I have travelled by train 640 km north west of Sydney to a town called Moree.
My overseas readers will be interested in the names of some of the towns through which we passed.
Murrurundi, Quirindi, Gunnedah, Boggabri and Narrabri.
I guess these are all words of the Gamilaraay language spoken by the Kamilaroi Aboriginal people who live in this area.
I left home just before 7.30am as I had to drag my bag up hill the kilometre to the station, I usually drive.
After my usual train trip to Sydney the country train left just after 10am and arrived Moree at 7pm. Due to my age I receive 4 free vouchers for country train travel within the state each year. I am using 2 of them for the 3 journeys this trip.
Moree has a population of 10,000 with another 15,000 in the surrounding shire. It is fairly flat country producing cattle, sheep, grain crops, cotton and pecan nuts.
Having taken 2 self-guided tours yesterday morning I am now very familiar with the historic buildings and the parks which are nice and green at the end of winter but lacking in flowers this early. Apparently jacarandas and roses would be more evident in late spring.
I visited the art gallery in an old bank building built in 1910. The gallery mainly contained works of the Kamilaroi people. The oldest intact buildings date from the 1890’s. Floods and fires have removed the older ones. Moree was discovered by white explorers in the 1830’s.
All Saints Anglican church was built in 1936. It is in the diocese of Armidale. Armidale is also an evangelical diocese, in fact a greater proportion of its clergy are evangelical than in Sydney. The bishop was trained at Moore College. However, unlike the Sydney bishops, he attended Lambeth. Women are ordained to the priesthood but cannot be in charge of a parish. Being a weekday, the church was closed but I was pleased to see that they have 2 services of Holy Communion every Sunday with an informal service in the evening. This is like the church in which I grew up, evangelical but Anglican. I probably would not agree with them on acceptance of homosexuality but at least they are not trying to split the Communion over a disagreement.
The main reason people visit Moree is to go to the Artesian Baths so I went there in the afternoon. The Great Artesian Basin underlies 20% of the Australian continent. It allowed the development of the grazing industry in Queensland and Northern NSW. The mineral content is too high for cropping.
The Moree bore was sunk in 1895 and is naturally heated by the rocks to 40’C. It is suppose to be healthy and one lady told me she spends 3 weeks in Moree every year.
While I took every chance as a child, teenager and young man to go swimming, I now suffer the effects of the sun in those days. I was not happy unless I was a deep shade of brown, and while I was not muscular at least my body was slim. Sadly I now do not want to display my lily white blotched body and middle age spread. So I have not been swimming for over 15, probably nearer 20 years.
However at the Moree Baths I was probably the youngest taking the waters and certainly my body did not stand out.
I did venture over to the normal baths which are also heated but only to 27’C to check if I remembered how to swim and almost managed 2 laps, having to take a breather two thirds through the 2nd. So that is good to know.
The Moree Baths were a target of a anti-discrimination campaign in 1965 when Freedom riders travelled to the town by bus because Aboriginal people were notallowed in the baths. The leader was Charles Perkins who was the first Aborigine to gain a University degree. He was awarded it in 1966 on the same day as I was awarded my degree. He received a much bigger round of applause, deservedly so.
Moree once had reputation for racial problems but a man on the train told me things had been much better in the last 20 years.
Today I am taking a bus from the plains, across the tablelands and down to the coast , country called Big River Country.
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