On Saturday morning, we left our motel about 8-30am and before setting off on the day's, drive we went down to the Macquarrie river which forms the border between Queensland and NSW. This is a large, impressive river, with a variety of bird life. We spotted pelicans, cranes and ducks all looking for their breakfast. Next to the river is a monument to the racehorse, Gunsynd, better known as the Goondiwindi Grey! It won a Melbourne Cup in its long and illustrious career. It was very peaceful and quiet by the banks of the river and we enjoyed our early morning stroll.
Then it was off on another long day of driving. We set out on the Newell Highway, our destination for this day, Dubbo. This is a sparsely used road which does not pass through any really large settlements so for the most part it was easy driving.The first main settlement was Moree which we drove through and continued on to Narrabri. The landscape changed from scrubby trees to more cultivated land with a scattering of cattle and sheep.. In Narrabri we decided to go into the town for a look and try to find a bakery for lunch,
however, as this was a Saturday morning the place was bustling. It was hard to find a park but we did and then went for a walk past the shops. We went into one cafe, packed tight with locals having a late breakfast and realised that we would have to wait far too long to be served. Across the street we found another, smaller cafe, but this too was jam packed so we gave up, found a public toilet and drove on.
We reached Connabarabran about 1-30pm. We saw a bakery sign but this was closed. We eventually stopped at the local pub and went in to seek some sustenance. There were a few punters in the main bar and we asked if they were still serving and we were pleased when the affirmative was given as the answer. We ordered and then went into the Beer Garden to await our meal with a glass of Cooper's Pale Ale to maintain us.In the courtyard was a very large grape vine with a notice saying it had been planted in the 1890s and was stilI bearing fruit. Impressive! I had ordered the soup of the day, sweet potato and leek
and this was a large bowl of delicious orange flavoursome liquid, with just the right texture and creamy goodness. Fletcher had a grilled barramundi, which he said was one of the best fish he had had on the trip, and he has had plenty that was something! In the end, an excellent choice.
From there it was another 150 kms to Dubbo and we changed drivers and kept going. We had one hairy moment as I was driving. A car came from the opposite direction bearing an Oversize Load Following sign. I started to slow down and move to the left but the other car suddentdy went over the centre line towards us, forcing me to brake suddenly .and giving us a real scare. He went on blithely, leaving us a bit shaken and cross. We came into Dubbo and found our motel, the Homestead, easily . Once checked in we were pleased to see it had Foxtel as the Showdown was on and we wanted to watch. As it was only about 3pm we went into the main street of Dubbo and had a walk. This is a large regional town with all the facilities which you would
expect. We found a Coles and bought breakfast supplies and a bottle shop for some wine, then we returned to our room. We soon found that only 4 channels were available on the Foxtel and none of them were the Fox Footy Channel. The manager tried to fix this but to no avail. By this time the game had started so we drove to the Dubbo RSL Club where we found their Sports Bar showing the game on one of its many channels. We settled in and were very happy with the first half but the Crows fell into a hole after half time and we lost interest with 10 minutes to go. We went to their bistro for dinner where I had a very nice chicken linguine while Fletcher dined on pizza.
Back at the room we started to watch the Australia v South Africa One Day game but by 11pm I was asleep. Fletcher lasted a little longer but we were glad in the morning that we had not persevered as we lost that too! We left about 9am as we had only about 5 hours of actual driving to do before reaching Canberra where we could
rest for a few days with Melissa and the boys. We headed off on the Mitchell Highway to Orange. When planning this trip we had thought of going to the Hunter Valley but instead decided to check out Orange and the wineries near there. Again Orange is a main town of the region and we drove in, looking for a loo and found the Visitor Information Centre. Here, after the loo stop we asked the very helpful woman at the counter about the wineries. She marked the road to take and suggested we go to Phillip Shaw wines first. Across the road from the Information centre was a large square with a bandstand and a memorial to a local figure who had not only been Australia's first VC winner in 1901 but had become the Mayor of Orange. His name was Major General Sir Neville Howse and he also became the local MP and Minister for Defence and then Health in the 1920s. The three faced marble monument was a tribute to him and each face represented an aspect of his life including his pioneering work in the medical field.
Following the advice and directions given to us we
soon found the modern winery, Phillip Shaw. This is cool climate country and wine has only been in production here since the 1980s. The cellar door was in an attractive stone building and we were greeted by a young girl who took us through some of the wines. As we still had a way to drive we were temperate in our tasting but enjoyed the Pinot Gris and Merlot/Cab Franc we tried. The two shiraz we tasted were a bit thin for me. After buying some to take with us, she suggested our next stop should be at Ross Hill. This proved to be an excellent choice. Here we were greeted by a young man with large earrings who was very pleasant and certainly knew his wines. We sat at a table while he took us through their range and we selected a few to taste. The conversation was wide ranging and the best wine was the straight Cab Franc which was reasonably expensive but delicious. Another purchase made we decided that had to be our limit and we drove the rest of Pinnacle Road past Lake Canobolus back onto the road to Canberra.
This took us through Canowindra
where we stopped at a shop bearing a sign saying Coffee and Meals. This was a quirky place, a "Trading Post" containing a range of knick knacks, jewellery, pottery and at the back, a place where we could order a meal. Again I had the soup of the day, a Potato, Leek and Bacon which proved every bit as good as the one from yesterday. Fletcher opted for a Ham, Cheese and Tomato Toasted sandwich . We both had some good coffee and sat outside in a large garden area filled with bits and pieces, all for sale. I drove on from there, through Cowra, Boorowa to Yass where we joined the Hume Highway and then onto the Barton Highway for the last leg into Canberra. I had driven for over two hours so we stopped at Murrumbatemen to change over and we were soon on Northbourne Avenue and thence to Angas Street and Melissa .
We were greeted by Jude and Melissa. they had just got back from Zachary's birthday party held at a nearby Rock Climbing venue. Soon the rest arrived and we spent the afternoon chatting, with champagne and then a delicious roast pork dinner with
much red wine and conversation. I found the quiz on the internet and this provoked much merriment and discussion as it usually does. We only got 38/50 and challenged Sam and Tracey, via Facebook to beat us. They didn't!
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