Sunday, 24 August 2014

Capertee Valley Wildlife Guides - Mammals


Capertee Heritage is pleased to host a series of wildlife guides written by Peter Ridgeway for the Hawkesbury-Nepean Catchment Management Authority. As well as this excellent publication look out for Peter's guides on Capertee Valley Frogs/Reptiles and also Birds.

Displaying Echidna PR.JPG
Echidna
Image courtesy Peter Ridgeway

A free access download of this guide is available at the link below:

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?ui=2&ik=e3a84fe2f8&view=att&th=1476aca96b8f9eda&attid=0.3&disp=inline&realattid=f_hy0qgmtb2&safe=1&zw

Capertee Wildlife Guide - Frogs & Reptiles


Capertee Heritage is pleased to host a series of wildlife guides written by Peter Ridgeway for the Hawkesbury-Nepean Catchment Management Authority. As well as this excellent publication lookout for Peter's guides on Capertee Valley Birds and Mammals.

Displaying Diamond Python PR.JPG
Diamond Python
image courtesy Peter Ridgeway

A free access download of this guide is available at the link below:

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?ui=2&ik=e3a84fe2f8&view=att&th=1476aca96b8f9eda&attid=0.1&disp=inline&realattid=f_hy0qgms70&safe=1&zw

Capertee Wildlife Guides - Birds


Capertee Heritage is pleased to host a series of wildlife guides written by Peter Ridgeway for the Hawkesbury-Nepean Catchment Management Authority.As well as this excellent publication lookout for Peter's guides on Capertee Valley Reptiles and Mammals.

Rainbow Bee-eater
Image courtesy  Edwin Vella

A free access download of this guide is available at the link below.
https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?ui=2&ik=e3a84fe2f8&view=att&th=1476aca96b8f9eda&attid=0.2&disp=inline&realattid=f_hy0qgmst1&safe=1&zw




Sunday, 16 March 2014

Portland Art Show 2014

One of the artistic highlights of the Central Tablelands cultural calendar is the annual Portland Art Show. Early this month saw the 38th annual exhibition of the Portland Art Purchase Society which was held at the historic Crystal Theatre. Although gloriously old fashioned this popular non-elitist festival reflects well on the community of Portland and surrounding district. Congratulations must go to the organisers, volunteers and sponsors of this wonderful event. For those who didn't enter this year, there is always 2015.


With over 300 paintings on show there was something that would appeal to most tastes although as with similar events there were a handful of weak works. Nearly all the images were in the realist tradition and as usual Plein Air (or outdoor painting) was much in evidence. There was a special focus on images of Portland and the surrounding landscape. Sadly, there were too few images of the area while there were many views of exotic overseas holiday destinations -perhaps a reflection of greater wealth in the area.There were some fine studies of the Capertee Valley by several artists including works by Trish Bennet, Anne E. Smith and Peter Whelan. There was also a lovely study of the Newnes Hotel by Robert Keen. Hopefully next year there will be more images of our district.

Flower painting was much in evidence this year and the exhibition highlighted the work of Wanda Driscoll, an artist who works in watercolour and oil. Driscoll’s high key palette found several admirers when I visited the show. Overall my favourite works at the exhibition were Doreen Shaw’s gouache In Farming Circles, and the amusing watercolours painted by Melody Stewart. Sadly there was no Peoples Choice vote this year. If there had been, my vote would have been for Debra Balloch’s fine oil Beyond My Garden, a well observed angular treescape which broke away from the clich├ęd gumtree painting style. 

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Railway Guide to New South Wales (part one)

The expansion of the New South Wales railway network led to the NSW Government publishing the The Railway Guide of New South Wales: for the use of Tourists, Excursionists, and Others in 1879. Further network expansion led to an updated illustrated edition in 1884. Below we read the first entry on the partially opened section of the Wallerawang to Mudgee branch line. At the time of writing the end of the line was at Capertee.

Original kerosene mine, Hartly Vale
from The Railway Guide to NSW (1884)

Extension, Wallerawang to Mudgee

There is now in progress an extension from Wallerawang to Mudgee, a distance of about 85 miles. In May, 1882, a section of this line from Wallerawang to Capertee, a distance of 22 miles, was opened for traffic. The line passes through very rough country, the scenery resembling that passed between Mt. Victoria and Emu Plains, and in the vicinity of Capertee are some views that are unsupassed by the most noted on the Blue Mountains. Of the views near Capertee may be mentioned the Crown Ridge, a lofty and rocky mountain, from which a magnificent view is obtained; the Gorge, the rocks here resembling the rocks at the entrance to Port Jackson; and the Capertee Caves, interesting on account of the many impressions, apparently made by human hands, on the sides and walls. A great deal of traffic now passes through Capertee, making it a busy place. The station lies on the border of the extensive mining area embracing Gulgong, Mudgee, Cudgegong, Windeyer, Hargraves, Sofala, &c., and goods are received for these places. In other parts agriculture is carried on, and there is also forwarded from Capertee a considerable amount of pastoral produce and live stock. The extension to Mudgee is being pushed forward with all speed, and the opening is to take place on the 30th June 1884. With the extension of the line beyond Capertee this station will lose much of its present importance. Between Wallerawang and Capertee are some extensive lime quarries, and in the district splendid seams of coal exist, which however are not at present worked. Capertee contains three hotels.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Railway Guide of New South Wales (part 2)

The expansion of the New South Wales railway network led to the NSW Government publishing the The Railway Guide of New South Wales: for the use of Tourists, Excursionists, and Others in 1879 and 1884. Further network expansion led to an updated illustrated editions in 1886. Below we read part of the entry on the recently completed Wallerawang to Mudgee branch line transcribed from the 1886 edition. 

Zig-Zag railway, illustration by J C Hoyte
from 1886 Railway Guide of New South Wales 

Extension Wallerawang to Mudgee


The history of the Railway Extension to Mudgee shows a splendid proof of the success of persistency. For many years this extension was fought for determinedly by the Mudgee people; but various Governments, deterred by the heavy estimates given as to the cost of the line, and the dim prospect of a remunerative return, would not for a long time listen to the appeals of those interested, until at last one Ministry, seeing beyond the mountain barrier a wealthy land of promise and the opening up and development of mineral resources and wide areas of land, determined to propose the line, a proposition which met with the approval of the then Parliament. Accordingly the line was proceeded with, and in September, 1884, the Mudgee people heard the whistle of the iron horse as it gaily made its way across the plains bordering the quiet Cudgegong. The line starts from Wallerawang, which long enjoyed a greater share of prosperity by reason of its position as the junction of the Mudgee road with the Western Railway.

Piper’s Flat, 110 miles; 3,187 feet above sea-level. – The line runs north-west from Wallerawang outwards to Piper’s Flat, the first station; the country is uninteresting, the land being poor and timbered with stunted specimens of white gum. The station is kept busy only by the mineral traffic, the Wallerawang Company’s Coal-mine being in the vicinity, which, in 1884, had a contract to supply the Government with some 75,000 tons [of] coal at the remarkably low rate of 5s. per ton. The district is essentially a mining one, near the station coal is in abundance, and spread over the locality are extensive deposits of lime, which is principally shipped from the next platform, Ben Bullen, at 121 miles.

Capertee, 127 miles; 2,739 feet above sea-level. – The line from Ben Bullen to Capertee is uninteresting until within a short distance of Capertee, when, after emerging from the darkness of the Capertee tunnel, the traveller sees spread before him a glorious panoramic view of Capertee Valley. The railway skirts round its edges, and down below him extends the valley, its uneven and thickly timbered surface heaving, it would appear, like mighty waves. Far back stands a frowning battlement of dark bold rocks forming a head and crown to the body of the valley below, these cliffs wonderfully square and regular being aptly termed the Crown Ridge. The train in the fall of the year clears this spot towards sunset, and the long golden sunbeams of the evening as they gleam across the waving tree-tops in the valley, light up this crown with golden refulgence of light smoothing down its forbidding sternness and setting gems over its rocky face. The railway runs round this valley for some distance on its way to Rylstone, and between the steep cuttings a fair vista of this picturesque valley is every now and again seen. The valley contains good timber; but of course the difficulty of transit militates against any use being made of the forests. Good sporting is to be had in among the tall grey-gums, game being plentiful in the valley, and the kangaroos are as thick as sheep on a good run. Capertee cannot be called a thriving place; it boasts of one inn and occasionally sends a little traffic over towards the Turon (14 miles), where some gold seekers are working.

Ilford, 149 miles; 2,450 feet above sea-level. – Between Ilford and Capertee the line runs for some distance as already mentioned along the head of the Capertee valley, the line crawling as it were along the side of the cliffs that drop down into the valley. The cuttings are both numerous and extensive, and at times an uneasy feeling creeps over the traveller, that one of the overhanging rocks above him will fall across the ironway. The nature of the country at this place is that known as “rotten,” and in order to make traffic secure, and to prevent the probability of danger, the trains always run through in the daylight. The scenery is bold and striking, the mountains towering hundreds of feet overhead and the passing views are sufficiently varied to show a long succession of panoramic views as the trains sped onwards.




The original article continues with further descriptions of the trip towards Mudgee. The Railway Guide to New South View can be viewed at Lithgow Library or the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Local Plants: Pin-cushions in the long paddock

Whether we like it or not many exotics have naturalised in our area. One cheerful immigrant is the Pin-cushion flower (Scabiosa atropurpurea), a plant that's become a common site on local road verges during late spring and summer. This annual or short lived perennial has many flowering varieties and in our area is most commonly seen in its lilac-mauve or dark red forms. This plant grows to about 30-40 cm high and is highly attractive to bees, butterfly's and other insects that feed from its daisy-like flowers. The plant reproduces by seed which are easily spread by the strong winds found on road edges.


The lilac-mauve forms of 
this plant seem the most common

Pin-cushion plants originate from south-west Europe and North Africa and seem to have arrived in our area as a garden escape. The plant enjoys the climatic conditions of the central tablelands. Extremely hardy these plants can take temperatures of -20 C as well as scorching summer heat. They prefer a neutral pH soil so enjoy the less acidic conditions found in the villages of our region, especially near the the town of Portland which is famous for its lime deposits.


The dark red form of this plant
is sometimes known as the Egyptian Rose

While the pin-cushion plant has found a place along many local roadsides there is little evidence of the plant encroaching into bushland. The green roadside strip, sometimes known as the long paddock, is a fertile place to grow for some plants as water regularly runs off the gentle camber of the highway while the granite road base below the thin soil provides valuable minerals not usually found elsewhere. The plants toughness may account for the Scabiosa becoming a common weed around the world.

So next time you drive along the highway lookout for these charming exotic world traveller.

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