With our neighbours Kerry and Roger and Tanya and Brad, we frightened the horses at a Halloween party, full of witches, vampires, ghouls and skeletons and good fun was had by all.
On with the show - on Monday, Phil Banks welcomed us to his NewsExpress newsagency in Glendale, just south of Newcastle and so did his puzzling customers.
Max Coulson has been a Big puzzler for many years, so it was good to meet him in person. Diane and Narelle came in from the Community First Credit Union to pick up some puzzle magazines and Wendy Bright brightened up our day, telling us how much she loved her crosswords.
Then it was over to Warners Bay where we met up with Natasha and Scott from NBN television. They interviewed us at Speers Point, for a spot on tonight’s 6pm news.
Finally back in Terrigal, our work is done. Nicole and Angela did a wonderful job organising this trip, lining up the radio, newspaper and TV interviews, CWA workshops and newsagency visits. We had a great time meeting so many NSW puzzlers and visiting farflung country towns. Around Australia Motorhomes sponsored us and I can highly recommend our fantastic home on wheels, the only way to see Australia. Signing off…until the next time!
Forster has turned on the sunshine for us. The sky is blue and almost cloudless, the temperature is perfect and our holiday home beside Wallis Lake is a welcome sight.
The washing machine was going nonstop with our pile of laundry and once we finished springcleaning the motorhome, we sat down by the lakeside with a cuppa to watch the black swans. We forgot to take the camera – sorry.
Next day, we got our schedule mixed up and arrived an hour too early at the Village News newsagency in Forster’s Stockland Shopping Centre, so we were there for two hours and met twice as many puzzlers as usual. Owners David and Ann Frafer plied us with coffee and we had a chat with lots of puzzlers from the Great Lakes area.
The next day, we got the time right this time when we visited the Great Lakes FM Community Radio studio in Tuncurry, for a live chat with radio DJ Andrew Farr. Some listeners were very quick off the mark answering our trivia questions and won some packs of puzzle books.
We’ve had two evenings of catching up with our good neighbours Kerry and Roger over the barbecue and tonight we’re off to a Halloween party down the road. Scary!
Our first port of call this morning was to Radio 2YOU to chat to David Logan about the cerebral benefits of solving crosswords, and his many Tamworth listeners were soon phoning in to answer some of our trivia questions and claim a prize.
Next stop was Tamworth’s Bicentennial Park, where we admired the bronze sculpture of an Australian trooper saying farewell to his Waler horse in the deserts of the Middle East at the end of WWI. The horses were either killed in action, sold to other armies or shot in the desert by a trooper’s mate, rather than leave their old companion behind to become a beast of burden. Read more
Well here we are in Paradise. Well, Paradise Tourist Park, that is, in Tamworth. We drove here on Saturday from Gunnedah, home to the koala. Sadly, the koalas were not actually at home and our search for them proved fruitless.
We drove across sun-baked plains and then into rolling hills as the mercury hit 40 and cows looked for the shade of trees to shelter from the fierce sun.
Perhaps someone out there can tell us why farmers don’t plant more trees for the cows to shelter under. Perhaps no-one cares for their comfort – after all, we eat their kids.
After visiting several Tamworth newsagencies, we checked into Paradise (without needing to die first, although we came close with that relentless heat). Tamworth is awash with councillors and council officers this weekend from around NSW attending their annual bash.
They filled up every restaurant in town. When we finally secured a table at an Indian restaurant, it was us plus 32 council delegates. James was tempted to mention the potholes outside our home in Terrigal, but I thought it was best left to another time.
More disappointment in our search for the elusive non-roadkill roo. The marsupial park in Tamworth had some interesting and colourful birds but the kangaroos and wallabies saw us coming and ran for cover — presumably anyway because we saw no signs of them.
The sign said “Kangaroos may become angry if approached by humans” but it was James getting angry because he wasn’t getting approached by any kangaroos. Skippy had scarpered and Where’s Wallybe?
No visit to Tamworth is apparently complete without a visit to the giant golden guitar on the outskirts of town, so we made our pilgrimage there.
Much needed rain is expected later today in Tamworth as the Lovatt Droughtbreakers strike again.
The volunteers were known as Coo-ees, after the call made by the marchers. This story also explains the mural of the marching soldiers which we saw in Gilgandra.
Coonabarabran was our next stop, where we visited the newsagency and had a comfortable night at the John Oxley Caravan Park, where owner Noel Woo recited an Australian poem for us while he filled up our gas bottle. It was Henry Lawson’s “The Roaring Days”: The night too quickly passes And we are growing old, So let us fill our glasses And toast the Days of Gold. Read more
While I catch up with a few magazine deadlines, I’ve entrusted this blog to James. So I apologise in advance for anything he writes.
Thank you Christine for that vote of confidence. Well, the weather has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous with no pause in between. We’ve gone from single digit shivering to thirty-plus perspiring and the temperature twenties seem to have been missed out.
The day broke blue, clear and warm in Dubbo, awakened as we were by youngsters bouncing on the bouncy castle thing supplied by the Dubbo Parklands Caravan Park. I drove around town on a fruitless search for more cooking gas while Christine was manicured, pedicured and well, just cured. First stop was the Dubbo City Newsagency run by Greg Stevenson. Greg’s new to the industry, having just moved from Bunnings, so good luck to him.
For the first time on the trip, the male puzzlers outnumbered the ladies. Well done, fellas! We enjoy our puzzles and aren’t going to let senile dementia strike us down, are we?
Charlie Westman explained his name: “I’m a man from the West,” he said. Well, he’s not really because he’s from the Queensland coast, but it’s a good way of remembering his name I suppose. Read more
Before leaving Forbes, I had to visit the tribute to Banjo Paterson’s hero Clancy of the Overflow, on the side of the Lachlan River. The rock has a condensed version of the famous poem’s first verse, because this was the region in which Clancy lived – the sunlit plains extended.
And, at the risk of being accused of being in the pay of the Forbes Tourist Bureau, I had to show you these two historical churches in the handsome town square.
Next stop was Parkes, where we met customers at Greg and Christine Nash’s Newspower newsagency. We enjoyed talking to puzzlers about cryptic clues, the pros and cons of Sudoku and the tyranny of deadlines, while enjoying Christine Nash’s yummy cakes.
The photojournalist (Christine) from the local paper was there with her camera, so James couldn’t resist snapping us three Christines together (and don’t I look surprised? Trying to keep my eyes open for the photo.) Read more
James surprised himself, and many others, by managing the 5 kms without needing oxygen (”I could do with a beer, though”) or being carried off on a stretcher. He was feeling a little tuckered out at the finish, as you can see.
Meanwhile, back at the Apex Caravan Park, James and I relaxed by the riverside watching some thirsty cows clamber down the steep bank of the Lachlan River for a drink. Where’s Clancy when you need him?
Talking of Clancy, there’s a rock by the riverside with the famous verse from Clancy of the Overflow. I’ll show you in tomorrow’s blog. Read more
Another chilly start to the day on Friday, but a heart-warming reception at the West Wyalong newsagency where a host of puzzle fans were waiting to greet us.
Phil and Karen Vandon Bergh run this friendly newsagency with their son, Damien. It seems that everyone in the town knows everyone else – it’s a really lovely feature of these inland country towns and reminds me of our recent stay in Bere Island, County Cork.
We met a steady stream of puzzlers and heard from Mary, a former teacher who said she had once written asking us to double the number of Acrostics and was delighted to see that we had done just that. James and I often say that our magazines are shaped by the wishes of our readers, so it was great to meet one of those puzzlers whose wishes had come true.
The cold wind eased as we left for a one hour drive to Forbes where we are spending the weekend at the Apex Caravan Park on the banks of the Lachlan River. It’s an idyllic spot as you can see from the photo of me tackling a puzzle in the Sydney Morning Herald. I enjoy solving puzzles as much as compiling them. Read more
A three-hour drive northwest through the wheatfields and grazing paddocks of the Riverina brought us to the tiny town of Weethalle, (pronounced Wee Thalley) where Darlene and the local CWA members made us welcome with a warm fire and tea and cakes (CWA’s homemade cakes are the best).
We went over cryptic crosswords, Sudoku puzzles and chatted about life in the country, where the wheat harvest season is coming up next month. Wool and cattle are also local products but unfortunately, all the rain we’ve been having this week has been too little, too late for the farmers.