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Oceania » Australia » New South Wales » Griffith
October 1st 2018
Published: October 1st 2018
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The leading horses of the Clydesdale teamThe leading horses of the Clydesdale teamThe leading horses of the Clydesdale team

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
My brother-in-law messaged me, asking if I would be interested in going to Barellan in late-September. “Where is that?” was my first question. My second was “Why?”. He sent me a link to the website for the Barellan Working Clydesdale festival and I thought it looked interesting but wasn’t sure if it was worth taking time off work for.

Fast-forward to a month ago and my father asked me if I was driving to Barellan on the Saturday of the October long-weekend. He was unable to travel with the rest of the family on the Friday and was hoping to score a lift with me on the Saturday. Oh, I think to myself, it’s the October long weekend! That changes things. No time off required, and dad needed a lift. I was in.

Barellan is in the Riverina region of New South Wales, not far from the city of Griffith. Whenever I mentioned to people where I was going for the long weekend, the questions that followed were the same as mine: “Where is that?” and “Why?” I always answered the why with something about how the family was going, but truth be told, I was going as much
Me, at the summit of Mt BrogdenMe, at the summit of Mt BrogdenMe, at the summit of Mt Brogden

Cocoparra National Park
for the photographic opportunity.

So, on Saturday morning I woke up early, packed a few things (including my camera) and headed off to pick up Dad. He was ready to go when I arrived, and we were on our way at 7:30am. The first part of the journey was one we had done many times before, down the Hume Highway past Goulburn and Yass. Dad grew up around Gundagai and for a time when I was a child, we lived in the town of Gunning. It was an area we knew well.

We turned off the Hume just past Yass and took the Burley Griffin Way towards Harden. The Canola fields were a stunning gold and the pastures were surprisingly green considering the current drought. We planned to be driving back that way late on Sunday and decided to leave the photos until then when the light would be better.

Just on midday we arrived in Barellan and finding the festival was easy. There’s not a lot in the town – although there is a giant tennis racquet announcing the town as the birthplace of Australian tennis champion Evonne Goolagong. We parked the car and headed into
A noisy camelA noisy camelA noisy camel

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
the festival.

Like the town, the festival was not large. We found the rest of the family easily as they were sitting down enjoying some scones. As I hadn’t stopped for breakfast (dad was sensible and ate before we left) I was starving so I went and grabbed some food too. Unfortunately, I picked the food based on the length of the queue. The sausage rolls were lukewarm and nothing to rave about.

Soon it was time for the grand parade which included Clydesdales (large draught horses), bullocks and some camels, all pulling wagons and carriages of various descriptions. We had left it late to head over to the showground and the crowd behind the fence was 2 or 3 people deep, so it was tough to get decent photos. I tried my best but was worried I’d come all that way for nothing.

Well, not quite nothing. I figured there would be handicraft stalls at the festival, and I needed a new belt. So, after the grand parade, we perused the stalls. There were various things for sale, some of which I would describe as junk. For dad, however, many items were things he hadn’t seen
Bullock team pulling a hay cartBullock team pulling a hay cartBullock team pulling a hay cart

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
since he was young, so he enjoyed them. I soon found a belt stall and got myself a couple of hand-crafted leather belts to keep my pants up.

Dad and I had a long chat with a fellow from a camera store in nearby Griffith. They were selling drones, which are quite popular amongst farmers. He definitely snagged our interest, but there was no way we were going to plonk down a couple of grand on a whim. Still, it was an informative chat and something I will be thinking about further.

It was now half-past two and the team of 26 Clydesdales were being harnessed to a large wool wagon for the festival highlight at 3pm. I noticed the bullock team was already harnessed in the middle of the showground. I also realised that there was nothing stopping us from heading around the showground away from the crowds to get a better view. Dad and I even snuck into the ground to get a closer look. I don’t think we were supposed to, but there were a few other keen photographers doing the same thing.

We were back on the correct side of the fence before
Kids helping to control the bullock teamKids helping to control the bullock teamKids helping to control the bullock team

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
the Clydesdales made their entrance. Both the Clydesdale team and the bullock team did a couple of laps of the showground. Our position gave us a great view of these magnificent beasts hard at work and I snapped plenty of photos.

The afternoon was getting on, but we still had time to check out the bullock cueing (shoeing), chaff-making, camel rides and a carriage ride. Everyone was pretty tired by this point, so we headed back to the campsite where the rest of the family were camping. I didn’t hang around long though, because I was dropping dad and his camping equipment off. Unlike the rest of the family, I was heading into Griffith to stay in a hotel.

It was a 40-minute drive, but I took it easy because the sun was getting low and that is the time for kangaroos to come out and play. I reached Griffith just after sunset but was greeted with an unexpected surprise. It turns out that Griffith was hosting the “Biggest Lap”, which involved hundreds of cars doing a lap of the main street to raise money for charity. That was a slight issue for me, because my hotel was
Camels pulling a cart in the grand paradeCamels pulling a cart in the grand paradeCamels pulling a cart in the grand parade

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
located on the main street and it was closed to regular traffic.

I managed to park behind the hotel and proceeded on foot. The hotel staff explained to me what was going on and also made a reservation for me at a nearby Italian restaurant. That was good because I was quite hungry once again. I headed up to my room for a much-needed shower (the downside to my photo position was being downwind of a lot of dust being kicked up by the horses and cows) before heading off for a delicious dinner. I headed to bed pretty early, but not before I watched the Australian women’s cricket team beat the Kiwis on tv.

I had originally planned to spend Sunday back at Barellan before heading back to Sydney in the evening. However, on Sunday morning I felt I had seen most of what there was to see at the festival so instead I went looking for things to do around Griffith. I decided on a couple of walks in nearby Cocoparra National Park which would hopefully yield a few more photography opportunities.

My first choice was the Jacks Creek walking track because it was the
Camel ridingCamel ridingCamel riding

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
closest to Griffith and the website suggested it was a busy place on the weekend and parking could be limited. When I arrived at 9:30 I had it all to myself. The walk follows the creek (well, the dry creek bed at the moment) through a gorge before heading up the hill and returning to the carpark. It was incredibly peaceful being the only one there, but I saw no wildlife except for some birds and plenty of flies.

Some other people were arriving as I left. My GPS told me to come back the way I came, but I consulted the National Park map on a sign and figured I could get to my next destination via a more direct route. The road was called the Whitton stock route, but I had a 4-wheel-drive and figured I could make it. My decision was immediately rewarded when 5 or 6 emus darted out of the bush and crossed the road ahead. I was only travelling at about 25kph so we were no danger to each other. A little further along a couple of kangaroos were bounding along beside a fence line and they too decided to cross in front
Bullock team harnessed to the wool cartBullock team harnessed to the wool cartBullock team harnessed to the wool cart

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
of me. Again, they were going faster than me so no problem. The road had some deep ruts and washouts, but it was nothing my car and I couldn’t handle. I wouldn’t want to drive on the road without a 4wd though.

My next planned walk was Falcon Falls walking track. With the drought on I figured there wouldn’t be much of a waterfall, but I took my tripod anyway. I needn’t have bothered. I ran into a couple of twitchers on the way up to the “falls” and it seems that birds are the main attraction there. I only saw one very small one, but bird-watching isn’t really my thing anyway, so I soon returned to the car.

Those walks were finished earlier than I expected, so I decided to tackle another one nearby. It was longer at 5km, but as it headed up to the summit of Mt Brogden, I figured there would definitely be a photo or two to be had. I wrongly assumed that a Grade 5 track would be easier than the two Grade 4 tracks I had just done, so it took longer than I expected.

It was a hefty climb
Carriage ridesCarriage ridesCarriage rides

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
and I was considering turning back when I crossed paths with a couple who told me I had already done the hardest part and the track flattened out a lot from there. So I continued on. While it did flatten out, I would not describe it as flat. The view of the Griffith plains from the top were worth the effort though. At the top there were a couple of young guys and we took photos of each other with the view in the background. It was now past time for me to head back down and return to Barellan. Thankfully the walk down was much easier.

I arrived back at the campsite later than I planned, which ended up costing me the golden-hour photo of the canola fields. Never mind, I will return another time to snap that photo. The drive home was uneventful. All in all, it was a very pleasant weekend and although it was a couple of very long drives, I was more than happy with the results.


Additional photos below
Photos: 39, Displayed: 29


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Members of the bullock teamMembers of the bullock team
Members of the bullock team

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
Bullock team, ready to goBullock team, ready to go
Bullock team, ready to go

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
Cart rideCart ride
Cart ride

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
26 Clydesdales pulling the wool wagon26 Clydesdales pulling the wool wagon
26 Clydesdales pulling the wool wagon

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
The Clydesdale team pulling the wool wagonThe Clydesdale team pulling the wool wagon
The Clydesdale team pulling the wool wagon

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
The leaders of the bullock teamThe leaders of the bullock team
The leaders of the bullock team

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
The bullock team pulling the wool wagonThe bullock team pulling the wool wagon
The bullock team pulling the wool wagon

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
Clydedales pulling the wool wagonClydedales pulling the wool wagon
Clydedales pulling the wool wagon

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
ClydesdalesClydesdales
Clydesdales

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
Bullock teamBullock team
Bullock team

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival
Bullock teamBullock team
Bullock team

Barellan Working Clydesdales Festival


1st October 2018

What a great getaway
It is good to see you blogging. This was such a fun getaway. Not far, but wow it looked like a great time.
1st October 2018

Thanks Brendan
It was Dancin' Dave who made me realise it doesn't have to be a long trip in faraway lands to be worthy of a blog. While reviewing my photos I could hear the words he said to me about another outing - "These photos are too good not to blog about it"
2nd October 2018
Clydedales pulling the wool wagon

Clydesdales
Fantastic photos David. I'm posting some in 'Camels', 'Animals with character', 'Overloaded Transport', 'People of the World at Work' threads in the Photography Forum. Pity I did not read this blog yesterday as I had a client yesterday arvo who is teaching in Barellan for 18 months and back home for the school holidays. I wonder if she has any idea what she missed. Photos too good not to blog about for sure!!!
3rd October 2018
Clydedales pulling the wool wagon

Thanks, Dave.
Fancy that... There's only a few hundred residents of Barellan so quite the coincidence.
2nd October 2018
The bullock team pulling the wool wagon

Overloaded Transport
Brilliant pic of animals at work David. Love it.
4th October 2018

Beautiful photos
I used to love our road trips from Melbourne to Sydney with friends (to visit my brother during uni holidays). We spent time in many of those small towns off the Hume, and I really wish I could remember the name of our favourite pie and chips shop :) Thanks for the trip down memory lane! Cheers, Ren
4th October 2018

Thanks Ren
It's a great part of the world for sure. This trip has made me want to explore it more, so I'll look out for the pie and chips shop!
10th October 2018

Clydesdale festival
This festival looks fantastic. Thank you for telling us about it. We've never heard of it. Great photography. Thanks for taking us a place few go. Good to see you blogging again.
10th October 2018

Thanks!
It was great to have a break after a few hectic months at work. It's also reminded me of the value of blogging even when I don't fly halfway around the world. I will be trying to write more often!

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