We’re off again. Cruising the countryside. This time in bigger cars! The roads to Lightening Ridge are rough and rocky.
Once again we met at the Wilsons this time with Mike & Helen Grace and Peter Harrison. Sadly, Carmel can’t make it due to an infected leg.
We wound our way out of town and went via Warwick on a more minor road. You see so much more when you get off the main roads.
First stop for coffee at Aratula. The Bakery there is always a winner. A bit of car shuffling and we headed onto Inglewood. Steve isn’t driving due to his carpal tunnel operation. Both wrists! So I’m sharing the driving with Chris & Jill. It was warming up so we sat on the deck and enjoyed the country-style salad sandwiches and the odd sausage roll.
I just love these country towns. Mike disappeared for a while. He had wandered down to the general store on the Main Street and met up with a lady who had worked with him in catering in Brisbane. They had a bit of a yak (talk) and caught up on a few years.
Back on the road for the short hop to Goondiwindi.
There was a spit of rain then a rainbow appeared. A good omen.
We saw others hopping along as well. The kangaroo is a menace on the road. They hop blindly into the path of a car and get startled. Next thing they are road kill. There were bodies littered along the highway. Little kangaroo paws sticking up in the air.
You need to be off the road by 4pm to avoid hitting one. Quite scary.
We arrived safely and checked into our motel. It’s the same one we stayed at this time last year when we were down for Lauren’s wedding.
We visited Lauren in her house nearby in time for a George cuddle. He is about 6 months old and a real cutie. Lauren’s husband Nick is a farmer and they are doing it tough at the moment. Little rain equals poor crops and decisions on when to sow and spray. Nick was off working so we sat on their screened deck and enjoyed baby George.
We planned a drink at the pub. The Victoria. A lovely Art Deco style. It’s interesting to see quite a few Art Deco style buildings in town. If you’re visiting country towns this is a good one!
We sat in front of the fire and enjoyed a drink before walking a block to the Chinese restaurant – one of two in town and, apart from the pub, the best eating in town. It didn’t disappoint. And George was the perfect Bub.
As we walked to the Chinese we passed a few lovely looking shops. Homewares and clothes shops particularly caught our eye. So the ladies made an executive decision to stay behind in the morning and do our best to boost the economy. I spied some very cute deck chairs which would look great in the new area we are creating under the house.
We swapped a few tall tales before heading off to bed ready to tackle Lightening Ridge in the morning.
We also found out there is a “Gourmet in Gundi” festival on Sunday. So we have penciled it in on our return to Gundi.
On a fine winter’s Sunday we assembled at our friends house and planned our route to Inverell in NSW. Why Inverell I hear you ask? As it turns out Inverell is home to a rather large car museum. We’ve been wanting to go there for a while and we finally got some time to get away.
After map reading it was ‘Gentlemen, start your engines’ and away we went.
We prefer the more minor roads to avoid trucks and to be able to enjoy some scenery along the way, so we headed to Rathdowney and onto Woodenbong for our first coffee stop.
The breeze had sprung up and it was quite cool in the open topped car. Lucky the sun was shining to provide some warmth.
The coffee was good and hot, so refreshed we headed off along the back road to Bonalbo then the Bruxner Highway to Tenterfield.
It was getting late for lunch and our favourite Willow Tree Cafe was closed on Sundays so we went into the hotel with its warm fires and tasty soups.
The countryside had fires through here just a day ago.
Back in the car it was definitely getting cooler, so another layer of clothes was added before an unscheduled stop. Chris pulled over to check something. We pulled in behind, turned off the motor, then when we wanted to head off the engine wouldn’t start. Not good being two small green cars on the side of a busy stretch of road for we were now on the New England Highway. Eventually we all push-started the MG and off we headed -grateful not to have to call for help.
We arrived in Glen Innes and turned west towards Inverell and now it was very chilly and we were driving into the western sun. I had two hats , gloves, a rug on my knees and two scarves. And I was still cold.
After a beautiful day’s drive the last half hour wasn’t quite so great. We were pleased to arrive at Inverell and get into our warm rooms at Top of the Town Motel with its covered car spaces and and warm rooms.
I love country towns. Having grown up with a father who loved driving and many relatives scattered throughout the NSW countryside we had lots of holidays driving and visiting relatives.
Warmed up, we headed to the restaurant recommended by Margaret from the motel. We asked her about the club in town. “No, don’t go” there she answered, quickly followed by “or to the Chinese”. We settled on the Thai and it was good.
Monday morning Steve was up and ready to sort out the starter problem with his car. He called the NRMA, the motoring body who comes to your rescue when there are car problems. I was comfortably still in my warm bed and I could hear voices outside. Men and their cars! Steve along with Chris and Andrew were huddled under the raised hood discussing things until the NRMA man joined them. Then there were lengthy discussions and laughter and advice given until half an hour later Steve appeared quite thrilled to report it was a minor problem, and the car was across the road from the motel at the conviently located auto electrician!
A morning to inspect a small country town is very revealing. Inverell, I’m pleased to say, is a great little centre. After a super breakfast at the Bridge Cafe we parted with the boys. They headed off to the car museum and we decided to walk the heritage trail of the town’s main streets.
There are some beautiful old buildings lining the streets which have undergone some restoration work and are quite lovely.
The Inverell Art Gallery located in Street has a beautiful mosaic walkway leading to it. The Gallery is well used and was setting up for a local Kindergarten art show.
We called into Berlinger’s Art Gallery a most attractive place with some really good art on the walls and some beautiful craft works including lovely quilts and cushions. It looked prosperous which is a good sign for a country town. As we walked along the main streets we went into several gift homewares shops , one with a coffee shop inside. Another one was a combination of gifts, knit wear and art supplies. The owner Melissa Simmons was lovely to chat to and said things were doing well in Inverell despite the drought.
Along from there we went into Magnolias, a very large gift, clothes and furniture shop. There is lots of money tied up in this really lovely shop. I bought a jacket so will feel I’ve contributed to the local economy.
In fact we all bought an assortment of gifts, clothes, craft items and Jann topped the purchases with a lovely cream wool throw.
Back with the boys we enjoyed coffee at yet another cafe and then back into the cars for the next run. The weather was warm and much more comfortable. We stopped in Texas – no, not Texas USA but a small country town in Queensland. We chatted to a lovely lady at the CWA – the Country Women’s Association (though sometimes its known as the Cranky Women’s Association) before heading off to try and beat the dangerous driving time. Kangaroos hop with no fear or sense across the road. There are lots of dead bodies littered along the highways and roads. Little furry legs in the air. It’s quite scary driving along thinking they’ll run out in front of you. I’d hate to hit one.
We drove into Stanthorpe around 4.30 and found the Apple and Grape Motel in the Main Street. For those overseas readers a motel is a type of hotel. They are usually one or two stories high with parking outside the rooms.
Our motel was conveniently located next to a pub! Or hotel to be more correct. And we were ready for a drink. Surprisingly though located in the wine area we didn’t have much choice of bubbles or wine. But we managed to find something wet and bubbly and in front of the warm crackling fire settled in.
We followed up with dinner – nothing special. Just the usual steak and chips! Lamb shanks, lasagne , chicken parmigiana. As I said nothing too exciting. But it filled us and warmed us and we had some fun.
Jann our champagne queen didn’t drink the rather inferior bubbles. So after dinner she sent Andrew to a bottle shop and he came back with a lovely bottle of Tattinger. Such posh friends I have. And aren’t I lucky!