We’ve generated a fair number of empty cans and bottles over the last few weeks, so I thought. I drove 80 kilometres to the nearest reverse vending machine, at Tenterfield. And I scored $6! I was a bit mystified by the amount of early morning traffic in town, until I realised I’d crossed the border into a different time zone and it was 9am, not 8am.
However there were benefits from the journey. After sliding evidence of alcoholic tendencies into the reverse vending machine, I ambled along the creek behind the town. The trunks of huge old poplars and a much younger willow twisted and braided their bark into irresistible patterns and textures.
Bulrushes proliferated, with their neat rusty cylinders of velvet and terminating spear; as did blond grasses, flowering water plants and a purple topped candelabra.
By now it was well and truly time for breakfast, so I drove back to the Wallangarra railway station cafe. Wallangarra marks the boundary between NSW and Queensland, and bears the history of a ridiculous squabble between states which led to different railway gauges. The two lines are still visible: 3’6″ gauge in Queensland, 4’8″ gauge in NSW. The differentiation was carried into station design, each state maintaining its standard design: the Queensland side has a bull nose roof and the NSW side a flat skillion roof.
The station has been beautifully restored, and made a wonderful site for my solitary breakfast, looking out to low hills.
In 1919 when Spanish flu was rampant, the authorities thought it could be held at bay by closing borders. Imagine returning from the Great War, heading home on a troop train, and finding yourself in yet another camp.
For another traveller’s view of Wallangarra, and a tale of a rail journey in the days when trains still travelled this route, read the second part of Pauline’s post.