A personal diary about life in a country town, Bungendore NSW Australia

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Another Country Diary

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28 August '05
I left Bungendore at 4.30am to be in Albury by 8.30. That meant there was not a lot of time to dawdle but the empty main street in Tarcutta at first light was too much. I stopped. I photographed. I was late.
But not too late. I was attending the Farmers' Market conference at the Lake Hume reception centre and I've written about it on the Regional Food site. What I didn't mention in that public place (this is private isn't it?)was this girl who came with one of the government agencies. Incredible hair, makeup and that artificial flower I photographed her a few times and still couldn't work out if this was asserting a flamboyant personality or some Tennessee Williams china doll strangeness. It was obviously her regular look as her workmates didn't seem to notice. I did.

It was just the start of the strangeness. Being away and driving by yourself there are quiet reflective moments. The Regional Food team were staying in a motel in Albury itself. The road from Lake Hume to the city was the same road that my parents used to drive on when we visited 'town' when I was a kid growing up on the butter factory at Walwa. A winding, picturesque, barely two lane road against the hillside, with English trees on the edges. There were a few more roadside memorials nailed to the trees than I remember, testament to country kids driving too fast on the way to the Lake with their girlfriends or mates. The feelings of deja vu were strong, not surprising because I had been there before, but at least fifteen years ago.  

At the dinner on the Sunday night, their guest speaker/entertainment was Chris Haywood, and Australian actor of renown (at least to me). I asked if I could photograph him and I'd noticed the lights outside on the tennis court where making a wattle tree in full bloom glow in the blue night light.  Strange too. Chris entered the room, striding to the podium obviously with a mouthful of alcohol and a burning match, and sprayed flame into the air. Quite theatrical with nothing to do with the rest of his presentation. Probably a well practiced party trick. He told us about wooing his doctor wife and the story was full of real world poetry (such as dropping roses on her cruise ship from a light plane).
29 August  '05
I had to leave early on the Monday and left Mark to cover the days sessions. The Bethanga Bridge was a favourite part of the trip when we were kids. The suspension bridge had a wooden plank roadway, and with loose boards, it would rattle loudly as you crossed. We used to hang our heads out the window, sunlight flashing through the arches, hammering noises from beneath and the smell of water.

I thought that since I was so early, maybe I'd drive across it for nostalgia's sake, it doesn't bang or rattle any more but when I got to the end, I decided to keep on driving. The road runs past the lake and to Corryong eventually, and if you don't take the punt/ferry across at Wymah and head back to the Hume Highway you end up in Jingellic.

You drive past the dam/lake with its hundreds of dead trees...
..and foggy hills,
steaming in the morning light...
...paddocks full of ewes dropping baby lambs
and the beautiful Murray River Valley where I grew up.
I arrived at Jingellic about 8.30am. My camera memory cards all full. I went to the local store, bought a toasted sandwich and coffee and asked if I could borrow a power point to upload the memory cards to my portable hard drive. With a clean bundle of cards, I went around to the Primary school I attended (as did my brother and sister). It's now abandoned. I took a few pictures and tried a de-saturated colour technique but it works better up big...
...like this
The Jingellic pub was where I used to sell rabbits when I was trapping as a kid for pocket money. A pair earned 2 shillings and I spent it on comic books usually. The pub used to have the old general store next to it and they moved that business to the other end of town...
...when they built a new bridge and pulled the old bridge down. It was too low for flood times, although the water flow is now controlled upstream. We used to cross this bridge from Victoria to go to school in NSW, riding our bikes. There was always excitement when the river flooded because we'd be sent home from school before we got cut off from home. I remember once wading across the bridge with rushing water around my legs pushing my bicycle.
We lived at the Walwa Butter Factory but I didn't visit the house we grew up in this time (although it's still there).
I did say, 'What the hell. I might as well keep driving and visit Walwa' instead of just heading to Holbrook and home.
The NRMA garage at the entrance to the town uses the old butter factory logo style (more or less). There's some factory photos here.
The Walwa Memorial Hall was where Dad showed pictures on a Saturday night. And I played projection assistant as I got older.
The Walwa store facade has stayed the same, inside now instead of a general store and haberdashery, hardware etc, it's more a 'convenience' store. Most people would go to Corryong for major items.
This retro building has pretty much always been a garage. There are a few more photos but I'll save them up for a Walwa history someday.
I then scuttled towards home, the countryside was green and lush ( I remember it most as hot and dry as a kid. Long school holiday summers I suppose, but it was always a milk and grazing area so it must have been green at some time of the year.)
Like now.
I stopped to photograph the cow and saw these two crested pigeons who posed politely on a branch by the road.

I then headed home, trying not to go to sleep in a warm car, stopping for strong coffee at Holbrook and Yass. The last days of the magazine were upon me so I have to put my head down for a bit. I'll catch this up when I get a gap.
Fred Harden    
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Bungendore Country Diary by Fred Harden