Thursday, March 13, 2008

H Is For Holbrook

Mate, Didja See The Submarine In The Outback?


Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


The women in every branch of the McMahon family have this theory about the men in the clan. Let's put this in plain and simple English - the women think all the blokes are blind. Yep. Blind. As in we can't find car keys, even when they're staring us in the face. We can't find anything. We're just candidates for seeing-eye dogs.

So some years ago, when we were driving from Melbourne to Canberra , we pulled into the bush town of Holbrook to stretch our legs.

"What'll we do here?" asked one of the male McMahons.

"For starters, we can go and check out the submarine," I suggested.

Now, you've probably figured that I have a reputation for skylarks and practical jokes. This male McMahon (younger than me) looked me square in the eye. Gave me the gimlet stare. "Submarine?" he repeated. "What submarine?"

It's not often that I get in a situation where I am about to win a verbal joust with anyone. Triumphantly, I pointed behind him. "That submarine," I said in a gloating tone, "the submarine that just about takes up the entire horizon".

This story still causes him some mild embarrassment. Yes, there is a submarine in the Outback town of Holbrook, several hundred kilometres inland and not in any way connected to a creek, river, canal or any manner of nautical passage that perchance might lead to the open sea.


At the Holbrook Hotel, which faces the Hume Highway, you can clearly see the distinctive outline of the submarine on the main sign. Along with the ads for Australian beer, along with the high shady verandahs, along with the clear blue sky and along with the surrounding gum trees, the submarine is what distinguishes this town.

The sub is the HMAS Otway, the second of six Oberon-class submarines built for the Royal Australian Navy between 1966-79. It is 90 metres (about 270 feet) long and a sign nearby explains that it was "purchased and reconstructed by the citizens of Holbrook Shire". The sign also explains that part of the finance was raised locally, while $100,000 came from Gundula Holbrook, the widow of the late Commander Norman D. Holbrook, winner of the Victoria Cross. The town, as you've probably guessed, as named after the naval hero.


Across the highway from the Holbrook Hotel is a grassy oval and parkland, where interstate travellers pull in for a break. I'd have no hesitation in recommending the Submarine Cafe, where the service is friendly, the food is good and you have the option of sitting outdoors, either on the broad timber deck or out on the grass, shaded from the sun by a variety of giant umbrellas.

A lot of Outback towns have towering grain silos or slowly revolving windmills - but as you can see from the photograph above, Holbrook certainly has a distinctive look.

This photograph (above) shows the bulging bow hull, looking towards the gum trees across the highway. But let me get back to the male McMahon who was so skeptical when I told him we would go and explore the submarine that he couldn't see.

He obviously thought I was conning him.

For the home of ABC Wednesday, got to Mrs Nesbitt's Place.

42 comments:

Monique said...

Ugly things, aren't they?

Cowgirl said...

That gives land-locked all new meaning!!!

Hope it's purchase brought the town a few extra tourist bucks but seriously - how bizarre!

Look out David, the Cowfolk are descending on unsuspecting Melbourne shortly - see blog!

Mima said...

What a weird thing to do with a sub. Could you go inside and explore, or was it just there to look at from the outside?

Kimberly said...

I suddenly want to watch The Hunt for the Red October again...

Daryl E said...

As long as they dont add cheese to your sub .. (here a hero sandwich a hoagie and a sub are the same thing)

Pernille's ting og tang said...

Fantastic photo from you as always!! Great H!
Have a nice week:)

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Submarines fascinate me. I would be tempted to take a trip to Holbrook just to see this one - and maybe get to meet you of course!! Interesting post.

Crystal xx

merry weather said...

I have a lot of sympathy for this guy - I'm just the same, although pretty good at spotting the small stuff...years of practise!

Cowgirl said...

Hi David - would love to catch up when in M - can you advise of your email address - best way is to email me info@riverdalefarm.co.nz

Cheers!

Andrea said...

Unusual but interesting.

Vienna for Beginners said...

Hey mate, remember were we parked that **** submarine?

imac said...

Great post David, just see your big grin.lol.

lime said...

haha! that's a pretty big thing to miss. i think the womenfolk may be on to something. terrific bit of history and background on a distinctive outback town though. thanks!

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Cool old boats. And that looks like a pub I went to in Perth.

lynn said...

Good find but i agree they're not too attractive!

CrazyCath said...

Yet another good yarn! I love that sub and it is definitely landlocked! I would be fascinated to see one so close, or go on it, as my mother has at one time in her life. She told me that she was shocked at how narrow it was. Not somewhere I would want to spend a few months.

Great shots as always. I bet the male McMahon is wanting to strangle you for making his embarrassment so public! Tell him not to worry - I have them living here too. They can't find ketchup when there are THREE bottles in the cupboard! lol

Did you know you responded to this comment before I wrote it? (on mine). Now that's clever! Definitely a day ahead.... ;0)

Lilli & Nevada said...

Wow that is amazing. I love the story you tell as well.

Mushy said...

Nice shots David, especially of that UFO just above the horizon in the last two shots!

whodatdare said...

So the McMahon males are blind? Hmm, according to my wife this whodat male is deaf. Loved the pics of the sub. I guess the Cafe only serves submarine sandwiches?

velvetginger said...

Well I that's cool. I sure wouldn't want to be seabound in one though!

Dave Coulter said...

David, these things are universal I'm afraid. A lady I work with uses the phrase "guys eyes"...usually when she's pointing out one of my (very rare)oversights!

The Electric Orchid Hunter said...

That's the single coolest thing I've seen. I'm definitely adding Holbrook to my Outback roadtrip itinerary.

Anna said...

Lol, David - you know I like those big submarines, but they give me chills, when I see them in the movie they are so powerful, yet I would never want to take a chance to be in one submerged. Nice story, thanks for sharing, Anna :)

flyingstars said...

Some very nicely captured shots & lovely reading the commentary...

I have updated I blog, which I generally do on Thursdays on a weekly basis. Thanks & have a nice time:)

Kalyan

Lew said...

Sort of like seeing London Bridge in Arizona crossing a man-made channel. Great story! And Marianne will assure you that I have the same "blindness" that affects your clan.

Sandi McBride said...

Look at this way, if another great flood comes, they're ready. Just might not be room enough for all of the 2x2's
Sandi

Janice Thomson said...

One has to admit it is a very unique tourist attraction. I'd love to tour the inside.

mrsnesbitt said...

Submarines.....petrify me. I have had some VERY vivid dreams about being trapped inside one. Wonder if there's a story somewhere? Remember crossing the Humber as a young child....remember the huge porthole and being able to see both above and below the surface of the water! It freaked me out! LOL!

DeeMom said...

Fabulous post

Julie at Virtual Voyage said...

Great post. Come in handy if the place ever got flooded...

Anne-Berit said...

Interesting H-post,and great photos:o)

i beati said...

what a splendid frame - umbrella scallops !!!

Dragonstar said...

Conning you? Groan!

Fascinating post David.

quilly said...

Your parting pun earned you a check minus from my other half.

However, the unique bit of local culture and history earned you an A+.

nitebyrd said...

Much more interesting than an ordinary statue in the middle of town.

Ornery's Wife said...

There is a submarine drydocked in Muskogee, Oklahoma, in a location many miles from any waterways. There is a wonderful WWII military museum beside it, usually staffed with some salty old veteran who "was there" and has lots of tales to share. It, however, is not easy to spot from the main road.
TM

Janet said...

This was so interesting! A great choice for H.

Neva said...

That is one big submarine in the middle of land.....too funny. I just love to stop and visit....

BumbleVee said...

Hilarious! Imagine coming across that in the outback!?

KaiBlueCreations said...

Well, those are an interesting *H*, did you get to go inside them at all?
I think subs are facinating, but I wouldn't want to be in one for months on end..Maybe a trip under the ice would be nice..
Great H David.
PEace, Kai

D... said...

I come from a 'submarine family'. Very cool shots!

Flassie's Fil'a said...

A sky of Blue and a sea of grassy green!LOL! If you know what I mean? Just a little change in part of the lyrics.
That is one awesome submarine
and funny story to go with it!

I really like how you can turn
something into a funny and
learn a lot in the process.

Thanks for the Brain Blessing!

God Bless You and Your Family!!!