A Semi -Regular Photo Blog about Life in Northern New South Wales, Australia.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Back Roads Bullshit

On Monday we gathered around the box to watch the ABC program 'Back Roads' that was purportedly a celebration of remote Australian communities. There were some aspects that were slightly interesting but overall it was unbalanced and a traditional media beat up.
If it was a journey along the Clarence River as a 'road' then it should've began with the kayakers in Old Bonalbo not Yugilbar which is 50 miles downstream!
The Yugilbar Cattle Sale segment was okay but it would've been more interesting and worthy to note that the first white owners, Edward and Fred Ogilvie, were squatter barons who stole the land. Perhaps a visit the adjacent Aboriginal community of Baryugil to hear about their successes and dreaming stories about the river would've met the brief of remote communities. What about nearby Collum Collum Cattle Station, which was once part of Yugilbar, and now run by an Aboriginal Co-operative?
However the segment on Grafton and South Grafton was a disgrace. My picture today is a rebut that the river divides, the river unites us all. The river is the lifeblood and reason that all the communities exist. The whole analogy of Grafton as the 'haves' and South Grafton as the 'have nots' was simplistic journalism and simply untrue. To drive around South and film a housing commission street and some old houses was the sort of gutter journalism that you expect from A Current Affair not an ABC documentary.
There is always a silver lining and it has galvanised the whole community and has caused me to reflect on what a vibrant community South Grafton is; Skinner St has nearly every shop filled and none of them are chain stores, all are family businesses which support the local community.
I know that 'outrage' has become much more prevalent in these days of social media journalism but the Grafton and South Grafton communities were slandered by the Back Roads program and deserve an apology.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Shelley Beach Walk - Rockpools

One of the highlights of the walk are the numerous rock pools on the Shelley Beach headland, if you watch them closely they contain lots of small colourful fish .

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Shelley Beach Walk - Back Beach View

As the boardwalk ends on the Shelley Beach trail,a wonderful panorama presents itself looking to the north; Angourie Back Beach, this is a view that I never get tired of seeing.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Shelley Beach Walk - The Swamp

After leaving Mara Creek you walk for about 15 minutes through Banksia heaths and patches of shady Tuckeroo, and then you turn a corner and reach one of the highlights of the walk, a small swampy valley filled with heath, sedges and ferns, traversed by a boardwalk that beckons you to continue on the journey.

Along the boardwalk there are tantalising glimpses of Angourie Back Beach through the tangle of Coral Ferns and Banksia.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Walking to Shelley Beach - The Black Water

The world famous Yuraygir Coastal Walk begins with a bridge over the dark and mysterious waters of Mara Creek. If you look into the tea-tree stained blackness long enough you imagine strange beasts and creatures in the still waters.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas Bells

Merry Christmas from Clarence Valley Today. Here are some beautiful Christmas Bells, Blandfordia grandiflora, I found growing in the swamps of the Gibraltar Range National Park. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Green Omelette @ Yami Brunswick Heads

With Christmas Eve now on us can I suggest a festive start to the day by having the green omelette at the Brunswick Heads institution that is Yami vegetarian Cafe.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Little Tern Nests and Chicks

Little Tern Chicks are very vulnerable in their first few weeks of life. If growing up on an exposed beach wasn't dangerous enough, they still have to avoid, wild dogs, cats, foxes and especially humans. Just metres away 4WDs zoom along the beach.

On the hot beach, the chicks search for shade, the National Parks Ranger who gave us a tour of the nesting site reported that wheel tracks make ideal locations with deadly consequences, hence the use of sandbags for nesting sites and the shade they offer.

The eggs are tiny and well camouflaged.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Little Tern Colony - Wooli Beach

This is Wooli Beach that stretches from the river mouth of the Wooli River to Wilsons Headland in the Yuraygir National Park. There is a very unusual Little Term breeding colony about 1/3 away from this spot.

In Northern NSW Little Terns usually breed at the estuaries of small coast rivers such Red Rock, Station Creek and The Sandon. A few years ago a colony set up on Wooli Beach amongst the dunes.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ewingsdale to Tintenbar M1 Opens

The big news on the Northern Rivers is yesterdays opening of the 'missing link' of freeway between Ballina and Brisbane. I took this shot a few weeks back as final touches were being made. It shows the Ewingsdale interchange, which still isn't completely finished and the new St Helena Tunnel.

The road will improve safety and congestion but I will miss driving past the giant knight at the Macadamia Castle, the quick coffees from Harvest in Newrybar and mostly the incomparable view of Byron Bay and the Brunswick coast from the top of St Helena's Shoot.
Still, next time I take the old highway it will be so much more pleasant and I might even be able to stop and take some photos.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Force Awakens ( and then goes back to sleep)

Grafton was swept up in Star Wars fever in the early hours of Thursday morning with a huge crowd converging on the venerable Saraton Theatre from all over the Clarence Valley.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Camping at Boorkoom

If you can be in Diggers Camp in the next hour, I will shout you a cup of fresh camping coffee. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

88th Anniversary of Nothingness

On Saturday morning a large crowd gathered at Cabarita Beach on the 88th anniversary of the nothingness. The throng waited patiently but once again naught happened.
They then moved to Cafe Futility where they enjoyed a single estate, free trade, cold drip soy latte while the Bogangar Theatrical Society performed Waiting For Godot.

Monday, December 14, 2015

I'm a Pink Monkey, Get Me Out Of Here!

The almost extinct White-bellied Pink Gibraltar Range monkey has it's own enclosure within the National Park. Most days it can be seen trying to escape.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Rileys Hill Dunnies

In my 1st post on the Rileys Hill Dry Dock I mentioned the large amount of cow shit on the site, the reason is that on such a large area it is the most economic way to keep the grass down. I was on a Trust in Grafton once and we also made money from the agistment lease, so hopefully the Rileys Hill Trust is doing the same.
Anyway my shot today is the historic workers dunnies, not sure about the significance of blue and yellow doors but they were locked on my visit. I suspect that in the old days a pipe probably went straight into the Richmond River.
I hope you have enjoyed my series on Rileys Hill, I do believe it is one of the hidden gems of North Coast history and an industrial archaeologists dream.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Rileys Hill Recycling

The Rileys Hill Dry Dock contains a number of historic buildings that came from other places. The former office of the Byron Bay Jetty was moved to Rileys Hill. It has been recently spruced up with a coat of paint.

In this classic early 20th century snap of a busy day on the Byron Bay Jetty, the shed can be clearly seen at the end of the pier amongst the sand dunes.


This photo from 1968 gives an excellent view of the pier shed and gives a bit of an idea when it was moved to Rileys Hill, late 1960s-1970's. It was not unusual for wooden buildings to be moved all over the North Coast and re-purposed.

The other building at Rileys Hill has a much less glamorous background, it came from the hinterland timber cutting village of Woodenbong and was the sewerage works shed. At Rileys Hill it was, and still is, used for storage.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Rileys Hill Dry Dock - Junk

One of the great aspects of Rileys Hill Dry Dock are the scattered remains, personal and industrial, that are found on the historic site. Most places would have cleaned it all up and sanitised it for the public consumption.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Rileys Hill Dry Dock - The Pump House

Every dry-dock needs a way of pumping the water out. At Rileys Hill they used steam driven centrifugal pumps. The pumps no longer work but they have been beautifully preserved in bright industrial red.
The Pump Shed is a glorious mess of this and that, I took the shot through the window. Can you see the wooden Dalmatian in the bottom left corner?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Rileys Hill Dry Dock - Part 3

The most important part of any dry dock are the gates; once they are closed the water is pumped out so work can begin on the boat's hull. Therefore the gates must be strong and secure enough to prevent the water from entering and causing a catastrophic event while repair is underway.

Of all the remnants of the Rileys Hill Dry Dock, it is distressing to see the state of the gates, but they really cannot be replaced and therefore we should appreciate them in situ while they last.

The information board states that each gate weighed 9.5 tonnes but were so perfectly balanced that one man could open or close them. They were made of local Ironbark and sheathed in copper to prevent ship worm rot (I guess they eventually had a good feed). All the steel brackets and counterweights were forged in Sydney.

A classic shot of the one man operation to close the gates. It's interesting to note that the locks follow the principle of Leonardo Da Vinci's late 15th century invention of the mitred gate, when closed the pair meet at an angle and even a small difference in water level is enough to squeeze the gates closed and prevent any leaks. What an incredible invention from the man who painted the Mona Lisa!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Rileys Hill Dry Dock - Part 2

It's hard to visualise and comprehend how important the rivers were to life in the 19th and most of the 20th centuries; they were the source of all trade, communication and travel.
The River and Harbour Work Act of the late 1800's saw the construction of the Rileys Hill Dry Dock to ensure that the river trade had a facility for the repair of the hulls of ships, boats and ferries on the Richmond River. The dry dock was cut into the hard rock of Rileys Hill.
One of the last ships to be repaired was the famous Manly ferry, SS South Steyne. These days it is permanently moored in Sydney's Darling Harbour.

In 1984 the dry dock had to be extended 5 metres to accommodate the SS South Steyne.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Rileys Hill Dry Dock Part 1

Welcome to the front gate of the historic Rileys Hill Dry Dock on the Richmond River. It doesn't look much but this place is a hidden delight for anyone who likes industrial archaeology, shipping and local history.
The location is just minutes from the frenetic Pacific Highway but I can almost guarantee that no-one else will be there when you visit. It has a series of information boards to guide you through the buildings and history. I can't wait to show you the surprises that await along the cow shit strewn track.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


This is the sort of Gecko I like to see, not an Asian House Gecko but a dinky di Aussie Gecko. I think it's a Thick-Tailed Gecko.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Faded Food

Classic old sign for a classic old burger joint in Brunswick Heads.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Just Too Groovy Baby!

Cabarita Beach on the Tweed Coast has been creeping upmarket for some time but earlier this year it went stellar with the old Hideaway Hotel being transformed into Halcyon House.
It was an old 1970's joint and I have to admit that despite it's outrageous prices (way, way beyond my league) its great to see the place spruced up with dazzling white paint and pretty much unaltered with it's arches and crazy patterned bricks.
Off course the interior is a different matter!

So if you have a big bank balance, click here and book a room. I'm sure it will be totally fun and groovy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The South Grafton Railway Viaduct

The South Grafton Railway traverses the crossroads area and until the construction of the flood levees it was always inundated when the river broke it's banks. The historic wooden viaduct was built in 1915 and is typical of the wooden bridges that were once so prolific on the North Coast Railway.

The saved section of the old viaduct is in poor condition and plot of ground that surrounds it litter strewn and unkempt, I guess it will become so damaged that it will be pulled down at some stage.
The modern concrete bridge was opened in 1995 as part of a Keating Government initiative to replace all the wooden bridges on the North Coast Line.

An historic shot of the construction of the viaduct.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Railway Memories

This is an old railway sign for South Grafton station that has been reused at South Grafton Primary School and repainted in their colours.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Margaret Olley House - The Yellow Room

The Yellow Room is less chaotic than the living areas, but still a location where she worked. A few lines from Barry Humphries tribute poem sums it up.

The rugs, the jugs, congealing cups of tea  
The Chinese screen and old Matisse’s prints, 

She considered the Yellow Room Triptych her masterpiece. It now hangs in the New England Regional Art Museum in Armidale.

I love her painting spot in the Yellow Room: an old hat, a ciggie in an astray, a packett of Mentos, an old beetroot tin, paint tubes and brushes and off course bunches of dried flowers she used in her still lifes.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Tweed Regional Gallery - Margaret Olley House

I was a bit skeptical about the recreation of rooms from Margaret Olley's famous terrace house in Paddington, Sydney in the Tweed Regional Gallery. However, it is an amazing experience that you could spend hours looking at. Here is the famous dinner table, with its Karma Sutra placemats.
To read her biography click here

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Tweed Regional Gallery - Directors Choice

Susi Muddiman is the Director of the Tweed Regional Gallery. A current exhibition is her eclectic choice from the collection.
I was attracted and repelled by this piece from Robyn Sweaney entitled Beach House. She is a local artist from Mullumbimby and the subject matter is found in Brunswick Heads.
The notes state the work is "romantic and/or oppressive", "mundane yet compelling", it sums up the urban sprawl of the Northern Rivers very nicely!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...