In Memory of Donald Daniel McDonell
Died 8th November 1912. Aged 76 years.
Apparently he had an apple orchard in Wingello and used to come out here to pan for gold in the gullies. He said he wanted to be buried as far from apples and women as possible, so some mates obliged him. No birth date on his headstone, and no birth or immigration records that anyone can find. Perhaps it was an assumed name. Bit of a mystery man it seems. It's a peaceful spot. You could end up in a far worse place.
Gillian pointed out 1912 was the year the Titanic went down.
PS I got an email from VT member tyrltyrl who is a relative.
"Daniel Donald MacDonell was my Gradfather's uncle.
He was born at Fort Augustus Scotland 1837.
His brother Aeneas Ranaldson MacDonell was living with him in Winjello and he
moved to Victoria to live with his sister Ann after the funeral.
Daniel was a loner and it was his request to be buried on a ridge overlooking
the Shoalhaven river.
Thomas Smith his brother in law and Alexander MacDonnell his brother were
Take a hike!
Time was short, the weather was pleasant and we decided to explore. The path was one that Jen had followed many times in the past, accompanying children on ponies. Our mission was to visit a grave... an isolated grave... the grave of a man who wanted to be buried far from wimmin. The only things was... could we find it? Jen was pretty sure we could and so we set off.
Along the way we mused about the lack of postcards of Wingello, so I set myself a secondary mission to find some shots that could be turned into postcards and sold in the post office to other tourists.
This view was the starting point.
We had unfortunately missed the rush hour so it looks a little unused and unloved. But Jen kept me alert with tales of close encounters of the serpent kind. I didn't see any snakes that day (or any other day for that matter). She also pointed out the general location of the land designated for the next cemetary once the current one fills up. But people don't seem to be in a rush to break turf at the new location. It's alongthis road and up on the right, by a bunch of trees... I think.
Cappucino at its surreal best
As I stepped from the train, I was greeted with the exciting news, that it was now possible to have a cappucino in Wingello. Well it just had to be tried, didn't it? And it was excellent. The whole coffee experience was amply completed by a visit to the post-office itself and the realisation that, just as it used to be in rural Scotland, the whole of civilisation centred around this one-stop shop. News was passed, mail picked up (in Scotland it tends to be delivered to the door right enough), stuff ordered, rice and milk bought... a real bee hive of a place.
I thoroughly enjoyed our encounter with the residents of Wingello: the lady nattering to Jen stopped and regaled us with amazing stories of her recent trip to Europe. She finally picked up her bag and headed home... and then returned, realising that her shopping bag was empty and that she had forgotten to buy what she had come out for!
If you look closely at the reflection in the window you can just make out the level crossing at the station. I stupidly didn't take a picture of the station either. Talking too much as usual I guess.
If only they could talk...
Here we have another throwback to rural Scotland - the north at least - the place where cars come to die. But in Scotland they have no class, no pedigree - they are just rusting ex-cortinas or ex-datsuns. Saw quite a few of them in the States too for that matter.
This is a particularly fine example of a car-cass I'm sure you'll agree. What it lacks in paint it makes up for in car-acter.
I do love these things... just makes me wonder what the last trip was. Who was in the car on that last, fateful trip? Did they realise that when they parked it out back, it would be for the very last time? Did they go out one morning to head down to the post office for some bread and a copy of the paper and realise that the car wouldn't start? Did she chastise him for not taking it to the garage when they first heard that grinding noise, and, even worse, not even when it started belching black fumes from the exhaust? How far did they have to walk to the nearest car dealership?
- Road Trip
No visit to Wingello is complete without a little peek in the backyard of the fairground man. This is where the carousel horses come to hibernate between seasons. The rest of the yard is the sort of place I'd have loved to hang around when I was a kid: rusty cars, machines that look like they do mysterious and dangerous things... fantastic place
Tour of our back paddock
Estimated time - 40 minutes.
Very few visitors get away without doing the tour of the back paddock. Maybe the wallaby and her joey will turn up, maybe not. I can guarantee wombat holes, a scribble bark tree with strange scrawly writing on it, and the dam. The highlight of the tour is of course our dead car.
Then you will be taken into the house and offered light refreshments.
I must have escorted people on this tour maybe 500 times over the last 25 years. When Pattypoo was here I couldn't talk her into sticking her head down a wombat hole. She wasn't up for that. But Bernishand was and camcorderman took the pics.
Pattypoo wasn't impressed that I had got the time of her train wrong and we sat for over an hour outside the shop being eaten alive by mosquitos. (Sorry about that.) But we did get to see a young gel get a ride home from an obliging local because her uncle had run out of petrol and couldn't pick her up. Bit of local drama. Always takes your mind off being eaten alive by mosquitos.
And home again
Gillian said she had her bush epiphany - the immensity of the place - its ancient character - while Laney and I were walking together up ahead chatting and catching up. That is what I was hoping. That she would get a sense of Australia - taste it just a litle bit. Let it sing to her.
Then Laney invited us back to her place for a coffee and we sat on the verandah of her mudbrick house looking down the sloping lawn to the creek. Her garden is extraordinarily beautiful - full of roses and irises - and her coffee is excellent. Then because she had to go to the shop we got a lift. Gillian and I bought ice creams and after a 5 minute stroll up Bumballa Road we were home safe and sound.
This photo is of Gillian and Laney standing by the cairn that marks the edge of Laney's property. The grave is on crown land.
Two tour guides for the price of one
Laney was home and she put on her boots and hat and guided us to the site. The inscription was hard to make out - covered with muck and bird ***e - and she cleaned it off for us.
We hadn't seen any kangas but we had spotted a blue tongue lizard and an eastern rosella and heard tons of kookaburras chortling away. Gillian reckoned they sounded like monkeys.
Wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed during the tour. Every time I take a foreigner out into the bush it seems to scare to scare the fauna off. Mind you - middle of the day is not the best time for native animal sightings.
Gillian saw our wallaby mother and joey early the next morning in our back paddock. That was obliging of them to turn up.
I think we might be lost
The Lukes have been doing some clearing and the track I knew has gone.
So while we catch our breath and I decide what to do next let's look at this opportunistic plant which springs up after clearing. It is called Salvation Jane and Paterson's Curse. It can keep sheep alive when times are tough but it poisons cattle and horses.
Now I've decided to head towards Laney's place - you have to go through her land to get to the grave which is on Crown land - and if she is home she can give us directions.
Dead Car Proviso
Residents of Wingello are required to display at least one dead car on their property. Ours is down our back paddock but these folks provide passers-by with a photo opportunity.
GillianMclaughlin and I paused to drink in the full beauty of this old veteran. She was only my second customer for this tour. I had taken Bernishand and camcorderman on my maiden voyage.
This is in Camden Street. We are quite close to the beginning of the track and will be in the bush soon.
Towards the track
We begin with a gentle stroll through the village while I fill you in on the local identities. It will be a slightly bowdlerised version of who and what and where and why of course. I know where many of the bodies are buried - why, aren't I taking you up to see where one is buried? - but you know - keep it nice.
No need to strain anything being nice about these folks. Jo and Jeff used to run the shop and Jeff is a carny. Goes all around the place with his rides. Goes up to Queensland in the winter. Used to always put up his jumping castle in the Caswell Park next to the Mechanics Institute Hall when we had a fete on. Nicest people you could hope to meet.
Here we see his dodgems and a merry-go-round stored in their back yard.
Take the Tour Out To The Old Grave
This is one of the few things you can do in Wingello. Other than lolling about, watching the trains go by, waiting for rain etc etc.
The tour guide really is remarkably well informed and personable - she's me. So get in touch with me and I'll take you out there.
Please bring - insect repellent - those lazy flies sit on your back, cling to your eyes and fly down your throat. Most disgusting. The Ausssie salute - gee they are a friendly lot here, always waving - just isn't enough.
Bottle of water. No creeks to drink from. At least not up on the ridge where we are going.
Bit of tucker in case we get lost.
Mobile phone ditto.
Ready? We're off. If we don't get lost it is maybe 5 k. Remember that we have to go there and back again, so tell me when you have walked half as much as you can and we will turn back if necessary.
As I said I took Bernishand and camcorderman on my very first tour. Berni was very taken with this fallen branch which had lodged in another tree. She said it was like a sculpture and took a pic of it. And there it still was. Gave me a funny feeling. Especially as this acre or so of bush is the designated Wingello cemetery - on the map. It is not going to be used until the cemetery in Penrose is full. And people get cremated these days such a lot - can't see this cemetery being bought on-line any time soon.
It was raining when I took Berni and Carl out - it seemed to rain a lot when they were in Australia - they said they had never been in such a wet country and we did begin to call the wet stuff falling from the sky shand - Oh it is shanding, we would say.
And they were tired from all the walking they had done in the Blue Mountains. So round about here they asked for the shortened tour so I just took them on the loop around by Jenny and Terry's mud brick house.
Tours tailored for your convenience and pleasure!
THE WORST THING TO DO IN WINGELLO
Is to have to say goodbye........
we hope we were good guests, we didnt put our feet on the table, throw towels on the bathroom floor, or make rude embarassing noises
we hope we are allowed to come and visit again next time...we promise to try and bring more rain with us
when visiting Wingello it is absolutely vital that you check out the wombat holes
there seems to be a defined procedure for this, you must try to get your head as far down the hole as possible, and shout loudly, hopefully this will rouse the sleepy wombat enough to come out and say hello, a word of caution, always keep a bottle to hand to fight off the wombat in case he is the type who wakes up a little grumpy
once you have successfully woken your wombat you will be able to play amusing games with him like Tag, where the wombat chases you - you`ll know when you have been Tagged as he will poo on your shoe, or Hide and Seek, when the wombat finds you he will poo on your shoe then it is your turn to be the seeker
never play cards with wombats, they cheat, and they are very bad losers, they poo on your shoe