Saturday, 29 August 2015

The Darling River Run (Part 2)

Back of the Menindee Lakes, NSW

We left Bourke arriving at a very busy Louth.  Sorry I have no pictures.  The town was getting ready for their annual Louth Races, planned the following weekend. These small towns just explode; this is what helps them keep going.  As we headed off, we were all hoping that the rain stayed at a drizzle (too much rain brings mud and road closures and the Races would have to be called off).

In the shed @ Tilby Station
Our stop for the night, Tilby Station

We took the back road as the word was it was much better than the main track.  We headed out with full tummies after a late lunch, heading for Wilcannia for an overnight stay.  We travelled through awesome country and a small town called Tilpa - a pub, some houses, and a river crossing, and the longest boat ramp I ever seen!
Checking out the trees and wild flowers

We all then met up at Broken Hill in the Patrol hanger.  I took the time for a real coffee - nice!  My car said goodbye and headed back to Dubbo with a fellow traveller.  Then we fueled up and headed to Menindee Lakes. This was a great part of the River story as it is very relevant for Broken Hill's water, but also the levels have changed over the last three years.  In 2012 the lakes were full and the environment was alive with birds and tourists everywhere.  I dug some of my 2012 photos to compare to the one below.

Weir Wall in 2015 (above) and what it looked like in 2012 (below) 

And this is the same spot now, trees out of water
I will post some photos on Facebook showing the now and then.  Local people say this is normal for the lakes' area - waters come and go, giving life to the trees and the bugs feed birds like wrens and other types. But the question is - how do the needs of the Broken Hill people get the water they need as this "boom and bust" process takes it course.  We all like to have a place to sit by a lake and if lucky, take a boat for a spin or fish but then there is the next person down stream who also needs the river.  We'll talk about this some more next time.

Darling River at Bindara Station

Saturday, 22 August 2015

The Darling River Tour (Part 1)

Darling River, Bourke NSW

Why did we do this over the last couple of years?  There has been a group of people involved in the Tour over the years including the past Moderator Rev Dr Brian Brown and Rev Myung Wa Pak, the current Moderator.  The aim is to hear the people of the Murray Darling Basin; to listen to their needs and dreams.  We don't go on the Tour to save or fix but to listen.  The Church "listening" is seen as important by many of the people we meet.

I arrived in Dubbo early on Friday, picking up those flying in or coming by train into Dubbo on Saturday. The first event on the Tour was a Forum at the Dubbo Uniting Church which Rev Dr Brian Brown led. We had Dubbo people plus the tour group all fed by the Dubbo ladies.  There were talks then a Q&A panel with lots of good questions that made us think. 

First Forum at Dubbo

Next morning was load the buses and head off for a half hour drive to Narromine.  There we participated in a good service at the Narromine UCA, had morning tea then "round 'em up, load 'em up" and off we go, heading for Bourke.  We had an hour stop for lunch in Nyngan on the way, then hit the Outback.  Driving along I pointed out different things about the small towns/localities.  Myra had a great story about her dad who used to bring their cattle up from Camden to Girilambone, sometimes walking up from Nyngan, so we stopped to take photos of the old station (see below).

We drove onto Bourke, staying in a caravan park that night and joined in the fun of "Poetry on a Plate", sitting around campfires listening to great poetry, old and new.  Andrew Hull put on a great show - he has helped us with drought work (like "A Good Day Out" in Weilmoringle).  Next morning was a 9am river cruise.  We sadly had a new friend, Maureen, experience a bad fall but medical help was good and quick.  Unfortunately she had to leave us there.  Her great friend Barbara sat with her until the plane arrived to airlift her back to Dubbo.  She's doing well now!

Old Bourke Bridge (foreground) and new bridge (background) 

"Come on - places to go, things to see!" 
Off to the Queensland Border where those on No. 1 bus met the oldest NSW publican still alive - she's in her 90's.  My bus stopped at Engonnia Public School.  One of Julie Greig's projects is here - we had a tour of the school and preschool plus performances from all the children which were very good!

The Lion Dance - the one's on the chairs are the lions and the other's are the deers 
This ends this week's blog.  Next we head to Louth for a night on a cattle station.  The group of people on the tour is forming into a community, moved by stories from the river and from the school we visited.  But we need to listen to and for God's voice, and what he calls us to be and do.  Just having a moment of being touched is good but acting on God's call make changes awesome!  

Friday, 14 August 2015

Down the Darling River and back to Dubbo.

I am just back from a drive down the Darling river with a bunch of strangers who became a community they came from all walks of life and points of the compass. I will go into more details soon as my body and brain comes back .

First night in UCA Dubbo - Rev Dr Brian Brown set us the task
Mural -Enngonia Public School day 2 

Between   Louth and Tilpa NSW

Well, we moved along the river when we could. It was often just a few hundred meters way,  dirt and dust mixed with the odd wet spot  just to keep us on our toes 
 Could you back the boat down?

Tilpa crossing and boat ramp


Roads dust and sand

Ramps keep you awake.

Lake Mungo -layers of time set out before you

This is a touch of what's to come - 3000 plus kms, God taking and giving control, opening me to sights smells and roads I never seen . People becoming friends, old friends growing stories told and listened to, sleepless nights, wonderful food, coffee-less days, early nights and even earlier mornings . Why? - to hear the stories of the river's first people and of us, that came later.

Thanks to all who have traveled and shared.

Rev Phill Matthews  


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