Recently Dac expressed a wish to have a walk around Collector and afterwards revisit the pie shop we liked so much on the way home from Berrima.
Collector is a small village on the Federal Highway in New South Wales, Australia halfway between Goulburn and the Australian Capital Territory. It is seven kilometres north of Lake George. …
The area was first settled by Europeans in 1829 … The village reportedly is named after the Aboriginal name for the region, colegdar. The village was by-passed by the Federal Highway in 1988 and has struggled to remain viable ever since.
Last weekend it was too hot and humid for us to go outside, but the forecast for Saturday was 21° so, at around 9am, we hit the road – the rainy Saturday road, full of Sunday drivers.
What a relief that we didn’t have to be anywhere at a particular time! I resolved to take up Dac’s suggestion of picking a truck and sitting behind it. This has worked before: I forget about passing slow drivers and relax. As it turned out, there weren’t any trucks, and we trundled along the Federal Highway at a fair clip, in and out of the rain.
We saw Lake George with water in it for the first time in years and years. Exciting! I took photos on the way back but I’ll save them till after I’ve written obsessively about wind turbines.
We arrived at the Collector turnoff (there used to be two, but a bridge is out) and cruised past a sign to Breadalbane – /bɹəˈdɔːlbən/ not /bɹɛdəlˈbeɪn/, though you’d never know it these days. I mentioned that I’d never been there. We passed a mysterious sculpture:
Photo by Mark Kristofferson, on whose blog I learned that the sculpture is controversial and incomplete:
Collector is also famous for the controversial sculpture Dreamers Gate by Tony Phantastes built between 1993 and 1997 to commemorate, among other things, his father’s life. A gothic structure of cement and chicken wire, the artist and the Gunning Shire Council have been in constant battle regarding the structure since 1999. The plot in which the sculpture stands is now for sale and the sculpture itself under demolition orders.
We passed the pie shop, and the Bushranger Hotel, and then the road was closed. We stopped beside the war memorial.
It seemed reasonable to walk from there down the road that was closed to the bridge that was closed. We staggered off into the rain. Over the “Road Closed” barrier hung a sign advertising handmade crafts, but we didn’t find them. Instead we found that Collector Creek was high, but hard to see from the “Bridge Closed” barrier.
The sign on the barrier said the bridge would be closed for six months from July 2010. It’s not just closed, it’s gone – but there’s no sign of a replacement. Investigations reveal that there are big problems: lack of consultation, a culvert planned that could be regularly under water, work prevented by rain.
Meanwhile the town is being shut down by the delay. Most of the businesses have closed or cut their opening hours. Property values are going down. Wikipedia says that Collector had a population of 329 people at the 2006 census but, according to the town sign we saw, it’s now 150.
Down to the missing bridge wasn’t a long walk. Strolling back, we were waylaid by the basso profundo shouts of someone’s pet sheep.
He was definitely calling us. Some kind of watch sheep, perhaps. We said hello and patted him for a while, then resumed our walk, soon arriving back at the car.
Dac suggested a visit to mysterious Breadalbane, so off we went. Pretty soon on our left we could see wind turbines which never seemed to get any closer. I’ve now concluded that these were the turbines of the Cullerin Range Wind Farm. The lower of the markers in the following map is supposed to represent its location.
Breadalbane wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped: a couple of churches and not much else. I was bemused to find that it lay on the Old Hume Highway. Why hadn’t I seen it before? After mapping and scrutinising our route, I realise that I would have seen the Breadalbane sign not from the Hume but from the Federal Highway: I really hadn’t been there before.
Coming to the end of Collector Road, we turned left onto the Old Hume Highway, following the railway line (the Main South Line) and found ourselves closer to the wind farm.
I was very pleased. I love wind turbines. They are a major export of Denmark and therefore by definition a Good Thing, but they’re also beautiful, and doing good work in the world. One of the pleasures of my European trip was seeing so many of them. They line the motorways, doing their chaotic dances. In Holland, they’re even to be found in lakes.
We drove on and, despite gloomy predictions from Dac, actually saw a train – a goods train. To get closer to the wind farm, we turned off briefly onto Lerida Road North (unlabelled on the map above).
There are fifteen 80-metre turbines. The blades came from Germany, and the towers from Portland, Victoria. From this vantage point, we could hear the blades sweeping round. We found it an exciting sound. Not one you’d want to live too close to, but not a problem out there.
I’ve now discovered there’s trouble about a plan to build a Collector Wind Farm south of the Cullerin one, near Lerida. Apparently there are studies showing that it’s bad for you to live within 5km of a wind farm, and some properties fall within that radius.
At Gunning (where we glimpsed the Gunning Wind Farm indicated by the top marker on my map) we turned left in search of the new Hume Highway. Unfortunately we quickly sailed under it (you could only get onto it to go north, towards Sydney) and onto dirt roads. After a rather exciting three-dimensional ride featuring many birds too languid to get up off the road before we almost hit them, we came out on the highway south of Collector and drove in again.
Lunch at the Daily Pie was good, although the pies could have been a bit hotter. The tea was excellent!
We played Scrabble on the iPad for a while, ignoring affronted stares from some of the other patrons (what’s it to them?) then set off for home. I insisted on stopping at the point de vue above Lake George for photos.
Lake George with two lots of wind turbines and one lot of water. See also the fabulous panorama someone has put on Wikimedia.
We were out for about five hours, all up – pleasant, but long for a short walk. Having seen a sheep, a train, and lots of wind farms, I was happy. Writing the excursion up has left me worried about the fate of Collector, though.