We're still on the road -Oh my, driving it only took a few days, but talking about it is taking a tad longer.

                new-south-wales-map

So far we have travelled to Glen Innes,for overnight, then Armidale for morning coffee. Next we come off the high plateaux, down the Moonbi Hills to the rich Liverpool Plains, and the region of the Upper Hunter. 

      lanscape changes better

Constants in the landscape are the eucalypts. We go up hills and we come down hills, we see cattle, we see kangaroos, we see grazing land, and we see rows of grape vines, but our beloved gum trees are the true constants. Always a bit bedraggled with falling bark, and the grey-green of their leaves, but for us they are tall stately wonderful pieces of nature. Sometimes packed into a forest, sometimes just a windbreak, the eucalypts forever stand tall and proud. 

                 

Got to Mudgee on dark - Malky said we could climb out and stretch our legs. Would have been mutiny if he hadn't. SO ready to stop, had been a long day, and for an extra treat, Malky had taken us on some rather obscure back roads. Can you guess ? We just happened to come across two coal trains on the Ulan line. Some of these roads were rattlebone dirt roads - something else totally new for Bel. Was certainly a very nice way to get from A to B, BUT Malky found himself banned from any more dirt!!

Found an overnight cabin for 4, and again, discovered just how cold inland Oz can be. We even turned on the oven to help with heating - eventually warmed up, but it was slow.

             frost

Massive frost in the morning - and this was well after sun up. Not as cold as snow, but our houses are not built to cope with cold.

             bleak house

Had to check out Bleak House before we left Mudgee. A few years ago, we were lucky enough to stay there when it was a B & B, and we LOVED the old house. Now just a private home so we weren't able to see inside. Very fond memories of this grand old dame of a house, shame we couldn't show it off to Bel and Dave.

Driving driving driving - where will we have morning coffee - and luck was with us, we landed in Sofala at the right time to go into the little town, and look for a coffee shop. If you look on the map of NSW above, the end red blob is roughly where Sofala is - too small to have its name in lights on the map. Maybe 50 people, but that's it.

BUT, wait for it - Sofala is a little village that is famous for gold fever and film stars.

If it wasn't such a cold day, we could have carried pans and shovels down to the Turon River, and panned for our very own nugget. However, it was cold !!, so we didn't.

And film stars - 4 movies have been made in Sofala. In the 80's, Peter Weir made "The cars that ate Paris" Never heard of it? - neither have I - but Malky and his mates loved it.

In the 90's "Sirens" was filmed here. The Norman Lindsay story, that involved 3 gorgeous young stars - Elle mcPherson, Portia de Rossi and Kate Fischer. Told you it was famous !!

The story goes, that when the girls first came they had a big trailer set up down the road, with a stretch limo to take them 50 m to work.That was promptly shelved as soon as they got to know the locals, and they rode bikes all over the place instead. Good Aussie girls, obviously.

SO, why Sofala ?? Here are my 10 reasons for what Sofala offers us all -

1. Food and coffee.

         coffee time 2

By the time we got there, we NEEDED our morning coffee desparately, and the one stop store (gorgeous little house) even had a cappucino machine. Marvellous. Best of all, the street was sunny, the cottage/shop cold, so we dragged our chairs out into the street and warmed up. The locals did it, so we copied. Feels quite risque sitting in the middle of the main st of Sofala - trust me, it wasn't. No other cars.

Mark is the handsome guy with Beryl.

2. Architectural Heritage -

cottage 2 barn

Miners Cottages, wonderful old barns, lots of picturesque woodwork, rusty iron,  stunning red paintwork, even a well used meeting hall.

 

cottage 4   meeting hall

3. Flourishing renovation industry.

                          renovation

Retired orthopaedic surgeon has bought up a swag of old buildings in the main street (same one we used as a coffee spot) and is madly renovating them. He can obviously foresee a healthy future for Sofala !!

4. True Character.

      character character 2

    

     2 letter  

I ask you, what more could you want than these character pieces??. The train letterbox in particular. Bel collects pictures of letterboxes - so if you are out on the road, and you find an interesting one, please send it to Bel, via me. Please don't forget.  

5. Accomodation. 

                      inn 2

                     inn

Maybe not world class, but 2 cosy small inns right on the main st, and backing onto the Turon. I could stay here, in either of these. I reckon they would value your custom, and look after you proudly.

6. Artwork. 

                    mural

Don't need a description, do I ? Any town that has streetscapes is special.

7. Heritage vegetation as well as heritage Buildings.

                   tree 2

                If this grand old tree could talk, imagine what stories he would tell.

8. Relaxation centre.

                   pub

                  The "Royal" is alive and thriving . Also on the main st.

9. Interactive Entertainment.

                  mark 3

Think "Mark" for your entertainment any day. He made our coffee (remember, cuppacino) then kept us enthralled out there on the street for ages. His stories of Sofala, and the goings on here, would keep you all enthralled as well, dear reader. We had to drag Bel away, or he may have fetched up in the snug of the local pub in Treherbert, Wales. 

One example I loved - when  the filming of "Sirens" was in full swing, the local dogs became a nuisance. In particular, one old lady had approx 50 dogs, and their constant barking was a disturbance to the film crew. SO, they hired Mark, at $30 an hour, to stand at her fence with a big bag of dog treats, and dole them out constantly while filming was in action. Both dogs and Mark loved it - easy money. 

10. and finally, Child minding.

              child minding

We could have left him there - remember the dirt road with 2 long coal trains ????, but we needed a driver.

 

Tore ourselves away from this charming wee village and hit the road again - not far to Bathurst for lunch. Mark told us, and of course we obeyed, to drive the circuit in Bathurst, so we could pretend we were rally drivers. And we did !!  We zoomed around the hill - wrong way we found out later, and at quite a conservative speed, but we DID IT !! Woo Hoo, felt quite brave. Till I thought about the speeds the rally drivers do the same circuit!! Not so brave at all.

          mtp better

          View from the top of Mt Panorama, Bathurst. We had picnic lunch at the top.

          mt panorama

    View the other direction - looking over Bathurst. Long rows of buildings are accomodation for rally fans.

         post office. Goulburn

And one more story - this time from Malky. Have a good look at these buildings. Bathurst Post Office, with offices each side. Does it remind you of any other country rather than Oz??  Back in the days when Australia could only be reached by sea, and England was "God", the plans for this building were sent out (very slowly by boat) Coincidentally, the plans for the Bombay Post Office were sent also, maybe on the same boat for part of the way ?? Did you guess it ? Yep, someone mixed up the plans. So somewhere in Bombay, a lovely colonial wooden post office still exists, and right here in Bathurst we have a building that speaks of the time of the Raj. Fascinating, isn't it !!

All adventures to be continued . . . . . . . . . 

 

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We have been lucky enough to have Malky's cousins from Wales, Bel and Dave, visiting Brisbane. I call them our mad Welsh rellies - which sums them up perfectly.

              bel and dave 2

They needed to be in Canberra to visit friends, so Malky said - let's go. We headed off the usual route through Warwick - with one rather big change, we looked at our wide brown land with Welsh eyes. We are so used to the brown - but how do others react ??

             brown

They were polite Welshies - recognized the shades of brown, and the beauty of them all. Not that they would swap for the green, green, GREEN hills of Wales!! Anyway, what's so special about green ??? (Don't answer that)

            morning tea in warwick

                Morning tea in Warwick.

We always stop at The Dome, our favourite coffee spot. BUT, cakes were a bit pricey - maybe in future we will have to decide on cakes OR petrol. Damn shame.

           stannic house

Next stop - Tenterfield, and we nearly lost Bel to the fellow Welshman we found at Stannum House - a wonderful old house in Tenterfield. Stunning, stunning, stunning. Is now a B & B - definitely worth a stopover in the future.

          stannic house 2

            Front Door of Stannum House.

Need to press on, however, we have our spot booked in Glen Innes, so definitely no stopover in Tenterfield on this trip - sorry, Bel. And NO, we are not prepared to drive back and get you !! Get back in the car, NOW !!

     glen iiinnes

Glen Innes next - and for overnight. Jaw-dropping old buildings abound in Glen Innes- obviously a thriving town in the heyday of wool and gold. Now, is full of memories like the one above - 1889 Merchants, 1903 Bulk Store, all set in a magnificent building. Maybe G.I. is planning on a come back - the main street was almost totally dug up - looked like gardens were being planned right through. Glen Innes, we are coming back one day, just to find out.

               Glen Innes 2

               Yet another landmark in Glen Innes.

Just a tad cold - minus 13 degrees C overnight. Had to request yet another heater for our overnight stop, and that was only just enough. Did anyone else hear this is the coldest winter since 1911 ?? I believe it.!!

           green

Driving down down through the countryside, we actually started to see tinges of green. Not a lot yet, but some. Armidale for morning coffee, and a brilliant bookshop. Moving on, covering the miles - goodbye Tamworth, still driving driving, but getting hungry now. Must be lunch time.

                 tuna 3

AHA - just what we need - the best coffee outside Italy. Aren't we lucky to find that in Wallabadah!! What a stroke of luck. Doesn't look much - BUT if they post a sign like that, must be fantastic.

And so, we introduced Bel and Dave to true country cooking. Most of their travels have been through the French countryside, and consuming French provincial cooking. Now we are in the Australian countryside, so how different could Australian provincial cooking, be ???

               tuna 1

Embarrassingly different I must report. Bel and I ordered tuna sandwiches, dreaming of tuna and salad on, maybe, fresh rye bread or even a multigrain country loaf. We got 2 slices of "pap" (common white bread that sticks to the roof of your mouth), margarine scraped on, and a can of cheap tuna barely spread. Loud wails - Malky did you really bring us here ???

              tuna 2

But the boys couldn't hear.  A "hamburger with the works" , and they were in heaven. And there you have the essence of Australian provincial cooking - stick to a hamburger with everything slapped together, you won't go wrong. But, but, I must report that Dave did let the side down - had to go back for a knife and fork!!

And there I am going to leave this episode of "Adventures", outside Wallabadah with indigestion. There is much more to come in the next post, as we travel thru the wilds of NSW, getting ever closer to Canberra.

 

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action man 4

Please note: this tale is told by a Nonna. Anyone who says she is biased, and there were other players on the field, could not possibly be correct. Just saying - .

 

Note the actions of the budding soccer player - arms up, grin in place, body twisted with effort,  kick from the right foot (he is naturally left handed)

           action man

Let the play begin. Editors note: Addition of women is vital at kindergarten level.

                  action man 7

Coach watches anxiously.

                      coach goes crazy

Up and down the field the action rages. The crowds go wild

               .action man 20

                p.11

                p.12

Blake controls well, prepares to pass.

                p.13

                p.5

Woo hoo it's a goal. Blake scores another goal !! The crowds cheer wildly. The coach cracks a smile.

               action man 25

Time for a break - little people need to check in with their dad regularly, even if they are a top notch, world kindergarten class player !!

         Back into play - and the grin is back.

         just kick the ball

                    p.6

                    Blake risks a high kick.

                    action man 29

                   Woops danger from the left flank -

                   photo 4 

                   More danger, but Blake fends off a vigorous challenge !!

Goals. You ask about goals ?? This Nonna can count -

                   blake goal 2

                   Goal - Blake.

     blake goal 3

          Goal - Blake.

Editors note 2: the quality of the pitch has been of concern to the International committee.

    blake goal   

Yet another goal to Blake.

However, that's it, folks. Game over, i.e. for the soccer, now the serious business starts.  

    action man 8 

               photo 1

Photo, and finally - snacks - 

                action man 30

                   and little bro has to help with the eating of.

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Maleny, Qld, Australia - lush grasses, plenty of water, mountain top scenery, winter sunshine - truly heaven on earth for people,- and moo cows. Just maybe, however, there may be too much succulent grass in Maleny.

This brings me to a lovely story we discovered while staying with my sister and bro-in-law, Margaret and Rob, in Maleny this week.

          problem

Little Susi was born only a few days ago. Her mum has obviously pigged out on all those lush grasses, produced a mountain of milk all ready to feed her new bub, but she has too much milk - her udder sags almost to the ground, and little Susi can't get underneath. She is too young to digest grass yet, all she can do is stand at the fence and cry, while Mum hovers ineffectually over her. She would die within the week.

(drum roll)  And then, Down comes Rob, Farmer Rob,

                               "No littly will die under my watch !!"

He got out his trusty "calf rearing" DPI Booklet, and made up a mixture of stuff -

                    feeding mixture

He made up a system of hoses,  teat one end,  other into a large bottle, filled with the mixture. Armed with this all bundled up in warm flanno to keep warm, he was ready for Susi. But so was Mum.

       catching sight of Rob    

The first time Rob tried this, Mum sent him flying. She may not be able to feed Susi, but still protects her. So Rob has to get the attention of Susi and hope Mum is slower on the uptake. 

          following rob 2

                 followin g rob 3

And here she comes, bawling her head off!!  Good on you, Susi. Mum can be corralled, Susi can be fed.

      starting to drink 1       starting to drink 2

       Gradually Susi gets the idea - good stuff comes out of that funny teat !!

                starting to drink 3 and mum

              Mum watches in horror - what is he doing to her baby ??

                

guzzling side on 2and VERY quickly, Susi catches on and guzzles her heart out.

          guzzling 2

 

         Susi loves Farmer Rob !! Her second Mum.

For us, that little saga was cute and very appealing. For Susi, that little saga was life saving. But for Farmer Rob, that little saga has to be repeated three times a day, rain, hail, sleet, frost whatever, Susi will need her regular feeding to survive. After a few days, her stomachs will start to develop, so the mixture will change. Gradually, the rumen bit of Susi's stomach will kick in, and she will be able to eat grass. But, Farmer Rob will have to feed Susi for at least a month or 2. That's true dedication. I suspect that particular cow will not be allowed to breed next year.

         maleny 2

And so we leave beautiful Maleny. Home of the beautiful pastures, healthy cattle, and my lovely sister, Marg.

 

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