Location: Manning Valley NSW
Date: September 2009

September 21, 2009. Yesterday morning (Sunday) was such a lovely spring day that I felt guilty about sitting here in front of the computer, and decided to go for a walk across the Martin Bridge, Taree, to the south bank of the Manning River. This time I walked west, up river. For the first few hundred meters, it's a narrow road, which becomes just a track as it passes a few farms and eventually peters out.

Before I crossed the bridge, I took a pic of the wisteria along the fence that divides my house from the one next door, which is a lovely old weatherboard place now used as an office for a financial investment company. Further down the road, I photographed the front of a smash repairs shop (where Tough Titties had her rust cut out) that is now closed. Old Jack still fiddles around with restoring the occasional car or two but no longer does any work for customers.

When I got to the other side of Martin Bridge, I headed west. Not far along the road I chatted to a bloke who was washing his car in the drive. Turned out that he was the retired general manager of the local newspaper, The Manning Times. He showed me two framed photographs of his 4-foot-long pet goanna that lives along the river bank. He's been feeding it for about 4 years. It knows his voice, and comes when he calls. He also gave me permission to take a few pics of his garden. The sunlight was far too bright, and the contrast between light and shade too great, to get any decent images. I should stick to early mornings and late afternoons... BUT... I'm lazy.

The narrow road becomes a two-wheel track, with farms on one side, directly opposite the river. There I met two horses. The stallion was itching for a little slap and tickle, but the mare wore a special coat to prevent her frisky beau from carrying out his intentions. I didn't realize what the situation was all about until I saw him bite the coat in an attempt to remove it from his lady love, hehe. Still and all, they were happy to display their affection for each other to camera.

On the return trip, I spoke to a lady out front of an old heritage house that was obviously undergoing renovations. It was built back in 1840 during the early pioneering days, and was known as The Pines because of the two large pine trees growing out front. They're about the same vintage as the house, and huge now. In those early days, there were no street names or numbers, so the river boat delivered various goods to "The Pines" as the house was commonly known. Martin Bridge, incidentally, was opened in 1940, 100 years after the house was built.

The most striking aspect of the south bank is how it contrasts dramatically with the north bank. South of the bridge is rural, sparsely populated and peaceful. Ten minutes away on foot, or two by car, the north bank is in the heart of Taree CBD with all its traffic, noise and people. Yes, it was an interesting and worthwhile walk. One of these days, I must do it again when the lighting is not so intense. Click here for the photo album.

September 14, 2009. I visited Booroowhangary Rainforest Gardens, Taree, again yesterday, for the last time. Bob and Carol Dixon have closed the gardens permanently. When I arrived, no one was there - except a lot of birds, a couple of water dragons and two hares. I parked Bluey near the 'shed' that Bob and Carol sometimes use for overnight stays, and hoofed it around the 6 acre park. It was obvious that the place has suffered neglect in recent times. The days of its former glory are over, I'm afraid - which is quite sad. It occurred to me how much work it took to firstly establish the gardens out of a former wilderness, and secondly how much regular effort went into maintaining the property, almost on a daily basis. Perhaps that's why Bob has lost interest. He ain't no chicken, and the work load must have been enormous. Click here for the photo album.

September 12, 2009. I heard a bunch of thundering V8 engines as I sat here at the computer this morning, and went to investigate. Sure enough, the Manning Valley Cruzers club was holding its annual Show 'n' Shine day in Taree, before continuing its rally 'From the Mountains to the Sea'.

I've taken lots of photos of previous exhibitions by various groups of their vintage, veteran and classic cars, but this time I thought I'd try something a little more arty farty. I'm not a huge fan of old cars per se but I do admire them, and recognize that many of them are genuine objects d'art.

There's a couple of arty pics I rather like. The '37/38 Ford V8 with the tear-drop headlight is interesting, as well as the '59 red Chevrolet with the horizontal fin - kinda like GM's version of the Sydney Opera House. The purple '46 Chevrolet pickup is the model my dad drove when I was a boy, except his was a cream panel van. Speaking of boys, the kid leap-frogging the metal post had already done a leap or two, so I asked him if he would do another one for the camera. He happily obliged. On the way home, I decided to take a pic of the shoe repair shop - the second is better because it shows a range of repair tools in the window. That store is one of the few remaining original shopfronts in town. The bloke who runs it now is the son of the former owner, so it's been in the family for half a century or more.

Ah, yes, St Paul's Presbyterian church. I love that little church. It's just so sweet! Its younger more modern sister is next door, but I prefer the original. Further along Albert Street, on the way back to my house, I took a few pics of the flowering wisteria outside the dentist's surgery. It's spring ya know! Click here for the photo album.


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