The "Coo-ees" and a Surprise Solar System

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June 8th 2014
Published: June 8th 2014
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Gilgandra "Coo-ees" Heritage CentreGilgandra "Coo-ees" Heritage CentreGilgandra "Coo-ees" Heritage Centre

The World War 1 recruitment march that started in Gilgandra and took 5 weeks to get to Sydney. The recruits were called the "Coo-ees" because they responded to the call to come over.
Yesterday was a maintenance and blog day. Then today, before we set off for Coonabarabran, I picked a few of the black olives to use in cooking (we don’t like eating them straight). The owner of the park gave me a paper with the instructions and recipe for bottling them, after first soaking out the bitterness for ten days, so I’ll have a go.

On our journey, as we entered the town of Gilgandra, we kept seeing references to the “Coo-ee” town and had no idea how a town could lay claim to a call so we stopped to find out. At the Tourist Information Centre, we were directed to a display which showed the story. It seems that “coo-ee” is an Aboriginal call used to communicate in the bush that was taken up by Bushmen as a call for help. It came to have a special meaning during World War 1, though.

By 1915, the numbers of recruits started dropping off for the war that was supposed to end at Christmas. Gilgandra butcher Dick Hitchen and his brother Bill came up with the idea of doing a recruiting march through to Sydney with the aim of getting one
Tooraweenah Rest AreaTooraweenah Rest AreaTooraweenah Rest Area

A group of trikes join us for a breather.
volunteer per mile over the 320 mile route. Twenty six men left Gilgandra and the recruits had swelled to 263 by the time they reached Sydney, five weeks later. This group of men were called the “Coo-ees”.

It is believed that the name Coo-ees came from one of the farewell speeches made on the eve of the mens’ departure, that they were responding to the call from the Dardanelles, “Coo-ee, will you come?” The march had been so successful that nine others were held around the country. So now we know how the town can lay claim to the word.

There was also a small collection of fossils and Aboriginal artefacts and an art gallery showing some very good pencil sketches of Australian animals.

On the way out of the car park, we discovered a large sign with a 3D model of Neptune. It is part of “The World’s Largest Virtual Solar System Drive” which is a scale model 38 million times smaller than our Solar System. The “Sun” is at the Siding Springs Observatory and the planets are spread out from there.

Further down the road, at Tooraweenah Rest Area, we stopped for lunch and
Tooraweenah Rest AreaTooraweenah Rest AreaTooraweenah Rest Area

A lovely view of the many shapes of the Warrumbungle Ranges.
there, on the corner of the area was “Uranus”. We were nearly at Coonabarabran and stopped to put the caravan park co-ordinates into the navigational pad and there on the opposite side of the highway was “Saturn”. What fun! I’m now determined to find the others. Unfortunately, Pluto is in Dubbo, and we didn’t see it (well it’s not really a planet any more, is it?).

We could see the Warrumbungle Ranges well from the Rest Area and were surprised by the different shapes of each peak. We were equally surprised to have a group of trikes (3 wheeled motorbikes) pull into the area. It must be a Sunday jaunt for a club!

At Coonabarabran, we settled in at the John Oxley Caravan Park OK and then crossed the highway to look at the “Crystal Kingdom” Mineral and Fossil Collection and shop. Nearly all the mineral specimens are from the local area and it has some lovely ones. They all come from two volcanoes, Garrawilla (200 – 45 million years ago) and Warrumbungle (17-14 million years ago), which formed when passing over hotspots in the ocean. Maybe we should go fossicking – we could be rich!

Additional photos below
Photos: 6, Displayed: 6


Tooraweenah Rest AreaTooraweenah Rest Area
Tooraweenah Rest Area

"Saturn", one of the displays in the Worlds Largest Virtual Solar System Drive, scaled to 38 million times smaller than the real one.
Crystal Kingdom, CoonabarabranCrystal Kingdom, Coonabarabran
Crystal Kingdom, Coonabarabran

A few of the wonderful local minerals that come from the local region. These are specimens of Stellerite.
Crystal Kingdom, CoonabarabranCrystal Kingdom, Coonabarabran
Crystal Kingdom, Coonabarabran

Fossilised fish and seaweed from the Talbragar Fish Beds in Gulgong, NSW, buried when Garrawilla Volcano exploded.

11th June 2014

Really interesting! I didn't know it was an Aboriginal word either.
11th June 2014
Tooraweenah Rest Area

All that flat land in front of a mountain reminds me of NZ
12th June 2014
Tooraweenah Rest Area

Flat Land
Yes it's very similar. We saw more plains with "Big Sky" as Dad likes to call it - on our drive today.

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