Green Point, Sofala

Green Point is a lovely campground set along the Turon River about 15 ks out of Sofala. We arrived about 11:00am and parked up to have a look around for the best spot. We spoke to someone who was camped at the top of the riverbank. He asked ‘do you have satellite TV. Don’t go down the bottom you won’t get service’.   ‘It’s ok we don’t.’ I always find it funny watching people set up camp. The ‘dish’ is often the first thing to be set up. (I saw one person move his van so as to get better reception.   Later in the day he walked around the camp to let everyone know he would be watching football if anyone was interested in coming to join him. By the time the game started he had several people with him.)

We walked further down the track and found a spot right beside the river. My first thought was how lovely it would be in summer as it had lots of gorgeous shade right beside the water. We had just finished setting up our camp when some ducks came to wish us welcome. Nice! We had lunch outside watching the water pass us by. Where else would you rather be?

We took a walk to see what else was around us. We stopped to talk to a man with a rock on the end of a length of rope. We asked him why? He answered with “Because it is better than carrying a chainsaw.” Oh, ok. That made a lot of sense. Not. I was a bit confused how a rock on the end of a rope had anything to do with a chainsaw myself. We backed away from him with a smile on our faces. As we started to walk away (not turning our back on him) we saw him throw the rock and rope over a low dead branch of a tree. He pulled both ends of the rope and the branch broke away, the falling branch almost hit him at the same time. He smiled at us and repeated ‘better than a chainsaw.’ Mmmmm.

We continued our walk along the river coming to the end of the track. It met up with the road. If we wanted to go any further we could have to cross the river. We decided to turn round and head back.

We started to collect firewood along the way. We came across our rope man again still working at getting enough wood for a fire. This time he had help from another vanner. I did think they were aiming a little too high when I saw they had the rope around a tree, small as it was. After several unsuccessful attempts to bring the dead tree down they gave up. I don’t know why they bothered as we had collected enough firewood on our walk. The stuff was just lying around.

Adrian set to work building up the fire pit. I love having a fire as I don’t have to do any of the work. My job it to sit back and enjoy and I do. That is unless we are using it to cook with. This time we made damper. Nice!! Well maybe nice isn’t the right word. Defiantly fun to find out how it will turn out. The outside is often burnt while the inside still remains uncooked. (It is an art to get it like that. Not everyone can.)

We took a tour into Sofala the next day. We had driven though the town on our way out to Greens Point but hadn’t stopped for a look. We had gone from one old town to another. Take out the car and you would think you had stepped back in time.

Sofala saw it’s beginning in the big gold rush of 1851. It was common for the miners to find 3 to 5 ounce nuggets as they worked. The largest was a ten pound nugget, the story goes the owner danced a jig on the breakfast table. One team is said to have found 57 ounces of gold from a single wash. At the peak of the rush the main street stretched for 16 kilometres and the population reached beyond 10,000. Only a very small section of the town remains today. Interesting there is no Chinese influence in the building that has stood the test of time. In a census held in 1861, 42% of the population were Chinese. They called the town “Isle of dreams,” but they didn’t seem to leave a legacy behind.

We walked down the main street and like Hill End we only saw tourist like ourselves. Being off season there was only one shop open, a general store come coffee shop. (Not that there were many shops to start with. It did look like the pub would be open at night though.) Adrian ordered a coffee but after a quick look round I decided against one for me. I wasn’t going to risk it.

We walked up the street with a dog following us. He seemed happy to have our company even if we were total strangers. At the start of the town in a park, sits a bridge. We had seen it when we had driven past it on our way to Greens Point and were interested in why a bridge would be in a park sitting beside the Upper Turon River.

The bridge has its birth in England and was brought to Australia in 1860 in a prefabricated form. (The labour costs were much cheaper in England at the time, as convict labour was no longer available.) It is though to be the first iron bridge of its type to be brought west of the mountains. It was built to cross the Fish River but in 1882 it was dismantled and transported to Sofala to cross the River Turon. It would have been a long hard job to get transported and rebuilt as horse teams and wagons were the main transport for the area. It was to be the first bridge at Sofala and made a big impact on the people of the town. Sofala had been built on both sides of the river. With the main part of the town along with the court house and gaol on the south side of the river while the police were housed on the north side. If the river flooded it was almost imposable to for the police to access the town. By 1930 a new all weather bridge was built and the old bridge slowly deteriorated. There was still life in the old structure though as it became a tourist attraction. In 1973 a request went out to the Australian Defence Force asking for assistance in carrying out restoration work.  They obliged and it was re opened with fanfare in 1974 and again became a very popular attraction for tourists again. Unfortunately after torrential rain in 1986, which caused the Turon River to flood at record levels. The flood washed everything away in its path including the bridge. After the floodwater had dried up the bridge was found in a farmer’s paddock. The farmer recovered most of the broken and twisted pieces.   The local people started to raise funds to have the bride restored and set back to stand crossing the river again but it proved to be too expensive. Instead the bridge now sits in the park.

I walked over it and around it. I read the information board and took my photos. The footbridge is a love piece of Australian History. I think I appreciate it more after seeing the Iron Bridge just out of Jackfield in England and for me it is just as nice.

We took the time to have a rest day at Greens Point. It was lovely to sit back and watch the bird life pretend we weren’t there. We had been woken up by a kookaburra on both mornings and the little finches jumped around us at a safe distance. They are just so quick and don’t seem to stop moving. While we were looking at the birds the ducks made sure we didn’t forget them as well. I think they were a little jealous so we fed them some of the left over uncooked damper. Afterwards we though maybe that wasn’t such a good idea for the poor ducks.

 

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