Sunday, 24 March 2013

Dawdling to Dubbo

Monday 18th March

We left Armidale this morning and had only ventured as far as Uralla – about 24 kms when Pikelets with Passionfruit Butter began calling to us. Needless to say, we promptly answered the call and stopped at (162) Alma Park for morning tea.
It was the prettiest park and the yummiest morning tea!
From there we continued on through the magnificent country side and stopped at (169) Moonbi Park and Lookout.

We walked to the top and I did my most authentic looking Marilyn Munroe impression.

The view from the lookout was incredible. There are not enough wows to describe our fabulous landscapes.

The lookout and park were built in 1938 and I’m sure would have been a wonderful and very popular stopping place back in the days of the old highway

From there, it was on through Tamworth. Not a big fan, to me it is just a really big town with all the hustle and bustle and none of the charm of country living.

We finally stopped at (330) Red Bank Rest Area a freebie for the night, about 12 km east of Gunnedah. There was one other caravan and 40 thousand flies! Ron ended up fleeing inside Indie just to escape them!

Tuesday 19th March

We stopped at Gunnedah just long enough to do the groceries. Wow has it grown since we were here twenty five or so years ago. We have fond memories of shooting at Gunnedah in the Dual Range Championships - always held on Mother’s Day weekend in May – always freezing cold! I particularly remember one year when we opted to stay in the hotel in town when the kids were little and ended up sleeping 5 adults and six kids in the one room! Those were the days!

We stopped at (335) Oxleys Crossing Rest Area for lunch and ended up sharing our picnic table with a couple on their way home to Townsville after touring Tasmania and another couple from Victoria on their way to visit relatives in Brisbane.

We drove on through Coonabarabran and thought to ourselves – wow- we have come a long way!
Turns out it was not a sign for the nearest rest stop but part of ‘The Worlds Largest Virtual Solar System Drive’ -  a scaled model 38 million times smaller than space, it stretches from Siding Springs Observatory to Dubbo.
The rest stops were pretty ordinary (right next to the road and no toilets) so we drove on to Gilgandra and stayed at a pretty ordinary caravan park (Akropolis Motel and Barney’s Caravan Park) for $25.00 – at least it did have toilets (and showers).
Wednesday 20th March
We stopped at the Tourist Information Centre at Gilgandra because they have a beaut exhibition dedicated to the ‘Coo-ee March’ in 1915. The aim of the march was to recruit one volunteer per mile along the 320 mile route from Gilgandra to Sydney.
A total of 351 men did volunteer but only 263 were finally accepted for service.

The Coo-ees on Parade at the Domain, Sydney Tuesday, 7th March 1916.
The troops were reviewed by the Governor-General, Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson.
They embarked for Egypt at Woolloomooloo wharf on the ship A-15, T.S.S. Star of England on 8th March, 1916.

Then, with the galahs looking on, we swung out past Neptune and on to (933) Terramungamine Reserve.
What a lovely spot - right on the edge of the river, lovely and green and with fewer flies.


  After a rousing (and very noisy) welcome from our nearest neighbours, the corellas,  we walked down the nearby track, past the stately river gums with their extraordinary coloured bark and came to the Aboriginal grinding grooves site. The grooves are formed as a result of sharpening axe and hatchet edges, rejuvenation of edges and occasionally seed grinding.

Afterwards, I put our Rapid Boil to good use by making myself some 2 minute noodles for lunch.

Shortly after lunch, the place started to really fill up, and what a lovely group they all turned out to be. There was Rodney and Val Witt from Yeppoon who invited us to call by if we get up their way. We spent almost the whole afternoon chatting with them and then we adjourned to Indie for sundowners

There we were joined by random campers most of whose names we never did find out.


And Bill and Janelle. They were from near Coffs Harbour and also had a Toaster (Toyota Coaster). It was a short wheel base one, a replacement for their previous one which had burnt down.  


Thursday 21st March

We were sitting outside Indie this morning, breakfasting and enjoying the sunshine and the view when one of last night’s randoms appeared and very kindly offered us free tickets to Dubbo Zoo for today if we wanted them as they were of no use to them. We declined because we had been a couple of years ago.

Ronnie did a bit of a clean out and got rid of lots of bits of old papers and put our copy of Camps 5 (our previous bible) on the rubbish bin lid in case someone might want it. We have Camps 6, and Camps 7 is out now as well.
Around mid-morning it got a bit windy and I decided that it was a perfect drying day so Ronnie was dispatched to the amenities block to fetch a pail of water and I took up the position of washer woman with unbounded enthusiasm.

By 3.30 pm it was all dry.

By this time, the camp site was filling up again and we gained a new neighbour, Karl and his dog Suzy.
As I was chatting with Karl it came to pass that he did not have a copy of any directory for free camping so I directed him to the nearest bin lid where he was able to obtain a near new copy of Camps 5.  He appeared quite chuffed with his new acquisition and when last spotted was planning his route to Moree.

Later that evening as Ronnie and I were preparing to eat our rather splendid spaghetti bolognaise, the storm that had been brewing started in earnest. We adjourned to Indie with the intention of bringing the awning in as soon as we had finished eating.

Dissatisfied with this arrangement, the awning decided to come in by itself, arched itself heavenwards and broke away from the bus on one side. So after a good few minutes wrestling with said awning and becoming thoroughly drenched we had managed to roll the awning in, rescue two of the struts which had become dislodged and left the broken bracket with the other support strut hanging at a 45 degree angle to the bus.

We hung our wet clothes out on the washing line, wrung our hands at the likely costs of repairs, finished our dinner and went to bed.

During the night, the rain continued to pelt down, there was much rumbling of thunder, flashing of lightning and the clothes line attempted to escape down the paddock.

Friday 22nd March

Everything remained in this state until the cold light of day when Ron emerged from Indie to survey the damage proper. Much to our surprise the damage did not look as bad as first suspected and Ron managed to reassemble most of the struts and secure the awning and we drove into Dubbo in search of a repairer.

We ended up at Ryans Caravans who quoted us about $200.00 and said they should be able to slot it in between jobs. We went and sat in their lounge and watched TV and the job was done within a couple of hours. Wait for it though, the final cost was $139.40 – less than the original quote!!!!!!!

This being the Year of the Snake and Ron’s Chinese Zodiac sign, it seems that the universe is aligning in a pattern most favourable!!!!!!

We are now staying in Dubbo at The Poplars Caravan Park ($25.00) per night. Not the most salubrious of parks but it is across the road from a large Coles and it is walking distance to the town centre.
Shortly after we arrived, we put the awning out just to make sure it all worked but paranoia over the grey skies, wind and what looked like another approaching storm caused us to have it back in within half an hour. 
Saturday 23rd March
I can’t say that I’m overly impressed with Dubbo. It is pretty grubby looking and of course quite a large city and pretty impersonal.
I just prefer the open spaces and I see towns and cities as necessary evils that must be endured only because they provide goods and services.
Anyway, we went for a walk through town today and I packed my camera in case we saw anything of interest. There were several old buildings that caught my eye and as I went to take my mandatory happy snaps, I found that I had left the camera’s memory card in the computer back in Indie!!! But due to the wonders of modern technology, I was able to use my phone!!!!
Real estate is quite reasonable and in fact, the clock tower in the picture is attached to a building (we believe to be the old Post Office) and the whole lot (not just the tower) is for sale with ‘offers over $500,000 considered’.
After that we walked past the Old Dubbo Gaol and then back home.
Sunday 24th March
Today we have just been getting ready to leave Dubbo and head off to Orange.
Across the road from our Caravan Park are several playing fields and a walking track beside the Macquarie River. We decided to try out the walking track this morning and sallied forth armed only with a water bottle and Ronnie’s impeccable sense of direction.
 We were not the only ones enjoying the fabulous Autumn weather.
Under the bridge, Aboriginal motifs have been used to paint the supports. I think they look fabulous.

We continued on and walked past Sandy Beach, which is just a bend in the river where some gravelly sand has been deposited. It proved to be very popular with the fisher folk and people taking dogs for dips and there were even some remote controlled boats sailing about.
 After that, there was still more river and finally we turned our heads toward home and a well earned lunch.
Later, I wandered over to the shops and bought myself a new pair of shoes, a couple of shirts and a replacement bucket for our broken one. When I returned Ronnie was taking full advantage of the glorious weather, stretched out under the awning watching the soccer game across the road.
Ben has sent a couple more photos of the gorgeous Xander. I told Ben he will have to Bonsai that baby because he is getting tooooooooooo big!!!!!    We do miss the little fella!!!!!! He is growing soooooooooo much!

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