Tuesday 19 April 2011 – Farrer

I do realise that this is not a weekend walk, but it was meant to be. We’d scheduled it for Sunday 17 April, but Dac was sick. Sick while on recreation leave. 😦 When he started feeling better, we decided to use my clogging timeslot on Tuesday morning, vacant because of school holidays. I wanted to walk in Farrer, as we’d planned to do on Election Day, but we ended up driving to Farrer shops and setting off at random. Here’s where we walked – a distance of 2.4 kms:

What you can’t see on the map is the fact that Hawkesbury Crescent is practically vertical. Talk about immoderate gradients! I therefore gasped and choked through the first half of the walk, but apart from that it was good. Lovely to be walking around in a cool, bright, joyful autumn day.

Two pictures of trees in their autumn colours

Autumn in Farrer

Farrer is named after William James Farrer (1845-1906):

best remembered as the originator of the ‘Federation’ strain of wheat, distributed in 1903. His work resulted in significant improvements in both the quality and crop yields of Australia’s national wheat harvest, a contribution for which he earned the title ‘father of the Australian wheat industry’.

He was a local! The suburb’s main drag, Lambrigg Street, is named after the property his wife, Nina de Salis, received from her family’s holding, Cuppacumbalong. The property was named Lambrigg after Farrer’s home district in Cumbria, UK.

William and Nina are buried on the property. It’s now a private home but last year was part of the Open Garden Scheme. Having missed that opportunity, I’ve just been admiring Lambrigg via a 7-minute video made by ABC Stateline.

Statue of William Farrer

Statue of William Farrer by Rayner Hoff in Queanbeyan in NSW, Australia 1937

By SatuSuro (Digit Photograph — Own Work) via Wikimedia Commons

The streets of Farrer (apart from Lambrigg Street) are named after agriculturalists and agricultural colleges. Farrer Primary School’s logo is a wheat sheaf; the sports houses are named after Farrer’s most famous types of wheat. We noticed beside the school a small field devoted to kids’ agricultural experiments.

Farrer was someone I learnt about in primary school in the 1950s. Not that many local celebrities (apart from explorers) rated a mention, but Farrer was one. I wasn’t surprised when he turned up on the $2 note. A pity we no longer receive frequent reminders of those commemorated on the old banknotes.

Rosebush with one pink rose

'Tis the last rose of summer

At one stage as we travailed up Hawkesbury Crescent, we were overtaken by one of those elderly, wiry, chirpy men I often see around the place. “Wait till you get to my age,” he smirked, and strode on. If he hadn’t had a pleasant smile and accent, I might have had to give him a good kick.

Here’s a bit of a rant on the subject of fitness and aging. People think themselves virtuous, and they’re sure that’s why they can walk and run and cycle and dance and sing till they’re 100. They’re wrong: it’s luck.

You can be as virtuous as the day is long and still be struck down. You can work hard at not being struck down: perhaps you won’t be, perhaps you will. You can do the complete opposite of what fashionable received wisdom requires, and yet sail through life unscathed. There’s no justice. There’s no rhyme or reason. I wish everyone would stop carrying on as if there were.

Whenever there’s news of a sudden death, however, or a life-threatening diagnosis, someone will always start allocating blame. “Of course, she was a workaholic and should have slowed down.” “He’s led a healthy life and doesn’t deserve this.” I’m reminded of children who think they’re invisible if they hide their eyes. Mortality, despite being universal, must only happen to those who’ve Done The Wrong Thing, whatever The Wrong Thing is currently reckoned to be.

Allocating blame is juvenile, mean-spirited, and pointless. I believe most of us do the best we can: we might as well give each other the benefit of the doubt.

Palm trees

Except perhaps for those who plant palm trees around the place, for example. How fair is it if they get to run up hills?


Consider the topiarist. All that time spent pruning! I have no doubt they think the rest of us, with our ragged trees au naturel, are shirkers and beasts.

I will stop ranting now. Actually I am grateful to the gardeners of the world (even to the growers of palm trees, I suppose) for adding to the sum of mirabilia in the world. I’m also grateful to the dog owners.

A walk after a bath

I believe this beauty is the only doggo who has ever looked at my camera. She was out for a walk to dry her hair. After we met her, we decided to stop climbing the hill and go back down. This made me happy.

Two letterboxes

These letterboxes, on the other hand, were a puzzle. Had the one on the left been trying to take off? When people have a letterbox like the one on the right, how do they think of it? To me, it looks a bit like a small coffin. Perhaps to them it looks like a boat or a keyhole. What would I have done if my house had had a letterbox like one of these?

The obligatory view of Black Mountain Tower

Here’s yer last photo. One good thing about persevering up hills is that you get to see some views.

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5 Responses to Tuesday 19 April 2011 – Farrer

  1. albertine says:

    Hello – lovely post. I like the riff on letterboxes as mythology/access to the psyche.
    In England (and no doubt everywhere, but I really notice it here) people are moralistic about the weather: eg ‘we deserve a good summer after all that snow’. And also retributive – ‘No wonder all this flu is around – we haven’t had a proper winter in years’. That one seems to suggest that we must experience a fixed level of suffering, rationalised by a belief that cold weather kills the flu virus. Oh yes – and people who won’t take their coats off indoors really deserve all they get.

    • valkyrie1 says:

      What do people who won’t take their coats off indoors get?

      Having been blamed so often, for so long, for so much, I LARF in the face the “just deserts” merchants. At least, I hope I do! One of the best things Afferbeck Lauder did for the world was to identify the use of the word “Aorta…” by people like that. 🙂

      • albertine says:

        I know – but why isn’t it obvious to other people? I hear you LARFing right now. Can you also do a scoff for me when you read this?
        The ‘coats on thing’ is associated with the phrase ‘take your coat off or you won’t feel the benefit.’ This is English mumsy shorthand for – you’ll get nice and warm in here in your coat, and then when you go outside again (into the bitter and inhospitable freezing cold) you’ll have no extra defenses. I suppose they will get . . . suffering! or The Flu. Also, teenagers in secondary schools try to sit on the radiators, as well as keeping their (often damp) coats on. And playing football with their schoolbags (but that may be universal). Like so many other pleasures (eg picnics, and sitting on concrete), sitting on the radiators will inevitable give you piles. (at least – I think that’s what the main threat is.)
        Emma Chisit? you may well arsk.

  2. ozexpat says:

    I love the commentary on aging and mailboxes. Expand that. And the history snippets. And the photos.

    • valkyrie1 says:

      Thank you! A peremptory response but very welcome. 🙂 I am thrilled that my four readers in the world are four people I love to read.

      The last blog post of yours that I’ve seen (on Hedonism with Henry) is dated August 2010. Are you writing somewhere I don’t know about, or are you only doing Facebook status updates these days?

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