29.10.2013 to 9.11.2013

Canberra was the venue for a reunion of the 14th Intake of Junior Recruits at HMAS Leeuwin in WA in 1966. Max was one of these recruits. He had been in contact with a few old mates over the past twelve months or so, and they persuaded him to come to Canberra for the reunion.

Spent our first overnight stop on the highway north of Moree, and were treated to a spectacular sunset.  The next day, morning tea at Coonabarabran, and rather than keep to the highway, decided to take the road to Binnaway. The highway was very busy with B-Doubles, carrying grain, as it was harvest time. When I was little, I think about four years old, we spent time on a farm at Binnaway. Dad’s sister Aunty Emily was there, it may have been her farm, I don’t know. I do have a photo of us kids and Aunty Emily playing in the river, and a vague recollection of milking a cow! Mum used to tell the story of my brother Michael getting amongst the piglets, and her panic if the sow got upset. And I do remember Aunty Emily having to rescue the piglets, when they fell off the river bank and into the river.  Anyway, there is nothing much at Binnaway these days, I can’t even imagine where the farm was in relation to the township. It was a nice trip down memory lane, though.

So, on down the road, finding The Black Stump just north of Coolah.  A little bit of local history. In the early 1830’s, land west of this locality was referred to as beyond the black stump. The actual Black Stump existed near here whilst the Black Stump Wine Saloon stood ten chains south. Both were destroyed by fire in 1908. The nearby creek derived its name from the surrounding Black Stump Run, held by Jonathan Perkins in 1850.

And so on through Gulgong, making our way to Wellington via Two Mile Flat and Bodangora for an overnight stop. The country side was quite beautiful, lush with all sorts of grain and green paddocks. On the outskirts of Wellington we came across a most unusual sculpture set in a bush garden. I might have missed the point, but it was quite hideous. I can only say its beauty was in the eye of the creator! We found a nice camp overlooking a river with cattle for company in an adjacent paddock. I was able to get a great photo of an Australian Hobby nesting in a nearby tree.

Next day on to Cowra, passing through Molong and Canowindra, with a visit to the Japanese Gardens on the agenda. What a beautiful and peaceful place. Spent quite a bit of time wandering around the garden, then enjoyed morning tea at the café. I can only imagine the added beauty of the gardens in Autumn and Spring. Cowra itself is a very nice town, with lovely rose gardens in full bloom.

On to Young and an overnight stop at the Showgrounds for $10.00. Young was Dad’s home town. Wandered around town for a bit. Looked out for cherries, but were just a bit too early for the harvest.

Morning tea at Yass, and then only a short drive to Murrumbateman, about 30ks north of Canberra. John, one of the organisers of the reunion, and his wife Willy kindly found space in their yard for our caravan, along with Rob and Ros Crocker and Trevor and Marg Aird. Thank you very much, John and Willy, for your kind hospitality. John had arranged for a mini-bus to transport us to and fro from Canberra, which greatly relieved the worry of finding a parking spot and being able to enjoy a couple of drinks to boot! Friday evening a “getting to know you (again)” gathering. Saturday, John took a few of us ladies on a guided tour of Canberra, visiting the TelstraTower for morning tea and the Museum for a wander round and lunch, while the boys had their meeting.

Saturday night we donned our glad rags and headed into Canberra and Rydges Hotel for the Reunion Dinner. Delicious food and great company ensured a good night was had by all. Next day, Sunday, and a Full English Breakfast, catered for by theLIONS Club of Belconnen, held in a park on the shores of Lake Burley-Griffin. Breakfast over and time for farewells, looking forward to the next reunion to be held in Adelaide.

We planned to spend a few more days in Canberra to do some sight-seeing. Sunday afternoon we visited the War Memorial with Marg and Trevor. I particularly wanted to place a poppy on the Remembrance Wall for Mum’s Uncle Robert Deane, who died in France in 1918. Max also found his Great Uncle William Cowen.

Monday and a busy day, with a drive through the Embassy precinct. The Chinese and American Embassies very well secured! On then to the Mint. Very interesting, with robots used in the packaging of the coins.  Parliament House and a guided tour, taking us into both the House of Representatives and the Senate Chambers. Parliament House is a beautiful building, the marble and timber work just amazing.  Next Old Parliament House, now the Museum of Democracy. This was equally fascinating. We were able to wander around most of the building. There was so much to see, we only had time to visit the Senate side. There were rooms on display that had been allotted to Queen Elizabeth when she visited, even the bathroom! One of the kitchens had the same stove we had in our house at Mt. Colah. Very 70’s.

Tuesday, we headed out of Canberra to Tidbinbilla and the Deep Space Communication Complex. After getting lost and finding ourselves on the way to the Snowy Mountains, we finally found the right road. It was a nice drive, though. The Space Complex was great, with exhibits of the moon landings, a full scale replica of the Exploration Rover which is still wandering around Mars, lots of films to watch and even a space suit to climb into for a photo opportunity. Of course, I was in my element. Some lunch here and then back to Canberra and the CSIRO. The exhibits were being refurbished, and there was not a lot see, but we were given free entry. We played with a few experiments, probably aimed more at children, but interesting just the same. It was almost time for the Melbourne Cup, so we bought an ice cream and sat in the Café and watched the race with some of the employees. There was so much more we wanted to do and see in Canberra, but time beat us. I think Canberra is a “must visit” destination.

Next day we packed up and headed for Nelson Bay, where we were catching up with Barry and Kerry (my cousins) for a few days. We stayed at a van park right on the beach. Very scenic with its beaches and bays. Had a great time with them, as we always do.

Left on Saturday, heading for home, and decided to see if our good friends Lee and John, who live at Maclean, were going to be home for morning tea. Long story short, we stayed the night with them. It had been a while since our last catch up.  It was nearly midnight before we finally got to bed, there was so much to talk about! And so home on Sunday, after a very full couple of weeks.

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