Monday, November 26, 2012

Wollombi, New South Wales, Australia -- Mon., Nov. 26

Once in a while it's nice to sleep in. Bob got up early to walk, then did some work. I slept until noon. Ahhhh. Nice beak from go, go, go.

This afternoon, we took a loop drive west to Broke, south to the historic town of Wollombi, then east to Cessnock. What beautiful countryside--eucalypt forests, wineries, rock canyons, brooks and rivers.

Storm clouds brewing.
124 vineyards in the Hunter Valley Region.
Huge rock on someone's property.
100 kph (62 miles) speed limit on back roads.
As we drove along, I spotted what I thought was a burned out stump next to the road, only this one moved! I told Bob, "That was a wombat!" He asked me if I wanted him to back up. "Of course. I want to get a photo."

Here, my friends, is a wombat in the wild. It looked like it just woke up and was eating dinner at the side of the road.

Wombat by side of the road.

The drive was all back roads. The sky was threatening thunderstorms, dark and ominous. We stopped on an old, wooden, one-lane bridge and Bob snapped this photo. Gorgeous!

The drive to Wollombi took us about 45 minutes from our resort. Our drive from Broke to Wollombi is part of The Great North Road, a road constructed by convicts from 1826-1834.  Here's a description of how the road was built taken from "The Great North Road and the Convict Trail Project" brochure from The Convict Trail Project:
The engineering of the road was at the cutting edge of road building technology of the time, incorporating the latest European ideas. But the work was labour-intensive and the equipment crude. The manpower needed was provided by convicts...They worked in Road Gangs and Road Parties, living under conditions of extreme privation. Many of them were in leg-irons, the food rations were meagre, their shelter was minimal and the discipline harsh.
Up to 700 convicts worked on the Road at any one time--clearing timber, blasting and shaping stone, and shifting it into position. The walls, up to 13m high, are made of interlocking stone blocks of varying shapes and sizes with no mortar to hold them together. Some of the blocks weighed up to 660 kg. It remains a puzzle that such high quality work was produced by an unskilled and unwilling labour force.
Wollombi area was first inhabited by the Darkinjung people as well as the Awabakal and Wanaruh nations. The town's name is an Aboriginal term said to mean "meeting place of the waters" or simply "meeting place."

The establishment, development and significance of Woollombi was directly connected with the building of the Great Northern Road which opened up transport to regions in northern New South Wales.

Here are photos of some of the old buildings in Wollombi.

St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church--1840.

The drive back to Cessnock was interesting as well. We saw many ponds. Different sculptures dotted the landscape. Plus the thunderstorms started, so lightning kept lighting up the sky.

Cessnock was dinnertime and we had a nice Thai dinner. By the time we finished eating it was raining, lighting was lighting up the sky and thunder boomed. On our drive back to the resort, the lightning show was so spectacular, we parked by the side of the road and just watched. Lightning was going on 280 degrees around us. Big bolts, sideways bolts, vertical bolts, and lightning above the clouds, making lightning spotlights.

When we made it back to our room, it was time for Pierce Brosnan in "Tomorrow Never Dies." While watching it, we thought we heard more thunder after the storm had died down. It was a fireworks show! We walked out front of our unit to see the fireworks. The winery down the road apparently was having a big fireworks show after a concert. What an evening.

Travel Bug out.