Merry Christmas, Kandos Style


IMG_2940One of the many great things about country towns is the community spirit and how well locals participate. Kandos has this in spades. Everyone enthusiastically embraces events, the markets and …competitions. There appears to be two competitions in particular worth driving around town for – the Christmas lights and the mail box challenges.

These last two were a pigeon pair, next door to each other – two for the price of one. Note Santa and his reindeer sliding down the roof.

This year my daughters drove us around as we snapped just a few of many Christmas decorated homes – some people go the whole hog – reindeers (or kangaroos) pulling sleighs on roofs, lots of Santas attempting chimney drops, fully outlined houses, we couldn’t capture the snow storm on camera … but you get the picture. Some people go full out and it’s a lot of fun to see. A few other cars were also pulling up with us so we weren’t the only ones doing the viewing rounds.


Anyway, here are just a few. Unfortunately some didn’t photograph so well and the girls didn’t seem quite as enthusiastic as us in driving around the streets! The Convent on the other hand was far more subdued with the usual Christmas tree lights however the Grotto has fairy lights which is a nice touch.

More reindeer – we missed the kanga’s pulling the sleigh on another roof.

Knitting Our Socks Off …

… Well maybe more scarves and mitts.

The Heritage Train is arriving on Sunday at Kandos. At least I hope so. It was scheduled to arrive last far but unfortunately the shocking bush fires intervened and it was cancelled.

Anyway, this year the town is ready and we plant be at the markets at the Railway Green. For those who don’t understand the significance, the train doesn’t usually come to Kandos. The public train line stops at Lithgow and the line is kept open for industrial use only – not passengers. Train lines were once a major linkage between towns, but sadly no more. The lines through to Mudgee and other towns  not maintained and we drive over bitchumened tracks all the time. Public transport to country towns is often non-existent. So the heritage train coming to town this year is a really big deal. Tickets sell out very quickly and we’s love to see it more often as it is important not just for commerce but also  for the morale of the town.

We plan to be there with our yellow marquee and knitting goods welcoming visitors – we just hope the weather is a little kinder than the last week which has been blisteringly hot. Possibly not the best time for knitted goods, but we’ve found that we provide great presents for overseas friends and relatives who are in Winter and also have a range of cotton scarves for the locals.

Anyway, it’s more being part of the local action and we’re excited to see the train arrive and encourage it to continue.

The Shop

A great range of stunning Zauberballs
A great range of stunning Zauberballs

Plans for the new shop are moving at a cracking pace. Stock has either been delivered or is on its way – particularly for the international products. Some of the new arrivals are so stunning, I’m finding it hard to imagine how I can part with them. Probably not the best retail approach.

Noro, of course!
Noro, of course!

So far we have a good stock of Noro, Zauberball, Moseley Park and Kaalund. Books have arrived as have a selection of Knitpro needles. A few other lovelies such as some Golding spindles have also found their way here. This week a trip to Sydney helped with shelving as well as some surprises from the last David Barsby auction.

Very happy with our shop fittings
Very happy with our shop fittings

The shop is coming together well and is perfect for our needs – great location, lots of character, good size with two rooms to add interest, of course Yum Cha next door as well as outdoor seating for knitters in good weather. There’s still lots to do – phone/wireless connection, Merchant connections, signage, stationery … but it’s so exciting.

The needles are clicking madly in preparation for our Rylstone StreetFeast stall on 1 November, then it should be full steam ahead to open the shop sometime in November.

Our books will work well in the old dresser.
Our books will work well in the old dresser.

The Mudgee Smuggler Team

Wheels for the travellers
Wheels for the travellers

MRTI (Mudgee Tourism) took the great step of inviting a dozen of Australia’s top influential food and travel writers and bloggers to visit the Mudgee region in a bus to showcase the amazing food and wine of the area.

Whilst following Facebook and their Tweets we noticed a familiar name and face pop up with web_goddess. It was such a treat to be visited by a very happy gang of travellers who had indulged in a massive overdose of Mudgee hospitality.

The team had a quick preview of our new business, Convent and Chapel Wool Shop, which we are in the early stages of setting up and plan to open early November, post the Rylstone Street Feast celebrations (where we will have our stall). They they moved on to what we hope was a great Rylstone experience at 29 nine 99. So great to see good promotion of such a magical region.

Just starting to come together - the early stages.
Just starting to come together – the early stages.

Yee Ha! Footstomping Fun at Ilford


Last night I did the country music thing with some Sydney friends. Every few months some of the intrepid locals organise a country music night at one of the village halls with live music and a country hospitality style feed. To make it even better, local buses pick up and drop people off at their doorsteps.

Ilford Hall
Ilford Hall

Ilford is a tiny village around 20ks from Kandos – no shops just a local community with a hall down a country road surrounded by paddocks. Locals told us that in true community spirit, the hall was built during the day and a dance held that same night.

The country music night kicked off with supper – for $3 you had a choice of sausage sizzle laden with caramelised onion or a delicious lamb stew topped with mashed potato. We were warned to hold off overdoing it as supper was still to come.

The group playing was Peter Coad and the Coad sisters – and how talented were they!?! Obviously a group that had much more than made their name at Tamworth having performed widely in the States with many of the top line C&W Nashville greats. I’ve always said, “never underestimate the drummer” and it could not have been more true in this case with the drummer, Jim Hermel, turning out to be a guitar virtuoso, although the jury is still out on whether he was better than his talented wife, Virginia.

IMG_2638After a generous session, we broke for supper which turned out to be a lip-smacking country hospitality style spread of hot finger food, cakes and slices, including much to my Sydney visitor’s delight, scones with jam and cream. Back for some more rollicking music. After so much more than our money’s worth of three hours of toe tapping, foot stomping singalong music, the night came to a reluctant end. The band were still going strong with as much of an adrenaline rush as they had started the night. Fantastic value.

As we boarded the bus back home on a cold dark and damp night, I couldn’t help but reflect as my name was called out during the roll call (God forbid if anyone missed the bus back home!) how much my life has changed over the past two years and that I wouldn’t have missed a minute of it.


Kandos Hoedown

Dale Hooper
I’m constantly surprised at the stream of activities here. I’m sure it’s because it’s not the city with a zillion things happening that most of the community supports local events wholeheartedly.

The locals getting into it!
The locals getting into it!

This weekend the brave team at Kandos Events who are responsible for the annual Bob Marley Festival put on the second Kandos Hoedown.

The lovely Kerry Shaw

The concert was held in the Community Hall which is an attractive and imposing building complete with a good stage. Four acts in all provided around five hours of foot-tapping entertainment, including the local Bush Rock, Brooke Cornwall, Kerry Shaw and Dale Hooper, a Johnny Cash tribute singer, as the main act.

Great to see the community support, singsongs and even some dancing. Thanks to Sue, Dave and Mary for their continued efforts on Kandos’ behalf.

The Man in Black – Dale Hooper’s Johnny Cash Tribute, endorsed by the Cash family.

Kandos Centenary Celebrations

100 years ago, Kandos was born. Kandos has a different history to most Australian towns as it was basically founded as a “private” town. A number of entrepreneurs decided it was the ideal location for a cement works and bought parcels of land which they used for their cement works, as well as subdividing blocks to sell off to workers. Before then Kandos did not exist – basically, they named and built their own town centred around what is known locally as “The Works”.

This makes Kandos unique as both a twentieth century town and having a basis more as an industrial and private town, unlike so many towns that were based on pastoral activities. Anyway, this year marks Kandos’ centenary – somewhat ironic as the cement works that so defined the town have now closed down and the main buildings for the works will also be demolished this year.

It is an exciting but also somewhat daunting time for the town as it now finds its feet independently – somewhat like an adolescent leaving parents. The town has so much going for it in terms of natural beauty, closeness to Sydney (3 hours), a wonderful welcoming community with so may activities to be involved in and very reasonable real estate prices that are yet to catch up with some of the other more trendy regions.

Over the long weekend in October, many activities have been planned to help celebrate 100 years of Kandos and many Kandos expats are expected to return for the celebrations. The Convent is also participating by opening the garden and doors for Sunday and Monday, which means no slacking off with the gardening! I’m hoping locals and ex’s will bring along copies of photos of their family at the Convent – weddings, Christenings, school photos … to help build a social history of the Convent.

The Convent has now had a few “opens” to the community and it is always so rewarding to have people come along and tell their stories. For now, it’s making sure I have the garden at its best for October.

The Bob Marley Festival – A Feast of Reggae … and more



Yesterday was what is now the annual Bob Marley Festival held on the Railway Green at Kandos. This year built on last with a bigger crowd, more varied market stalls including Jamaican food and more reggae bands.

It’s a fantastic day out with a long afternoon of live bands and people celebrating reggae music and just getting out and having a lot of fun. For the locals, it’s a vibrant and colourful change and many don Rastafarian beanies and dreads for the day. The headline act is Errol Renaud with his band Caribbean Soul , however I particularly liked Joe Tee and Afrodisia, who stayed after their performance and were dancing with all the locals – especially Big Mama.

This year included a Jamaican food stall that was hugely popular with its Jerk Chicken, however my friend and I were encouraged to try the goat curry which was delicious with the rice and beans.

It was wonderful to see the locals – from toddlers to great grandparents, dancing to the music. Cowboys mixed with dreadlocked colourful beanies along with other costumes, such as the little girls in their spangly belly dancing costumes. Not to mention the very cute little girl dressed as Snow White. Another fantastic day in Kandos. Well done Sue, Dave and Mary!


Show Day

One day I might just get there ...
One day I might just get there …

Country Shows are very special for local rural communities. It’s a day when families get together, where local organisations exhibit and farmers get to display and compete with their produce and stock. The whole town turns out and many participate in the various events. There’s a real pastoral feel, even that the first displays you see as you enter are the farm produce, with the rides at the back of the Show. Even though it’s rural, there’s a touch of magic for the kids with the sideshow alley.

A sigh of relief and very rewarding
A sigh of relief and very rewarding

This was my second Rylstone Kandos Show, but my first as a resident. As I did last year, I entered the Knitting section – a single entry this time – with the high bar of matching last year’s first and Champion Piece of Knitting. My lace shawl with beads managed to make the grade, although it was just as exciting to see my friend take out second. We have been challenged to branch out into some new categories next year. Unfortunately my entries with cherry tomatoes and mixed edible herbs didn’t make any grades with no placements. The produce entries are inspiring and remind me how far I have to go. Next year I may be tempted to enter some of the flower categories, particularly roses, if I can get them to flower at the right time!

It’s always good to see the animals and see the pride and care farmers take in their stock. I made sure I had a look at the poultry pavilion as I’m still learning about chooks and which breeds I should be getting. At the moment the Silkies are looking good (they are just so cute and fluffy) and the smooth bantams. I really don’t need big chooks – they’re just for eggs and apparently these are good layers, even if the eggs won’t be huge.

What's a country show without a scarecrow competition
What’s a country show without a scarecrow competition

We were there pretty much the whole day and into the night which ended with a long firework display. There was so much to see that we didn’t get to take in nearly all the events, but the sheep mustering with the working dogs was great to watch and the Jack Russell races were hilarious. I still don’t understand why Hammer didn’t even get a acknowledged as a candidate for People’s Choice voting after he managed to catch the lure in all three races he was in!

The Jack Russell races are a feature. Hammer was a legend managing to catch the lure every race.
The Jack Russell races are a feature. Hammer was a legend managing to catch the lure every race.

Anyway, a long and enjoyable day with friends and we are already planning for next year!

I'm sure lots of little and big people felt just like this little fella by the end of the day
I’m sure lots of little and big people felt just like this little fella by the end of the day

Settling In

Popcorn has made the adjustment well and is a happy resident
Popcorn has made the adjustment well and is a happy resident

A couple of months down the track post the permanent Sydney move and the place is beginning to seem more like home. Rooms have been established, including plenty of guest rooms, furniture is all in place, boxes (mostly) unpacked.

I have always wanted plenty of animals (or creatures) around and it gives the place such a greater sense of permanence. Popcorn, the border collie, was an unplanned but very welcome addition and has made himself very much at home. He is a lovely boy and fits in well with everyone, even Roxy and Tango who very much ruled the roost.

IMG_1962Speaking of roosts, I have just added five pretty little canaries in an aviary. I owned canaries when I was little and loved them, so the chance to take some in when offered was too good to pass up. They only arrived a few days ago but appear happy, chirpy and are already using their nests. They will also be a good interim step before the chooks arrive. I wasn’t sure how the dogs would react, particularly Roxy who is fascinated by birds and loves to chase them. She is equally fascinated by these new residents but given the threat of being sprayed with cold water by me, just sits and watches them by the hour. Hopefully they will take the edge off the excitement of chooks when they arrive in the next month or two.

I’m also spending some time propagating plants. Whilst it’s exciting to get new plants, I also want to have more of what grows well here. It will also be a more economical approach to gardening. Anyway, this means I’ve been collecting seeds and cuttings. I’m also now growing more plants from seeds rather than seedlings. I have a feeling there will be a few failures along the way, but lots of learning will be involved and the results will be rewarding.

One of the next activities for me is to start joining some of the local groups. I’m looking forward to meeting up with some of the spinners and knitters in the not-too-distant future. Kandos is fast becoming home.