Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Friday, 13 April 2018

The Blue Mountains

After a purely coastal view of Australia over the past six months, we are really enjoying the opportunity to see some of the inland countryside. Our friends Sue and Ian in Pittwater invited us to join them at their 800-acre farm up in the Blue Mountains, about 3 hours' drive west of Sydney, over the Easter weekend. The mountains get their name from the blue-grey haze that forms over the forests of eucalyptus when the heat of the sun releases oils from the trees. We weren't quite prepared for the beauty of the area and felt very privileged to experience the place with people who know it so well.

Here are a few photos:

The view at our lunch stop at the Botanical Gardens on the Bells Line of Road

Di enjoying the flora and fauna

Up in the mountains we found this pretty little church, constructed from 'fibro' (concrete asbestos panels) 

Di and Sue enjoy the dramatic views and amazing rock formations

Graham & Ian on the edge

Di must have been here before!

Looking across the Capertee Valley, close to the farm. It's a huge gorge which is bigger than the Grand Canyon
 Once we got to the farm we were able to hike and (to Graham's delight) use Ian's trail motorbikes to explore the rugged terrain.

All Australian farms have a 'tip', where redundant farm equipment and old vehicles rot slowly!

The remains of a slightly more modern vehicle

Ian has a 1934 Norton 500cc motorcycle which he's owned since he was 16. It hadn't run for about 5 years but started at first kick!
Just north of the farm is the little town of Mudgee which is a significant wine region. It was only right that we had to do a full day of tasting and Sue very kindly offered to do the driving.

A delicious light lunch

The natural beauty of the region belies its industrial past and present. In the late 1870's, a shale known as torbanite was found and mined - it was used to make a form of kerosene for lamp oil and the process developed further to make petrol in the second world war. We hiked into the hills and found the remains of earliest mining settlements - these miners were tough people!

A cave was extended to form a dwelling

Inside the cave and some relics from the 1890's

In the early 20th Century, coal mining began and horizontal ventilation shafts with coal-burning chimneys to create the draught were constructed

A boiler in the middle of the forest. It originally powered a steam engine for hauling timber but  its fire also drew stale air from the mine

The long, brick-lined air shaft
After a hot and thirst-making walk we headed down to the Capertee pub which was really busy on Easter Sunday. Graham was very interested to find a micro-distillery producing whisky so had a long chat with 'Crafty' the owner.

A local pilot was offering 15-minute joyrides in his 1972 Bell helicopter so we just had to have a trip - we flew over the route we'd walked in the morning.

Sue and Ian taking off

Di enjoyed the experience

Dramatic rock formations

A view of the modern mine

Back at the farmhouse.

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