Posts Tagged ‘road trip’

Deniliquin – home of the Ute Muster

September 15, 2009 6 comments


Probably the most unexpected highlight of my recent road trip between Brisbane and Adelaide, was the small town of Deniliquin, NSW. Deniliquin sits on the Edward River, not far from the Murray River & the state border.


We’d driven down via the Long Paddock route from Jerilderie, crossing kilometres of flat plains, denuded of trees for farming. As we drew in close to Deni (as the locals refer to the town), we spotted river gums and paper bark trees, signifying the presence of water.


It was a cold, grey, overcast Saturday afternoon. Rain fell sporadically, drizzle drizzled often. Fragments of mist occasionally swirled through the trees as we neared the river and Island Sanctuary. This small island sits in the middle of town. A lovely park, full of tall gums and other native flora. Very evocative scenery, perfect setting for a moody, scary movie!


We opted to stay right on the river, within walking distance of town and the Sanctuary. Island Sanctuary is reached via a pedestrian bridge that swings and sways in the wind. I imagine in the summer this place would be a marvellous spot for a bbq at the end of a hot day.

We spent an hour meandering the island, enjoying the atmosphere, gazing at the houseboats and the cabins across the water, watching, listening to the birds.

Back at the motel we couldn’t help but notice the number of utes in the carpark. Deniliquin is the home of the annual Ute Muster (to be held this year on the 2 & 3 October). Nine vehicles, seven of which were utes, one was a 4WD and then there was our little Audi sedan.

The other thing about Deni? Trackie dacks. Sitting at the fish & chip shop, waiting for our dinner to be cooked, we were treated to a run of people, all wearing sagging, fleecy track pants. Warmth and comfort I guess. There was one man with spurs. He wasn’t wearing track pants, he wore tight black jeans. With the size of his spurs, there was no sneaking up on him.

We all thoroughly enjoyed our brief sojourn in Deniliquin. So much so that we plan to revisit the town, hopefully next autumn or winter. We’d like to book in to one of those self-contained cabins on the river for a week, soak up the atmosphere of Island Sanctuary and write. And take photos. And videos. Should be fun.



September 11, 2009 4 comments


Every road trip I’ve done over the past five years has, at some point, involved the sighting of ducks. Sometimes they’re flying overhead, sometimes they’re waddling across a road, this time they were paddling across a lake.

DSCN3217Having spotted the humans, from far away in the distance, the brilliantly white ducks paddle in for a closer look. I suspect they were expecting to be fed. Alas, that was not to be, we were there to look only.


DSCN3222 Aren’t these white ducks simply beautiful?

DSCN3219And what about this duck? Another very attractive species.

These ducks were all found swimming on the small lake in the park by the Visitor Information Centre in Parkes, NSW. It’s on the northern entrance to the town, on the Newell Hwy. The park has bbq’s, picnic tables, toilets, plenty of space and an old steam train to look at, as well as the Visitor centre. Nice and easy to find, with easy parking.


Road trips & coffee shops

September 9, 2009 Leave a comment

You can’t do a road trip without sampling a few coffee shops and bakeries along the way. A small handful deserve mention for providing outstanding food and friendly service. Remember, many of these coffee shops are located in very small towns, far from the plentiful supplies of the capital cities. That they’re able to serve such good, wholesome food is truly wonderful. Well done!

Coonabarabran, NSW – Coona is a very small town of around 3000 people. Top marks go to Cardians Coffee Lounge at the river end of the town. Much to my sister’s delight the coffee shop not only had lovely fresh scones, they served chai with soy milk. Local artworks are displayed along the wall, some creative people in this small town, the walls are worth browsing.

Peak Hill, NSWCino 86, this has to be the tiny village’s best coffee shop? The coffee and teas were terrific, soy milk was an option thoroughly enjoyed by the Playwright. The toasted sandwiches were not only scrumptious (and oh so perfect for a super chilly day), they also arrived with perfect timing with the coffees. Not bad for a lone operator who was filling in for the owner before the lunchtime rush which started early! Special mention too about the village’s beautiful garden beds along the main street – the flowers were all in luscious bloom and the plants look incredibly healthy. Hearty congratulations to the town for coming up with the idea and for obviously putting much time and effort in to maintaining these very pretty gardens.

Jerilderie, NSWthe bakery. Again, soy milk was available, and the coffees were good. The teas were fine, not the best, but very welcome and tasty. Food was fresh and delightful. We bought a loaf of bread there and it saw us through some very fine toast over the next few mornings at breakfast.

Warracknabeal, Victoria – the Warrack Hot Bread Bakery & Cafe. Very plain, just looks like your average small town bakery, we didn’t expect too high a standard. Well, were we surprised! Coffees and teas were perfect, soy milk was available, and the sweet buns were lovely. Terrific tucker for an early lunch and very friendly service. And to top off the Warracknabeal experience, there’s a wonderful op-shop with a great range of second hand books. We managed to fill any empty spaces in the car’s boot with books! The town has some lovely heritage buildings, many in the art deco style.

Ouyen, Victoria – home of the Vanilla Slice apparently. We just missed the annual bake off, held in early September. Look, select any of the open eateries (and there are many, the service stations are not to be overlooked here either), choose your vanilla slices and you’ll be well satisfied. A great little town. Will be back. Not just for the vanilla slices.  One of the best motels we experienced was Ouyen’s Hilltop Motel. If you’re passing through, I cannot recommend it highly enough! A very relaxing stay in a beautiful setting. Thanks to Phil & Julie.

Rural hospitals do provide excellent care!

September 7, 2009 2 comments

We were always prepared for the possibility of having to find a hospital for emergency health care. My sister had had to avail herself of the local paramedics and a couple of Brisbane hospitals numerous times over the past 18 months and her back pain often flared up with intense ferocity.

My sister’s back was giving her some pain on Day 2, so I took on the driving. As the morning progressed and we drove along the New England Highway my sister’s pain escalated.

We called a stop at Glen Innes so she could get out and do some yoga stretches up at the Celtic Stones overlooking the town. After stretching and popping panadeine forte, my sister announced she was fine to continue the journey.

Within the hour however, she mentioned the pain was escalating fast and she wasn’t looking good. We were about 35 kms out of Guyra (highest town on the New England range). As we entered the tiny town, I was most pleased to see that blue ‘H’ road sign showing the way to the local hospital.

Sister was looking quite gray by now and the emergency department was the safest place for her. I cannot speak highly enough of this very small rural hospital. You read the news stories of NSW health facilities being in atrocious condition but that was not our experience. Guyra’s hospital is one of those multi-purpose health facilities, combining a nursing home with acute care hospital and emergency department. Clean, friendly, efficiently run and the senior nurse did not hesitate to call in the town’s sole doctor. The ancillary staff took Mother and I to the mixed-use staff/visitors kitchen for a cuppa and a biscuit.

Initially, the doctor was happy to discharge my sister on the proviso we booked in to a motel so she could rest flat. After my sister was comfortably settled and resting, Mother and I strolled across the highway to the village shops. Most of them were closed for a funeral. One death in a small town has a huge impact.

Guyra is home to the Blush Tomato industry and very proud the townspeople are of these tomatoes. Grown under humungous glasshouses, these tomatoes taste like tomatoes should, full of summery goodness.

The supermarket was still open so we were able to pick up a few foodstuffs & tomatoes for later. We got back to the motel room to see my sister shaking violently, clammy and extremely pale. She was also experiencing severe vertigo. Back to the hospital. This time they opted to keep her in overnight for monitoring.

By morning she was feeling a lot better. A mix of painkillers for the back and Stemetil for the vertigo (presumed to be post-viral given her recent cold & sinus block). No driving for her. The back seat of the car was re-arranged to allow her to lie flat-ish whilst remaining belted up, with lots of pillows for support. And the Bears for company.

DSCN3207The Playwright after her night in a private room courtesy Guyra hospital. Bears in attendance. 🙂

Stuffed Goats

September 6, 2009 Leave a comment

It’s one thing to plan a road trip, quite another to drive it – nothing ever goes to plan. 🙂  And you never end up taking as many photos as you’d like.

Packing up the house in Brisbane was hectic & time consuming. We hit the road by lunch time. Takes forever to get out of Brisbane, the suburbs and motorways seeming to stretch endlessly. Finally, an hour or so later, we finally turned down the Cunningham Highway at Ipswich and headed out in to the countryside, aiming to cross the border in to NSW by mid-afternoon.

Wanting an easy day for our first day on the road, we pulled up at Tenterfield for the evening.

It is always a delight to spend time in this small, historic NSW village that sits astride the Great Dividing Range on the New England Highway. Peter Allen country (Tenterfield Saddler, a song Allen wrote about his grandfather).

A very pretty town, it comes complete with the wonderful Mitchell’s Shoes & Accessories shop (complete with obscure objets d’art on the walls, courtesy of local taxidermist, Elizabeth Schumann), delightful coffee shops, bakeries and assorted fashionable frock shops.

We spent a lot of time in the shoe shop, Mother was finally able to source her favoured slippers made from real sheep skin, as well as noticing (and then purchasing) her favourite brand of orthotic shoes. My sister bought fluorescent pink socks and I just admired the stuffed goat heads on the wall. (Unfortunately I wasn’t able to fit one in the boot of my sister’s car.)

Gearing up & getting ready for a road trip

August 11, 2009 2 comments

Take heart: cheat the dark
Get driving with the lark
As cities sleep
Steal a march before the sun
It’s all philosophy
An open motorway
Chasing break of day
Somewhere on a border town …

… Everything you see
Is everything you need
Take a road trip
Go soul deep.

(c) Runrig (C. and R. Macdonald)

The lines above come from Scottish band Runrig‘s song Road Trip. It’s a favourite of mine, especially now that I am fast approaching departure day for my own Road Trip!

I leave this weekend, flying eastwards to Brisbane, leaving the desert of Central Australia far behind me for two weeks. There are a few logistical errands to be completed in Brissy before we drive down the motorway one last time. But we expect to be on the road next Tuesday lunchtime after the removalists have been and done their bit.

Heading south via the New England Highway through Tenterfield, Glen Innes, Armidale and Tamworth. Down through Dubbo, Parkes and turning off the highway at Wyalong (as opposed to West Wyalong) before heading over to Temora, Junee and Wagga. Albury for a day. A sightseeing day to be spent cruising the Kiewa Valley up to Mount Beauty (cannot drive past without going on in up the valley!).

Then we have to make the choice. Over to Canberra and either the Monaro Hwy or Princes Hwy down in to Gippsland and cruise coastal all the way around. This is the route I took some years ago when I first moved to Alice Springs and got the job of driving the car across.

Or do we leave the Hume Freeway at some point and meander cross country through western Victoria, through the old goldfields and towns such as Bendigo and Ballarat? This route allows us to drive through Cressy and Colac before entering the Great Ocean Road at either Apollo Bay or Lavers Hill.

Either route, we end up on the Great Ocean Road. This is the focal point of our trip, taking our time to look, enjoy and photograph our way along the Shipwreck Coast. We will spend a couple of nights at Port Fairy to recoup our energy and enjoy the little fishing village and surrounds, climbing Tower Hill on one of the mornings.

Then it’s on in to South Australia via the Limestone Coast, driving up the Coorong. At which point we will begin our arguments over which route to take in to the city of Adelaide. I’m a South-East Fwy girl, my sister prefers Strathalbyn and up South Road.

Two weeks.

Should be lovely.

And I’ll be off line most of that time. The mobile is for emergencies only (no, Twitter doesn’t count as an emergency alas). No lap top (gulp). Possibly won’t even venture in to an internet cafe to pick up emails until Adelaide (talk about going cold turkey!). I’m sure I’ll be fine. 🙂

And this blog will still be here when I get back.

Two weeks to go …

July 31, 2009 2 comments

Two weeks to go then my full-time working gig will be complete. It’s been hard yards, very glad next week is a short week (Picnic Day, gotta love the Territory, we have some great public holidays!).

The organisation found a highly qualified person willing to take over my role full time & with “committment” (did I just spell that word wrong? See, I really do have problems with commitments, even with the spelling let alone the concept.)

I’m happy to be looking at the end of the stint. Have enjoyed the work, loved the organisation, pocketed the money. But, the body is suffering so a short holiday is in order. The Road Trip fast approaches and I am soooo looking forward to jumping in to my sister’s car and hitting the New England Highway. 🙂