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Author Topic: Australia by Tibrogargan January 2007 - present and 155216+ views later!  (Read 594842 times)
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« Reply #680 on: September 01, 2007, 11:56:09 AM »

Tib I come here and read and look at the gorgeous pictures you are posting.  I especially enjoy the pictures of the houses and the architecture.  And then, there are the cute and wonderful (and unusual) animals...And the plants.  etc. etc.  Laughing  Great stuff.  Thanks!  Muffy
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« Reply #681 on: September 02, 2007, 02:03:19 AM »

Thank you for your interest, Muffy.

There are more houses to follow - I still have to feature the most typical Australian house called the Queenslander and of course the very early Convict built homes.  Most of our early architecture copied the British houses and in our colder southern States they were very applicable.  The warmer and tropical areas needed something other than heavy dark buildings and they adapted their own ideas into a design that is still being built today although greatly modernised.  A lot of the newer areas are building in a Spanish 
or Tuscan design but I hope they do not overtake the more typical Australian designs.

I hope to also do more in depth posts on our strange animals and our very beautiful flora.  Still plenty to keep me busy for a while yet.
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« Reply #682 on: September 02, 2007, 02:14:41 AM »

CAIRNS, FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND

Captain James Cook sailed up the North Queensland coast on his first Voyage of Discovery in June 1770, aboard his ship the HM Bark Endeavour. Captain Cook was the first known European to visit the site where today the City of Cairns is located. There is ongoing debate about Dutch explorers arriving on Cape York almost one hundred and seventy years before Captain Cook. Whilst it is accepted that they reached the western side of Cape York there is no evidence that they made it down the east coast.



The journey down the coast by the HM Bark Endeavour was not a pleasant one. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most difficult waterways in the world to navigate. The Bark Endeavour was only 30 metres long, a small ship indeed for the perilous journey that it had undertaken. The Bark Endeavour ran aground on a coral reef and sustained serious damage. The crew managed to limp to shore where they found a river mouth where they could beach the battered ship. This river was later name the Endeavour River and the town that grew on its banks became known as Cooktown. Other geographical features were named to reflect the somewhat sombre mood of the Captain and crew: Cape Tribulation, Hope Island and Weary Bay.



North Queensland was a rugged area that would prove difficult to explore. Aboriginal tribes lived throughout the region having learnt to adapt to the environment that white settlers later found so harsh and inhospitable. Whilst repairs were being made the crew supplemented their diet with kangaroo's and other native animals. The ship was eventually repaired and after many attempts to find a way out of the Great Barrier Reef they managed to escape...continuing their journey northward to the coast of Papua New Guinea and Java, and then finally returning home to England. Captain James Cook lost his life in the Hawaiian Islands on his third (and last) Voyage of Discovery in 1779.



Due in no small part to the dense vegetation, severe cyclones and the associated wet season, treacherous reefs, disease and dangerous animals such as crocodiles it took a further 100 years before white settlement took a firm hold in the region. The discovery of gold by the early explorers started development, as is often the case in isolated and remote areas around the world. The areas north of Cairns, particularly Cooktown were initially established as frontier towns to support the ongoing gold rush in the area. Cairns and Smithfield (north of Cairns) were not officially founded until 1876. The gold rush started on the banks of the Palmer River in 1872. This area is east of Cooktown and approximately 370km northwest of Cairns. Thousands of fortune hunters were lured to this area as news of the gold rush spread throughout the country. An early explorer, James Mulligan is credited with discovering gold in the area and starting the famous gold rush.

Whilst the gold rush focused on the Palmer River it wasn't long until it spread to the surrounding area including the Mitchell River, Gilbert River, Fitzroy River and Einsleigh Rivers. Shanty towns grew up overnight to support the miners and many of these grew into large and prosperous towns that no longer exist. Copper and tin was also found at Mt Garnet. At its peak the main mine had over 500 men working on site.



There are many stories documenting the conflicts between the white settlers and the indigenous Aboriginals throughout North Queensland. There were many deaths on both sides and it easy to understand the fear and lack of trust that was prevalent. The local Aboriginals had lived in this harsh area having come to terms with the natural hazards over thousands of years. Within a few short decades they were being told what to do, where they could and could not go and how they could live. Some early explorers were violent, setting an example for other Aboriginals who may have considered retaliation against these strong arm tactics. As is often the case in history though there were many brutalities on both sides and even today, the rift whilst much smaller, still exists in modern Australia.



The initial site for the city of Cairns was a sandy bank lined with dense rainforest and mangroves. The main access into the surrounding area was by the Barron River. This enabled land to be developed in close proximity to the river and it provided the start of access to the surrounding areas, particularly the Atherton Tableland. The areas north and west of Cairns had already been established and it took some convincing to establishing a town on what was really nothing more than mangrove lined swamp land. The main reason for Cairns being established was the sheltered port provided by Trinity Bay and the relatively flat land North and South of the proposed site which was less densely vegetated than other parts of the coast.



Cairns was named after Queensland's first Irish born Governor, Sir William Wellington Cairns. It is hard to imagine life in the early city of Cairns when faced with todays modern city. One thing is certain is that the climate and the wildlife would have made life interesting. Starting as no more than a tent city the first structures to be built were wharves and sheds. There were many Chinese and Malaysian immigrants living in the area. They had come to work in the gold fields and as the towns grew they developed their own businesses and living areas.

Cairns looked like passing into obscurity until it was chosen as the starting point for a railway line that serviced the Atherton Tableland taking up workers and supplies and bringing back tin and timber. Cairns was the starting and ending point for the rail system providing a transport route for raw materials to be shipped to the main southern ports where demand for these products was very high. The development of this railway was a feat in its own right. Cairns is surrounded by a very steep and densely vegetated mountain range which made travel to and from the coast almost impossible.



The gold rush eventually began to die out and the people living in North Queensland began to look for other ways to make a living. The rich soil on the Atherton Tableland were perfect for farming just about any crop and they still remain a major source of fresh produce for Australia. Sugar Cane farms were developed close to Cairns as there was now access to transport the cane to the southern mills. The flat coastal lands became major sugar growing plantations. Other crops such as rice and even cotton were tried but they lacked the commercial viability that sugar cane possessed. Even today sugar cane farms dominate the entire North Queensland coastal strip. The cooler Atherton Tableland is good for dairy, fruit and vegetables as well as substantial tobacco crops.

Cairns continued to grow, fishing and pearling became large industries attracting a new type of explorer. The diversity of industries that were now well and truly established in the north guaranteed to long term viability of this tropical city.



North Queensland played its own part in World War 2. The allied forces, predominantly the USA had troops stationed throughout the region, which also served as a supply centre for the Pacific fleet. There was concern that with the fall of Singapore it would only be a matter of time before the Japanese would actually invade Australia with the logical route being down the isolated Cape York Peninsula. In fact the Japanese bombed the far north several times during the war.

Things began to return to normal in the post war era. North Queensland continued to row and develop and it started to become popular as a holiday destination for other Australians. Awareness of the Great Barrier Reef sparked this tourism growth and in 1984 an international airport opened and a major tourism boom began which converted Cairns from a sleepy regional town to the thriving city of today.



The Cairns Esplanade has been a focal point for the city since the first explorers dragged themselves through the mangrove swamps and whacked away mosquitoes.  It is a recreational area for people from all walks of life – backpackers travelling around Australia, couples having an early morning jog, teenagers using the skateboard ramp, CBD workers resting on the grass for lunch, and countless more.  It has been a meeting place for rallies, family reunions and birthday parties. Families use the large grassy areas to fly kites, enjoy barbeque dinners, or just relax in the tropical lifestyle. The Cairns foreshore has been transformed from a tidal mudflat swamp into a world-class facility incorporating an outdoor amphitheatre, a large sandy swimming lagoon, grassy picnic areas, walking tracks, public barbeques, children's playground, shops and restaurants, an environmental interpretation centre and a Great Barrier Reef Cruise departure terminal.  Of course, this development doesn’t come without environmental controversy. The Cairns Esplanade is an internationally recognised migratory water bird habitat and is a declared fish habitat area. It is adjacent to a declared Fish Habitat Area, the Trinity Inlet/Marlin Coast Marine Park, the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, and is an important bird roosting site for Whimbrel on their southern migration.



Photos recovered by Cairns locals and The Cairns Post newspaper reveal that the esplanade was once a sandy beach, similar to Cairns Northern beaches such as Machans Beach and Holloways Beach. It is believed that the dredging of the Grafton Channel for shipping resulted in mud completely covering the sandy beach because the sediment gathered during the dredging process was dumped offshore and promptly swept back in to silt the inlet and cover the esplanade beach with mud.  This infusion of mud has been great for the mangrove ecosystem, but not great for tourists who would rather see a sandy beach than a muddy tidal swamp. The arguments purported by developers are that the mudflats are an artificial ecosystem that is not integral to the mangrove forests. But environmentalists assert that the area has been in it’s current form long enough to be home to thousands of species of mud-dwelling creatures, and to dump sand on top of them is environmental vandalism.


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« Reply #683 on: September 02, 2007, 11:47:08 AM »

Tib, the Federation houses are beautiful...an elegant period like our Victorians.  I love stained glass and butler's pantries.  Can you recommend a good coffee table book featuring Australian architecture?   
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« Reply #684 on: September 03, 2007, 03:34:48 AM »

CJ1 - I will check out our library and bookshops on my next trip into the city.  In the meantime I have found a couple of websites that will give you some titles and may help you track something down if you have the author and publisher's name.  Unfortunately none of listings show any of their illustrations.

www.architext.com.au   (select Australian Arch on the menu on right hand side)

www.oldhouses.com.au

www.bookworm.com.au  (select Australian subjects on menu on left hand side)
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« Reply #685 on: September 03, 2007, 03:46:20 AM »

"THE QUEENSLANDER" STYLE HOUSE

If you are buying a house in Brisbane, real estate agents classify houses using some common terms. Here are our definitions of the main styles of architecture found in Brisbane (as understood by laymen and not architecture experts!).



The Queenslander - a traditional home built of timber, with VJ (vertical join) or tongue and groove walls, tin roof and surrounded by verandahs.
Built in this style until mid-1930s, Queenslanders are built on stumps to increase airflow around the house and the floors are of timber that can be polished. Some of the pretty features include breezeways above the doors, moulded or plaster ceilings, leadlight windows and window hoods.



A Queenslander-type house may not be able to be demolished or removed, depending upon the relevant local Council laws and whether it is in a demolition control precinct.

Worker’s cottage - very similar to a Queenslander home but smaller, with usually only a verandah at the front and a single hallway. May have less ornate finishes and be on a smaller parcel of land.

If you are new to living in Brisbane, and you want to live in a traditional tin and timber home, consider a couple of things:

·   They require maintenance – they need to be painted every ten years and attention to keep old windows, doors and plumbing functioning properly



·   Can be noisy – they usually only have single-skin timber internal walls, which means that noise passes through rooms easily. Polished floorboards and lack of insulation in external walls can add to the noise factor from inside and outside



·   Hidden renovation costs – if the house is unrenovated you may need to pay for a lot of work that won’t be seen, such as replacing old stumps, reroofing and rewiring
However, they are beautiful, have character and we love them. Compared to brick homes, Queenslanders are relatively easy to lift, providing usable space underneath. Removing internal walls or adding extra rooms (assuming you have a good builder) is usually fairly simple.

Added to all these considerations is the constant inspection and treatments for prevention of termite infestation, which can literally eat your house from around you.


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« Reply #686 on: September 03, 2007, 03:54:46 AM »

FURNISHING THE QUEENSLAND HOUSE

The furnishing of the Queensland house has been the outcome of practical necessity, fashion and sentiment. It has reflected the lifestyles and aspirations of the people who made their lives and raised their families in Queensland, and has evolved with the passage of time.

In common with contemporary Europe, Queensland furniture from the 1820s was largely Classical in design. Useful rather than ornamental furniture was the first requirement. The timber most commonly used was local cedar from the subtropical rainforests. The advantages were that it looked like fashionable mahogany and was light and easy to work with.

By the 1860s, greater prosperity led to more elaborate furnishings. Red cedar was the most popular timber but other local woods, such as hoop pine, bunya pine and yellow wood and rose mahogany were used.

The Rococo revival of Queen Victoria's reign was the fashion of the day, with curved shapes and naturalistic florid carving. Local cabinet-makers gradually took up the design, though often the Rococo curves are simply superimposed on the sturdy old Classical designs.  German and Chinese cabinet-makers entered the market during the second half of the nineteenth century.

Between the 1880s and the end of the century, all of the curved shapes of the previous years were stylistically rejected. The opening of Japan to American trade brought a fascination with things straight and angular, while the Arts and Crafts Movement brought a new interest in the styles of Queen Anne and George I. Art Nouveau also influenced local styles, but perhaps to a lesser degree.

Local firms, like F. Tritton, John Hicks and Finney Isles, issued their own catalogues for the first time. Notable local cabinet-makers included John Mason of Maryborough, as well as L. J. Harvey and Ed Rosenstengel of Brisbane.

Red cedar disappeared from fashion – just in time to save it from extinction – to be replaced by silky oak, Queensland maple, white cedar and stained pine. The timbers were often fumed with ammonia to enrich their colour to a warm brown. As a result, the furnishings of the main rooms of a fashionable house changed with the transition from the Colonial/Victorian era to Federation.

The new fully-upholstered lounging armchair made its appearance. In the bedroom, the dressing table was a chest of drawers with a mirror attached, and a box ottoman replaced the old trunk for clothes storage. There was a real acknowledgment of our climate in the design and use of furniture. Cane, willow, bamboo and linen grass furniture entered the scene.

From this stage onwards, furniture was becoming mass-produced. Consequently it is still very difficult to make a critical assessment of the industry as a whole.



A decorative bedroom 1900s - note the ornate ceiling



Cedar chiffonier with locks stamped W. & B. Brookes Brisbane, Wolston House, National Trust of Queensland, built about 1870



Drawing room suites, F. Tritton Furniture Catalog, Brisbane, about 1906


 
Ed Rosenstengel bible chair, Brisbane 1939,


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« Reply #687 on: September 03, 2007, 11:57:31 AM »

I am digging this weekend's installment, Tib!  Thank you for including the information about care/restoration and furnishings. thumright
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« Reply #688 on: September 03, 2007, 09:22:44 PM »

Would like to see more examples of the local cabinet makers.
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« Reply #689 on: September 04, 2007, 01:48:27 AM »

Got your message Muffy and CJ 

I will search out some furniture and hopefully interiors for next weekend.  We have many old homes now owned by the National Trust and they furnish them in the period style so I hope I can find some sites that give us more detail and pictures, and not just the "come and pay to see what we have here" blurbs.   Cool

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« Reply #690 on: September 04, 2007, 02:17:29 AM »

OK - here is a website that should keep you happy.  If I tried to feature all of the homes on this site I would still be posting them this time next year!  It is a list of the National Trust listed homes that are for sale or rent and therefore shows interiors and furnishings as well as a history of each residence.  Enjoy!

www.nationaltrust.com.au
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« Reply #691 on: September 08, 2007, 03:10:52 AM »

AUSTALIAN COLONIAL FURNITURE

Most early free settlers shipped their own furniture out to the new colony with them and consequently the earliest furniture is British or French in designs.  There were not many French settlers but I believe it was very fashionable for British folk to have French designed furniture. When furniture makers from Britain started to make furniture here and use the native Australian timbers they still continued to follow the earlier designs.  They in turn taught their craft to younger generations.  Now many furniture makers restore and reproduce these earlier designs.

A selection of items which has all been certified as made here :



Victorian, blackwood swing mirror dressing table made in Australia circa 1890. This beautiful piece features the original finish, original brass hardware and is a good example of a very hard to find style.



A very fine Huon pine Dresser, Hobart origin, 1860s, of unusually large proportions. The stepped plate rack has a simple moulded pediment, wide Huon pine backboards and plate grooves. The rectangular top is composed of very broad planks, over two central drawers with fine dovetailed joints and turned knobs, above two recess panelled doors. The drawers are flanked by two tall recess panelled hinged doors enclosing deep shelved storage spaces, and the whole sits on a low plinth. Purchased in an unrestored state from the Allport Library & Museum in Hobart about ten years ago, the piece has undergone careful restoration and cleaning retaining all the original fabric and timber. 

The Allport family settled in Van Diemen's Land in 1831. Henry Allport, a Hobart solicitor, died in 1965. He gave his house in Sandy Bay and its contents to the people of Tasmania, creating the Allport Collection, a Tasmanian State treasure. Henry Allport furnished his house with mainly British furniture of the 17th to 19th centuries, including a selection of fine Australian Colonial pieces.



Late 19th Century Australian Cedar Chest of 7 Drawers



Mid 19th Century Australian Cedar 2 Height Bookcase
superb original condition with lovely faded cedar colour, original drawn glass, 4 original cedar shelves (only 3 shown), original locks, keys & escutcheons



19th Century Australian Cedar 3 Door Sideboard with great colour & superb original finish



Late 19th Century Tasmanian Huon Pine Chest of 5 Drawers



19th Century Australian Cedar Double ended Settee


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« Reply #692 on: September 08, 2007, 03:24:58 AM »

BATTERY POINT, HOBART, TASMANIA

Hobart’s most historic suburb

Located a short walk from Salamanca Place and the waterfront via Kelly's Steps, Battery Point retains the character of a Cornish fishing village of the last century. It began life as a home for mariners who worked out of Hobart Town, and is still mainly a residential area. Battery Point is named after a Battery of guns (long since removed) that were established on the point in 1818. 



Arthur's Circus

Arthurs Circus is a ring of old cottages surrounding the old village green at the heart of Battery Point. The area has several tearooms and restaurants, fine antique shops and plenty of pubs.



Secheron

The Tasmanian Maritime Museum, Secheron, is located in Battery Point, as is the Colonial Museum, Narranya, which exhibits items from everyday 19th century life, from dresses to parasols and china. Angelsea Barracks, built in 1811 is still used by the army. The barracks are the oldest military establishment in Australia, and houses the Military Museum of Australia who offer guided tours of restored buildings and grounds.



Anglesea Barracks

Many of the homes in Battery Point are classified by the National Trust, which conducts walking tours of the area on Saturday mornings.  Some of the homes are pictured :









And now something for the ghost hunters :




Narryna taken at dusk where it is said you can see mysterious faces in the two upstairs windows on the right





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« Reply #693 on: September 08, 2007, 12:02:10 PM »

Tib,

The richness of the wood of the cedar furniture makes we want to touch it.  Except for cedar storage chests, we don't have much fine cedar furniture.

Looks like Hobart is a place I would like to visit.  I can just imagine strolling the streets.
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« Reply #694 on: September 09, 2007, 04:18:57 AM »

ST GEORGE’S ANGLICAN CHURCH, BATTERY POINT, TASMANIA

A NEW CHURCH FOR HOBART TOWN

The Church is a handsome building of golden sandstone.  It is in the Neo-classical or Greek Revival style, which was current in England in the early 19th century.



In 1834 a petition was presented to the Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) that a Church should be built for the residents of Queenborough as the “present Chapel is too small”. It is not known where the Chapel referred to was situated.  In the same year, a subscription list was opened for the building of the new church.

The site chosen was the highest point of Battery Point, then known as Kermode’s Hill.  The trustees paid Mr Kermode, who owned most of the land in the area, $500 for the site, although at that period the Government usually granted land for the building of churches.

The Nave (Main Church Building) – 1836-8

The nave was designed by John Lee Archer.  The building of St George’s began in 1836, with funds provided partly by subscription and partly by Government grant.  Governor Arthur laid the foundation stone on 19th October 1836.  It is no longer visible, owing to later additions to the church.



The nave and lower part of the walls of the tower were built, and the church was consecrated on 26th May 1838 by the Rt Rev W G Broughton, the first and only Bishop of Australia.

The Tower 1841-7

The tower was designed by James Blackburn.
By 1839 the Trustees were in financial difficulties, so when in 1841 it was decided to proceed with the tower, a new subscription list was opened..  The Governor, Sir John Franklin, was anxious that a spire be erected for the church, to serve as a mark for shipping.  He and Lady Franklin were among the subscribers.

The Government was asked for assistance, and agreed to grant convict labour, stone and timber, on the basis that the subscribers were to supply cartage, lime, lead and other materials.

Work began on building the tower, but it was soon found that the tower basement, which has been put in at the time of the original building, was badly built and insufficient to bear the weight of the tower.  It was found necessary to remove this basement, as well as the vestibule and the two vestries on either side of it.



For various reasons, one of which was the inability to supply suitably skilled convict labour, the work was frequently interrupted and left for long periods.  By 1847 the tower was finally completed, but the porch and the rooms at the basement of the tower were left unfinished.  For five years “the Church was more or less exposed to the weather and great inconveniences were occasioned by the congregation”.  In the meantime of course the cost of the works had blown out far beyond the original estimate, and in September 1848 the Rector, Trustees and Churchwardens petitioned the Governor for assistance with the cost of completing the works .

Once completed the tower of the Church could be seen from most parts of the city and harbour.

The Bell – 1853

In 1841 it was planned to have a peal of bells, but there was not enough money for it, and in the end, in 1853 a single bell was obtained and hung.  The bell was cast at the Derwent Foundry, Hobart Town at a cost of about $162 and it weighed just over 8 cwt.

The Sanctuary Window – 1871

The sanctuary window was obtained from Germany in 1871, and is very unusual, said to be unique.  It is of very thin German glass with the colours burnt in.  It is surrounded by a border with a Greek key design – was this because St George is the patron saint of Greece?  It is 8.5 feet across at the bottom.



In April 1942 the sanctuary window was taken out and sent to the country for safety.  In February 1944 it was replaced and backed with plate glass.

Various other buildings were added over this time, a Work School in 1851 and Alms Houses in 1843.  These buildings have either been incorporated into reorientation of the church or demolished.  The porch was added in 1888, the Rectory was built by 1896 and a Parish Hall was erected in 1914.

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« Reply #695 on: September 09, 2007, 04:26:45 AM »

MORE TIMBER PIECES BY EARLY CRAFTSMEN



A colonial Australian cedar occasional table bearing two paper labels of Andrew Lenehan c.1870



An early colonial Australian cedar Work Table, ( replaced silk), Tasmanian origin, 19th century patina, c.1840,.



An Australian Sewing Box inlayed with Tasmanian native timbers 19th century patina, c.1850,



An Australian cedar carver chair c.1840



An early colonial Australian cedar fold-over Card Table circa 1840



An early colonial Australian cedar adjustable Easy Chair featuring reeded front legs and unusual rear arm supports, Tasmanian origin c. 1835



An Early Australian Cedar Music Canterbury

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« Reply #696 on: September 09, 2007, 12:25:17 PM »

Thank you for posting more goodies for us Tib.    thumright I adore the sewing box.  A beautiful, functional piece of art.
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« Reply #697 on: September 10, 2007, 11:46:56 AM »

Tibro,
I have so enjoyed this thread.  You are just doing a wonderful job.  Everything is so lovely there and I am so jealous of you being there to see it firsthand. (that's a good kind of jealous Wink)
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« Reply #698 on: September 15, 2007, 01:54:56 AM »

Muffy that sewing box would sell for hundred of dollars now - it is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship and the range of different timbers used is most unusual.  Some of the timbers in it can no longer be logged and only remaining timber stocks can be used, if in fact any still remain.

Lalas yes it is beautiful here and I have been fortunate to see such a lot of this country.  I still wish I had travelled more widely in my earlier years but work commitments always seemed to get in the way.  I am enjoying this thread as much as you seem to be.  Cool

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« Reply #699 on: September 15, 2007, 02:13:09 AM »

MOUNT GAMBIER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Mount Gambier is near the border of South Australia and Victoria and is at the heart of the Limestone Coast. The lushness of the Mount Gambier area is not only due to its annual rainfall. Its life blood, is the abundance of underground water which lies in the wedge shaped block of limestone beneath the earth’s surface. Moving slowly southwards towards the ocean through the limestone and its arterial system of caves and crevices the water is plentiful and contributes to the beauty of the city’s parks and gardens and to the rural sector. Limestone, formed millions of years ago in a totally marine environment and made up of fossils and corals, extends from the Bordertown area down to the coast at Port MacDonnell where it is more than 300 metres thick.  Rainfall soaks down through the surface into the limestone which acts like a huge sponge. Called the unconfined aquifer, the ground water gradually moves southwards underground finally discharging to the ocean at various points along the coast between Port MacDonnell and the Victorian border. This abundance of "groundwater" contributes greatly to the beauty of the city's parks and gardens and to the rural sector.



Mount Gambier’s famous Blue Lake, Little Blue Lake, Ewens Ponds and Piccininnie Ponds are just a few of the locations which provide a "window" into this underground water system. Creeks from both Ewens Ponds and Piccininnie Ponds carry millions of litres of water an hour to the ocean. Just down the beach from Piccininnie Ponds, water can be seen bubbling up through the sandy beach. The abundance of water in the Mount Gambier area provides a wonderful array of food, wine and natural experiences. Rural industries draw underground water from bores sunk at various depths into the limestone creating not only a richness of colour but also significant monetary value to the region.



Limestone is an important product to industry. It is a major building stone for domestic and industrial buildings and is used extensively for road construction. Other significant uses include agricultural lime, glass and fibre-glass, sculpture and calcium based products such as tablets, toothpaste and talcum powder.



Engelbrecht Cave, a huge complex of limestone caves under the city of Mount Gambier offers tours into two of the chambers where cave divers enter the water to dive under the city. View the underground water as it slowly filters through to the Blue Lake, on to sinkholes south of Mount Gambier then out to the ocean



Umpherston Sinkhole was originally a cave formed by the dissolution of limestone. The sinkhole was formed when the top of the cave, fell to the cave floor creating terraces and the prefect environment for its beautiful sunken garden. On dusk, the cave comes to life when possums come out to feed in the floodlit gardens.



Surrounded by a beautiful rose garden, the Cave Garden was the original water supply for early settlers in Mount Gambier. Viewing platforms suspended above the cave provide awesome views of the limestone cave which directs storm water run-off from the streets down under the city into the underground water system. Some of the history of Mount Gambier has been captured in the beautiful architecture of the city much of which has been created from the natural limestone and dolomite rock. Masses of exposed limestone can be seen in the area near Little Blue Lake. Known as Karst, this exposed limestone is gradually being selectively dissolved to produce indentations in the surface.



The limestone is also gradually dissolving beneath the surface, sometimes forming cavities, some known by cave divers to be as large as the MCG. Others run horizontally, following fault lines  which have been created over millions of years. The most complex of these explored by only the most experienced divers, is Tank Cave, which provides 7 kms of water filled caverns with only one entrance.

Little Blue Lake just 15 minutes drive south of Mount Gambier was once a cave. Now that the top has collapsed to the bottom of the cave, the crystal clear water of this sinkhole is exposed, providing a popular but cool swimming hole for the experienced swimmer. Underground water from this same system emerges from the bottom of Ewens Ponds, bubbling upwards then flowing through the three ponds, down Eight Mile Creek to the ocean, providing a popular snorkel and diving site.



Tantanoola Cave has been formed in the cliff face of what was an ancient coastline. Through possible volcanic influence the limestone has changed to dolomite, a unique feature of this cave which displays a spectacular array of decorations in its large single chamber.

Mount Gambier's Blue Lake, situated in a volcanic crater, exposes crystal clear water that has filtered underground as it passes slowly under the city through the limestone. Each year in November the lake starts its colour change from winter sombre blue to brilliant turquoise blue, before returning to its winter hue in March. A range of explanations have been proposed over the last century. It was also proposed that the blue colour was caused by fluorescence of dissolved organic matter which builds up seasonally in the upper layers of the lake. Another theory was that the blue colour was caused by absorption of all incident visible radiation except blue by finely crystalline calcite in the surface of the lake. However, the natural colour of the water is blue, and for the same reason the sky is blue. Therefore, the Blue Lake (and all lakes) should be blue.



Why does the Blue Lake become less blue in winter? In winter the lake is green-grey. It is thoroughly stirred up with dead algae which are mixed into the top of the lake at its lowest. The lake appears less blue due to absorption of blue light by humic substances in the near- surface water. Low rates of calcite precipitation are insufficient to remove the humic substances from the water column hence the water clarity is poor.

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....And at night the wond’rous glory of the everlasting stars..  A.B (Banjo) Paterson
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