Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Day 20 - Yanga Homestead

Morning beside the Murrumbidgee
Morning on a quiet bend in the Murrumbidgee River, with bird song and the occasional bleat of awild goat, is a nice place to be, especially under the river bank shade of an enormous Red Gum. Our particular patrons needed no branches to provide shade as the trunks themselves could offer enough to shade out entire, if small Avan Cruiser. There can't be too many places which can give you the serene start we all deserve to any day.

With only 160kms on the agenda for the day, we took to the Sturt highway mid morning and headed back south for a few kms and took the turning into Yanga Homestead and the headquarters of the Yanga NP.

Just as the Yanga Woolshed was the jumping off point for wool produced at Yanga Station, the Homestead was the nerve centre. The original buildings date back to the 1830, when William Charles Wentworth first set up the station and have been added onto several times, notably the 1870's addition and renovations which gave the station its unique character of wide verandahs under shingle and corrugated iron, high pitched single gable roofs, cyprus pine verandah posts and spacious, high-ceiling rooms. Further changes were made in the 1950's but many of these were bastardisations of the original architecture and detract rather than add to the homestead. Still, it has to be remembered that this was a working station, often with remote owners who left things to managers. The interior's largely 1950's decore speaks of the need for what we once might have described as a "woman's touch" but are loath to do so for fear of genderist backlash.

Back in the 1870's, workers would line up at the homestead shop to purchase their supplies of flour and sugar and meat, which would be put on "tic" and deducted from their fortnightly pay. They would never see parts of the homestead such as the dining rooms or the vegetable patch.

The verandah of Yanga Homestead
The station is lovingly preserved, virtually as it was when the Black family walked out in 2005, selling the property literally, lock, stock and barrel to Bob Carr's state government. It had been in their hands since 1919, the longest period of ownership in the station's history. The journey for Yanga has been a rougher one since it was declared a national park in 2007 and opened to the public two years later. Local timber getters have been most unhappy about the government take over of the station, as their livelyhood can no longer be resourced there. As with all new neighbours, the national park have done their best to fit in to the local community but you don't have to scratch the surface too hard in nearby Balranald or even as far away as Mildura to spark a testy reaction from locals.

Surrounding the homestead on two thirds of its sides is Lake Yanga, a kidney shaped body of water dependant on the Lachlan/Murrumbidgee systems for its supply. Today, the lake is full of water which provides a home for the water birds of the area and a place of recreation for locals - the later segregated to one section. When full, ski boats skate well over the fence posts and barbed wire underneath, for when the lake is dry, as it was from the late 1990's for ten years, it is cropped.

Our tour was guided by a park staff member who was both shared both information and a witty grasp of the anecdotal.

During our our and afterwards, we met Ziggy and Heather, fellow travellers who also towed an Avan
behind a Subaru wagon. As we talked, it seemed we had many things in common, as they had both been teachers and he also had retired early. was a blogger and keen photographer.

On to Mildura after a late lunch stop at Lake Benanee just outside of Euston and a caravan park at Gol Gol where we discovered out new neighbours were Ziggy and Heather!

Sue and I went to the Gol Gol Hotel for a treat and enjoyed both the attentive and friendly service and the good food on offer. My perch and Sue's pork were delicious and although I've had better local reds, it was quafable. All this set back from the Murray River across a broad expanse of grass verge among the ever present Red Gums.

Exploring Mildura for the next few days.

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