Tambar Springs, Gunnedah, Narrabri, Moree
(Black Stump Way. Oxley Highway, Route 37, Newell Highway) 264 km
Our enormous planning exercise began its ultimate test, with the car pulling away from Koko's Takeaway in Tambar Springs at 11:15 am - later than the advertised starting time, but still within reason. In the context of the length of the journey ahead, a few hours either way could surely be of no consequence.
A short stop in Gunnedah to finalise a few financial details and it was onward to our old stamping ground at Baan Baa. The children were fascinated to see where they started their days on earth and many of the old stories were trotted out - much to the children's chagrin ! It was interesting to see the physical progress of the school and the village in general. Being the first Monday of the month, the crowd of cars outside the hall clearly indicated the continuance of the CWA. This allowed Sue to boast of the days she was the toast of the organisation, after she turned up with the best scones in the district at her first meeting.
The school still looked pretty good, but the residence was starting to show signs of wear and tear, with the large drop down shade screens being torn and the garden looking overgrown. It came as no surprise to find but that the residence was no longer occupied.
The cricket ground now has a grandstand to encourage the attendance of spectators. It is not the usual
spectatorfacility though - in keeping with the rest of the ground. In a former life, it was a double decker bus, but now sits broadside to the ground, with the boundary facing side removed and decking added. Ever the innovators!
We continued on and arrived at the Richardson's for a late lunch of delicious ham sandwiches and chocolate cake. The new home of our good friends is afar cry from the ramshackle vicarage at TS. The house has recently been restored and dates back to the first few years of Federation. The restoration tasks eventually totaled $130 000, much to the shock of their Parish Council! However, years of neglect had led to the massive job that had to be done to save the fine old structure and once started, the job may as well have been done right. The house had to be restumped, after years of the garden beds building up and the rain water running back under the house. This had led to water collecting there and the stumps had rotted out, leaving sloping floors and that uncomfortable seasick feeling when traversing the distance from one end of the house to the other.
Painting and enclosing the verandah, security lighting and locks and a commander phone system ... it all adds up. The result is a magnificent house, which the Richardson's are utilising well with the new furniture that they have purchased/refurbished. Their taste and selection has been excellent and the work that Markus has done in creating beautiful pieces, from very little, is a credit to him.
The church, itself, is a lovely old building, but not as old as it would seem at first appearance. The original building was taken down and broken into two smaller buildings that went to other centres and the current brick edifice was erected in the 1930's. However, much like the vicarage, maintenance has not been regular or thoughtful and they now face the need for new carpet, lighting & PA systems, plus the dilemma of having the front wall of the church held on by internal scaffolding.
The church was built to be the main cathedral for the North West, but Armidale ultimately took that honour. Despite the physical difficulties, it is still a superior building to the Armidale Cathedral.
Following an earlier dinner for the ankle biters, the big kids retired to the dining room and their own
company, whilst a Sarah inspired younger brigade watched Lois & Clark.
Our evening was an outstanding one: great food and company and the sort of companionship that only comes from close friends. We chewed the fat, without dwelling on the difficulties of our respective jobs and reflected on. our joint experiences.
The evening closed in prayer... a fitting end to a perfect evening.