We were up and on the road early last Saturday in Dubbo for the next part of our journey home from our reunion at Port Macquarie. It had been a pleasant overnight stay and I slept rather well, even though I had a few sore spots from my fall in Armidale. My neck is still a bit sore, but the worst parts are the carpet burns that I have on my elbow and ankle. These really sting!
I wanted to stop for a little while at the Dubbo Open Plains Zoo and even though we arrived just after opening time at 9.00 am, the car park was busy and there was quite a line at the ticket counter. The zoo is an open one in which you can drive around a 6 km long loop and stop to view all the animals. They are kept in large enclosures with either a water barrier or a high mound protecting the visitors. I thought that we might spend about two hours here, but it soon stretched into three and we stiil had over four hours drive to our next destination at Wagga Wagga.
Some of the animals didn’t want to cooperate and stayed back by the rear fence of their enclosure, but I managed to get some good photos of many of them along the circuit.
There were even some native species that were free within the zoo grounds like a kangaroo but I didn’t bother to chase them too hard as these animals are readily visible in a lot of places. However, one of the birds that I have always wanted to capture is a Blue Wren and this one was flitting around my feet. It’s the first good photo that I have ever taken of one of these pretty little birds, but I would have preferred to have taken it from its own eye level rather than looking down on it.
Back on the road, we came across the old gold mining town of Peak Hill. Before European settlement, this area was occupied by the Wiradjuri people. In 1817, the explorer John Oxley and his party were the first Europeans in the region. In 1889, Gold was discovered in the area, causing a significant gold rush. The town was gazetted in November 1889. The historic gold mine at Peak Hill operated between 1893 and 1917, producing about 60,000 ounces from 500,000 tonnes of rock. The Alkane company later excavated for gold on the site between 1996 and 2002, retrieving 145,000 ounces from 4.9 million tonnes.
The town is full of history and the Main Street is lined wth buildings from the gold rush days. Some are very modest and some represent the prior wealth of the region.
By lunch time, we had reached the city of Parkes and we stopped off for lunch at the cafe near the ‘Dish’ . This giant radio telescope dominates the rural skyline and it can be seen for many kilometres. It was the star of The Australian movie ‘The Dish’ as it was significant in communicating and receiving images from the August 1969 moon landing. We had to turn our phones into flight mode while in the vicinity so as not to cause interference with the faint radio signals that this telescope is capable of picking up from deep space.
Much of this area is prime grain growing area. Even though it was vary dry, the further south we travelled, the more we could see crops growing in the fields and cattle and sheep grazing in the pastures. All along the road and railway line, we ran across enormous silos where the grain is stored before transport to regional processing plants and mills. These have real potential as blank canvases for another section of a silo art trail.
One of the larger railway hubs near here is the town of Junee. In the glory days of rail, the stations were quite grand structures and fortunately, some of these like the one in Junee have been restored and maintained in their previous glory.
Between the town of Temora and Wagga, the paddocks of grain and canola were huge. Many of them had to be at least two or three square kilometres in size. They stretched as far as the eye could see. We could only image how much the seed used in planting these expensive paddocks would have cost, let alone the fuel required in powering the sowing and harvesting equipment.. I’m sure that the farmers don’t just go to the local nursery and buy little packets of seed like I do for my vegetable patch!
We arrived into Wagga late in the afternoon and with the sun being low in the sky and our windscreen splattered by hundreds of bugs it was very hard to see,. We were glad to check into our hotel and call it a day.
Wagga Wagga, informally called just Wagga, is a major regional city in the Riverina region of New South Wales. Straddling the Murrumbidgee River, it has a population of 54,000 people, It is an important agricultural, military, and transport hub of Australia. The nearby army base at Kapooka is a long established recruit training centre.The railway station here is classified as an historical building and is another example of a grand railway structure..
During the negotiations leading to the federation of the Australian colonies, Wagga Wagga was a contender for the site of the capital for the new nation.
From Wagga, we had a fairly straightforward drive down to Albury where we crossed he border into Victoria and then home (after cleaning our very dirty windscreen). We stopped for lunch near Glenrowan where the famous bushranger, Ned Kelly and his gang, operated in the 1880’s.
Because the day was clear, we could see right across to the Victorian High Country with snow on the peak of Mt Buller. It seemed a bit odd to us that while we had been enjoying days of 22 – 25c in Port Macquarie, people had been skiing in the snow around here,.
We were back home at around 5.30 pm.