So, Christmas Day is done. No time to waste. Head off out of Sydney before the idiots claim some new “cluster” that will forbid us all from venturing out of the city. Or some such garbage.

Heading north up the New England Highway the scenery looked familiar. Like old England in fact. You could easily think you were driving through England apart from the occasional dead kangaroo at the side of the road that reminds you where you are.

Several hours later

Passing through the small town of Wallabadah, almost in a mental cruise control, I noticed a sign for something called The Frist Fleet Memorial Garden. Curiosity took over so I pulled in to take a look.

Th gardens are set out almost like a graveyard. Headstones listing the names of those in the “first fleet”  are spread around the grounds. Grouped by ship. There were eleven ships in that first fleet. Also not all were convicts. In fact many were soldiers. Together these people were the early settlers/colonists/invaders (depending on your viewpoint).

The First Fleet Memorial Garden in Wallabadah
The names of each ship’s passengers are carved in tomb stones
…both convicts and government employees
Their descendants would go on to build the Australia we know today

It seemed an odd place to have this memorial. Apparently it is the only such memorial that names all those on the first fleet. That surprised me. I would have thought there was something on The Rocks in Sydney since that is where they landed. Anyway, it turns out that the man who built this memorial – Ray Collins, a descendant of one of those first arrivals – received support from the Liverpool Plains Shire council and the place has since become a bit of a  meeting point for first fleet descendants.

All the names are on either side of the information board

It seems that other places Ray Collins tried did not support his vision. All a bit odd but I do understand why. Sadly these days, the “first fleet” is seen more as an invasion force than pioneers. It is a politically sensitive topic for many. That said their descendants basically paved the way for the formation of the Australia we know today. An Australia that has attracted many people from all over the world and continues to do so. The first fleet deserve some credit for that surely. Their descendants certainly do. Fair play to Liverpool Plains Shire council I say…

On To Tamworth

On entering Tamworth from the south the first thing you see is the large arena for livestock and equine events. Including Rodeos. Shortly after you pass another one of those “Big” Australian things. This time it’s the Big Golden Guitar.

The Big Golden Guitar

Tamworth is the country music capital of Australia. The Big Guitar is a much larger version of the golden guitar trophies awarded at the annual country music festival. A bit like the Oscars for country music over here. The trophies stand just 22cm tall whereas this “Big Golden Guitar” stands 12 metres tall.

There is more to it than this, but here in a nutshell is how this all came about:
The local radio station made a country music show when popularity in the genre had fallen with the arrival of rock ‘n roll in the late 1950s. It proved so popular that the people involved decided to run the annual country music festival. The town soon became known as the Australian capital of country music. That festival celebrates its 50th year in January.

Hollywood Boulevard has its Stars…
Tamworth streets have the Golden Guitar winners plaques.


Tamworth seems to be quite an affluent city. Although it was the holiday period and most things were closed you can see that there is a thriving town centre. There are also plenty of fine examples of architecture from the period when the town first grew, as well as art deco designs.

The Art Deco designed Central Hotel.
The very grand Tamworth Post Office
Courthouse Hotel Pub
Tamworth station
Small museum on the platform
When they built the stations there was always a nice hotel/pub opposite.
The Tamworth Hotel (opposite the station)
Post Office
Town Hall

Tamworth was built on agriculture and livestock. It sits in Liverpool Plains Shire in a large flat valley. You get a good perspective of the location from the nearby Oxley Lookout.

Tamworth as seen from the Oxley Lookout

Not all of the architecture is old or art deco.

An old council building
Right next to a new and ugly council building

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