(October 9, 2020 – written by Dave)
We keep running into more cyclists. Last night at dinner (with Helen and Roman) we ran into Saskia and Luke – we’ve been leapfrogging them all week. Then this morning we ran into Helen and Roman again, plus two gals we met 5 days ago in the Goonoo Forest and another couple that we’d seen ride past on the street yesterday. CWCT is a winner, if judged by the participants here in the early days. We hope that it can be sustained.
Other than eating and running into cyclists, we’ve enjoyed restful day off here in Gulgong. Gulgong is a great little period town perched on top of a hill with nice views in all directions. The population these days sits at 2,500, if you don’t count CWCT cyclists passing through.
Gulgong was settled by grazers in the 1820s but not much happened here until gold was discovered in nearby Red Hill in 1870. At the peak of the gold rush, roughly 20,000 people called Gulgong home. While early history of indigenous owners is not recorded, the town name actually has aboriginal origins. The name ‘Gulgong’ is derived from the word for ‘deep waterhole’ used by the traditional inhabitants, the Wiradjuri people. Kind of a funny name for a town built on top of a hill but I understand that the nearby Goulburn River had some deep swimming holes. There are heaps of old 1870s buildings in town and somewhere along the line, the town planners decided that new buildings had to also look old. So now everything looks old – all the old wood yields a nice warm feeling.
Gulgong’s most famous resident is no doubt Australia’s novelist and bush poet, Henry Lawson. He lived here briefly as a child in the 1870s when his father was a gold miner. He also spent some time here as an adult as well, living in the town’s share houses. Like many artists, Lawson didn’t make a lot of money while he was living, and too often, what he made was spent on alcohol – thus all the time he spent in share houses here and in Sydney.
As noted yesterday, one of the old buildings in town, along with the portrait of Lawson, was on the original 10 dollar bill beginning in 1966. Prior to 1966, Australia used the imperial British money system. It had 12 pennies in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound. Yes, some fancy math was required to calculate your finances. The 1966 change gave us the Australian dollar, increments of tens for coins/dollars and of course, the chance to now stay in the “Ten Dollar Town Hotel” – our home for two nights.
There are at least half-dozen museums here in Gulgong – I know, for a town of 2,500, crazy. Years ago we went to the Henry Lawson Museum so this time we decided to visit the Gulgong Pioneer Museum. The Pioneer is the largest museum in town and after nearly three hours inside, we barely scratched the surface. The museum covers everything that’s happened since about 1800. Some topics are presented from the unique perspective of settlers in the Gulgong area.
From memory, there were rooms on the following: WW I & II, farm tools, school, nursing, dentistry, the Royal Family, needlecraft, TVs, radios, VHS/Beta/8-tracks, the postal service, motors, fire services, baking, fossils and on it goes. It is really crazy how much ground is covered. You could spend many days there even without reading every sign.
Overall, we liked Gulgong. We’ll admit that we looked at the real-estate shop windows, wondering how much it would cost to live here. It was easily less than ½ of Sydney so you never know. We didn’t make any offers, yet.
Tomorrow we make the move onward to Hill End, another famous old mining town and region. From reading the maps, it will big our biggest day of climbing on the trip, but not quite the longest day. Too bad Roman won’t be with us, we know he likes the hills!
Hill End is a place where we saw heaps of kangaroos on our last trip. But we learned the other day from a farmer that we may not see any this trip. I guess the kangaroos hang way back in the woods when the feed there is more plentiful. Spring rains this year have made feed overly abundant everywhere. So kangaroo spotting may not be as good this time around. Check by tomorrow for the official roo count.