Saturday 31 October 2015

Down Gunnawarra to Kirrama

I recently joined almost thirty fellow history buff friends with a dozen vehicles in front of the little school at Mount Garnet to begin a trip down the Gunnawarra Road to the Kirrama Range and out through the Kennedy Valley.  After a short discussion on the plans for the day, our line of cars headed out to the first heritage site of the trip which was the historic Mount Garnet Racecourse and Rodeo Grounds.  After a quick drive about the grounds and a short lesson on its history from one of the members of the party, our small convoy turned off the highway to drive down the Gunnawarra road.  I was quite surprised at how many small properties have been established at this end of the road and also just how far down the bitumen extends.  Our first stop of this trip was the historic Gunnawarra Station homestead.  Here we were met by the Atkinsons who took the time to show us about their heritage listed buildings and the little family cemetery.  They gave us a run-down on the drought conditions affecting the station and then gave our group a preview of the new two volume Atkinson family history written by local historian Margaret Gilmore which is just hot off the printing press.

Old Gunnawarra Station building
Then it was back on the road which was now gravel but in quite a good condition so we made good time passing many cattle stations with familiar names such as Tirrabella and Glen Ruth.  The next stop on this little adventure was at the historic Cashmere Crossing where morning tea was had.  While here, the lonely little cemetery was viewed as was the nearby site of the original Cashmere Station homestead.  The next section of the trip was the roughest with some steep climbs in and out of gullies before entering the Girringun National Park where we stopped to view the magnificent Blencoe Falls and gorge.  This was the first time I had ever been into this amazing waterfall and I was astonished that the road down through this location had not yet been promoted as a major tourist route.  Our party even had several conventional vehicles which made the trip with just a little care through the rough section.

Cashmere Crossing
Then we drove down to the camping area below the falls for a late picnic lunch beside the creek.  It was here that we left a number of our group who had decided to make this expedition into a camping trip.  So with a little light rain coming down, the rest of the vehicles headed down to the Kirrama Range area where a stop was made at the Society Flats boardwalk to wander around the rainforest path.  I was surprised to see the huge areas of young karri pine regrowth in the valleys we passed.  Having recently read Ed Healy's book on the vast amount of timber that had come out of this district, I now felt that I had a better idea of the extent of that timber-getting enterprise of olden days.  Many members of our party were also surprised to see the Shire boundary signs down here showing just how far south the Tableland Regional Council extends.

The last section of this expedition was down the Kirrama Range Road where several short stops were made at the lookouts along the way before our finale stop in the Kennedy Valley where members of our group said their goodbyes then made their own way back up the coast to home.  What a trip!  With many getting home after dark, it was a long twelve hour day but those who joined in the excursion were pleased with the adventure, as like me, many were travelling through country they had never seen before.  I can see this road trip becoming popular in the future.    
              Shire boundary signs                                Lunch beside the creek                                 The magnificent Blencoe Falls    

Yaramulla Station Story

A new self-published book has recently been launched by its author, Mr Don Pinwill.  The book entitled 'Whatever it Takes', tells the story of the Pinwill family and their efforts to develop the Yaramulla Cattle Station near Mount Surprise.  The tale begins when two young brothers, Don and Chas Pinwill find this undeveloped property in 1969 and decide to gamble their money on the dry block.  The adventures these two later-day pioneers had during their first few years on the station makes a great yarn with stories such as their experience with learning how to operate their own drilling rig which lead them, for a short time, into becoming professional drillers finding water all over the district.  Other experiences that Don and his young family had while on the land and with the local wildlife showed that even during the 1970's, it was still a pioneering life out there.  Don's story covers the twenty year period up to the end of the 1980's when he sold the station shortly before it was made into the Undara National Park which has become famous for its volcanic lava tubes.  Written in an easy reading style and sprinkled with a few of his bush poems, this book is a great read specially for those interested in the folk who made their lives living and working within the northern pastural industry.