IN THE semi-arid Riverland area along the Murray River, there’s a grand old Canadian log cabin that is an oddity of the landscape.
And behind the log cabin there is an American-inspired barn from 1890, full of antique citrus processing machines.
If only the walls of these buildings could talk, they would tell a tale of early settlement like no other.
This is Olivewood Estate in Renmark, South Australia, built in 1889 by one of the three Canadian Chaffey brothers, who were brought out from the US to establish Renmark — and Mildura — as the first irrigation settlements in Australia.
William, George and Charles Chaffey were Canadian-born, and were working in California on irrigation projects when the Victorian and South Australian governments approached them to set up settlements here.
”What followed were several tough years to attract new settlers and establish the pumps, channels and infrastructure for irrigation, with Mildura and Renmark taking different paths to settlement”.
While the towns today are the result of this settler work, Olivewood Estate is a more personal reminder of the Chaffey brothers’ impact on the landscape.
Charles, who established Olivewood, chose a Canadian-style log cabin and US-style barn, on an original 60ha property, which is today 12ha.
Since the National Trust took over management of the building in 1979, volunteers have worked to attract visitors and keep the property viable.
Alongside the homestead, the barn is filled with machines donated from local citrus farms such as a 1910 stemmer and grader.
Next to the barn is a reproduction olive crushing mill and oil house, again full of donated items such as photos, a wedding dress, and a large display of dental equipment.
At the front of Olivewood the Charles Chaffey Centre showcases Renmark’s history.
It is four museums in one, including a Printing Museum dedicated to the old days of hot metal composition and letterpress printing production.
The Images that follow include some taken by Old Guv letterpress printer Bob Downs from his recent trip to Renmark and Olivewood. Thanks Bob.
Sitting on top of a sheer 255-foot cliff with the Mulde River below, and located deep in the heart of Nazi territory, some 400 miles to the border, Colditz Castle (Schloss Colditz) was a high-security prison that the Germans considered escape-proof.
Known as Oflag IV-C, it primarily held high-profile Allied officers and those who had repeatedly escaped from other less-secure camps. It essentially became a prison full of escape artists.
The impenetrable castle’s 7-foot-thick walls and steep cliffs did not deter the prisoners at Colditz, who devised intricate escape techniques and came up with ingenious and sophisticated strategies.
Unfortunately for the Germans, 300 escape attempts were made from this inescapable fortress during the war—over 30 of which were successful.
The high-security measures in place failed to take into consideration the pure audacity and cunning of the imprisoned officers.
From tunneling, cross-dressing, or constructing a glider, the craftiness of the prisoners meant the guards had to remain constantly on their toes.
Following liberation by American forces in 1945, the memoirs of escaped prisoners inspired dozens of films, TV productions, video games, and even board games. In particular, the memoir of British Army officer Pat Reid provided the inspiration for the film The Colditz Story.
A fairly recently discovered ruined city lying in the protective embrace of the Mexican jungles, Palenque is one of the most breathtaking of all Mayan ruins. Known for its intricate carvings and as the resting place of Pakal the Great, the city was once a thriving metropolis between 500 and 700 AD and was home to somewhere around 6,000 people at its height.
The site was only uncovered in the 1950s, and since then it’s been opened to tourists. Now, visitors can get a look for themselves at the massive stone structures, decorated with beautiful carvings, that were once the stomping grounds for one of the Maya’s greatest kings.
So intricate – and so cryptic – are the carvings that some people look at them as proof that the builders had help from a rather questionable source – extraterrestrials.
Carvings depicting bizarre symbols have alternately been interpreted as astrological or religious symbols, or symbolism implying the use of a space ship by the deceased on his way to the next world.
Now a World Heritage Site, only a portion of Palenque’s estimated 1,500 structures have been excavated. Among those that have been thoroughly explored include Pakal the Great’s tomb, and the Temple of the Red Queen.
The latter yielded the knowledge that the Maya painted the bodies of their deceased nobility a bright red – the same red that would have been used to paint many of the buildings. For the Maya, red was the color of blood and the color of life.
Palenque was abandoned by 1000, left to be enveloped by the jungle and preserved by the same wilds that were once cut back from it. There’s plenty of theories about why people left the city, from famine caused by drought to a shift in political power.
The last date that we know the city was occupied was November 17, 799 – the date carved on a vase.
The Kelpies are two 30 metre (100 ft) high horse-head sculptures located at the Forth and Clyde Canal in The Helix, a 350 hectare parkland project built to connect 16 communities in the Falkirk Council Area of Scotland. They are the largest public artworks in Scotland.
The sculptures were designed by sculptor Andy Scott and were completed in October 2013.
The Kelpies are a monument to the horse powered heritage across Scotland.
The kelpie is a supernatural water horse from Celtic folklore, possessing the strength and endurance of 10 horses; a quality that is analogous with the transformational change and endurance of Scotland’s inland waterways.
Built of structural steel with a stainless steel cladding, The Kelpies weigh 300 tonnes each.
While construction began in June 2013 and was complete by October 2013, the process of fabricating the steel was several years in the making.
Sometimes, abandoned man-made structures turn into dangerous eyesores, rotting away slowly before returning to nature or being torn down.
But other times, like when abandoned ships are re-purposed as living reefs, or mines colonized by bats, abandoned structures take on a new semi-natural life all their own, like a crab who uses a jar for a shell.
Such is the case with the Newnes railroad tunnel.
The Newnes railroad was closed in 1932 after 25 years of shipping oil shale.
The rails were pulled out of the 600-meter tunnel, which had been bored through the sandstone in the Wollemi National Park, and the tunnel was left to its own devices.
For Newnes, that meant becoming home to thousands and thousands of glow worms.
The glow worm is a catch-all name for the bioluminescent larvae of various species, in this case the Arachnocampa richardsae, a type of fungus gnat.
Found in massive numbers in caves, the fungus gnat larvae cling to the rocky walls of the abandoned tunnel and hunt with long, glowing strings of sticky mucus.
To see the glowing gnats, enter the tunnel during daylight hours, and head to the middle – it gets dark in the middle where there is a bend in the tunnel – with a flashlight, so as not to bump into the walls.
Turn off the light and wait a minute or two. One by one, the gnats will begin to shine like stars emerging in the night.