Friday, 15 March 2013

The Gib

I had a visit today from Australian potter, Peter Wilson. Peter is based in Bathurst, NSW, and specialises in crystalline glaze as well as being head of creative arts at Charles Sturt University. Great to see him. I met Peter when he was a 'resi' at Rufford Craft Centre, Nottinghamshire, a few years ago ( I was working there at the time delivering outreach projects. (A great place to work as you got to know all the resident potters who came from all over the country and the world. Hopefully they may start again some time.)

Anyway, a keen and fit cyclist at the time, I used to take him out on the mountain bike around the Sherwood Forest area on beautiful golden summer evenings. I think he came here to get his own back!

However, still keen, but no longer fit (me, that is), we went for a walk instead. So I took him up Mount Gibraltar, locally known as Mount Gib. The Gib is the highest point between Sydney and Canberra, and Mittagong nestles at its feet. Mittagong actually means 'rocky hill' in aboriginal language. It is the spiritual home of the Gundungurra People (known as mountain people) where lies a plaque:

Burringilling ngununggula
(People of the Dreamtime belonging to here.)
Mittagong was originally called 'New Sheffield' due to the promise of the industrial future for the Southern Highlands in the form of the Fitzroy Iron Mining Company. So Mittagong is the site of the first iron ore quarry in Australia - its remains now lie under the car park of Big W and Woolworths. In the nineteenth century, people used to escape the heat of Sydney and come to what was known as the sanatorium of the Southern Highlands, a place where the wealthy could avoid the humidity and heat of Sydney. That still applies. Bowral, a neighbouring town, is home to many Sydney professionals, as well as a popular tourist attraction in the summer, reknowned for its natural beauty, flora and fauna.

The Gib was quarried over 100 years for its microsyenite, a particular type of trachyte unique to this mountain. Apparently, the only other place you'll find it is Moscow, so my sources tell me. The mine is now closed and The Gib is now being developed as a heritage site under the careful TLC of the bush care group which has been working hard for the past 20 years to restore its original flora and fauna. A mammoth task is weeding it!!!! ie pulling out all the ivy, and non-native plants/trees to bring it back to its natural bush state. I've been lucky enough to meet 'Geoff Gibb' through the bushwalking group, and thanks to him I've developed quite a fondness for The Gib. In fact, thinking about it, it's thanks to Geoff that I nearly trod on that copperhead snake as he was telling me to look up at the quarry!  Here he is, the main man, and some more photos of The Gib for you taken on this morning's walk...


  1. Great to hear how you're getting on and to see all your photos. It looks pretty amazing. looking forward to seeing your new work.

  2. Hhhm people of the dreamtime belonging to here, New Sheffield, morning walking group... I'd say you're well and truely fitted in and settled. The only thing missing is a slightly bonkers ex neighbour who keeps popping in for coffee...but keep blogging I'm sat reading having a long distance cuppa with you ;-)

    1. You're right, Ruth. It would make a difference. A cuppa makes the difference, and is missed. Bonkers is a bonus. (There's a noise on the roof - hope it's possum!)