There is something very pleasing about having our touring vehicle pointed down the driveway towards the front gate, standing at the ready like a trusty friend and prepped for another adventure with our camper trailer in tow.
We enjoy the anticipation of a trip building in the lead-up to the day of departure, the chatter about places we will visit and in many cases revisit providing a wonderful mood and spring to our step.
Mind you our departure these days is usually marked with a hasty good-bye with our son, who, with bleary eyes, usually arises from his slumber just in the nick of time to wave us through the gate.
Motoring along the freeway, the escape route from our urban confines, we reflect on past trips when TomO, once dubbed the walking hat, would happily be strapped into his car seat, colouring books and other travel distracting paraphernalia at hand.
How things change, hey…?
The little bloke never knew if he was heading down the street to the local shop, or halfway around Australia on an Outback Adventure…
But that’s a story for another time, today we are heading to the small town of Jugiong, about 350 kilometres to the south west of Sydney, as we make our way into the Australian Outback for a few weeks of touring.
Like many towns along the main road connecting Sydney and Melbourne, Jugiong is easily by-passed these days as one travels by at a hundred or so kilometres per hour. But with time our own since graduating from work we detour frequently, investigating many of the places that were once a blur in the windscreen as we headed to a destination constrained by the bonds of school and work timetables.
And as we warmed ourselves with coffee from the thermos a couple of hours into our journey at Gunning, a historical town along today’s route, we joked that maybe TomO was still sound asleep in bed.
We laughed, given the wind chill in the air could you blame him…?
We have struggled with the cold of a southern winter and console ourselves with thoughts of a warm campfire, vowing they would be a feature of this trip that would take us to far-western New South Wales. To be honest, they are a feature of most of our trips if conditions are suitable and the taking of firewood has minimal impact on the area.
In our defence we did grow up in the tropics and spent time living in Papua New Guinea, but you’d think that after 30 or more years we’d be growing more accustomed to the cold – not…!
And for those who haven’t travelled through the Australian Outback in winter, rest assured, it can be freezing cold as the sun’s rays withdraw their warmth from the wide-open plains. But the draw of deep blue skies touching a faraway horizon of parched red-earth has provided us with some immunity to the cold, but glorious starry nights.
By mid afternoon we were pulling into the Jugiong showground that is situated alongside the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. The showground Trust asks for a small donation for the privilege of staying in this picturesque spot and we gladly oblige.
As usual, there was a few other travellers’ set-up, some already preparing for the common place ritual of happy hour, where seemingly anonymous travellers’ share jokes and stories like old friends.
Opposite are a couple of shops, one selling local produce and gelato, another selling local wines.
The Long-Track Pantry café is a great place for a coffee, or lingering lunch, and the Sir George Hotel that has been renovated to its previous glory in recent years stands proudly on the street corner.
After a day of driving, well not quite a day, we stretch our legs with a walk across to the other side of the river via a causeway and up a hill where you get a great view of the town and surrounding countryside.
Being in the throes of winter the days are much shorter and with the sun fast sliding towards the western horizon the temperature was starting to drop. We took this as our cue to head back to “camp” for an easy pre-prepared meal, before heading to a warm fire and a glass of locally produced wine at the Sir George Hotel.
Over many years of travel we have learnt that plans usually never go to plan, so to speak, which sometimes adds to the experience. In this case thoughts of a warm fire and that glass of red were going to be just that, thoughts, as to our dismay we discovered the Sir George was only open to dinner and drinks for resident guests on Monday nights…!
Perhaps this was due to the new order of life living with the Corona Virus, or maybe it is always the case, and as we walked back to our camper trailer, a Track Tvan, we quickly decided that a book, a queen bed covered in a dooner and warm blankets was very appealing even if the sun had only just disappeared.
It is only 6 o’clock and we are tucked up in bed. As we turned out the light we hoped there is some truth in the old adage – Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a person healthy and wise!
Photos: Janet & Baz
We love the colours of the Australian Outback, the ochre red earth touching a deep blue sky on a faraway horizon; and the fabulous coastline of our sunburnt country, where a golden sandy beach is washed over by a turquoise blue sea; and the characters you meet in a quiet country pub, where it is nothing flash, but you are enriched by the encounter…
In 2017 we decided it was time to “graduate from work” and re-enter the classroom of life where an education is guaranteed and all that is needed is an open mind.
Thanks for joining us in the adventure…!
Cheers, Baz & Janet