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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Wallaroo, Australia

The largest seaside town on the Copper Coast

Wallaroo Town Hall, originally built in 1902, was destroyed by fire and then rebuilt in 1919.

White settlement in what's now Wallaroo started in the the mid 1850s as the land was granted as a pastoral lease. With copper being discovered nearby in 1859, a deep water port was needed and the town of Wallaroo came into being.

The copper ore that was mined at Moonta and Kadina needed to be smeltered and so, what became the largest smelting operation outside of Wales (and largest in the Southern Hemisphere) was established in Wallaroo in 1861. The smelters operated until 1923, with the falling price of copper, the mines closed and soon after so did the Smelters. The town survived due to its port, it's used to load shipments of grain to the international market, as well as being a popular holiday destination.

During the mining era, each Christmas the rotunda was the location of Christmas carol concerts. It originally overlooked the bay, but was moved to this park in 1927. (I did the historic town walk, complete with very informative brochure!)

Loved this, still the town Fire Station!

This had been the town railway station, it still has the original signals, it's now the library.

Station sign from a genteel era, the Ladies Waiting room.

This is what is left today of the Smelters complex, the chimney stack in the distance was the largest of 12 that were on the site.

A historic photo of the Smelters from the Wallaroo museum. It shows the size of the complex.

Some more remnants of the Smelters in a redeveloped park next to the beach.

The only part of the Smelters complex still intact, this was the Smelters office, which has now been converted into heritage holiday accomodation. The beach infront is still called 'Office Beach' as it was the beach infront of the office!

The grain silos and wharf, also the ferry terminal for the ferry that goes across Spencers Gulf to Eyre Peninsula and cuts the travel time quite considerably!

The Wallaroo boat ramp, fishing is a major leisure pastime for the holiday makers and nearby residents. The boat ramp was well patronised this morning! The carpark was full of cars with their empty trailers as the owners had gone out for a day on the water. It was perfect weather with the sea totally calm. In recent years a marina has been built at Wallaroo, so people can now buy a house there and just park their boat in the backyard!

Just near the boat ramp was the wharf for the commercial fishing boats, not that many were in port.

Next to the Town Hall is this memorial. It was placed there by the 'admirers of Caroline Carleton' she is buried in the Wallaroo cemetery. Caroline Carleton's claim to fame was that she wrote the words to Song of Australia, she wrote the words as a poem and a musician called Carl Linger wrote the music. She had moved to Wallaroo to live with her daughter who had started a school there. Song of Australia had been one of the contenders for the official Australian National Anthem, but no-one outside of South Australia really knew it, so it lost out to Advance Australia Fair which was well-known in the eastern (and more populous states) in the referendum to choose the new National Anthem. Sadly Song of Australia isn't well known even in South Australia anymore and in my opinion it's a nicer song!

Wallaroo is a lovely quiet, (very quiet while I was there!) seaside town. There are nice beaches and an enclosed swimming area near the jetty. The summer months sees a lot more noise and activity in the town!  

View from the jetty, showing the swimming enclosure (called Wateroo!!) and office beach beyond.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Whanganui/Wanganui, New Zealand

Lovely town next to the Whanganui river

Driving down the west coast to Wellington from New Plymouth, Whanganui is the perfect stop. I didn't know very much about the town beforehand, and I discovered it's quite lovely.

At the edge of the town, if you're driving in from the direction of New Plymouth, is a large recreation park called Virginia Water. Judging from the amount of people I saw there, it's a very popular spot for the locals.

Lots of ducks!

The town had been quite prosperous as reflected by the heritage architecture that can be seen in the town today.

Queens Park Whanganui is the cultural centre of the town, there's an art gallery, a regional gallery with a major display of Maori artefacts and the war memorial centre.

The main street of the city centre decorated with hanging baskets, all very English to me! (There are hanging baskets galore during the summer months in the UK, towns, pubs, High Streets all have them)

The monument in the middle of the round about is dedicated to a former mayor. It was unveiled on this site in 1871 and then moved in 1906 to make way for a tram. The tram is no more, and in 1993 the monument arrived back in its original location. The heritage buildings are all nicely restored, it all makes for a pretty town.

Whanganui has an Opera House, built in 1899 and still in use today. 

Whanganui was built by the river, that made a nice location to have lunch. After lunch had a walk along the river and found a paddleboat. Thrilled to see it as I had no idea paddle steamers were used in New Zealand. She arrived in Whanganui in 1899 and has been restored to her original condition. (Was thrilled to see a paddle steamer as they are a nostalgic connection with South Australia as they were the main form of river transport in the past.)
The Waimarie, behind her the tower on the hill is the Durrie Hill Memorial Tower, it was built in 1919 as a memorial to the New Zealanders killed in World War I. The red building to the right is the underground elevator that takes people up to the top of the hill. That's famous in its own right as one of only two public underground elevators that currently exist in the world.

The Waimarie centre which celebrates the paddle steamer era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The style of this building and its wooden construction makes it look to me as a building that should be in the United States. It has that cowboy (western) aura from what I've seen in movies!

I totally love this! Ultimate quaintness, I found it after consulting a map for public toilets. This is the 'Ladies' Rest' built in 1930 and they are public toilets but originally it provided some respite (rest) for the ladies who came in from the surrounding farmlands for a day in the town. (Later, men's toilets were built, they are to the right of the picture, a much smaller building and no rest involved!)

Whanganui was lovely, it's a beautifully maintained town which makes it a pleasure to visit. For more active tourists, the Whanganui river is the place to go. It attracts cyclists (on its banks!) hikers and canoeists. The Whanganui river is the longest navigable river in New Zealand. (There's a random bit of information for you all!)

Monday, 12 June 2017

The Copper Coast, Australia

Or alternatively Australia's 'Little Cornwall'

Just 2 hours drive north of Adelaide are a group of small towns that owe their existence to the discovery of copper in the area. The state of South Australia to an extent owes its existence to the discovery of copper in the mid 1800s as it rescued the state from its money woes.Why 'Little Cornwall'? Well the miners who came out to work in the mines were from Cornwall, they brought along their skills and traditions. This is the place to get your Cornish pastie! When the mining of copper was no longer viable these towns survived as ports or to support the local farming industry and now as tourist towns.

Port Hughes jetty, it had been a sleepy little village with a jetty until holiday makers discovered it and now there are large double storey holiday homes in the town.

There are still remnants of that small seaside location with the tavern, the petrol pumps out the front and a store. 

The largest copper deposits were found in the area that became known as Moonta. Copper ore was found in a wombat burrow, the state has a lot to thank that wombat for! As miners came to the area, businesses set themselves up to supply the miners, the town of Moonta was a commercial centre not residential as miners tended to live on their holdings. For a small country town in South Australia, it has a number of substantial buildings reflecting the prosperity that was around.

Moonta Uniting Church (former Methodist church)

Moonta Bay from the jetty, revisiting a childhood holiday location! A lot more housing! We stayed in the caravan park and it wasn't quite so built up!

Kadina which is not on the coast, is the largest town in the region. It was also established due to the copper mines nearby, confusingly called the Wallaroo mines even though they weren't at Wallaroo. (which had no copper mines!)

Wallaroo had the smelters to convert the ore to metal and a deep water port to export it all. When the price of copper fell, the smelters weren't viable anymore so they were closed and demolished. All that's left above ground is this chimney. The workers at the smelters were Welsh so the chimneys they built were square, the miners who were encouraged to come from Cornwall, built the chimneys they were used to, round ones. I know far too much about industrial chimneys thanks to travelling in South Australia! I've been to Cornwall and saw the chimneys there and thought 'It's true they did built round ones!'

Wallaroo jetty, still a working industrial jetty as there are grain silos next to it. The long white tube on the left is how the grain is loaded on the ships from the silos.

Looking back to the swimming area from the jetty. Behind the swimming area is 'Office Beach' it's called that as it's infront of the building that was the smelter's office. The smelters closed in 1923 but the name remained, the office is now a Heritage B&B.

Even in winter the Wallaroo sunsets are stunning. Sun setting behind the swimming enclosure and jetty.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

The County Hotel, Napier

New Zealand

It's one of my favourite hotels that I've stayed in. I deliberately chose this hotel as it was a heritage building and it didn't disappoint. It was built in 1909 for the local county and it was only one of two buildings that survived the 1931 earthquake. Its ornate exterior reflects an Edwardian style of architecture rather than the Art Deco that Napier has become known for.

It's not a budget hotel! More of a treat yourself during your holiday with a nice hotel. Higher price range (during the summer high season when I stayed there) but not the extreme luxury hotel price range.

Hotel reception and entrance from the street.

Hallway, the rooms are not numbered but named after New Zealand native birds.

In the town centre of Napier, so everything was in walking distance. A 2 minute stroll from the beach, there was free parking for hotel guests across the road. Also the Tourist office was directly across from the hotel.

The rooms were quite spacious.

Little snacks were provided for you on the Entertainment unit.

The hotel has a very popular restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. There's also a Champagne Bar for evening drinks, all on the ground floor. It also does High Teas, perfect location for them!

Optional Extras

As a guest you have access to a lounge.
Love the old luggage set!

There is also a library with a table that during the evening has a bottle of sherry and sherry glasses for guests to help themselves. Truly loved the old style charm of it all. Sipping a sherry whilst sitting in a old style chair and reading was the ultimate step back in time!
Help yourself to a glass of sherry!

The library.

The County Hotel lived up to my expectations, it was a charming place to stay, and I definitely would like to return some day. For those travellers who like some character in their accomodation this hotel certainly fits the bill!