November 26th, 2006


(no subject)

Yesterday B and I went to 'The First of the Summer Ale', a closed reenactment event hosted by the Diggers & Levellers, at Old Sydney Town.

Old Sydney Town is on the Central Coast, north of Sydney. It opened as an historical theme park in 1975 and closed in 2003. The closure was partly due to poor marketing, but also to its location and the fact that the owners hadn't updated their act since the 80's. The reenactments, staged mostly for busloads of schoolchildren and package travellers, were probably good for their day but tastes have changed a lot since then.

While the owners have been busy submitting DA's to turn the place into a hotel and golf course complex, they've been happy for us historical types to turn up every so often, sweep the bird droppings out of the houses and use the place for events. Gradually however, the amenities have been reduced to almost zero. The first time I went there we used the main staff area as a change-room. Later we used the houses, but we still had running water at the old tavern, the only ex-commercial building open to us. The water has now been turned off and we have to flush the loos with water hauled from the lake. No-one minds doing the water haulage: we'd do the same if we were on a hard camp somewhere else. It's just an unsettling reminder that the place is gradually disintegrating around us. I'm told that submissions on the owners' latest proposals to council closed on Friday, so maybe things are coming to an end.

Despite this, we had a very good time. There are a few photos under the (later) cut. Periods shown are from 1642-1805.

Back home this afternoon, we heard helicopters over the lagoon. There were two in use: one was a regular Rural Fire Service aircraft with a fire bucket underneath; the other was a type that uses a proboscis-like tube to suck up thousands of litres of water into holding tanks. I thought the second one might have been the one the RFS has called 'Rocky', after 'Rocky & Bullwinkle'. There's another (named 'Elvis'), but my neighbour told me it recently suffered damage from hitting a tree and isn't back in the air yet. And B tells me he doesn't think the one I saw was big enough to be an aircrane - so I don't know!

There is one pic of the second helicopter under the cut, but it isn't a good one. To see 'Elvis' the aircrane in operation, try:,,20804583-661,00.html

In general bushfire news, weather conditions are good (low winds and high humidity) and look like staying that way for several days.

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