We’ve been in Goondiwindi for 2 weeks now.
Chris has been putting in as many hours as possible, working on the program for the Tuscon Arizona company, before we head out to the cotton farm.
We haven’t ventured anywhere except out to the farm to have a look and just around town. There isn’t much to do here for tourist’s. This is a stop over for visitors from south heading north and visa versa. A half way mark so to speak.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t busy. Stand on the side of the highway for just 5 minutes and count how many trucks pass by. There’s a constant stream.
There’s a conversion of 4 highways at Goondiwindi. The Leichardt Hwy, Cunningham Hwy, Barwon Hwy and the Newell Hwy. All heading to different parts of Australia.
The trucks never stop coming. Add to that two huge grain stores in the town and you can imagine how busy it is during harvest season. The locals in the van park here where we’re staying say that in what they call the silly season, (May-September), the place is booked out every day with travellers heading north and workers here for the cotton harvest.
There’s a bloke in a caravan behind us who pilots a crop spraying aircraft. He lives here in his van while working. His wife is back home in Armidale. He was telling us how everything is sprayed today, every gram of food we eat has been heavily saturated with fertilizers to make crops grow, poisons to slow paddock growth (so they can coordinate paddock harvest) and a myriad of herbacides and pesticides. He said if you took seed from wheat and tried to grow it at home it just wouldn’t grow anymore. All the chemicals are needed for it to even germinate.
I remember growing Uncle Charlie’s wheat outside our old cubby house at home one year and had a bumper crop. Not any more. What a world we’ve turned this into!
Goondiwindi as everyone knows, is famous for “Gunsynd” the grey racehorse purchased in 1969 for $1,300 by four gentleman from Goondiwindi.
Gunsynd raced from 1969 to 1973 when he was retired with 29 wins from 54 starts 7 seconds and 8 thirds, but his affect was more than just that as this peice written about him states:
“He had been receiving fan mail for some time but at Caulfield they announced each runner in the Cup as the horses stepped onto the track. This fascinated Gunsynd. He was the second horse onto the track for the race and the huge applause rang out as he was introduced at that moment Gunsynd stopped and pricked his ears as he looked up into the grandstands.
It is said that witnesses believed they saw the grey horse acknowledge the applause by bowing his head before being urged to move forward by jockey Roy Higgins. This was fine until they announced the next horse and the applause rang out again. Gunsynd again stopped and nodded his head but refused to move on. The crowd loved his antics and just cheered even more.
The following Saturday Gunsynd went to the Cox Plate for his 6th race in 6 weeks. Again he was fascinated with the public adulation. He strode out from under the tunnel towards the track and then stopped to look up at the stands, but they remained quiet. Finally he was announced to the crowd who went mad for the favourite and it was only then that Gunsynd moved out onto the track.
At Goondiwindi despite never setting foot in the town until 1973 Gunsynd had his own window at the TAB whenever he raced, a life size statue was built as a memorial and the town became a household name.”
Gunsynd was put down April 29th 1983 suffering inoperable nasal polyps which had been making breathing difficult. He was 16 yrs old. He won races from 1000m to 2500m retiring with record total earnings of $280,455.
Goondiwindi is built on the banks of the Macintyre River which is the boarder between NSW and Queensland. The boarder between Queensland and NSW follows the Dumaresq and Macintyre Rivers from the top of the range between Stanthorpe and Tenterfield in the east to Mungindi in the west.
Here the river, now called the Barwon, leaves the boarder and flows south-west just above Bourke, the Barwon becomes the Darling River which eventually joins the Murray and flows out to sea south-east of Adelaide.
In all, the Macintyre-Barwon-Darling-Murray is 3,370 kilometres in length, making it the longest continuous river system in Australia. So no wonder that when Queensland gets it’s flood rains the rest of the country further south knows about it.
It’s been a very pleasant stay here in Goondiwindi. We’ve met some lovely people, got some work done and even taken a trip home. We’ve also been to Ballina and Stanthorpe during this last couple of weeks but we’re looking forward to the new chapter in our lives which starts tomorrow morning as we pack up the Aussie Wide and head for the Koramba Cotton Farm.
What awaits us there?
This chapter involves doing physical work again for the first time in a while so we’re thinking it’ll be a bit of a shock to the system at first. However we’re both really excited about it.