Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Spring Roadtrip - Lions & Tigers & Bears, Oh My!

Our mission, on the final day of our roadie adventure, was to see as many baby animals as we could at the Western Plains Zoo

We were awake, dressed, packed up and checked out by 7am. There was an actual audible sigh of relief from all three of us as we drove out of the driveway of that miserable motel. It felt like a heavy weight had lifted and we were excited again for our last day of travel. We parked in the Main Street of Dubbo and had a lovely, leisurely breakfast at the Church Street Cafe & Bar. Me with my Country Style mag, marmalade toast and peppermint tea; Harry with his model train mag and corn fritters; Jackman with his sketch pad and juice. We sat at our table on the sidewalk watching the cbd slowly coming to life as people opened up stores or walked to their offices. How does that quote go from the Wind in the Willows? Ah yes...“After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.” When we’d had our fill of food and people watching we headed off to the zoo.

The last time I’d been to Western Plains Zoo was 30 years ago, when I was only a couple of years older than Harry. Bwaahaahaa...jokes, I’m not that old.......wait......I AM that old. Shite! How did that happen so quickly?!?

Our original plan had been to hire bikes and ride the 5+km circuit of the zoo but with the sky threatening more rain and only the morning to see everything, we decided to stick to our car with the promise of cycling the next time we visited. It was busy, but with the zoo spread out across such a vast area (over 700 acres) it didn’t feel crowded. We stopped every few hundred metres and hopped out to look at the animals. The enclosures are so large that sometimes the animals aren’t close enough to see well, but we were in luck with most of them coming up close to feed. Poor Jack was somewhat devastated when we got to the Lemurs only to find that none of them were feeling the least bit sociable and refused point blank to come out and play. His frustration and disappointment were fierce but we carried on and it eventually gave way to the joy of seeing baby hippos and elephants.

By lunch time we had seen all our favourite animals and we were ready to head home.

From Dubbo we headed along the quieter country roads that took us through the towns of Molong, Canowindra & Cowra. The vibrant yellow of canola was just too enticing not to stop and I got my happy snaps of those stunning fields of gold in the afternoon sun. 

We stopped at Pantry on Pudman in Boorowa again for our final coffee stop and then...home.


I think overall this roadtrip has been one of the best we’ve had. Aside from that one dodgy motel and wishing that the Husband had been able to take time off work to join us, everything panned out beautifully. There was barely another car in sight for most of the drive; we got to take in the gorgeous landscape; explore amazing country towns; spend time with beloved family; my wild and brave littles discovered a love of fishing and I found some new foodie and homewares favourites. 
Til the next new adventure...

xx Em

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Spring Roadtrip - Waterfall Way.

The drive along Waterfall Way from the coast up to Dorrigo is spectacularly pretty. At Bellingen we pulled in for coffee and cake in the sun at the beautiful Brush & Twine on Hyde Street. I spent most of the drive up the range mentally framing the view, desperately wanting to pull over and take photos of every paddock and tree lined bend of the river, every emerald green hill dotted with livestock, every waterfall running down the many images to capture. We made it to Dorrigo mid morning and found ourselves admiring Dorrigo National Park from the Skywalk perched on the edge of the escarpment. It was an utterly sublime spring day and the view of the Bellinger Valley seemed to stretch out for miles. After a doing one of the short walks from the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre we continued on, pulling over to the side of the road every now and then to say hello to the cows and enjoy the scenery.

I had planned to spend a bit of time exploring Armidale with the boys but neither were in the mood to eat or explore by then so it was a case of bolting my (ermagawd-that’s-AMAZING!) lunch at Seesaw Coffee Co just near Central Park and getting back on the road. I loved the vege patch and sweet, simple design of the space.

The stretch from Armidale to Tamworth seemed long so it was good to finally check back into the Best Western Sanctuary Inn by the early afternoon. We made a dash down the block to the Tamworth Regional Playground to burn off some energy for a couple of hours then grabbed some things for dinner at the grocery store on our way back and had a quiet night in. I was feeling a little bit shattered that night, my reconstructed boob was really giving me grief. I had to remind myself that I’d only had surgery six weeks before and it was no wonder I was struggling, given how much I’d packed into the past week. The next morning dawned dark and overcast. We had a long day’s drive ahead of us so we checked out early, grabbed breakfast on the run and headed south just as some much need rain started to fall. 

By the time we made it to Dubbo that afternoon we had hit the, “Urgh, had enough travelling, just want to go home” phase, which inevitably happens at the end of all of our roadtrips. Unfortunately, the motel we checked into didn’t help lift the mood. The room was clean but the entire place looked like it had been overdue for a facelift twenty years prior with its peeling paint and worn out furniture. Alas, our dream accommodation run had reached its end. It was bucketing down outside so we resigned ourselves to being stuck indoors for the remainder of the afternoon. Despite feeling antsy and frustrated, the boys did pretty well being cooped up. They sketched and watched tv and read to each other. I’d booked two nights in Dubbo so that we could spend a full day at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo, but we all decided a morning at the zoo would do just as well and we’d ditch our depressing motel room for the comfort of our own beds instead. 

But that’s for another post.

xx Em

Monday, October 8, 2018

Spring Roadtrip - Moonee Beach.

Our time at Moonee Beach was so lovely that I wish we’d stayed twice as long. Apart from being able to catch up with a whole bunch of my family, we absolutely hit the jackpot with our AirBnB accommodation which felt very much like a home away from home. We arrived at the house mid-Sunday afternoon to be greeted by our lovely host Carol, who gave us a quick tour and then left us to settle in. Every room was beautifully furnished and filled with thoughtful little touches like a cupboard full of toys in the kids bedroom, a fire ready to be lit in the lounge and a kitchen pantry and fridge stocked with everything we needed for the first night...there were even ice creams as a treat for the boys. The view across the little valley was beautiful and the boys loved the giant trampoline and cubby house in the backyard. Our first night was spent by the fire, cuddled up on the couch watching a movie on Netflix.

Monday morning we grabbed the beach bag and our hats and made the short drive down the hill to the holiday park to meet up with my dad, my twin brothers, my youngest sister, one of my cousins and their families. Jack and Harry were very excited to see all their cousins in the one place, including the newest addition to our crew...3-months-new baby Lucius. Uncle Timbo and Pop got the boys fishing with some success and then we gathered back at the campground for a little fish fry up for lunch.

The boys and I headed back to the house after lunch for a couple of hours of down time before hosting family dinner. The kids had a great time in the backyard while the adults watched from the deck.

Tuesday dawned bright and sunny and we spent the day on the river again. Pop taught the boys the art of yabbying, they fished, swung from a rope swing into the water and had an all round marvellous time with their uncles and cousins. Jack became an expert at picking up the fish he’d caught, giving it a kiss and releasing it back into the water while Harry managed to land the biggest catch of the day. I got to spend time with the girls and snuggle my littlest nephew. When the sun got too hot we headed back to the shade of the campground for lunch.

Just like the day before, the boys and I went back to the house after lunch for a couple of hours, then we headed up the range to see my sister’s home in Nana Glen. Such a pretty little village in amongst the bushland and blueberry farms. It was nice to finally see Paige’s place and spend some more time with sweet baby Lucius. Family dinner was at the Moonee Beach tavern that night where the kids played mini golf and wore themselves out in the playground while the adults had a tipple and a chinwag. Before we knew it, the night was over. We were heading back to Tamworth the next morning so we said our goodbyes. Back at the house Jack put himself to bed without a peep and was asleep within seconds of his head hitting the pillow. Harry wound down with an audio book and a sketch pad while I packed our bags and organised our things for the roadtrip home. After Harry had gone to bed I spent a couple of hours tucked up on the cosy lounge with my tea and my book (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society...a sheer delight!) and soaked up all the lovely ambience of the space.

In the morning we had our breakfast with the lovely view of the valley for the last time, popped our bags in the car and said goodbye to our home away from home...til the next time we visit, which I think is going to become an annual event. 

xx Em