Tag Archives: daffodils

Exploring A Victorian Garden – Bathurst’s Machattie Park, Australia.

“Curiouser and curiouser!” is how I’ve felt about Bathurst’s Machattie Park since returning home. Two weeks ago, I had no idea this park even existed and my awareness of landscape design was also minimal. Indeed, I’m even one of those dreadful plant murderers who should be banned from buying plants altogether.

“Not all who wander are lost.”

Alice in Wonderland

Yet, now I find myself travelling down all sorts of rabbit holes (like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland on steroids) exploring every nook and cranny of Machattie Park. Not only that. I’ve even found myself nipping over to France in a virtual sense to explore a myriad of magnificent historical gardens to gain a deeper understanding of its layout.  Apparently, the park was designed in the “French style” whatever that meant. I am certainly none the wiser, but at least I’m enjoying the journey.

Located between William, George, Russell, and Keppel streets; Machattie Park forms the graphical and cultural heart of Bathurst. Machattie Park was opened on Saturday 20th December, 1890 – a whopping 132 years ago when my Great Grandmother was two years old and I wasn’t even a distant dream. Fortunately, the park has been very well preserved and has only experienced minor change since then. Indeed, a visit to Machattie Park feels like stepping out of a time machine, and I could even picture myself wearing period dress promenading with my parasol back in the day.

When you look at the park today, it’s hard to imagine that it was ever the site of the former gaol. After the gaol was relocated, this space was known by the inauspicious title of: “Gaol Reserve”. Although it was used as a sports’ ground by the local schools, the crumbling foundations of the former gaol remained and it was a far cry from what we see today. However, the people of Bathurst under the leadership of the Progress Association, has vision and campaigned for the site to be transformed into a spectacular park with all the bells and whistles. When he opened the park, Mayor Crago expressed their grand ambitions for Bathurst and how the park was to play a central part in making Bathurst shine: “The park will henceforth he one of the landmarks of the city and the most beautiful spot in Bathurst, enabling us to hope that eventually our city will become the Ballarat of New South Wales1.”

While touching on the opening of the park, I found another gem this time in Dr Spencer’s speech, who was the President of the Progress Association. While these sentiments were no doubt said in earnest at the time, they certainly made me laugh today and it reminds me of my rather posh private school where we weren’t allowed to walk on the grass:

Now please remember this, and I speak especially to the intelligent and independent youth of Bathurst, those young men who will in the future guide public opinion. Let me tell them that they will not succeed in life unless they keep off the grass, and that no dogs are admitted. These regulations are for the benefit of all, and will be cheerfully obeyed by everyone with a spark of intelligence and good nature.2”

So, what is it like to walk through Machattie Park today? I guess I should also put a particularly emphasis on TODAY. As far as I could tell, most if not all of the trees in Machattie Park are deciduous. So, he park varies considerably from season to season. We were there in late Winter when the trees were stripped of their leaves forming bare skeletons against the muted sky. However, the daffodils and jonquils were in flower and looking particularly stunning.

Yet, despite the seasons, Machattie Park has a peculiar charm, serenity and spirit which extends well beyond just “going to the park” or “being in the great  outdoors.” Even on our rushed walk through, I felt an uncharacteristic sense of peace and calm, despite almost rushing around trying to absorb it all through my camera lens. There I was bending down to photograph the daffodils and jonquils. Next minute, I glace up and spot the fountain and I’m off again  zooming in to capture what I now understand to be dolphins, but which looked more like feral carp to me.  Then there was the band rotunda, which was known as the Music Temple. It was hard not to notice the Federation-style Gardeners’ Cottage on my right either with its roof tiles which came all the way from Marseilles, France. However, before I knew it, we were inside the Fernery and gob smacked by a trio of marble statues by Giovanni Fontana. As if all of this wasn’t sufficient fodder for my camera, there was also the very quaint Munro Drinking fountain which was erected in 1901. All of that was a lot to take in. Yet, as I said, the park was strangely relaxing at the same time.

Above: The Fernery. The sculptures were by Giovanni Fontana.

Naturally, I’m not the only one who has found peace and tranquility in Machattie Park. Browsing through the historic newspapers online, I came across this reference from the Bathurst Times on the 16th October, 1909:

“And now that the fountain on the main basin is spraying, it is almost like listening to a small waterfall or cascade. When one feels run down and tired, it is well worth while to put ones troubles on one side; sit down in Machattie Park and listen to the drip, drip, drip, and the splash and hissing of the water as it soothes, and lulls and —  just then one’s book drops down, and then comes peace — perfect peace.3.”

I absolutely loved that account! It was so poetic!

Relaxing in Machattie Park in front of the rotunda.

Of course, I was just a traveler passing through Machattie Park. There are locals who would have so much more to say about it, and know it much more intimately, of course, having spent all of their lives in Bathurst. I can well imagine them sitting the park feeding the ducks, listening to the band or attending Carols By Candlelight with their parents or grandparents and now doing the same with their children or grandchildren. No doubt, there’s also been a lot of romance in Machattie Park over the years too…that magic twinkle in the eye and perhaps a return to the park for solace with a broken heart. There’s certainly a real sense of timelessness visiting Machattie Park.

A Lucky Duck on Spencer’s Pond

Well, that’s the end of our tour through Machattie Park. Now, it’s over to you. Have you ever been to Machattie Park and do you have any stories you’d like to share? Or, perhaps you have a and park near you, you’d like to share? Or, perhaps even your own magnificent garden? I’d love to hear from you.

the Munro Water Fountain.

After spending days revisiting and researching Machattie Park, I’m needing to quote White Rabbit:

“I’m late, I’m late! For a very important date! No time to say ‘hello, goodbye,’ I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!”

Best wishes,



1.National Advocate (Bathurst, NSW : 1889 – 1954), Monday 22 December 1890, page 2

2. Ibid pg 2

3. [1] Bathurst Times (NSW : 1909 – 1925), Saturday 16 October 1909

Weekend Coffee Share – 29th August, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you all? I hope you are well and this weekend, I can offer you some cheese biscuits with a chive and parsley cream cheese filling along with your choice of beverage. They’re very addictive!

This last week has been a case of recovering from the adventurous week before, which is what I’m going to focus on today.

BWSC Senior Cheer Team Placed A Very Close Second at Nationals. Miss is fourth from the right.

On Thursday 18th August, we dropped Miss at the local train station. She was heading off to Queensland’s Gold Coast with the school’s cheerleading team to compete at Nationals. She would also be competing in a few solo events as well. Although we seriously considered driving up there to watch and be a part of it all, it wasn’t long enough to pull it off and so Geoff and I decided to head off to Bathurst 200 kms WNW of Sydney. We live night near the beach, and I’ve never been out that way and was interested in its goldrush heritage and all the photographic opportunities it offered. Meanwhile, we stayed at Rydges Mt Panorama which was right on the race track at Conrod Straight. In case you’re not aware, Bathurst is also home to the Bathurst 1000 Supercars Race, which is what’s brought Geoff and Jonathon to Bathurst before.

I’m in the process of writing up about the trip. However, so far I’ve written up a fairly extensive overview which you might enjoy: here.

Kangaroo and Joey outside the Hill End Hilton

However, probably what you’d like to see most are some photos of kangaroos taken in Hill End. We were there past sunset into the twilight, which is when kangaroos become most active. Great for photography when we were walking around town, but potentially treacherous driving back to Bathurst. Indeed, we had a very stressful near miss when a huge male hopped in front of the car and instead of getting out of the way, he kept turning back in front of the car. Obviously, he was out to collect the Darwin award, but we didn’t want him taking us with him. Fortunately, Geoff grew up in rural Tasmania and is well-versed in country driving, but even he found this particular kangaroo too much.

In addition to all the architectural attractions, there was also the race track. The Bathurst 1000 takes place the weekend after the October long weekend, and will be held 6th-9th October this year. The track itself is 6.213 km long and runs on public roads 174-metre (571 ft) elevation difference between its highest and lowest points The race is 161 laps in length and generally takes between six and seven hours to complete, depending on weather and Safety Car periods. A likely race finish time can be anywhere between 6pm and 8pm AEDT and I can tell you, you don’t disturb Geoff too much especially towards the end of the big race.

Rowena Conquers The Mountain. That’s our hotel on the left. So close.

Geoff has walked and driven around the track before. However, being my first trip to Bathurst, naturally I’ve never been and I made a decision to drive around the track myself. Normally, this wouldn’t be a small consideration because I’m quite an anxious driver. However, I seemed to get into a different zone and wasn’t nervous at all in the end. By this stage, I’d been round the track with Geoff a few times making note of where the trouble spots were and preparing to go at a snail’s pace if necessary. I didn’t care if I clocked up the slowest lap time in Bathurst history. No one was recording it and I truly enjoyed the experience.

However, before we left on the trip, I received some awful news. A friend of mine called to say she was having trouble reaching our friend, Stephen. His phone wasn’t answering and had a message saying it was out of power or something to that effect. I rang and got the same response and sent an email letting him know we were concerned and to get in touch. Nothing. I had to look up my old hardcopy address book and my friend and her husband went down to check on him. They spoke to his neighbours who were also concerned and they rang the police for a welfare check and both he and his cat, Pippa, were found deceased. At the time, we didn’t know how long it had been and I was initially devastated that my dear friend would die in such circumstances, even though he’d chosen to shut himself off. However, as time went by, it turned out family and friends had been keeping in touch with him and it hadn’t been that long. Well, it’s kind of inevitable when you live alone and don’t reach out. He was 65 and had some health issues, and we’re still waiting for cause of death.

Unfortunately, losing Stephen has reminded me of how many people I know in similar circumstances and as much as I would love to reach out to them all, my days simply go up in smoke often with very little to show for it. However, my heart is in it and I also recently did a suicide intervention program through Lifeline, which I found very helpful.

I realise that this is a rather heavy subject to consider while having a cup of tea or coffee with Rowie and I hope it hasn’t been triggering. As a positive, if each of us called someone we know who is doing it tough once a week, I’m sure we could make a difference.

This is a good reminder that I need to start thinking about having something to look forward to myself now this trip is over. I’m not sure whether living from holiday to holiday is a good thing, and so I might organise a few get togethers with friends as well. After all, we’re about to launch into Spring here and come out of hibernation.

Lastly, speaking of Spring, I was struck by all the daffodils and jonquils we saw while we were away. They were EVERYWHERE!! I felt so grateful and could’ve thanked each and every soul who’d planted each and every one of those bulbs. I’ve gardened myself and have only been thinking of my own enjoyment and making the place look attractive and cheerful. It’s never crossed my mind that a stranger could be walking past and get some enjoyment out of it. Better still, that someone who is doing it tough could feel a moment’s joy simply because a stranger had planted a bulb in the ground. While I was trying not to think about Stephen too much while we were away, it was inevitable and seeing all the daffodils and jonquils truly helped.

Daffodils along with Rosie photo bomber extraordinaire along with her tennis ball.

Indeed, I ordered in a couple of bunches of daffodils from our local florist when I got home. They are so happy! It’s like having my own personal cheer squad every time I go out into the kitchen. Such a blessing!

So, how was your week? I hope it’s been good.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Natalie the Explorer.

Best wishes,


W-A Letter to William Wordsworth

Dear Mr Wordsworth,

How are you? I hope you don’t mind being beamed into the 21st Century. Knowing how much hated industrialization, you might want to go straight back. I doubt you’ll feel that things have changed for the better.

Still, the world is still so full of beauty. Such joy!

After all these years, I wanted to let you know how much I have always loved your poem: I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud.

I must confess that I’m writing this letter late at night while my husband is asleep. If he found out I was writing to you as the latest in my series of Letters to Dead Poets, he’d be chasing you with his lawn mower.


You see, while the rest of the known universe marvels at your endless sea of blooming daffodils, he wants to mow straight over the top of them.

“Daffodils do not belong in lawns. They should be in garden beds.”

As far as he’s concerned, planting daffodils in the lawn is akin to anarchy…even treason! Indeed, if he had his way, it’s either plant them in a garden bed or it’s: “off with their heads!”

Naturally, we don’t have ANY daffodils in our lawn and he doesn’t even need to stick up a sign: NO DAFFODILS ALLOWED or DAFFODILS PARK HERE!

Believe me, I KNOW!!

So, this Spring, I am finally going to see my fields of daffodils. We’re going to visit the village of Rydal in the Blue Mountains about 2 hours West of Sydney, which was named as a tribute to your home town. Every year, they hold Daffodils at  Rydal on the second and third weekends in September. I am finally going to have my field of Wordworth’s daffodils!

As much as I might have portrayed my husband mower-mania sounds like a scene from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, I’m actually surprised my husband even knows what a lawn mower is. As soon as our son was old enough to walk, it became his job. Such a pity that plastic mower couldn’t cut the grass!

Mind you, I can’t talk. I’ve never used a mower in my life and don’t plan to start mowing now either. I still remember my mother deriding our dreadful neighbour who “let his wife mow the lawn”. That’s not why I don’t mow the lawn but once you start, you can’t stop. Ignorance is best!

By the way, speaking of Monty Python, my father has always been a doppelganger for comedian John Cleese. People used to come up to us and say: “Nudge! Nudge! Wink! Wink! Say no more!” However, as far as backyard mower maniacs were concerned, my Dad passed straight under the radar. He was brewing.

Meanwhile, the neighbour across the road, a backyard Adonais, mowed the lawn in his Speedos. Considering we lived in the country at least 2 hours drive from the nearest beach, even as a 10 year old it seemed peculiar. Yet, as Skyhooks belted out:  We’re Living in the 70’s! I don’t want to shock your sensibilities entirely but in hindsight, we should be thankful he wore anything at all. That was also the 70s!


Meanwhile, my husband was growing up in rural Tasmania, which you’d probably know better as “Van Dieman’s Land”. Fortunately, transportation ended so instead of being a convict retreat, tourists now pay to visit the “Apple Isle” instead.

geoff-6 and terry-22 feb 73.jpg

Geoff grew up on a ten acre farm on the outskirts of Scottsdale in North-eastern Tasmania where they supplemented the family income milking cows and selling milk. Being a lot younger than his siblings, Geoff missed out on the joys of milking, but NOT on the pleasure of mowing.



Inspired by your poem, my mother-in-law had planted daffodils bulbs throughout the lawn, which inevitably sprouted and flowered each Spring, along with the familiar rant: “Geoffrey! Don’t mow over the daffodils!!”

My husband still can’t love daffodils. Through her great love, she ultimately destroyed his.

Farmer Newton

Our son in Tasmania in 2005, Aged 18 months.

While, my husband was going into battle with his mother and hiding all those poor decapitated “daffs”, I was misty-eyed learning your poem at school. I was a pimply-faced teenager thinking about meeting up with boys at the station after school and what was going to happen on the weekend, while still regurgitating the happenings of the previous weekend. Yet, I read in awe.  In a sense your daffodils were only flowers, and yet they weren’t. You magically brought them to life as their heads bobbed up and down in the sun, chatting about their own weekends, no doubt!

However, I not only loved your fields of daffodils, I also wandered lonely as a cloud…not all the time but often enough.

Strangely as much as it’s a thrill to be young, it can also be a difficult and perplexing time where we’re struggling to find our own feet. Indeed, going through huge growth spurts and hormone infusions, we’re probably more likely to fall over both feet, landing in a screaming heap. That is, rather than stepping straight onto our own Yellow Brick Road…an expressway straight to Happiness and the perfect life. (Of course, as teenagers we didn’t know all that was a myth…the Australian or American Dream. Instead, we assumed it was our birthright and complained when the dream went sour.)

dog in the storm

Alone in the Storm- Rowena Newton.

Mr Wordsworth, thank you for translating those dark, nebulous feelings into such a stark, graphic image which we lost sheep can immediately understand, grasp and adopt as our own. Moreover, knowing that you had also “wandered lonely as a cloud”, we knew we weren’t alone. In hindsight,  this is possibly the very first step to feeling better. We’re not such a victim anymore. After all, we’re no longer “the only one”.

Naturally, like so many other young people, I also found myself wandering as lonely as a cloud…misunderstood, under-appreciated and ALONE. You gave this inner loneliness a voice. You knew that weird sense of loneliness and difference, which you can experience even in the midst of a crowd. That sense of beating to a different drum, even when you’re in your group or hanging out with your mates. You knew what it was like to be that lone cloud drifting over that expanse of daffodils, knowing a different voice is calling you. Naturally, it helps us knowing that you found your way, becoming Poet Laureate. We just need to persevere. Keep walking.  Never give up!

That said, it isn’t easy when the tears start falling, especially in a field of glorious daffodils when everybody else is smiling.

That might not have been what you meant by your poem. Maybe, it was. However, ultimately the writer lets go and hands it over to the reader. Not a blank canvas but a printed page with those lines in between to allow our  own interpretation.

wordsworth daffodils text

Ideas can be like stepping stones. You keep bouncing from thought to thought to thought and can ultimately end up at a very different place to where you started out. That’s not to say that your interpretation is wrong. That’s simply what happens when you let your mind off its leash. Let it wander free range without restraints. After all, we were never meant to have “Battery Brains” and were designed to be free range!

Thankfully, I no longer wander lonely as a cloud. While for some people, your school days can be the best time in your life, for so many of us, leaving school is the beginning. We discover that we’re not alone and find the world is filled with kindred spirits. That you don’t have to go with the flow. Indeed, you can even swim against the flow and belong to an alternative school of thought and no one’s going to shout out: “Off with your head!”. Unfortunately, so many people never know that freedom, even when it’s waiting right on their very own doorstep, while others heroically die in the fight.

Don River Trains R&J4

Anyway, I’d better keep moving. I know you’re not big on trains and industrialisation but it’s getting me from A-Z and my journey’s about to come to an end.

Don River Trains J3

You could say that train left a long time ago but I had to put it in.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to meet you.

Yours sincerely,


W-Wordsworth: I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

 William  Wordsworth