Off the tourist track in NSW.... and leaving Oz

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June 7th 2007
Published: August 7th 2007
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After three very entertaining weeks down the east coast I finally found myself back in Sydney needing to make a few decisions about where to go next. The original plan had been to head to Tasmania, maybe find some work in Melbourne and then go over to the west coast for a while. But part way down I'd started to have a bit of a rethink.... the timing of which probably coincided fairly well with my first rainy day and I began to question whether going further south in the middle of winter was one of my better ideas. In fact I was pretty convinced it wasn't so I cancelled my flight down to Melbourne and figured the rest would work itself out. In the mean time I had to meet up with Helen who was heading over from NZ for a long weekend - I love the fact that NZ and OZ have a public holiday for the Queens birthday but in England..... pah!

Helen and I had booked a hire car for the weekend but hadn't really come up with tooo much of a plan of where to go - we'd both done the Blue Mountains before and I'd been up and down the coast on various trips but none of that was really helping us decide which way to head out of the city. So first stop after picking up the car was one of my regular cafes in Surry Hills where we had a long breakfast catching up on 8 months worth of gossip and trying to work out a route. Helen was keen to Wagga Wagga but as we weren't convinced there was enough to keep us busy there for three days we opted to take the scenic route ;0) A short while later we were in the car driving out to the Blue Mountains and an hour or so after that we were grabbing a take out lunch in Blackheath and heading down to Govetts Leap. This is definitely one of my favourite spots in the Blue Mountains - the scenery is stunning and there aren't the 5 zillion camera clicking tourists that you get at the Three Sisters. In fact we pretty soon scared off the only other few tourists here and had the place to ourselves!

Back on the road the scenery changed from the dramatic cliffs and wide valleys of the Blue Mountains to undulating farmland that continued all the way to Orange - our destination for the night. We made it to the tourist information place just before it closed with three things to find - somewhere to stay, somewhere to eat and somewhere to go wine tasting! Our choice of vineyard was really based on proximity to town - it was already about 4pm and we were running out of time. Highland Heritage Estate turned out to be a great choice though - the guy doing the tasting was originally from Scotland, a real character and knew so much about his wines. Needless to say we ended up buying a couple of bottles ;0)

The next morning saw us up early and starting our journey to Wagga. Last night we'd ended up getting take out pizza for dinner - we'd initially checked out the menu's of three nearby BYO restaurants, decided that the first one was the best and gone back there only to find there was now an hours wait for a table. Grrr. Anyway as we checked out of the pub we were staying at the next morning one of the guys turned round and asked if we'd enjoyed our pizza. It turned out we'd been spotted for foreign interlopers in the restaurant and been recognised again this morning! OK so Helen may have knocked over the (fake) flower display but we really hadn't made that much of a commotion.... :0)

Our route to Wagga took us via Cowra where we spent an hour walking round and relaxing at the Japanese Garden. This small town isn't an obvious place I would have expected to find a Japanese garden but during WWII it was the site of a P.O.W camp where, early on August 5th 1944, over 500 Japanese POWs attempted to escape. 231 POWs and four Australian soldiers died in the action that followed and in 1948 local members of the Returned Servicemen's League, along with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, took over the maintenance of the Japanese section of the War cemetery. In 1960 when the Japanese Government were considering repatriation of their war dead they were so impressed with the efforts of the R.S.L members that they moved their war dead from other parts of Australia to be re-buried at Cowra. The Japanese Garden itself was completed in 1979.

A few hours later our next proper stop was the organic chocolate and liquorice factory in Junee. We nearly drove straight passed it but saw the sign at the last minute and managed to arrive just in time for a guided tour... complete with tastings! Apparently liquorice is good for you... well it's good for the immune system, helps digestion, is a mild natural pain reliever and more... but only if its the 'real' stuff that comes from the taproot of the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant not the 'fake' synthetic product that might be found in some sweets..... although probably not in large amounts seeing as it's 50 times sweeter than cane sugar ;0) They also make organic chocolate here too - heaven! Eventually we left and headed off to Wagga, with our bags of chocolate covered almonds etc in hand, in search of a motel. I really could get used to this posh packing (aka no hostels) lark!

Sunday morning saw us heading off to the local vineyard after breakfast.... well, it was a late breakfast ;0) Half an hour later we left with a bottle of vino and some cheese for lunch and headed back to town to the glass art museum before finally starting the 4+ hour drive back to Sydney. Back in the city we met up with Pam (a friend from Wellington) and her boyfriend for dinner in Surry Hills. We went to the Nepalese Kitchen, a restaurant I'd tried to get into with Jo and Andy on my previous 'last night out in Sydney' but it had been too busy then - this time they had a free table and the food was fantastic!

Helen's flight didn't leave until Monday afternoon so we managed a quiet morning pottering around town - breakfast at one of the many cafes in the city, followed by a little shopping and take-out lunch on the steps at Darling Harbour. And then she left me :0( And I really had make a plan. I still had another 3 months left on my working holiday visa so in theory I could have tried to get another job in Melbourne or Perth, but I just wasn't quite ready for all that yet - more travelling seemed like a much better idea!! So through a bit of a random thought process (I'd seen a lot of Asia last year, was keen to see somewhere other than Oz, am slowly hatching a plan to see some of South America next year etc....) I ended up booking myself a flight to Johannesburg for Friday morning. There was logic there somewhere... honest ;0)

Next up - elephants encounters, Zulu ceremonies and relaxing on the beach in Mozambique ;0)

Additional photos below
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26th July 2007

Beautiful pics, Wend!
Beautiful pics, Wend!
30th August 2007

Great photos! Glad you enjoyed Oz!

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