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17:15. Quest Serviced Apartments, Dubbo
We are resting in our accommodation here in Dubbo after a day of driving and stopping off at various places. We got up at 07:00 and had showers before heading to the restaurant at the motel in Orange for the included continental breakfast. There was only one other guy there, chatting with the motel owner as we walked in. We had some cereal and then I went to cut some of the crusty loaf of bread for toast, but found it still warm from baking, so we simply sliced it and spread it for eating, me with butter, M. with Vegemite. I also had a small pastry, a cinnamon swirl thing.
After packing the car and checking out, we drove across town to the Orange Botanic Gardens. We arrived right on 09:00, but the gardens were open from 07:30. We went in and began walking around the long loop trail around the outermost edge of the gardens. This led us through a section of imported trees and plants, many of which were just beginning to turn yellow or red for autumn. There were a few flowers out, but not a lot. It was still a beautiful landscape though, with the morning light filtering through the trees. Near here was a small sundial, next to a larger human sundial, where you stand on today's date on an analemma on a large brass plaque set in the ground, and your shadow points to the time on a series of marked rocks around the edge.
Analemma of human sundial, Orange Botanic Gardens.
Further around was an undulating lawn fringed by trees, with a pond in the middle. Here, the grass ran right up to the back fences of several houses, and there was access to a suburban street. A woman entered from the street and began jogging along the path. As we continued walking, we passed or were passed by several other people out for a morning jog or walk. There were some ducks around the pond, and also some birds that looked like a sort of swamphen, but different to the glossy purple ones we see in Sydney, darker and blacker.
We tracked across a section of grass to the heritage rose garden, which had several beds of roses, most at least partly in bloom. Many were orange or yellow in colour, and showing relatively messy flower heads with thinner peals than specially bred floristry roses. Some of the rose bushes had fully developed rose hips on them instead of flowers, bright orange or red in colour. We saw a pair of sulphur-crested cockatoos near the roses, and a bit later on saw several smaller parrots, of two different types, one mostly scarlet, and the other mostly green. They were too quick to get a good look at though.
The path then led through a section of Australian native grasses and then trees. This finished off the circuit and we exited the gardens, finding to my surprise that we'd come out of a different gate to the one we'd entered, and had to walk a short way back to the car park.
View from Mount Canobolas.
We drove back through Orange and then south to Mount Canobolas, which looms over the town. We were unsure of the turnoff to the summit from the road and relied on GPS navigation on the iPad to find it, which was handy. The road up was moderately steep, and also quite narrow. A large truck with a trainer gave s a shock when it appeared coming down the other way and we had to squeeze our car over to let it past. After a section of dirt road, it became paved again for the final climb to the summit. This was a an altitude of 1693 metres, and the air was cold as we climbed out of the car to have a look around. The we was expansive in all directions, with the countryside laid out and receding into the distance below. There were several communication towers on the peak, as well as a trig station point and some well-kept and informative display boards showing the local wildlife and plants. There was also a trailhead for several walks down the mountain, to a couple of waterfalls and other places. We took some photos and climbed back in the car to set off again.
The next stop was back through Orange again and then south along the road towards the airport. We turned off just before reaching it, to the village of Huntley, where we found the Huntley Berry Farm. Here we pulled up next to another car and walked in to the nearby shed. A man gave us a basket and instructed us where we could walk to in order to pick our own strawberries. Seem other people were off in one area he suggested, so we decided to go the other way to a second area he pointed out, near a nearby house. He said it was late in the season so there weren't many berries left, and there were only strawberries as all the other types had finished. Nevertheless, we passed a few ripe raspberries as we walked, and picked a couple to try them. They were warm from the sun and delicious.
Picking strawberries at Huntley Berry Farm.
Further on we found the strawberry beds and began filling or basket, stopping to taste some of the berries as we picked. The were mid-sized fruits, but many were beautifully ripe and tasted fantastic. We filled a large plastic tub in the basket and brought it back to the farmhouse. Before paying for the berries, we stopped in at the small cafe to have some Devonshire tea. The same man came over and served us, after spending a few minutes talking to the other farm visitors. Meanwhile we browsed the selection of jams made on the farm from their own berries and picked some to buy and take home. Eventually we ordered our scones and M. got a coffee. We could have any of their jam selection on the scones. I chose strawberry, balsamic vinegar, and pepper jam, while M. chose the strawberry and rose. They were both excellent. We ate them sitting outside at a picnic table under the shade of a tree.
After our snack, we went back inside to pay for the scones, the jams, and the strawberries. The man said we had to pay for the berries separately in the other shed since they didn't get GST added, and he kept the tills separate to simplify the accounting. He told us about the farm and how it employed intellectually disabled people and recovering drug addicts to work the fields, pick berries, and make the jams, providing a place for them to gain work and life experience and help them regain self-confidence and enable them to seek other jobs. He said he had degrees in both agriculture and social work. We thought the whole thing was fantastic, and we were very happy with our haul of berries and jams.
Leaving the berry farm, we drove back through Orange yet again, heading out on the northwest road towards Forbes this time. Along this road a bit we turned north on to Amaroo Road, which led to Molong. At Molong we stopped and walked down the short main street, finding only a small bakery to get some lunch. They had a sandwich bar and did some hot food, so I ordered a hamburger and chips, while M. got a cheese and salad sandwich. They were out of hamburger buns, so asked if I wanted it on sliced bread or a long roll; I chose the long roll. The guy had to fire up the grill to cook my burger, and somewhere along the way the chips got lost, but that was okay because I didn't really need them to fill up.
Done with lunch, we drove north, taking the more scenic Banjo Paterson historical route through Yeoval (where the poet grew up), rather than the main highway through Wellington. Yeoval was a tiny speck of a town, and we stopped simply to sit in the car on the side of the road and eat some of our strawberries. Then we continued on to Dubbo. The countryside had changed character from the farming land around Orange and was noticeably more scrubby, with more trees and native grasses. And then before we knew it, we passed the entrance gate for the Western Plains Zoo, marking our arrival at the outskirts of Dubbo.
We headed into the centre of town, filling up the car and cleaning the windscreen on the way. We drove down the man shopping street and M. spotted a Quest apartments right next to the shops on a side street. We checked it out and decided to stay here, since it's jus a short walk to restaurants for dinner. After checking in, we went for a short walk down the street. M. got a coffee from the Centro Dubbo shopping centre. On the way back we ducked into a book shop to browse around the man shelves of mixed new and used books, intermingled on the shelves at random. Then we checked out a wood-fired pizza place near our accommodation, which looks like a good option for dinner tonight.
And then we retuned to our room for a rest before dinner we've just been watching the local news, which is all about various local people doing things like charity bike rides, photography competitions, and a guy from Dubbo who is playing a ten-pin bowling tournament in the USA.
We have returned from dinner and are in the process of shuffling through the shower so that we can get an early start tomorrow morning. We went to Sticks & Stones wood-fired pizza for dinner just around the corner from our accommodation. It's a nice looking place in a converted old house on the main street and was fairly busy for a Tuesday night, with about 8 or 9 tables occupied by diners. We ordered the lemon garlic bread for a starter, which was different and delicious. Then M. had a Margherita pizza and I had the Greek lamb pizza, which had lamb chunks, red and green capsicum, olives, feta, and peppered yoghurt. The crusts were thin and crispy in a very authentic Italian style and it was all delicious. We also had some glasses of local regional red wines to go with it. We decided not to look at the dessert menu, but to snack on a few of our hand-picked strawberries later this evening.
Greek lamb pizza from Sticks & Stones.
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