A Travellerspoint blog

Mungallala .. a trip down memory lane

sunny 40 °C

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A lovely 'welcome' to Mungallala ... painted on a saw blade, depicting the three main industries of the area ... timber, sheep and cattle.

Our family was introduced to the outback when my sister was transferred to Mungallala in 1965 as a recently graduated teacher to complete her 'remote area' service. This was compulsory at the time to ensure the more remote areas had available teachers. She was swept off her feet by a local grazier from one of the pioneering families of the area ... and stayed. . In country Australia there is a saying that you are not considered a 'local' until you have lived in the town for over 20 years. My sister is definitely not only a 'local', but has been a major contributor having being a teacher to many of the kids of the town, and an active participant in community 'ups and downs' over these years.

They still have their cattle and sheep property a little way out of town, with cattle and 2500 sheep (for wool production), but they have also been licencees of the Club Hotel ... fondly referred to as the 'Munga Pub' .. since 1998.

This area was first explored by Major Thomas Mitchell on his expedition into the outback in 1846, with brave souls taking up occupation of what were termed 'runs' of unoccupied Crown land, with the first in the Mungallala area around the early 1860s. Cobb and Co services began in 1876, and the railway around 1885. My brother-in-law's family arrived in 1902, and have continued to work (and expand) the original property since that time.

The first licence for a hotel was granted in 1906, but unfortunately that two-storey building was destroyed by fire in 1918. It was replaced by the building that stands today which is at least 100 years old. It is a typical country pub which carries the stories, the history, the energy, and the passions of the community, and is the heart and the hub of all that goes on in a small town.

The sawmill, which processes cypress pine from state forests north of Mungallala, is the main employer, with approximately 20 staff. .The changing times have caused most of the businesses in town to close (butcher, garage, general store), with many of the locals having to move away for employment. However, the community spirit remains.

The Mungallala Progress and Sporting Association Incorporated is the voice for the community, and supports, and facilitates, the various activities. We were amazed what is available. Check these out.

The Memorial Hall where community activities, dances etc are held. It also houses the library and the post office.
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The recreation centre offers a children's play area, tennis , basketball, netball, futsal courts, AND a community garden. Amazing.
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Also, an exercise machine providing three strength exercises
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A cricket wicket and (lush green!!) oval, complete with a pavilion for spectators to watch the excitement, and/or enjoy a refreshing beer.
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AND ... the pièce de résistance .... a 3-hole golf course, which runs around the outside of the oval.

Click on the link to check out their promotional video. How could one resist playing one of the 'most exclusive clubs in the world' .. where 'skill is optional'
The Royal Box

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3351e0a0-39b1-11ea-8648-2339a0ebb532.JPG .....4th tee

The water supply for the town is provided from the town bore, and is clear enough to drink only treated with chlorination.
A little further on from the rec centre is a dam .. currently empty .... called the Turkey's Nest. .In times of drought it is still possible for graziers to obtain a permit to graze their cattle along the 'stock route' to obtain feed. . When a permit is allocated for a herd to pass through the township, the dam can be filled from the town bore to ensure water is available. Yes, the drover still exists.

This info on the stock routes is taken from the Queensland Government website. It's another aspect of Australian life, and the 'outback' in particular, that such a service is required, and available.

Stock routes include 72,000km of roads, reserves, and corridors on pastoral leases and unallocated state land. Together with dedicated reserves for travelling stock, they make up the 2.6 million hectare Queensland stock route network. To use the stock route network, you need permits for: travelling stock on foot, grazing (agistment) of stock, using water facilities.

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The police station is currently unmanned .. the police presence comes from the nearest town of Mitchell
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The dead centre of town ( I know ... an old joke)
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Even in this small town the Rural Fire Service is imperative. Manned by local volunteers who are advised by an 'alert' via the 000 emergency service, they immediately stop what they are doing and assemble at this local depot.
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As mentioned previously, the Cobb and Co passenger and mail stagecoach services began in 1876. This park was the original site .. now a public toilet facility for travellers. The Progress Association commissioned the art work on the block, as well as the unique statue of the drover and his dog which stands in the grounds of the Memorial Hall.

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We had the pleasure of being in Mungallala at the big event Mungallala Reunion - Easter weekend 1981. Everyone who had anything to do with Mungallala's past was there ... over 1000 people attended. . As part of the official functions a 'time capsule' was compiled providing historic information of the local area which was opened at the school centenary in 2004. Another capsule was then put in its place, to be opened in 2029 (25 years).
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A glimpse of the road out of town showing the mulga woodlands and shrublands which are predominant in the area.
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Mungallala Creek ... and beautiful 'Black Kites' flying high above. Since we returned from our trip 35mm of rain has fallen. Added a little water to the creek, but more is needed .But it definitely lifted the spirits of the locals.
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Then (1981) ... and now.
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Aaron, Braden and I arrived in Mungallala on the 'Westlander' at this little station in 1981 . Today these two cuties look expectantly down the track for the train, but unfortunately the passenger service no longer operates.

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Chas came across this telephone booth on his exploration of the town. On impulse he picked up the handset and was very surprised to find not only that it is still operational, BUT calls are free. So he promptly phoned me at the pub to tell me so. I expect this is a 'service' provided for the safety of travellers in case of emergency.
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In its heyday Mungallala had four churches .. Methodist, Uniting, Anglican and Catholic. While this is the only building that has survived, it is now privately owned and provides a great service as a granny flat for visiting guests.

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On the Saturday evening Mungallala gave us a 'unique' outback experience .. a dust storm came through town. It wasn't the type that you may have seen on Facebook where the dust rolls in like a cloud. It moved slowly over the evening, but its presence was very evident the next morning.

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The Pub

This is an example of the importance of the 'pub' to the functioning of the town .. The sign says:: "Christmas Mass Sunday Dec 23, 4 pm held at the Mungallala Pub. All welcome." .What can one say!!

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6a35b240-39b1-11ea-b571-bdc95160e63b.JPG ... country humour
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.... writing your signature, or a little ditty, is encouraged. There's not a lot of room left, on the walls ... or the ceiling.

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Mungallala School .. The best small school in the west

This is a one-teacher school, hoping for nine students when school commences this year.

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Wow... we had a lovely time. After 1,200km or so, and one week, we arrived back on the Sunshine Coast. Whilst driving through Maleny with lush green grass and flowering agapanthus everywhere, I took a quick glimpse of The Glasshouse Mountains. Beautiful. But that's Australia .. a country of diversity, and extremes.

I hope you have enjoyed sharing our trip. The Australia bush is a unique experience. I would expect many city folk never have, or do not take, the opportunity to experience it. So, if the opportunity to do so comes along, take it. Drop into the Munga Pub, and say 'g'day'.

Posted by patsaunder 13:28 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Mungallala, here we come!

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sunny 40 °C

After selling our home at Dicky Beach. and unable to move into our new home until February, Chas and I planned to 'couch surf' with the rellies for a few weeks visiting my four siblings (three sisters and one brother). This was fine as three of them lived in South East Queensland, relatively close to each other. It was wonderful to just hang out together for a week or so. This is not something we do enough as adults. We get engrossed in life, catch up for lunch, special occasions etc, but I've found it a different experience to spend extended time together without any fuss or fanfare. So that's what we did.

However, my eldest sister misses out on many of our catch-ups as she lives in a very small town in Western Queensland ..... Mungallala. They are suffering many hardships with the drought as they have a cattle and sheep property and are currently hand feeding 2500 sheep, and I don't know how many cattle. So Chas and I decided to take this opportunity to drop in for a visit. My sister's first words when we told her of our plan was "Why would you want to do that?" ... referring to the drought, and the 40Cdeg temperatures. Our response "To see you of course".

So, that's what we did.

Mungallala is a small town in Western Queensland between Mitchell and Charleville. There are only about 35 people in the township itself, with more from surrounding properties. The main industry, and employer, is the sawmill which processes cypress pine from state forests north of Mungallala. However, the focus of the town is the Club Hotel, known by the locals as 'the pub'. My sister and her husband are the licencees of this fine establishment. It has a long history being built around 100 years ago after a fire demolished the original building in 1918, and is the meeting place, and the hub of this little town.

Life is hard for this community which has been gripped by drought for years. The 2016 Census identified Mungallala as 'the poorest town in Australia' ... Poorest town in Australia .... but the locals say what they lack in money, they make up for in community spirit. And this is what we found.

Starting at Toowoomba we headed west, pretty much in a straight line .. Dalby, Chinchilla, Miles, Roma, Mitchell, Mungallala .. 480km along the Warrego Way, through the Western Downs to the Outback. Whenever travelling in the Australian bush I cannot help but reflect on Dorothea Mackellar's 'My Country' .. the size, the contrasts, the openness, the mountains, the struggles. Magnificent.

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The Western Downs area is home to prime farming land, and agriculture is a major industry in the area renowned for grain and cotton growing, and cattle and sheep (wool) production.

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Fluffs of cotton lay everywhere along the side of the road.

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The iconic symbols of the outback .... roadkill. In some sections there were dead roos every metre or so on both sides of the road. Even in daylight hours one has to be aware when travelling on these roads.

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Overtaking a 3-trailer Road Train .... Road trains are the means of transport in the outback. You get out of their way very quickly ....

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Dogwood Creek, just outside Miles .. almost as 'dry as a bone'.

When heading west along the Warrego Way, Roma could be termed the start of the 'outback', and is the administrative hub for the Maranoa Region
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A proud feature of the region is these beautiful trees, commonly known as the Queensland bottle tree. This one is Roma's largest with a girth of 5.61m (it requires six average sized men to reach around it), a height of 6m and a crown of 20m. The swelling is due to the water held within its fibrous trunk. This one is over 100 years, but they can live for over 200 years, in fact very large trees which were described by Major Mitchell when he first explored the area in 1846 are still growing.

The area is also known for its oil, and coal seam gas (GSC) exploration. The 'Big Rig' in Roma commemorates those who developed the industry. It is considered to be the birth place of the oil and gas industry in Australia, with natural gas used as lighting in Roma as early as 1906.
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Mining is a major industry with reports showing 5,127 CSG production wells in operation in mid-2016 (I expect more since then), and despite the call to keep fossil fuels in the ground, coal mining continues with 290 mining proposals approved in the decade prior to 2017. National mapping reveals that 37.3% of Australia is covered by coal and gas licences and applications.

This is a contentious issue with differing perspectives on its value depending on which side of the fence one sits. I was unable to download a map showing the extent of the gas operations, but with tens of thousands of wells and associated infrastructure, they are having a devastating effect with encroachment on good farming land, disruption of other land uses and industries, clearing of bushland, air pollution, contamination or depletion of ground or surface water, pollution of waterways, health impacts on workers and nearby residents, and damage to biodiversity. Needless to say .. I am not a fan.

Nor am I a very good photographer. We past this coal train on our way home but in my rush to capture it I took a burst of photos ... 180 in all (yes, that's correct) .. instead of using the video function. So you will have to imagine the length of this train starting with the 2 engines and finishing with the last wagon .. with 41 wagons in between, each with the capacity to carry 100 tonnes of coal per wagon. (I looked this up )

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It's been quite a while since I visited the west .. probably mid to late 80s ... so I was very much looking forward to returning, and spending time with my sister. On our way ....

Posted by patsaunder 01:12 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Wild Wales - days 4, 5, and 6

.... following the footsteps of George Borrow

semi-overcast

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Day 4 .. our itinerary for the day --- Llanuwchllyn. Dinas-Mawddwy, Mallwyd, Machynlleth

Today we travelled up into the hills along a windy, one vehicle road with laybys for passing. George noted (in his book) that this area was “very rough, over hills and mountains, belonging to the great chain of Arran, which constituted upon the whole the wildest part of all Wales”. (Aran Fawddwy which rises to a height of 905 metres (2, 790 feet) is the second highest Welsh mountain)

His writing is quite expressive. A little further he writes: “Scenery of the wildest and most picturesque description was rife and plentiful to a degree: hills were here, hills were there; some tall and sharp, others huge and humpy; hills on every side. “What a valley” I exclaimed. But on passing through the opening I found myself in another, wilder and stranger, if possible.”

And this was our experience also … every turn in the road presented a more spectacular sight. It was beautiful.

Some of the photos were taken from inside the car as it was not possible to stop on the narrow roads. And, of course, the photos do not do justice to this natural beauty.

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From my research these words mean "Remember Tryweryn" which I understand relates to a time 5 decades ago when a small Welsh village of Capel Celyn, in the Tryweryn valley, where people had lived, worked and died for generations, suddenly disappeared under 70 billion litres of water by the building of a dam. The sense of injustice it engendered is still smarting five decades on.

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Snowdonia National Park ...

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.... standing on the highest pass in North Wales, looking to the left

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... and to the right .. What a view!

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Every turn more spectacular.

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This is farming area, sheep on every hill. The farmhouses are built from stone. This one is an example, but most of the ones we saw were about three time larger .. solid, and look to be very cosy. You can imagine tucked up inside on a cold winter's evening.

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The White Lion where George stayed, as did we — in Machynlleth.

Day 5 .. our itinerary for the day --- Borth, Mt. Pumlumon, Nant-y-Moch reservoir, Ponterwyd

As Machynlleth is only 20 kilometers from the west coast, I requested that we deviate just this once from George’s route. I wanted to say I had stood on the west coast of Wales looking over the Irish Sea to Ireland. .So we visited a lovely small village called Borth .. and we were so pleased we did. Not the furtherst point west … but I was happy enough.

Along this route we travelled through the Cambrian Mountains, the highest point of which is Pumlumon (752m). This area provides the largest catchment of water in Wales and is the source of three major river systems - .. The Wye (where we spent our recent weekend with the family in the beautiful Wye valley at Kerne Bridge) - The Severn (the longest river in Britain), - ... and the Rheidol. We experienced all of them.

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I was astounded by the size of this stone wall along the road just outside Ponterwyd. It was long. Imagine building that by hand - Yikes.

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I never did find out what this was .. but I thought it was a lovely pic. ????

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Access point to the The Ceredigion Coastal Path which goes for 65 miles (105 km) along the west coast. It would be wonderful to walk .. even some of it. — at Borth Ynyslas Beach.

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AND … the inevitable links course right beside the beach.

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WOW!! … and we even found a sole kite surfer enjoying the solitude.

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Looking north

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... and south

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This reminds me very much of the west coast of Denmark, and the area around Nth Vorupør … the dunes, the grasses. Just beautiful.

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The pebble beach

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More beautiful mountains

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Nant-y-moch Reservoir approx. 5 kilometers from Ponterwyd. It is quite large covering 66. 8km2

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Our reason for visiting Ponterwyd ... the George Borrow Hotel. George stayed here ... as did we. They have official documentation of his visit on display in the bar.

We found it interesting that when sharing with the locals that we were following the footsteps of George Borrow we were either presented with a blank stare!!!! - "Who are you talking about? - .... or enthused acknowledgement and appreciation of what we were doing.

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The view from our bedroom window.

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And from the restaurant with the beautiful light of the setting sun.

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The River Rheidol which flows below the garden ... with waterfalls. Lovely.

Devil's Bridge, Ponterwyn

One of the most memorable experiences of our trip was a visit to Devil’s Bridge which has been a tourist attraction for over 100 years. George Borrow visited here and wrote about it’s rugged beauty before the top bridge had even been built. The main attraction is the Three Bridges built one on top of the other as each bridge required improved support to carry the increased traffic.

The Nature Trail follows in the footsteps of the monks of the past and provides views of the spectacular 300 ft waterfalls from the Mynach River which flow into the deep Rheidol gorge. . It contains 675 steps, is very steep in places, but is a site of outstanding natural beauty.

I hope these few photos go a little way to showcasing the wonderful opportunity we had to experience this lovely area.

After our ‘walk’ we enjoyed a pint in The Hafod Hotel, in which George stayed on his visit to Devil’s Bridge. A great way to end a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. You can check out the walks here .. .https://devilsbridgefalls.co.uk/the-walks/ ????

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Firstly, the legend ….
Once upon a time … around the 11th century the Devil visited Wales as he had never been there before and he had heard that the scenery was breathtaking. He soon came across an old lady who seemed upset.
“What’s the matter?” he asked out of curiosity. “Oh, I’m in such a terrible muddle and I don’t know what to do!. My cow has wandered across the river and I can’t get her back”.
“Ah!” said the Devil “What you need my dear, is a bridge, and I am just the man to build you one. Why don’t you go home, and in the morning there will be a bridge waiting for you. All I ask in return is to keep the first living thing to cross the bridge!”.
“Okay then” she said “It’s a bargain. I’ll see you in the morning. Nos da, Goodnight”/
That night she wondered about this stranger who would build her a bridge. “What a strange request!. Why should I cross the bridge to get my cow back if he gets to keep me in exchange? Mind you it is very tempting offer”.
The next day she got up and called for her faithful dog. Together they went down to the river. “Well well” .. she couldn’t believe her eyes. In front of her was the best bridge that she had ever seen! “I told you that I would build you a bridge” said the Devil appearing from nowhere. “Now it’s your turn to keep your side of the bargain”.
“I know, you get to keep the first living thing to cross the bridge” and she started to walk towards the bridge. But just when she got to the entrance, she stopped, took our a loaf of bread from her apron pocket and hurled it across the bridge. As quick as a flash and before the Devil could stop it, the dog chased after it. “Aaaaaaagh!!!!” screeched the Devil. “You stupid old woman, I don’t believe it! Your smelly, hairy farm dog has become the first living thing to cross my bridge. It’s no good to me” he screamed and then he vanished.
Well, the Devil was never seen in Wales again as he was so embarrassed at being outwitted by the old lady. High in the mountains near Aberystwyth, there is a village where a very old bridge crosses a deep gorge. Above it are too other bridges built at later dates. But the lowest one .. Well, they say that the Devil himself built it!

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The three bridges … It’s thought that the first or lowest of the three bridges was actually built by the Monks of Strata Florida to help ease their efforts in travelling to the Abbey in Pontrhyfendigaid some 9 miles away.

Notice the first and second bridges are constructed with arches. These are designed this way as the arches provide additional strength to the structure. — at Devil's Bridge Waterfalls.

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A view down the gorge

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This is ‘Jacob’s ladder’ – 100 continuous steps!!! I held tight to the railing.

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Chas at the bottom of the walk looking down on the surging water.

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The walk is circular. This is the bridge at the bottom of the walk to allow visitors to ascend the other side

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There are five levels of the waterfall. This is the lookout at the second highest level

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The steps to the lookout … rugged, but lovely

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Almost at the top. ... Spectacular. This lookout was very close to the waterfall.

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This image shows the two upper levels of the waterfall.

An amazing amount of water falls through the gorge each day.

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These are the steps to the ‘easy’ walk to the Punchbowl on the other side of the main bridge. We didn't have time to do that one also, but I would have liked to, as it would have given me a 'front-on' view of the bridges.

Day 6 .. our itinerary for the day, destination --- Llandovery.
Most of the day was travelling .. through Tregaron, to Llandovery.

You may remember the legend of Devil’s Bridge in my last post. Well, it is probably more likely that the first bridge was built by the monks at Strata Florida Abbey, only a relatively short distance from the bridge. We had to stop and take a look.

The abbey of Strata Florida – Latin for ‘Vale of Flowers’ – (or Abaty Ystrad Fflur in Welsh) has stood on lush pastures beside the banks of the river Teifi since 1164. Established by the Cistercian monks, it became one of the most famous churches - a place of pilgrimage and a foundation of Welsh culture. Today only a small part of what was an enormous complex can be seen. It was huge. The Strata Florida Trust has been established for ongoing research, and in fact an archaeological dig is currently underway. You can even join in the dig if you wish.

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The abbey was very prosperous and self-sufficient. .. They had wool from sheep, lead iron ore from the abbey's mines, woodlands provided timber for building and fuel, they grew wheat, oats and barley, fish for food, and a plentiful supply of fresh water. — at Strata Florida Abbey.

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The choir monks were well educated, literate, and in many cases came from noble families. They lived a life of strict daily timetable of eight daily services, study, prayer, writing. .. However, the more mundane and physical tasks were done by the lay brothers who were from peasant families, were illiterate, and lived separately from the choir monks

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There are unmistakable echoes of greatness among the ruins. The carved west doorway into the abbey offers an epic view down the nave to where the high altar once stood.

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The use for this amazing stone basin is still not known, but some think it may have been used for the ceremonial washing of monks’ feet by the abbot on the Thursday before Easter.

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You can still see some of the incredible decorated tiles that would have covered the floors of the church

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The location of the abbey is beautiful, but it also had a ready water supply, lush pastures, abundant timber, and mineral wealth. These industries provided the wealth for the decorative tiles, the stone carvings, and the work of the monks which established the cultural spirit of the area.

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Strata Florida is the final resting place for generations of medieval Welsh princes. The names in bold type here are buried in the grounds of the abbey.

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Some of the gravestones in the grassed area of the abbey

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Looking towards the arched entrance

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This a memorial plaque to the 'Poet to the People' .. Dafydd Ap Gwilym ... , Wales’s most famous medieval poet. It is reported that he is buried in an unmarked grave under the Yew tree in the grounds of St Mary's church, next to the abbey.

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Looking across to the abbey, with the hills in the distance. from the grounds of St Mary's Church.

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You may also find it interesting to watch this short video on the research being conducted by the Strata Florida Trust. I loved listening to the participants speaking in their beautifully lyrical Welsh language.

One of the locals with whom we had a long chat told us that in rural areas the primary school curriculum is taught in Welsh, however I'm not sure if this is the same in the more populated areas. .. All signage is shown in both Welsh and English.

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Day 6 was our last day following in the footsteps of George Borrow.

We finished our journey by enjoying our meal on Friday evening in the hotel where George stayed on his visit .. the Castle Inn, Llandovery. .We thoroughly enjoyed our travels over the mountains, through narrow roads, small villages, lovely people, and amazing scenery.

My very rough calculations show that we traveled approx. 350 miles -- 563 kilometers.

I have to give credit to Chas as it was he who read George's book, and got the idea to plan an itinerary to follow his trail.
Each evening Chas read an extract of the book sharing George's stories of the places we would visit the following day. It was great fun anticipating each day.

Obviously there was much we didn't see. Maybe one day we will return to this lovely country.

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Posted by patsaunder 17:10 Archived in Wales Comments (0)

Wild Wales - days 1, 2 and 3

.. following in the footsteps of George Borrow

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A wild adventure starts today. .. our journey into ‘Wild Wales’ in the footsteps of George Borrow (1854).
Well, not literally .. he walked it, but we only have a week !! . I’ll try to give you an update as we go. I forgot to mention- currently 14deg C (brrr)

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The Flag of Wales (Welsh: Baner Cymru or Y Ddraig Goch, meaning the red dragon) consists of a red dragon passant on a green and white field. As with many heraldic charges, the exact representation of the dragon is not standardised and many renderings exist.

The flag incorporates the red dragon of Cadwaladr, King of Gwynedd, along with the Tudor colours of green and white. It was used by Henry VII at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, after which it was carried in state to St Paul's Cathedral. The red dragon was then included as a supporter of the Tudor royal arms to signify their Welsh descent. It was officially recognised as the Welsh national flag in 1959. Several cities include a dragon in their flag design, including Cardiff, the Welsh capital. (Wikipedia)

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Day 1 .. our itinerary for the day - Chester, England
Chas has planned a 7-day tour following part of the route walked by George Borrow in 1854 (165 years ago) visiting the same places, eating in the same pubs, and even sleeping in the same hotels (if possible). He has even taken the appropriate parts of the book for us to read before setting out each day. Tag along, and see how we go

Staying true to George’s book, our starting point was Chester (England), a walled city on the River Dee, close to the border with Wales. It was founded as a Roman fort in 79 AD. The fort was important for the town as it has had to contend with all of the invaders over time .., the Saxons, Danes, and Normans,

Chester is a lovely modern city with lots to do and many interesting landmarks .. the city walls of course, which encircle the old medieval city and constitute the most complete city walls in Britain;

The 700 year old Rows (unique in Britain) which developed as a result of being a busy market town in the Middle Ages. These are buildings with shops or dwellings on the lowest two storeys. The storey above then overlaps the walkway, making it a covered walkway, known as the ‘Row’.
The lovely black-and-white timber framed buildings which are prominent in Chester. These are mostly from the middle 19thC.

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Our accommodation for the night ... The Bull and Stirrup Hotel, built 1889 on the site of the previous Bull and Stirrup Inn.

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The Bluebell Inn .. ... this timber framed house, probably dates from the late 15thC, is recorded as an inn in 1540. It is believed that George Borrow stayed here while in Chester. .We enjoyed our evening meal here.

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Eastgate and Eastgate Clock stand on the site of the original entrance to the Roman fortress of Deva Victrix. It is a prominent landmark in the city of Chester and is said to be the most photographed clock in England after Big Ben.

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Part of the city wall above the canal showing the footpath around the top of the wall.. Would you believe that the door to the building that can be seen is a vegan restaurant

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The Water Tower, part of the north-west wall of the city... construction 1322-1325.

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This sculpture commemorates the cannon that was completely destroyed in England's Civil War (1642–1651), and the terrible destruction that Chester endured during this time.

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Access steps to Bridge Street Row West, and Watergate Row South. The steps of the Rows take you to the second level with the covered walkway.

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The Rows

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The Rows are on all the streets around the central part of the town. Beside these Rows you can see a black and white timbered building also.

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The Black and White buildings

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The Black and White timbered structure

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The Town Hall building. .We would have liked to check out the view from the tower, but unfortunately, the building was not open to the public at this time.

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Chas with his Cheshire cheese, and Chester beer. Chas notes “it’s still not the best”.

“Chester ale, Chester ale! I could ne’er get it down,
‘Tis made of ground-ivy, of dirt, and of bran,
‘Tis as thick as a river below a huge town!
‘Tis not lap for a dog, far less drink for a man.”
(Sion Tudor {Welsh poet, died 1602}, quoted in ‘Wild Wales’).

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The Cheshire Cat ... marking his place in history, beside the Roman city wall.

Day 2 .. our itinerary for the day, destination Llangollen ---
As we were already running behind due to taking a little extra time in Chester, we only stopped for our morning coffee in Mold. Then on to Ruthin – The Crossed Foxes Inn/now The Wynnstay Arms in Well Street - The Vale of Clwyd – Pentredwr – the Pillar of Eliseg – Valle Crucis Abbey – “the mighty Berwyn” hills.

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Chas had already done his homework and knew The Crossed Foxes Inn (now called The Wynnstay Arms) was still in Ruthin. However, we walked up and down Well Street but were not able to find it. . Only after checking with a local did we find out that it was currently closed for renovation (and the name removed). .Very disappointed, we took ourselves to the bakery across the road, and it was here that Chas read the day’s extract from George’s book.

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Plaque on wall of the Inn.

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The Vale of Clwyd with Pentredwr in the distance. . After negotiating the road which you can see in the picture, we visited this lovely little village nestled in the lush valley.

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Pentredwr

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Valle Crucis Abbey (Valley of the Cross) is a Cistercian abbey built in 1201 by Madog ap Gruffydd Maelor, Prince of Powys Fadog.

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The Abbey was dissolved in 1537 during the ‘Dissolution of the Monasteries’, and subsequently fell into serious disrepair.

(For your info: Suppression of the Monasteries was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland, appropriated their income, disposed of their assets, and provided for their former personnel and functions. Although the policy was originally envisaged as increasing the regular income of the Crown, much former monastic property was sold off to fund Henry's military campaigns in the 1540s. He was given the authority to do this in England and Wales by the Act of Supremacy, passed by Parliament in 1534, which made him Supreme Head of the Church in England, thus separating England from Papal authority, and by the First Suppression Act (1535) and the Second Suppression Act (1539).) (Wikipedia)

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The building is now a ruin, though large parts of the original structure still survive. Unfortunately the abbey was closed when we visited (a Monday). so we were unable to access the actual site.

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A short distance from the Abbey is The Pillar of Eliseg. Eliseg's Pillar was a 9th-century stone cross erected by Cyngen, the last king of Powys, in memory of his great-grandfather, Eliseg, King of Powys. The pillar now stands to a height of just over 6 feet, but it was originally at least twice that height, and had a large cross on top.

The original cross was an imposing structure, so large that it provided the name 'Valle Crucis', or 'Valley of the Cross', for the entire valley and the nearby medieval abbey. https://www.britainexpress.com/attractions.htm?attraction=4667

(Powys is one of the preserved counties of Wales. It is named after the Kingdom of Powys which was a Welsh successor state, petty kingdom and principality that emerged during the Middle Ages following the end of Roman rule in Britain.)( Wikipedia).

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George stood right here.

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Placing the pillar in context with the surrounding environment - only 50-60m from the road.

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Chas climbing over the stile to the pillar.

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Enjoying the garden during our after dinner walk

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The Wild Pheasant, Llangollen … our very flash accommodation in beautiful surroundings.

Day 3 .. our itinerary for the day --- Pontfadog, Pandy, Llansilin, Llanrhyader, Bala

Llangollen, where we’d stayed last night, was where George’s wife and daughter, Henriette, chose as their base for a holiday while George was on his walks.

A little about George … Firstly, he was an Englishman, of sufficient resources to bring his wife and daughter to Wales for several months holiday. He had travelled extensively .. Russia, Spain, Europe and the Mediterranean .. was well read, disliked social snobbery, and had an aptitude for languages and a natural talent for learning them. It was said of him, when only eighteen, that "He has the gift of tongues and understands 12 languages".

In spite of the historical enmity between the Welsh and English, George found he was welcomed by the locals as he travelled, his knowledge of the Welsh language and literature, probably a big part in his acceptance by them.

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Our first stop was the lovely little village of Pontfadog

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Chas carefully choosing a ‘special’ pebble to add to his collection for our water feature at home at River Ceiriog.

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A Celtic Cross .. for my collection. A lovely village surrounded by the hills.

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The Swan Inn where George stopped for a refreshing beer after a considerable walk

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The Swan Inn for our morning coffee

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In his book George mentions coming upon the fulling mill in the little village of Pandy.

My friend, Wikipedia, advises that, from medieval times, the fulling of cloth was undertaken in a water mill, known as a fulling mill. This was the step in woollen cloth making that cleaned the wool … and the Welsh word for a fulling mill is pandy, which appears in many place-names.

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Today we started our climb up into the mountains over the Berwyn Range. The roads are narrow with intermittent laybys to allow vehicles to pass.

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George was quite unusual, and as a youth it was said that he connected with the local Gypsies, and discovered Welsh poetry. Hence his desire to visit the grave of one of the most celebrated poets of 17thC (known as ‘the nightingale of Ceiriog’). .So, following George’s directions to ‘on the South wall’ of Llansilin parish church (using my compass), we found it easily.

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However, we were not able to visit ‘Huw’s Chair’ where he would go to ponder and write, as it is now on private property and not accessible.

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George notes that there were several enormous Yew trees in the church grounds “probably of an antiquity which reached as far back as the days of Henry the Eighth when the yew bow was still the favourite weapon of the men of Britain”. .Apparently, the yew tree is symbolic of immortality and everlasting life, rebirth, changes and regeneration after difficult times, and is often planted in church grounds.

Well, they are still there, and exceptionally beautiful in their older age.

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Our itinerary called for lunch at the Wynnstay Arms at Llanrhaeadr as George had stayed overnight. .Unfortunately, many of the smaller villages in this area don't provide lunch on weekdays. However, we were assured we would receive ‘a really good meal’ at The New Inn at Llangynog, only 10 minutes further on ... which we did.

While we waited for our meal we overheard the owner having a conversation on the phone. It was great as it was our first experience of hearing the Welsh language. Excellent.

It was a lovely spot surrounded by the mountains.

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... with the mist rolling in.

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The mountains were beautiful ... craggy, and rugged. This rock is actually slate.

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.. with an odd distraction along the way. Often they would get frightened and run along the road in front of the car. The heather was lovely.

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Beautifully expansive .. the mountains go on forever

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George stayed in The White Lion, Bala, as did we - with this profound quotation from him at the time.

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The White Lion .. 165 years later.

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Llyn Tegid ( Bala Lake) is the largest natural body of water in Wales. Surrounded by the mountains.

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... on all sides.

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It is 6.0 km long by 0.8 km wide.

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Posted by patsaunder 03:13 Archived in Wales Comments (0)

Aarhus Cathedral (Domkirke)

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Probably the most impressive site in Aarhus is the Domkirke .. also known as St. Clemens Church. It is the focal point of the city right in the middle of town.

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The building of the cathedral was commenced in the last decades of the 12th century, but not completed until 1350. However, there has been much rebuilding and additions over the centuries to achieve the lovely building that stands today. It is the longest and tallest church in the country, at 93 m (305 ft) in length and 96 m (315 ft) in height. and is dedicated to the patron saint of sailors, St. Clemens.

Until the Reformation the interior of the church was decorated with frescoes. Many still remain with the cathedral being the church in Denmark with the largest total area of walls covered by the frescoes. The largest of these depicts St Christopher and St Clement (220 square metres). Another lovely one is St George and the Dragon.

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The altar was added at Easter in 1479. It is spectacular at 12m high. It is dominated by three saint statues and a variety of other carved saint statues, with 24 paintings on the sides. The work has three sets of panels which are displayed at different times during the church calendar .. the Feast (from Christmas morning to Ash Wednesday), the Pasiontide (from Ash Wednesday until Easter morning when the Feast panels is returned), and the Advent panels (from the first Sunday of Advent until Christmas Eve). The Feast day panels are carved and coated with 23.5 carat gold. The altar underwent a thorough restoration from 1975-81 which revealed new motifs on the side panels which had not been uncovered. How wonderful is that!!!

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Made of bronze in 1481, the Font is beautifully carved depicting different scenes from the life of Christ, and nine of the Apostles have been identified. The four legs of the font depict the Four Evangelists .. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

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The Votive Ship, (named Unity) dates back to 1720. It is a custom in many parts of Denmark to hang a ship in the church as a reminder of those lost at sea and of Denmark's close connection to the sea. This is especially symbolic in the Cathedral as it is dedicated to St Clemens, the patron saint of sailors.

The origin of this ship is unknown but it is thought that it may have been ordered by the Russian tsar, Peter the Great, from ship builders in Holland who, instead of sketches sent him a model which was sent by sea to Russia. However, the ship was sunk in a storm but the model made it to shore almost intact. Some fishermen from Aarhus bought the model, and subsequently offered it as a votive gift to the Aarhus Domkirke.

With the model ship's length of 2.65 m and height of 3.50 m, it is the largest church ship in any Danish church.

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On researching the info on the cathedral I learnt that the crypt houses the remains of thousands of people of all ranks. I'm not sure where the crypt actually is, but that is astonishing!!.

However, the church itself has several chapels and tombs, and a number of memorials, some with the actual burial vault beneath the floor..
There are also a number of memorial plaques and grave stones. It would be interesting to know more of the families who are memorialised by these plaques.

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These beautiful metalwork portals form the gates to a family memorial. They are beautifully crafted, and very impressive. There are a number of these in the cathedral.

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There are many more interesting aspects to the Domkirke, including the beautifully pulpit carved in oak, and the spectacular organ built in 1730. No doubt we will be back on our next visit. It's always a pleasure to visit. Maybe next time I will attempt the climb to the tower !!

Posted by patsaunder 00:19 Archived in Denmark Comments (0)

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