Trip to Leura Garden Festival.

Thanks to Joy, Eric and Darren from Greenock Creek Charter, Halima and I sent the Hounds to my sister’s for a few days and hit the road early on the 8th of October heading for Leura in the Blue Mountains New South Wales for the Open Garden Festival.

Long old road trip across the drought stricken lands from South Australia was pretty sad to see the old place in such a state of drought.

We made Leura by Wednesday afternoon quite late and a totally different scene of very busy roads climbing up into The Blue Mountains area, Darren had a good GPS system to find a way.


We were staying in a very nice Hotel in Leura very close to most of the open gardens we intend to visit over the next few days.





First day here started with a local historian as our tour guide showing the properties and houses of the rich politician’s and business folk who set up their summer or holiday houses in Leura from the early 1920s. After the Guided tour and a lunch break at Everglades Historic House we went to the Blue Mountain Botanical Gardens to wander among nicely landscaped gardens there.



Some amazing Stone walls and buildings here and of course gardens too.



Day two at Leura was a bus trip to Scenic World and everyone enjoyed a ride on the steepest rail system in the world descending to Jamison Valley into the cool climate forest below the sandstone cliffs, a great experience as some of the journey goes under ground then rejoins the daylight to a fantastic view out into the Valley below.


View inside the Rail Car descending sometimes underground.


Views from the cliff top hike after crossing this valley in the Skyway cable car, Halima and I walked for about 2 km along the cliff edge and down into the forest below.


View of the valley below from the Skyway and another crossing for others in the Skyway cable car.

Saturday finally arrived as the first day of the Leura Open Gardens, Halima and I were ready to go to work on the 10 gardens open on the list. It was cold with a few showers of rain on the day but we had some wet weather gear plus a simple plastic poncho that did a good job keeping us dry.


Really spectacular gardens in such a great cool climate environment, nice garden walls and borders everywhere.

Flowing water in the middle of a drought I suspect it was pumped around the garden but the rain added to the amount of water. Nicely made stone walls and steps joining the terraced paths in these gardens.

Looking out from the out doors area of this house into Jamison Valley below, and another terraced path leading to a grotto type water feature flowing from above.

This was our last garden for Saturday we managed to get around to 9 gardens and hiked about 7 km in the process. We missed a visit to two gardens as we run out of time but managed to visit one the next afternoon after the bus trip to visit a museum on Sunday morning.

Monday morning early we left Leura to start the road trip for home, via Oberon where we visited Mayfield Gardens a magnificent 70 hectar garden established on what was part of a cattle property some years ago and is being added to all the time.

Mayfield Gardens are in a rural setting so on arrival for the first time and not knowing what to expect you only see the Reception area and Restaurant area first. You take a short walk through an avenue of existing trees to arrive at the unassuming path leading into the first section of a spectacular garden.

Water features Lakes and Bridges link the gardens together, there is a spectacular Grotto water fall as well.

Along a path leading back to the Reception area is another water feature and water fall, you can use the stepping stones to cross the stream.

A truly special place is Mayfield Gardens it would be good to visit again with more time to see more of what is already there and being developed for the future.

Our over night destination was Cowra then a visit to The Cowra Japanese Garden the next Morning before a 5 hour drive to Hay our last overnight stay for the trip.

Central Lake and large bell if you want to wake Old Buddha before you start your walk.

Views from the higher advantage points in the Garden.

Some of the very tame lizards and a snake who cruised by while I was taking a rest on a bench. He did not seem afraid of people who were watching him and taking photos as he went about his day.

Weethalle Silos painted with a theme of the area somewhere between West Wyalong and Hay I suspect not much grain will be stored here this season.

After another over night stay at Hay we headed for The Barossa Valley then on home to Clare in our own vehicle. A great holiday for our first time Bus trip met some really nice people on the bus and along the way.

One very important thing I will say is to commend Joy from Greenock Creek Bus Tours for coordinating a very successful trip. Accommodation, Meals, Garden tours not only at Leura but along our journey there and back. Darren for all the driving and making sure our drop off and pick up points were as close as possible to the venue we were visiting at the time and loading and unloading our luggage as we went from place to place. The accommodation staff and food venues we frequented were all very helpful and professional at the hospitality trade. Also the 24 other participants on the tour were all very nice friendly folk making it a great experience I say thanks you one and all.

I take no responsibility for not knowing the names of any of the plants or trees featured in these gardens.

Thanks for reading my Blog.

Ian vk5cz ..
















Last Summits for 2019

Hugh and I tried to get to Wilpena Pound and tackle some of the higher scoring summits on the Rim but due to a couple health issues it never happened.

The next best option was cram 6 summits into 3 days before it gets too hot to be doing SOTA in the northern areas. Making Bendleby Ranges our proven accommodation somewhere closer to the summits we headed off early on Friday morning in our own vehicles and met up for a quick coffee at the Jamestown Bakery. This trip the sheering quarters was all booked out but we liked the cabin that was available with better amenities in the one house.

Hugh and I continued on to Bendleby property making the park spot by about 8.30 am where I left the Colorado and jumped in the Mitsi to go out to the first summit Eke Hill. It’s a straight forward trip out to this summit with 1.5 km hike to the top up along a nice creek line then once on the rock ledge you just puff to the top.


Great Views from up here just needs rain and it would be better.


Hugh on the air on 80 and 40 metres, I made some cw qso’s after Hugh.


Off Eke Hill and back to Bendleby Ranges camp ground and after booking in and have some lunch we headed out to the northern property to activate on Marchant Hill.


It was extremely windy on Marchant Hill we needed a guy rope on the squid pole as it fell down once as we were trying to get the antenna up. We only made a few contacts on this summit but enough to qualify before hiking back to the Mitsi parked at dinner time springs.  The morning hike was 3 km and the afternoon hike was 7 km a warm up for the next two days.

Up early on Saturday morning Hugh and I headed off to Hill vk5/ne-031 out on Worumba Station 75 km from Bendleby on station tracks and quite good roads through Pamata Station.

We park on Hollowelina South Station property and hike up from the creek to the summit which makes it easier to access from the east.


These shots are looking back Northeast and Southeast from about halfway up the first range we cross over on way to Hill 031.


Views From top of Hill 031 looks pretty flogged out from the drought.


Hugh and I went tag team on 80m ssb to work our local chasers and this time, they did not disappoint we had 4 waiting for us this time. Then after we made some 40m qso as well to give our farther away chasers some points. This summit I was able to qso with Ian vk5is/3 on 40m cw, you may see the size of the big rock we hook the squidy on it’s the only support on the hill and we need lots of bungy cords to hook it all in place. Being Grand Final day we got off the hill and headed for Pamata Station and had a lunch stop under a tree once we arrived. It’s always a worry on this day if we are going to make enough qso to qualify but the chasers came through.


The first photo is looking back to the creek where the Mitsi is parked and Hugh discussing the best line from here on. I found this waterway the best way to get to Price Hill. its about 3.5 km to hike with a lot of gain near the top, but its a big hill so we have to expect some hard work to get there.


This was our shack on Price Hill behind this rocky outcrop to keep out of the wind and the temperature was probably 30c out in the sun. We both had to work hard to make a score, we got 3 locals on 80m quite quickly then Hugh spent another 20 minutes on 40m ssb to round up a couple more as it was right on kick off as we finished with the 80m group. Eventually after another spot on SW3 we started to get some chasers. I made a nice score of CW chasers at the end of the activation and we headed back to the Mitsi via another waterway to test another line from the hill. Back to the Ute another 7km round hike then 40 odd km back to Bendleby Ranges camp for the night and get those logs in csv form at least.

Sunday Morning a bit sore footed we had a drive up summit as the first one today Maurice Hill, I had already been to today’s summits this year but it was Hugh’s first visit. I forgot to take some photos on this summit but we had a good roll up of chasers on 80m ssb this early in the morning. VK5BJF was there trying out his new FT 818 he intends to use on some of his bicycle trips around at some time. We had to move on early as we were heading home and we rolled down off Maurice hill and went across the valley to Hogshead Summit a few kilometres away.


Hugh’s first visit to Hogshead, things look bit greener here inside Goyder’s Line.


Views to the the North and South.


Me standing by a very tall Cairn and Hugh enjoying some shade with green grass luxury.

Being a bit later in the morning not as many chasers on 80m this time but Hugh got some extra qso on 40m ssb then I made 7 qso on 40m cw to top off a great 6 summit trip.

We had a few rig problems this trip with a blown fuse to start off and filter problems turned on in the kx2. We had to swap out the kx2 on Marchant hill because the Noise reduction and Passband filters were closed down to about 30 hz and made it impossible to receive ssb signals.  We think these filters were inadvertently turned on when the antenna tune button was pushed. Quite difficult to trouble shoot out in the elements with out the hand book and not easy to see the screen in the dust and bright sunlight. On Hogshead I discovered on cw that the rf power of the kx2 was set at 4 watts which may have been like that for a couple of the activation’s as well. These things are sent to test our skills.

Thanks to all the chasers and land owners for access to the summits and Bendleby Ranges for a great place to stay.

Regards Ian vk5cz Hugh vk5nhg ..