A short break to Dubbo & Orange

We were only home for a few short weeks when we packed up again and headed off for a short break to visit Dubbo and Orange.

What a shocking state the Newell Highway was in, with huge potholes. We know that road has a lot of heavy traffic and the recent rains would not have helped, however, the Newell is a major road from north to south and we were surprised at how bad it was. It’s going to take a lot of funding to fix it!

All the rain had turned the countryside lush and green however there was quite a bit of flooding. Stopping for a lunch break in Forbes we discovered that our usual spot at the free camp in Wheogo Park was very muddy. So we moved further down the lake and pulled up in the bitumen carpark instead. We didn’t fancy getting bogged!

The roadside between West Wyalong and Forbes was mostly underwater. That area is a huge floodplain and we have often driven through that way with water over the road. This time the road was dry but there was water as far as you could see on both sides of the road. It’s truly amazing to think it’s only a couple of years ago this whole area was suffering from years of drought. It’s a lovely time to travel though with fields of bright green wheat and golden yellow canola.

We were headed to Dubbo for a weekend of catching up with family. One of our cousins was appearing in the Dubbo Theatre Company production of the well known musical Chicago.

A large group of our family attended the Saturday matinee show and, what a show it was! Such a professional one. We all thoroughly enjoyed it. Congratulations to the whole team at Dubbo Theatre Company. Well done.

Dubbo Theatre Company’s Chicago

We’ve been to Dubbo many times over the years because we have family who live there but it’s always good to learn something new about a familiar place and this visit we went to the Dubbo Botanic Gardens for the first time. They are lovely. We especially liked watching the brightly coloured Koi in the ponds in the Japanese Garden section. We also loved the beautiful sandstone sculptures of native animals that were scattered around the whole garden.

If you are traveling through or visiting Dubbo with children then a visit to the fabulous Adventure Playground is a must. We loved hearing the excited voices of children as they swung on the flying fox, played in the water, hid in the tunnels and tried out the different climbing frames. There is lots of lovely grass, picnic tables and BBQ’s. There is a toilet block. The Adventure Playground is a fantastic spot for kids let off some steam. The local ice cream van even paid a visit while we were there.

There is a dump point and water available at Dubbo Showground so we made use of those facilities. When we arrived at the Showground there were lots of horse floats camped and we could see a lot of people on horseback in a large covered arena. We wondered what was going on.

After emptying the cassette and filling up with fresh water we wandered across to the arena to check out the horses. We asked a spectator what was happening and found it was a Campdraft Competition. One event had just finished and another was due to commence so we stayed to watch. Neither of us had ever watched a campdraft competition before. It was great to watch the skill of horses and riders as they tried to muster the cows from one pen into the other in the short time allowed. It looked like fun for all involved. There were all ages competing from young children right up to seniors like us.

While in Dubbo we free camped at our cousins place and were very glad of our deisel heater over the cold nights. We had it going all night for each of the three nights we were there. It was lovely catching up with family.

After the weekend in Dubbo it was a glorious day to travel to Orange. The sun was shining. Canola fields glowed yellow and everywhere was lush and green from all the recent rains.

When we arrived at our friends orchard just out of Orange they had mowed a flat spot for us to camp near the big farm shed. It looked like a great spot until Rich drove the motorhome onto the grass where it promptly sank. Oh dear! Richard tried to steer it back out onto the road but the wheels just kept spinning on the saturated ground. The motorhome was going nowhere. We were bogged. Our friend, Rob had to get his farm Ute and tow us back onto the road. We camped near the dam but made sure our back wheels stayed on the gravel road so we’d have some traction the next day.

We had a delightful visit with our friends and enjoyed a delicious lamb roast while we chatted and caught up.

The next morning was freezing cold. It was only 5 degrees at 10am when we said goodbye and headed across town to visit Richard’s sister.
We enjoyed a lovely lunch with Susie and Don and while we were eating I happened to glance outside and it was snowing! Beautiful big fluffy snowflakes were falling. The ground wasn’t cold enough for the flakes to pile up though and the snow melted as it hit the ground. It was very pretty to see it falling while we were snug and warm inside.

We used to live in Orange in the 80’s and we were amazed at how much the town has grown. Whole subdivisions exist now where it was once farmland. Orange has a huge new hospital with lots of specialist services. There is a university campus that used to be the old Orange Ag College when we lived there. There are gold mines around Orange that employ a lot of people. The town has a population of around 45,000 and has really a good shopping centre.

We’d arranged to meet up with more cousins who were on their way home to the South Coast after attending the Mundi Mundi Bash. Mundi Mundi Bash is a 3 day music festival put on by the same people that run the Big Red Bash at Birdsville that we went to in 2021.

It poured rain all the way from Orange to Wombat. We passed through the cherry capital of Australia, Young, and arrived at the tiny village of Wombat. It was still raining and we found Margie and Pete at the pub enjoying the fire. We had a few beers before heading down the road to the Recreation ground. What a great campsite. You pay at the pub. It is $10 per person per night. Power and water are available and there is an amenities block with showers and toilets and a small children’s playground.

I’d put a French Onion Beef Casserole in our little crockpot in the morning and it had been cooking away all day (using the inverter) and we ate our meal inside the motorhome. It was too cold outside to enjoy the fire pit. We loved hearing about Peter and Margie’s adventures with their van.

It was a freezing cold night and got down to only 3 degrees. Thank goodness for the diesel heater!

After saying farewell to Margie and Pete we headed for home. Our route took us via Wallendbeen and Cootamundra where we stopped to use their dump point.

We continued on via Junee, Old Junee and Marrar, before stopping for a lunch break at the Lions Park in Coolamon.

After a short lunch break it was back on the road towards home via Ganmain, Grong Grong, Narrandera and Leeton before arriving home in the late afternoon.

We’d had another fabulous trip in our motorhome. When we purchased our motorhome 6 years ago it only had 33,000km on the clock. During this latest meander we ticked over 100,000km. 97,000km in 6 years! And we love our Avida Esperance every bit as much as when we first bought it.


Meals on the road

Meals on the road. Often people ask what we eat while on a long road trip. My answer to that is usually ‘the same as we eat at home’. Our motorhome has a full stove with three gas hot plates and one electric. It has a separate grill and oven below. Whatever I can cook at home, I can cook on the stove/oven in the motorhome.

What about a microwave? Well, we did have a microwave but as it could only be used when on 240v power (ie a caravan park with power) and we choose to free camp most of the time, the microwave just did not get used. We did use it to store our bread. Eventually we took the microwave out and my cabinet-maker son-in-law has fitted a cupboard door to the space. Now I have a fabulous extra cupboard above our fridge.

Our recent trip in June/July 2022 was to The Red Centre visiting Broken Hill, Port Augusta, Woomera, Coober Pedy, Alice Springs, the West MacDonnell Ranges, Uluru & Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon and The Riverland. We were away for six weeks. We were traveling with our daughter and her three children who travelled in their 4WD and caravan. During the planning stage of our trip we decided that we would take it in turns to provide the meal for dinner and we would do our own breakfasts and lunches. This worked really well.

Our daughter carries a Weber BBQ in her van so we made good use of that too. We carry a Biji-Barbi and it gets a lot of use when we free camp and can have a campfire.

Here is our dinner menu for the six weeks.

Week 1
– BBQ sausages in bread (cooked on Biji-Barbi)
– Tacos & Nachos
– Spaghetti Bolognese
– Chicken Burgers
– Lamb roast (cooked in Weber), gravy and roast veggies
– Shepherds Pie (has lots of veggies)
– Chicken Kiev & salad

Week 2
– Tuna Mornay (has lots of veggies) & Rice
– Beef Burgers (cooked on Weber)
– Lamb chops (cooked on Weber), Boiled potatoes with coleslaw, cheese & sour cream, corn on the cob
– Beef casserole (cooked in crockpot)
– Pasta Bolognese
– Dinner out at the Alice Springs Show
– Southern Fried Chicken Burgers with coleslaw and tangy dressing

Week 3
– Apricot Chicken & Rice (cooked in crockpot) & Rice
– BBQ sausages, chicken kebabs (cooked on Biji-Barbi), Boiled potato & salad
– Chicken Schnitzels, Gravy, Mash & Broccoli
– Beef Stroganoff, Rice & mixed veggies
– BBQ Steak, Corn on the cob, Mash, Broccoli
– Chicken Pasta Bake
– BBQ Lamb Steaks, corn on the cob, baked potato

Week 4
– Tacos & Nachos
– Lamb Roast (cooked in Weber), gravy and roast veggies
– Spaghetti Bolognese
– Beef Burgers
– Dinner out at Yulara
– Chicken Enchiladas
– BBQ Lamb steaks, chunky chips and corn on the cob

Week 5
– Dinner out at Kings Canyon
– Chicken Kiev with potato & mixed veggies
– Chicken & Mushroom Risotto (cooked in crockpot)
– BBQ Sausages & Rissoles, Potato bake and veggies
– Salmon & Veggie Pasta Bake
– Takeaway Fish & Chips in Port Pirie (awesome)
– Macaroni Bolognese

Week 6
– Duck Soup (courtesy of our friend George), Marinated Lamb chops (cooked on Biji-Barbi), Boiled potato, corn on the cob
– Crumbed steak, gravy, mash & veggies
– Dinner out for Ben’s birthday in Renmark
– Beef burgers
– Beef stroganoff & rice, veggies
– BBQ Honey soy chicken steaks, baked potato & pumpkin, corn on the cob

Breakfasts consisted of tea/coffee & toast, cereal, scrambled eggs & bacon, fried eggs & sausages.
Lunches were a variety including sandwiches, toasties, wraps, salads and leftovers.

On that trip I also cooked a Chocolate Coconut Slice three times so we always had a ‘nice thing’ for after dinner. 6 year old Maddie was my enthusiastic kitchen helper who got to lick the bowl!

And, of course, we carry ice-cream so Ice-cream in a Cone was a popular dessert.