Location: Manning Valley
Date: October 2009

October 31, 2009. Ha! Just managed to squeeze in another shoot before November arrives tomorrow. A couple of weeks ago, I was on the south side of Martin Bridge, Taree, and the Manning River, just walking along a road that services a few local residents. It doesn't really go anywhere. While there, I spotted an old house and spoke to the owner. The house was built in the mid 1800s. It has walls of vertical timber weatherboards that have no interior lining or cavity. What's on the outside is also on the inside. It also features a three-sided wrap-around veranda (one side of which has been filled but will be returned to original) with several pairs of French doors, and three large brick chimneys. It's gorgeous! The owners have built a modern house at the rear of the property but intend to make the old house part of the new with a connecting hall. Part of the deal with council is to preserve and restore the old building which is heritage listed.

Outside are two giant pine trees. Back in the old days, when the river was the main means of transport (by river boat), the pines were planted to distinguish the house from others. The property was called "The Pines". That's all it needed... no street name or street number. Everyone knew "The Pines", including the crews on the river boats.

The new owners decided to have a new fence built (not sure if there was a previous fence), and chose bluestone mined from a local quarry at Pampoolah. I think they said it cost $200 a square meter. Whoa! The stone mason told me that bluestone is normally crushed and then used as a road-building material, so he has to be quick to buy the blocks he needs before they're turned into gravel. The mason's craft is quite specialized in that he has to choose odd-shaped pieces that fit together - like a giant jigsaw - and then cement them in place. Bluestone is mined by blasting with dynamite. I visited the quarry a month or two ago if you care to check it out on the Journal.

Stone masons, as with brick layers and other artisans, like to leave their signature - a little piece of immortality. One of the images shows a 50 cent coin embedded in the fence. I managed to photograph it before it disappeared under another stone perhaps not to see the light of day again for hundreds if not thousands of years. The owner told me that there was a second one, but we couldn't find it.

So today I captured a few more shots of the almost finished project, and while there, took advantage of the flowering jacaranda trees of which there are quite a few on the south side of the river. Jacarandas don't flower for more than a few weeks, so I was lucky to get the shots I did while the trees are at the peak of their magnificence. Click here for the photo album.

October 30, 2009. Ooer! Another month has almost disappeared and I haven't done much! Well, not much to AO, that is. But I have been poking around the backyard a bit, keeping my shutter button finger in practice. Here's a selection of pics from the bits and pieces I've shot over the past few weeks.

October 20, 2009. Yesterday, I took a drive just north of Taree, then west along Lansdowne Road (past the airport), and then along Upper Lansdowne Road, which leads to some pretty spectacular mountain country dotted with farms known as the Lansdowne Escarpments or Lansdowne Volcanics. As usual, my sense of direction failed me, and instead of taking a twisting dirt road called Koppin Yarrat, I followed a dirt track called Mount Coxcomb Road. But that was pretty interesting anyway, and I can always check out the Koppin Yarrat area another time.

The small nature reserve of Coxcomb protects the trachyte plug known as Mount Coxcomb. The plug, which is typically cone-shaped, rises to a height of 480 m and has sheer rocky cliffs on three sides. It is a very distinctive part of the landscape of the Upper Lansdowne Valley, and is flanked by a suite of similar volcanic intrusions including Mount Goonook, Mt Bally and Mt Gibraltar, none of which are within reserves. (National Parks Journal)

I read where the word Coxcomb was probably derived from the mountain's resemblance to a rooster's comb from certain angles. Meanwhile, what the hell are trash bins doing in the album? Well, they were left by the local council to replace my current bins so I thought I'd take a pic. Yeah?

Pic 2 shows a dead cow. I guess farmers don't bother to bury cows that die in the field. Too much hassle. The guy in pic 7 took a rather obsessive interest in my petal-shaped lens hood. Right after I pressed the shutter button, his/her tongue appeared and gave my camera a drenching. Ew! As to pic 8, I think the less said the better. Eeek! But it was a shot I couldn't resist taking. Pic 16 is probably the best of the Mt Coxcomb shots. It was the middle of the day so lighting conditions were not ideal. 

The guy who carved the Wollumbin Sanctuary sign is a local artist. The sanctuary is private property, so I didn't venture further than the front fence. Rather, I walked back to the little wooden bridge and took a few shots of the creek. I'm not sure what the naming of the sanctuary is about because Wollumbin is the Aboriginal name of a mountain near Byron Bay, Australia's most easterly point, also named by Captain Cook in 1770 as Mount Warning. Click here for the photo album.


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