19 September 2012
We hit the road early this morning to reach Leeton, about 50 kilometres away, for a tour of the SunRice factory at 9.30, but unfortunately my navigational skills were absent today and we got lost!! So, we didn’t make it for the tour. When we found the Information Centre the tour has been discontinued, thank goodness.
The success of the MIA is largely due to the success of the rice industry.
Trials carried out by the NSW Department of Agriculture at the Yanco Experiment Farm showed irrigated rice production was suited to the temperate Mediterranean climate and heavy clay soils of the region. The first commercial crops were grown in 1924. The region has become the most efficient and innovative rice growing and processing area in
. SunRice is the international brand of
Ricegrowers Limited, which has its headquarters in Leeton. SunRice is owned by about 2,000 Australian
rice growers..SunRice produces and markets an extensive range of rice and
value-added rice food products. It’s Australia ’s
largest exporter of processed food products and fifth largest rice food company
in the world. Australia
This area is home to some of
most successful wineries including De Bortoli, Casellas and McWilliams. 300,000 tonnes of quality wine grapes are
grown annually, that is around ten times bigger than the Australia . Hunter Valley
Leeton & Yanco exist due to the activity of wealthy Irish landholder, Samuel McCaughey, who on his property ‘
North Yanko’, demonstrated that
irrigation was possible. He built dams
and re-directed water on his own land to show politicians that it could be
done. His influence led government to
commence constructing a giant irrigation scheme in 1906, and in 1912 the
Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA) was officially opened. McCaughey was knighted in 1905.
was built in 1899
to host a visit by Prince Edward, Prince of Wales. It now accommodates the boarders and
classrooms of North Yanko
Mansion . Yanco
|Sir Samuel McCaughey's mansion - now the Yanco Agricultural High School - Leeton|
|Roxy theatre - Main Street - Leeton|
As we travelled around today we could see water lying around in the paddocks as a result of the flooded Mirrool Creek in March.
As we drive around and see oranges left on the trees we wonder why? We were told by one of the growers the price they receive at the moment is $100 per tonne and it costs them more than $100 per tonne to pick. Hence they are left on the trees, what a waste!
Henry Lawson arguably Australia’s most read and revered poet and correspondent for the greater part of the 20th century, spent almost two years as a resident of Leeton from 1916-17.
Henry had been struggling with alcoholism, becoming less productive, depressive and at some risk. He spent time in gaol and in mental institutions. At the request of some influential friends, the NSW Premier agreed to help Lawson dry out and organized to have a job created in Leeton. Leeton and Henry were a match. On one hand a prohibition town, on the other, an alcoholic who needed to escape temptation. Unaware that the job offer was an intervention he accepted the position of publicist of the MIA. Lawson and his friend, patron and housekeeper Mrs. Byers stepped off the train from
sometime in January 1916. Sydney
Lawson was a writer first and found the constraints of producing promotional snippets for the region increasingly frustrating. He resigned in November 1916 on learning his contract was being reviewed.
He withdrew his resignation, but less that a year on he returned to
. He died in Mrs. Byers’ Sydney home in 1922 of a cerebral
|Henry Lawson's residence - Leeton|
On our return journey wetravelled through some lovely undulating, grazing and cropping country including Barellan, which is the birthplace of Evonne Goolagong.
|Giant Tennis Racquet & ball - Barellan|
20 September 2012
We headed north on sealed back roads for about 55 kilometres and missed all the traffic. After turning east on the Mid
Western Highway we
climbed up through the ranges to Sims Gap.
Since we left North East Victoria at the end of August we have been
following the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers, so have been in very flat country
and it was a nice change to travel through the hills.
As we left Griffith we passed through a huge range of agricultural and horticultural country such as rice in flooded paddocks, oranges, olives, vegetables, grapes, canola, wheat to mention a few. Further down the road there were eight new enormous broiler sheds, unoccupied at this stage, but the chicks will no doubt be there shortly.
We made our way through the sleepy little town of
Springs with many of the deserted shop with their windows boarded up. Rankins
We arrived in
West Wyalong which is at the junction of the Mid Western
and Newell Highways. The original
occupants of the district were the Wiradjuri people. Explorer John Oxley was the first European to
investigate the area in 1817, prophesying that “From want of timber, grass and
water, it would never be inhabited by civilized man.” Despite this statement squatters began to
settle the district in 1833 recognising the area’s agricultural potential. Vast sheep and cattle runs were introduced
and the area became known as ‘The Blands’ after a doctor. Sydney
It was not until Joseph Neeld discovered gold in 1893 that a centralized settlement developed. The town of
was laid out in 1894 to service the
new population of up to 10,000. However,
a settlement to the west at the “Main
Camp” had already developed which also boasted the “White Tank”, the only established water supply. Hence in 1895 Wyalong West
Wyalong was officially laid out.
West Wyalong’s crooked main street
reflects these days as it follows the original bullock track that curved around
trees and gold diggings. The Wyalong
fields were reported as one of the most productive gold fields in the state
until the 1920s.
After lunch we took Mollie for a walk and examined the Douglas DC3 Dakota – built in 1943 in
Oklahoma City, the plane was donated to the West Wyalong
Lions Club who made it a feature in the
outside our caravan park. Lions Park
|Douglas DC3 Dakota in the park - West Wyalong|
With over 220 roses the Rose Garden is situated across the road.
|Curved main street of West Wyalong - followed the original bullock tracks around the trees|
We walked along one side of the main street with some very old, well kept buildings, down to the walking track (which ended up being the flood drain) and back to the caravan park.
|Park - West Wyalong|
21 September 2012
We took Mollie for a walk first thing this morning then took our lunch and headed north through Ungarie (which is where the AFL football family, the Danihers, hail from) which is in the heart of the ‘Wheat Country’. They are bailing
here at the moment. Lucerne
Ever since we left the
we have encountered an enormous
amount of Patersons Curse – some of the paddocks are purple. Murrumbidgee River
Our first stop was
which is an unexpected oasis in the heart of the wide, brown Riverina
plains. The lake dominates the town and
is home to many bird species including the rare black cockatoo. This is where we sat and had our lunch beside
the lake while Mollie had fun chasing the swallows. Lake Cargelligo
|Mollie chasing swallows at lunchtime - Lake Cargelligo|
As we left
we noticed 8 huge pylons with lights on the top. It is Lake Cargelligo ’s 1st Integrated
Solar Thermal & Energy Storage Power Station 3MWe. Australia
|Solar Thermal Power Station - Lake Cargelligo|
We headed to Condoblin which is the area explored by John Oxley in 1817 and Thomas Mitchell in 1836.
|Main street - Condobolin|
The town of
was proclaimed in 1859. The railway arrived in 1898 and the town’s
population boomed, assisted by finds in 1885 of copper north of the town and in
1896 of gold in the district, north-west of the town. A major copper and gold mine was in operation
at Condobolin from 1898 until around 1910.
Agriculture is still a major influence on the town, production having
expanded with the damming of the Condobolin in 1935. Wheat, barley, canola, wool, sheep and cattle
are produced in the district. In more
recent years irrigation has brought horticulture and cotton to the Lachlan
River area. Lachlan River