While on Phillip Island we received an invitation to my cousin Alan’s 60th birthday celebration in Orange but it was before we returned home therefore we wouldn’t be able to attend. I felt sad about this as Alan was always there for my mum, dad and I for as long as I could recall so the want in my heart to be there for him, and to represent my side of the family, was strong. Murray suggested that we could return home early, as he also wanted to go to the party, and we could manage it within seven days. It was then that the decision was made to head for home, or at least to our second home of Orange.
Phillip Island had been enjoyable and relaxing, we were ready to move on so we headed to Sale. The trip was rainy, when we arrived it had eased but left the ground very wet. The camp kitchen here came in handy again and allowed the luxury of somewhere dry and warm to reheat our dinner and eat. In the ammenities they had heat lamps over the shower areas making it very comfortable for getting out of the shower. This park cost $17 per night plus you paid for the power you used which for most is minimal unless you run a heater or airconditioner. The next morning on our way out of town we took a walk around the old swing bridge that still operates allowing the boats to pass down the river. We then took a walk through town before heading to Bruthen, not too far down the road.
As it was Father’s Day Murray’s choice for lunch was a pie from the Bruthen Bakery. Pies are something we haven’t been having but this one was worth it, the pastry was perfect and the meat wasn’t spicy or runny. This isn’t a big town with only one caravan park at which we stayed and enjoyed the originality of the place. The manager holds a real passion for his park and puts a lot of effort into treating his guests to a warm welcome and maintains the grounds to perfection. We took a walk to the hotel and Murray had a beer while enjoying the ambience of the old pub and its view. That evening we had dinner in the camp kitchen which also had heaps of character about it with its cobwebs, candles and old fireplace.
On Monday 5th September we made the long drive from Bruthen to Lakes Entrance, 34km, where we stayed at the Silver Sand Caravan Park. Ammenities were heated here with air conditioning, which I love on the cold night and brisk morning and the camp kitchen, although outside, was protected and accomodating for us to enjoy. We took a four kilometre walk to and from the information centre and then around the township taking in the sites and surrounds of this pretty little seaside town. That evening we had the best fish and chips of the whole trip at the Footbridge takeaway which had been recommended to us by our friends and took in the quiet of this time of year in the caravan park.
Tuesday we headed to Cooma stopping for lunch in Cann River and crossing the New South Wales border 44kms later. We pulled into Cooma early, booked into the van park and set off to the Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre to learn about how things work in the scheme of water management and power generation. This Scheme is a well documented part of our nation’s history. After we took a walk around town then headed back to the camper to enjoy the afternoon sunshine and warm temperature of 22. It was nice to be able to sit outside the camper for a change away from the cold we had been feeling.
The next day we took a drive to Thredbo, enjoying a picturesque drive through Jindabyne where we took a walk along the lake taking in the heat of the sun once again which had warmed up the morning to a nice 20 degrees. When we drove into Thredbo there was still plenty of snow and the place was buzzing with a hive of activity. We had a lovely walk in the fresh air and a cuppa while relaxing with the view of the snow. I’ve never been so near snow and yet been so warm before, when we were kids in Orange it was always freezing when it snowed and even colder when the snow was melting. On our drive back to Cooma we went via Dalegety, where Our friends Lili and Tom have a house, we enjoyed our lunch down at the river while listening to and watching the gentle babbling of the water. No platypus were about this day though. Driving back through this beautiful countryside it is hard to remember that you’re still in Australia. The mountains, the snow and the rolling green hills made us feel like we were in Europe somewhere.
Thursday came all too quickly and we were on the move again. It had been a busy few days since we left Phillip Island but we had seen and done plenty of things on our way but we were starting to tire and we’re looking forward to stopping for more than a night or two. While packing up that morning Murray filled the water tank on the camper, while packing up the hose he got distracted chatting with a gentleman who had been in the airforce and forgot to put the cap back on the tank. Somewhere between Cooma and Canberra it rolled off the top of the trailer with the keys still in the lock on it. We didn’t discover this till we pulled up for a toilet stop in Canberra. Driving through Canberra a man walking down the centre of the busy avenue disturbed some cockatoos and one flew straight into our windscreen right where we had a star and cracked it. Poor cocky. Finding parking in Canberra was difficult, we would have loved to spend more time there but that will be for another trip away and we can then catch up with our friends there. Cowra was where we were spending the next two nights before returning to Orange. The Cowra Van Park was right on the edge of the Lachlan River which was quite a torrent from all the rain the region was getting and our site overlooked it. We took a walk around the streets of the town before having our dinner in the camp kitchen to keep warm.
Murray had never been to the Japanese Gardens and we wanted to visit the Japanese War Cemetry as well so Friday we were setting out to do some touristing. The weather held off while we spent time in the gardens, which were absolutely amazing, but started to creep in on us as we stopped at the site of where the Japanese soldiers had been imprisoned. At the Cemetry it looked like it was snowing as the wind laid a carpet of white from the blossoms billowing down but it was becoming quite cold so we didn’t hang around long here. That evening we went to the pub for dinner and our last evening on the road. When we went to bed that night it didn’t stop raining and was very slushy the next morning as we packed up.
Another lovely drive as we travelled the last leg to Orange through Canowindra and Cudal with golden canola fields among the deep green of the wheat fields forming a natural patchwork quilt. The Central West is certainly green at the moment. We had some shopping to do before heading to Robyn and Tim’s at Nashdale and as Murray waited for me to return to the car with the goodies who should park near him but Andrew, he had arrived the night before us. As I came out to the car I could see him and Murray chatting and couldn’t get to him quick enough, wrapping my arms around him not wanting to let go and , of course, I cried. That was the best cuddle ever from him after six months away. After an afternoon of catching up with Aunty Helen, Andrew, Robyn and Tim we all went to Alan’s party where it was fantastic to see everyone again. Six months is the longest time to not see all these wonderful family members. The night went off really well with Alan feeling very humbled by all the fuss over him and we were privileged to be a part of the evening.
On Sunday we had a big catch-up with Robyn’s side of the family over a beautiful Chinese lunch after which Andrew headed home. We spent the evening at Nashdale with many stories told and laughs shared. Monday we had lunch of curried sausages, as per Murray’s request, with Aunty Helen then hit the road for our own home, at last. On the drive through Bathurst we did the traditional lap of The Mountain, trailer and all.
It really was exciting coming down Mount Ousley and seeing Wollongong in the distance. After over 25,000 kms and more than 6,000 photos we finally pulled into our driveway. The birds were all still alive, the house was still standing and quite tidy thanks to the boys taking care of it. We didn’t even unpack, it was just so good to be home we just sat with Andrew, cracked open a drink and chatted the afternoon away. simon was away for the weekend so when he came home on Monday it was once again great to get the cuddle I’d been waiting for from him.
Well folks, there you have it. We did a lap of Australia over six months. Feeling refreshed, relaxed and satisfied we have settled in quickly back at home. The car and trailer certainly don’t look like they’ve just done a lap as they’re so clean again. There is still more for me to write in follow up blogs, little things I forgot and like last time Murray will do a wrap up of things that interest the men following along. Keep an eye out for more to come.
Thanks for coming along for the ride folks, I have again loved writing about it all and getting feedback from you all. We are sad it’s over but have no regrets. Australia is such a grand country, it has so much to offer, do yourselves a favour and get out there among it all sometime.