The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere


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The Myall Creek Massacre

Myall Creek and Myall Creek Station is about 10 kilometres out of Bingara towards Inverell. The Myall Creek Massacre occurred on the 10th June 1838, when 28 Aboriginal men, women and children were slaughtered by a gang of 10 white people.

What makes it stand out in history is that it was the first time that white people were punished for murdering black people.

So much has been written about the Myall Creek Massacre that I really can’t add anything to what is readily available on the net. It’s interesting to read reports from both the Indigenous and European perspectives. This cartoon was featured on a site called Creative Spirits with the caption

Myall Creek Massacre NSW

 

Aboriginal killings ‘run in the family’. The cartoon reflects that many colonists saw shooting Aboriginal people as a sport [15]. It also plays with the fact that many people see having some Aboriginal ancestry as ‘fashionable’. Graphic: Ian Sutherland

 

Gamilaraay Elder, Uncle Lyall Munro, 2013:

[The Myall Creek massacre Supreme court trials were] the first place white man’s justice done some good. Right across Australia, there were massacres. What makes Myall Creek real is that people were hanged, see. That was the difference.

This site of the National Museum Australia also provides details of the court case – there were two due to some of the white settlers  intimidating theoriginal jurors into staying away from the court. Eventually a jury was formed and 7 men were found guilty and sentenced to public execution. The following are quotes from the NMA page.
The colonial community of New South Wales was more outraged by the execution of British citizens than they were by the massacre of the Wirrayaraay people.

And then …..

The executions of British subjects for the murder of the Wirrayaraay people hardened colonial attitudes towards the First Peoples of Australia and shaped later behaviours on the Frontier.

In Australian English, the word ‘dispersal’ became the commonplace euphemism used to refer to the killing and massacre of Aboriginal peoples, which went on to take more insidious and devious forms: disease, starvation and the poisoning of food rations are just some of the ways that the Indigenous population was further decimated.

Meanwhile, perpetrators took better steps to cover their tracks and avoid prosecution.

In 2000 a memorial site was opened on Myall Creek, set up by both indignous and non-indignous people. It is a memorial not just to this local massacre but to all massacres around Australia. The Bingara website lists the words on the 8 memorial plaques that are placed at the memorial.

Every year on the Sunday of the June long weekend, hundreds of people, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, gather at the site to attend an annual memorial service. Descendants of the victims and survivors, such as Aunty Sue Blacklock, Aunty Elizabeth Connors and Uncle Lyall Munro, as well as descendants of the perpetrators of the massacre, such as Beulah Adams and Des Blake, come together to remember and reflect on past atrocities, as well as to express shared aims for the future.

Gamilaraay Elder Sue Blacklock, one of the founders of the memorial site and service, talked about what the annual service and the reconciliation process means to her in a 2013 SBS interview:

It has lifted a burden off my heart and off of my shoulders to know that we can come together in unity, come together and talk in reconciliation to one another and show that it can work, that we can live together and that we can forgive. And it really just makes me feel light. I have found I have no more heaviness on my soul.

When I spoke to  local Bingara people about some of the topics I was going to blog about they were upset that this dark part of their history was included. I get the feeling that when people write about Bingara, the Myall Creek Massacre features high on the agenda and I hope I’ve been able to show you, through my other blog topics, there is a lot more to this friendly town than this historical blot on their landscape.
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I’ve Seen Sawn Rocks!

Sawn Rocks at Mt Kaputar National Park in New South Wales are an amazing cathedral like formation, the result of a lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano between 17million and 21 million years ago – I find that time frame hard to get my head around!

The forty (40) metre high cliff face visible at Sawn Rocks is the sheared off remains of a basalt lava flow from the (now extinct) Nandewar Volcano ….The striking columnar fractures are a result of the cooling process: the basalt cools from the outside toward the centre, causing shrinkage cracks to form, commonly, in a hexagonal pattern. The shape of the columns is attributed to tensional stress. When the molten rock within the basalt lava flow cooled slowly and, importantly, evenly, this enabled the individual crystals within the molten rock to align perfectly with each other.

While this type of six-sided (hexagonal) ‘organ piping’ is not rare to lava flows it is exceptionally rare to find them so perfectly formed and preserved and Sawn Rocks is recognised as being one of the best examples of columnar jointing in Australia.

 

Some of these pillars had fallen to the ground and sheared off to look like perfectly formed paving stones.

Mt Kaputar is the highest peak in New South Wales outside the Great Dividing Range and when I went on a guided tour there we were told that from the top of Mt Kaputar there is nothing to obstruct a view all the way to South Africa. Obviously it needs greater vision than I have but isn’t it interesting to think there is nothing as high or higher for just over 11,000 kilometres.

Mount Kaputar, Mount Kaputar National ParkTwo volcanos pushed Mount Kaputar high above the plains, and millions of years of erosion have carved a dramatic landscape of narrow valleys and steep ridges. Many of the mountains are ancient lava terraces. Experience ancient history for yourself by standing on Lindsay Rock Tops – an excellent example of a lava terrace.  (Information and photo from http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au)

Pink Slug (Triboniophorus aff. graeffei), Mount Kaputar National ParkNow here’s something you won’t find in any old back yard! Mount Kaputar is famous for a very unusual, colourful local – a bright pink slug. It can be seen after rain on rocks, trees and amongst the leaf litter. Not what you’d call your common garden variety of slug.

 

Sawn Rocks is located 64km out of Bingara on the road to Narrabri. On the way you pass the ancient Rocky Creek Glacial Area. The glaciers that we are more familiar with were formed about one million years ago but this glaciation is very old, dating back some 290 million years to the Carboniferous Period. A vast amount of weathering and erosion occurs in over 200 million years, so all the original glacial landscape features have been eroded away and replaced by those typically associated with running water.

rockycreekbanner

Bingara is a perfect base to explore this wonderful landscape. It was recently named the Free Camp Capitol of Australia and the town values all the different tourists who discover all it has to offer. Can you say “I’ve seen Sawn Rocks”?

Roxy Theatre, Bingara NSW


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It’s All Greek To Me

New York has its Greek Theatre – Bingara has the Roxy, a magnificent Art Deco theatre built by three Greek partners from the island of Kythera, in Greece, in 1936.

 

Bingara is justifiably proud of this testament to its cultural history and the Roxy was faithfully restored and reopened in 2004 after languishing unused on the main street since 1958. Step into the theatre and you step back in time, with the original ornate plasterwork, lighting, paintwork and … atmosphere!

Although The Roxy certainly made a statement at the time it was built, it sadly affected the bank statements of its developers who were declared bankrupt. Unfortunately for the developers descendants it became one of those things that the family didn’t talk about and its history was nearly lost to them. Peter Prineas, a grandson of one of the founders stumbled on to his connection when

His attention was drawn after reading a newspaper article about the reopening in 2004 which mentioned three Greek immigrants from the island of Kythera, the same Island his parents came from.

While researching some of the history of the Roxy I came across this great story from the ABC presented in 2017 that is well worth following by clicking here.

Only recently the wonderful retro cafe re-opened and it’s worth calling in for a coffee just to reminisce about other Greek cafes you’ve been in with laminex table tops, timber booths and milkshakes.

The Roxy Greek Museum is also housed in the Roxy building and you can incorporate it into your tour of the Roxy by asking at the Information Centre, which is also in the building.

The mission of the Roxy Museum is to evidence, explain and illustrate the story of Greek immigration and settlement in the country areas of NSW and Queensland in the first half of the 20th Century. This was a period when most Greeks owned or were employed in cafes and a considerable number conducted picture theatres.

So there you have it! I hope this hasn’t been all Greek to you but inspires you to travel to Bingara and call in to experience the fabulous Roxy for yourself.

Happy Campers: There is loads of free camping along the Gwydir River and a neat little Caravan Park right next to the swimming pool and opposite the Gwydir.


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Orange is the New Black

I’m currently house and dog sitting in Bingara, New South Wales and thought I would share with you a delightful celebration this community enjoys. (And my thanks to the Northern Daily Newspaper for the catchy headline)

Many towns plant Memorial Avenues of trees to pay tribute to the soldiers from the area who didn’t return from the wars. Bingara chose to celebrate and remember their fallen soldiers from World War 1 and 2 with a Memorial Avenue with a difference – they planted a living memorial of orange trees.  But it is not just the trees that honour their dead, it’s the tradition that has grown along with the trees and how they have become a symbol of community pride.

Bingara Oranges

In spring, the heady orange blossom perfumes the air, while in autumn the fruit develops and ripens on the trees. The tradition is that on a designated day only local school children pick the fruit. This year 2018 it is on Friday July 6.

During the year, all Bingara residents leave the oranges untouched, even the children, who are taught the significance of the trees.

This respect, self discipline and pride in this unique memorial has been carried on since the 1960’s, from one generation to the next. In some cases, those picking the fruit are the third or fourth generation to do so.

It can get a bit nippy in Bingara! (photos from bingera.com.au)

As the tradition has grown it has morphed into the Bingara Orange Festival which follows the orange picking day. This year it happens on Saturday July 7.

Each year the bar is raised even higher, with the inclusion of new initiatives and each year a new theme is announced, keeping the festival fresh, innovative and attractive year after year. However, one thing that never changes, is the memory of those who have fallen and for whom the orange trees represent.

I think this is a wonderful local initiative and a fantastic community tradition that helps to shape the identity of this little town of Bingara.

 

Utes in the Paddock, Ootha


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Utes in the Paddock

Every now and then someone comes up with a crazy idea that captures the imagination and becomes a reality. Utes in the Paddock at Ootha, New South Wales, is a typical example of this. Ootha is situated about 430 west of Sydney and boasts a population of 94!

Ootha

They are all Holden Utes – what could be more Australian than that – and several artists have displayed their own interpretation of the iconic ute! Unfortunately the paint work has deteriorated on several of them and they are fading away but I hope you can get an idea of this crazy initiative in the middle of nowhere.

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You’ve gotta love the Aussie sense of humour 🙂 Thanks Ootha for keeping it alive!

 

Forbes New South Wales


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Fun at the Forbes Solos Rally

You’re probably thinking it’s taken me a long time to recover from our Forbes Solos Rally as it happened nearly 6 weeks ago, but truth is I have been enjoying my travels with some of the Solos since leaving there and blogging wasn’t on my mind. However, I’m now feeling guilty that I haven’t kept up to date so once again I’m playing catch up…..

Here’s where Forbes sits in the big Australian picture. And where it is in relation to more local landmarks.

My last blog told of how hot the weather was and it certainly didn’t cool off for the first week or so in Forbes. The temperatures were consistently up in the mid-30 degrees Celsius which made for very hot days and uncomfortably warm nights. I was lucky to get a shady parking spot at the Rally Site which I was most grateful for.

Rally site

This was the biggest Solos Rally I had ever been to, and I think it is the biggest ever held. There were around 320 motorhomes including 72 First Timers. When we left Forbes and our shopping dockets had been added up, we had spent nearly $100,000 in town – a massive boost to the economy of this country town.

This quick slide show is of a town tour we did that included an ‘art park’, some of the old buildings in town, our visit to the biscuit factory and then out to a local business, woolerina. ….

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Most of the activties  though were back at the rally site, where Dave Applegate, the Rally Manager, and his intrepid team made sure we were on the go both day and night.

Our traditional Pet Parade saw pet owners vying for prizes in lots of different categories, although I thought Phil’s cat needed a special mention for Bravery.

 

Great performances at out concert with demonstrations from our dancing groups as well

The Poet’s Breakfast saw a program of talented Solos both writing and reciting their poetry. We also had a local gent perform a poem on horseback..

Market Day was well attended and our two crazy solos, Hilly and Ros, stirred up the crowd with their antics

And of course, our Dinner Dance ….. the theme at this rally was to dress as something starting with “F”……. look what we all came up with …..

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Forbes used to be known as a quiet country town famous as the final resting place of the notorious bushranger, Ben Hall.  I think the 330 odd Solos that were welcomed to Forbes in March 2017 have left an indelible mark on this friendly town and they will be talking about us for a while to come….. perhaps not as long as Ben Hall but in a much more positive way!