Tags: Lake Macquarie NSW, photography, Sir William Dobell, Wangi Wangi
After dinner on the second day of the new year, my husband and I, with our son and family who were visiting from Queensland, went for a walk on the shore of Lake Macquarie. Being summer, it was still light when we arrived at Wangi Wangi village, almost two kilometres away.
The local park is a popular one, overlooking the lake on the southern side of the isthmus. It is named in honour of our late local celebrity, Sir William Dobell, a well-known and sometimes controversial artist. We had walked past Sir William’s house, now an art gallery, on the way there.
We all sat on the grassy slope to watch the sun make the last of its descent past the horizon. I took some photos, as it was a lovely scene.
Then we walked the almost two kilometres back home. It was a lovely end to a busy and very pleasant, family-oriented day.
Photos (c) Linda Visman
Tags: brick industrial buildngs, childhood memories, nostalgia, NSWGR, old power station, Oswaldtwistle, Wangi Wangi
As we come into our little town from either direction, I always look across at the old power station. When we go for a walk up and over the top of our hill, the big old building is laid out before us, and I always want to stop and look at it.
There is always something about it that draws out a strange feeling of familiarity and belonging – like seeing an old friend I have been missing for a long time but not knowing where I last saw them. I want to just gaze at it, bring it closer, work out what it is that draws me so strongly.
Most people see the building as ugly. It is long, high and basically rectangular, constructed with red brick and with rows of windows along its extensive sides – most of them now broken by vandals. Its three huge chimneys have been location finders and home-coming beacons for boats on Lake Macquarie since the power station was constructed in the 1950s.
The power station took ten years and 1,000 men to build, the last to be built by the NSW Government Railways before the main responsibility for NSW power supply was transferred to the Electricity Commission. It was also the last Railways power station to close. The plant poured its power into the electricity grid from 1956 to 1986.
A coal-fired operation, the Wangi Wangi Power Station drew its fuel from one adjacent colliery and others nearby. It was actually one of the first power stations to be sited adjacent to its supplying colliery and, for its first five years of operation, was also the largest power station in NSW. These factors are among the major reasons for the building’s heritage listing.
Since the insides of the building were gutted of its furnaces, transformers and associated equipment in the 1990s, it has been left almost derelict – though its lawns, trees & shrubs are still kept in order. There has been talk for the last twenty years of the building undergoing retail and/or housing development, but so far nothing has come of whatever plans have been submitted to Council.
Regarding my strange attraction to the old red brick building, I recently had a realisation of where it has come from. I was born in a Lancashire cotton mill town and spent the first five years of my life there before we migrated to Australia. There were lots of spinning, weaving and dyeing mills still standing at that time, though most have since been demolished.
The long brick wall of one of these, Rose Mill, ran along the alley behind our home in Oswaldtwsitle. Our home itself was in one of many stone-built two-storey terraces that were constructed to house the mill workers. Our terrace was built in the 1890s. When I was researching my family history, I discovered that my paternal great-grandfather had actually lived and, in 1917 during WWI died, in the three-up-three-down terrace home Dad had bought during WWII and where I and my then three siblings were born.
Where I grew up in Australia, and in most of the other places I have lived in since I was twenty, there were no large brick buildings. On the odd occasion that I go to Sydney, I love to see them there. But it is the power station that stirs my emotions the most.
I have a feeling that it is subconscious memories and feelings from my early childhood being drawn out by the sight of this building. And those buried memories must be happy ones, because I feel happy as well as nostalgic whenever I gaze on it.
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: 25th April, ANZAC, Anzac Cove, Anzac Day, Anzac parade, Gallipoli, memorial ceremony, remembrance, Returned Services League, RSL, two-up, Wangi Wangi
ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The term Anzac originated in World War I, when our countries’ combined forces landed on the beaches of Gallipoli, Turkey, on the 25th April 1915.
This campaign, in which many hundreds of men lost their lives, was the first real test of the armies of these two new nations; their “Baptism of Fire”.
Nowadays, ANZAC day is celebrated by the people of Australia and New Zealand on the 25th April, the day the first forces landed on the beaches of what is now called Anzac Cove. From the beginning, they faced extremely strong opposition from the Turks, who had the high ground. They dug in and both sides endured many months of warfare under terrible conditions.
Anzac Day has come to rival Remembrance Day (11th November) as a reminder of the sacrifice that so many made in the service of their country. All wars in which Anzacs served since that initial campaign are remembered, right up to the present Afghanistan campaign that is still going on. Every city and almost every town with a population of more than a few hundred has its parade and its ceremony of remembrance.
Here are some pictures of Anzac Day in my little town, Wangi Wangi, on the shores of Lake Macquarie, New South Wales.
On Anzac Day, and only on that day, a traditional Aussie gambling game called two-up is allowed by law. It is played by tossing two old pennies off a small strip of wood, and bets are called as to how the pennies will land: two heads; two tails; or one of each. Large amounts of money can be wagered on this game, so it’s probably a good thing it is banned for the rest of the year! The crowd also becomes very noisy as the game progresses.
(c) Linda Visman (text & photos)
Tags: birds, gratitude, Lake Macquarie, petrified wood, pumice, sailing, Wangi Wangi
The lake before me is a deep, rich blue that pales and changes to a soft gold where the water shoals over sand and pebbles near the shore. The sky’s lighter blue is daubed with fluffy white clouds that sail slowly up from the south. I see a couple of white sails in the distance – it is a perfect day to be out sailing.
The water lapping at shore has a different resonance today as it washes onto the pebbled beach. Instead of the usual shhh, there is a deeper sound; more like an eddy gurgling and echoing into a large drain, or a giant coffee percolator bubbling away.
A dainty black and white peewee saunters past my foot, and seagulls wait expectantly for morsels that I do not have. An Indian mynah hops about, picking up tidbits from the grass, whilst trying to keep balanced on its single leg.
From a nearby old eucalypt comes the tinkling call of an Eastern Rosella, almost drowned by the fractious squabbling of Noisy Miners.
I hear a rooster crow in the distance; something unusual in town these days. It brings back memories of the many years we kept fowls and relished the freshness of their eggs.
I go for a walk along the shore, looking for pieces of petrified wood. There was plenty of it around at one time I’ve been told, but collectors seem to have scavenged it all now. I do find a small piece of pumice though, extremely light and full of bubble holes; the lava must have cooled very quickly when it hit the water aeons ago.
I am constantly amazed and extremely grateful that I live in such a beautiful place. I hope that I will never take it all for granted.
Do you live in a place that you see as beautiful? Or is there some other place you would love to live? Do you think we too often take for granted the good things we have in our lives?
© Linda Visman, 9th March 2012
Photos: Linda Visman