Travelling Australia
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY

Saturday 1st May 2004 to Monday 3rd May 2004

Saturday 1st May 2004

We woke to a beautiful sunny day this morning that promised to make our day a good one, but unfortunately it broke that promise around mid morning and the majority of the day was overcast and cool. Our first task was to have a look at the town centre and call in at the Coles store to top up on our food requirements for the next week.

Dubbo is a city that has everything that could be needed, including a Myer store, a large Rivers store and every other kind of service found in most cities. We called in to the Coles store and made our weekly purchases before driving around the rest of the city centre, then returned to the caravan park to stash everything away.

At about 10:45am we left the caravan park again and headed off our to the Western Plains Zoo which is only about four kilometres south of the city. Entry to the zoo costs $25 per adult but you take your own vehicle in to the zoo grounds and can drive around the six kilometre internal road that takes you past all the animal enclosures. There are no concrete and steel bar cages, however the animals are held in their enclosures by water filled moats, steep walls in some places but mainly low electric fence wires. All very safe whilst at the same time providing clear vision of the animals. The enclosures are quite large and appear to be well set up for the different animals in each one.

We drove around the zoo, stopping and getting out of the vehicle at most enclosures to get better views of the animals. (The road does not go through the enclosures, just past them.) The giraffes were the favourite of most people, particularly when they came up to the fence to interact with the spectators.

We stopped and had the lunch we took with us at about 1:10pm then completed our circuit of the zoo and the souvenir shop by about 2:45pm. Then it was time to fill the Patrol up with fuel (at 100.9 cents per litre - less 4 cents per litre for the Coles docket) and another tour around the city centre. We stopped off at the RSL Club and signed our temporary membership slips with the intention of visiting the club for dinner later tonight. ('One of us was hinting very strongly that they had pokies and food in there!)

Tomorrow should be another day of travel, perhaps toward Tamworth.

Elephants roaming their enclosure

Tiger country

Sunday 2nd May 2004

Although it was a bit hard to get out of bed this morning (a bit cool) we managed to get packed up and depart Dubbo by about 9:30am and headed off toward Tamworth.

Towns were not common on the Newell Highway in this section of New South Wales, the first one we came to was Gilgandra which is where the first 'Cooee March' started from on Sunday 10th October 1915. Twenty six recruits stepped off on the march to Sydney from Gilgandra and 263 marched into Sydney at the end of this Cooee March. It was the start of a number of similar Cooee marches that were organised after the success of this one. This information came from the 'Cooee Museum' that we visited whilst in Gilgandra. (I shouldn't have mentioned that and people may have thought we were very knowledgeable..) There was quite a bit of information and a good number of museum pieces in there, as well as souvenirs, however there is one tea towel less now as it was duly paid for and is sitting in the caravan . This is not too bad though as entry to the museum was free.

From Gilgandra we continued on the Newell Highway until we passed through Coonabarabran. This is quite a large neat rural town that most people will have heard of at some stage or other. After Coonabarabran we turned off the Newell Highway and traveled east on the Oxley highway, stopping at a historic site that is said to be where John Oxley (Surveyor General of Land in New South Wales) passed bye when 'discovering' the area in August 1818. Maybe the original inhabitants (the aboriginal people) didn't realise they had discovered it before Oxley) We had lunch at this location before moving on down that highway.

From there we passed through the small town of Mullaly before coming to the town of Gunnedah, the Koala Capital of Australia. This may be true as 'one of us' became extremely excited a couple of times when she sighted koalas sitting in the trees beside the road as we drove along the highway.

From Gunadah we continued through the small location of Somerton before arriving in Tamworth at about 3:05pm. We managed to find the Big4 Paradise Caravan Park (situated on the Peel River) without too many wrong turns and set up for the next two nights in Tamworth.

After the set up we took a drive down the main street of Tamworth and 'one of us' found she was in heaven, there were Red Rooster, MacDonalds, Subway, Hungry Jacks and KFC outlets within a block of the caravan park and there was also Coles, Target and Liquor Land stores in town. Almost like home. 'One of us' is really happy!!!

The Warrumbungle Ranges in the distance

John Oxley (Explorer) passed
this way on 26th August 1818

Monday 3rd May 2004

Happy Birthday Rex Bentley
It's not often I have a brother that turns 63 years old! (who is healthier than me and looks as young)

Today we woke in the land of the Golden Guitar, so that was where we had to go. It took us a while to put on our boot scooting shoes on and grab our cowboy hats (or at least have a shower and breakfast) then at about 10:45am we set off to find that guitar.

It didn't take long to get to the 'Big Guitar Visitors Centre' where a 12 metre 'Golden Guitar' is displayed outside. This provided a photographic opportunity before entering the centre. At the entrance to the centre there is a fairly large display of stone and other geological formations. including cut stone and polished stone spheres.

After paying our $8 each we then entered the wax museum which holds a number of the better known Australian Country and Western performers. This was very interesting and took about an hour of our time to wander through and read about the artists portrayed. Once out of the wax museum we found ourselves in quite a large souvenir shop which held a range of Australiana products and a good range of Country music CD's. After a purchase or two, one being a CD of John Williamson called 'Old Farts in Caravan Parks' (Maybe he has been spying on us.....!) we left the centre.

From the Golden Guitar we made our way into the town centre and parked there whilst we took a walk along the long main street of the town. On this walk 'one of us' lead the way into several clothing stores but there was not anything found that was the right shade of pink. The walk continued the length of the street and back before finding our way to KMart and Coles for a few small purchases to keep the pantry full. We both thought Tamworth is a very neat, clean and well serviced city that has been well worth the visit.

After returning to the caravan park the Patrol and caravan had a birthday, or more correctly a wash. Water restrictions are not as severe in Tamworth so out came the hose and the long handled washing brush that has not seen the light of day since we left Western Australia. About two hours later it was hard to recognise the Patrol or the caravan as being the same units. Long overdue and worth the effort.

'One of us' set off on a walk and returned about an hour later, saying she had walked for kilometres, however some of the old blokes around the caravan park have been passing a lot of compliments her way, so who knows??????

Tomorrow should see us head off on the New England Highway in the direction of Tenterfield, the home of 'The Tenterfield Saddler'.

The Golden Guitar

Smokey Dawson and Flash