SATURDAY 23 MAY LORNE STATION
Fine weather again – even some blue sky.
A station worker ran a bush “grader” – two big old tyres laid flat and weighed down by a sleeper across them, towed behind a tractor – over parts of the camp ground, to smooth it out a bit. I thought he’d had a go at the track to the road too.
The second Econovan left this morning.
D went into town and fetched our newspapers whilst he was there.
I got our washing done – and dry!
The ground under the annexe floor matting had dried out also, over the past day or so, and no longer oozed mud every time we looked at it. The matting was going to need a really thorough clean at some stage – didn’t really want to contemplate that, though. Not going to be easy, or pleasant.
After lunch, went for a walk on the property. The lady manager took walking tours of points of interest around this part of the station, but we wanted to take our time exploring by ourselves. We had picked up quite a bit of information about the place, whilst we had been here.
Our first destination was the Lorne Lookout, on top of a big mine waste dump, on the western boundary.
The station was about 10,000 acres in size. To its west was one of the oldest opal mining areas – the Three Mile and Lunatic Hill, where we’d explored on the Yellow Car Door tour route.
Apparently the father of the current owner had a lot of problems with the opal miners: digging mines on his land without permission, eating the “wild” sheep, making off with fence posts and fencing wire – not from stores, but from where they were actual fences! He eventually carved 3000 acres off the property and gave it to the Mines Department. Then, all mining on the remaining station ground was banned.
P – the owner – can’t dig for opal on Lorne, because then it would have to be opened up for all comers. But he did have a mine, on Lunatic Hill.
So, with that history, there were a lot of remnants of the earlier mining history around the station, like the waste dump. From its top, we could see a fair way over the surrounding farming country.
We then followed the fence line between the station and the mining areas. Could see some current mining camps on the other side of the fence.
Came across what appeared to be the remains of a railway carriage, including the wheels. That was really incongruous and we speculated about how it got there. Could only presume that some old carriages may have been brought to the fields for accommodation? I thought we’d seen some doing duty as homes around the town?
We eventually came to a large dam, with quite a lot of bird life around it.
Nearby were three old agitators – the barrels of old cement mixers that were used to wash opal containing gravel in, to make it easier to spot the stones.
Judging from the big heaps around these, they had obviously washed a lot of gravel in their time. They still had motors in, and looked in working order, so we wondered if they were still sometimes used? Maybe the station owner brought dirt from his Lunatic Hill mine and washed and sorted it here?
Retraced our steps to near the waste heap, then followed tracks that brought us back to camp, via the old pig yards and the homestead dam. One could get lost on this place!
It was a really interesting and enjoyable walk, and great to get some exercise!
We had a camp fire again, at night, after having pasties for tea. The stars were so bright again – a very good sign, I hoped.