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Published: June 29th 2014
Glenn Innes Visitor Information Centre
This beautiful stained glass window high on one wall of the Centre gleamed in the sunlight showing all its colours.
We had a bit of a lie in and then took our time getting ready to go out. The overnight low temperature had been 1 degree C so we weren’t in any hurry to go out into the cold! At least the wind had dropped so the chill factor was gone.
Once we finally got going our first stop, as usual, was the Visitor Information Centre. We were greeted by an extremely enthusiastic lady who overwhelmed us with all the things to do. We took the armload of pamphlets she had given us to peruse in the car. The Centre had strongly adopted a Celtic theme, as had the town, which was largely settled by Scots originally. There were big teddy bears wearing a range of different plaids, Celtic jewellery and flags of the Celtic nations on display and for sale everywhere. There was also a very colourful stained glass window and a textile wall hanging, which both looked lovely.
Back at the ute, we decided to make the Australian Standing Stones our next stop. The Australian Celtic Association had wanted to mark the 1988 Bicentennial with a monument to the Celtic Settlers and had asked for submissions. Glen
The Australian Standing Stones, Glen Innes
Me standing in front of the 3 central stones. The central one is a natural monolith, the Australis Stone. the other 2 have been hewn from larger rocks. This is a monument to the Celts who settled Australia.
Innes had suggested the stone circle, inspired by the Ring of Brodgar in the Orkneys in Scotland and this was chosen. It has 40 granite stones, each standing 3.7 metres above ground (1.8 below ground, too) and average 17 tonnes. They are arranged to form a Celtic Cross, as well as the Southern Cross, the winter and summer solstices, the 4 points of the compass and the 24 hours in the day (forming the circle). It was quite a feat to find the stones and bring them to the site. Unfortunately, they could only find three natural monoliths to suit so they broke chunks off bigger rocks without using explosives. They drilled holes and filled them with a special slurry that expanded and fractured the rock. They then used a 12 tonne forklift to get them to the site.
The three central stones are the Australis Stone, to symbolise the link between the old world and the new; the Gaelic Stone, for the Scots, Irish and Isle of Man; and the Brythonic Stone for the Welsh, Cornish and people from Brittany. Viewed from above at the lookout, it is all quite impressive and they are justifiably proud of their
Glen Innes, The Australian Standing Stones
The whole circle of 40 stones represents the 24 hours of a day, the summer and winter solstices, the 4 points of the compass and a Celtic Cross.
achievement. There is even one stone with Excalibar in it, concreted in! Another feature with concrete is the Celtic Family Wall, which Barry thought was a memorial to the dead (it looks rather like one with all the holes for plaques) but is actually for various Celtic organisations and families to place a stone of some significance along with a plaque to say who donated it and where it comes from (e.g. a stone from Castle Douglas, Scotland donated by Clan Douglas; and some small stones from the Isle of Man).
We then took a walk through the main road, Grey Street, to admire the old buildings. There were a few from the 1880s and some Art Deco but they were intermixed with more modern buildings, which quite spoiled the overall look of the street. I preferred the main road in Inverell. One funny Art Deco building caught my eye, though. It was the Supreme Building built in 1910 and painted blue but it was really skinny. It seems there used to be a laneway there and they had removed the lane and built in the small space left between the ones flanking it. It was very cute.
The Australian Standing Stones, Glen Innes
This information leaflet gave a better view of the Celtic Cross and stone placement than you can see from the actual stones.
now lunchtime, our next port of call was the Glen Pie Shop for the famous Lamb and Rosemary pies. Unfortunately, they’d run out so we headed for the Super Strawberry for a Devonshire Tea (only we wanted the Strawberry Milkshakes made with ¾ of the cup filled with fresh strawberries and ice cream and blended). The scones came with home-made Bramble Jam and real cream (not the stuff from a can!) and were delicious. The milkshake was fantastic, too.
Now fortified, we decided to try our luck with some fossicking for sapphires. Being decrepit (and full of lunch) we chose to do it the cheating way at Glen Rest Caravan Park. Rather than finding a spot in the bush beside a river that has sapphires, digging up the gravel (or “wash”), bending over to pan it in the river and searching the washed stones for the gems, we bought a bag of “original wash”, hired the pans and then stood at a trough to wash them and then tipped them out onto some hessian provided for them to dry and catch the sun (if they were gems). Much easier on the old back and still a lot of fun,
The Supreme Building, Glen Innes
This really narrow shop was built, in 1910, where a small laneway had been between the two shops either side.
despite the freezing fingers from being wet on such a cold day. We found a few small ones, too, probably not good or big enough to polish, unfortunately, but a wonderful memento of this area.
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