Land Cruise in Australia

Land Cruise in Australia

With needed parts on the way and a week till new crew shows up I took the opportunity to see a bit of the interior of New South Wales. I rented a Jucy Van, a nifty little camper van with bunk, sink, refer, and small stove. Even comes with dishes and pans, who could ask for more—all for about half what a cheap car rental costs-another Ausie anomaly.

Armed with the rented GPS and a map I headed west into the Blue Mountains. The first stop was Katoomba, a small town which is the gateway to the scenic area. As common in these parts, the town has many old brick buildings, an obvious connection to mining days of old and a new life as a tourist town.

From there I headed to the Janolan Caves, a must see I was told and it was true. The first guy I talked to was the curator of the museum, and looked the part. He was so glad to see someone come into his small display that I stayed and chatted for a while. There are extensive caves that were mostly discovered in the early 1900’s. There are manmade connecting tunnels to the caves. I took one of the tours and the guide was most informative. The formations in the Temple of Bal were stunning. The place is riddled with Old Testament names and references given by the discovering explorers who were Free Masons and studied the old scriptures. The guide informed us that the caves were 400 million years old, the oldest in the world. I did make a comment that it was paradoxical that caves named from the Old Testament were said to be”known” to be much older than scripture would indicate.

the Temple of Bal, with the two temples one red, one white

definitely an angel

Next stop was a much more remote town, Oberon. This town was established in the early 1900’s, had a spurt in the 1920’s and has grown little since. I ate at the hotel that was built in 1928. I stayed at the Caravan Park, a nice facility a few blocks from the main street. I went to dinner in the old hotel and met the band that was about to play. Turns out they were an amazing blues band and of all things the lady sax/harp player was at Woodstock. We had a great chat about American blues, Woodstock and hot rods—“these are a few of my favorite things”

My next plan was to head south into the higher mountains to see some rivers and lakes. It hit 40f again and swimming was looking good. A fast weather shift, rain and a 10 degree temperature drop changed my mind. As in Seattle the inland side of the mountains is always dryer and warmer so east I went. I drove for 5 hours in the most beautiful rolling hills I have ever seen. This area is like the Meathow Valley in eastern Washington on steroids, it goes forever.

This is sheep and cattle country, thousands of sheep and cattle room the hills. I approached a sheep herder working his dogs to move a large herd of sheep and asked if I might watch. The farmer looked at me in my purple and green rented van and wearing shorts, sandals and of course a Hawaiian shirt and gave me the “look” as he said sure but stay out of the way. I was amazed to see real sheep dogs work in a real setting, not a pen or competition.

Like I have seen in rural British Columbia and Alberta, the farther from the city you get the thicker the accent. The expressions get more colorful and the words slide together so as to be a bit hard to understand. These guys make Crockodile Dundee sound like he came from Berkeley.

The other blaring difference in the rural areas is the food. No vegetarian cuisine here, it is meat, meat and more meat with some potatoes. The price drops dramatically as the portions get bigger too. I had a killer hamburger, salad and drink for ten bucks ( they made the salad special order).

The nest night I stayed in another historic town, Cowra. Apparently the Australians interned Japanese and even Italians and Germans during WWII. The Japanese escaped in an historic turn and it is still talked about here.

I find Caravan Parks to be like marinas, full of friendly people sharing experiences of their travels. As I was at the end of the season the parks were generally almost empty. I had a long chat with the owner of the park in Cowre. They had just bought the park after much research and exploration and was living his dream of leaving a corporate jog in the city and living a country life, a truly happy man.

I finished my trip by heading northwest farther into the grassy plains area and hit several other great small towns. The weather had changed dramatically from 42 to 20’s and rain was coming so I decided to head back to the boat.

Almost 1000km, countless small farm towns, some truly unique people and a bushel of Australian country memories under my belt it was time to start thinking of heading to sea.