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, whose 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, yodelling, 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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10.01.2019 – 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.


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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30.10.2018 – Cobar, New South Wales

After travelling about 384.kms, we parked at the rest area opposite the Heritage Centre for most of the day for Lee to continue working.

Cobar is a mining town and there are plenty of sites and sights around the town to remind you of that. Copper was discovered there in 1869. A short drive in the Suzuki took us to a lookout on Fort Bourke Hill that gives a good view of the open pit mine and entrance to the underground mine. This pit started as a small open cut mine in the late 1890’s. In the 1900’s, the Cobar area had a population of 45,000. Now, the town’s population is about 4,000. In an area of about 44,000 square kms, about two-thirds the size of Tasmania, there is a population of approx. 4,700.

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Walking around the lookout area late in the day, some wildlife and interesting coloured rocks.

Many of the town’s buildings were built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  The home in the first picture below, listed with the appropriately named Red Earth Real Estate, is a 4.bedroom, 2.bathroom home in the town on 1,043,m² land and zoned for home/business use, priced for sale at $325,000.

The Great Western Hotel (bottom right below) has the longest wrought iron balcony of any hotel in the State – over 100.metres.

More time is needed for us to be able to see all that Cobar and the area has to offer, such as mines, museums and Aboriginal rock art. Next time Cobar!

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30.10.2018 – And on the third day…

Another early start and now we are travelling through outback New South Wales. We passed by occasional areas of green grass but for the most part, acres of dry, dusty dirt and dried out scrub. Sheep, cows and goats graze roadside and are just something else to watch out for as we drive the country roads. Some bare paddocks had sheep grazing – but we could not see what they were eating. From where we were there appeared to be just dirt. Slim pickings for the two emus we saw as well.

As we neared Brewarrina, it was curious to us a fairly new lot of fencing on one side of the highway that stretched for kilometre after kilometre. On the other side of that fence, land cleared for what seemed like an extraordinarily wide firebreak.  Beyond that, only trees – no lush farmland – it was as dry as any other properties we had been driving past. We wondered of the need for the fencing and what use the property had behind that fencing.

Entering Bourke Shire, evidence of recent rainfall with more patches of green, but with that came the road kill of wild animals killed at night, coming to the roadside for the green grass. Overhead, hawks and eagles hovered before joining crows to feast upon the carcasses.

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30.09.2018 – The Return Journey to Mullumbimby

Our return journey started late in the day and became a mission to return to the motor home before dark.

Along the way, signs to call in and buy produce.  Loved this cheerful looking home with its produce stall out front:

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Unfortunately it was too late to stop at Moo Moo Café at Mooball, NSW.  We have heard good reports about this unique type of roadhouse/café with a themed museum (motor bikes). A giant motorbike across the road from the roadhouse is certainly eye-catching.

30.09.2018 – Nimbin, New South Wales

What can we say?  Nimbin is COLOURFUL.

We arrived with street markets in full swing and bright colours in abundance. We stood out as visitors – our clothing far removed from the (to our minds) unusual combinations of style, textures and colour. We resisted the temptation to purchase clothing from the abundant markets and stores in Nimbin, many that are a throw back to times of peace, love and tie dying, although I think Mike had his eye on a hat.

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There are many ‘colourful’ characters living in Nimbin, as seen on the web and on postcards for sale, some of whom we encountered. A very ‘alternative’ lifestyle in this area, promoting art, crafts, relaxed lifestyle and good healthy food – which probably accounted for why Mike didn’t find an ice cream store. We wandered through an art exhibition and various shops. The Nimbin Candle Factory had a unique selection of their candles for sale in stores.

A young woman standing next to Mike on a footpath, was approached and offered ‘weed’. We shouldn’t have been surprised: “Naughty” Nimbin has been known as the Weed capital of Australia; the famous/infamous building in the main street. The HEMP Embassy advertised for the legalisation of medicinal marijuana but it seems non-medicinal as well from the various implements and pictured items that were for sale.

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We were glad we went to explore Nimbin and were happy on leaving, to know we could be stopped by the police at the exits of the town and pass any tests they wanted to give us. We don’t know the same could be said of all folk there on the day.