Thursday, January 6, 2011

Think I see Kangaroo up ahead....

When my husband and I spend time together, we like to do it in Mount Tamborine - the resort mountain area we went to when we rekindled our love at the ever-popular Escarpment Resort. On a popular Sunday when the spring festival was on, we saw an old bushman singing bush songs by a campfire. He sung a song that would stick into my newly Australian brain and never leave - Tenterfield Saddler.

Tenterfield Saddler is an old bush song, once made famous in Boy from Oz. It's pretty much reflective of it's title but has a good beat and that soft wonderful bush music type of trance you fall into when you hear a deep voice sing it to a banjo or a fingered guitar.

The song has stuck with me this last year as being something I like to hum when I'm feeling particularly Australian. I even play my CD containing it from time to time. I know all the words. One day while driving to pick something up I notice a sign - Tenterfield is only 220km away! In Australian distances, this is not far at all.
Yesterday my husband says to me, "Are we going to Tenterfield today?" knowing full well I really want to go - just to see a saddler. A four hour drive (turns out, it is through some of the worst roads in the mountains you will ever encounter) just to complete an old bush song in my eyes instead of in my imagination.

Well of course we're gonna go to Tenterfield today!

So we packed up the car and we went.

Tenterfield itself is a small town, filled with incredibly friendly people. I was quite surprised at how quickly you can pull a story from a local. They are proud and happy and willing to lend a hand. First on the list was food and second was the Saddler.

There's a real saddler next to the old one - which is filled with handcrafted leather goods made from local cattlery. Real Tenterfield leather made by the new Tenterfield Saddler. Oddly enough the real and new one doesn't have chicken killing cones. But I digress.
Now I'm sure you're wondering what all these photos have to do with Tenterfield. You see, there's this tiny little offroad that points with a brown sign to a place called "Thunderbolt's Hideout." Brown signs in Australia are almost always tourist routes, and we were tourists that day. Not ready to finish my adventure, I decided to traverse the old windy soggy roads to discover what, exactly, Thunderbolt's Hideout was.

Now my husband had heard of Thunderbolt but being a foreigner, I had not. So I was really surprised and, well, so was he. His knowledge of Thunderbolt was entirely from a line of MACK trucks designed by Mack for Australia's Bicentennial. My husband's boss once owned as his last Bicentennial (out of the 16 there are, his boss has owned 5) the Thunderbolt truck. Each of these trucks is worth between 800,000 and 2 mil, the latter being, of course, the Ned Kelly truck.

So here is the beginning of it all. Little brown wooden signs which give the impression of simplicity and commonality only to be met with grandeur and amazement. The signs are almost a deterrant; why would you want to go somewhere so modestly signed?

The bushwalk (which I use lightly as the rains had more than made the place a gorgeous rainforest with hundreds of waterfalls) was incredible. Jumping over gushing rivers which we later discovered were infested with leeches, we ended up at one of the most beautiful rock formations in the world. With many places to hide, it's no wonder this is where Thunderbolt chose to keep himself in most of his time.

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