Well, here’s another week where we did not go anywhere new, or explore or see something out of the ordinary. We still did our usual things which seem to take up our time. Things such as doctors appointments, Full body bone scan, a CPR course for Donnis, swimming, table tennis, Tai Chi, line dancing, lawn bowls, bingo, making Norri Rolls and the return of my Samsung A3 phone all fixed. I have not had a chance to fully test it but so far so good. Oh, by the way, the Samsung man told me about a new software release by Hyundai called Android Auto ( similar to Apple Car). The new upgrade allows things such as music, several Apps and Google Maps to be sent from the phone to cars fitted with Audio Display Screen. The Samsung man told me he uses the Google Maps as his GPS by sending via Bluetooth to the audio screen. I called Hyundai and they said the software is not released in Australia yet. What the!!! It seems there is quite a demand for the software and although Hyundai have been saying since November 2015 it will be released “next month” they issue a new notice saying the release is “close”. Grrr! The technology has been in use in Hyundai US and Canada since early 2015.
Because we had no other interesting things to share with you this week I thought it was time to have a look at some “old houses” we have seen in our travels.
Way back in October 2012 when I travelled slowly from Mt Beauty Victoria to Guyra NSW, one of the towns I stayed was Ariah Park (Pronounced Area Park) for a few days. The town which is basically in a period of decline is trying to attract people to town. One initiative is a camping area at the local sports park. For $10 there is somewhere level to park, power, toilets, laundry and showers. Admittedly there is only one shower and it shares with the laundry. So, if you want a shower you need to lock the door to keep laundry users out. For $10 nobody complains. In my exploration of Ariah Park and Temora, I saw many old, abandoned or remains of houses after a fire or other disaster. This house just seems to have been abandoned. Not surprising really as many of the shops in town are also vacant and everything inside covered in a thin layer of dust. Prosperity went somewhere else and took people along with it. The railway line was closed some years ago so could be one of the reasons why the town is in decline. Population in 2011 was 264 and the district is dependent on wool and wheat, both of which requires only seasonal labour.
While house sitting at Dapto NSW in July 2012 we took the opportunity to explore much of the foothills and lower escarpment to the west. Avondale area, was and to a certain extent, still is, dairy farming country. Some of it, on the flatland and low undulating hills, has been sold off in various large plots and turned into housing development . In the foothills some has been turned into 5 acre hobby farm lots while the remainder is simply pasture. As the foothills steepen into the sheer escarpment face, some of the old coal mines are still intact. Some are closed but kept maintained for some future project while others are simply closed until somebody figures out how to use kilometres of empty tunnels. The building in the photo was once part of a dairy but has long been abandoned like the mothballed Huntley Colliery across the road.
In July/August of 2011 I was involved with the Census and my area was the difficult Eungella/Dalrymple Ranges area over the escarpment west of Mackay Qld. The area is an old dairy farming community but these days only a half dozen viable dairy farms still exist. Much of the rest of the town lives off welfare and is a good place to hide from the law and creditors. The area abounds with old homesteads long abandoned. Even temporary housing such as this shepherds caravan deep in a valley beside Bee Creek has long ago started to return to nature.
Ben Lomond is located in the Northern Tablelands of the New England District of NSW. The village at the 2011 Census is reported as having 436 persons living there. The village has no shops, no Post Office and most of the houses, if not already abandoned are in the early stages of being taken over by moss, lichen and mould. The town survives only as a place for sheep and cattle farming and perhaps a little grain. The town is cold most of the year being at 1370 metres elevation. The two nearby peaks, known as The Brothers are at 1508 metres. Snow often falls even as late as October and November each year. Even December can produce a light sprinkling of snow. No wonder people have left the area. The railway line which ran through town was closed twenty years ago. The town was muted as an ideal place for a wind farm but financial difficulties put an end to that project in 2008. The local school has 12 students, down from 30 in the 2006 Census.
This house which is close to the town centre was the scene of a fire and the house was destroyed. This is all that is left. The house is in the small town of Braidwood on which sits about midway between the coastal town of Batemans Bay in NSW and Canberra, Capital of Australia in the ACT. The town is on the Kings Highway and is a busy road taking public servants and other residents of Canberra to the coast. The multitude of coastal towns is the holiday playground for the ACT and nearby Queanbeyan in NSW. Braidwood and the several old, destroyed or abandoned houses are on a windy plateau blasted by the cold westerly winds in winter and cold southerly winds blowing up and over the escarpment of the Great Dividing Range from the from the coast.
This old house at Collarenebri NSW is neither a burnt out shell or abandoned. People are still living here. From the time I spent here it was apparent the town was in decline but holding on to something of its former glory mainly due to the local district hospital. The town was once the centre of sheep farming, shearing, wheat and cotton crops and whatever else can be thrown in to earn a dollar. The local pub and the Bowling Club are the busiest locations in town. Even the hospital comes in at third place.( Other reasonably well equipped hospitals are about 2 hours distant from here…Lightning Ridge, Moree, and Walgett) The small number of shops and local garage usually only open restricted hours because 1. The population is not large enough to support full time stores and 2, the heat at midday in the summer can be in the high 40’s. Only mad dogs and Englishmen go outside in the midday sun.
Here we are at Eungella once again and here you can see an abandoned house preparing to go back to nature. The ravages of time, mould, white ants, heat, wind and rain are taking their toll. The dreams of a dairy farmer once started…and ended here.
This old house sits beside the Pioneer Valley Highway at Finch Hatton Qld which lies in the shadow of the Great Dividing Range and Eungella, thirty Klms to the west. Look closely and you can see the damage mould can do in tropical regions. This house was probably once part of cane cutters accommodation back in the glory days when can was cut by hand. You can see sugar cane still grows in the background. The local sugar mill at Finch Hatton closed back in the early 90’s and as a result many people moved away. Further aiding the demise was the removal of the railway line at about the same time. Cane is cut and taken to the nearest mill at Marian about 40 Klms by road but most cane is transported via a myriad of cane railway lines snaking their way through hundreds of Klms of cane farms spread throughout the valley. It is not unusual to see a small cane locomotive pulling 200 or more cane bins on the way to the sugar mill.
This old sheep herders overnight cottage is no longer in use. These types of huts can be seen in the hills around Guyra and Ben Lomond in NSW. Even here mould, lichen and moss are growing throughout the house, wearing it down to become one with nature.
This house, leaning away from the prevailing wind is one of several in the NSW gold mining town of Hillgrove near Armidale. There are a few small villages sitting above a steep valley with Bakers Creek at the bottom, snaking its way along where the only industry was gold mining. Those glory days of pulling the gold out of them thar hills has gone. So have the residents. Gold is still extracted by one mine as well as a substance called antimony. The new high tech mine employs most of the 95 residents of the town in one capacity or another. The other nearby villages still struggle to keep people in their houses. Maintenance is no longer an option and soon even those houses will be no more. None of the half dozen villages in this area, dependant on gold, have any form of shop, post office, hotel or medical surgery.