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Published: January 21st 2011
A hair-raising experience down the side of a canyon.
Wednesday 12th January – Large Bus and Open Road
Travelling from Sydney to Mascot to pick up the camper van – then off into the wild blue (mountains) yonder: Spirit 2 Ultima T/S
– This is the future and it is large, white and stuffed full of gadgets we don’t understand. Best to make sure you get your pipes round the right way, but after the briefest of explanations it’s just you and the van, without a backward glance or a manual to refer back to. Setting Up
– After shopping for provisions en-route, we try to set up and nothing seems to work! Leads don’t fit into sockets, there’s no gas and the sink doesn’t drain – maybe they have given us the wrong kit? Pasta Bolognaise
– A home cooked meal has rarely tasted so good. It’s great to be back in the swing of looking after ourselves.
Thursday 13th January – Waking up in the Blue Mountains
Our first bus-bound destination is just a stone’s throw from Sydney – Katoomba on night one and then a quick switch to Blackheath: Katoomba in the Mist
– All the scenic beauty of the Blue Mountains
Picture Postcard Views
Blue Mountains view can be breathtaking, when there is less fog and you can see them! This is the view from Govett's Leap.
and you can’t see twenty metres in front of you. It’s damp, so we explore the town. Mountain Trek
– As the weather clears a little we decide to trek down some perilously steep stairs (Giant Stairway), through lush rainforest (Federal Pass) and then run back up the cliff side (Furber Steps x 1,040). Cleverly (and you might see a pattern forming here), Deborah opts for the scenic Railway back to the top – she wins (just). The Weather
– So far, the camp sites have been basic, the grass sodden and with not much of an opportunity to venture out without getting wet. Hands up who thought Aussie summers were supposed to be hot and dry?
Friday 14th January – Blackheath to Mudgee via Lithgow
Blue Mountains just seem too damp, so we head inland to avoid the flooded coast (see below)
: Govett’s Leap
– Not sure if a Govett ever actually leapt from here, but great views of the Mountains, bush and waterfall from this vantage point, complete with coffee and cake. Bemused coach-trippers weren’t quite sure how we came by steaming hot mugs of coffee (got to be some advantages of
Lunch at the Lake
Lake Wallace at Lithgow - a perfect spot to park up and have a picnic.
van life). Lunch by the Lake
– En-route we stopped off at Lithgow, famed for its small arms manufacturing museum – mmmm… Anyway, drove up to the side of Lake Wallace and had lunch in the sun. Now that’s more like it! Barbie Time
– Now we’re cooking on gas – literally! Out slots the barbie from the side of the van and a few sausages here, a pasta sauce there and it’s a proper al fresco dining experience. Floods – At this stage, Brisbane is experiencing the worst of the flooding, with a genuine disaster story unfolding on the news (yes, we have a TV in the van). It is strangely voyeuristic to watch Queenslanders go through this terrible ordeal but what is there to do? Plus, we need to fly out of Brisbane in a couple of weeks. Strong characters these Aussies though!
Saturday 15th January – Mudgee, Mudgee, Mudgee
Just spent the day in the charming town of Mudgee, enjoying local happenings: Farmers’ Market
– Set in church grounds, all manner of wholesome goods available and remarkably the most hauntingly beautiful music from a pair of live singers/guitarist (Euripi – you heard
A very professional event for such a small town, including an olympic sized swimming pool and more than 100 entrants.
it hear first). Aquathalon
– Well a 3 or 5 mile run followed by a dip in the outdoor Olympic sized pool. No chance of Simon swimming front crawl for a full length of this pool, but can now do about 20 metres without completely expiring. Barbilicious
– A kebab here, a shishlick there and a hatful of marinated chicken wings – cooking up a storm, Aussie stylee.
Sunday 16th January – Dubbo via Dunedoo
Regretfully, left Mudgee with Dubbo in our sights for another 2 day stint on our bush adventure: Mudgee Triathlon (triathletes see below)
– For a town of 8,500 people (in the middle of nowhere), a fine turnout of over 100 competitors for the Mudgee triathlon. A fantastic family day out for ages 5 and upwards, with some serious athletes and a whole load of regular folk (like us) having a go. Dunedoo
– Took a slight detour just so we could have lunch at a small town called Dunedoo and were absolutely delighted to find that it was in the council district of Warrumbungleshire! Lunch was uneventful. Priscilla
– Campsite in Dubbo offered free DVDs, so the obvious choice was Priscilla
More pies, but this time Dunedoo style. Sadly, pie shop closed on Sunday afternoon and by the look of it for sale. Dunedoo is a small place and there are only so many pies you can eat...
Queen of the Desert! Having visited Alice Springs we sympathised with the characters. Mudgee Tri Club – A serious and well organised tri club with the day's events ranging from full, half, junior and midget (from about 5 upwards). The distances were quite short, with the full being 300M swim, 10k bike and 3k run, but there were some serious competitors there. More impressive were the sheer numbers and the number of kids of all ages enjoying the event. With no pushy parents and a hugely relaxed family feel, we have a lot to learn from the Aussies on this.
Monday 17th January – We’re Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo
Having missed Taronga Zoo in Sydney, we did the next best thing which was Taronga Western Plains park in Dubbo: Taronga Zoo
– A great open expanse of habitat for all sorts of African, European, American and Australasian animals. Koalas were a huge hit (see pic), as were the giant tortoises and turtles at feeding time – boy can those guys move when there is broccoli on offer! Tour de Taronga
– It is 6k+ around the park and we walked 3k each way
Al Fresco Chef
Simon demonstrates how to rustle up a few fillet steaks in the bush (well in a campsite somewhere near the bush). Neat little pull-out barbie eh!
to get there and back, so hired bikes and wobbled around the park, with me usually eating Lance Blakemore's dust… Cooling Down
– Most of these campsites come with a small pool, plus about 100 kids. Still, after a day of unrelenting mid-30s heat, sitting getting regularly splashed and dive-bombed is not so bad really...
Tuesday 18th January – Tamworth Annual Country Music Festival
Early start from Dubbo and into the middle of Australian Country Music's main event for the year: Into the Melee
Campsite wouldn't take bookings during the two week event, and when we arrived it looked like the world and his wife had got there before us. Luckily we made friends in the campsite and got a spot. Sweltering
– Mid-30s and we were roasting until a very nice man found us a powered site for the van, and we could now turn on the air con! Festi
– A huge and varied event in Tamworth, which has the same importance for Australians as Nashville. Many a cotton pickin, yeehaaa to be heard above the fiddles and geeetars...
Wednesday 19th January – Gettin' into the Good Ol' Boy Thing
Tour de Taronga
Despite the slightly unconventional kit, Deborah completes this stage of the tour in record time. Lance Armstrong is chasing up from the rear!
visitors we start to soak up the atmosphere and get into the country spirit: Neighbours Cats Make Good Hats
– This bumper sticker very nearly made it into the suitcase, ready for attaching to the new RS4! Merri Creek Pickers
– It's all gone Bluegrass down at the local bar, where this slightly indi outfit squeeze out a few numbers. The Wolverines
– The main event for the evening, with the hugely irreverent Aussie country 3 piece plus guests. These guys are actually pretty big (7 albums) but still managed to mix it with the audience before, during and after, and actually personally helped us find a good seat near the front!
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