We woke up on Monday morning (the 17th) to strong winds and grey clouds, and the forecast of rain for three days. So we packed up, and instead of staying for a few more days at Arakoon, set off inland. Before we left the coast we called into the local library in Kempsey town to catch up with some important emails. After that the first 5 hours of driving seemed to be mostly uphill, with windy roads and steep drops. As we climbed, the weather closed in more, until eventually we were driving through the clouds, with rain falling around, and the road slippery with water. It was just like the November weather at home! But it was great scenery – tropical forests filled with parakeets and cockatoos.
When the mist cleared, we were driving across cattle country – rolling meadows – all the way to Tamworth, where we arrived at dusk. Its weird pulling into towns with the same names as towns from home – today we drove through Oxford Flats – but they are normally completely different from each other (who could compare grey, cold Newcastle in England, with warm, Oceanside Newcastle, New South Wales. Anyway, Tamworth (New South Wales) seemed a depressing town mainly there because you have to drive through it (aha – maybe they’re not all that different after all).
Anyway, I was able to forgive Tamworth its blandness once I discovered that it was the “Home of Australian Country Music”, which manifested itself in the big “Golden Guitar”. This is perhaps our last chance for a ‘big’ photo, having missed the Big Banana and the Big Peanut on both the way up and down. I still wonder what its all about? Why build ‘big’ things all over the place? It mainly seems to be as tourist attractions? Had somebody heard “Build it and they will come” out of context, and set to building as many big things as they could think of?
So with our big guitar photo safely taken, we headed off further south, and further inland. The inland drives are pretty boring – I think we’ve proved that to ourselves twice now – and about the only distinguishing factor is how many dKpM (dead Kangaroos per Mile) we’ll see. Some stretches of road have huge numbers – maybe 3 or 4 in a mile – while others escape without one for 10 or 15 kilometres. But every road has got one! Sometimes they’re pretty inoffensive – just a small body lying on the verge – but often the bodies sit their for quite some time, roasting slowly in the sun. And if you drive past one of those, with your windows open and the wind blowing towards you, it can smell horrible. The smell of a decomposing kangaroo is like nothing I’ve ever smelt before – worse than a wheelie bin at the end of a hot summer, and a lot worse than a broken down freezer a month later – and it’s the smell which I’ll always associate with the outback. Mmmmm, nice.
Anyway, our bed for the night ended up in Gilgandra (the home of the Cooeeii – yes, the calling sound, which was invented here at the beginning of a march of conscripts towards Sydney during the First World War). I was stunned to see that they hadn’t built a “Big Cooeeii” in memory of it – probably too difficult to visualise!