Tag Archives: Wollombi

Magpie On the Cross: Day 4, Seven Day B&W Photo Challenge.

This photo was taken on a day trip to Wollombi, NSW where my Great Great Grandfather married his second wife, Jane Lynch in the very quaint stone Catholic Church.

Wandering through the historic cemetery, I was struck by this momentary fusion of elements…a magpie perched on a cross, a historic headstone.

Being Spring, I had to be careful taking this shot, as I’d already been warned about swooping magpies and I wasn’t one to argue with that. Well, that’unless a resonating image was up for grabs.

A magpie doesn’t tell quite the same story, as spotting a crow in a graveyard and yet it’s presence resonates and feels a bit forboding. As it would be, I guess, if I were a small bird.

Today, I’d like to ask Irene Waters from Reflections & Nightmares if she’d like to take up the challenge.

xx Rowena

A Walking Tour of Wollombi, Australia.

Welcome to Wollombi, NSW.

After what turned out to be a very convoluted route, which my husband has called “driving to Wollombi via Darwin”, the little red car and I pulled into Wollombi and I did the rest on foot.

In case you haven’t read the  preamble, I’d driven to Wollombi to see historic St Michael’s Church of the Archangel, and also to steep myself in Wollombi’s historic ambiance. It was no exaggeration to say that arriving in Wollombi, felt like stepping out of a time capsule into the 19th Century and I loved that. Love, loved, loved it. It’s so good that some places have in a sense been by-passed, fallen asleep and been spared from the crappinization process. That’s what we loved about so much of Tasmania and it was great to find that so close to home.

Obviously, Wollombi  isn’t a huge metropolis. So, you won’t be surprised that I spotted the Church straight away, but it did feel a bit funny to actually see it in person for the first time, and it was much smaller than expected. Wondered how you could fit both sides of a good Catholic family inside back in the days before TV. I guess they were probably used to squishing in.

DSC_6718

On 1st April, 1891, my Great Great Grandfather, William Henry Gardiner, married his second wife, Jane Ann Lynch from Glendon Grove, Wollombi at St Michael’s. This press excerpt provides a great impression of their special day and I can just hear those bells ringing out:

“On Tuesday last our little town, usually so dull and quiet, was the scene of much excitement, and that eventful day will long be remembered as a red-letter day in the annals of our history. At the early hour of eight o’clock the tolling of the bell at St. Michael’s Church announced that some ceremonies of a very rare occurrence were about to take place there, and immediately crowds of spectators could be seen wending their way to it. Half an hour later two brides (sisters), the Misses Lynch, of Glendon Grove, were standing before the hymeneal altar in the above-mentioned place. The elder, Miss Jane Lynch, who for some years has been residing near West Maitland, was united in the bonds of matrimony to Mr. William Gardiner, a resident of West Maitland, and afterwards her sister, Miss Agnes Lynch, was joined to Mr. Joseph Tripp, of Aberdeen. Each was assisted by two bridesmaids, the former by her sister and niece, Miss Teresa Lynch and Miss Bourke, and the latter by Míss Tripp and Miss Katie Bourke. The Rev. Father Flanagan, who came here the previous evening from Cessnock, performed both ceremonies, and afterwards celebrated Mass, during which the choir, of which Miss Agnes Lynch was a prominent and efficient member, sang some beautiful selections, and as the long procession was leaving the church, Miss M. Kenny played the Wedding March with great effect. On the previous evening the ladies of the Altar Society, as a last tribute of respect to one of their members, decorated with artistic skill the church and altar the walls being hung with magnificent wreaths and festoons. At ten o’clock a start was made for the brides’ residence, and as tho long train o£ buggies passed through the streets the firing of guns and ringing of bells could be heard in every direction.” Tuesday 7th April 1891The Maitland Advertiser & Hunter River Advertiser pg 7.

DSC_6709

The Forge, Wollombi.

Next to the Church, I spotted an intriguing looking building called: “The Forge” and I couldn’t quite make out whether it was a home or a shop. There was a mannequin tied up to a telegraph pole out the front and I’m not sure whether she was waiting for a bus, a ghost or an alien landing, but she’d definitely been heading somewhere before she’d been detained. Macca, the Proprietor, invited me in, even though it was closed and let me take photos, which I really appreciated as this place really felt like home to me. Perhaps, I should be concerned about that, and book myself in with a shrink. However, I love maccabre and I love how random objects can be thrown together in a space, creating a licorice allsorts of possibilities in my head. It also reminded me of exploring under both my grandparents’ houses where things weren’t thrown out, but simply “retired’. What gave this place the edge over your garden-variety vintage store, was Macca’s artworks peering out inbetween old dolls and vintage mannekins a few Sunbeam Mixmasters, books and salvaged farm equipment. He’d also arranged things in intriguing combinations, which ranged from maccabre to down right hilarious.

DSC_6665

Naturally, this place which seemed like a kind of “Mecca to Displaced Euphemora”, deserves its own post and so I’ll be back with more photos.

Meanwhile, I’m heading off to the cemetery. William Henry Gardiner wasn’t buried here, but Jane Lynch’s family is well-represented. I love exploring and photographing old cemeteries like this, especially capturing haunting  shadows lurking on tombstones and the like. They get you thinking.

Anyway, I was delighted to spot this magpie sitting on top of a Celtic Cross, especially when it didn’t dive bomb me as I approached. It’s Spring here, and I’d already been warned about a dive-bombing magpie earlier on the trip and was on guard. I know I often overinflate the dangers of Australian wildlife, but these swopping magpies are beyond a joke.

I walked back to the car via the grocery store and old courthouse.

DSC_6779.JPG

By now, it was approaching 5.00PM and impending darkness. It was a windy drive home through Wombat country and I needed to be alert. I was also concerned about having a possible encouter with a kangaroo. They come out and feed on dusk, and let’s just say they’re best avoided.

However, I popped into the local pub for an apple juice and toilet stop before leaving. I very rarely go into pubs and they’re not my scene. However, I really loved the country feel of this one, which felt very authentic and real. Names had been carved into the tables outside. Farm utes were parked out the front. I felt surprisingly relaxed and would’ve loved to stay for a yarn.

I am already planning my next trip and am even looking into camping there with friends. However, next time, no detours. It’s just a 70 minute drive “up the road”.

xx Rowena

 

An Australian Road Trip…All roads Don’t Lead to Wollombi.

Yesterday, I had to drive my daughter to GATS Camp at Point Wollstonecroft about an hour’s drive North of Sydney on Lake Macquarie. This was Mummy’s cue for adventure. So, I ensured our son had his key and my only specification was, that I didn’t get home before sunset.

At the same time, I also had a few ideas. I was going to start off by exploring some of the coastal beaches around Lake Macquarie, but I really had it in mind to get to Wollombi where my Great Great Grandfather, William Henry Gardiner, married his second wife, Jane Lynch. Thanks to Google, I’d already been to Wollombi online and found out it was one of those preserved country villages which had gone into a 100 year slumber thanks to a bypass. Being a lover of historic anything, I’ve been trying to get there for awhile and thanks to the mushy geographical soup in my head, had the strange idea that just because I was heading North, Wollombi would somehow be “on the way home”.

It wasn’t.

That’s how my road trip of a life time began. Well, it was actually more of a once in a lifetime road trip. That’s because when it came to travelling from Lake Macquarie to Wollombi, I bypassed the A to B route and detoured via just about every letter of the alphabet. Not that I was lost. Indeed, I knew exactly where I was and where I was going and blame whoever it was who designed the NSW road network, for my convoluted route. So, before I leave on my next great road trip, you can be sure I’ll be reciting this traditional Gaelic blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Anyway, before we leave on this road trip of a lifetime, I’d better provide some  coordinates. After all, my stats tell me that most of my readers aren’t Australian and to be quite honest with you, most Australians won’t be able to pinpoint Wollombi on the map either.That is, unless they cheat and use GPS. I’m a firm believer in using actual paper maps and when you’re travelling,those huge foldout monstrosities, which almost take up the windscreen (goodness knows how many fatal accidents they’ve caused!). Nothing else will do. No matter how lost I get, I refuse to sell out, or I’ll never find my way out of bed. My sense of direction is not allowed to get any worse!!

wollombi-map-and-directory

Wollombi is a small village in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia. It is within the Cessnock City Council LGA, situated 29 kilometres (18 mi) southwest of Cessnock and 128 km (80 mi) north of Sydney. To the south is the village of Laguna, to the east, the village of Millfield and to the north, the village of Broke. To be quite honest, Wollombi is very isolated, but that’s part of its charm and how it’s become a time capsule of sorts.

However, back in the day, Wollombi was at least somewhat central. In 1836 the Great Northern Road was finished. Built by convict labour, it joined Windsor to Wollombi, and at Wollembi forked off to either Singleton or Maitland. It spanned the 200 kms from Sydney to Newcastle and took on average 9 days for a traveler to get to Newcastle. Consequently, it was mainly used as a stock route.

Anyway, we haven’t got to Wollombi yet. We’re still at Lake Macquarie.

DSC_6557

Looking North towards Swansea from Caves Beach.

It was an absolutely beautiful day, with deep blue skies and water was a dazzling diamond carpet of blue. I headed North and followed a sign to Caves Beach and pulled over. I could almost inhale the ocean and feel life’s burdens blow out to sea. The fisherman and a couple of walkers, looked like stick figures below and the windswept coastline stretched for eternity and I could truly spread my wings and soar and keep soaring. There was no ground beneath my feet.

DSC_6622

Illawarra Flame Tree at Pelican near Swansea, NSW.

I did wonder whether I should just stick to the coast, and head inland to Wollombi another time. However, the day was my own and I made no set plans.Indeed, lured down a side street by the enigmatic Illawarra Flame Trees in full bloom, I chucked a left into Pelican, which seemed to be little bigger than its sign beside the road.

I kept heading North, looking for a road to reconnect me with the Motorway. Wollombi was still on the cards and I was also looking for signs to Cessnock and the Hunter Valley. I know exactly where they are driving North. However, missed the lot heading South and found myself exiting at Morriset, turning right and going on the windiest road through Mandalong and Dooralong expecting to connect up with the inland road, which runs like a peripheral artery somewhere through here connecting up with Wollombi somehow. I knew it was there because I have been on it before. AND, I actually did consult the map before I left, not that I did a very good job of it.

 

Yet, just because you know there’s a great road system out there somewhere, doesn’t mean you’re find it.

By this stage, things were becoming DESPERATE!! Even finding a person to give me directions was hard enough, let alone find somewhere to buy food and dare I mention the unmentionable…a toilet or even a camouflaging clump of trees. There was nothing until I finally stumbled across a bonsai nursery. That seemed quite appropriate for someone going on an epic adventure. Having downloaded my troubles, I perked up as I cast myself as Gulliver on his journeys through Lilliput.

Thankfully, the guys at the nursery directed me out of my geographical quagmire over Bumble Bee Hill and then right, then right, then right. OMG!!! Although I didn’t believe in GPS, I was relieved to have my mobile phone. By this stage, I was already starting to picture the search party looking for my last known whereabouts. Indeed, I probably should’ve left my card.

Above: I stumbled across a gourmet oasis and stopped for lunch at Jerry’s Gourmet Kitchen & Cafe, Kulnurra.

At this point, I should tell you that I’m not the most confident driver and that I don’t usually go on such long road trips.Indeed, I live on a Peninsula and have what I call “Peninsularitis”. Some days, even the ten minute drive into Woy Woy is too much, and that complicated gourmet dinner, becomes chicken schnitzel out of the freezer.

Moreover, while part of me loves this whole serendipity thing of just driving with the wind without any particular destination in mind, I also get a bit edgy on unfamiliar roads, especially after doing a loop the loop through the wilderness. After all, this is Australia and the outback’s only a stone throw away. (Ssh, Australians! Don’t ruin a good story!)

It doesn’t take much once you leave an Australia city and the main roads to feel like you’re off the beaten track. I was so close to so-called civilization. Yet, I was driving through farms, and was definitely “out in the country”. Indeed, even the road signs had changed. There were now multiple wombat warning signs. Yes, I had made it into Wombat Country.

By this stage, I’ve almost made it to Wollombi and I can start to relax. Unwind. Yes! I am actually going to get there and this journey of 1000 goat-trailing miles, is finally going to end and I couldn’t understand why they didn’t have a big sign set up in my honour: “Welcome to Wollombi, Rowena”. I sure deserved it.

Stay tuned. In my next post, I’ll take you on a walking tour of town.

Have you been on any road trips recently? Please share.

xx Rowena