About three weeks ago I drove to Bathurst to pick up the Suzuki from a friend's place and my route took me along the Bylong Valley Way. Whilst driving along two thoughts came to mind:
1. This would be great on a bike.
2. Isn't this part of the area that has been heavily mined for coal? I had a vague recollection of discussions on how many people don't see the coal mines from the road as they are hidden from view by small hills of overburden. Therefore many of the general public do not have an understanding of the environmental cost of this industry.
So the good news. The views are just as spectacular as this most of the way. Helmet Cam footage to follow.
Now for the bad news. The stories of the hidden views of the coal mines are true. If you drive along the Bylong Valley Way and can find a safe place to pull over near a mine and have a look trhough the trees you will see that the coal mines are huge. I suspect that the only way to have a full understanding of the size of the mines would be from the air. As the environmental arguments move from just coal mining to coal seam gas I can appreciate the concerns many people can have. Conversely, extractive industries have brought employment and economic gains to the region; some good and some not so good as you can see evidence of the "two-speed" economy.
Through NSW, and I guess I will find it in the rest of Australia, are many abandoned churches, or churches used once a month. This is a reflection of many things from the shrinking Christian community to the need for better buildings. They are also a reflection of the dedication of the Christian community from days gone by. Here is one of the older Anglican churches along the way. I can't help but wonder if we could re-use the abandoned churches far more usefully, perhaps small tourist centres with nice facilities. This would encourage "road-trip" tourism and help preserve the heritage of this aspect of our past. These churches were built for God's glory, can we find another way to express this in support of the local community?
Anyhow, as I type this post, I'm sitting at the kitchen table of Dan and Alison's home. Dan is a friend of mine from high school, some 30+ years ago and we are still good friends. I'm missing Karen and Daniel ( youngest son ) a great deal as well as the ability to drop in and see Benjamin ( oldest son ) whenever I wish to; one of the advantages of self-employment or no-employment. I wonder how long I'll survive without close contact but I guess that cheap flights are available from all capital cities.
Later on today I'll introduce my travelling companion and some stats for the autistically inclined.