Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A bit further north (east) ...

We have a few extra days (thanks to Jane doing extra (extra) babysitting duty) so we keep on driving north and get as far as Nambucca Heads … 

and yet another amazing beach just over the sand dune in the caravan park (and again there were no mosquitoes!! ).  

He still loves the rocks!

An uneventful stay and  we leave the coast and head inland up through the mountains ...

-with water falls 

… and a rainforest with a (short) tree-top walk...

... and if you are travelling with a birdwatcher you also do the walk down into the forest and if he is a  good birdwatcher he will finally (even though he ends up with a leech on his tummy!!!)  find his devoted wife a Lyre Bird Yippee 

She's in there - very blurred with her tail pointed towards me
… they scratch around in the undergrowth
and my iPhone (&me) could do no better than this :(
  (I was a Lyre Bird in a school play when I was eight - hence my fascination!) 

… and if you are travelling with a birdwatcher who is also an astronomer-wannabe you then drive even further up (way up) the mountains to see the big microscope at the Observatory.  

The drive up was rather morbid because just a year earlier there had been terrible bush fires in the area, and even a couple of the buildings in the observatory complex were burned to the ground (they managed to save the telescope).  

 The only nice consequence (for us) of that horrible event  was the spectacular views that we wouldn't normally have because the trees had little or no leaves.

We drive out of the mountains and the scenery starts to get more like I'm used to...

We stay in Inverness where nothing happens because the free bus to the RSL only runs on Thursday and it's Wednesday! 
 Next day we are pretty excited because we are headed to Dubbo (in the middle of nowhere)  where we stayed 35 years ago and we are pretty excited because we are going to the open plains zoo just like we did back in '79!  No RSL bus tonight but we are in walking distance of the bowling club (these are huge concerns in NSW) - where the dining room is packed but the chook raffle isn't until Friday night and Joseph only wins $5 on the pokies!  Still we're up (fairly) bright and early for the zoo and are there right at opening time but alas! they no longer have the tandem bikes we rode 35 years ago and the bikes they do have are pretty crappy for $15 each so we decide to just drive through.  

We are still pretty excited until we arrive at the actual entrance and find out we should have bought our tickets before!  (Note: nowhere on the map does the word "ticket" appear) Joseph "explains" to the girl how poor the signage is, but she just tells us to "chuck a uwey"!  Joseph "explains" that we can't just "chuck a uwey" in this  van and asks if this happen often (that people arrive ticketless) and of course she has to admit it does so we create the most hugest coffuffle while we shunt back and forwards and make our way back to  …  the red building!  Urgh! Who knew? I confirm with others that it is almost impossible to find "the red building"  to buy the stupid tickets but we decide against "explaining" to the ticket agent what their problems are and off we go and we are now just a little bit excited!   

It seems that maybe our memories are a tad more spectacular than they should be (or perhaps the zoo has changed a bit since our last visit ?) because the herds of wildebeest just aren't sweeping majestically anymore 
Zebras - but no wildebeest
and although we enjoyed our visit ...
it turns out that the highlight (for us) was the copulating Galapagos Turtles!!
This trip down memory lane means we won't  make it to Broken Hill tonight and we won't be able to make the birdwatching stop Joseph had planned (sad face)  so we stay in Cobar - a town I had never heard of before.

Between Dubbo and Cobar - they are growing COTTON!!??

Nice! :(

  Woah - Cobar is a fairly major (for Australia) copper-mining town and how did I not hear of it before?  I learned all about Broken Hill in school  - but not Cobar - both of them way out in the middle of nowhere!  

The mine actually goes underground now
(waaay at the bottom)

Still no RSL bus but we have to eat our fruit and veg before Broken Hill (quarantine restrictions) so we sit inside the van while it pours outside and eat as many potatoes and onions as we can (these are the same onions a man gave us in Mildura because he couldn't take them into S.A.!).  

The road to Broken Hill reminds us of the Nullabor, and although the signs warn us about  "Kangaroos next 126kms" it's the GOATS that bother us!!.  They are everywhere - herds of them - and we think they should have a sign warning about them. But as it turns out the goats do actually run away when they hear the traffic, unlike the kangaroos who run alongside and then in front of you (or just bound across in front of you) .  Still we can't believe the numbers of goats and Joseph figures there's a business in selling goat meat and the manager at the caravan park in Broken Hill confirms that is already happening but they are so difficult to farm.  This area is usually ridiculously dry but they've had a bit of rain in the last few weeks so there's the slightest hint of green in the paddocks and we figure that will just mean more goats pretty soon.

(hmmmm - why didn't I photograph the goats!!???)

Broken Hill is the BH of BHP Billiton and it's a mining town from a million years ago in Australia.  It's still a mining town but as Joseph points out - the mines can be profitable but that doesn't necessarily mean the town is.  BH looks slightly jaded and even though it is Friday night there is no bus to the RSL because there is NO RSL !!! and no Bowling Club either!!!  So we settle for pizza and a tour of the statue park that is 11kms out of town.   They have paved roads to drive up to the statues so we can drive through country we can't usually access (no 4WD).  

So it's a nice drive in the middle of kangaroos and some birds and when we arrive at the top of the hill some interesting statues carved out of rock.  (The site was started by a local Aboriginal man to honour an elder and now has overseas artist contributing)

Awwww - the van - again!

One more night in the slanting bed 

and then we make it through the quarantine inspection with the cabbage forgotten in the saucepan drawer (I honestly forgot about it) and the aubergine in the fridge (I figured the nice inspector probably didn't know what an aubergine was) and a few more hours driving through the typical outback scenery with fewer and fewer goats until we're in the hills and then home. 

 Good trip - nice to be back!

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