Our first country drive from Dani and Al’s home lead us northwest where we had lunch in the cute town of Murrurundi. Because the distance from one town to the next is so great in Australia there are nice small eateries along most routes. A few chains like McDonalds are sneaking in but the majority of food offerings are made by independent business owners. Sandwiches and salads look fresh and appealing. A bread that is favoured is Turkish Toast , a bubbly crusty foccacia-style delight that is baked fresh daily. Each town has a heritage church or town hall, statue or fountain revealing the essence of the original village. The gems we found in Murrurundi were the old Butcher Shop where through its cob-webbed window we saw some rusted implements, a couple of haunting, hanging-hooks and well worn butcher block: the antiquated kiddie-ride-on-horsies in the park and time-worn fences guarding heritage gardens.
The scenery was stunning and very different than what I saw last year as we arrived a couple of weeks after unusually high amounts of rain had fallen. Check out the countryside images on last years Auz blog and see the more golden and brown tones of the drier Australia.
The incredible trees and clouds of Auz:
Dot lives in Tamworth where she grew up. Dot and Ian’s lovely home has a great view from their sun porch across the town out across the fields and mountains beyond. With a special arrangement of blinds and sliding windows, the room stays temperate and is a gorgeous venue for meals, socializing or just curling up on the couch with a good book. Dot loves her gardens and as well as gorgeous flowers, she reaps herbs and veggies, lemons and even olives, that are lovingly preserved in quart sealers. The town is lovely with wide boulevards, overhanging trees and flower baskets and stately vintage lamps. We attended a Heritage Festival at the public library where we viewed a multicultural art show, watched dance and song and nibbled Thai and Indian food. We took a long wander through the Marsupial Park and Botanical Gardens, just a short walk from Dot’s home. Some of the birds in the previous post are from the aviary there. The park is a gorgeous place for a stroll and come evening, one can look out across Tamworth at great views of the sunset.
We spent a day in the lovely town of Nundle, a couple of hours outside of Tamworth. Dot, Marilyn and I were each able to snag a fashionable woolen garment from the sale racks in the Nundle’s Woolen Mill, a beautiful old factory that still uses the one hundred year old equipment to prepare its wool. I described it in detail on my Australia blog from last year. A lovely lunch was enjoyed on the splendid patio of the Peel Inn. The antique store was closed but the country mercantile was open for browsing after our repast. The hills and trees in and beyond town took on an eerily beautiful light as the skies turned charcoal with approaching thunder storms.
To the delight of train aficionado Mike, we found the model railway in Tamworth open and were treated to a few trips around the track. The train buffs working on a new engine were more than thrilled to share their knowledge and passion with Mike and Chris. Dot and Marilyn and I headed on to the gardens and left the boys to “play” with their trains.
Dani and Al drove up from the farm to Tamworth for dinner (an Indian feast prepared by moi) and overnight. In the morning we bid farewell to our lovely and generous host, Dot and headed towards the coast on another adventure. The small towns along the route did not disappoint; our first stop for coffee offered some funky cars and cool signage. A crazy pie shop “Frodo's” displayed a staggering array of hand pastries.