We chose to drive home from Queensland inland down the New England Highway, rather than the more travelled coastal route.
The towns are more interesting and picturesque; more natural and less aimed at tourists.
First stop the cute town of Boonah where a movie’s still called a flick. We bought an old-fashioned cream bun and vanilla slice and the shop assistant called me “love” and “darl”, even though she was at least 25 years younger than me.
We stopped at Ballendean for our picnic lunch. Under the shade of a kindly tree, planted to commemorate the building of the community hall in 1916. If only we could go back 100 years and thank the citizens of the time.
Hint: the toilet is behind it.
Second hint: while the flap is no longer used, it harks back to pre-sewage connection days.
We were stopping for two nights in Tamworth. It took us the day to get there.
There, and along the way, were flowers, butterflies, birds (some scary, many colourful) and interesting buildings.
We stayed in a lovely BnB, full of interesting antiques and art work. It is so nice having a lovely presented breakfast of several courses. We much prefer spending our money on this rather than eating at a noisy, crowded cafe, not to mention having to get out to go to a cafe. We had the sitting room to ourselves. The first night was cool enough for a fire – you can just spy it in the top right shot.
About an hour and a half out of Tamworth, on the final leg home, we stopped at Burning Mountain. I’ve noticed the sign several times over the past two years. Is something actually burning? Or is it just a name?
Turns out it is burning. And has been for thousands of years. A coal seam 30 metres underground. The fire moves slowly and as it does the vegetation is cooked and dies and regrows, the soil changes colour from chemical reactions, large fissures open up, and in places the soil is cooked as hard as bricks. A steep 2km walk took us to the top where the smell of sulphur and the barren ground in the above photo indicates the current site of the fire. It was really interesting. Mr S, who doesn’t believe in stopping, (I’m worried if I fall asleep he’ll continue right around Australia) found it worth the break in the journey so soon.
On the freeway entering Sydney, it felt like we’d been away for weeks. We feel soooo relaxed.
Where to next? I haven’t planned anything for the summer break. I should start on the September trip to France. But for now I will just prepare myself for the onslaught of work.