Archive | September 24, 2014

Beyond the Black Stump

No time for decluttering, no time for The Year of the Gardening. I’ve been on the road, back of the black stump.

IMG_1949.JPG

A five day road trip to the Hunter and north west region of NSW. Lots of road hours! We stopped at the Warrumbungles, Coonamble, Gunnedah, Coonabarabran, Baradine, Armatree, Scone, Aberdeen and the southern bit bit of the Pilliga forest. Drove through Gulargumbone and Gilgandra. (Don’t you love the names? Spellcheck doesn’t!)

Let’s play “One of these things is not like the other”. Can you pick the names not from the north-west but from the Hunter? Yes, the ring-ins from British words. Disappointingly, there were no scones in Scone.

IMG_1950.PNG

After Sydney, the Upper Hunter looks open and free. After the wide, open fields and never-ending sky of the north-west, the Hunter looks over-populated and crowded and commercial. Yes, the north-west is dry whereas the Hunter is green and lush (between the coal mines!) but the colours have an amazing beauty. And yes, you have to travel vast distances between “sights” or towns. But there are plenty of roos, cattle, horses, birds, farms, vistas, occasional emus along the way.

And the air speaks of the openness and vastness of the horizon. The night sky is so black, the Milky Way uninterrupted by light pollution or, well, by anything. It is a dome of not just constellations, but the smudge that is the Milky Way. (Google: night sky under Coonabarabran for some idea of what I saw.)

This panoramic shot gives you an indication of why research telescopes are here.

IMG_1931.JPG

I witnessed an amazing artistic, multi-art performance. Another Googling effort will give you some idea: Moorambilla. And if you’re from Australia, ABC will be broadcasting a documentary later in the year.

IMG_1938.JPG

IMG_1937.JPG

I’d go back in an instant. (But not in summer, ’cause it’s hotter than Hades.) In fact, I have to go back. The air, the light, the space is addictive. And I want to go further into the Pilliga. The rock formations spoke of ancient times.

IMG_1941.JPG

Just look at this view. Not a fence, road, structure in sight. Just the horizon.

IMG_1939.JPG

Only downside? Bugs on the windscreen.

IMG_1942.JPG