Sunday, 21 April 2013

SAA - Day 9 (Tocumwal, Narrandera, West Wyalong, Forbes)

No cows today.
A pleasant drive from the Murray and up through the Riverina and into the Central West of NSW. Sunshine all day and mild temperatures when we were out of the car.

Having pre-packed and put the trailer on the car last night, we were away smartly this morning, a trip record of 7:30am, so that by the time we stopped for Sue's first break at a rest area on the Newell Highway about ten kms short of Mordurah, it was too early for morning tea. Sue did her stretches and some walking and we drove on to Narrandera.

Having been to Narrandera on a Sunday once before, I had the inside dope that everything was shut, so negotiating back streets, I found a little corner store I knew of which served coffee. I triumphantly parked the rig, we ordered our drinks and walked down to the stunning looking cricket oval, with its picket fence and quaint little stand. Whilst Sue walked around the fence, I strolled out onto the oval to discover it badly needed top dressing. Fielders would see their dentists regularly as the ball hopped and bounced at pace toward them. The pitch had less grass left than a Hell's Angel outside a year 10 dance and was covered in plate cracks which wobbled underfoot. The pickets were fibreglass.

Looks can be deceiving.

A tiger moth was on display beside the oval, adjacent to the tourist information centre. In a building purpose built to just surround it, the walls were adorned with information and memorabilia of the RAAF training facility which once operated here, training pilots for both world wars. A pair of flying gloves identical to the pair given to me as a lad - source unknown - reminded me that I had destroyed them in the bike accident during my first year at Teachers' College. I took all the palms and finger pads from the leather. Heaven knows what might have happened without them.

Inside the tourist information centre, one wall is taken up with what is boastfully claimed to be the largest playable guitar in Australia. It's strings are untuned, the fret board requires fingers as long as a school boy's ruler and it has no strap, so it would also require a knee the size of Thunderbolt's Rock. I guess playable is as loose a description as the initial boast.

It does, however, have an attractive sunburst finish.

Sue doesn't quite understand the concept of driving through yet and gathered up pamphlets and information about interesting things for us to do in Narrandera ... while we drank our coffee. Confusion overtook her conversation with an elderly assistant in the tourist information centre, as she quizzed the old dear for five full minutes about a local feature ... only realising that she had creased her helper's brow asking for details about a feature of a town 130kms away. As there were no painted fibreglass cows, we instead drove into the main part of town to view the porcelain fountain which was gifted to Narrandera by a Hankinson, a retiring mayor, in the 1920's. Made by Royal Daulton, it has been there ever since. It is one of five monuments in a row in the narrow grass area off the main drag. It has been vandalised several times and remodelled in the 1960's but just like grandfather's axe, the concept remains the same.

As we drove back up the main street, three specialist coffee shops were doing a roaring trade.

On to West Wyalong for an early lunch in McCann Park.

The final leg to Forbes included a brief stop at the bird hide Sue was keen to see, just 5kms from Forbes. It was installed by Dick Smith and National Geographic. Excited by Sue's enthusiasm, I transferred the big lens onto the Canon and settled ... for less than a minute. Deary couldn't sit on the seats and went for a brief walk instead. Sometimes, I can sense when its time to go. So five minutes after arriving at this most anticipated, researched on the phone as we drove and initially missed and then rig turned around and go back 3 kms spot, we were waiting beside the highway for the traffic.

15 minutes later, we were at the Big 4, booking in.

I might have a red tonight.

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