Thursday, January 26, 2006

Wheels are made for rolin' . . . mules are made to pack

I'm scheduled to fly out of Melbourne in about 14 hours, which should put me into Chicago at around 4PM Friday (assuming Quantas 3163 lands on time)

So before I leave I should say a few words about the wonderful place I've been staying, on and off, for the last two weeks.

I believe I've mentioned before that Ballarat, like many old Australian cities, is an old mining town. What I haven't emphasized is that it still has many older buildings. In fact, until the last 25 or so years the climate was considered too uncomfortable for most people, so there was never a big move to develop the area. Now it's a fairly popular spot and the old buildings are thought to add a bit of charm to the place.

This is just one of many streets that's lined with older buildings. Of course most of this was made possible due to the gold boom.

For many years after gold was discovered in the area (mid 1800s) the lure of easy riches drew people to the area. This influx created quite a demand for lodging, so the town is still dotted with old hotels. Some of which are still active, and some of which have been converted to other purposes.

And how did people get to Ballarat? Early settlers came on foot, but by the 1860s, anyone with money took the train to the Ballarat station (you know a train nut like me would get to this eventually.)

This station still stands today and is still active (something which cannot be said about most American railway stations of this age)

What's even more fascinating to me (you non-train nuts can stop reading here if you like) is that the signal tower, old semaphor signals, and gates, are intact. The gates are still operational and, in fact, were automated LESS than 10 years ago!

I'm not absolutely certain, but I believe the black markers nailed to the semaphores indicate that they are no longer to be obeyed, as they currently have electric signals on this stretch of track. It was a nice touch of them not to remove the old tower.

That's all for now folks, with any luck I'll be back in the states soon. See you soon!


At 11:08 AM, Blogger scrappy17 said...

have a good trip and be careful and don't do anything that i would not do! ha ha


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