Two Rams and a Tandem
This weekend Harry and I made the long drive to Armidale in the Northern Tablelands.
Trips like this have been a regular part of our lives. I remember on many occasions during my childhood when Mum and Dad found an excuse to take a trip around rural New South Wales. There were always rams or fodder to buy or clearing sales with something we needed.
The real goal was of course to get out and spend some time in many of the beautiful old towns in NSW. West Wyalong, Narrabri, Forbes, Hill End, Grenfell, Temora, Junee, Eugowra, Orange, Dubbo, Coonabarabran, Gilgandra, (I could go on) were names we came to know well - as every year or so we piled into the dual cab ute and headed out on the back roads. Most families go to the beach or the snow for their holiday, but we were always in search of country pubs, old weatherboard cottages with wild overgrown gardens and of course, op shops.
This time we managed to fit a lot into two days. We headed up through the southern highlands and Sydney, before a short stop for fish and chips at the beach near Newcastle.
Things started to get interesting as we headed into New England, following Thunderbolts Way through the Barrington Tops. Here we saw more grass than we’ve seen for years. Swathes of green pick had us giddy as we climbed up onto the tablelands, where the drought is but a memory. We arrived in Armidale in the evening, where we fulfilled our first task, collecting a mint 1992 Trek tandem from a lovely English couple. Armidale is a beautiful town, with verdant parks and as it turns out, delicious Thai food. An ale and a room at one of the pubs in nearby Uralla brought back memories of our many nights in country pubs as kids (one particularly strong one involves a magician on TV cutting a woman in half with a circular saw).
An early start saw us heading south again, as we made our way off the tablelands down into Tamworth; big enough to find a decent coffee and breakfast. The back roads to lunch at Gulgong took us through mobs of cattle grazing on the roadside and progressively less grass. Everywhere we went though there were swollen creeks and rivers and signs of the recent rainfall and flooding, and even in those places where the drought still has its grip, a green haze is now creeping across the hills.
After a brief trip on gravel roads we arrived at Glenwood Merino stud and our final assignment. A pair of SRS rams kindly donated by Norm and Pip Smith awaited us in the race. Glenwood is an old family farm, now a Merino Stud practising holistic management and certified by the Responsible Wool Standard, and like us they offer their wool direct to consumers - check them out here: https://www.lovemerino.com.au/. After a cup of tea and some time to cuddle the five jack Russell puppies we were back on the road.
As we returned to Millpost via Orange, Crookwell and Gunning we chased storm clouds and the setting sun. While we were away Millpost caught the edge of another storm, bringing the rainfall for 2020 up over 100mm, and giving us a nice damp drive in along the puddly track.
Murray Watson 17 /02/2020