Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On His Selection



To You “Who Gave Our Country Birth”; to the memory of You whose names, whose giant enterprise, whose deeds of fortitude and daring were never engraved on a tablet or tombstone; to You who strove through the loneliness through the years that have faded away; to You who have no place in the history of our Country; so far as it is yet written; to You who have done MOST for this land; to You for whom few, in the march of settlement, in the turmoil of busy city life, now appear to care; and to you particularly, GOOD OLD DAD, this book is most affectionately dedicated.”

Steele Rudd (Arthur Hoey Davis) – Foreward, ‘On Our Selection’

This blog entry is inspired by a great Australian.  We are lucky enough to live here in Steele Rudd Country and a visit by Jane (yay, first visitor!) was reason enough to go exploring.

100_1039Travelling South West from Toowoomba we headed to Pittsworth and turned off the beaten track in search of the land of Dad and Dave. The sky turned on quite a show for us as you can see.

Arriving in the small town of Nobby after drifting through rolling hills of farmland, corn and sunflower, dead grass and sometimes nothing, we set off first to find the burial place of another local hero.  Sister Kenny, of the region, pioneered successful Polio treatments on the farmer’s children much to the angst of the establishment and as such is remembered for her enduringly rebellious spirit.  She was so pioneering in fact that we couldn’t locate her grave in the local cemetery. Perhaps she is laid to rest somewhere else.  But there is nothing quite like the education received from 10 minutes looking back into the lives of those that came before.  Tales were evident of vast family legacies, plots beside plots.  And reminders of the struggle of the past, with deaths of small children and families in groups.  All mourned, all remembered.

100_1024The view from the ‘top’ of the Nobby cemetery, plenty of space left in readiness for generations of pioneers to come.

We pulled into the one street town, a post office/general store, an art gallery, a craft shop and Steele Rudd’s Pub!  Inside was a clutter of paraphernalia, not a wall space was left, not a beam un-hung. A favourite of mine was the small image below painted on a large leaf.  Simply beautiful.

100_1025Below Jane inspects the artefacts while we await our light lunch of seafood delicacies… I know, seafood in the bush, but hey, it was on the menu!

100_1028 100_1029Obviously set up for the large group bus tour crowd, the pub meanders back and back through disjointed rooms into ever increasing dining spaces all with that rustic charm.

100_1030 After a tasty meal and some friendly service, and some not so friendly, we headed West again in search of the Steele Rudd Memorial Hut on the supposed site of his family selection. And just when we thought that we had missed it there it was! The sign I am dangling off was carved and placed in site by a relative of Mr Rudd himself and the whole memorial designed, constructed and up kept by community workers and community good will.

100_1033And below is the replica hut.  Tiny house anyone?  Apparently a family of 13 children made their way into life in a hut just like this.  In fact, inside is a slab of timber that claims to be from the original Rudd dining table.  And from the feel of it it had soaked up more than the odd spilled tea, it sang of a tactile past and of many a merry meal and disillusioned dinner.

100_1034Inside you can see that the insulation practices of the time were not quite up to our standards, but the positive is that you would awake each morning to the twinkling of many little lights…or perhaps to the drops of cold rain.


Dom inspects the cow shed and farming implements, marvelling at the ingenious construction techniques designed we suppose around a complete lack of nails and screws.

 100_1036The rough shingles of the roof framed by powerful clouds.

100_1037 100_1038I loved the opportunity to see and touch and feel and hear the country and the replica buildings.  And best of all I have loved that, in telling others where I have been, I have introduced a number of new people to the joy that is Steele Rudd’s authorship.

The next day we were up bright and early and into the Carbarlah markets, midway between Toowoomba and Crows Nest.  These lovely sprawling markets had a range of goodies from home made goods, to woodworked marvels, to exotic fruit trees and cheap Chinese imports.  A great little market that goes a little nuts at Christmas, or so we have heard.

Then to the block for a look see and for Jane to take a little more time to explore than her previous visit. Below in the panorama, if you click to see a larger view you will spy a tiny Jane surveying her son’s own selection.


And there we are the happy family, allowing Mr Stump Frog to take our picture to capture the moment.

100_1046On a side note – we have been enjoying the rain lately, 47.2mm so far this year! 

No mistake, it was  a real wilderness – nothing but trees, “goannas”, dead timber, and bears; and the nearest house – Dwyers – was three miles away.  I often wonder how the women stood it the first few years; and can remember how Mother, when she was alone, used to sit on a log, where the lane is now, and cry for hours.”

Steele Rudd (Arthur Hoey Davis) – ‘On Our Selection’

Thursday, January 15, 2009

From Seadoo to Chainsaw…at Castle Anduramba



So time for an update!  The new year is well upon us and we are feeling more like mountain citizens every day.  Our little house is lovely, dogs well settled into their new routines and I’ve almost completed two weeks in my new job.

The best bit about being here is the 40 minute drive to our piece of paradise.  We have come up with a new interim plan, or project to keep us busy!  Inspired by a pioneer-type living in central Crows Nest we are looking into expanding our existing shed into a two room palace!  See the pic below for our inspiration:

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We love the iron cladding, ramshackle additions and multiple solar panels running those little necessities. And if this guy can do it in central Crows, then no one will bother us out in the ‘Ramba, surely!

So out to the block we went to measure and string and wander about visualising.

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Dom spoke to a local hardware store specialising in package deals about how much to build a tin-walled room which would become our bedroom and washroom.  I say washroom, not bathroom and really, without running water can it be a bathroom?  Perhaps bucketroom will become the vernacular!  They came back with a quote of about $3500 which sounds pretty decent!  And if we keep our eye out for great recycled deals and giveaways we could bring that price right down.  So operation Build Castle Anduramba will develop over the next months…maybe when it gets a bit cooler!

We have been exploring our new local area as well.  Dom is missing his easy-access fishing spots so we went for a morning drive west towards Jondaryn and a spot called Bowenville Reserve.  This is listed in the top three fishing spots in the area behind Cressbrook Dam and Lake Cooby.  It is a free camping site with an ablution block and not much else in the middle of a rural farming area along side a lovely river.  The river is stocked by the fisheries department and the local fishing guy told us it is the best place to go with an esky of beer and a fishing rod! 

The day we went was just after a night of heavy rain and our sturdy station wagon found the going tough once we were on site, with the mud.  There were three or so camping groups all peering at us from within their set ups and with our two overly excited pups we didn’t get to explore in full.  But we can see the potential of the spot and would recommend it to anyone looking for a peaceful and free getaway!  The shot below is of the road between Toowoomba and the Oakey bypass:

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Another day trip took us out to Lake Cooby, a water catchment for the Toowoomba region.  After a peaceful drive on narrow roads through a rural zone nestled in behind Highfields we made it to the dam wall.  There are two spots to stop and spend some time at Cooby.  The first is a wonderful long winding shady parkland along the overflow creek below the wall.  The area was beautiful, peaceful with recently installed barbecues, picnic tables and a fantastic playground for the little ones and young at heart.  And some beautiful old trees:

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From the same spot you can wander along the top of the wall and the shot below is a panoramic of the dam itself.  Maps show what it would look like when full, which I’m sure we will see again before too long…right?  Click on the image for a larger version.

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As you know we were given the surprise Christmas gift of a Seadoo Jet Ski thanks to a raffle we entered when we bought our car.  After a short listing on Ebay we sold it to a family man from down south and much to our pleasure found that we had some cash to spend on little necessities!  And what does an outback land owner need more than a brushcutter and a chainsaw!  No self respecting weed or fallen log can last long when Dom is around!  We went into Crows Nest to buy the new toys from the local dealer, Doug and needless to say Dom is one happy man! 

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In other news, Dom has decided to follow his passion and study a Certificate in Horticulture at the local TAFE and is looking for casual work to support his studies.  I am settling into my new job and loving every day.  Life is moving forward in the most delightful way.


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