Roadside Stop

“When was the last time you changed a tyre?”, I asked Sue as we stood on the roadside of Mitchell Highway between Orange and Wellington. We both concluded it had been a few decades, since either one of us had performed this seemingly everyday task. “Don’t tyres change themselves these days?”, I added.

Thankfully, I still remembered how to do it in a general sense, but where things fell down was in how tight the nuts were. “I’m not strong enough, I can’t get them undone”, I said, and so Sue dialed the car hire company and organised for the NRMA. “This happens a fair bit with hire cars”, she was told by the person on the phone, as they use “industrial strength” nut tighteners.

Luckily, we were only a few kilometres outside of Orange so we didn’t have to wait that long. Fortunately, there were only a few spots of rain, and the roadside break allowed us a few minutes to think about the rest of the day, and for me to take a few photographs of some nearby paddocks.

Canola in the field, between Orange and Wellington.

But it did slow down our departure time, as we thought it was wise to head back into Orange to organise a replacement tyre. While we waited for the replacement, we sat in the carpark of Bridgestone Tyres, and enjoyed our lunch. This travel lark is pretty glamorous, eh?

We had only a couple of signioficant plans for the day, as we transitioned from Orange to Mudgee. I had a plan to call in a visit from colleagues at the ABC in Orange, and later in the day, we had plans to visit the historic town of Gulgong, and to visit the caves at Wellington.

Stupidly, we hadn’t counted on the caves being subject to social distancing, and therefore hadn’t booked a tour. Though we weren’t able to go inside the caves themselves we were able to go on a self-guided tour of the fossils trail in the nearby paddock and camping ground.

Fossils at Wellington Caves, NSW
Fossils at Wellington Caves, NSW

Neither of us had an idea the area was once part of an ocean sea-bed. It was enoyable and fascinating to do the walk and to reflect on how different the landscape of the nearby paddocks would have once been. The self-guided tour took about half-an-hour.

The break at the Wellington Caves also afforded us a moment for a “chocolate break” (a hot chocolate for Sue, and a chocolate Paddle Pop for me). We also ran into someone from our collective pasts, as he had previously worked in the area of rural/regional public relations. Small world, eh?

Our next stop was the historic town of Gulgong. Gulgong is famous as a place where the poet, Henry Lawson once lived, and which was portrayed (along with Lawson) on the Australian ten dollar note. In contrast to many towns and cities these days which are designed on a grid-system, the streets of Gulgong are windy and off-centre. The design of the town probably reflects the contours of the land. and the buildings have a nineteenth century vibe about them.

Gulgong, NSW
Gulgong, NSW

Though the town has a definite “tourist vibe” about it, the town still has a “locals vibe” about it, too. We both agreed it was well worth the slight diversion on our trip to Mudgee.

Ten Dollar Town Motel at Gulgong, NSW
Ten Dollar Town Motel at Gulgong, NSW

We’re spending the next couple of days in the area, with plans for further sight-seeing (including visits to the other nearby historic towns of Sofala and Hill End) as well as some wine and food tourism also.

4 Replies to “Roadside Stop”

  1. Hello James,
    Very interesting to read about your tour around NSW.
    Hill End would be great to visit. Never been but there is a painting of Hill End by Russell Drysdale in the collection of Geelong Gallery where I am a volunteer guide.
    Drysdale was educated at Geelong Grammar. He and fellow artist, Donald Friend visited Hill End in 1947. He took photos and made sketches and completed his painting back in his Sydney studio in 1948.
    Apparently in it’s heyday as a gold mining town in the 1870’s, Hill End had a population of around 8,000. In the late 1940’s an artists colony was established there. Not sure what’s left now but would be intriguing to explore.
    Safe travels and continue to enjoy your tour.

    1. Thanks Rod. We visited there today, and there was a lot of information about the artists visiting. That included some images right in front of the buildings still evident today. There was an interesting fact the town’s population actually peaked at 30,000, making it the largest inland city in NSW.

      1. Well, a population of 30,000! That’s certainly a way lot more than 8,000. Don’t recall where I got that figure from. Will have to amend my notes before I include that painting in my gallery tour again.

  2. I’ve always thought the layout of Gulgong might have been a result of its gold-mining past – as with Sofala and Hill End, for that matter. Binalong (south of Yass) has a similar feel.

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