Leaving the Gilbert River camp rested and refreshed we headed for Georgetown, with a stop at a curious high brick chimney which we could see from the road. This turned out to be the Cumberland Chimney, which with a large dam built to provide water to the mill and batteries, are the remains of the Cumberland mines on the Etheridge fields.
The chimney was built in 1889 to disperse smoke from the large steam driven engines powering the batteries that crushed the gold bearing stone. It was a highly mechanised operation.
The gold soon ran out and the mine was sold in 1886; the new buyers abandoned it in 1897.
At its peak there were almost 4500 mine workers ad families with another hundred or so people living there. Shops were numerous, there was a school and a police station and bank. By 1898 the township was reduced to a single hotel.
Anthills are now the only things that overlook the dam.
We did not stop in Georgetown except to get diesel and some supplies. I did notice that the school had a huge shade awning over the tennis court – we’ve seen this in some other places too. Plus the usual number of old homes …
We wanted to visit the famed Cobbold Gorge, about 90 km south of Georgetown, but did not fancy dragging aged Westie that far on a dirt road, so decided to go only as far as Forsayth, leave Westie there and do a day trip to Cobbold. Part of the road to Forsayth was surfaced, but all too soon we hit the bull dust and corrugations. We’d heard there was to be a district Show (the Forsayth Roundup) that weekend and there was free camping at the show ground. I had picked up a show program in Croydon and it looked interesting. Here, for example, are the dog classes – not exactly Crufts.
Forsayth is a tiny little place but as it is the terminus for the Savannahlander train it has spruced itself up and the local hotel has a nice modern facade. Old railway and mining mementoes were scattered around.
Notice outside the police station. 10,000 sq km!
Other important stuff:
The camp next door to the pub was chock full so we were glad we knew about the show ground. Finding the entrance was another thing, we missed the main entrance from the highway (I don’t think it was signposted at that stage) and bumped and lurched over the railway line and picked up a nail in one of the Jeep’s tyres!
So there we were with a puncture (soon fixed) in the main show area, thankfully still almost empty, and in sight of the camping ground proper. It was on a slight rise overlooking the whole showground, with free power and water available. The nearby toilet block had hot showers, the water heated in a large drum over an open fire.
As it turned out most of the show visitors elected to camp overnight in a grassy area elsewhere with no facilities, but we did not mind the rocky ground and anthills which surrounded us as we were also visited by hundreds of galahs and several inquisitive magpies, and had glorious views of the sunsets. We stayed there four nights. Very luckily the tyre was repaired in Forsayth.
The galahs were not so popular early one morning (shot thru the flyscreen)….
The Show started very slowly. By the Friday evening (we arrived Thursday) still very little had been done, but early Saturday morning the place really began to fill up. By the time we strolled down, judging of the horses, livestock, dogs, crafts, culinary arts and children was well under way.
The lolly drop – one of two. The local dentist will be having field day later.
Here are some of the entrants for the children’s best-dressed classes …
…dogs … athletic events ….
… eggs, jams, preserves, ‘decorated vegetables’ …..
…. a school project entry – well done April even if you can’t spell haka…..
… whip cracking … (the little guy was one of the best) …
… dog high jump …. (photo taken at beginning; the winner jumped over 2 metres, the height was increased by building up boards between slots at each end of the ute).
… the greasy pig chase (I think the winner got to keep the pig) …
…. billy boiling competition, balloon throwing, tug of war, kick a goal ….
There was only what you could call one sideshow with two of those old-fashioned laughing clowns.
But there were a fair number of other stalls, including a gold prospector’s who showed us a huge and surprisingly heavy lump of gold he had discovered (so he said). Note his hat.
And other types, not the usual city ones …
The show did not finish till well after 9 pm when the last of the raffles were drawn and donated goods were auctioned off. Two lucky locals picked up laptop computers for about $250 each. We did not win the wheelbarrow of alcohol which was donated by the local hotel.
By late next morning the whole show ground was deserted. Amazing! We stayed one extra day, did a little more exploring of the town including the scholchildren-beautified entrance…..
….. watched the huge flock of galahs reclaim their area, enjoyed another beautiful sunset and left next morning just after the power and water had been turned off.
We had not escaped the dirt road unscathed. A stone thrown up by a speeding 4WD which didn’t slow down on the dirt road must have hit the driver’s side window, and before too long a three-armed crack started to appear. There was also a tiny chip on the windscreen. We decided to forego Cobbold Gorge and other attractions on the way and head straight for Mareeba, the first large town near the coast. We may be able to see the Gorge at a later date, the Savannahlander train from Cairns stops at Forsayth and then there is a bus to Cobbold. The train also stops earlier at Mt. Surprise with a bus to the Undarra Lava Tubes which we also want to see. In one of those complicated “related to the sixth degree” (or something!) situations, Undarra is owned by a family whose daughter together with her husband Bob McFarland until recently owned the Darchy family station “Oxley” near Hay. My great great aunt married Bob’s great great uncle.
Posted from Cooktown. More blogs coming soon when we can find some WiFi spots!