The best of travelling when your retired is time, the time you can take to do the things you love. For me this is watching… noting the world around me, and exploring the places we go and meeting the people from different worlds as we share our experiences. These are the things that stay with you the most.
Then there are days where you can simply let life pass by, days where the flight of birds or the run of water in the local stream can entertain you for hours. For me these days are such where I can write to my hearts content. Days where lunchtime can turn up at 4pm when you actually remember you need to eat, or when time becomes lost in the world of your imagination.
These past weeks have been times such as these, times where we are following The Mans interests, indulging each of us in turn as we often do. He is off playing at gold prospecting, working over a gold pan, talking the talk of men on Men’s Business. While I, the (not so) little woman, sits around the low smouldering ashes of the campfire, or in the shelter of the annex and nurture the thoughts of women. These are days we both love, and those, which are so very important when living in the close confines of a travelling van.
We have moved up from the Turon River, and travelled north towards the central gold fields near Tamworth. Presently we are camped alongside the Peel River, outside of Nundle on the Fossickers Way. I love camping up in the gold and gem field’s as it’s a world like none other. One divorced from bustle of life and city living. Here you can find all manner of people and each has their own story to tell.
In this time of high unemployment and the uncertainty of predicated social norms such as marriage and relationships, there is one breed of men (and sometimes women) who can be easily found around these fields of gold. In camp, around us there are several neighbours who are here on the fields in a semi-permanent situation. They usually manage on the scarce pickings of a single persons support and part-time employment. They find such things as rent and accommodation near impossible to sustain without the need for share housing. The trouble is that share housing can become a right royal pain and almost is exclusive to the cities and large towns. When you’re beyond the party years, or those years where education and training can consume your time, and in times of low employment, there is not a lot to lure and hold such people to the cities and large towns.
For those single parents who are still rearing kids, the choices are different. The demands of family consuming them, but for the partners who no longer have the care of the kids for whatever reason, some of these you will find camped up in their tents on the fields.
The bachelor-man… not a rare breed these days, but certainly the gold fields offers a place of refuge and occupation for such men. And this season, in this neck of the woods, the place is full of such camps. In a time where we as Aussies become more aware of how we are getting royally screwed by bureaucracy from the price of commodities down to the sharing of the tax burden, It is not surprising that we, as a people, are becoming more and more cynical and turning their backs on society. In a society where the real tax burden is born by the every day worker and our billionaires are the social security recipients in tax concessions, handouts and grants… to the point where they barely make a tax contribution at all, it is no wonder we become cynical and the country is on something of a fiscal slide.
However the fields of gems and gold, to be found across our continent, offer recluse for so many for a myriad of reasons. The people on the fields are companionable for one. They are places where the living is simple and where you can find the old spirit of what was a once great pursuit, that in finding for yourself the treasures of the Earth.
The wonderful country towns that can be found in the back blocks, away from Highway 1, are the true treasures all on their own, born of this land. Nundle, hidden in the hills of the golden ridge that is the Great Dividing Range, is one such true gem.
Its treasures are many, from a ribald history where the local pub was won in an infamous card game in 1860’s to the delightful hidden places of trade from a world long past. They found the very cards from this card game, along with the tale, enclosed in the walls of the Peel Inn and Pub during renovations.
This old and glorious pub has been around for some 150 years and in its day was the biggest country pub north of Newcastle, only a 3 hour drive away. It is amazing what three queens and two jacks can do for a person. This being country queens, not Sydney queens.
Such treasures though also extend even to the wonderful local industry of the Nundle Wool Mill, where you can still find the beautiful fine wools for which Australia is so justly proud. The Mill still operates today and you can see the machines working daily on one of the tours for the many curious visitors. These things can be found in the small hub of Nundle and this is what makes the place something remarkable. For the ladies, the mill is a wonder and good bargains can be found in the back room of the Mill amongst the racks of pure wool clothes and into the shelves of fine yarns. I’m still trying to talk The Man into letting me indulge with some of the lovely yarns that tease the senses. If it wasn’t for my growing collection of ‘gunna knit that one day’ hiding under the seat in the caravan I would be more successful.
For those who love to scour the shelves of the local Hardware, or that of an old fashioned Country Exchange, down the street you will find a rickety looking old shop to delight you. I love exploring the shelves of old wares, particularly when they are all new and shiny. For me it was a wonderland of antiquity and history. I found old slate tablets with the soft stones instead of chalk, enamel wares to delight the heart of any old country kitchen and pots and pudding dishes that I would have loved to drag home. It was nirvana for the little woman and a true wonder to enjoy in simply perusing the shelves.
But to finish this log with a real bang, on the 1st May Nundle will be holding its annual Dog Race, and that really should be something to enjoy. A fun event by all accounts it should be one of those wonderful country events for which Aussie towns are renown. You can find out more information on their Facebook page, or visit the homepage.
I love traveling this land and finding all these real, and precious treasures that are our heritage. While … The Man… he’s still out there digging somewhere leaving me to simply sit in the sun and enjoy reminding you all about it what is really wonderful in this vast country of ours.
PS… The Peel Inn does a great pub grub feed! The lamb shanks are well worth the trip on their own. While the local craft shop in the hall also sells a wonderful selection of country jams which is presently ahhhemm… minus a few. But I am assured they will restock soon.
Jan is an author and writer, who write’s about her travel experiences as she and The Man tour the vast continent. From the blue oceans to the red deserts you can read all the many varied experiences of traveling across this land.
Delve into the richness of the ancient Indigenous Lore of the land and discover many of the mysteries of the Serpents, the hidden world of Ancient Lore, still present across a forgotten land. Read more in the tales of The Dreaming. Follow the path and lives of the Featherfoot and learn more about the Lore of the Kadaitcha. The stories are a journey with the men and women who live within the boundaries of the Lore, in fictional tales of adventure and love.
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