“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.