Saturday 19 March 2011 – Collector, NSW

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.

Wikipedia

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:

Dreamers Gate, sculpture made of concrete on a chicken wire and wooden frame

Dreamers Gate

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.

Wikipedia

We passed the pie shop, and the Bushranger Hotel, and then the road was closed. We stopped beside the war memorial.

Collector war memorial

Photo by AustralianMelodrama at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons

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.

Sheep

Shoop, shoop

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.

A turbine at Cullerin Range Wind Farm

A turbine at Cullerin Range 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).

Closer to turbines at Cullerin Range Wind Farm

Closer to turbines at Cullerin Range Wind Farm

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!

The Daily Pie Shop

Borrowed from the Daily Pie Shop blog. Look at that polished concrete floor!

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.

Two views of Lake George, showing the two sets of wind turbines visible from the Federal Highway

Lake George with wind turbines

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.

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7 Responses to Saturday 19 March 2011 – Collector, NSW

  1. dac says:

    The rain was significant, earlier on, with vast ‘shawls’ of drizzly rain wafting over the fields of Collector.

    The ride to Bradalbane was directly a result of you saying “I would like to go there” — it was too early for lunch, and too dreary to stick around in Collector; I dread to think how ‘cold’ the pies would have been had we not taken that 90 minute excursion.

    It was also annoying that we couldn’t join the highway from ‘our side’ of the town, and had to suffer the 20KM+ of bumpy dirt roads.

    Was interesting to get within a kilometer or so of those huge turbines, it was taking 3.5 seconds or so for those blades to make a full circuit, and the very low level ‘whoosh’ the air made as it drove the blades, was quite apparent to me. At night time without all the birds twittering (and traffic noises) it would be absolutely apparent.

    It was notable that I didn’t fall asleep, something that usually happens on our country drives. It turned out to be a nice trip, I like it a bit more when there is no ‘fixed itinerary’ with before, during, and after ‘appointments’. Sometimes having such time-tables is a good thing, but it’s also relaxing to leave the timetables and lists behind, and just go where-ever the road(s) take you.

    Certainly more interesting than the Page ‘walk’ we just did. 🙂

    You didn’t mention the hang-gliders we saw frolicking up above Lake George on the escarpment, where the mountainous sheer forces the air currents straight up, generating ‘lift’ for the gliders. Tim at work used to do hang-gliding there, which is how come I knew about the site. They looked tiny and fragile. As a ‘stout’ person it would give me the heebie jeebies to be up there suspended on some nylon and aluminium piping …

    Your pictures of the wind turbines came out well.

  2. valkyrie1 says:

    As always, thank you for your comment and for remembering things I forgot, like the hang-gliders.

    It certainly was more interesting than Page, but at least Page will be quick to write up!

  3. Jill Barker says:

    I really like the way this walk is politicised by thoughts about the fate of Collector (and of bridges, roads, – all that). Thank you too for setting me straight with impressive IPA about the pronunciation of Breadalbane (another case where the Australian pron’n is different from that of the original one – Scottish, I think). I was surprised once, for example, to find that there is a ‘Melbourn’ in the UK, pronounced with stress on the second syllable. (I couldn’t do IPA now to save my life! )
    I too love the look of wind farms. But why does my nephew tell me that they are counterproductive? Cost more Global Warming to build than they save; have a short life; disposal problems – all that? Is he just being a right wing sceptic (which would be in character)? or is there something in it?
    Nice to see Dac’s additions, too.

  4. Jill Barker says:

    Oh yes – and I think you’ll find (to quote my son Michael) that the sheep was probably a she-sheep.

  5. valkyrie1 says:

    I was devoted to the IPA from the moment I learned it in General Linguistics I. It comes in very handy with Danish! But Wikipedia reckons the pronunciation of Breadalbane NSW is the same as the pronunciation of Breadalbane Scotland.

    All energy generation has costs, but I haven’t seen anything supporting your nephew’s claims. My friend Mike shouts with rage about the very existence of wind farms, but he’s a dedicated climate change denier. Wikipedia’s article on the environmental impact of wind power says, on the other hand,

    “Compared to the environmental impact of traditional energy sources, the environmental impact of wind power is relatively minor. Wind power consumes no fuel, and emits no air pollution, unlike fossil fuel power sources. The energy consumed to manufacture and transport the materials used to build a wind power plant is equal to the new energy produced by the plant within a few months.”

    I am embarrassed about the sheep. I suppose it would have had horns if it’d been a boy?

  6. dac says:

    im a bit on the fence about -our- involvement in global warming, there is a change, but I dont think its humanity so much as insolation and vulcanism, which spew out uncounted billions of tuonnesof grrenhouse gasses. 600,000,000 years ago, the atmosphere had huge amounts of h2s, and no oxygen to speak of, it was only the crazy self defeating bacteria that kickstarted the oxygen thing. For all our pollution, we are still very small potatoes compared to earthquakes and plate tectonics. This carbon tax is just a consumer charge, it is not going to reduce anything in the short term. only wide scale massive social upheavel and the downfall of our civilisation will really see if we made the problem …

    that what i thunk.

    ask dogsley for his professional opinion.

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