Monday, 26 June 2017

In Sydney

Monday, 26th June.

In the days since our arrival in Sydney, we have been taking it easy, enjoying our family, watched an AFL game at the S.C.G. between Sydney Swans and Essendon Bombers in which the Swans were the victors by 1 point in an exciting last quarter, and an NRL game at Kogarah Oval between Mike's beloved St George Dragons and the Newcastle Knights, won by the Dragons (yay) who were behind at half time but outscored the Knights by 22 to nil in the second half to emerge triumphant.

On Saturday, we were delighted to attend the Wedding Celebration of our younger son and our new daughter-in-law, a very happy occasion.

Our two Sydney based grandchildren are now on holiday from school, in the first of their three weeks off and we are their caretakers for this week, so fun and games to come.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Bathurst to Sydney : 247Kms

Wednesday, 21st June.

As it was extremely cold last night, we left the heater on all night and were so snug and warm when we woke that we didn't want to get out of bed.  Our plan was to leave Bathurst at about 8.00a.m. but the fog that blanketed the town prevented that....we pottered around packing up as much as we could until visibility increased enough to safely take to the road, finally leaving at 9.30a.m. with the temperature at 0 degrees.

The traffic moved slowly out of town, visibility being barely fifty metres making us think that we were in for a long, long drive but lo and behold.....9kms out of town, without any warning, the fog suddenly lifted revealing bright sunshine and blue sky, with the temperature jumping to 8 degrees, so we were able to enjoy the scenery and be warmish from then on.

It was a lovely drive through the Great Dividing Range with the inevitable roadworks and a stop at a fresh produce shop/cafe in Hartley for coffee and f.a. cake, followed by a steep climb through Victoria Pass, difficult for a car towing a caravan, more roadworks at Mt Victoria then an easy drive through and down the Blue Mountains.  At almost noon we could see the grey clouds over Sydney, unfortunately hiding the blue sky we'd been enjoying.  Once down the mountain, we entered the M4, cruised along for about 20 minutes then exited to join the traffic crawl through the outer suburbs to Kurnell, to the storage facility where the caravan is now having a well earned rest until we're ready to leave on our return to the west.

We are now installed in the granny flat, looking forward to lots of family time in the next couple of weeks or so.

Nyngan to Bathurst : 365kms

Tuesday, 20th June.

The workmen who stayed last night in some of the caravan park cabins had all left for work by 6.30a.m., we didn't leave until 9.00a.m.  By that time, the sun was shining brightly and we were beginning to warm up a little.

There were some smooth sections of road for our journey from Nyngan to Dubbo, but for the most part it was bumpety bump which tended to make us feel a little 'seasick'.  Roadworks were being carried out a little way past Nyngan and we encountered several other roadwork 'go slows' before reaching Bathurst.

Our first  stop was at Narromine to top up with fuel, also buying a couple of f.a. cakes from Brenno's Hot Bake Shop, which we ate while sitting on a park bench in the sunshine,  near where a statue of local hero Glenn McGrath stands.  The second stop was at the 'servo' in Molong, for coffee which we sipped while sitting on a park bench in the sunshine (there seems to be a pattern emerging!)  Both Narromine and Molong seemed to be worthy of a little investigation but as we want to be in Sydney tomorrow, there was no time for we say, we can't see everything.  However, we did enjoy the change in scenery, with rolling hills, farmlands with livestock grazing and lots of greenery.

We arrived in Bathurst at about 3.30p.m. and checked in to the Showgrounds for the night, a similar deal to the Broken Hill Racecourse, parked and unhitched the caravan and drove the short distance to Mt Panorama.  We went around the circuit once, then turned around and went around again in the opposite direction, surprised at how steep and narrow it is in some sections.  There were several others driving around, two cyclists struggling up a particularly steep hill and several people walking the circuit.  We were surprised at how pleased we were to have been able to drive around....what a highlight!

The forecast for tomorrow morning is for 1 degree so we may leave the heater on overnight.  This is our last night on the road, at least for the duration of our stay in Sydney where we will stay in the granny flat (a.k.a. the 'east wing') which is behind the home of our elder son, daughter in law and two of our grandchildren.  We're looking forward to fun and games with all of our family in the next couple of weeks.  The caravan will have a holiday at a storage facility in Kurnell until we leave for the journey home.

MacCullouchs Range to Nyngan : 325kms

Monday, 19th June.

'Twas a sunny day, not a cloud day was in the sky....

We delayed our departure this morning to wait for the sun to rise high enough so that we wouldn't be looking directly into it and to reduce the risk of encountering wildlife on the road, leaving at 9.00a.m. after farewelling our neighbours who had also stayed at the Broken Hill racecourse, and whom we'd first met at the sculptures, and shooing off the goats who had come scavenging at first light.

There was plenty of wildlife along the road....many, many goats, lots of emus, a few roos, one of which bounded across the road in front of us but not close enough to cause any trouble, several flocks of sheep and four cows.

The first stop was at Emmdale Roadhouse for fuel and here we were served by a German girl, then at the Meadow Glen rest area for a healthy 'smoko' of fruit and the next stop was at Cobar, arriving at noon.  After a walk up and down the main street, we called in at the Hot Bake Shop to buy a pie each.  Cobar is a quite large town with wide streets, very neat, very clean looking and very friendly.

From there we drove through increasingly greener countryside and farmlands to Nyngan for our overnighter at a large caravan park alongside the Bogan River where we were checked in by an English girl, from Bath.  When settled in we enjoyed sitting in the sunshine  for an hour or so doing very little, then as the sun was doing a disappearing act we strolled to the river before returning to cook a barbecue dinner.

Broken Hill to MacCullochs Range Rest Area : 255kms

Sunday, 18th June.

It was a long, frosty walk to the jockeys' room to shower this morning so I stayed under the lovely hot water for a little longer than usual to warm up for the walk back to the caravan for breakfast.  We were beginning to think that the horses were having Sunday off from their trackwork when we heard the distinct clip clop of their hooves....they didn't look to be too happy to be out on the track, probably would have preferred to be tucked up in a warm stable somewhere.

As we had planned a shortish journey today, we were in no hurry to leave and pottered around until close to 11a.m., our latest departure so far.

Before we reached Topar, we passed the sign informing us that from there on, we were on NSW time and advanced our clocks by half an hour.  It was lovely and warm in the car but when we stopped at Little Topar Roadhouse, about halfway between Broken Hill and Wilcannia, the wind was so cold we hard to don jumpers for the short walk  to the roadhouse cafe where we bought ice creams (never too cold for an ice cream!)   Once we'd eaten them, it was back on the road which, for a time , was quite "nullarborish".....scrubby bushes and few trees.  Along the way there were emus, long haired goats with very cute little kids, sheep and a lot of roadkill....mostly roos  though we were very surprised to see two dead cows, particularly as there were no other cattle about.  Later on we spied a couple of dead pigs.

Our second stop was at a lovely small rest stop where we would have liked to spend the night but we still had a way to go, so boiled the billy for coffee and scoffed the remainder of the excellent Coles $5 dark fruit cake we'd brought with us.

We crossed over several dry creeks on the road to Wilcannia where we stopped for fuel, just before crossing the Darling River which had water in it but not much.  Shortly after remarking that there was no wildlife in that area, a large emu stepped out of the bushes and on to the road in front of us.  Fortunately, Mike had caught the movement out of the corner of his eye and applied the brakes, which slowed us down enough to avoid hitting him but it was a near miss.  The emu was momentarily startled then sped across the road to the other side and quickly disappeared into the bushes.  There were no other mishaps and we arrived at our overnight rest stop a little while later.  Several goats sauntered over to the caravan to see what was going on but didn't hang around for long, I guess they   find humans pretty boring!  We expect to have another cold night so the extra blanket will be required.

Rest Day in Broken Hill

Saturday, 17th June.

We had an easy, lazy morning, breakfasting alongside the racetrack while watching the sunrise and the horses doing their early morning trackwork (interrupted by a family of emus crossing the track), then, after showers in the jockeys'rooms (no, they are not jockey size), we drove into town to the shopping plaza which provided wifi to enable us to finally publish the last seven days' blogs while sipping coffee in one of the cafes there.

After that was done, we did some grocery shopping and then went in search of the Information Centre which was easily found but is closed on weekends so
Mike then checked the internet to discover what attractions were available to us and after a drive around the town, we drove about 9kms out of town to visit The Living Desert Sculptures, carved in sandstone by sculptors from Australia, Tiwi Bathurst Island, Syria, Georgia, Mexico and Azerbijan.  All very impressive and well worth the $6 each entrance fee.  On the way back into town, we called in to the Pro Hart Gallery, which at $3 each (pensioner price) was also well worth the entrance fee.  The artwork is fabulous, much of it for sale but I'm afraid the prices are way out of our league.  However, I did take a few photos which was probably a bit naughty! 

Our last visit for the day was the Palace Hotel which featured in the film "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert", taking a few photos and enjoying drinks in the front bar while watching the last ten  minutes of the rugby union match between Scotland and Australia (Scotland won, boohoo) and chatting to a couple from Newcastle.

On our return to the Racecourse we found that all the caravan sites which had been vacated this morning were now filled again, a nice little earner for the Racing Club in the off season....something that could be done by other sporting clubs I think.

All in all, today was a very pleasant, restful day which is exactly what we wanted!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Orroroo, S.A. to Broken Hill, N.S.W. : 325kms

Friday, 16th June.

It was 9 degrees and a little overcast when we left Orroroo this morning at 9.15a.m.  We stopped at Petersborough, 37 kms south east, with the intention of visiting the Rail Museum but when the cheery lady at the reception desk told us that the tour would take between an hour and an hour and a half, we agreed to push on and will most likely visit on the way home....not that we're in a great rush now but we will have more time to be tourists later.

At about 70kms north east of Petersborough, along the Barrier Highway (A32), we stopped at Yunta for fuel and again 9kms on for our morning 'smoko'.
From then on, except for the hills in the background, we could have been back on the Nullarbor with the scrubby bushes and just an occasional tree.  We stopped at Cockburn on the S.A./N.S.W. border, advanced our clocks half an hour, then discovered when reaching Broken Hill after another 50kms, that B.H. observes South Australian time so had to reverse them all!

We are now at the Broken Hill Racecourse, about 5kms out of town where parking for caravans is permitted for a fee and will stay here for two nights.  Tomorrow is to be a rest day from travelling so we'll drive into town where we hope to find wifi (there is none here, we suspect we're too far out), and whatever attractions the town has to offer. 

We're both looking forward to the day off, particularly my's been a looooooong drive and we're not there yet!