After Helen wrote this wonderful post about our time at the Hazelcombe Farm. It is now my turn to take you with us on our trips through New Souths Wales. In the seven weeks we stayed at Dan’s and Niki’s farm we made several trips with their truck. We’re so thankful that they trusted us so much to give us their car. Ok, let’s go!
Our first trip is bringing us to Dunns Swamp. A nice area at the Cudgegong River in the Wollemi National Park (https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/campgrounds/dunns-swamp-ganguddy-campground). It’s 84 km south east from Mudgee and offers a free camp ground at a beautiful river.
Before we leave we pick up a canoe from Peter and Lynn next to the farm. They’re so lovely and even provide us with two water tanks. We put the canoe on the back of the truck and in the morning and leave the next morning.
The drive to Dunns Swamp is quite smooth. We arrive there early and start to explore the campsite. There is an area for tents and several places for cars. Everything is embedded in an open forest area and we can hear the Kookaburras all around us. We have lunch on one of the big rocks behind our sleeping spot. After a walk following one of the tracks through the swamp we are spending the rest of the day at the river with reading and swimming. A platypus swims by and we are excited to see one in real. Early we make our way into bed. Our canoe trip is planned for early next morning.
Before sunrise we get up and try to be as quiet as possible to wake no one up. We have an amazing time on the river. The atmosphere is fantastic. Everything is laying in early morning mist. The water is calm and the birds start singing. Two hours later we pull the canoe out of the river and drive back to Mudgee.
In Mudgee we have some food and shop some Marzipan (a German almond sweet we missed a lot) at the Aldi. Helen discovers a small way with lots of great artwork on the buildings outside walls and starts to take some pictures.
From Mudgee we drive on to the Drip Gorge (https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Attraction_Review-g262066-d3803424-Reviews-The_Drip_Gorge-Mudgee_New_South_Wales.html), a natural formation where a constant flow of water drops are falling of a huge rock edge of around 10 meters height. We sleep at the parking lot at the back of the car again.
Close to the Drip there is a holy Aboriginal site with hand silhouettes painted with ochre. We visit it the next morning before we drive back home to the farm.
Mudgee Flea Market
Dan invites us one evening to come with him to the weekend flea market in Mudgee. It is an opportunity for the locals to sell their used stuff and for flying vendors to show up. It is on Saturday. Adon is coming with us. The market takes place in an open space beside a sports arena. We must pay some dollars entry fee, which is surprising for Helen and me. Dan insists to invite us.
Adon directly starts looking for used tools in good condition. He loves to extend his collection of well-made farming equipment. Helen and I are just wandering around. There is a lot to see. Some collectors are showing old timer cars, tractors and trucks. Someone is selling a fox fur and I see a really old motorbike. An association is showing restored old machinery like pumps and engines.
In the meantime Adon and Dan went somewhere else and we lost them. We spot them talking to a funny looking local. They are with Donny, a close friend of Dan and Niki and a very interesting person. They told us so many stories about him, that we’re curious to meet him. He is a small guy with a typical Australian hat, a nice beard and the smile of a little boy. He has his own booth and is selling pigeons, a little cute cock and some plants. We have a nice chat with him. I really like him and can understand why he is so close to Dan and Niki.
Adon finally finds tools he wants to buy and is tactically bargaining the sellers down. Happy he leaves the market with a new steel clamp and a machete. I found a little carving knife and a triangle grinder for sharpening saws.
Time to get back to the farm.
Dubbo and Narromine
Our next trip has the goal to get to the great plains in the west of New South Wales. After the mountains where Mudgee is located it gets flat for almost the rest of whole Australia. Thousands and thousands of kilometers with a totally flat horizon and roads straight as lines.
Today should be one of the hottest days, so we prepare us with a big tank of water and start our journey. It is already very hot. We drive a bit up north to Ulan and from there it goes west. The temperature is murderous. At our first stop in Dubbo a wall of hot air hits us while stepping out of the car. It’s somewhere over 40 degrees Celsius.
While walking along the main shopping street we spot a music shop. Because I want to find an original Didgeridoo and want to know what it costs I go in but cannot find one. Surprised that I’m asking for one the store owner explains me, that they never had didgeridoos in store. It seems that Australians are less interested in Didgeridoos then Germans. At home, you can find a Didgeridoo in almost all music shops.
An outdoor shop lays beside a café where we have a cold drink. After finishing our drinks, Helen wants to browse a bookshop. I prefer a look to the outdoor stuff. Most products in the outdoor shop I know already, but one thing draws my attention. They have Australian hats here. It turns out, that some of the hats are even foldable. You can store them easily in your backpack. That’s amazing! I was searching for a long time for a hat like that. Some minutes later Helen enters the shop. I show her my discovery. She likes how the hat looks on me. That’s enough positive feedback so I ask the shop owner for the price. He replies that it’s 40 $. As mostly I try to bargain and believe it or not he lowers the price to 30 $. That’s it! I have a new hat. You will see it a lot from now on 😉
We continue our way west to Narromine. Searching for the great plains we reach this little town where the Australian road trains are departing from. The road was not that straight and flat like expected but still I have a little bit the feeling that we’re knocking on the door of the “real” Outback.
Half the way back to Dubbo we find our next sleeping place. It is a campsite beside a big stream. There is only one other car parking but no one to be seen. The only ones we are sharing the place with are hundreds of white Kakadus. They’re sitting everywhere in the trees around us. I love to watch them. How they interact with each other, how they fly. They have a very distinct and special style of changing directions.
The night is peaceful and we have a good and healthy sleep at the back of the pick up.
Relaxed we get up the next morning and drive back to Dubbo. A coffee and a little breakfast make a good start in the day. Near Wellington, a bit south of Dubbo, is the Lake Burrendong which looks promising as the next camping spot. A surprise awaits us when we arrive there. The whole lake is owned privately. The only way to get to the shore is by entering a public area that costs a quite high fee. It’s more than we are willing to pay, so we leave. We follow the shore of the lake a little to see if we find a free alternative but no luck. I never saw a lake in a developed country without any free access.
Faced with the fact that we have no place to sleep we search another one. There are not many possibilities but one good looking spot beside a small creek close to Ulan, north of Mudgee. Fortunately, the place is even better than it looked on the map. The stream is quite big and there are big ropes to swing into the water. I must try it. It’s refreshing to jump into the water after all that sweating in the heat. Helen is courageous enough to try the swing, too. I made a video of it but Helen does not want me to post it here. You would love it J
The night at this place is a bit strange. I have always the feelings that something is striving around the car. It doesn’t feel very scary, just a little disturbing.
The following morning it is time to go back to Mudgee to meet Niki and Dan. We stop at Ulan a nice little town. Dan recommended to have a pie at one of the bakeries, but because I don’t want to eat meat we decide to go to a sweet little café. While we’re sitting there a man with a dog enters the café. He tells his dog to stay outside. The dog just waits patiently in front of the Cafe. Every time someone passes him he waggles his tail but keeps sitting down. Impressively well trained.
We continue our ride to Mudgee and meet Dan and Niki in Café 69.
Bee Keepers Group
Some weeks ago, Niki lost a bee hive. She really wants to replace them and there is good opportunity tonight to meet other bee keepers. In Mudgee there is a meeting of the Mudgee Bee Keepers Group. We join her because bee keeping is a quite interesting topic for us, too. And of course, it’s not a tourist event. Great opportunity to get in touch with the local community and Australian lifestyle again.
The event takes place on an educational area a little outside of Mudgee. Helen, Adon and me arrive there in the evening. Dan and Niki are already there.
First thing I learn is how a straw bale house is build. There is one unfinished one right beside the building where the meeting takes place. Really interesting way of natural building.
Main part of the meeting is the presentation of a member of the national bee keeping association. He explains why bee swarms start moving and how you can collect them and establish them in your own bee box. The most interesting part for me is to watch the presenter checking the groups bee hives outside. I take on a bee suite and the first time I watch closely how someone is taking care of a living bee hive. Amazing, I really want to do this one day, too.
Niki meets with a guy who sells nukes to start a new hive, so it was a good day for her, too.
Katoomba and the Blue Mountains
When we drove to the farm together with Caleb we passed Katoomba. A beautiful small town in the Blue Mountains. We haven’t seen much so we want to explore the place and area around a bit more.
Our tour starts with a first highlight just after leaving the farm. On the side of the road I see something black. In the rear mirror I notice how it starts moving. What is that? I hit the brakes and drive back. It is a small black reptile with big dandruffs. A couple in their pick up stops to check what we are doing and they tell us that this little animal is a so called shingle back. An interesting and beautiful creature.
Further along the way we pass several viewpoints. The blue mountains are wonderful. We see the biggest canyon after the Grand Canyon and walk through Eucalyptus forests where we can see the blue mist at the horizon (the reason why these mountain range is called the blue mountains).
For camping we decided to go to the peak of the Blackheath Mountain. It is also a start place for paraglider. This promises a great view and colder night temperatures. Up there, we first walk to a viewpoint and afterwards meditate a little. Suddenly a big truck appears and pulls us out of our concentration. Interestingly, the guy who drives the car is an Australian Buddhist and permaculturist. What a nice coincidence. He invites us to share some food. We have a long chat and after eating some sausages we start jamming.
Because or time with Niki, Dan and Adon is coming to an end and so precious for us, we return back to the farm early next morning.
Our first live Rugby game
Since New Zealand Helen wanted to see a Rugby game and today we will full fill her this wish. Two weeks ago, we bought two tickets for the test game between the NSW Waratahs and the Aquis Brumbies. We leave the farm early, because we expect it to be quite crowded. In Mudgee we park the car and change to a shuttle bus.
The “stadium” is quite small for this game. There are seat only on one side of the matchfield. The tickets we got are just for sitting on the ground, but that’s fine. It’s nice green lawn. Only the sun burning down heavily is a challenge. Luckily, we have an umbrella with us.
There is a U21 game first. In the break, some young girls are showing their Rugby skills and finally the Waratah vs. Brumbie game begins. The guys are big, but because it is a test game the big stars are not playing. A little bit before the last game ends we make our way home. A nice and very australian experience.
Let’s enjoy one of the last evenings with our new family!