Around the World in 80 Emotions !!! travel blog

Kangaroo Flat Valley

Shoeing the horses

A break in the Forest

Local Scenery

Washing down the Horses

Digging a gatepost hole

Breaking in a new racehorse

Cactus and I

Whip Cracking !

Caught !

Jacky showing how it should be done

Local Kangaroos

Walcha

Moonli Lookout

Tamworth Powermuseum

View over Tamworth

View from Mt Franklin

The Golden Gituar

Coonabarabran

Warrumbungle National Park

View from Split Rock

Split Rock mountain


So after a week on the coast, I decided to head inland and enjoy the New South Wales countryside. First stop was a Jackaroo Farmstay close to Werrikimbe National Park about half way between Port Maquarie and Tamworth. I arrived there on Sunday afternoon to be met by farmer Barry Cotton and Jacky, an Italian student, who was working there for a few months. Barry is a semi-retired farmer with about 80 cattle and 15 horses on an estate on the very scenic Kangaroo Flat Road leading to the park. In addition, to running the farm, he regularly hosts tourists who want to experience life in the countryside.

Monday morning we were up early as the horses were scheduled to be reshoed but fortunately Barry had hired a local to do the job. Once the first couple of horses were shoed, Jacky took me up to the paddock to show me how to saddle my horse "Cactus" and teach me the basics of horse riding. Fortunately, Cactus proved to be a pretty tame horse and my biggest problem was that he needed to be kicked a bit to get him trotting. After an hour or so practising, Barry rejoined us and we headed south for about an hour or so looking for any cows that had strayed from his property. After a couple of hours in the saddle and rounding up a few cows, we headed back for good lunch before going out again to repair a fallen fence and cut some fallen trees for some gate posts. That evening was spent chilling out in front of the TV.

Tuesday we were up early again and this time I saddled my own horse before we headed off on an almost 4 hour ride north through a spectacular river valley and a forest, again looking for stray cows. 4 hours is a long time on a horse so I was glad when we got back for lunch. Afterwards, we headed south to set up the Gate posts allong one of Barry's existing fences so that he could have easier access to his cows. This proved to be more difficult than expected as the dry ground proved to be as hard as sandstone rock and it was only after considerable effort with a crowbar that we managed to dig a hole deep enough to place the posts. Wednesday, Jacky took me out for a ride on my own but this time we kept it short as I was still feeling the previous days riding. In the afternoon, she showed me how to crack a whip (easy) and throw a lasso (difficult). We only used the lasso on a static metal cow and it proved very difficult so I have a lot of respect for any rodeo cowboy that can catch a moving cow whilst riding a moving horse. To finish my stay, Barry took me up to the national park just before sunset which is full of Eastern Grey Kangaroos. After Jacky cooked a final hearty meal, i had the time to reflect on 3 enjoyable days in the countryside. It was definitely fun but it was also clear that I am not destined to live on a farm. Given a choice, I would rather Mountain Bike up a hill under my own steam than ride a horse up the same hill. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed my two days with Barry & Jacky.

Thursday morning, I left early heading for the town of Tamworth (The Country Music capital of Australia). First stop, was Walcha where I had new tyres put on my car and where I had an interesting chat with an Austrlian Saleswoman for the local Electricity company. Tamworth proved to be nice little country town although apart from the 12m Golden Gituar on the edge of town there proved to be little evidence of country music. That evening, I spent catching up on my backlog of e-mails but also avoiding the cold as despite daytime temperatures around 20C, the night time temperatures was -2C. Particularly cold given i had shipped my warm clothes back to Europe.

I spent Friday, checking out the town visiting the Powerhouse Museum which celebrates the fact that Tamworth was the first town in the southern hemisphere to have electric streetlights. in the afternoon, I headed to the Scenic Lookout point over the town and hiking to the top of Mount Franklin for some excellent views of the local countryside. There I ran into Jurgen, a German from Duisburg that was also staying in the hostel and that evening, Jurgen and I went searching for a country music concert. (Un)fortunately, it proved elusive, so we ended up drowning our sorrows (or celebrating ?) in a local bar and watching rigby league instead.

Next up was a 350km drive westwards to the town of Dubbo in Central New South Wales. Leaving Tamworth the traffic dropped off almost immediately and I was back driving the sort of empty 'big sky" roads that I had previously encountered in South Australia and if I am honest it was good to be back in the open spaces. Before heading to Dubbo, I drove to the Warrumbungle national park where I went to a quick 2 hour hike around Split Rock where again there were some spectacular views. Dubbo is another typical Aussie provincial town with block form street and a busy mix of businesses, shops and cafes since it is a major hub for farmers in the surrounding areas. I decided to rest up in Dubbo for 3 nights to prepare for my big date with an Austrlaian MovieStar but more on that next week !



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