Trilby National Gathering - a (mostly) visual blog

Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014 at 12:38

Member-Heather MG NSW

[ Below is a selection of photos taken since we arrived at the 2014 ExplorOz National Gathering (our first) at Trilby Station on Saturday.

Trilby Station is a great place to stay

There is so much to do and Liz immediately made us feel very welcome and at home when I checked in at the Office on arrival. We felt more like friends than paying guests.
It might be our first visit here but already, days before we are due to leave, I know I want to return. John and I are loving it, as the sites are well spaced and private with fireplaces, wood and a garbage bin. We were asked to park to one side of our site to leave room for someone else but they never arrived which we never unexpected at a group gathering. Trilby is just the kind of place we seek out whenever we head off to explore another part of Australia.
For those who require them, there are flushing toilets, hot showers and even a washing machine at the Shearers Quarters, as well as a few powered sites but it is quite a distance from those sites at the far end of the airstrip.
We saw an echidna (my favourite native animal) scurrying across the track one night on our way back to our campsite, and spied more than one parentie, shingleback lizards, lots of roos. Also picked up a beautiful red and black tail feather from one of the cockatoos which were roosting in the trees above site 4. It was beautiful to wake to the sounds of thrushes and other bird calls each morning.

There are walking opportunities along the riverside tracks and back beside the airstrip, and I have been enjoying an early morning walk each day when the temperature is cool and bird calls seem to be at their best. Although the fishing is producing only carp for John, he has caught one each time he wanders down with rod and bait so at least there is also one less carp in the river every time. We have also had a couple of paddles on the water using one of the two-man canoes provided for guests, and its such a peaceful way to enjoy the river with high, quite steep sandy banks seemingly held together by the tangled roots of the huge old river gums which line the banks.

During the week, we did both of the self guided tours of the Station. On the longer one to New Chum Homestead and outbuildings we also did the extra few kms and went to the goat yards and one way goat trap gate and became part of a tag along group using our radios to inform one another as to whether the gates were open or shut. The policy is to always leave them as you find them (i.e. if shut, leave shut). The landscape changes from the massive floodplains to the red sandy dunes and ironstone ridges which I love so much and we came across a stumpy tailed shingleback lizard which I managed to get up close to and photograph. I found it really interesting to view the homestead panty with its original cans and packets of foodstuffs, the pills and medicines, and the bits and pieces of furniture and household objects. The old 4WDs, other vehicles and the double decker bus were also worth a look. Two old cars abandoned off the track a little are a great subject for photographs in this dramatic landscape.

Each afternoon we have assembled as a casual group near or inside the woolshed for the drawing of raffles, as well as for those who are interested, games of horseshoes run by John T. Money raised at both these is to be donated to the Louth Branch RFDS (I think) so we are happy to contribute and have even been lucky enough to win some prizes. Horseshoes can't be too difficult as I managed to win the comp yesterday on my first ever attempt...or maybe I just have loads of natural ability and talent!! Due to the heat, it has been essential for many attendees to keep up their fluid intake and its also been a happy hour or two.
We have met so many lovely people with similar values to our own and each day brings many laughs and the swapping of yarns.

We were very lucky to be here for the shearing of the rams on Sunday afternoon in the very impressive new woolshed which will be the venue of our dinner on Wednesday evening. Having grown up around cattle, I don't think I had ever seen sheep being shorn and I really enjoyed the experience.

We are now in Bourke, staying a couple of nights at Kidman's camp a few kms from the town, on the Mitchell Highway North.. Washing some of the dust out of our clothes, seeing a few of the tourist attractions, and for John to be able to watch the RL Grand final on TV today. We travelled north from Trilby via the western side of the Darling river, a longer distance however a very scenic drive. The weather has once again warmed up and with temperatures in mid thirties forecast today and tomorrow, we are very thankful for air conditioning and other comforts. It was a maiden voyage in our new van and its been christened with red dirt and passed all the tests with flying colours!

The week at the Gathering seemed to fly, and on some of them, after the raffles we continued on to afternoon drinks at various camp sites and then dinner eaten together with new friends Gary and Dawn and Willy and Kevin, not returning to our van until 10 pm to shower and rest! We also shared happy hour and drinks at the No 1 camp inhabited by Sir Kev, Sam and family, and shared stories and laughs with the many others there. Made so many new friends...Trevor and Margaret, Scrubby, Kevin S and Ruth, Peter and Helen and many others. Hopefully we will all catch up again one day.

It gave us a good feeling to be part of a group where every dollar raised was for the RFDS, and to be able to donate it right there for the local community to benefit from was just so special. Each time we bought raffle tickets, or yabbies, or for the horseshoes it wasn't to win prizes for us, although we were also quite lucky there, I must admit! It was most uncharacteristic for us to win anything as anyone who knows us well will testify to. John has been religiously buying lottery and lotto tickets for more than the 42 years of our married life and fantasising as to how he will spend the winnings with hardly ever even a minor payback!

We spent a very interesting (almost full day) at Toorale National Park, north of Louth around 50 kms on the Western side of the river along the Bourke Road (Toorale Rd). It is a very new park so much of the infrastructure for visitors is still under construction.
Ross, one of the Indigenous Rangers led us on a discovery tour chock full of information about it's history, both aboriginal and since European arrival. He was also very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the place, and the climate and floods, and visionary in his plans for the future of the Park. We did a short walk around the buildings and from his vivid description I was able to visualise the magnificent Homestead in its former glory. A vast amount of money must have been spent in its building. It is now closed to the public but we walked around the perimeter and its a quite spectacular building.
The remains of the sheds were also very interesting with good ventilation in the design of the rooflines, and after our morning tea (after 12 o'clock) of damper, biscuits and drinks, we drove to see and walk in the original shearing shed and then to a natural (I think) water storage formation at this time still with some water in it. Yesterday when we drove north to Bourke, towing the van I saw a pair of brolga in the area.
The second, shorter self drive tour took us a few kms south of the homestead track to a rough track into the remains of Dunlop farm and its assortment of quite amazing bits of machinery near the river: a big steam boiler, a dray with solid timber wheels used to haul cut wood into the steam boiler and steam engines, and a handmade roller. They have become sculptural forms as they decompose in the landscape.

On our last day, John and I drove into Louth and enjoyed lunch at the very lovely Pub, sitting outside in the shade of a big tree at a huge long timber table with a few other EO members...a fitting end to our week and another chance to put some dollars into the local community.

At the last official event, raffles on Friday afternoon, Sir Kev presented Liz with a small gift as a thank you for having us all there for the week. For him and Sam as organisers it must have been a huge job and no doubt they have gone home exhausted. I take my hat off to anyone who camps with kids along, but they were such a lovely family and the girls were nothing but polite to us. To think that its all voluntary is pretty amazing and I know John and I kind of sat back and just enjoyed our week which makes me feel guilty but next time we attend a gathering I intend being a bit more actively involved if I can help in any way. It was a chance for us to see how the Gatherings are run as well as to meet lots of Members whose names I see frequently on the Forum and in Blogs. I was quite amazed at how many people introduced themselves to us and mentioned that they enjoyed reading my Blogs. It made me feel very humble.

Sir Kev (and Sam), John T (who ran the game of horseshoes), Scrubby and his helpers who trapped the yabbies for fundraising racing events, and all those who helped out with raffles and in the background John and I thank you so much for making it such a friendly, social week which raised so much money. I felt more than a little sad to be driving out yesterday.

When and where is 2015's Gathering to be held we wonder? Hope it fits in with our plans as we would love to be part of it.
Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir
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