Revisiting George Evans

Yesterday I attended the unveiling of an interpretive sign in a small park on the Hampton Road, on the outskirts of Rydal, a rural village west of Lithgow. The new sign reminds those who stop to look, about the achievements of George Evans.

As Deputy Surveyor of Lands, he was instructed by Governor Macquarie in November 1813 to retrace the route taken by Blaxland’s exploration party after they crossed the Blue Mountains. Evans was to travel further than they did, surveying the the way and in so doing becoming the first European to cross the Great Dividing Range.

The sign was opened by Paul Brunton, the Emeritus Curator of the New South Wales State Library. He gave a very comprehensive and interesting talk on the life and achievements of Evans.

While sitting there I was reminded of the Footsteps In Time monuments that appeared on the Blue Mountains in the late 1980s. The idea of John Yeaman, they were designed to focus our attention on surveyor Evans. I had written a song about George Evans and I was invited to sing it at the Wentworth Falls and Glenbrook unveiling ceremonies. At those ceremonies I had the pleasure of meeting Mr A.K.Weatherburn, a great-great-grandson of Evans. He wrote a biography on his relative, published by Angus and Robinson in 1966. As far as I know, it is the only biography that has been written on Evans.

[image © Patricia Caffrey]

After the ceremony on Saturday we all headed back down the Hampton Road to the Bark Ridge property where morning tea was waiting. Here I sang some of my songs relating to Blue Mountains’ history including my song about Evans. There is something very satisfying when I sing a song like George Evans and, after all the years, it still feels fresh and appropriate to the moment.

The Tango Two

Years ago my father gave me a very unusual item. Called The Tango Two, this novelty came in a small, cardboard box. Inside the box are two cardboard dancers, a metal ‘table’ with rotating wheel and magnetic spindle, along with three various shaped, metal ‘dancing clips’. It was something that caught his fancy back in the 1930s or 40s.

When the ‘table’ is placed next to a gramophone (we’re talking 78 revolutions per minute, of course) the wheel rotates the spindle as the record plays. Contact made with the magnetic spindle causes the metal clip, to which the dancers are attached, to move. By changing the clips and playing the appropriate music, ‘Fred and Ginger’ can ‘strut their stuff’, waltzing, fox-trotting or one-stepping around your record player. Ingenious!

Every home should have one! Better than the latest app! Complete the coupon, include a postal note, place in an envelope and … here the level of difficulty surpasses my intentions.