Tuesday, 22 October 2013


A nice rural view of the town of Clifton, taken looking east over the town . 

My brother in law, Merv. and I were up bright and early in anticipation of our country ride. We'd eaten breakfast, consulted the Met. Bureau and checked our bikes. The forecast was fine with a slight nor. easterly, which suited our planned ride. I had driven the route previously so had some idea of the quality of the road surface.

The road traffic was light so we rode abreast and chatted for the first few kilometres as we passed a lot of small crop farms closer to the town. Further on into the ride the vegetation became a mixture of open grazing and scrub.

The yellow plant is a prickly pear which is normally green in colour and would appear to be under weed control.

The pattern formed by bark is a favourite subject of mine to photograph.

Is this an old tree root or is it a fossilised monster from the past?
 It doesn't matter where you are or how uninteresting it appears, there is always a subject to photograph. The biggest problem is actually stopping to take the photograph when you are really enjoying the exhilarating moment of riding with a good tail wind but sometimes the urge to capture the subject is actually greater, particularly if you know you have a blog to write.
We had done some research prior to this ride and learnt that there was a clandestine World War 2 airstrip in this area, housing B17 Liberator bomber aircraft and we knew the general location of this old strip, so we set out to find it. Of all of the areas likely to have been an old B17 Base, this one looked to be the most likely. Looking at the above photo, it is not hard to imagine a strip running North to South, with a number of Nissen huts assembled to the side.
A little disappointed that we didn't find any evidence supporting our discovery, we headed for Leyburn.

As we arrived in town, we came across Liberator Park, a monument to the efforts of those who sacrificed much. The bomber crews from  21, 23 and 99 Squadrons who departed Leyburn never to return. The commando unit, Z Force members who, in their small specialised groups harassed the enemy in an unconventional manner gathering intelligence and harassing the enemy in the jungles of Timor and New Guinea. A lot of these men also paid the ultimate sacrifice. For more information, cross to the following link http://www.ozatwar.com/airfields/leyburnairfield.htm


Leyburn is a place of significant history. It was pioneered in the 1840s by William Gray Snr. who arrived in a bullock dray from Pitt Town on the Hawkesbury River. This is a reasonable distance to cover by car that alone a dray pulled by bullocks. Imagine the thoughts that ran through his head day to day and the hardships he would have endured. There would have been a lifetime of images imprinted onto his brain that unfortunately, died with him as unlike myself, he didn't have the technology to record, store and retrieve the scene at the time. Of course, he or one of his team may have been able to sketch or indeed paint, but I have not found any evidence of this.
The oldest continually licenced hotel in Queensland, the Royal Hotel, is located  in Leyburn. The licence was granted in 1854 for the original hotel called The Travellers' Home Inn. The hotel is now owned by Shane Webke, one of Queensland's favourite sons as he represented Queensland and Australia in Rugby League  and also as a media star in his own right.
On a lighter note, the abandoned airfield became the site of the 1949 Australian Grand Prix. The race was held over 35 laps of a 7 km circuit over a distance of 242 kilometres. The winner was John Crouch driving a Delahay. He completed the race in 1hr 49m 29.2s. Each year, Leyburn hosts the Historic Motor Sprints. People come from all over Australia to take part in their historic race cars. The event is akin to a country picnic race day and takes on a carnival atmosphere. I have been to one such event and had a great time, not only watching the time trials but looking at the immaculately kept old time race cars. For more information open the following link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1949_Australian_Grand_Prix
The historic St. Augustine's Anglican Church, Leyburn

Built in 1871, this beautiful old church is said to be a replica of the church in Leyburn, Yorkshire, England. The shingled roof has been replaced twice in it's lifetime
Having caught up with our local history, we ventured to the only cafe/general store, where we purchased a good old fashioned pie and headed across the road to the creek where there is a lovely, well kept park equipped with picnic tables.

With the assistance of a GPS and map, we then set off for Pratten. Merv had arranged for his wife Kellie to pick us up in Pratten at the conclusion of our ride. We were within 9 km of our destination, when our pick up, in the form of a  blue Subaru came up behind us. We decided to call it a day, loaded the bikes on the back and joined Kellie and Renae, Merv's daughter for the quick drive back to Clifton.

The distance from Clifton to Leyburn is 33 km but we spent an extra 9 km looking for the old airfield. The distance to Pratten is a further 27 km., quite an easy ride for the moderate rider. The area between distance markers 35 and 40 is where we searched for the old airfield. As the runway on the old strip was 7,000ft.long, the paddock where I took the photograph would have been the most likely location.

Cheers and safe riding,
Jimmy Bee

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