Sunday 22 June 2014

Winter Solstice Run 2014

It has become a bit of a tradition around here for a few of us to go on a “Winter Solstice Run” each year on the Sunday closest to the Winter Solstice.  That would be today.  The deal is that we go rain, hail, shine or snow, or you’re a big wuss.  Here are a couple of our previous escapades – 2013 and 2012.

These rides are generally a “Mick’s Magical Mystery Tour”, and today was no different.

This year saw a relatively small gathering, due to legitimate excuses, so we will let them off this time. Coincidently, they are all members of the Historic Car Club.

Things did not bode well when we woke to rain at about four o’clock this morning.  It eased off, but just as were about to leave home it started again, so on with the wet weather gear.

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We left town at about nine o’clock, and it was dry. 

Remember the tunnel of autumn trees we went through a few weeks ago, well, they look a little barer now.  I’ll have to try to take a photo of them in summer when they have their green look.

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To our delight we did not get wet on our run at all.  Just look at that!  Hardly a cloud in the sky.  Who’d a thunk it?

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The only downside was lots of road works, but it wasn’t slippery or sloppy, or dusty.  Here come the rest of the crew.

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Yes, there were only four bikes this year and six people.

Gotta love a windmill.

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We travelled through the small town of Woodstock, which seems to be dwindling.  There would be no stopping at this cafe, although they were replacing the verandah on the pub.

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Our first stop was at Wyangala Dam for morning tea……way down there in the park.

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We then travelled up onto the dam wall for the obligatory photo. I didn’t do a very good job with the time delay, as I cut me out of it.  Oh well, not to worry.

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The dam isn’t looking too bad.  Last time we were here it was really low.  You can just see the very tops of the old wall parapets, whereas last time you could see the entire old wall.

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You have always travelled across the dam wall to get to the village of Frogmore and to travel the most direct way to Cowra, the nearest town.  However, a few years ago, for security reasons, the powers that be decided that the road across the dam wall was to be closed.  That was well and good, but the locals thought it might be handy to firstly have an alternative route to the other side of the dam and river.  This is very near completion, and you can’t get right through at the other end of the wall.  To tell the truth, we were surprised that we could ride up there at all now.  Sadly, it will probably be the last time.

Anyway, we had a new road to explore and a brand spanking new bridge to cross.

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We continued on our way, towards Cowra.

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Taking in the stunning scenery and enjoying the warmth of the sun on our backs.  Yes, I said “WARMTH”!  It was really the most delightful day for motorcycling.  We almost felt guilty having such wonderful weather on what is supposed to be a ride in bleak weather to sort out the wusses from the real motorcyclists.  ALMOST!  Truthfully, we were grateful to have such a perfect day.

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Finally we arrived at our lunch destination.  Canowindra, and another lovely old cafe.

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A fortnight ago we were at the “White Rose Cafe”, today “The Garden of Roses Cafe”. The interior is not as pristine as the one in Dunedoo, but there are still a few lovely features remaining.

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Sorry for the dodgy photos, but they were very quick snaps.

The food was good, traditional cafe food and went down a treat.

We continued to enjoy perfect weather on the way home.  Look how low the sun is.  We were a little worried about the clouds building on the horizons, but they seemed to burn off, thank goodness.

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It wasn’t a late day, but the shadows were certainly lengthening as we neared home.  This was taken at four o’clock.  Still nice and bright, but there was starting to be a definite nip in the air, as we climbed back up to our beloved central tablelands.

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Another great ride with friends.  We now have tentative plans for a weekend away on the bikes once the days start to lengthen.  Bring it on.

Thursday 19 June 2014

The Funny Things You See

I don’t usually take photos of graffiti on the back of public toilet doors…..but graffiti doesn’t usually look like this, seen at Coonabarabran.

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You can’t help but smile when you see that.

In the White Rose Cafe  at Dunedoo there was this sign.

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That’s good enough reason to keep an eye on your kids.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Homeward Bound

OK, this is the final instalment of our three days away.  Yes, we packed a lot in.

As time was running out, we headed home by the most direct route, down the Newell Highway.  A nice distraction was seeing quite a few vintage cars on the road, on their way home from a Vintage Car Rally held at Narrabri over the weekend.

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We had a stretch of the legs at Mendoorin, which is a lovely little spot, with lots of murals painted on the shops.  There was a new business open too.  Castlereagh Collectables is housed in this lovely old building.

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There has also been a little bit of love going on next door, with the Mechanic’s Institute Hall receiving a freshen up of new paint and new roof sheeting.  The lovely old Spanish Mission style facade is looking fantastic.  I wonder what it is like inside?

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One of the old cars was also having a wander around.  Very tasty.

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Our next stop, as usual, was Dunedoo.  On the Monday I think that everyone travelling home from the coast had the same idea.  The street was packed with cars.  Mind you, it was lunch time.

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I’ve mentioned the White Rose Cafe previously, having visited there once and then finding it closed the next time we travelled through.  Well, we had read in “Country Style” magazine that it had reopened.  Great.

Mick waited outside while I ordered old fashioned hamburgers and milkshakes, served in metal cups. The signage has been given a revamp since my last visit, but still retains a similar feel.

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Inside everything was still there.  I heard one fellow asking if there were any marble topped tables out the back for sale, to which the owner advised that three had been sold before they took over, so there are now only seven left.  What a pity that had happened.

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It is so good to see an old fashioned cafe with the fittings intact.

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I do hope the business does well for the new owners.  Call in if you are in the area.

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Then we were on the homeward track.

What a welcome sight it was to see a rainbow over our lovely valley as we reached home.

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Tuesday 17 June 2014

Continuing our Exploration – Mount Kaputar

I’m finally back to share the last day of our long weekend away…… you can’t rush these things.

On the Monday we had a fairly early start, as we had a big day planned.  Our first aim was to go to the top of Mt Kaputar, about 50kms east of Narrabri.  Reportedly, on a clear day, you can see 10% of the state of New South Wales.  We were very lucky, in that it was a nice, fine morning and quite warm.

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We had heard that the road was twisty and not suitable for caravans, but still good for normal cars.

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That’s where we were heading.

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Yep, the road was narrow and twisty.  It was tar, then dirt for a while, but once we climbed further it reverted to tar.  Only the last little bit was then dirt.  Better than we had expected.  Friends had ridden up on a normal road bike a few years ago.  I’m glad we were in the ute.  The gravel would have been a bit interesting as a pillion on a bike.

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Our first scenic stop was the Doug Sky Lookout.  He was the engineer that supervised the road building.  I salute him. 

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We were in for a shock when we hopped out of the warm ute cab.  It was freezing and with a stiff breeze.  Thank goodness I had thrown coats and hats in before we left home.

The view was spectacular.  This is looking towards Coonabarabran and the Liverpool Plains.  You can even see Mullally Hill.  I never knew it was called that.  We had always known it by that name as it is this one quite prominant hill at Mullally, in the middle of the vast plains.  It is our beacon to turn left toward home. I digress… I do.

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Here is the scenery a bit closer. We had noticed the change in vegetation as we had climbed up from the plains below.

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We were lucky, that while we were parked at the lookout a couple of cars came down the road and one went up.  We were glad we hadn’t met them on one of the narrow bends.

Finally, after quite a bit more twisting and turning we reached the summit.  What perfect weather for our visit.

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Wow!  Look at that!

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Once again we were very rugged up and my new hat had its first outing.  The flora up here is alpine more than anything, which can be expected, as the summit has an altitude of 1510 metres.  That’s higher than anywhere around home, with Black Springs being about the highest at 1200 metres.  No wonder we were cold.

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You can’t escape technology.  Then again, we expect good mobile phone coverage.  There has to be towers to meet our expectations.

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This family wasn’t at all phased by our presence.  They were quite happy to have their photo taken.  Me thinks they are rather used to us tourists.

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I noticed quite a few trees with hollow bases like this one.  There was some evidence of bushfires in the past, but fortunately, there don’t appear to have been any recently.  Touch wood. (No pun intended.)

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As we were driving down the mountain, you could get a good look at the rock outcrops. 

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When you zoom in you can just see grass trees growing on the top. I bet these outcrops are popular with climbers.

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I think it would be stunning driving through this area during wattle season.  There is already early buds forming.

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This is the squarish outcrop that you can see in the silhouette of the mountains from miles away.

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And then, before we knew it we were back on flat ground on the plains.

Mt Kaputar is somewhere we have wanted to visit for many years, so we are really pleased we made the effort on this weekend to finally get there. It certainly was a weekend of exploration.

By now time was slipping away so it was time to head home.

Friday 13 June 2014


They reckon we will get rain later today.  With this sunrise, I think they may be right.

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Tuesday 10 June 2014


After we left Chooky’s on Sunday we headed towards some uncharted territory for us.  We like to find some new roads when we go travelling and we excelled ourselves this time.

Firstly, we followed some rather minor dirt roads, then going around the north of the Warrumbungles to the town of Baradine.

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This is a place we’ve been “gunna” visit for ages, but it just hasn’t happened….till now. Chooky recommended we have lunch at “Freckles”.  Mick and I just hoped it would be open on a Sunday. We were pleasantly surprised by Baradine.  It has a nice little main street with as small supermarket, chemist, rural supply shop, post office, takeaway and “Freckles”, which wasn’t just open, but was full.

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We had a lovely hamburger and then had a poke around the vintage wares they had for sale.

The town hall was rather imposing.

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After lunch we visited the Pilliga Forest Discovery Centre, which was really interesting, but forgot to take a photo.

We’ve driven through the Pilliga Forest from Coonabarabran to Narrabri on many occasions, but have never visited Pilliga, so that was our next destination.  The road started out tar, then changed to good gravel and finally rather soft, sandy gravel.

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There were small settlements along the way, which would have been for railway sidings in years past.

Pilliga is rather small, with a pub, cafe, Police Station, Rural Transaction Centre and not a lot more.

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No, there is a newer cafe than this one.

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We had been told there are bore baths there but we hadn’t expected such a huge number of campers at the site.  This is only about half of them.

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We continued on our merry way through Wee Waa, seeing lots of cotton crops along the way and finally arriving in Narrabri for the night.  We hadn’t booked any accommodation, as our travel plans are usually rather fluid, to say the least.  We were lucky to get one of the last rooms in town, as there was a vintage car rally, a bowls tournament and a historic train visiting.

We were told the RSL Club did a good meal and the setting was a little different.  It sure was……the restaurant, “The Outback Shack”, was decked out with lots of old bits and bobs, had a rain storm each half hour and a mural of an old street.  All really well done.  And the food was good too.

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We timed it well, as just as we were about to leave, 70 train buffs arrived to fill up this section.

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A great way to finish off an enjoyable day.