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Small town fame

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  • Small town fame

    Hello again.

    Just back home from a short fishing trip to Ebor in northern New South Wales - this time opting to stay a night in the small New England country town of Tenterfield. This is quite a pretty town and the autumn colours of the many planted deciduous trees were very much on show.

    Among it's various claims to fame, two stand out although the first is these days overshadowed by the second.

    The first is that it was at the Tenterfield Town Hall in the late 1890's that Sir Henry Parkes, then Premier of the British colony of New South Wales, gave the "Tenterfield Oration". This speech was one of many that he was to give on the path to the five British colonies occupying the Australian land mass and island of Tasmania becoming a federation of States - viz. the Commonwealth of Australia - in 1901. So, Parkes earned himself the nickname of Father of Federation and the town became known as the Birthplace of the Nation.

    The second is that it was where Peter Woolnough was born and grew up before heading to fame in the big smoke and later the USA. Better known as cabaret singer, dancer and songwriter Peter Allen, the Allen surname was invented when he formed a singing duet under the name of the Allen Brothers. Based on that connection this modest building, apart from being one of the oldest, is the town's most famous and well ahead of the Town Hall for visitors.

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    It's the old Tenterfield Saddlery, long time workplace of Peter Allen's grandfather George Woolnough - he worked there making saddles and repairing harnesses for many decades, often on the verandah with gatherings of locals hanging about canvassing various topics relating to farming, gardening, keeping pets or what not.

    Anyway, the building was made famous through the words of one of Peter Allen's more sentimental pieces "Tenterfield Saddler". This song paid tribute to the simple and honest life of his grandfather, but also conveyed some of Allen's life history including his own father's alcoholism and suicide, changing his name, finding world fame, marrying Liza Minnelli etc. After "I still Call Australia Home", it is probably locally one of his most popular pieces.

    Here it is, if you're interested.


    Last edited by S3ute; 05-07-2024, 10:16 AM.

  • #2
    Interesting, thanks for sharing. Our claim to fame here is Graceland. I've never actually been, having lived here most of my life. It just never interested me, but my stepmom is nuts about Elvis and has been many times. One of my friends (dead now) knew Elvis, as he came in his hobby shop to buy trains. As did Fred Smith, Fred Thompson, and many other famous people. I met many of them (not Elvis though), but one of my favorites was Colonel Robert Morgan.

    The man he most wanted to meet but never did was Jimmy Doolittle.


    • #3

      Hello again - this time from Ballarat on the Victorian Central Goldfields. Once the richest small city in the world and built on the wealth of the yellow metal.

      Anyway, amongst its many architectural charms is this little oddity.

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      This bandstand was erected as a memorial to the band that went down playing on the Titanic. Supposedly the old funeral classic Nearer my God to Thee was among the last of the repertoire. Along with Amazing Grace it’s one of my personal favourites.

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      The funds were raised by a consortium of local brass bands with further donations received from bandsmen across the nation.

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      One little piece of detail was the outline of the ship on the weathervane.

      Anyway, just another piece of whimsy from the antipodes.


      Last edited by S3ute; 06-10-2024, 03:48 AM.


      • #4
        We stopped in Ballarat and did a little panning, but found nothing outside of a few flecks, likely put there to keep the tourist dollars flowing! But the gold museum was well worth a visit.


        • #5
          Originally posted by 50 wulf View Post
          We stopped in Ballarat and did a little panning, but found nothing outside of a few flecks, likely put there to keep the tourist dollars flowing! But the gold museum was well worth a visit.
          Yes, very likely that might have been at Sovereign Hill - and your suspicion that the flecks were planted is probably well founded. However, back in the early 1800’s the names Ballarat and Bendigo rang around the world and thousands of hopefuls turned up. They’re still deep mining the stuff in both localities after all these years.




          • #6
            Hello again - here’s another small town’s brush with fame.

            In this case the regional centre of Young in central New South Wales - cherry capital of the nation but once a thriving gold mining centre known around the world as Lambing Flat.

            Everyone will likely have heard of the statement “reading the riot act” (often to their kids) but Lambing Flat was one of the two places in this country where the Riot Act was actually read as a forewarning to a disperse or be shot intent on the part of the authorities.

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            This occurred in 1861 when the resident European miners had been waging a series of savage attacks on the Chinese miners. After several rounds of rioting the police had arrested a number of miners and held them at the local barracks. When a mob turned up to free them the Riot Act was read by the Gold Commissioner followed by an exchange of shots and a mounted police charge which broke up the mob.

            The other reading was in Ballarat where similar violent attacks on Chinese miners and a rebellion against the mining licence fees led to the erection of the Eureka Stockade and prospect of an armed insurrection against the Crown authorities. The rebellion was also put down by force but the Eureka flag is still used as a symbol of resistance in contemporary times - probably a bit like the Confederate flag in your neck of the woods.

            A bit of history there anyway. Worth visiting if only for the cherries which come into season around Christmas.


            Last edited by S3ute; 06-17-2024, 05:43 AM.


            • #7
              Hello again.

              From the recent trip south here’s a postcard of another small town with a bit of a tale. This time it’s Murrumburrah in the Hilltop Country of Central New South Wales.

              It’s a nice enough town with a gold mining heritage and service centre for surrounding crop-livestock farms. One of its attractions is, like a growing number of others, some silo art capturing something of the region’s agricultural flavour.

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              A more significant attraction for military history buffs is its role as the birthplace of the Australian Light Horse in 1897 when the first contingent was raised for the Boer War. Many others followed but this is where it started.

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              There’s a nice monument in the Main Street signifying that milestone.

              However, across the road there’s a much newer memorial to Bill the Bastard - not necessarily the epitaph that you’d personally hope to have. But, in this case, the honour goes to a horse. And not any horse for that matter - rather the country’s most famous military horse from WW1.

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              Bill was a large horse standing at 7.1 hands at the shoulder and had the reputation of being virtually unrideable. Except by one man a Major Michael Shanahan who was something of a horse whisperer and saw potential in the big horse. That’s Bill and the Major taken in the Sinai during the battles against the Turks near Gaza.

              Bill’s fame comes mainly from his role in the Battle of Romani. During the heavy fighting Shanahan saw that four Tasmanian troopers had had their mounts shot out from under them and were surrounded and facing certain death. He rode through the fire and picked up all four men - two behind and one standing in each stirrup and rode back through the fire to safety. That’s the weight of five men and their rifles.

              Here’s the monument to that unprecedented ride.

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              That wasn’t the end of the story - after having a drink Shanahan rode Bill back into the battle and stayed engaged under fire for another five hours until Shanahan was shot in the leg. He passed out from lack of blood and slumped in the saddle - Bill didn’t bolt but rather quietly walked back to the picket lines over several kilometres delivering the Major to the veterinarians. Shanahan lost his leg and was awarded the DSO. Bill was retired to non-combat duties as a pack horse and died in Turkey in 1924. One of only a handful of the 30,000 Australian horses sent overseas that survived the war - only one came home, but that’s a story for another day.

              Here’s to Bill anyway.


              Last edited by S3ute; 06-18-2024, 07:42 PM.


              • #8
                Hello again.

                A couple of years ago I was invited to participate in a workshop on range management in Perth, Western Australia. The frau and mother-in-law came along and as part of the trip we headed out into the wheat lands of that State to the hamlet of Hyden which is famous for a local geological feature - Wave Rock.


                It’s an interesting feature created by eons of water runoff weathering a sandstone formation to create the wave effect.

                The region is also dotted with a myriad of salt and freshwater lakes. One of the latter located near another small town of no great size - motor garage, couple of pubs, wheat silos, railway siding and a few houses - was back in 1964 the scene of a record that really hadn’t been broken since.

                This is Lake Dumbleyung - 13 kms long and 6 kms wide - where British speedster Colin Campbell, son of Sir Malcolm Campbell, set a world water speed record of 444.71 km/hr in his hydroplane Bluebird K7.

                That record has been subsequently beaten by others but in that same year Campbell had earlier broken the land speed record in his jet powered car Bluebird Proteus CN7 of 648.7 km/hr on the salt flats at Lake Eyre in South Australia. This record of breaking both land and water speed records in the same year by a single person is still intact.

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                There’s a replica of Bluebird K7 in a local park and monument to Campbell on Dumbleyung’s Main Street.

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                Worth a visit if you’re ever in that part of the world.


                Last edited by S3ute; 06-19-2024, 08:04 PM.


                • #9
                  That is some pretty cool history. In my youth I was impressed with land speed records and read a lot about Sir Malcolm along with Art Arfons. Arfons was from Akron Ohio which isn’t far from Pittsburgh. We host my wife’s family reunion here at the house every other year. A few years back my mother in law invites her cousin Polly. So I’m talking to cousin Polly and she mentions her daughter who is married to Tim Arfons. Immediately I ask if this would be Art’s son. She was amazed that I knew about Art and his land speed records. So my link to fame is my wife’s mother’s cousin’s son in law is Art Arfon’s son.


                  • #10
                    Hello again.

                    Yes, those land and water speed attempts were quite interesting and your connection to the Arfons family likewise.

                    They certainly generated a lot of interest hereabouts - especially in 1964 when Colin Campbell was trying initially to set the land speed record at Lake Eyre and later the water speed record over in the west at Dumbleyung. I was 13 at the time and followed it mainly in the newspapers and movie newsreels. The water speed records drew a further round of interest here later on when an Australian, Ken Warby, set new records on Lake Blowering in 1977 and again in 1978 with a boat powered by a Dassalt Mirage fighter engine. This record, 511.11 km/hr, still stands.

                    No doubt Campbell would have had a crack at the longer course at Blowering if he had had the chance to - unfortunately, the dam was only completed as part of the Snowy Scheme in 1968 and he was killed in a crash on Coniston Water in 1967.

                    Going back to his Lake Eyre exploit he was also a bit unfortunate with timing. He had crashed and written off his car at Bonneville in the trials in 1960 and when the time came to try out the rebuilt car in 1964 they decided to move to South Australia where the lake bed was estimated to offer a running track almost twice as long as Bonneville could. The new Bluebird car was designed to run well in excess of 700 km/hr and it hadn’t rained at Lake Eyre for nine years, so it looked like he was going to break the previous records by a fairly significant margin.

                    Unfortunately, it rained and the course ended up with 3” of water over it - by the time of the record attempts the track was still damp which hindered the car reaching its engineered potential. Nevertheless, Campbell still set a new record and on his final runs it was getting faster giving the teasing hint that it really could have done something special. Nevertheless, the record was set for a wheel driven car and that wasn’t broken until about 2001.

                    Men and their machines.


                    Last edited by S3ute; Yesterday, 10:47 AM.