So to be reunited with the van and start the last leg, (heading west and homeward) we need to get ourselves up the Coolum Beach on the beautiful Sunny Coast A.S.A.P. This was not our original plan and we’ll be missing out on the Flinders Rangers due to this little detour. However it’s all part of the adventure and without this detour we would never had our great little visits to Hay and Dubbo. Which we loved.
Last year in Cooktown we camped next to an energetic character who come to be known as Uncle Pete. Uncle Pete was from Hay and took it upon himself to put together a homeschooling morning for the girls on Hay. Since then we’d been keen to try and get there and here we are.
A wheat and sheep area, known or being the flattest place on earth, home to the shearers Hall of Fame and it’s most famous resident was the Marino sheep that featured on the Australian Penny/Currency.
We arrived late on Friday afternoon and found an old converted convent to stay in for a couple of nights. It suited us perfectly and sheltered us from the storm that was blowing through. The town seemed very quiet but then the weather was pretty bad. The next day we made our way to the Shearers Hall of Fame. With a great exhibition on the history and a shearing display and lesson it was a fabulous experience.
We are particularly thrilled to have been here and able to give the girls this education and experience because shearing and the wool industry has been a significant factor in making Australia the nation it is to. Australia’s early economic stability and success was largely to do with wool. It is said the economy ‘rode on the sheep’s back for many years’. While the wool was a stable commodity the shearers who carried out the back braking work did there bit to shape the culture of workers rights and industrial relation. Fancy words now for blokes who just wanted a fair go for their hard work.
The demo was also fantastic and not so much the shearing of the sheep which we’ve seen before but the talk, stories and run through from the shearer was fantastic. He’d been in the business since he was a boy. Lived and breathed it all his life, it felt like you were spending time with a living legend. So insightful, educational and funny and we’ll never forget his catch phrase, ‘every sheep needs a hair cut’.
We left Hay the next day without running into Unlce Pete but had a great time all the same. It was Mother’s Day and I was treated to a sleep in, cuddles, snuggles, gifts in bed and an epic full cooked breakfast before we left. A long driving day with a couple of stops at some silo art in Weethalle, and a late picnic lunch in Forbes. By the time we rolled into Dubbo it was Dark.
We had intended to stay just one night here but after checking into the Quest appartments and Charlotte picking up some brochures we diced we’d try and book another night staying at Dubbo’s Western Plains Zoo. Either way we were going to visit the Zoo but it looked like a fabulous experience ton be able to stay in the Zoo, and it was.
After a bit of phone tag we were booked, not only for a day at the zoo, staying the night with the evening and morning tour and dinner and breakfast included but we were able to book an animal experience for Georgia with a TIGER!!!!!! We have been looking to do this all over Australia but everywhere had an age limit of 12 years. But here at Dubbo, 7 will do. Georgia may blog more about this one so i’ll not say too much.
The Zoo just gets better and better as you can hire bikes and ride from start to finish. The perfect way to get around as the girls have already been missing their bikes so everyone was happy. The exhibits were clear and excellent looked fantasied for the animals but they were well designed so that the fencing was hidden of sunken so often it appeared there was no fencing between you and the animals. Really fabulous. Probably now our favourite Zoo in Australia.
You check into your accommodation between 2-3pm and then are taken for a private tour around the zoo from 4pm after closing. This was fabulous as well seeing Hippos, Black Rhino, Lions and ???? Getting that guided experience with all the extra knowledge and story telling that comes along with it is alway a much enjoyed experience or all of us.
We returned to the accommodation and can view the savannah animals that just graze and hang out right in front of your hut (if you have one of the front huts, due to our late booking we missed this), but still it was really awesome to just wonder down to the viewing platform and watch the animals.
Dinner was an African inspired meal. Nice enough. The setting and building is very nice the menu sound delicious but it didn’t really wow us. It may have been the tweaking of things to cater for the coeliac and kids but still we thoroughly enjoyed the evening and I absolutely relish any night of cooking and dishes.
The next morning is a very cold and early start to do another tour, White Rhino, Lemurs, Cheetahs and Elephants. Absolutely fabulous especially the elephants getting to go into their shed and observe their morning warm baths, breakfast and training rituals. Getting the opportunity to speak with the trainers was also wonderful and engaging for the kids. On our return breakfast was served and we departed our room and Dubbo.
What an amazing experience. We left feeling very blessed and fortunate to have been here and able to share this together as a family. We’d had no intention of coming Dubbo but soooooooo glad we did. Much loved by all members of the family.
A full day traveling with a lunch stop in Gunnadah and a play at the playground in Tammworth. In our opinion the play ground at Tammworth is one of the best in Australia so we simply couldn’t drive by. We have been to both place before and travelled these very roads before still pretty country side.
The notable difference is with the federal election just around the corner the candidate poster out in force. It seems we’ve been looking at Barnaby Joyces face for two full driving days. I never new what a large area his electorate was, New England goes on and on and on!
As we approach Armidale you start to notice all the autumnal leaves. Very beautiful but after a long day, having start at the sparrows fart in Dubbo with a Zoo tour, we are looking forward to getting some dinner, a nice shower and bed!
After a good breakfast we hit the road early Armidale is in fog and mist. It’s going to be a long drive today but if we push on we’ll make it to Coolum. Kens booked a nice Airbnb for us for the week and we are all looking forward to being back in familiar territory, our home away from home. We are also feeling energized about this next leg of the journey and a week here in Coolum with help us get all prepared and organized.
It turned out to be yet another long day in the car arriving at Coolum Beach in the dark. We pick up a Thai takeaway for dinner on our way through to the house and nearly get drowned by the torrential rain – but we are here.