After golf we packed up and headed for Albury Park Station about 20kms away, we arrived to find Dusty shifting a flock of sheep near the farm entrance. And in typical country folk style we sat in our vehicles having a good yarn to each through the driver windows. It was just as well we moved on when we did though as around the next corner, in the middle of the road, came a speeding SUV that just about lost it in the gravel when he spotted us. Had he been 30 seconds earlier he would have ploughed into both of us.
Dusty sent us up his drive and told us to make ourselves right at home, find a spot in the yard behind the house and he’d be up soon. Just after we arrived another vehicle arrived and out of the car came Dusty’s lovely wife Kate & three of their children, Thea, Joe & Willy who all made us feel very welcome. We met the oldest son, Jack, later in the evening when he arrived home from a weekend away at the Queensland Winter Festival.
Dusty arrived soon after to take us to the paintings. We also met Friday, the family dog, a sweet & highly energised three year old foxy. Friday was all over me, most probably because I made a big fuss of her. She bounded & sprung all over the yard as we got ready to go & as soon as she saw that we were making our way to the ute she launched herself into the cab through the drivers door and peered at me through the window- “this is my seat” she was telling me, she moved aside to let me in and then promptly sat on my lap waiting to go. I think I got the better deal though, I was going to share the cab with a zippy little foxy while David had to share the chilly late afternoon air on the ute deck with the two farm dogs.
All the while that we were driving, Friday ran back & forward across me & Dusty yapping with excitement, settling for all of 30 seconds at a time, half on the door arm rest and half on me before she was off again. Friday might be the family dog but she clearly adores Dusty & I suspect she is Dusty’s constant companion on the farm.
The farm dogs look pretty quite here but one still managed to move when I went to take a shot.
We drove back out onto the road and then through a number of paddocks and up a long valley with the river on one side & limestone cliffs & rock formations on the other. A long time ago the rock was quarried from these cliffs and the little concrete shed was thought to be where the dynamite was stored.
Finally after what would have seemed like an eternity for David on the back in the cold, we arrived at the head of the valley and more large rocks, well large is an understatement, some of these were huge. Friday sprung out of the cab and disappeared at speed up the rocky slope on some wild rabbit hunt. Dusty showed us where the paintings were and then left us to walk back down the valley, he was going to shift some sheep & would be back to collect us in about an hour. By then we would have reached another painting that we had passed on the way in. He left Friday with us too, which was good fun. Nothing like having a rabbit (rabid?) mad dog whizzing all over the show
The paintings were located under the rock (top left below) in the dark alcove. They have been authenticated by the right people. The paintings looked like a bird of some sort, one looked like it had a platypus bill. It’s thought that Maori used the valley to hunt & trap moa. The moa were herded up the valley and into the swamp that lays along the base of the cliff (it’s still there today). The moa then became trapped in the mud and were easy targets. And in fact later in the evening Dusty showed me a lower leg bone from a moa that he found when part of the swamp was reclaimed some years ago. It was massive, with three large knuckle rounds where the foot would have joined. Once stuck in the mud the upper part of the moa would have been removed leaving his lower legs in the mud; no meat on them. Makes sense!
|Centre- The return of my little black stickman :)|
All the way along the bottom of the rocks I was looking for the small cave that Dusty had pointed out on our way past. This was where the other painting was, but I’ll be darned if I could find it. By the time I realised we must have passed it, we’d walked the full length of the valley and were heading for the road just as Dusty drove back in to collect us. So back up the valley we drove until Dusty pointed out the cabbage tree. Of course! I forgot to look for the cabbage tree.
We climbed up the slope to check the painting and Friday took this as another invitation to disappear after another rabbit. Where on earth do they get their energy. I had a chuckle later on though when we were in the house, there Friday was laying on the mat, her head on her bean bag, in front of the roaring fire. Looking like a quiet little house dog & butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. And as clean as a whistle too, she had rubbed all her mud off onto me while racing back & forward in the cab
The second painting, a red ochre one this time, was in the small cave to the left of the cabbage tree.
Back home & freshened up, we had a fabulous evening dinner with the family, a very welcome & tasty roast lamb that Dusty had cooked while Kate had prepared the rest of the dinner. My oven is too small & it takes too long to do a decent roast in the van, so this meal was very much appreciated. And a lovely steamed pudding for desert, just like the one my sister & I used to make for our family on the farm. The Mould family showed us such wonderful hospitality, this is what Kiwis are renowned for and now we’ve been on the receiving end. Thankyou Dusty & Kate, and family, for making us feel so welcome. It was a privilege & a pleasure to meet such lovely people.
The next morning we woke to a heavy frost, I walked out to the paddock behind the house to get a shot of the sheep & the sun filled valley below the house.
We packed up and said our goodbyes, Friday escorted us off the property but not before we stopped at the farm buildings down below to get some water and for me to take a shot of the old farm workers hut.
And so that was how we came to be driving out the Albury Park Station gate. Another great experience to add to our list.