Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Little Exploration of Granity

I'm currently sitting out on the front porch of Mary's house, enjoying the sunset, and listening to the dull roar of the sea across the street. This house certainly is in a beautiful location; if one can get over SH67 running directly in front of the house (it's two-lane, not that busy, and the speed limit is 70km/hr), there's the ocean in front and the rainforest in behind. It's beautiful.

This morning (after eggs and my homemade bread for breakfast) I tackled cleaning one of the kitchen cupboards: I took everything out, wiped each item down, wiped the cupboard interior and shelf down, and then put everything back. Well, almost everything... I threw out some expired milk powder and ate the last two crackers in a container so I didn't have to put the box back. :-P I also put some things in opened plastic bags (icing sugar, carob powder, cornstarch) into sealable plastic containers, just to minimise fuss and mess. All things considered, it is quite clean and respectable now, and I know exactly what is in there food-wise.

At 1pm I walked down the road into Granity, as Mary had told me there was a market on Sundays; it wasn't much by the time I got there, however, just a used bookseller and a clotheseller, so I passed it by and went for a walk up the highway and then up another street climbing a hill (it wasn't going to go anywhere interesting for at least 8km, so I turned around and walked back down). As I made my way back down the street, I saw someone had converted the narrow strip of land between the railway tracks and the highway into a vegetable garden; I could see potatoes and cucumbers growing, and a chicken pecking inamongst the grass for insects.

I went into the crafts store beside Drifters Café to say hello to Paul, as I knew he was working, and we talked for an hour about a variety of things. He showed me the silver earrings he makes and sells in the shop; I didn't have the heart to tell him I don't have pierced ears! He bought me a fair-trade chocolate bar,  and we discussed the railway line and Granity's history (the rusty condition of the rails had led me to believe the line wasn't used very much anymore, but Paul says there can be four or five trains a day when the coal mine up the coast is producing).

After the crafts store I headed across the highway to the ocean, where I took in the pebbly beach and beautiful west coast shoreline (and the wind!). I was going to walk straight back to Mary's after that, but curiousity got the best of me and I found myself wandering over to the North Buller Museum. Unfortunately it was closed for the day, and won't be open again until Tuesday, but I wandered around a little bit, and took pictures of old coal cars and brickwork (I can't figure out exactly what the museum building was originally built as, but it was certainly something to do with mining because of the brick coke ovens).

As I walked along the stone fence (with the nameplate "J. White" engraved into it; I wonder who he was?), I noticed a trail heading off into the brush with a caution sign warning "access along a section of the Millerton Incline Walking Track has been restricted due to damage caused to a footbridge during a high rainfall event". Well, that was more than enough to pique my curiosity, and I headed on up the narrow pathway. After about five minutes it abruptly widened and then turned right to climb directly up the face of the mountain. Spotting rusting wire rope on the left, a corroding metal pipe system on the left, and rotting wooden ties on the ground, I knew I had stumbled upon another railway find: the Millerton Incline is a narrow-gauge 24" railway, which originally hauled coal tubs by wire rope. I took a photograph of one of the half-circular metal wire guides that can still be seen in the middle of the incline embedded in some of the ties. The incline was built in 1891, and the Millerton Mine began production in 1896, ceasing production in the 1960s. The incline is still littered with pieces of coal that fell off the coal tubs, all the way from little pebbles to rocks the size of a large eggplant. (Some photos of Millerton's abandoned mine can be seen here.)

I wish I had had the time and ability to climb the entire incline up to the mine site; unfortunately, it was getting late in the afternoon, and my feet are still not in great shape; simply walking into town today in runners was hard on them, let alone trying to hike a narrow-gauge incline that due to its steepness was apparently quite a feat of engineering in its day! Still, I love discovering history and seeing remnants of times past; maybe tomorrow I will ask Paul if I can borrow his bike and ride up the road to the old Millerton mine site, which is less than 8km up the road I started exploring this afternoon. We'll see how my feet feel in the morning.

Back at Mary's house, I finished cleaning out the kitchen cupboard, and then made myself quasi-sushi for dinner; Mary lived in Japan for six years, and as a result enjoys and purchases a lot of Japanese cuisine, so she had packages of dried seaweed in the cupboard. I made a pot of rice, sliced up some tomato and cucumber, and combined with a little soy sauce had a very tasty meal. After dinner I made popcorn on the stove, something I have never done before because I grew up in a house with a hot air popper. It worked like a charm, and I didn't set fire to myself or the house, so everything worked out. :-)

Now it is just after 10pm, and the last vestiges of twilight are turning over to night; I think I shall go have a shower, and then head to bed. Goodnight!


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