We sent photographer Carolyn Hide on a road trip to capture a few images of local culture – but she found so much more.
Carolyn is one of our team of talented Media Associates Arts OutWest has been sending out on assignment to capture photos for our new Culture Maps Central NSW website.
Carolyn had been given a few specific targets for her travels (pictures we still needed for the maps) and used these as an excuse to explore back roads, towns and villages in between. She documented her most recent journey and – rainy, chilly weather and all – it’s wonderful inspiration to grab a camera, jump in the car and let the maps take you on a road trip adventure through our region (meeting the locals along the way is the bonus.)
The Ramblings: Discovering Art Out West
By Carolyn Hide
Well, here we go. We had a rough plan of where we might venture, with the help of Arts OutWest. The dawn had just broken and, shiver, shiver, it was zero degrees as we buckled up for the journey. No clouds in sight. A good start for our trip. As we headed west, the sun was sparkling on the very heavy frost lying in the paddocks. Quite magical really. Just as well we have heating in the car though as it hit -4°C as we travelled west.
We never expect an uneventful journey. That would be too boring. Our first ‘event’ was being slowed by a convoy of sheep headed for a ‘holiday’. Some of the lucky ones must have paid extra as they had the joy of being on the top level, enjoying the view and the fresh (and I do mean fresh) air. We bade them a fond farewell as we slid past them to be stopped just up the road by the inevitable road work. It didn’t take long for our turn to come and we sidled past intriguing machinery making our road better and safer for future trips.
After a coffee to warm us, we continued on our way to find our first display of art out west. Surprisingly, this was found in a location not known for art but for science and space exploration. Parkes Radio Telescope [pictures above] has a gallery in their visitors’ centre. The walls were filled with photographs of stars and space-related images. These photos were finalists in the ‘David Malin Awards’ for Astrophotography. The Central West Astronomical Society website described the winning photos as “…pictures that captured the beauty of the sky and the intrinsic interest of astronomy in an aesthetically pleasing manner.” These images were as fascinating as the Dish outside. The café out the back was the perfect place for a bite to eat.
On the road again and we traversed some very straight and interesting roadways through Eugowra and Gooloogong. Places we need to explore on another trip.
Our destination was everything we had remembered. Cowra – a town filled with history, intrigue and beauty. The sun was setting fast so we wended our way to the Cowra Italy Friendship Monument [pictures above] This monument was constructed in a very sensitive and poignant manner. Two hands shaking sends a very powerful message of friendship, acceptance, unity and camaraderie. A worthy monument to be one of the first significant things you see coming into Cowra from the east.
As the hour was getting late we decided to stay the night in this beautiful town called Cowra.
We woke to find our beautiful sunshining day was a past memory. The storm clouds gathered and, though the country needed this life giving rain, it was not the ideal weather for photography. We had many places to visit and some were inside or undercover so the visit was not in vain.
Our first place of call for the day was the Cowra Visitors Information Centre. Not your everyday, ordinary visitors centre; one everyone should take time to visit and not just drive past.
We were greeted by a very friendly gentleman who was full of knowledge about the town and shared with us many new works of art that were being birthed in the town.
The renowned Cowra artist, Glenn Morton, has been commissioned to create a new mural on the wall in Kendal Street. This is to replace one he painted 25 years ago which had become quite tired. When we visited he was well on his way to finishing it and we will be very pleased to see the final result. From the imagery we witnessed it appears this mural will highlight the beautiful rolling canola hills surrounding Cowra. The perfect subject matter for such a work of art.
The visitor guide also highly recommended the murals painted on the pylons [above] of the Lachlan River Bridge just across the road which were painted by Kym Freeman, a local aboriginal artist. The best location in rain, with the bridge forming a rather large canopy to keep us mostly dry.
While we were in the visitors centre, we were also encouraged to view the POW Hologram Theatre presentation.
I don’t know how to adequately describe in writing the powerful emotions that were stirred by this amazing demonstration. We were informed that this hologram performance was devised more than 20 years ago. You would have thought this was cutting edge technology of today not decades old. Amazing. It tells the story of the POW breakout in 1944 in such a moving and heart wrenching way. A definite highlight of our trip.
We went around the back to find a small group busily engaged in researching the history of this wonderful town and its surrounds. They were most welcoming, telling us of their recent finds including a promotional poster seeking donations for a new cot design for sick infants. This was called the Cowra Cot. The detailed artwork in the border alone was something to behold. Ray Walsh, the President of the Cowra Historical Society, [see the pictures above] soon entered the petite room bearing coffee for the faithful researchers. He introduced himself and proceeded to explain that they were very close to finding a permanent home for their museum. This will be a very welcomed addition to places to visit while you are in Cowra.
Time was fleeting and the rain was falling so we decided to hit the road, as they say, towards home.
As usual, we found a ‘back’ road to avoid the highway as much as possible. Though there was much precipitation on our windscreen, we still could enjoy the countryside as we passed by on our way to Carcoar [pictures above].
Carcoar had not changed much since we were last there. The quintessential country village with museums and shops that were most interesting. We stepped into the old court house and found a pottery studio [pictures above], full of a very diverse array of pots and statues. Louise Purcell, the local potter, has quite a unique and special talent for producing something beautiful out of clay. Something suitable for everyone.
One door across from the potter’s shop and you find yourself thrown back in time; somewhere you would not want to be if you found yourself on the other side of the law! The court house [pictures above] has been lovingly preserved for all to see how life was in a previous time. It also houses some fascinating artefacts from times gone by.
Another museum can be found across the bridge. The Stoke Stable Museum is housed in a building thought to be the oldest in Carcoar, built in 1849. It is an ‘open’ museum where farm equipment can be perused both in the open air and behind open shutters. For those who use modern implements, this is a collection to wonder and ascertain their various reason for existence.
On our way again and we ‘turned right’ at Blayney to seek yet more country roads. We travelled through Newbridge, Rockley and Black Springs before finding ourselves in Oberon, a town known to us very well indeed. The previously mentioned towns need to be revisited on a day less dreary.
As the hour was getting late we thought our events were over for the day.
Uneventful! No. This journey still had one more surprise for us.
We passed by the Oberon Tarana Heritage Railway yard to just photograph some rolling stock and the platform from the other side of the fence.
We were spotted by two chaps diligently working on one of the old carriages in the shed. One called to us and invited us onto their side of the fence. This was most amusing and enlightening. We were shown through the old carriages being restored by the president of the railway, Greg Bourne. He was very generous with his time, explaining their current state of restoration and the plans for the future.
We had another surprise in store when, chatting with the other volunteer on duty, I found out that we were educated in Sydney schools literally located next to each other and that we were students in the same era so probably passed each other on our way to school. Small world indeed.
What a wonderful two days. Another adventure to include in our travel stories.