THURSDAY 11 MAY RUBYVALE
In the morning, E invited us out to view The Castle. The road out there had been a quagmire, until today.
The Castle was built by a guy who came and settled on the gemfields. It is, in a way, a Spanish or Moorish style. He was about 40 when he started it, and it evolved over some thirty years. E bought it from him, just days before he died.
The concept was that it was built to be let out as 8 units, but was never finished enough to do so. E had worked at getting it to the letting stage, and had four or five units ready to be used, with a communal kitchen and lounge.
The Castle was a really whimsical and interesting place – very typical of gemfields eccentricity. The builder used job lots of whatever he could come by cheaply, so nothing was very co-ordinated. There was some great workmanship, in parts; in other places it was very hit and miss, like the tiled central pool, meant to be filled by roof run off, that did not hold water! At one end of that central enclosure was a three storey high bell tower like structure, that housed water tanks.
Unfortunately, E had an access problem that he had not anticipated. The Castle was built on a one acre Miner’s Home Perpetual Lease, but the access track is across a pastoral lease. This was taken over by a new person, a month after E bought The Castle. He can’t ban E having access, but was threatening not to allow anyone else to do so.
Whilst commercial accommodation, apart from the caravan parks, was fairly scarce, I was not sure about this venture – access issues aside. To attract backpackers and the like, which E saw as the target market, it seemed just too far out of the township.
I suspect that tensions between pastoralists and miners may be fairly common, in these parts. We had heard of things like some of the rougher “campers” out on the fields, helping themselves to fresh beef. And lighting fires to make breaks around the mining camp areas – which burned well into grazing land.
John helped E for a while, to instal a gas hot water service, before we went back to the van for lunch.
After lunch ,we went back to Retreat and dug some more, with similarly poor results.
We had more mail: the new mobile phone battery. Good service from Telstra.
Tea was sweet and sour vegetable stir fry, with rice. John liked it, despite it being “vegie”.