17.01.2019 – WE MADE IT TO TAMWORTH!

After driving 4,592.kms from home, we finally arrived at Tamworth to camp for 10.days and take in the Tamworth Country Music Festival.  Temperatures were 39.degrees and above for almost every day we were there, draining us from energy, but we soldiered on to do what we could in the time.

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How does one describe this Festival?

To the newcomer, it is overwhelming to decide what to do first. For people who have never been, one cannot imagine how many people are performing in hotels, clubs, all entertainment arenas indoors and outdoors – buy tickets/free concerts. Busking in the main street which is closed from traffic for the event with stalls in the middle. Power lifting competitions, whip cracking, and other events happened in and around the main street too. A horse ridden in the centre of a busy mall in the main street. The Festival stretched to nearby Nundle with performances there too. For the Festival, special buses were running to, or close to, all the venues and in town. It was a great service.

Then there were all the statues and tributes around Tamworth to artists, the Big Guitar, Hall of Fame, the Tourist Bureau display of autographed guitars, the Art Gallery with a display of the 2018 Archibald Prize entrants. National Championships Rodeo.  All things Country!

Mike had a promotional beer and gave the entry ticket to our friend, who’s name was drawn for a double ticket to “Have a Beer with the Badger” – Nick Cumins. Lee went with her and during the evening, watched a Guinness World Book title holder (in 3 divisions) for whip cracking, perform. Amazing.

We spent the time listening/watching numerous well known country singers, “tribute” singers performing Elvis, Dusty Springfield, Roy Orbison, Glen Campbell and more, yodeling, comedians, –  the list was long.

On Australia Day, the grand Cavalcade of about 100 vehicles/floats paraded down the main street, Lee Kernaghan leading the way, wearing his signature black Akubra hat.  Lots to watch.

We managed to get tickets to the Golden Guitar Award Night which capped off our ten terrific days at Tamworth.

We think we will have to go back again now we know what it is all about!

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16.01.2019 – Ration Point, Sofala

Our last day at Sofala before continuing on towards Tamworth and Mike was up early to try his luck again with his metal detector. He was again successful in finding junk metal.  Keep trying Mike – there’s a nugget out there somewhere with your name on it!  Meanwhile, Lee worked at the computer and watched kangaroos feed on the new grass outside.

It was another very hot day, above 40.degrees, and so in the afternoon we drove to another part of the nearby Turon River, to Ration Point, 3kms out of Sofala. What a fantastic camping ground and swimming spot. We visited there last year when there were just pools of water in the deepest points of the river, the rest of the river bed just dry stones. This day the river was running well and the water so inviting, Lee decided to cool off by sitting in the river, chatting to a couple of ladies who had their chairs in the river.

All too soon we were driving past amazing scenery, to our next overnight stop.

15.01.2019 – Turon River, Sofala

Following an unsuccessful morning fossicking, unless of course you count the bullet casings, wire and junk Mike found, the heat of the day set in and we took Suzi to the nearby river to cool down. Mike tried a bit of panning and took some equipment to check out sections of river.  Between us, all we caught were photos, but more importantly, the formerly dry river bed now had water flowing well, about knee deep, and it was lovely and cool.

14.01.2019 – On the road to Gold! (We can only hope!)

We temporarily left our companion travellers to strike out on our own and travel from Canberra to Sofala, New South Wales, for Mike to have a couple of days fossicking for gold. Along the way, there has been some recent rainfall and some green about, and small amounts of water in the dams that last year were bone dry.

We went back to our camping spot from last year, the top of a hill just wide enough for us to be able to turn the rig around and park with views over three sides into valleys and the Turon River below, which now was flowing, unlike when we last visited. Kangaroos were feeding on the grasses of the sides of ‘our’ hill.

A magic place to park.

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10-11.01.2019 – Yass, New South Wales

Considering the lengthy distance we had travelled in the heat of the Australian Summer, perhaps not surprisingly we decided on a couple of rest days, free camping at Joe O’Connor Park, Yass. Mike and I had stayed at there 12-13.April 2018 (refer past blog entries of this interesting location). On this stay, a storm passed through Yass during the night. Mike was on a stool under the awning when a clap of thunder, close and loud, caused Mike to fall backwards off his seat!

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10.01.2019 – Tiger Moth Memorial, Narrandera, New South Wales

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Between Hay and Yass, we stopped for a break at Narrandera, visiting the Tiger Moth Memorial near the Tourist Information Centre. Tiger Moth planes have always held a spot in my heart – my father flew them and my first flight was sitting in his lap at a very early age in a tiger moth.

Of course central to the display, a Tiger Moth. Around it, displays of model aircraft and information on the people of this region and their involvement with flying.

 

09.01.2019 – Free Camp Site, Sandy Point, Hay, New South Wales

Hopping from camp site to camp site on our journey to Tamworth (via Canberra) the next on the schedule was Hay, NSW. The site was spacious and again near the Murray River, with the town within walking distance. Facilities are very good, the ‘beach’ on the Murray River being a great BBQ/picnic spot for locals as well as tourists.

08.01.2019 – Bottle Bend Road, Monak, New South Wales

Leaving Renmark on the Sturt Highway, we drove over the Paringa suspension bridge, built in 1927 and one of only four still spanning the Murray River. We travelled through Yamba – the quarantine check point, and in no time we crossed the border from South Australia into Victoria and on to Mildura where on crossing The George Chaffey Bridge over the Murray River, we crossed a second border, into New South Wales. We had been in Victoria a little over an hour.

Approximately 20.kms on from Mildura, we reached our free camp site on the New South Wales side of the Murray River, at Bottle Bend Road, Monak. No facilities, but a large camping area and the beauty of the river.

 

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31.10.2018 – On the road to Broken Hill (AKA Broken Motorhome)

With knowledge of the kangaroos in the area from the previous night, we did not set off as early as we had on other days. As we travelled the 200.km stretch of Barrier Highway between Wilcannia and Broken Hill the numbers of kangaroos feeding at the side of the road in the daylight were less than the previous night, but more active. Mike again was driving well below speed through country that was dry and bare of greenery. Rain must have fallen at some point due to the patches or lines of small amounts of grass growing immediately next to the edge of the bitumen.

Barrier Highway is a main trucking route. We were constantly on the watch for trucks approaching from behind so as to make it easier for them to pass us. They travelled at speed and were numerous. We have become used to seeing two trucks travelling together with huge loads of hay obviously for the stock of drought affected farms.

About half-way to Broken Hill, three kangaroos suddenly came on to the road. As Mike slowed, two of them turned and jumped back off the road. Unfortunately, for the roo and us, the third one didn’t and we thought we had struck it with the side of the bull bar. It hit the front corner of our motor home behind the cab of the truck and also the electric step underneath, bending the step.

Roughly 20.minutes later, a large kangaroo came out from nowhere and burst across the road at speed, and unavoidably, we hit it centre of the bull bar. The number plate and bottom of the bull bar took the hit and underneath the bull bar, the front bumper was bent. As we passed over the kangaroo it hit the underneath of the caddy (towing the Suzuki) and took off the number plate from the caddy, leaving it hanging by one screw.

It is a ghastly feeling to have hit (and killed) the poor animals. We felt ill. In over 40.years of country driving, we have encountered many times, kangaroos that come onto roads and you don’t know which way they are going to jump. Their powerful legs propel them at great speed. Our country roads are littered with those that didn’t make it. This stretch of road is particularly bad, as evidenced by the stains on the highway.

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30.10.18 – Onwards from Cobar to Wilcannia, New South Wales

Taking advantage of the last light of the day, we hit the road again.  Not far out of Cobar we pulled over to check the vehicles and again clean the front window. Lee discovered two mounds in the ground each measuring about 30.cms diameter with whatever lives down there, able to come out of a 5.cm wide opening at the bottom. No idea on what made it and not sticking around to find out!

As we travelled into the evening to reach our camp site for the night, hundreds of kangaroos stood guard at the very edge of the bitumen, not moving, whether it be because of the sound from the “shoo roos” mounted on our vehicle, our bright spot lights or the knowledge of not wanting to be struck as their mates had on this busy trucking route? All were trying to feed on the minuscule amounts of grass growing at the edges of the road in an area hugely affected by long term drought. As we approached, each would lift their head from feeding and stand like statues as we passed. An experience never encountered before and glad to get to our rest area.

Tonight’s camp: Wilcannia Rest Area, approx. 16.kms on the western side of Wilcannia.

Today’s effort: 657.3.kms

 

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