MINERALS, CRYSTALS & FOSSILS

06 Dec 2020 

“It’s overwhelming, there is just so much to see.” Said Dave, hunched over the display cases like a kid in a candy store. He’s been interested in Earth Science since high school and this kaleidoscope of colour and texture had us enthralled for most of the morning. 

The Albert Chapman Mineral Collection, on tour from the Australian Museum, represents a world-class life-time obsession by a man from Mackay, Queensland. The Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum is one of the reasons we chose to come to Bathurst. 

People came and went from the hall as we combed through the collection. I was drawn to the combination of colour and texture and had to keep reminding myself these are naturally occurring, mainly in mining areas. Most of the collection is from Australia and one quarter from Broken Hill.  I suddenly felt proud of our complex geological history. 

“There’s so much diversity” I breathed in my hushed museum voice. Every bejewelled colour, sparkled under the lights, and like Dave said – too much to take in. We agreed to revisit the collection when it return home to the Australian Museum. 

Tearing ourselves away, we wondered through the fossil hall, filled with strange and alien looking creatures.

“Do you think HR Giger got his inspiration from these?” I wondered (the Swiss artist who designed the Alien from the film.)

“Imagine if we lived at the same time as this guy” Dave says looking up at the T-Rex skeleton poised to attack “we wouldn’t stand a chance!” 

“He looks like he could bite you in half, no problem.”

“And you couldn’t out run it. What would have happened if they weren’t wiped out…”

We’re quiet impressed with Bathurst, it’s a town with a mix of country folk and city folk. Hand in hand we strolled the main streets people watching and mooching through a ramshackled bookstore. A couple of times we overheard snippets of in-depth conversations between a store owners and customers, people actually talk to each other.  

It was time for a coffee break before we planned to check out BRAG, the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery. There is a busy little café next door to BRAG so we decided that was as good a place as any. 

We had planned to hangout at the café for awhile, people watch, write in our journals, digest how much we’d enjoyed the mineral crystals but the music was beginning to annoy us. We could only hear (and feel) the sub-base and nothing else. Dave could recognise the tracks from the sub-base but it was getting on my nerves.

“Let’s get out of here!” I snapped while scooping my phone and glasses into my handbag with a middle-aged  Sydney-sider’s indignation. 

“Oh thank god!” Says Dave “This music is awful!” 

I felt the familiar wash of calm envelope me as we entered the art gallery. There’s something about the scale of the spaces, a stillness, the quiet, that centres me, every time. Moving slowly about the rooms, we soon lost ourselves in another world. 

There was a collection of drawings by Lloyd Rees, an Australian Landscape painter. ‘The road to Berry’, 1947 is one of my favourite paintings at AGNSW and it was interesting to see deeper into his process through these drawings. They reminded Dave of Japanese woodblock prints from the 40’s. 

As we moved about the gallery my attention kept returning to the terrazzo concrete floor, it really appealed to me. 

Local friends had suggested we try Vine & Tap, a contemporary Italian Spuntini (share plates) for dinner. It was the perfect evening to dine alfresco in the courtyard. 

We ordered their signature dish: mushroom arancini with pickled mushroom, grilled mushroom, truffle mayo, and parmesan, along with house made gnocchi; and Calabrese – a tomato, buffalo mozzarella, fried capers, olives, fresh herbs, balsamic vinegar caviar salad. I won‘t admit to the wood fired pizza and it will be like the calories never happened. 

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