There are a few towns in N.S.W. that have abundant autumnal displays; Armidale is numbered among them.
Its proliferance of deciduous trees leads to a blaze of colour every fall though it is rare to get as many species as I captured in this all turning at the same time.
Silly me thought it would be like this every year but, since I took this snap in the early '80s, it has never come remotely close to putting on a display of comparable magnitude.
Sure, all the leaves still turn, but it is spread out over a couple of months, which is good in one way because the spectacle lasts a bit longer, usually from late April to July.
Wonderful what a brilliant Australian sky (and a polarizing filter) can do to highlight a makeover.
This is Armidale Railway Station, rather obviously recently refurbished when this shot was taken.
Part of the station is no longer needed due to modern work practices and so the left hand side of it is now a doll museum.
That reminded me that places like Forbes have turned theirs into an art gallery, Werris Creek and Tenterfield into railway museums, others into team rooms. You just never know what you might come across at the railway these days..................sometimes there are even trains!
Armidale has some wonderful buildings. Certain schools and university buildings spring readily to mind but, if I had to live there, this would be my choice of residence.
Currently owned by a doctor, this lovely balanced piece of work is in Brown Street.
Armidale Northern NSW
There are beautiful trees and gardens in Armidale and I am sure you will love the park. It is quite close to the CBD and just opposite Smith House.
I noticed a sign for a heritage walk but as I had only a few minutes before we set off on the next leg of our journey home I missed that. Next time!
Armidale, like all towns in the New England area, has its share of parks. As regular viewers of my pages can attest, I like parks.
This particular one is located between the Tourist Information Centre and the RSL Club and this particular sculpture is of one of Australia's larger birds, the black cockatoo. In real life they come with red tails or yellow tails and tend to nest inland and fly to coastal areas to feed, especially when the banksias are in bloom.
So if you are interested in old historical buildings do find Smith House.It is just across from Central Park and was once part of the Armidale College of Advanced Education campus. It was where I came for Summer School for my nursing education diploma studies.
Nowadays the college is incorporated with the Armidale University.
So Smith House as a lot of memories for me...one forever etched into my memory is the word 'unisex'....we had unisex bathrooms for the first time in my life and this is where the hairy arm came over the divider offering soap. (It was the husband of another student and he thought I was his wife)
When you get to Dangars Falls to do your tourist thing, you may well stop and view the explanatory trail map that the National Parks and Wildlife Service have put on a display board, along with lots of other interesting information. This map will indicate there are more things to see than simply one set of falls, though the majority of tourists will never use the other trails.
Fortunately for me, work takes me up in the area rather frequently and, especially when daylight saving is in operation, allows me time to do other things.
One of the things I'd always wanted to do was to go to the end of the trail to Salisbury Waters, a name that sounded enticing to me.
The following is what happened on that day.
The opening shot I took just 500 metres from the carpark.
It was about the time I passed the turnoff to Sarum Lookout that I heard, then spotted, an echidna. If you wish to see one on your visit to Australia, this is probably one of the best places.
I've never walked deep into here yet without seeing one and, the time before, I saw four of them. For one reason or another, these creatures fascinate me. They are a monotreme, one of only two in the world (the other is the platypus), egg-laying mammals from a branch of nature that time almost forgot.
To get a picture of one you have to be patient as, when you get near them and they become aware of your presence (not that easy because they have poor eyesight), they tend to roll up into a ball or cower and bury their head somewhere.
Thus it is that you then have to set yourself up in a comfortable position and wait until they start moving again, usually under five minutes time.
Sarum Lookout, by the way, is another rarely visited spot and you can sit there on the chiselled rock and let your mind wander though it must be said that all the other lookouts offer better views.
Tree species you can expect to encounter en route:
New England stringybark
New England blackbutt
Hillgrove spotted gum.
Native broom and wild cherry are also common. The understorey is often sparse except for occasional wattles, blackthorn and grass trees which makes for easy viewing of the native fauna.
For the first hour and a quarter, the terrain is midly undulating and presents no difficulty. You will see some kangaroos (eastern greys predominate) and some of them have become quite accustomed to humans and don't spook readily which is good if you want to take your first kangaroo pic. Be warned, grey on a grey background doesn't make for a good contrast!
After the first five kilometres though, it starts to go downhill and, after another half a kilometre, starts to go downhill seriously. Unfortunately there are only about 15 steps for the next hour and, trust me, unless you are used to going down steep inclines, your legs will ache when you finally reach the bottom. Steps make this sort of trail much easier but, apart from one lot of 13, there were just one or two and it makes for hard walking with the rock-strewn trail demanding your attention at all times.
When you finally reach the bottom there are rewards. The crystal clear waters gurgling through the rounded granite, past green weed soon to be flushed downstream when the next good rains come and all around the echo of birdlife dancing on the eucalypt boughs.
The sandy beach provides soft comfort after the harshness of the trail and the leaves a welcome respite from the sun. The swimming holes beckon you to feel the cool mountain waters and let them flush your cares away.
This then, is the Salisbury Waters experience
This is one of the three most popular falls in one of Australia's great national parks. The other two are Apsley and Wollomombi, covered in my "off the beaten path" pages.
Though magnificent by any standards the downside to this park is that it's not on the Pacific Highway. Were it so there would be ten times the number of tourists I suspect.
Never mind, I like it the way it is!
This is a fair flow over the cascade; it normally is considerably less but, if you're in the area frequently, you can time your visit accordingly.
Oxley Wild Rivers National Park is huge. Larger than a number of European countries. It covers 92,926 hectares. More than 500kms of rivers flow down its gorges. You could literally walk for days through this area and never see or hear a human being.
Dangars however, is quite popular. Easy drive (9 kms of dirt at the end) and picnic tables and barbecues plus easy access to the best views make it so.
The vast majority leave it at that. However, trails go on to Mihi Falls, Sarum Lookout and Salisbury Waters. Imagine rolling plains then, suddenly, there's a canyon carved into the granite over aeons of time right before you. That's what its like at Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.
How far down? It's officially listed as 394 feet.
I often stay at a rural property in the Armidale area and one of the joys of such experiences is going for a walk and soaking up the atmosphere.
There's so much to see even in a small stroll, such as you see here.
I came across country landscapes, pretty flowers and wildlife, particularly birds of whom over 90 species have been listed here, the most notable being the dollar bird.
One has to bear in mind that not all days are diamonds. Just in case you routinely think that I disrobe as a matter of course on every hike I take, bear in mind that, when this photo was taken, every item of my clothing was totally saturated due to the half hour of rain I had just endured.
To avoid hypothermia I took my sodden shirt off but I wanted to get a shot of some of the places and the fact that I was actually there...........no matter how ugly it might look!
Imagine then the surprise of half a dozen Japanese tourists ten minutes later as I approached them while they were on the main lookout. Though I'm not fluent in Japanese (let's be honest, I know nothing), I'm sure they were saying, "Wow, check out that cool Aussie dude", or words to that effect.
One other feature of architecture in Australia is wrought iron verandahs. Popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s they have endured to the point that they are almost all heritage listed and the majority of them appear on old hotels, as shown here on the Imperial Hotel, the far building in the picture, and also on the old Pastoral Chamber (1906) in the foreground.
The two-storey brick and stucco Imperial Hotel (1889) is Armidale's oldest surviving hotel and it features extensive cast-iron friezework on the verandahs, bull nosed awnings and extravagant parapets decorated with Grecian urns and pediments on arches.
Inside, some of the old opulance of Victorian times has been retained.
If there's one thing I think is underutilized in modern architecture, it's stained glass. I love the way colours shine as the sun's rays highlight the rich tapestry of hues intertwined on a window.
Thus it gives me pleasure to feature this relatively modern example (1992) of the art in Hanna's Arcade in the East Mall of Armidale.
Inside the arcade are up-market clothing stores, pharmaceuticals and a restaurant with nice ambience.
It's one of Australia's highest waterfalls and it's readily accessible off the aptly named Waterfall Way about 30 kilometres east of Armidale.
There are picnic facilities and water here and there is a small village nearby (but not on site) should you need anything else.
It is controlled by the National Parks and Wildlife so you can get your detailed information by contacting them in Armidale.
What you see here is the Chandler Gorge that has been cut but the Chandler Falls and the Wollomombi.
The official drop of Wollomombi is 220 metres which makes it second only to Wallaman Falls in Queensland and, though the overall drop is more than 220, it's just that they don't count the more gently sloping cascades that lead into the main falls.
This photo shows the "island" where the two gorges intersect.