Monday, July 23, 2012

Charleville in action

Monday 23 July

With power restored to the business centre Charleville experienced a normal busy Monday – lots of passing traffic, the bakery was doing a fine trade and the sun shone warmly. A great day.
Charleville main street
The Warrego River, remains of flood debris in the foreground 

Time to do the tourist thing and visit some of the local attractions. The Graham Andrews Parklands are home to two vortex guns which were used in 1902 in an unsuccessful attempt to break the drought. The reasoning behind the guns was that if they could break up clouds of hail in Europe they might encourage rain to fall in Australia.

The Vortex Guns. It flooded the following year.

Next on the agenda was the Charleville RFDS base with its associated museum. I didn’t know that all Flying Doctor Services are completely free of charge. Families on stations are provided with extensive medical kits, with all items numbered, so people can use them under instruction over the phone if required.

RFDS visitor centre
Station medical kit from the 1990s

Leaving the RFDS we encountered a woman leading a team of camels and talking on her mobile.

Interesting juxtaposition

One of Charleville's most interesting attractions is the WWII Top Secret USA Base tour. In 1942 Charleville Airport and surrounds was a US Air Force Base, and considered part of America. The remains of the base are still being uncovered, but some sections remain intact.
One of the most intact is the Norden Bomb Vault, unfortunately still off limits to tourists due to the presence of some resident snakes.  The vault housed the “secret” - the Norden Bomb Sight – a device which enabled bombs to be dropped accurately on a target.

The Norden Bomb Sight Vault - bomb proof but not snake proof

Other relics uncovered are the remains of the Mess Hall, the Dance Hall, the Ablution Block, a drain with a western red cedar grille and the bitumen baths.
Remains of the Mess Hall, re-discovered only 3 weeks ago
Kitchen floor attached to the dance hall
Tankstand riveted, not welded, and remains of toilet block

Drain with a grille of western red cedar, found only recently
Bitumen baths in the mulga - slit trenches to be used weekly. Cleanliness was paramount.

One of the hangars still in use at Charleville Airport is also a relic of wartime, and is a distinctive American design quite different from Australian hangars. Due to wartime metal shortages it is also timber framed. It was just wide enough to house the wartime Flying Fortresses. The extra-long runway also dates from the war and is classified as an international emergency airport for jumbo jets.
Wartime hangar, US design, Australian built

The Cosmos Centre attracted us at 9pm with its telescope tour of the Milky Way, checking out the Jewel Box as well and Sapphire and Topaz – otherwise known as Albireo. We also looked at Saturn and Alpha Centauri and a few other cosmic bits. It’s a great spot for stargazers. It wasn't even that cold when you're used to sleeping under canvas. 

For another perspective on the Cosmos Centre check out Penny's blog. It's much more entertaining than mine.

To complete a successful day the plumber has also been and declared the toilet and shower safe to use again – the problem was with the neighbour’s plumbing – never was with Penny’s.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting..thanks for posting the pics


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