I’ve certainly been on the road a fair amount the past few days – but it’s all been good! On Thursday, I headed down the escarpment to Bonville, almost on the coast, for the Christmas get-together of the RWA4PAN writing group – a delicious lunch that we all contributed to, and a fun few hours with a group of wonderful writing women.
On Friday morning I packed up the car – clothes, Christmas presents, Christmas pudding and other food in the esky, bedding in case I stayed in a caravan park cabin on the way – and set off south on the first stage of a two-day journey to Canberra. Yes, a lot of people do it in one day, and I have in the past, but at 10 hours it’s a long day, so I prefer to take two days, and a more leisurely pace. I stopped for a (late) lunch with the lovely Kylie Griffin who lives in a small community I’ve passed through many times but never stopped in. It was thoroughly enjoyable to have an hour or so with Kylie, meet her cats, and admire the covers for her books – her first, Vengeance Born, will be published in February.
I stayed the night in Gulgong, not quite half-way between home and Canberra. Gulgong’s claims to fame include the fact that famous Australian poet Henry Lawson lived in the town as a child. Much of the town’s mid-nineteenth century architecture remains, and when Lawson was featured on Australia’s first ten-dollar note (no longer in use), background drawings of Gulgong’s streetscape were included.
(I did take a few photos, but they’re on my camera and just right now I can’t find the lead to connect it to the laptop. I do have it with me… in a bag,…. somewhere…)
On Saturday, after a yoghurt and a cuppa for breakfast, I headed off at about 8am, down the road to Wellington, where I had delicious ‘second breakfast’ of raisin toast and chai at the wonderful Cactus Gallery and Cafe, located in a lovely old Spanish-Mission style building that once housed the catholic infants’ school. Now the gallery is stocked with gifts, clothes, homewares and other arts, and the cafe tables are inside and out, on the verandah and in the courtyard garden. The raisin toast was devine! I hope to be stopping there again, next time I’m driving through!
A little further down the road is Molong, then Canowindra, and I stopped for a little while in both towns, including a good chat with the owner of Canowindra’s patchwork and quilting shop, during which I stared in awe and admiration at several of her stunning, beautiful quilts. At Cowra, I had lunch in the Rose Garden Coffe Shop (much nicer than the next-door MacDonalds!) and at Booroowa I bought a coke at the bakery to cool me down and keep me awake… and yes, a chocolate eclair begged me to buy it. From Booroowa it’s only an hour and a half to Canberra, much of it on highways, so I was in Dad’s room by 4.30pm.
It’s been a few years since I’ve been able to do te drive to Canberra in such a leisurely way, by myself – and a nice way to celebrate on Friday, exactly a year since my surgery.
I did consider stopping to take photos on the way, and a couple of times I did, but I was thinking as I drove how photographs really can’t convey the experience of travelling through the landscape, and the vastness of it. I love the trip, and the transitions between the different regions. The high tablelands of the first hour, before dropping down the Moonbi hills to Tamworth, on the north-west slopes, with remains of volcanic vents dotting the plains. Then on the slopes, lines of low hills interspersed with flatter plains, the land used for cropping and grazing, summer sun turning green-ish paddocks towards yellows and browns. Sometimes the views are extensive, sometimes bordered by trees along the roads, or hills running parallel. Always, subtle changes along the trip – different types of eucalypts, different types of soils. Each town, too, has its own character – Gunnedah’s wide, straight streets, Gulgong’s narrow, hilly ones, Canowindra’s ‘bendy’ main street.
I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, and I’m looking forward to the return journey, in a week or so’s time.
Yesterday afternoon, I caught a bus up to Sydney, for a meeting today with Hachette. I did admire some of the views on the way, but I confess that I mostly ‘admired’ the inside of my eyelids! I’ll head back to Canberra on the 5pm bus, getting in at 8.30 or so, and then I have about a week with my family, with Christmas preparations and celebrations, and just enjoying their company. We don’t go overboard at Christmas, keeping things quite simple, and I like it that way 🙂