One week down... not sure how many kilometres but at least 3 or 4 tanks of fuel.
Best lines from the kids so far:
Isobel: Actually I'm the smartest in the family.
Hugo: We're going to meet the snow today for the first time.
Hugo: Getting me a drink of water is more important than anything you're doing.
Simon: Whatever you do, don't call him Stinky Pete.
Surviving -2 degree temps in Armidale.
Meetings lots of interesting people:
Geoff and Sue cycling from Perth to Byron Bay!
Steve the fossiker, kids likened him to Stinky Pete. Great character who taught us how to fossick for sapphires. We got a few too. More interesting than fishing, that's for sure.
Bushwalking along a razorback ridge with the kids and having lunch in the most spectacular places.
Boorowa Hotel. Spent the night in a classic Australian hotel. Double story, on the corner, wrought iron verandah. Met more lovely people including the pub dog. Best of all it was almost as cheap as the caravan park in Dubbo and it included b'fast!
Tracing the steps of bushrangers:
Hugo has loved going to all of Thunderbolts' hangouts. His hideout at Tenterfield, his cave at Armidale, his rock at Uralla and his statue there as well. We decided not to check out his grave - too morbid.
We are loving NSW country towns. They are filled with graceful old buildings and loads of character. Werris Creek, near Tamworth had a supermarket with pressed metal ceilings and columns, an historic railway station, and other beautiful buildings.
Glen Innes - just stunning including its Post Office.
Canowindra - the main street has a bend to it and each side is lined with beautiful old buildings. I wished we'd taken a photo.
Boorowa - more old buildings.
The thing we love the best is that none of these towns have been 'glitzed' up for tourists - just all in that authentic, slightly run-down, we-were-once-prosperous-and-proud kind of feelings emanating from them (if buildings could talk). Most of these towns are thriving little hubs with friendly locals.
One bloke yesterday saw us pull into the Canowindra caravan park (smallest one we've seen) and pull out again. He came across the road with the local paper to show us the recent article on that caravan park that said it was great. He said 'the bloke that runs it looks like a no-hoper but he must be doing alright as it's won a few awards.' What a great promo for the park! Previous owner used to give people afternoon tea when they arrived. If we weren't so intent on reaching the snow we would've stayed there, just because of his recommendation!
The changing and passing landscape has kept us all captivated and engaged. Kids chat away together in their elaborate imaginary world, sing along to Charlie Pride and play I-Spy. We resort to a CD of nursery rhymes when we need some quiet, chill-out time.
We even swung past Parliament House in Canberra to show the kids where the PM works, where Simon and I have protested, and accidentally came upon the Edmund Barton Building and statue. If it didn't house the Australian Federal Police and have 'no standing' signs everywhere we would have taken a pic of Hugo Barton standing next to a bronze of his namesake.
The snow and zoo!!
Two of the biggest things we've done with the kids is take them to the Western Plains Zoo and the snow. Strange that on Sunday and Monday we were slapping on sunscreen, and enjoying the heat and dust of the zoo with all the great animals there on show. And by Tuesday afternoon we were donning the thermals and fleeces and braving the slopes with our little $30 snow 'slider' from Aldi and enjoying our first flurry of snow. Yes, late September and it was actually snowing today up in the Snowy Mountains!
And I haven't even mentioned the national parks and waterfalls east of Armidale! We will be going back there in December we hope to spend more time there.
We think by this time tomorrow we will be curled up in our sleeping bags in amongst the giant gum trees of East Gippsland and then winging our way to my grandparents where we'll have a few days of needed stillness!