Morning light on the Namoi River, Manilla.
‘Where have you been, Richard?’ I hear you ask. ‘You’ve gone missing from cyberspace leaving only a scary bald-headed guy wearing your face.’
I’ve been in Manilla. No, that’s not a spelling error. It’s Manilla, New South Wales, a town 512km north-west of Sydney.
The reason for my visit was an invitation from Manilla’s excellent Born to Read festival to talk to school students, teachers and interested readers about books, writing and Bananas in Pyjamas.
The work was enjoyable, the organisation smooth and the hospitality wonderful. But what I also loved was a glimpse of life in and around a lovely small NSW town that sneaks under most tourist radars. Continue reading
The Prince Alfred Bridge – part of the Hume Highway until 1977. Photo: Wikicommons.
Modern road-building has taken some of the fun out of crossing the Murrumbidgee at Gundagai.
As flashy Sydneysiders on our way to holidays in Victoria, we zipped down the Hume Highway from Sydney to Melbourne as fast as the speed limits would allow.
On our way back, we took time to explore the old route, meandering through towns which are now bypassed by the traffic. Continue reading
Where are the passengers these days?
This is a road trip, so we didn’t need to visit the train station at Albury, on the Victoria/New South Wales border. We just happened to find a motel right across from the entrance, and there are a couple of good stories attached to it. Continue reading
Windsor Post Office. Attractive old buildings are marred by ugly hoardings.
A friend brought to my attention a campaign to save Thompson Square, the oldest town square in Australia, which is threatened by a road-widening proposal in Windsor.
As it happened, I was recently passing through the historic village on the far north-west outskirts of Sydney. I’d stopped there to take a few shots – two in a heart-starting cappuccino and a few more with my camera, but hadn’t paid much attention to Thompson Square. My impression of Windsor generally was that it had already suffered the ravages of uncontrolled development. It could have been a lot more attractive than it is now. Continue reading
Lonely Planet listed Newcastle, the town a couple of hours drive north of Sydney, among its Top Ten Destinations of 2011. New York was #1 – no surprises there. Newcastle (#9) was listed ahead of London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona and, most gallingly of all, Sydney and Melbourne.
Hunter Street, Newcastle. Better than Barcelona?
Before anyone gets too offended, please note that Wellington, New Zealand, a town many would regard as a pleasant stepping stone to nicer destinations on the Shaky Isles, came in at #4 on the list. Newcastle was placed between Delhi (#8) and Chiang Mai (#10). ‘
I had a day’s work at the Newcastle Kids’ Comedy Festival this week, so I took the camera with me and in a free hour or so before my hilarious storytelling sessions were due to start, did my best to find out what all the fuss was about. Continue reading
There’s a gate across one of my favourite Blue Mountains walks. With signs: DANGER. UNAUTHORISED PERSONS KEEP OUT. On the spot PENALTY $300!!!
To get a soft water photo like this I had to carry round a tripod. No way could I get it over a locked gate, guv. Honest.
The trouble is the warning only appears when we’re three quarters of the way along the route, in thick mist, with evening approaching. Do we go back the way we came, make a five hour detour…or climb the fence?
It was foggy, Your Excellency, so the sign wasn't quite clear.
‘Prisoner at the bar, do you have anything to say in your defence before I pass sentence?’
‘Well, you see, Your Honour, it was like this… Continue reading
Sandra Chipchase and one of the good things about NSW. Photo: John Reid, Sydney Morning Herald
You have to feel for Sandra Chipchase. Just appointed CEO of the new tourism body Destination NSW, she bustles over the border from Victoria with an enthusiastic plea to all New South Welsh residents to start talking up the delights their state has to offer. We can all be tourism ambassadors in our own little ways, she says.
Instead of a chorus of ‘Hear, hear, great idea Sandra!’ she gets howls of derision as everybody with a grievance takes the opportunity to tell the world why NSW is buggered. Our transport system is a joke, our service sucks, our people are unfriendly, Sydney is unaffordable and…get this one…there are too many tourists clogging the place up. Continue reading