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Published: December 19th 2010
Wednesday morning brought a feeling of relief rather than anticipation of the day ahead. Early inspections showed that, despite the heavy rains, water levels had gone down considerably. The locals were still interested in flood levels as measurements are usually taken alongside the bridge adjacent to the caravan park. There were a few cars parked up and one or two people taking photos but no-where near the numbers that were around yesterday. It meant we were able to make a pretty good start to our journey towards Nerranderah. We didn’t know what conditions lay ahead of course and the early part of the journey raised a few eyebrows as the road was often isolated like a “causeway” with deep floodwater either side. Nevertheless, we made good progress and soon reached West Wyalong where we had planned to stop for coffee. But imagine our dismay when we saw a flashing sign announcing that the road to Nerranderah was closed!!
After our coffee we made enquiries at the Information Centre. They kindly rang ahead to the Nerranderah Information Centre and were told that “yes, the road had been blocked but, as far as they were aware, the Newell Highway was passable between
West Wyalong and Nerranderah. Other traffic was taking that route so we gaily followed and, seeing on-coming traffic also, we were happy that we could reach Nerranderah safely. BUT NO!!!!!! When we got to Ardlethan the road was, indeed, blocked with signs and patrol officers directing all traffic in the direction of Griffith. Was VW camper lady psychic? We duly followed the diversions and were tempted to take one of the several side roads towards Nerranderah but we were worried that they may turn into gravel roads and, anyway, they too may be flooded. As we went through the small town of Barellan we suddenly passed a giant tennis racket – on this occasion we didn’t stop so checked later that it was a memorial to Evonne Goolagong the famous Aussie tennis player who was brought up there. We continued toward Griffith and decided that it would be an ideal stopping off point for a couple of nights. Actually it had been recommended to us as a good stop some weeks ago and it also supported our attempts to always try to stay somewhere different. So the Griffith Tourist Park was where we headed for and where we checked in
for two nights, spoiling ourselves by having our own, personal “en suite” facilities adjacent to our caravan.
It was so easy to set up as everywhere was concreted and the power and water were all conveniently placed so we completed the task in no time. We sat and ate our sandwiches and then drove into Griffith and stopped at the Information Centre which, as usual, was very informative. From there we walked along the main shopping street which stretched for about a kilometer. Griffith came into being in 1916 as part of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area project which was a huge undertaking to take water from the Snowy Mountains into central NSW by means of a canal that was built through the MIA to Griffith. Many of the people that worked on the project were Italian and today about 60% of the population of Griffith are of Italian descent. The city seems to be a prosperous and busy place and the surrounding land is very fertile and is one of the main citrus growing areas in Australia. They also grow rock melons, carrots, capsicums and pumkins. We drove up to the ‘Sir Dudley De Chair’ (a Governor of NSW)
Lookout which is on Scenic Hill. We discovered that the rocks and caves in the side of the hill were once the home of Valerio Ricetti, a hermit who became very famous. After migrating from Italy at the age of 17 he travelled around Australia doing casual labouring jobs and then, after falling in love and having his heart broken, he became a hermit on Scenic Hill. Ricetti searched for somewhere he could be alone and these haunting caves became his retreat in the late 1920’s. For 23 years, Ricetti built a complex of enclosed rocky outcrops, walk ways, gardens and terraces, as well as growing his own crops, fashioning a shrine and engraving inscriptions in the rocks. Much of what he did is kept as a tourist feature and although we didn’t walk along the entire trail it all made for a fascinating story.
Back at the caravan park we had a refreshing dip in the swimming pool and then went back into town, found the RSL club and had a very tasty roast meal there. Later that night when we came to use the en-suite facility at the CP and put the light on hundreds of
flies, mossies, moths and a huge cockroach were attracted in through the open blocks at the top of the walls and under the door. I escaped from there as quickly as I could and didn’t go in again that night! We also had loads of mossies in the caravan and spent ages trying to get rid of them. This was the first time they had been a nuisance inside the caravan so it was a bit disappointing to be affected so much considering we weren’t by a river.
First thing on Thursday morning I got the washing done and hung out. It was a warm breezy day so it soon dried. Graham put more sealant on Sweetie on any area that looked vulnerable but as we have no idea where the rain is coming in it will probably be a very difficult problem to solve.
Griffith has a famous theatre stage curtain that was made 22 years ago by 300 local people. We knew that today was the only day before Christmas that it would be open to the public and the first viewing was at 11am. We got to the theatre in plenty of time and paid
our $3. Then we were ushered in to the theatre and as we were the only customers we could sit anywhere to listen to the short presentation on the making of the curtain. A competition had been held to find the best design and then volunteers gradually put together the tapestry using many different materials including wool, leather and rope. It is a spectacular and fascinating work of art which depicts the city of Griffith, the surrounding area and the many crops that grow in the region. The city is quite rightly very proud of the curtain and we were pleased that we had taken the trouble to see it.
After that we wanted to give PIE a treat so we took her to a nearby car wash and Graham gave her a thorough clean – the sign said ‘a clean car is a happy car’ so we hope so!! We then did a bit of grocery shopping, deposited it back in Sweetie and drove off to find a local fruit farm. Sat Nav probably found the back way in but it confused us and we never did find the proper entrance. It’s really the wrong time of year
for farm tours but I thought we might get some local fruit there but never mind. We were a bit disappointed so drove into town for a late lunch then went back to the Information Centre to have a better look at their historical displays.
Back at the CP Graham fitted some netting to the roo bars in front of PIE’s grill in an effort to keep insects out of the engine. In the last couple of days we had driven through hundreds of grasshoppers, flies and butterflies and had seen quite a few cars with netting on. The danger is that they gather on the radiator grill and cause over-heating, apart from being a real “pain” to remove. So the netting, which was relatively simple to fix, should make life easier in the long run. Graham sprayed the openings in the en-suite and under the door in the hope it would discourage flies etc later on and it certainly seemed to work. We also sprayed the inside of the caravan – we don’t like using so much chemical insecticides but don’t know what else to do. It seems to get quite cool during the night here which makes
a pleasant change except that I tend to wake up in the night feeling cold so sometimes you can’t win!
The third test match started today in Perth and because there is a 3 hour time difference we were able to listen to much of the play. When we first tuned in we were delighted to hear that the Aussies had been put in to bat and had lost four very cheap wickets. They rallied towards the end of their innings but the Poms were in a good position at the end of the day’s play so we slept easy that night!
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