MONDAY 18 JANUARY STANTHORPE
Were somewhat woken up this morning, fairly early, by the noise of resident workers heading off. Not too obtrusive, and we may get used to it. If John has his way, we’ll be joining them!
After a leisurely start, drove to the town centre. Went to the Post Office and collected our mail. Also there was the sapphire jewellery that I’d had made – sent C.O.D. by J from Rubyvale. That is a useful service that I had not previously known about. The pale greeny ring and blue earrings came up beautifully and I am really pleased with them.
Then to the Tourist Information Centre. I bought a map of the Sundown National Park and collected information about the area – especially the other National Parks, which look really interesting. We had a long chat with the lady behind the counter, who has travelled extensively on camping and 4WD holidays. We do not seem to encounter many staff in such places who have a real understanding of what we are doing.
John stopped at the bowls club and went in to note their game times.
We went to the Employment Office and filled out forms to register there for harvest work. The man did not really indicate how likely we were to find work, but he did say that sometimes farms put signs up at their properties when workers were wanted, rather than going through the formal channels. So John got motivated to go driving round the district, later!
After lunch we set out driving. Followed the Amiens Road circuit drive, outlined in the tourist literature. This was a very attractive and pleasant drive. It took us though both farming country and bushland. We did not see any farm signs wanting pickers – but did see several saying that pickers were not required! I guess they might get sick of people calling in on the off chance and using up their time.
The route took us through several locations with names reminiscent of WW1 – because soldier settler farmers from that war settled here. Amiens, Pozieres, Passchendaele were names we saw – familiar from the research done last year on John’s father’s war.
We visited Donnelly’s Castle – a prominent hill with a jumble of huge granite boulders and formations. This was once a camp and lookout haunt for Captain Thunderbolt, the “gentleman bushranger”. It certainly gave excellent views over the surrounding country, from the top, which was a short clamber from where we parked Truck.
Can see why this area is called the Granite Belt – there are outcrops all over. Its fertility thus surprises me, rather – but fertile it is! Stone fruits, cherries, berries, apples, pears and lots of different vegetables are all grown around here. It is particularly noted for apples and pears. The cooler climate, due to its elevation, accounts for much of this farming.
We bought some lovely fruit from a roadside stall, on the way back to camp. We drove 126kms today.
Back at the van, opened and sorted the mail bag. There was not a great deal of note, apart from a book on gemstones that is our Xmas present from P and K. A thoughtful gift. There was the bill for the Truck registration. And a HUGE phone bill: obviously, Telstra was not giving $3 unlimited phone calls on Xmas Day, despite what John thought at the time, when he called all and sundry! Whoops. We have got to use the mobile phone less.
Tea was toasted ham sandwiches. As if we hadn’t had enough ham at Xmas!