128. Yass.

We’ve now been in Canberra for several days. Initially we concentrated on bringing Westie the caravan and Grandy the Jeep up to scratch – Westie has a persistent leak and Grandy a persistent rattle (!). Dave thinks the leak comes from the TV aerial inlet or possibly the solar panel power line inlet on top of the caravan, or just possibly somewhere else which could have been damaged by a tree branch when we were trying to extricate ourselves from the driveway in Melbourne. He has removed all the old caulking and applied new, then hosed down the caravan and we await developments, assisted by an early morning rainfall.

Grandy has proved more troublesome. Initially the noise was thought to be a stone caught in the brakes, but after removal in Cooma the noise started again … so in Canberra we went to an authorised Jeep dealer and they had a good look and said the wheel bearings were getting worn and would need replacing fairly soon, but they couldn’t do it for two weeks. We may move on and get it done elsewhere further north.

Nearby Yass has long been on my list of places to visit, as it features in my Darchy family history several times. Legend has it that my ancestor Thomas Darchy worked for or at least visited Hamilton Hume on one of his Yass properties; it would have been in about 1841-43,  long after Hume had retired from active exploration. Ann “Nanno” Byrne, the mother of Thomas’ future bride Susan, ran an Inn nearby at Five Mile Creek, so it is likely Thomas met Susan in the Yass district. They were married in Campbelltown just outside Sydney in 1844, then made their first home at Black Mountain near Yass. It is not clear to me yet if Five Mile Creek is part of the Black Mountain area, but records show that their first child was born at Five Mile Creek in 1845. Later they moved further west to more open country in the Lower Murrumbidgee.


Ann Byrne was the fourth of 16 children and was born at sea on the “Tellicherry’” as it approached Australia in 1806.

According to the Monaro Pioneers Index and some other records “Nanno” Byrne was the owner of 1900 acres and leased the Coach and Horse Inn on Old South Road at Five Mile Creek in 1855. She may have been the licensee even earlier. She married her third husband Joseph McKeogh in 1853 in Yass but I think continued to use the Byrne surname.  She died in 1864 at Five Mile Creek, of “Atrophy and debility, the effect of accidentally breaking her legs”  two months previously and was buried in Yass under the surname McKeogh. Her name is not on the list of headstones in any Yass cemetery.

Where was Five Mile Creek? It is described variously as:

1. near Bogalong, Yass. District of Burrowa.

2. south of Bogalong, near Beremangra.

3. Between Yass and Jugiong, near Bookham.

Maps show most of these place names, but not Five Mile Creek. So one fine morning we set off on a voyage of discovery (!).

First – Yass. Just before the town I spotted Hamilton Hume’s cottage, now owned by the National Trust. Did Thomas Darchy visit Hume there? Probably! But even without that inducement it was an interesting old building.

cottage  from ainr.IMG_8425IMG_8345IMG_8351IMG_8354



Did Thomas Darchy dine here?


Perfect matching of old wallpaper (the darker bits) ….


The original approach was from the north but once the Hume Highway was built the ‘back entrance’ became the main entrance. This would have been the early view from the main entrance.




Finally on to Yass itself.  A charming town full of old buildings. We visited the Museum which had an interesting display of old hotels in the town, but alas Nanno’s was not mentioned.




Keeping an Inn must have been interesting in those days, quite apart from the danger from bushrangers. Family legend has it that Nanno was held up at least once.


I did discover a small display about the Rev. Brigstocke who baptised some of Thomas and Susan Darchy’s children. In those horse-and-buggy days the distances were so vast that whichever travelling priest/minister arrived first was given the honour. The religion didn’t matter that much!


After lunch in an old building converted to a modern cafe with excellent food, it was time for the Great Five Mile Creek Hunt. We drove as far as Bookham then turned off the highway. Bookham is just a couple of homes, a huge junkyard for old farm machinery, a church and little else. We explored a couple of narrow roads but the feeling was that Five Mile was further along the highway.


It was! We almost missed it. The old Hume Highway, which mostly followed the Old South Road, was just the other side of a narrow reedy creek. On the banks of this creek were several non-native  bushes ….. was that the site of the Inn? Boolara Road led off from the highway and we followed it for some way but decided the Inn was most likely close to the highway.






We could not drive down the old highway as the way was blocked by a gate and a notice – with a phone number for a local farm. Julie phoned the farm for me next day and made contact with people who “know the history of the place” . A I write this I’m waiting to hear back from them via email. They may know the exact location of the Inn.



We continued along to Jugiong, just to make sure we hadn’t missed anything. At Jugiong there is a large camping ground for caravans, some houses, a very old hotel being restored, and not much else apart from an interesting sculpture and series of notices describing the death of the local policeman Sergeant Edmund Parry “killed in the courageous execution of his duty” in 1864 at the hands of bushrangers.


Being in Canberra, a visit to a least some of the National treasures is mandatory. We spent a lovely morning wandering about the National Art Gallery, which houses all sorts of art ranging from some Monets (including Waterlillies) to Blue Poles to Nolan’s entire range of Ned Kelly paintings. also lots of modern australian artists, some of whom I have not heard, others whose names I remember well from Mrs Adams’Art classes at school. Then it was back home for afternoon tea with friends from Armidale University days, who neither Julie nor I have seen for over forty years!

Today Dave has gone off to explore the Australian War Memorial Museum on his own while I am working on this blog. We are thinking of heading north soon to Temora to see a special Air museum and meet up with Dave’s relatives who like us are touring with a caravan.

127. The Sapphire Coast (NSW)

We left Westy/Westie the Caravan (the name still not settled) sitting in a paddock where earlier there were several large kangaroos feeding unconcernedly, and drove further south to Eden on Twofold Bay. A special museum beckoned – the Killer Whale Museum. I was expecting the usual display of whale skeletons, vertebrae, harpoons, old photos of harpooning etc etc and indeed they were all there, but what amazed me was the story of Old Tom. From my early schooldays I’d heard about Twofold Bay, Ben Boyd, whaling, etc but never this story.


How about this as a cure for rheumatism? Also a Jonah story….



it wasn’t just Old Tom though …


it was good to see that the contribution of Aboriginals in the early days of the whaling industry at Twofold Bay are being recognised and acknowledged.



There was a cute little playroom for the littlies …..


Two lovely old clinker-built rowboats reminded me strongly of Cornelius’ tender. Some people were surprised we didn’t get a modern fibreglass model instead but Geoff was all for tradition – and strength. IMG_8271


Down at the waterfront, I was trying to get my bearings. Cornelius sailed into this harbour in late 1980. Since then a modern fishing wharf has been built. We had an indifferent lunch at a waterfront cafe, I think we must have picked the worst one. Very disappointing as i was looking forward to my first meal of prawns – but they were coated in a very thick batter and fried for rather too long.


Up the hill we tried to get a good view of the harbour and lighthouse.


Next day we headed north up the coast, with a stop on the heights above Narooma to check out the very narrow channel through which Cornelius had been guided by a fishing boat. The sea at that time was far rougher than the day I took these photos. They do not show the channel as well as I had hoped.



However, down at the wharf there was a photographer’s treat, a mob of pelicans and seabirds plus a couple of huge stingrays all milling around a gutting table. The water was very clear.




A sign at a rest area on the coast shows the amazing abundance of fish species in this area.


IMG_8289A little further up the coast we stopped at Tuross Head to have some ultra-fresh bread rolls for lunch-with-a-view. A lone surfer kept us entertained, then a lone beach walker arrived. We met up with him a little later and he said he walks about 5 km on the beach every day.


IMG_8332One night at Braidwood; we woke to see  early-morning tai-chi on the nearby golf course.


And now – here’s proof that we are finally in Canberra! We are parked in the driveway at Julie and Allan’s home and are being spoilt rotten by my very dear old friends. Julie and I went overseas together in the late 60s and have a few reminiscences (and quite a few giggles) to catch up on!


126. Cooma to the Coast (NSW)

Cooma was not quite what I had expected – it was smaller for one thing, but it did have some reasonable shops where we bought a few cold-weather items of clothing as we will probably be in the southern parts of Australia for a week or two more. Nanny Goat Hill gave a good view over the town, and the road to a small cafe/restaurant just outside town gave an even better one. It being such a small world these days, we were not really surprised when the waitress started talking about cochlear implants and a little girl she knew who had one. A wallaby was waiting outside to say goodbye.




IMG_8199One must-see was the Snowy Hydro-Discovery Centre just outside Cooma. Not only for the quality of the exhibits and the delicacy of the little cakes at the cafe but also the sight of a small group of “Lace Ladies” who invited me to view their work. Three were making incredibly delicate old-fashioned lace with numerous spindles, another was doing tatting and gave me a lesson (I still have a tatting bobbin somewhere at home).

it is difficult to visualise the magnitude of the Snowy scheme which started in 1949 before modern tools were available.




There is a monument outside to the approximately 120 men and women of over 30 nationalities who lost their lives during construction between 1949 and 1974.


Writing of tools – here’s a calculator the surveyors used. This would have been about the same time as my fellow students and I at the University of NSW were using logarithmic tables and/or slide rules.



A scale model showed our route to Cabramurra the previous day – it’s the yellow line which snakes from near Khancoban (middle of model) up to Tooma then a steep drop and onwards to Cabramurra (just out of sight to the left).


Leaving Cooma our route took us through Bombala in so-called Platypus Country. Just before the town we stopped to check out a small cottage which Mary McKillop once visited,  and across the road, the Bombala river.


Past the town we found a special Platypus Reserve, but we didn’t sight any there either. I have only ever seen one platypus in the wild and that was many years ago by chance when I was driving along a country road and saw some people intently watching something from a bridge. Curiosity made me stop and join them.


IMG_8237From Bombala it was a long twisty ride down and down and down the Darragh Mountain Road to Merimbula.


IMG_8248We planned to stop over at an Australian Motorhome and Caravan Club POP at Pambula but several phone calls to the owner were unreturned (she did make contact next day, she was in Sydney). We went to the place anyway but found it deserted and on a narrow road with a difficult entrance, so continued to Merimbula where we were soon settled in a camp just as the sun was setting. Yes, another sunset shoot!



125. The Snowys – Cabramurra

It had been suggested that we drive the long Alpine Way route through the Snowy Mountains from Khancoban down a very steep and windy road to Thredbo then up again through Jindabyne and Berridale and thence to Cooma. It would doubtless have been an exhilarating drive in a powerful sports car, but …. towing a large caravan? We thought not and our doubts were crystallised by a hugh road sign which strongly advised against caravans and motorhomes taking that road. So we elected to head for Cabramurra instead – Australia’s highest town, built to house the Snowy scheme workers.

snowy map

it was a beautiful clear day as we headed off with some trepidation, turning left on the highway just before Khancoban. The surfaced road was very narrow and twisty and mostly ran alongside huge power lines. In places there was a sheer drop on one side.

IMG_8134We only met a few other vehicles the whole 60 km to Cabramurra. About half way we stopped to view the Tooma Dam. it was sad to see how markedly the level of water had dropped since the dam was first built.








After that the road took us ever higher. The vegetation changed markedly. First it was large gums or mountain ash and other trees, then suddenly it was dead mountain ash towering over regenerating bush, then it was much shorter dead mountain ash and little else  ….  The photos were taken through the car windscreen, there were no places to stop.




Signs at Cabramurra told us the story. It’s going to take at least 40 years before some parts can expect to be re-vegetated.

Cabramurra was tiny and very quiet. There is one general store but we decided not to investigate for coffee.





Once we reached Kiandra the traffic increased  but it was still relatiely light. Bright orange road markings and two metre high red poles along the roadsides indicated how heavy the snow is in winter.


We were anxious to reach Cooma before nightfall as we’d been warned by numerous persons not to drive after dusk when the kangaroos come out, particularly as we do not have a bull bar. Indeed I did see one kangaroo sitting beside the road possibly contemplating when to make his suicidal dash. So Adaminaby and in particular the Old Adaminaby township on Lake Eucumbene were given a miss, although we could see the huge Lake at times through the trees.

124. The Snowy Mountains – Corryong

We had a fairly uneventful trip on the Snowy Mountains Highway from Beechworth to Corryong, skirting a lone tree hill and catching glimpses of the upper reaches of Lake Hume with its drowned trees near Tallangatta. I wish now we had detoured for a closer inspection.




Along the way we stopped at the Old Tallangatta lookout. The whole town was moved in 1956. Part of the old Wodonga-Cudgewa Railway which was an important part of the construction of Lake Hume and the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme runs close by the viewing point and has been turned into a high country real trail, “counted among the most iconic trails in Australia”.



We arrived in Corryong late afternoon and just had time to set up camp before the sunset disappeared. I love that time of day with the sunlight sliding through the trees.


Next morning we spent some time inspecting the town. Autumn colours were everywhere. A monument commemorated a rather long-distance swim  ….




Corryong is “The Man From Snowy River” country and the local Museum certainly reflects that, but it had so much more besides. Did you know the hidden secret of the Australian Ten Dollar note?



it’s actually quite a large museum, I wandered round the main building then back to the front desk and said “I can’t find my husband” and the lady said “Oh he’s probably out the back” … I hadn’t realised the main building was just the beginning. There were many more buildings there, full of local history. It took most of the morning to explore.

IMG_8130 There were several intriguing exhibits including an early ice chest – has anyone heard of an “icy ball”?


I also spotted some tubes of Hansen’s Junket Tablets. When  did they disappear?



A very early phonograph also captured my attention.


One of the more unusual exhibits was a huge rug made in a WW2 prison camp. The photos tell the story.



There was also a wonderful dressing gown made by the same man. Awesome.



123. Ned Kelly Country

Since I was a young schoolgirl I have known about the “romantic folk hero” (aka bushranger, criminal and police murderer) Ned Kelly; and the place names Glenrowan, Beechworth and Jindabyne have reverberated in my mind. So it was with a sense of disbelief that I realised we were actually THERE, in Ned Kelly country.



IMG_8033Our first night on the road was spent in a charming camp in Glenrowan in a beautiful bushland setting, with kangaroos and no doubt other animals (don’t even think of snakes – anyway it was a bit too cold for them by then) surrounding us.


It was a bit of a shock to see very modern caravans and motorhomes hooked up to their own water inlets and with grey water hoses trailing off into garden or bushland areas, something definitely not condoned in NZ. So many of the caravans and motorhomes we saw on our recent hunt had small fresh water tanks and no grey water tanks. The idea of being completely self-contained is apparently a new one here. Grey water is water from the kitchen sink and bathroom shower and basin; black water is the other stuff which goes into a cassette which has to be emptied every couple of days. I was so glad for T5’s big black water tank which meant we could be totally independent for up to six days.

The weather was not friendly and we also discovered a leak which seemed to come from the TV aerial area or possibly was caused by our brush with overhanging branches when trying to get out of the driveway at Mornington. Certainly the last few days have been very rainy. Dave borrowed a ladder but could not see anything definite. We shall have to wait and see it it happens again next time we encounter heavy rain.

Glenrowan is off the main highway and is a much smaller town than i expected, consisting mainly of two over-priced tourist shops each with their own Ned Kelly museum, a sound-and-light ‘experience’ in a pub setting (which we declined), a quite good antique shop where we purchased some pretty oldish egg cups, and a couple of food places but nothing special. There is also a well-signposted walkabout explaining various points around town where the big siege took place. Here, for example, was the police station.



This was a slightly more recent police station; it had stables at the rear for the police horses.


This is the hill where Ned kept a lookout for the troopers pursuing the gang.


The museum we visited had a wonderful Kelly family tree covering one wall, which drew the genealogist in me to it like a magnet. I have visions of something similar in the long hallway once we move back into our home in Christchurch … maybe!



This old gum has such beautiful colours. Did it witness the siege?


Surprisingly quite a few people seem to have made Glenrowan their home. This is the fence in front of a modern brick home.


Then we moved on to Beechworth where Ned and his mother Ellen spent time in prison. The old town precinct has been restored and looked beautiful in the autumn light. The size of the old cobbled drains reflect on the rainfall in the district.





Spotted in some shop windows: some cute teddies and parrotty candlesticks.



The courtyard of a guest house was a little confusing – were they trying to be Kelly-ish, topiary-ish, Italianate or just garden gnome variety?


By then I was feeling a bit sated with Ned Kelly. Jindabyne up north will have to wait for a later visit.

We left Beechworth heading along the Snowy Mountains Highway to Tallangatta and Corryong. By the way, Dave’s driving glasses still haven’t turned up, he may have to order another pair.

122.  We’re Off At Last.


It felt like the day would never come. We had our horse and cart, but we still had to wait for delivery. We spent the interim having the horse checked out for caravan brake compliance and fixed for battery recharging-on-the-go, plus driving around Melbourne hunting down and pricing various items, then running out of time to go back to the chosen place(s) and buy them. We began to know our way around Melbourne’s freeways, motorways and tollways (one of our first purchases was an eTag) and outer suburbs reasonably well, although we would have been lost without the GPS.


Initially we stayed at Donvale with Jen and Peter, where we were made to feel part to their welcoming and wonderful family. A great centre from which to travel round Melbourne, with a bush walk right in their backyard.



A few days before taking delivery we moved to Roger and Jay’s at Mornington, further from Melbourne but with many shops and services relatively close. Once again we received royal treatment, absolutely wonderful meals, and much helpful advice.


Thanks partly to the generosity of those mentioned above plus cousin Arthur and Joan we accumulated the basics for furnishing the caravan and felt confident we could easily purchase the rest. Things like crockery and cutlery, cooking utensils, dishwipes, a dustpan and broom and a new water filtration system and various electronic devices and things to do with towing and security …. the list was endless.  We STILL need a potato masher and a pair of kitchen tongs! I’m particularly pleased with this set of bowls which we finally tracked down after revisiting three shops where we thought we’d seen them earlier.



Dave was absolutely thrilled to discover some genuine NZ-made Gingernut biscuits!!


As you can see the interior theme is predominantly blue, a change from T5’s red. This ‘new’ caravan, still nameless, is a few years older than T5, but the interior decor is completely different, as is the layout. T5 has a U-shaped club lounge and table at the front and kitchen at one side, and is furnished pretty much in uggh browns (hence all the red); this one has the kitchen at the front and a L-shaped lounge and table to one side and a single seat on the other side. It’s furnished in much softer colours, cream and fawn with brocade-style seats which will probably get grubby very quickly if we don’t cover them.


When the great day to take possession dawned, we still didn’t have driving mirrors, the extended sort so essential when driving a wider vehicle. We were due at the dealer’s yard at 1 pm and they insisted on going through a very thorough explanation of everything, including showing us how to set up a very large awning which extends the whole width of the caravan. Actually all this explanation was much appreciated, modern caravans really are rather intricate.


We didn’t finish till nearly 5 pm, just time for us to drive off to a shop where we expected to buy the essential side mirrors which Dave wanted. But no – so thankfully we accepted the dealer’s offer to leave the van in the yard overnight, well guarded by two dogs (which have practised their skills on every salesman in the place, apparently).

As one gets older one often meets people who remind one strongly of people one knew much earlier. And so it was with our caravan salesman, the spitting image of my old headmistress, although of course of a different shape and sex – but the same eyes and mouth and face and skin tone …. Miss Margaret Glover BA was one of the most influential people in my early life. I visited her several times many years after I’d left school and only wish it had been more often. She is long gone now, of course.


Next morning we were up bright and early, found the desired side mirrors, and were soon out of the yard and heading south for Mornington where our friends had arranged for us to keep the caravan in an absent neighbour’s driveway while we added the finishing touches to our new acquisition. We’d hoped to need no more than a day or two but then the weather took a decided turn for the worse, very heavy rain and gales. We took time off to check out a yacht which had been blown from its moorings onto the beach nearby.



IMG_7940IMG_7937IMG_7933IMG_7930After several days as the forecast for southern Victoria was still dismal, Roger and Jay suggested we change our plans and head for the Snowys, which were not on my original list but Dave wants to see the Snowy Mountain Scheme, and then down to the lower NSW coast as originally planned.

Here’s a coastal scene near Frankston (well within Port Phillip Bay); it would have been much worse on the south coast.


SO – Wednesday 11th May was the day. We had everything stowed and ready and said our goodbyes and then ….. simply couldn’t get out of the driveway! Our way was blocked by a neighbouring visitor’s red car, plus overhanging branches of a tree threatened to do damage to the roof (they did! – we discovered a leak next day).


Various attempts to raise said neighbour were fruitless (many thanks R and J for all your work there). But at last we were out – and had only gone a few metres when Dave realised his driving glasses were missing.

Over the next hour or so repeated searches of the car, the caravan, our parking site, the roadway, R & J’s home and our vacated room yielded nothing. Finally we gave up, said our goodbyes for the THIRD time, and were on our way. The intention was to head north for Beechworth but with dusk rapidly approaching we decided to stop at Glenrowan for the night and hope neither Ned Kelly’s ghost nor modern-day bushrangers would put in an appearance.

121. A Buying Spree

After two weeks rushing around Victoria on the hunt for a bus or RV, and seeing a great deal of the country, we returned to Melbourne from beautiful Moonambel, but not before a visit to the Blue Pyrenees winery near Avoca for lunch with Arthur and Joan. We enjoyed a delicious house platter with their Viognier wine, rather like a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.



The vineyard was originally established to produce a substitute for Remy Martin Brandy during WW2, and was among the modern Australian wine industry’s first ventures into cool climate viticulture. “Our Estate is surrounded by the picturesque blue-hued Pyrenees range named for its beauty and similarity to the Pyrenees mountains bordering France and Spain, though some think this explorer’s memory of what constituted a mountain may have been distorted by his long voyage across the flat seas of the Pacific!”

We returned the quirky little Fiat rental and took on a rather more comfortable Mitsubishi rental with a free upgrade – oh bliss. Within a few days and many more km on the rental plus fighting to escape some extremely pushy salesmen, we had located our new RV, a 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo WH to give it its grand full title, a beautiful silver and such a lovely (grand!) ride. No bull bar but we can get one fitted later, a 2-week wait would be far too long right now.

Next day the Great Caravan Hunt started with a fizzer – a long drive through horrendous (and rainy) Melbourne stop-and-go traffic only to find the caravan we wanted to inspect had been sold under our noses even though Dave had spoken to the dealer earlier that day. We called off the rest of the GCH and retreated ‘home’ to lovely Jen’s where we’ve been made to feel so welcome.

Next day with about 6 caravans on the to-see list we set off almost back to where we’d  abandoned the hunt the previous day, inspected a privately owned van (very nice, quite tempting but …) then to a dealer to see what turned out to be a rather decrepit-though-charming little van, and then I discovered, right next to it, THE caravan – a 2001 Jayco Westport, very similar our T5 but with a different interior layout, and it had just about everything on our list ….. solar, a well-sprung bed accessible on both sides, separate toilet and shower, full stove with griller and oven, new batteries and tyres. Sold – to us!


We have to wait six days before we can take possession as the dealer wants to give it a full pre-delivery service. No matter, with the hunting thankfully called off we can relax more and start to gather “stuff” – linen and towels already promised, kitchenware (just received an email promising a bread knife, carving fork and other goodies), plastic storage baskets to fit into the lockers, cleaning materials, non-perishables like spices and pasta, and some more clothes for us as we arrived with only the minimum.