In keeping with our no plans and no time frame trip, our first stop was a trip down memory lane.
In school I had my future mapped out – I was always going to follow my father’s footsteps and go onto the orchard, however I wanted to get a trade first as a security net as a plan b. Get a trade, go onto the farm, that was my plan.
From school I was offered an electronics apprenticeship one week before being offered a motor mechanics apprenticeship… I wonder how much different life would have been if I had chosen the mechanics job…? I worked in a number of shops before starting my own repair business, then university for a career change and the move to Canberra. I never got back to the property.
Greenhill Orchards has been in our family’s name since 1865, and with such a long history there is a strong connection and many memories. Memories like working with my dad from an early age, hanging out with my cousins who also grew up on the farm. Learning to drive the old beetle before I could hardly see over the dash and ripping around the property on motorcycles. I have to admit not all the safety gear was used, and occasionally I may have been overly enthusiastic… but they are stories for the campfire.
As it become clear that I was not going back onto the farm, my dad sold out his share in the 90’s. Now the property is run by my cousin and his son. A lot has changed around the place but a lot has not. Like the old packing shed that just oozes with memories – riding pallet jacks, sorting fruit, retreating to the cool rooms in the heat of summer (or even warming up in winter as they could be warmer than outside), competitions to see who could make the most cartons using the big carton stapler … but careful you don’t staple your thumb to the box, hey Julie. And the old pear tree outside the packing shed which is well over 100 years old and at one stage had 17 varieties of pear on it. The pears on this tree are huge (upwards of 2kg each) so you never parked your car under it.
With the increase in customers wanting to know where their food is grown and diversifying into juice and now working on a range of ciders (which I’m looking forward to), has helped their long term sustainability. While the ciders aren’t ready for market yet I was able to smuggle a bottle of pear cider into the car and I’m really looking forward to cracking it open.
So if you are passing through the Armidale NSW region call in and pick up some great fruit or juice from the farm gate. For more information checkout the Greenhill Orchards website or follow them on their Facebook page for updates on what is happening on the orchard.
One of my favourite mountain ranges on the bike is the Moonbis. A short but steep range. I love riding up the range especially at night as the trucks are clawing their way up in the left lane barely moving, and trucks are on their exhaust brakes in low gear burbling down on your right as you carve your way up the mountain in the middle lane between these great beasts.
There is small lookout halfway down that I have never checked out as I was generally in the moment. However this moment was different and we ducked in and was rewarded with awesome views of the surrounding region.
As you know I really like painted silos and will always look for them as we pass through towns. Or go out of my way to see them.
A painted silo was finished in Gunnedah at the end of 2020 honouring Dorothea McKellea an Australian poet who penned ‘My Country’ at the age of 19 in 1904 when she was visiting England and missing her homeland. The poem was first published in 1908 and has lines that are etched into the psyche of every Australian. The following is the second stanza of the poem which is best known and captured on the silo.
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding plains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel sea,
Her beauty and her terror,
The wide brown land for me!Dorothea McKellea (1885 – 1968)
And the line “wide brown land” is a large steel sculpture in the National Arboretum in Canberra created by Marcus Tatton, Chris Viney, and Futago in 2010
Also hidden by a small sign on the highway on the outskirts of Gunnedah is directions to Pensioners lookout – named that during the great depression as shanty town was setup on the hill. Pensioners lookout over looks Gunnedah and the wider district and has a range of sandstone carvings, monuments, and a broad range of different gum tree varieties which where flowering.
After having a coffee break in a nice little 50’s themed café in Wellington and filling up the car, we were on our final leg of our trip home as the sun was going down, ever vigilant for roos, and visibility slowly reducing as bugs transfixed by our lights found our windshield.
Rolling up our drive way at 9:30pm after a 13 hours and 900km.
The only thing I like better than a good day’s drive is a days ride… hopefully next week I will get out on the bike before I have to get back to w… w… work.