Morning light on the Namoi River, Manilla

Morning light on the Namoi River, Manilla.

‘Where have you been, Richard?’ I hear you ask. ‘You’ve gone missing from cyberspace leaving only a scary bald-headed guy wearing your face.’

I’ve been in Manilla. No, that’s not a spelling error. It’s Manilla, New South Wales, a town 512km north-west of Sydney.

The reason for my visit was an invitation from Manilla’s excellent Born to Read festival to talk to school students, teachers and interested readers about books, writing and Bananas in Pyjamas.

The work was enjoyable, the organisation smooth and the hospitality wonderful. But what I also loved was a glimpse of life in and around a lovely small NSW town that sneaks under most tourist radars.

I was awake early enough to take a stroll on the nature walk by the river.

I was awake early enough to take a stroll on the nature walk by the river. There are platypuses there, I was told, though they must have been on a coffee break this morning.

The main street...

The main street…

Some handsome 19th century buildings.

….features some handsome 19th century buildings…

...a clock (to prove I was up early)...

…a clock (to prove I was up early)…

...and a toilet block by the showgrounds.

…and a toilet block by the showgrounds.

Manilla is world famous with one particular group of tourists. Nearby Mount Borah is a renowned jumping off spot for paragliders and hang gliders. It was an introduction to another world for me. No way was I going to participate – my fear of heights and sense of self-preservation is legendary – but it was fascinating to see close up how they get airborne.

Human birdmen and birdwomen from around the world flock to Manilla, which hosted the World Paragliding Championships in 2007.

The wind whips up the escarpment, making it one of the world's best paragliding spots.

The wind whips up the escarpment, making it one of the world’s best paragliding spots.

Preparing to fly.

Waiting for the wind. It can take some time.

Soaring with eagles

Soaring with eagles.

Interested onlooker.

Interested onlooker.

Thanks to the Born to Read committee for the invitation, the organisation and the excellent company. Thanks to all the staff and students who welcomed me so enthusiastically. And finally many thanks to Margaret and Erik Dekkers for the transport and the tour guiding.

PS: Anyone visiting Manilla should stop off at Danderleith Gallery and have a look at Erik’s fine paintings.


Filed under Travel-Australia

8 responses to “HANGING IN MANILLA

  1. jo mckenzie

    Glad you enjoyed your time in our beautiful little town our children enjoyed their time with you

  2. Looks like a great place to hang out or hanglide. Love the pic of the interested onlooker.

  3. The closest I’ll ever get to paragliding is looking at pictures [barring some sort of psychopathic kidnapper with a gun scenario…]; this was a lovely way to live vicariously while being so very thankful I don’t have to actually go up there.

  4. Thanks Richard, we love Manilla and we are glad you enjoyed your visit. We all thoroughly enjoyed having you and listening to your wonderful stories.

  5. This looks like a delightful place.

    P.S. Did I miss something – what is ‘Bananas in Pyjamas’? Sounds hysterical!

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