Lambing Flat Chinese Garden

Silence…. Except for the faint trickle of running water and the occasional splash of nearby Black Swans, the Lambing Flat Chinese Tribute Garden was peaceful and quiet.

Although only four kilometres from the thriving town of Young, in Australia’s Hilltops Region, the site could just as easily be a world away from anywhere.

It’s particularly hard to imagine the violent events that occurred nearby almost 160 years ago, during tension between Chinese and European gold miners.

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These events, known as the Lambing Flat riots, led to a law called the Chinese Immigration Restriction Act – the beginning of the so-called ‘White Australia Policy.’ 

However, that was obviously well in the past in 1996, when the Lambing Flat Chinese Tribute Garden was established to recognise the contribution of the Chinese community to Young and Australia in general.

It would, indeed, be hard to think of a more restful and tranquil place.

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We visited as part of a brief swing through the Hilltops Region, a popular tourist area in the south-west of New South Wales, the most populous State in Australia. 

Hilltops Region covers a diverse, historic and relaxing rural area centred on the towns of Young, Boorowa and Harden-Murrumburrah.

An afternoon storm cleared as we arrived at the Lambing Flat Chinese Tribute Garden and the sun breaking through the clouds spotlighted an amazing mix of colours.  

The light sparkled from wet rocks and the colourful plants and trees were reflected from all sides as we crossed the bridge to the garden. 

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After making our way past the marble lion sculptures that guard the garden entrance, we wandered down a pathway covered in yellow and red fallen leaves until we reached the Pool of Tranquility.

The view across the garden to the aptly named Chinaman’s Dam was stunning and we sat in silence, soaking up the beauty of the surroundings. It was good for the soul.

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Sitting in a valley surrounded by low hills, Young is the commercial and service centre for an agricultural area long known for its stone fruit, sheep, cattle, pigs, cereals, and vineyards. 

Under the Hilltops Region banner, the area is also a key part of a growing tourist trade focused in part on history, culture, arts, crafts and boutique farm-gate produce such as fruit jams and spreads.

And, the riots at Lambing Flat (an early name for Young) are a significant part of that heritage. Gold was found in the area in 1860 and, within months, there were about 20,000 prospectors in Lambing Flat – of which an estimated 2,000 were Chinese.

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Apparently believing that the Chinese miners were abusing the settlement’s scarce water resources, Europeans attacked and drove off the Chinese.

When about 11 men were arrested, thousands of miners rallied and demanded their release. The men went to court, but were set free.

Eventually, police ranks were boosted; one European miner was killed; the courthouse and trooper’s barracks were burned down; shots were exchanged; and the Riot Act was read for the only time in New South Wales.

Controversial then, the gold rush period is now viewed as extremely significant in Australia’s development. Young boasts an excellent folk museum, which draws large numbers of visitors.

The town has gone from strength to strength. Among other things, it is regarded as the nation’s premier cherry-growing district.

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And, to get a complete idea of the development of the area’s culture, we thoroughly recommend a visit to Chinaman’s Dam and the stunning Lambing Flat Chinese Tribute Garden. 

Australia Hilltops Region Regional New South Wales travel

Feature: The Hilltops Region

The Hilltops Region of Australia’s south-east has a look all its own.

As the visitor drives north from the tablelands and Canberra area, the countryside changes subtly. A tapestry of sweeping land opens before you, criss-crossed by obviously fertile river plains and occasional rocky outcrops – all relics of an ancient volcano, Mount Canemumbola.

It is these fertile soils that have long stamped the region as a primary industry force; delivering up grains, fine wool, beef cattle and a range of stone fruit.

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As we near our first objective, the town of Boorowa, livestock is wandering through paddocks turned white by early morning frost.

We’re mesmerised by the sunlight bouncing off the icy ground and spotlighting the red and yellows of leaves still freshly fallen from Autumn.

Stopping by the roadside, we attempt to film the beauty, knowing only too well that cameras can rarely do justice to nature’s lightshows.

The Hilltops Region features the historic towns of Boorowa, Young and Harden-Murrumburrah, along with numerous smaller villages. 

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Each has its pioneering stories and storytellers – and each town regularly celebrates its particular culture and history with a series of popular community events.

Together, the towns of the Hilltops are embracing the future; celebrating a diverse past; and carefully promoting a fast-growing tourism economy.

According to its own literature, the Hilltops Region attracted 414,000 visitors in 2016 alone, injecting AUD$79million into the local economy.

This regional development was the main reason for our visit.  We were keen to sample just why Hilltops was creating such interest among travellers – and how the region had played to its strengths to become a tourism buzzword.

And, at the same time, we wanted to see how the population centres themselves  – and the people there – had changed during the development of the Hilltops identity.

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We’d lived at Young more than 30 years ago, so that centre had particular sentimentality to us.

But, we’d been away a long time – and what we found on our ramble through the Hilltops both surprised and delighted.

Join us over the next week as we explore this journey and outline aspects of the Hilltops Region through our eyes.

As well as following this feature here on Memorable Destination, you can also join us on the ‘Memorable’ stable of Instagram accounts @memorable_destination @memorable_travels and @memorable_hotels.

The feature will also be highlighted on both our Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Hilltops Region Regional New South Wales travel

Review: Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

“Just pretend we’re in Africa during the wet season”.

Sue’s words brought a chuckle as we peered through steady rain and jumped ever-widening puddles at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, near the Australian regional city of Dubbo.

Covering three square kilometres of the central-west of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous State, the zoo is undoubtedly seen at its best in mild and dry weather.

It was anything but dry for us.

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We were there with two of our grandchildren – and were also anonymously seeing how well the zoo catered for older visitors.

In both cases, the attraction scored top marks.

Our grandchildren loved the open plains style of the zoo, where they were able to see the mainly grazing animals roaming, feeding and playing free from walls and fences.

Concealed moats divide the exhibits from visitors, creating the impression of actually being with the animals in the wild.

This feeling is strengthened by well-placed viewing platforms sitting even higher above the open ranges.

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Undeterred by the weather, the grandchildren donned rain ponchos and were pleased to find that, in most cases, the cooler, damp conditions encouraged the animals out in the open.

The zoo has an emphasis on animal conservation and we listened to a couple of talks about endangered animals and threats such as palm oil production to native habitat.

We drove our car around the zoo’s six-kilometre circuit road, stopping regularly to wander among exhibition areas containing lions, tigers, elephant, zebra, giraffe, rhinos, hippos, antelope, monkeys and otters.

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Despite the rain, we managed to see most of the park, which is said to contain almost 100 species from Africa, Asia, North America, Australia and South America.

Ideal for senior visitors

The second reason for our visit – to examine the attraction’s particular suitability for senior visitors – proved an easy task.

To its credit, Taronga Western Plains Zoo offers reduced prices for many seniors. Concessions apply for holders of Australian Pension Cards, certain Australian Health Cards and Seniors Cards.

See details.

There are a number of disabled car parking spaces located at the front entrance, as well as around the Zoo circuit.

If necessary, it is possible to see most exhibits from the circuit, but a few require a short walk on mainly flat ground.

The zoo hires both pushbikes and electric carts

Direction and assistance signage throughout the zoo is large, clear and easy to follow.

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Most of the Zoo is accessible by wheelchair and all-terrain manual wheelchairs are available at no cost through an advance booking service (02 6881 1400)

Identification is required, a disclaimer form must be completed, seat belts worn and the wheelchairs must be pushed by a carer/companion.

The African Savannah Tower is the only raised platform that is not accessible by wheelchair, however, that can be viewed from ground level.

Wheelchair accessible toilets are located around the Zoo circuit and in the entrance plaza.

The zoo has dedicated caravan and trailer parking inside the entry gates, along with a free mobile home service point.

There’s also no need to rush a visit to Taronga Western Plains Zoo, because the entry fee provides admission on two consecutive day

Getting there

Taronga Western plains Zoo is on the outskirts of Dubbo, New South Wales.

Dubbo is a five-to-six hour drive from Sydney via either the Castlereagh, Mitchell or Golden highways.

The Zoo is a five minute drive south of Dubbo on the Newell Highway. A public bus service operates Monday – Saturday.

See timetables 

Dubbo also has a taxi service,

By air

Alternatively, Dubbo is a one hour flight from Sydney, with a number of air services to and from Dubbo City Airport by Qantas and Regional Express

By train

The area can also be reached from Sydney by rail – a top about seven hours. Train services operate daily from Sydney. See how to book.

Regional New South Wales