Woodford to Tasmania

This is a blog about a journey from Woodford to Tasmania. It is one of the few times we wouldn’t be properly Vagabonding, that is, stopping to explore the places we visited. We had a ferry to catch so had little time to explore much of each place we stopped at. We have tried to avoid doing this but knew we had to on this part of our travel plans. It can get frustrating driving through interesting places and not being able to take the time to explore and experience. However we did do some good stuff and noted a few places we will return to. Here we go!

We wouldn’t be back in Queensland or New South Wales till next year. We planned to spend much of the Summer in Tasmania so, after we left Woodford we began the short drive of 2,600 kilometres down. This was the route we took and only when I created this map did I realise how far it was.

Our most common route up and down the east coast would have seen us hugging the coastline and stopping at some beautiful seaside places. However between us and Melbourne were the worst bushfires the country has seen and a state of emergency existed with many roads closed and towns destroyed by the fires.

Bushfire Map, Australia is on fire

We were reading about some of the beautiful places we have visited and stayed in, and written about in previous blogs, that were no longer standing. As a necessity our route took us inland to avoid this. First stop, Kingscliff to see Jenni’s dad and Ingrid.

Kingscliff

Kingscliff had some new visitors, black swans

From a previous blog you may remember us going for a hike to try, unsuccessfully, and get some pictures of the local fruit bat colony. When we got to their nesting spot the colony had disappeared. It turns out they had just moved somewhere else and weren’t very far away. That night at twilight the sky was full of the huge beautiful creatures.

Taking pictures of fast moving black flying bats at night is always a struggle

I have tried many times to get a picture but this was the first time I got anything reasonably recognisable.

I had to manually focus and turn the ISO up to 20,000 or something to get anything recognisable. This caused us some issues later on.

We had two nights in Kingscliff and then set off early for our next stop Glen Innes. As we crossed the Great Dividing Range we could see evidence of previous fires.

Burned trees lined some parts of the route.

Glen Innes

Glen Innes, the most Scottish town in Australia. This is a picture from my phone, that is relevant.

As we were working each day our daily travels couldn’t be too long. We fell into our usual routine of getting up before 6am, working till 10am, driving for 2-3 hours then working again till 6pm. That way we can still move and run a business. That is why we picked so many stops on the journey back to Tasmania. After one overnight stop we drove to Tamworth.

Tamworth

Tamworth was preparing for the annual Country Music festival which was starting in a few days time. We had a drink in The Welders Dog pub, a cracking little brew pub Jenni discovered.

Good selection of Craft beers at the Welders Dog
Rules of the bar. No dickheads.

Our only picture of the sights of Tamworth was of the Golden Guitar. It was on the road out of Tamworth on the way to Coonabarabran, our next stop.

The Golden Guitar in Tamworth, this is what happens when you don’t change your camera settings after taking pictures of bats at night. Rookie error.

This is what is should look like.

That’s better, I think I’ll just leave the camera on automatic from now on.

Coonabarabran

We stayed in Coonabarabran before. Last time for a few days, this time just for one night.. Last time we discovered it is the Astronomy capital of Australia. We also discovered you could stay in an observatory. After checking many times we discovered the observatory stay is always booked up. Luckily, when we were checking our route this time, it was free one of the nights. We changed our travel plans so we could stop and stay there.

Airbnb Observatory stay

The Airbnb included an exclusive tour of the observatory and a wander over the night sky with the big telescope. As luck would have it it was cloudy on the night we stayed. Our host, Gary, said his astronomy watching app said it would clear up at 2am and we arranged to get up and go for the tour then. But as we were talking the clouds cleared a bit and we headed into the observatory to see what we could see.

Laser sighting the constellations

We stopped in the observatory for 10 minutes or so with the lights off to get our night vision. When the lights came back on they were red to keep our night vision. Through thepowerful telescope we saw the nebula off Orion and Betelgeuse and of course a very good close up of the surface of the moon.

Normally Gary would let the punters attach their cameras to the telescope and get some pics but he didn’t have an adapter for the Olympus camera I had.

It was a very interesting place to stay. Gary said best time to come next time is winter and on a night with no moon. We’ve planned to do that and next time I’ll bring my own camera-telescope adapter.

Parkes

Parkes and Forbes are 30 kms apart. Parkes is the bigger town and is home of The Dish so we tried to book a hotel or Airbnb there for the night but failed.

Parkes Observatory, famous radio telescope from the movie “The Dish”

The only hotels available were cheap motels charging $250 per night. We knew something was going on. A quick search later we discovered there was an Elvis festival starting in Parkes the day we arrived. Rooms in Forbes were getting scarce and expensive also so we booked one quickly.

Elvis in Parkes

We stopped at the Parkes Observatory on the way into town. It has been on my list of places for some time.

A Dish goes to the The Dish
The original operators console of the Dish
Selfie with the Dish on my head

Forbes

The motel in Forbes was shabby and cheap but had the best wifi set up I’ve seen. There were hotspots outside every room. A better set up than some IT infrastructures I’ve been involved in. In the morning I had to go out for milk for our morning tea. Passed these interesting sculptures between Woolies and the hotel.

Another Gillie and Marc sculpture. Dog faced man and Rabbit faced girl.
Last time we saw their work was in St Kilda.
Big Bull at Dawn

Albury here we come. Our route to Albury took us through a town named after a former WWE star and now Hollywood actor, Dwanye Johnston.

The Rock is a NSW town with a population of 1,236 named after a large rocky outcrop near the town.
It was originally known as Hanging Rock because there was once a spectacular “hanging” protrusion on the eastern side of the hill. When the protrusion collapsed in 1874 the ever-pragmatic locals renamed the town “The Rock”.
It is claimed that if you stand on the top of The Rock, which rises 364 m above the surrounding plains of the Riverina, you will – at least in theory – have an uninterrupted view all the way to the coast of Western Australia. This low outcrop is a reminder of the flatness of Australia and the ancient, eroded nature of the continent.

Albury

It was Thursday night when we arrived in Albury to stay with friends Ordette and Paul. Our ferry to Tasmania was due to leave Friday night and we had booked time off on Friday to spend with them. We went to a lovely restaurant for dinner Thursday night.

La Maison in Albury, well worth a visit. The food was great.
The owner was Lebanese and had Lebanese beer on offer. Of course I had to have a taste. Not bad for a lager.

Friday morning we went for a swim in the Murray river. The weather was gorgeous and we had a fabulous time.

Messing about on the river

Ferry to Tasmania

We departed Albury in the afternoon and drove to Melbourne where we stopped for a quick meal before boarding the night ferry to Tasmania.

Well when I said something to eat I also mean accompanied by a pint of Guinness. The little one isJenni’s.
Mazzie waiting to board
Mazzie’s view while waiting to board.

The wait was long as usual. The sunset over Port Melbourne from our viewpoint on the docks was superb and I got out of the car to take a picture.

Sunset over Port Melbourne. We won’t be back for a few months.

Richmond, Tasmania

We got off the ferry at 8:30am and drove directly to our Airbnb in Richmond.

Richmond Bridge, big tourist attraction near Hobart.

We had arrived back in Tasmania and Richmond was the end of this leg of the journey. We’ll be in Tasmania till mid-March and will have plenty more to see and show in future blogs. As a taster, the image at the top of the page is the view from the deck of the place we are currently staying in but you’ll have to wait for the next blog to hear about that.

Till next time.

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