The powers that be decided that we could start to travel again as at the start of June, just in time for the Queens Birthday long weekend. However, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia still have their borders closed. South Australia opened their border this week.
As much as we were itching to get out and about, we figured it would be too busy on the long weekend, which proved to be true. Apparently, some places were bedlam, so we are glad we stayed home. Mind you, I wanted to join in on a certain Zoom Party.
Therefore, we finally hit the road last Thursday. Our original plan was to go to Condobolin and stay at Gum Bend Lake, a man made lake that has a nice camping area. There has been lots of rain out that way over the last few months, so we thought that would be the go. The only hitch, when we called the tourist office, it turns out that they still haven't filled the lake from the Lachlan River. No worries, let's go to Plan B........
We headed towards Forbes, with our first stop at Eugowra. We have visited here a few times, as it is a lovely little spot. There are lots of murals, and this sign appears to be new, since we visited in October with Lou and Tony.
The craft shop is always one to visit. They sometimes have yummy tomato relish and tomato sauce. Not that I needed any, but it is so good. I mentioned that I love the sauce to the lady behind the counter, and it turned out she is the cook. It was nice to let her know her produce is enjoyed.
There was also someone having a little destash, so I bought a couple of small pieces of fabric and a pattern for cheap as chips. I'm sure they will get used.
There were a couple of other changes in the village as well.
Firstly, a new gift shop called "Michaels". It has to be good, hasn't it.
The other is a new Men's Shed being created in the old Post Office building.
The owner of the building has created a great garden, come park with seating and sculptures.
In the background you can see a food van. It isn't up and running just yet, but will be shortly. It is all a great initiative.
Our next stop was on a property outside Forbes. "Woolerina" is a company that makes merino clothing. It is Australian wool, sent to China for carding and spinning, (as sadly, there is nowhere in Australia that can do that process any more) and then turned into fabric in Melbourne, before being returned to Forbes to make the garments. We have been buying clothes from them for over ten years, initially as thermals for motorcycling, but also for cardigans for me. We love it.
Their workshop and showroom is in a converted fruit packing shed.
They had two ladies sewing garments. If you have time, pop over to their website and read their "Journal" section.
Next, into Forbes, where we saw a mural on the side of a building. We had hoped to browse op shops in our continuing quest to find a replacement mug for Mick, but they are still closed due to COVID-19, unlike the ones in Bathurst, which have reopened.
There are some lovely old buildings in the main street.
We headed towards Condobolin on a nice quiet road, which seemed to be getting rather narrow, when we realised we were actually not on the road we thought we were. It didn't matter, as it still headed to Condobolin, following the Lachlan River. It was rather scenic.
Eventually, we came to a road that crossed the river, over a historic timber bridge and joined the more main road. A nice detour.
We were looking forward to visiting the "Utes in the Paddock" on the outskirts of Condobolin, as we had heard quite a bit about them. It is a range of old Holden utes that have become the canvas for artworks.
It was a fun little interlude and a good spot to have a late lunch.
We didn't spend much time in Condobolin, as we hope to return here when there is water in the lake. We did visit the local butchers, as someone, who will remain nameless, who me?, forgot to put the frozen food in the caravan freezer. Not to worry, it was a good excuse to support a local small business.
We really picked a great weekend to travel out that way. The weather was nice, with temperatures in the high teens, and everything was looking nice and green, although they were looking for a bit more rain to keep the crops progressing.
So, our Plan B destination was Lake Cargelligo, about 90kms further west of Condobolin.
This is a small town not a lot of people have been to, as it is a bit out of the way, but I have visited many times up till my late teens, as my aunt and uncle lived here. Firstly, they had a farming property about 30kms out of town, then a smaller 25 acre property with lake frontage and finally they retired into town. My aunt, Dad's little sister, lives in a nursing home in a nearby town and turned 100 just before the COVID-19 lock down. She bred angora goats, starting in the early 1970s, and was one of the first to get on the band wagon, even co-writing the main book on their husbandry. We used to visit out here most Easter long weekends, as it is too hot during the summer. It is a rather harsh landscape. We have seen the lake looking good, but in the early 1980s, we have also seen it empty, with lots of dead fish and turtles.
We arrived late afternoon and decided to camp at a free camp on the banks of the lake. It had great reviews on "Wikicamps" and it certainly lived up to the hype.
The name doesn't sound very inviting, does it. There are two campgrounds on the shores of the lake. "Frog Hollow" is closer to town, whereas this one is about 4kms to the north, so still quite close, but lovely and quiet.
How's that for a camp site. There is only room for a few vans down by the water, with a much larger are on a higher level behind. There were only three other vehicles camped there.
The camp area is Council run and they provide a nice clean barbecue area and an eco toilet block. The loos were very clean and didn't smell at all. A Council worker came around in the morning to empty the bins and give everything a clean. All this for just a donation, if you wish.
It was a beautiful evening and so peaceful. What a view!
The lake is a natural lake on the Lachlan River. It was first discovered by Europeans in 1815 and they couldn't believe what they came across. A weir was installed in the early 1900s to regulate the water levels for irrigation.
The area is renowned for its birdlife, with several hides for bird watching around the lake and also at the sewerage treatment works.
In the evening, there were so many pelicans passing by. There were long lines of them, flying low, just above the water level. Just beautiful to watch, especially, as the water was so still.
It was nice to sit in front of a fire in the evening, as it was quite cool.
I hopped up fairly early to see the sunrise over the water.
I enjoyed seeing how the scene changed in the different light.
Eventually a fog rolled in for a while.
After a leisurely breakfast, we decide we would walk to town. There is a lovely wide cycle and walkway nearly all the way to the campground. It follows the lake, so is rather scenic. It was a nice way to go, seeing as we weren't in a hurry.
This pelican wan't in a hurry either. He was quite happy on the end of the old jetty.
When we reached the main street we intended to go to the visitors' information centre, but sadly it was closed. It is run by volunteers, who are older, so they haven't reopened. The same went for the op shop and museum. Not to worry, we would just have a nice wander around the streets.
There are some lovely old buildings, though there are very few businesses still trading. A sign of the times in small, remote country towns.
There was, however, a great mural on the side of one building.
The little butchery wasn't taking any chances with COVID-19. We bought some pork steaks here and they were some of the tenderest we've ever eaten.
By now it was getting towards lunch time, so we visited this lovely old pub. There isn't much else in the way of food outlets in the town these days. Just one shop, which is bakery and takeaway.
The counter meals were great. Mick's steak was enormous and cooked just how he likes it. It turns out the local butchery supplies all their meat. We didn't need much tea, after this big lunch.
I think these seagulls were a little lost. There is no sea out here.
When we returned to the van we just sat around and spent a lazy afternoon and evening. The colours were beautiful again and the water like glass. You could not get a nicer place to camp. And all this for just a donation.
We had thought of going to the Bowling Club for dinner, as they advertise that there is a courtesy bus that will collect you from the camp ground. There were a few of us interested in going in. However, that is another service that is closed at present. We didn't need dinner anyway, so maybe it was a good thing.
I took lots of hand stitching and my crochet with me, but did none. Instead, I read a book. That's two in a month. Unheard of these days, compared to the girl who always had her nose in a book in the past.
I thought I'd share the morning view from our bed. It's a hard life.
Another morning, another sunrise. Notice though, the water in not like glass this time. A cool breeze had whipped up.
Mick slaved to cook us breakfast pancakes.
We noticed this boat each morning and evening. It turns out he is a commercial carp fisherman. They feed the carp in an area for a couple of days and then he, and another fellow in a second little boat net them. They are then frozen and taken to the Sydney Fish Markets. How good that someone is making use of such a pest of a fish.
So, our plans for Saturday........
A couple of people had recommended we visit a local man who has a draft horse enterprise. Apparently, for $15 a head you get to spend several hours with him seeing his horses work and learning all about them, as well as seeing his little museum. We thought that would be a nice thing to do. We called them, and can you believe it, they were having visitors, so weren't opening on that day.
No worries, we would go for a drive, as the weather wasn't going to be nice sitting outside the van with the cold breeze coming off the water. When we thought about it, we decided that, if we were going for a drive somewhere, we may as well take our van with us and stay somewhere else on Saturday night.
We will just have to come back to Lake Cargelligo another time to do all the things we missed out on this time.
One final photo. I always loved seeing the round silos as we came into town when I was a kid. They are an iconic Lake Cargelligo thing, in my humble opinion. There has been talk of painting the silos here. I'm guessing they mean the tall ones. They planned on painting them with the space shuttle, for something different, but the locals didn't like that idea, so nothing has happened as yet. This is my "before" photo. Hopefully, one day we will see them all painted up.
As our original plan had just been to return home via the direct route through Parkes, this was now the start of our Plan C.
Mick always reckons if it isn't planned it can't go wrong. This sometimes infuriates me, but proved true this weekend.
We decided to drive to Rankin Springs, then on to Weethalle and back to Grenfell for the night.
As we drove along we were intrigued by this magnificent old woolshed.
Weethalle has been put on the map in the last few years, due to their painted silo, which we have visited before, but is always nice to see.
Our usual other stop whenever we pass through here is the Whistle Stop Craft Shop in the old railway station. There is very little craft there now, with more gift ideas. As we got chatting to the lady looking after it that day, there are now only about four volunteers to run it and most are over 80 years old. I wonder what will become of it.
There was also an interesting junk/antique shop, which of course we had to pop into.
Blame Mick. He is always the one to spot interesting sewing things. I haven't seen one of these before, especially as it still has the cardboard cover. There would have originally been a rubber puffer ball on top of the little canister at the bottom
There is also a small, older mural on the side of the railway platform.
Once we arrived at Grenfell we pulled in at the free camp by the old railway station. This is a Lions Club project and Council helps maintain it. Once again. a free camp for a donation.
There are loos and they even have a pay as you go shower. Seven vans stayed overnight here.
In the late afternoon we went for a wander. We have visited here quite a few times and even stayed in pubs with bike groups on a couple of occasions, but have never really had a good explore. We walked the main street, and also down a side street, which was the original main street, before many of the timber building burnt down.
Mick had a chat with Henry Lawson, the poet, who was born here. No social distancing, I notice.
One of the main attractions here is the painted silos. We called in while they were in the process of being painted in February 2019. It was nice to see them finished. You get a feel for the scale of them when you see Mick in front of the sheep.
Finally, the little old Railway Station, which is no longer in use. It is used for community groups and is beautifully maintained.
We wandered up to the Railway Hotel for dinner, as it is just around the corner from the camp area. We've eaten here several times and it is always a good meal. We had a nice chat with some locals and learnt that the pub was closing for good the following day. That is so sad. There are four pubs in the main street, and for a town the size of Grenfell, that is quite a lot. I do hope someone opens it up again in the future, as it will be quite a loss. You feel for the regular patrons. They were doing their tipping competition. How will they continue with that? There were lots of sporting items and trophies. What happens to them all? They are also worried about their local paper, which comes out twice a week. It has gone to on line only. They hope that it will return to print soon. Another small town that is struggling.
During the night we had constant steady rain and they ended up receiving about 20mm. That is just what they wanted for their crops. Of course, some more will be welcomed. It stopped by morning, so was very conveniently timed.
On Sunday morning, we packed up our camp and headed towards home, via the silos. Once again, you realise how big they are. I don't know how the artist works out how to paint them on that scale, but he has done a fantastic job. Both of the silos we visited this weekend were painted by the same artist, Mongolian born Heesco. Very clever.
Our final port of call before we reached home was Canowindra. We enjoyed morning tea before going for a wander up and down the street.
The patchwork shop always has a nice window display. I'm now drawn to Pinnock machines, after acquiring my green one. Don't you love the name "Trendsetter Jewel".
This was a nice display. I love the pinwheel cushion in 30s prints. I may just have a few 30s prints and could make something similar. Mick was probably pleased that it was Sunday and she was closed.
And that is the end of our little adventure. This was the first time I have been away since we went to the Jimmy Barnes concert at Tullemore back at the beginning of November.
We couldn't have had a better few days away. The weather was good, the roads were quiet, we saw some beautiful scenery and met some nice people.
Hopefully, we will now try to get away for little breaks more frequently, as that was the plan now that Mick is no longer working.