

Of course the professional rugby and Aussie rules games will no doubt go ahead this weekend. But the kids? Classic hypocrisy we have come to expect in these “covid times”. We also had Dani booked into a soccer camp (called Soccer Joeys) for a couple of days next week and this too has been cancelled. What a bunch of wankers!

Anyway, pointless dwelling on the negatives. We already know these fools are total wankers. Let’s look for positives…

Keep Calm and Carry On…

To coin that famous old British phrase… And of course that’s exactly what we will do.

So what do you do when you cannot leave the city limits? It’s really quite simple. You get out the (google) map and search for craft beer breweries. Then you plan a brewpub crawl (of sorts). Easy!

Fortunately pubs – and more specifically the craft beer brewery’s own pubs – are still open (I really hope I haven’t tempted fate here!?). As luck would have it there is a genuine “cluster” of them in one part of Sydney. So tomorrow (Saturday) we will go on a mini (brewery) pub crawl and sample some fine locally made ales. Taking great care to book the first stop so as to ensure we can get some food inside us. Looking at the map and the half planned route we should be able to walk to two others quite easily. Maybe more? Famous last words…

So; no sport for my son tomorrow but a tour of the artisan brewing scene instead. I am sure he won’t mind. Naturally this old dad will report on the local brew-pub scene and their sampled wares in a day or two (or three…)

Proof that every cloud has a silver lining… Or should that be: Every cluster has a silver lining?

Update.

No sooner had I posted this article than the New South Wales government announced that our area is basically in lockdown. they say it isn’t “lockdown” but effectively it is. We are not even supposed to leave this area. Starting from midnight tonight and lasting for one week. The first week of school holidays.

What did I say above? “I really hope I haven’t tempted fate here!?”. Bloody hell! Wankers!

Mungo National Park (with video)

Mungo National Park

The Mungo National Park has been described as one of Australia’s most soulful places and the most accessible slice of the true outback. It was the place I was most looking forward to on our outback adventure since I wrote about it just before we set off (read that post here). That was posted back on New Year’s Day – and here I am six months later still writing about it!!

The park covers 1,110km² and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Willandra Lakes Region, an area of 2,400 square kilometres That includes seventeen dry lakes of which Lake Mungo is one. It is not an easy place to access. There are no sealed roads to get to the visitor’s centre (basically the heart of the park). That said, the unsealed roads are passable in dry conditions. It was dry. But on the way there the wind whipped up and by the time we were inside the park area we were driving through a sandstorm. Visibility was extremely poor. The views and setting I had looked forward to seeing appeared to be in serious jeopardy.

There was still time for the sandstorm to pass and we had something to eat at the visitors centre before looking around the small museum and old woolshed. Sure enough the storm eased and by then it was the perfect time to see the most famous part of the park at its best – just before sunset.

Regular readers will know this already as a previous post showed just photos of the place – see that one here if you missed it.

Mungo Man, Mungo Lady

The park is famous for the ancient human remains known as Mungo Lady and Mungo Man. (I know what some of you are thinking – I wonder if his name was Jerry? – Sorry, had to get that in. Definitely an old dad joke that one!)
Their bodies were found resting just meters apart and it is thought that they were buried more than 42,000 years ago on Lake Mungo’s shore. This is thought to be the planet’s oldest ritual burials; Mungo Lady was cremated while Mungo Man was decorated with ochre.

If you are wondering where the photo of Mungo (Jerry) and his wife are, we don’t have any. Their remains are in the national museum in Canberra. But we did take this one…

Inside the museum at the visitors centre

There was plenty of wildlife around. Emus, kangaroos and rabbits. Oddly, we hadn’t seen many rabbits on our travels. That pesky little animal brought over by Europeans in 1859. The rabbit was introduced into the Australian wild so that they could be hunted. A bloke called Thomas Austin, a wealthy settler in Victoria, had 13 European wild rabbits sent to him from across the world, which he let roam free on his estate. From this one area, in only 50 years,  these non-native creatures had spread across the entire continent. It became known as the Australian rabbit plague.

We even saw our first red kangaroos – but they weren’t hanging around to be photographed. The red kangaroo is more common in the outback and in particular the ‘red centre’ of the country.

Red Kangaroo

From a Woolshed to ‘The Walls of China’

At the visitors centre side of the long since dry lake is another example of an early woolshed. before this was a national park there was a huge sheep station here. This one was built by Chinese workers and explains where the name of the park’s main attraction – ‘The Walls of China’ – came from. Looking east across the huge dried up lake you can just make out the formations in the distance which reminded the Chinese shed builders of home.

The historic Mungo Woolshed. Similar to the one in Kinchega National Park only smaller.
Inside the Mungo Woolshed
It is just possible to make out ‘The Walls of China’ on the far side of the dry Lake Mungo.
The Walls of China from the visitors centre at full zoom.

The name stuck and the natural wonder that is ‘The Walls of China’ is the main reason we came here. You need to book to be able to walk around it – which makes perfect sense as it keeps the numbers of tourists (and hence damage) down to a minimum. But it is possible to get close up without walking around the spectacular scenery and just stop at a viewing platform. But we wanted to get amongst it, so off we hiked, bare foot.

Fossilised tree stump
Another fossilised tree
For some reason this shot reminds me of that Hawkwind album, Warrior on the Edge of Time. (Definitely another old dad thing.)

The ‘Walls of China’ lie on the eastern side of Lake Mungo and stretch for some 30 kilometres around the eastern ‘shore’ of Lake Mungo. When you enter ‘The Walls of China’ we were required to remove your shoes which Dani thought was great. You are then basically walking on shifting sand dunes with walls of twisted and weathered clay pinnacles, some bush and small trees plus the odd fossilised remains of a tree. The famous clay towers have stood stubbornly for so long, while the ground around them has been continuously eroded by wind and rain.

The video below gives you some idea of the scale of the area. But only some. Like everywhere in this part of the world it is so vast. We hardly covered any of the national park. It is easy to imagine that you have landed on another planet. Or even Earth in another time altogether – that first (Charlton Heston) Planet of the Apes movie springs to mind.

Desolate yet incredibly beautiful and highly photogenic. This place was definitely worth the effort and worth the wait.

Video

Some of the camera work is a little shaky. Thanks in part to the amount of flies continually annoying anyone trying to take a photo or video. Lots of the bloody things. Still with the right music it seems out of this world…

At ‘The Walls of China’, Mungo National Park

A Bridge Too Far?

I had heard a lot and read a lot about the heavy handed tactics of the police in Victoria during this covid madness. Most (if not all) of it has been in Melbourne. During our holidays we had our own ‘brush with the law’ when Victoria state police pulled us over. As promised in earlier posts, here it is…

Bridge over the River Murray

Hardly Bridge over the River Kwai is it? But then again…

We thought it was a good idea to cross a bridge over the Murray river as that is where most of the boat hire businesses were. The river is basically the “border” between the states of New South Wales and Victoria. The southern side of the river being the borderline, I think, which means that the river itself is in NSW. Not 100% sure on that one but whatever…

The bridge is only wide enough for one line of traffic and is controlled by traffic lights. After crossing there is a sign saying “Welcome to Victoria”. Not an accurate choice of words but then the sign was there before the insanity of 2020. That said, they have recently put up enough covid signs they could equally make a few changes to such “Welcome” signs couldn’t they?

Just past the “welcome” sign we saw the police border control point. So, naturally did a U-turn and headed back about 20 metres where we had to stop at the red traffic light. Before the traffic lights could change there was a police car behind us flashing its lights. One of the cops got out and asked me to pull over to a dirt track junction just after the lights.

They asked all the questions you might expect including asking for IDs. Then they walked off for a mini conference. They came back and asked for Australian IDs which we told them we didn’t have but they should be able to verify our visa status etc… I should have known better…

They were clearly out of their depth. Through no fault of their own I hasten to add. They have been asked to police their state border line with zero training, no back-up and with insufficient access to the necessary data (even if that data is available). It may as well have been the Keystone Cops. Imagine a border force at an international airport or shipping port not having access to all the right databases! This so called “border” was inland (same country of course just a state line) and in the middle of nowhere! Then I had a thought. No. Not that we might be arrested. I just thought: ‘Oh good grief! This is going to take some time.’

Then a huge Mack truck road train came along behind and the cops had to move their cars to let it get access to the main road and cross the bridge. They pulled up in front of our car. It was getting comical. The oldest looking of the cops approached.

“Why did you try to enter Victoria?”
“To rent a boat.”
“Don’t you know you need a permit?”
“Maybe. But that is why we came to see. Then we turned around.”
“Don’t you watch the News?”
“No.” (He looked confused). “Well what’s the point They are changing the rules daily almost hourly aren’t they? What good would watching the news do me? We were here so we had a look. Saw your border control point and obviously thought the permit is still required. So we turned around.”

He walked off to join the other cops looking over our IDs.

And Then There Were Five

The next thing a third car turned up. An unmarked car with its hidden police lights flashing. One of them sneaky bastards who follows you on the highway waiting for you to go over the speed limit then puts his blue lights on. Out gets cop number five.

I was hoping that Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen would turn up and make it the Magnificent Seven. But no luck there. Not yet at least. Anyway those great actors died some years ago. Definitely not of covid.

Cop number 5 comes up to the car holding an iPad of all things, as if that made him more official looking. He did seem to outrank cops 1 – 4 however but then he spoke…

“Have you got some ID?”
“No.”
“What? Why not?”
“Because your mate over there took it about 15 minutes ago and still has it.”
“Oh. OK. I’ll just be a minute” (walks off)
“That’s funny. That’s what he said 15 minutes ago. And he still hasn’t come back”

Within a couple of minutes cop 5 (iPad cop) came back and repeated a few questions we had already been asked. I noticed he had been tapping away at his touchscreen device so I asked if he had access to a national database. That way they should surely be able to find out our visa status.

No, they hadn’t.

“So what are you doing (typing on that iPad)” I asked him. I got no reply. They were just Victoria police not federal police. Yeah but… I was about to ask something then I just thought; what’s the point? They clearly can’t call their office and get someone online to some national database which would have everything they needed. I thought; well yes, this could take some time then eh?

The Non-Magnificent Seven!?

By now Dani’s mum was getting agitated. She got out of the car and sure enough one of the cops approached her. I thought to tell her to get back inside but he didn’t. She then started asking him a few tricky questions (for a cop) like what’s the problem? We are going back over and now you have stopped us. I think there was a “don’t you think this is stupid?” thrown in too. Much to my own and Dani’s amusement. We were enjoying it. Although it could have got out of hand it didn’t. It turned out that all the fuss and communications had been just trying to verify our IDs.

One of the younger cops came back on Dani’s mum’s side and tapped the window. Can I see some ID please? She handed him her Spanish ID card. He looked at it and his eyes widened. I could tell what he was doing. He flipped it over scanning it for something in English. No joy there mate. Then he walked off behind us.

By now another car had joined the fun. Two more Victorian cops. Seven! None of them really had a clue what to do it seemed. But they were apparently trying to verify our IDs. Two on radios, two on mobile phones. Yet, as it turned out, no support on the other end of any of those four calls.

Here’s the thing…

Now then. The law (i.e. those recently made up on the spur of a knee jerk reaction moment due to “covid”) actually stated that if you attempt to cross the border into Victoria without a valid permit then you will be turned back. Nothing major, just as simple as that. ‘Sorry sir no permit, no entry. Please back up and go back over that way’ (or words to that effect). Dani’s mum found it online at the time. We hadn’t even tried to cross. We saw they were looking for permits (still) decided to turn back (ourselves) and on our way. There should not have been any issue whatsoever. But then that is not factoring in cops without the necessary training in border control nor access to the required databases.

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Ah, now maybe that was it… Hmm….

Finally the two cops that seemed to be in charge (in as much as any of them knew what they were even supposed to be doing), both told me that I wasn’t under arrest. Oh really! No shit Sherlock! Of course not. I hadn’t done anything wrong. Which I kindly pointed out to them. They made a half-hearted attempt to explain that in fact I had… then kind of gave up. Even they were bored by now. And so we went back across the bridge. Back to the safety and sanctity of a comparatively sane New South Wales.

What a complete waste of everyone’s time and tax-payer’s money.

Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend

This weekend is a national (bank) holiday here in Australia. In celebration of the Queen’s birthday. We had planned to go to Melbourne but guess what?

That’s right! There has been another covid panic. Sparked by one so called “case”! Bloody hell! They “test” thousands of people and eventually find a “case”, then panic and put the city into lockdown – again!. But never a full explanation of these odd “cases” that they “test” for. Never. Did they die? Are they at death’s door? Probably not. In fact the disease is so bad that they have to test thousands (and by their own figures it can be 20-25,000) before they discover a single “case”. Then they have to tell that person that they “have covid”. More or less that’s how it goes. Hardly a terrible thing is it that they have to search really hard for someone who doesn’t know they have it…. Hmm… I always sceptical but these days even more so. Really pathetic. Words fail me…

At least it means that we won’t be spending any money in Victoria. Let them be! I never wanted to go – it was Dani’s mum – and at least she got the money back after cancelling the trip… That reminds me. I still have to write about the time we tried to enter Victoria during our outback trip. (I will do that in the next post)

Alternative Plans

This all meant that we needed to make alternative plans for the Queen’s birthday weekend. Here’s what we did…

Opera House via The Rocks

It is winter festival time at The Rocks. Basically the usual stuff going on but rebadged. At least we made it into the Endeavor Tap Room pub. they have plenty of their own brews plus enough guest ales.

Behind the scenes at the Endeavor Tap Rooms
My tasting paddle got the thumbs-up from Dani…

From there it was a short walk around Circular Quay to the Opera House. They had some special event on – apologies, I have forgotten what it was called/for – which involved projecting onto part of the famous tiled roof. Here are a couple of snippets of that light and sound show…

It would never have been my first choice but Dani and his mum enjoyed it…

On the way across the quay for the sound and light show…

Zig-Zag Line

The famous Knapsack Viaduct that was built for the original rail crossing of the Blue Mountains

The line literally zig-zagged its way up the steep mountain then crossed over the range to zig-zag its way down again to Lithgow on the western side of the Blue Mountains National Park. Part of that old zig-zag descent into Lithgow is still in operation as a tourist train. It was always closed (due to covid) whenever we were in that area. It is still closed and due to reopen late this year….

Blue Mountains

Blackheath market in a park at the cenotaph and Govett’s Leap. This is definitely one of the most spectacular places to in the Blue Mountains. The open canyon is truly magnificent and they actually call it The Grand Canyon. Plus there’s a decent waterfall… Again this area was closed off last time we came up here.

This area of the mountains is called the Grand Canyon
The falls at Govetts Leap

Cenotaph at Blackheath

We stopped at a town called Springwood. It is quite a lively little town with plenty of shops and places to eat. There is even a (relatively) large theatre. then I noticed this poster…

When did she move to Australia?

I never liked Annie Lennox and The Eurythmics – maybe the odd song. I didn’t realise she had moved over here? It’s all happening in the Blue Mountains eh? Then again… The poster is misleading. Other adverts stipulate that the act is a tribute act but the Annie Lennox poster did not. However, when you visit the theatre website it clearly says that it is a tribute act.

The modern Blue Mountains Theatre at Springwood
An older art gallery in the town, right next door to the theatre.

Winter is here…

Meanwhile, it is officially winter here. Has been since June 1st. And it is cold. I definitely thought autumn was much cooler than it was last year. Now, it turns out that a few days ago was the coldest day in Sydney since 1984. Towns inland have been covered in snow. Although a fair distance from here.

Film Review – Hot Rod

I thought I needed to review this relatively old film. Mainly because I have recently watched it with my son and he finds it as funny as I do. If you like daft movies. Really silly ones of the Bill & Ted kind, then you will love Hot Rod.

I first saw this film in the middle east, in Jordan of all places. It was on some film channel in the hotel. I thought it was hilarious. Its definitely on of those movies; you either get it or you don’t. And if you get it, then it really is hilarious. This film was made way back in 2007 when it was a box office flop. But it has since gained cult status (whatever the hell that means). I just thought it was (and still is) extremely funny. And now so does my son…

Most of the characters are supposed to be late teens/early twenties (I suppose) but are clearly played by older actors. Rod is played by Andy Samberg, his dorky (half) brother Kevin is played by Jorma Taccone, while another of Rod’s crew (Dave) is played by Bill Hader who should be recognisable. Rod’s mother is played by Sissy Spacek. She plays the role completely straight as if not in a comedy, and that works well. Rod’s stepdad Frank is played by Ian McShane while Isla Fisher plays Rod’s love interest Denise.

Plot

Rod is trying to be a stuntman doing jumps on his (crappy) Tomos moped/scooter. He believes his deceased dad was a great stuntman who worked with the legendary Evel Knievel (Rod has a photograph of his dad with Evel). He is brave but clearly hopeless as are his “crew”. Basically they are a bunch of losers but the type that you want to succeed.

Rod’s stepdad (Frank) is always mocking Rod’s stuntman efforts and continually beats him in fights. Rod is determined to prove his stepdad wrong and eventually beat him one day in a fight to prove that he is a man and deserving of his stepdad’s respect. That day seems a long way off. But then Frank becomes terminally ill and the only thing that can save him is a heart transplant which costs the conveniently round figure of $50,000.

Rod decides he will jump 15 school buses to raise the money and his team set about training Rod. At the same time they raise funds by doing small (and incredibly daft) stunts at kids  parties and public shows.

In an effort to help, Kevin makes a short documentary film of Rod’s work and they sell-out the local theatre. That turns sour however as people just laugh at Rod. In anger Rod smashes the projector (and a car windscreen n the bargain) which costs him all the monies they have raised so far. When all seems lost a local AM radio station steps in to sponsor the big jump and the event is back on.

No spoiler alert required as it is up to you to watch the movie and see what happens.

Critique.

Personally I can’t fault it. Dani is on the same wavelength. We laughed till we cried watching it recently. But I understand that it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I give it 5 out of 5 simply because it makes me (and Dani) laugh. A lot!

The “Cool Beans” scene was apparently almost taken out – Samberg and Taccone repeating the phrase “cool beans” until it evolves into a kind of pseudo-rap. The scene was left in the film’s last test screening and it seems that the (test) audience scored it highly as one of their favourite bits. You will know it if you have already seen the movie. Or, when you see the film you will definitely remember that scene.

The movie soundtrack features songs by Swedish rock band Europe. And there was me (and I am sure plenty of others) thinking they only had one song! There is also a great scene featuring John Farnham’s You’re The Voice.

If you like movies like Bill & Ted, Wayne’s World or any daft Adam Sandler movie (which is most of them), then you will love Hot Rod. If not then, well… you will probably think it stinks. It’s hard to see anything in between. But watch it just in case. You never know.

In and Around Wentworth

We spent a few days in Wentworth as a good base to check out the Murray river area and also to visit the Mungo National Park. You can read the fist post on Wentworth here. There are several places worth visiting in and around Wentworth… Here are a few…

Wentworth Gaol

You can’t beat a good old gaol. At least that’s what Dani and his old dad think. Dani’s mum begs to differ. Wentworth gaol is a remarkably well preserved example of the earliest Australian designed gaols – along with Dubbo Gaol (which we have visited), Hay Gaol (see future posts) and Long Bay Gaol (which is not far from where we live in Sydney).

One of the punishments. Chained to this rock in the intense heat.

The gaol was built in 1879 and the design included a quadrangle, cell blocks (with ten male and two female cells), kitchen, hospital, storeroom, block, gaol warden’s residence and two observation towers. Next to the kitchen was the bathroom equipped with a bath and shower on a concrete base. The gaol even had a well-stocked library. It was run by three warders and there was as many as 18 prisoners locked up at any one time. That’s nothing compared to modern prisons eh? This was an impressive structure, all for (what today amounts to) only a handful of prisoners.

Prisoners would be chained to this tree stump with no shade.

Ah… we can dream…
Another piece of Ned Kelly history to fuel Dani’s interest.

In case you were wondering… No. Kelly was never held here. But that didn’t top the gaol shop selling all kinds of Kelly memorabilia. Like these metal plaques. Naturally Dani wanted one. Oh, go on then… I usually say “no” to most things he asks for (he is definitely not spoilt in that department) but now and again… Anyway I quite liked this piece.

Ned Kelly wall plaque. Quite artistic I thought…

Museum

Almost across the road from the gaol, the museum looked small – why wouldn’t it be for such a small town? But it was surprisingly interesting. As small as it was it was packed literally to the rafters with exhibits.

Small but well stocked museum

As far as the larger items go there was an old Fergie tractor (naturally) and a Model T Ford. The original mass produced motor car. I had never seen one in the flesh (so to peak). This one didn’t exactly look like those rolling off the production lines in the black and white movie reels though. It had been “pimped” some time ago…

My first Model ‘T’ Ford

This one was my absolute favourite though. The moustache teacup. I wonder if you could sell these now with all the young men insisting on sporting facial hair? I reckon you could. At least as a novelty, maybe a stocking filler Christmas present…

The moustache tea cup

Yes, they really did used to have these. Way back when those big Victorian/Edwardian curled up moustaches were in fashion. The idea being that only your lips get wet with the tea. Also in those days moustaches were waxed to hold them in the style of the day and the steam coming off the hot tea used to met the wax causing it to drip into the tea – Ugh!!! Amazingly these things would have been quite common and this one only dates back as far as the early years of the 2nd World War!. Personally I think it’s a great idea and would teach the young fellas of today a little about facial hygiene.

Perry Sandhills

The Perry Sandhills are large sand dunes located a few kilometres out of town. These dunes seem to appear out of nowhere. This place is some 400km from the sea and although the area is classed as outback it is not exactly desert. It has something to do with when the rivers ran higher and faster but it was so many years ago (they say) that I really can’t be arsed with the detail. They look great though. Named after the areas first land commissioner George Murray Perry these dunes have been used as a backdrop for films and adverts. You can also add this one to your list of FREE things to see and do…

Rivers and boats

With two large rivers converging in Wentworth the area is a playground for anyone with a boat. Whether that is for fishing, riding up and down the rivers or water sports like water-skiing/wake-boarding. There are also plenty of house boats, large and small. Some owned but mostly rented out for holidays on the Murray.

Most of the boat hire places were just across the Murray, in (or near) a much larger town called Mildura which is just up river and in the state of Victoria. Unfortunately at that time access into Victoria was limited due to some coronavirus “clusters” in the Sydney area. That said we did ty to cross over just to see if they really were stopping people enter. More on that farce to come…

Wine tasting.

With all this irrigation available there are plenty of farms growing all sorts of fruits. And of course grapes! The area has several vineyards and wine cellars. We visited one called Trentham Estates and sampled some great wines. In fact Dani’s mum was smooth-talked into becoming a “member”. Basically that means we bought six bottles (and received two free). You then have to order at least 6 bottles twice a year. They then throw in a couple of bottles. And they deliver for free – well, it’s included in the bottle price. Actually not bad. We have since placed one order and recently received them. Good wines at a reasonable price!

Mungo

We stayed a few days in Wentworth as a base to explore the area, and that included the place I was most interested in seeing on this whole outback adventure – Mungo National Park. Stay tuned for that one….

On to Wentworth

From the Broken Hill area we headed directly south on the B79 road – also known as the Silver City Highway. After a few hours of driving we arrived at Wentworth.

Wentworth

In 1830, while navigating the Murray, explorer Charles Sturt came across a river junction which he was convinced was the Darling. In the mid 1840’s it was a settlement known as McLeod’s Crossing”, named after the first white residents of the settlement. The arrival of the river steamers in 1853, saw the place grow with boats able to deal with the commercial aspirations of the outback areas.

For years Sydney was the only port in New South Wales to handle more cargo than Wentworth. The wealth that the steamers brought changed the face of the area and in 1857 the authorities began to establish a proper township. The town site was approved in 1859 and was named after the New South Wales explorer and politician William Charles Wentworth, on June 21, 1859.

Wentworth Wharf. The source of the town’s early wealth

Considering where it sits at the confluence of two important rivers you might expect that Wentworth would have grown to be a much larger town. In a way it is good that that never happened. My first impression was that it is a nice little town. Several pubs and places to eat. Art gallery and a friendly information office. The whole place had a genuinely friendly feel to it.

Captain John Egge statue on Wentworth wharf

His name may not suggest it but Captain John Egge was Chinese. Born in Shanghai in 1830 he lived in Wentworth form 1859 till his death in 1901. Egge was a pioneer paddle steamer captain and businessman. Exactly the type of man that put Wentworth on the map.

After seeing the Darling river in so many little outback towns and parklands we finally got to see where it finishes. By pouring into the mighty Murray River right here at Wentworth.

Where the two great rivers meet. Darling to the left, Murray to the right.

Murray River

The Murray forms the border between NSW and Victoria for much of its trajectory. In fact they say that the river belongs to NSW and you do not enter Victoria until you land on the southern river bank. The problem with that is that most river craft hire is located on the south bank – in Victoria! More on that one to come in a later post…

The Murray is Australia’s longest river – 2,508 km (1,558 miles). Its tributaries include five of the next six longest rivers in Australia (the Darling being one of them). The catchments of these rivers form the Murray-Darling basin, which covers about one-seventh the area of Australia and is the country’s most important irrigated region. The Murray starts off on the Australian Alps, then meanders northwest forming the border between the states of New South Wales and Victoria and flows into South Australia.

The mighty Murray

A Little Tractor Tale

The Ferguson TE20 is an agricultural tractor designed by Harry Ferguson. By far his most successful design, It was manufactured from 1946 until 1956, and was commonly known as the Little Grey Fergie. Its strength and popularity lay in its small and versatile design. It was  lightweight, had great manoeuvrability and came with a series of easily fitted attachments.

Why am I telling you this? Well the town of Wentworth has a kind of love affair with this little tractor and this is why…

Full size Fergie tractor inside one of the town’s pubs

In 1956 the town of was in severe danger of extreme flooding. Higher than normal rainfall in the Darling-Murray basin combined with extreme rainfall in western Queensland led to floods moving down the Darling river and across the Murray. Areas were flooded that were located up to 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the normal path of the river were flooded.

The thing that prevented the town of Wentworth from being washed away in the floods was the work undertaken by a small fleet of the little grey Fergie tractors. Due to their manoeuvrability these little work-horses were able to get in and out of spaces where bigger tractors could not. The Fergies were used to build levee banks that ultimately saved the town.

The town of Wentworth, erected a statue (monument) in 1959 in honour of the Fergie TE20 tractor. It has to be said they could have made a better job of it…

Tractor or Tonka Toy?

In 1959 the Managing Director of Massey-Ferguson Australia unveiled a statue to commemorate the part that the Ferguson tractor played in saving the town form almost certain inundation in 1956.

The statue of the Fergie tractor that sits in Adelaide street near the town centre is actually quite funny. I was expecting a life sized statue but we got this….

The statue to honour the little Fergie tractor
Its true size in perspective. Funny or just silly?

It is no bigger than some toys. I actually thought they could have done better. And they did. In 1917 they erected another monument just outside town over the Darling river bridge in Fotherby Park. There they installed a real Fergie tractor stuck up on a pole for all to see. Now that’s more like it.

Full Fergie in Fortherby Park
A real tribute to the little Fergie

The town also holds a tractor rally every five years to celebrate the little Fergie.