These last couple of weeks I have been concentrating on writing my short story for the Creative Kids Tales Anthology due to be released in time for Christmas this year. The story is about a young selfish boy who through rallying his small country community together in order to save a pod of whales, comes to realise the importance of helping others. My inspiration for this story came from the wonders of whale watching along our amazing coastline during our drive across Australia last year. In December 2015 my husband and I drove the incredible dry hot outback from Darwin to Canberra, of which I wrote about in my blog "We Drove a Sunburnt Country, " parts 1, 2 and 3.
Last September- October 2016, we drove across from Canberra to Perth and back. It was a dream come true, to drive across the Nullabor had been on my "bucket-list" for years. This at last, is my story of that amazing journey. To continue my quote from Dorothea MacKeller's famous poem "My Country,", we certainly discovered Australia really is a land of contrasts, "A land of sweeping plains, of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains." During this journey we experienced it all!
First stop was only an hour from home, the country town of Yass, their information Centre was waiting on a delivery of my books. Not a bad way to start a holiday, and a great sign for the opportunities that were to come.
This is where the adventure really began as we drove further west across NSW into the Riverina district. Before departing home it had been raining pretty much non-stop for weeks, particularly in this farm region. I knew there was more rain predicted, so this was our only window of opportunity to cross before major flooding set in. Sure enough roads were only just re-opened as we drove through and closed again within the next few days. It must be so difficult to make a living on the land, if our country is not in severe drought, it's in major flood, there's never a compromise. Not sure which is harsher, seeing first hand starving cattle and sheep, even kangaroos, desperate for a blade of grass along the side of the road in outback Queensland, or fruit and wheat crops that farmers were ready to harvest (and desperate for payment to feed their families) all destroyed by massive floods. My heart and thoughts go out to the many people in townships suffering after the aftermath of cyclone Debbie in all the current flooded regions of northern NSW and Queensland.
We made it into Hay after dark, lesson learnt, never drive across the wheat plains at dusk. We live in a rural community, so are aware and always cautious of kangaroo hopping across the roads at dusk, but nothing prepared us for the amount of bugs! Hubby used so much windscreen water to clear the vision that we ran out of water. We could barely see the turn-off on arrival into Hay through the amount of bugs smeared on the car's screen in front of us. First stop in the morning consequently was a car wash.
Hay is in the western part of the Riverina district of western NSW, with the surrounding farm regions being either vegetable, cotton and rice crops or sheep and cattle. It is the home of "Shear Outback," a museum dedicated to the history of our wool industry. It is definitely worth a visit to learn all about the history behind the saying that Australia is known to have 'grown up on a sheeps back!" Get to read about some of the characters that were shearers, their lifestyle, and their tools of the trade. Learn all about the early pioneers, their present day shearing counterparts and into the future. If you have never seen a sheep being sheared, then watching a sheep shearing demonstration is an opportunity not to be missed. The shearer is very informative and handles the sheep with the utmost care. The coffee shop is great for a snack or lunch and of course there is a gift shop with plenty of choices for woollen apparel. Thanks to the manager, Kathy, Shear Outback gift shop now also stocks 'Emma the Eager Emu' and 'Frazzled Freya' too. We enjoyed spending time at Shear Outback so much that we only made it as far as Mildura (just inside the top of Victoria,) that day.
The next morning we woke to beautiful clear blue skies, but were assured all that was about to change in a big hurry. A massive storm was approaching from South Australia, exactly where we were headed next.
Have you ever driven across Australia? Share your experiences below.
Is the drive across this magnificent country on your bucket-list? Why or why not? Share your comments below.
Next week :- The havoc of the storm, a surprising find and much more!