Pam's Journal for April 2007

Sunday 1st April 2007.
We did all we could do in the way of preparation yesterday so we could have an early start today. We are wondering why we had to rush around yet still leave after the 10.00am deadline. We are always at a loss where the time goes! We had a good run through to Queanbeyan even though Alice decided she would do her own thing. Pete Mate had to pull over and give her talking to. You know the sort of thing - “You behave yourself or else you will get out and walk.” I do not believe there are many parents who haven’t done that! Once we had set up camp we went off to explore. First on the list was fuel, then Gloria Jean’s and then Spotlight before we headed into Canberra to check out Parliament House, old and new, and the lake. We then felt a little weary so headed home to recharge our batteries for the next two weeks as our list of things to do and places to visit is a mile long. Oh, and we have to fit in a session with John Howard to tell him where he is going wrong. I mean if he wants advice he only has to come down to any caravan park at Happy Hour and he will soon know how to run this country!

Monday 2nd April 2007.
We had a slow start to the day but still managed to fit in quite a few things on our list. First stop, as always, was the information centre. I am not being unkind but I reckon that woman had had lemons for breakfast; she was very unfriendly and not very helpful. We left there and decided to visit Captain Cook's Memorial Jet. It was quite impressive to see. We had a walk along the lake and the adjacent park before entering the National Exhibition Hall. In here was a free exhibition of how Canberra started. The area where Canberra was developed was made up of farms. One large sheep station was called Duntroon and that is where the Military College got its name. King O'Malley, a member of the first Federal Parliament, (see Page 34 of this website), played a big part in checking out alternative sites for Canberra, including Bombala and Tumut. It is recorded that he said, "Cold climates have produced the greatest geniuses". Canberra is a word derived from Kamberra, an Aboriginal word meaning 'meeting place'. Once we had looked and listened to everything in the Exhibition Hall, which I might add was very well presented, we enjoyed refreshments before moving on to our next point of interest. It was only a short drive up Black Mountain to the Telstra Tower which is also the Black Mountain Lookout. It was really interesting to see a 360° view of the city and surrounding areas. We spent a while there looking and then decided to have some more refreshments. Yes, I did order an ice cream and it was huge, I was undecided whether to have that or a diet coke and then thought, "Oh, what the hell". I led who astray!!! Someone was undecided whether to have a huge ice coffee with lashings of cream but decided to have the less fattening option of the ice cream. Our last tourist attraction of the day was the church of John the Baptist.

Saint John the Baptist church in the dying rays of the sun.

Saint John's was the first church in Canberra and looked very English but as it was locked I cannot comment on the inside. We wandered about the graveyard which I always find fascinating as there is so much you can learn about the era of these deaths. I am going to check out what happened here in 1926/7 as quite a few children died, there were also quite a few deaths in 1933 both children and adults.
I found the Young family of interest: Mum and Dad Young came out from Scotland in the 1800's and had a son. The son married and gave them at least thee grandsons. Dad Young died followed by two of his grandsons. Then his son died followed by another grandson. I thought of the poor women burying all their men. There wasn't any grave for the son's wife but Mother Young died at the ripe old age of 99 years and 10 months! I bet she outlived the whole family of Youngs. It was now going dusk so we headed home, tired but happy, having spent a really good day out.

Tuesday 3rd April 2007.
We had a full day in Parliament today, but we did not see any politicians as they were all out working in their electorates, or that is what we were told. We know they were all in the pub! We first visited the 'old' Parliament House and I really liked the old building, it had character and a feel about it - you could imagine great decisions and history being made. We enjoyed the guided tour and learned a lot that we didn't know
about the Parliamentary system, plus a few anecdotes about the pollies. For example, we didn't know that whilst Bob Hawke was Prime Minister his party wouldn't allow him to drink. We were assured he made up for it later. King O'Malley was mentioned but we didn't see any pictures of him which would have been interesting. After the tour we went into the coffee shop for lunch. We were served by a very nice young man and girl, both having lovely manners. We ordered coffees and a sandwich each which was served with such grace you would have thought it was a feast. Beautiful serviettes too. I know you're thinking that I've lost the plot a bit here, but bear with me and it will become clear. After lunch we went into the Portrait Gallery and saw some excellent paintings including the original of a painting of James Cook. So many times we have seen this painting in prints and books, but now we have seen the real thing. There was a lovely portrait of Princess Mary, 'Australia's own princess'. When we had finished browsing here we made our way to the 'new' Parliament House. What a contrast; it was very modern and lacked any form of character. In a way it was very sterile compared to the old version. The tour, again, was excellent and in both buildings the people were lovely. We went into the coffee shop for a cold drink. It was very different to the old Parliament House; you could have been in a school canteen. The staff were friendly but did not overdo the service bit. Now you see where I was going, I was comparing the old with the new and the old wins hands down for me.

Wednesday 4th April 2007.

First we had to do the washing, cleaning of the caravan and car, and shopping. It was our intention to do some sightseeing in the afternoon. As per usual, time ran out and it was nearly 5.00pm before we had finished the shopping. The sightseeing will have to wait until tomorrow.

Thursday 5th April 2007.
Today we reverted back to our childhoods and went out to play. We visited Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre, which teaches the science of things through play. Pete Mate and I had a ball; we went on a roller coaster simulator, stood in the earthquake house to experience an earthquake and played every musical instrument you could think of. We tested our balance, our hearing and our sight. Peter Mate learned the mechanics of all sorts of things, I just played. They should have special days in these places for adults only, then we wouldn't have to wait our turn to ride a skateboard or play secret agents. We thought we would take the morning to do it but by lunchtime we were only half way round so had a lunch break in the café and then returned to complete the fun.
Questacon we called in at the National Library as it was just across the road. Canberra has a huge library with lots of different reading rooms and a special lounge for the 'Friends of the Library'. We had a look at an art exhibition by a convict painter; not really our taste in art but we looked anyway.
Leaving the Library we visited one of the lookouts on our list. Mt Pleasant was the nearest so we asked Alice to take us there. Big mistake! She got hopelessly lost in the Military College of Duntroon. Anyway we found it by chance and had a bird's eye look at Canberra, a very quick look indeed in my case as it was freezing up there. I suggested that, as we were so close to Duntroon, we look for the Changi Chapel. The chapel was originally constructed by the prisoners of war in Changi Prison, Singapore in 1944.

The Changi Chapel. The following quote was taken from the plaque at the chapel:
"Its construction was an act of enduring faith in the midst of extreme adversity".

After the war the chapel was brought to Australia for preservation. On the 15th August 1988 it was erected on its current site and dedicated to all prisoners of war, not just those from Changi. I wanted to see this as some years ago I watched the ABC programme about Changi and was deeply moved by the hardship and suffering those men endured.
We now decided it was time to return home but Alice was still in a mood and insisted on taking us to a sports oval. Did she not think we had played enough today? Pete Mate had to work out the way home himself. Mind you, if he swore at me like he swears at Alice, I wouldn't tell him the way home either!!

Friday 6th April 2007.

Today is Good Friday, may Our Lord bless you all greatly.
We decided to go to the Australian War Memorial Museum today, very apt for Good Friday. It was full of death and destruction, something that we are very good at as human beings. It was amazing how much memorabilia they have accumulated from goodness knows where but at the same time very depressing. Such brave young men went off to a war they didn't know anything about and so many did not return. And for what? So that 50 years later we could repeat the whole process again. I found myself in the section that dealt with the Japanese and their treatment of their prisoners of war and found myself feeling angry even after all this time. I turned to walk away and saw some Japanese people reading the same thing and felt anger towards them. How stupid is that? They, like me, weren't even born at that time. That is when I decided enough was enough and I left that section in search of Pete Mate and some lunch. After lunch we had a look at aeroplanes and saw a couple of video clips then I looked at a whole stack of medals. I know these men were brave and I know in the Second World War we had to defend ourselves otherwise we would now be talking German or Japanese, but to be awarded a medal because you have killed another human being just doesn't seem right to me. Anyway, we both decided that we'd been depressed enough so left and went to have a look at another lookout. Today's lookout was called Mount Ainslie and it was cold. I had a quick look around and then went back to the car closely followed by Pete Mate, who declared it was a little chilly. A little chilly? - it was flipping freezing! We then went in search of King O'Malley's pub but couldn't find it so went home where it was warm and we had wine and ate our Easter chocolate. Bliss.

The banner carried by the men from Snowy River as they recruited for WW II.
The picture belongs with the text on Tuesday, 20th March. It was missed and is here temporarily.

Saturday, 7th April 2007.
Today started really well, not! Pete Mate decided to throw his coffee everywhere; it soaked through to the mattress so all bedding had to be washed and dried. It makes a change from wine, and me spilling it. Once we had the bed sorted we had some lunch and then went out for the afternoon. Today's treat was Cockington Green, a miniature English village.

The Ferry Inn on the English Norfolk Broads.

Pete Mate wasn't too excited about it and I was going to count it as a pink day but he really enjoyed himself so I still have a pink credit. The village and gardens were so well done it really was a pleasure to walk around and admire. The buildings were replicas of ones from Norfolk, Peterborough and surrounding areas. There was also a section of international buildings, mainly funded by the different embassies in Canberra. The buildings were very well done but my favourite had to be the English village. They even had a football game with the crowd singing and cheering.


The Crooked House.

After we'd had cup of coffee and tea in the tearooms, we had another look around as we liked it so much. By now the crowds were dispersing and taking their little darlings with them so it was much more pleasant. They really should have 'Adult Only' days at these places. By now it was well after Happy Hour time so we headed home for a glass of red.

Sunday 8th April 2007.
Lay day today We need our rest, we seem to have been on the go since we arrived in Canberra.

Monday 9th April 2007.
We have seen one or two botanical gardens on our travels so we decided to check out Canberra's. It was not as nice as we expected, very drab and not very interesting. Cairns and Adelaide were far better. Coffee and sandwiches at the café were good and Pete Mate seemed to enjoy himself talking to a nice young lady who was asking for volunteers for a survey. Our next highlight was a visit to the Discovery Centre at CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation). We were amazed at how much this organisation does, not just for Australia but the world. Talk about the quiet achiever.
To name but a few:

• Pest Control - animals as well as plants and insects.
• Genetic Engineering.
• Growing better crops.
• Water conservation.
• Regeneration of the land - salinity solutions.
• Flu vaccine.
• New scans for skin cancer.
• Developing a new fat for us fatties to use instead of the present fat.
• Contact lenses that allow oxygen through to the cornea, thus enabling the wearer to leave them in place continuously for up to 30 days.

The last is - or was - a world first and will make CSIRO millions of dollars which will be ploughed back into research, mainly for eye disease. Their own building was designed to be environmentally friendly. That in itself was impressive. The design and alignment of the building and the use of solar-heated water. Many solar panels and wind turbines combined with a multitude of energy-saving techniques, made the complex almost self-sufficient in electrical power. You would have to see it to get the full picture. I think by now you will agree I was impressed. After we left there we went to have a look at the National Museum. We were not really fussed about going as we felt a bit 'museumed out' but, as we were so close, we went. It was alright but a little disappointing as we expect to see the best of everything in Canberra but some country towns have better museums. We did, however, see Phar Lap's heart! It was closing time by then so we headed home for Happy Hour.

Tuesday 10th April 2007.
On our list today is the National Archive, the Carillon and the High Court. The National Archive was very interesting as they house all the Nations paper history. A lot of it is being transferred on to computer so that the paper version can be stored without it getting damaged by light and handling. The Constitution was there behind glass. I found out some very interesting facts, such as:

In 1901 the Federation of Australia was formed but Australia still had to answer to Westminster. An Act was passed in the 1940's to give Australia more autonomy but it wasn't until 1986 that the final Act was passed that gave the Australian Government full authority without any reference to Westminster. Interesting.

In another five years our immigration applications will be in the public domain. I am sure heaps of people out there cannot wait to read them!

We went to the Carillon to hear a recital but the printed guide and what actually happens seems to differ. We did, however, hear someone doing a little rehearsal. Well, that's what it sounded like. It was now lunchtime so we headed to the National Exhibition Centre where there is a café. We ordered two sandwiches and two coffees which cost us the grand sum of $34.00! And I thought Sydney was expensive. I really did not enjoy the sandwich and still cannot understand how it can take 45 minutes to make two sandwiches. Time was marching on and we wanted to do justice to the High Court. (Did you get my little pun?) We were very surprised to find no security, none that we could see anyway. I did ask and was told we were under video surveillance all the time we were there. Maybe terrorists are not interested in blowing up High Court Judges. Each court had its own guide to tell us about the courtroom and the procedure of each court. It was all very interesting. They all explained that the High Court was as high as you could take a case in Australia, there is no appeal. Before 1986 you could actually take your case to London if unhappy with a decision here. We were now in need of refreshments and the Court's café had closed so we were directed by one of the guides to the Art Gallery, sorry, the National Art Gallery next door. We eventually found the café and had a drink. We then had a quick look at some paintings. Some pieces of art were strange indeed; one in particular was two French sticks of bread painted blue. I think I might go out and buy bread tomorrow and paint it all different colours, I could make a fortune!

Wednesday 11th April 2007.
We were on our way to the Railway Museum when I read that it was closed until the weekend. (Yes! I have to have a win sometimes.) A quick fiddle with Alice and we were on our way to Red Hill Lookout. That was really nice, we could see right across Canberra and the different colours of the trees were very noticeable from there. The café was closed so no coffee for us today. From there we went to Government House which was really nice to look at, a pity it hasn't had an open day whilst we have been here. Next on the list was the Scrivener Dam which looked just like a . . . dam. Again the litter bugs had been out in force. I am sure we do not have as much litter in Perth. We went in search of a sandwich and a drink, and found a nice little lunch bar/café where we were served with an attitude of 'I hate my job' but the sandwich was surprisingly nice, much nicer than yesterday and at a fraction of the cost.
The Royal Australian Mint was our next point of interest. Our bags were searched on the way in but not on the way out. Our money making centre has security, the National Art Gallery has the strictest security we have seen but the poor old Judges have none. We had a wander around the display area and watched a short video on how money is made. We then made our own dollar coins to commemorate the 75th birthday of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I made five, one each for the Grandchildren and a couple of spares. Since retirement the Accountant in me must have gone to sleep as we paid $2.50 for each $1 coin! The Mint was a little disappointing in that we thought we would have a tour of the actual Mint. We still enjoyed it though, and it was interesting to learn about how currency was first introduced to Australia, those wily convicts have a lot to answer for. When we left the Mint it was only 3.00 pm, too early to go home, so we went into the centre of Canberra to look at shops. Pete Mate groaned but I assured him we would find a Gloria Jean's. I had no idea if there was one but I guessed Canberra wouldn't have been complete without one. Where else would John Howard take his mate, George W, for coffee? Canberra Central was very big and very impressive. It was well laid out with malls that housed water features and heaps and heaps of shops. Some very different shops to Perth, others the same (David Jones, Myers and Target). We had a coffee and a wander and then decided we had had enough for one day and made our weary way home.

Thursday 12th April 2007.
Today we travelled to the moon and back. Well, actually we visited the Deep Space Communication Centre. It was quite a way out of the city so we saw more of the surrounding countryside that we hadn't seen before. It all looked very dry. Once inside the centre it was a case of just wandering wherever we wanted unless it was anywhere near their equipment. If we had wandered into restricted territory we would have been escorted from the centre. Again security was not evident but we weren't going to test it. It was very interesting to learn of all the space projects that are out there right now, including Mars and Saturn.
We learnt all sorts of facts. One that amused me is that astronauts on the Space Station can phone or email home. How neat is that? And at a time when some country towns in Australia can't get a decent phone service.
It is amazing that the pictures we saw on the screen were taken on planets millions of miles away.
One of the displays was a computer with a touch screen where you select questions for the astronauts to answer. I do not know what I did but the computer went into cyber space mode and was all over the place. Nothing would stop it. We had a quick look around and Pete Mate unplugged it and then restarted the damn thing. Luckily that fixed the problem, we left shortly after. I am probably on some wanted list somewhere. After we left the centre we headed for home - via the bottle shop, of course.

Friday 13th April 2007.

We were supposed to be in the gardens of Old Parliament House by 6.00am. As Pete Mate thinks any time before 8.00am is the middle of the night it was going to be a feat. Never say never, though. Pete Mate was up first and it was 5.55am, the alarm hadn't gone off. We rushed around and actually made it to the gardens by 6.30am. The balloonists' alarms must be on the same time zone as ours as they were all running late. We found some coffee and waited in the freezing cold weather for the balloons to be inflated and then rise gracefully into the morning air. It was indeed spectacular and we wouldn't have missed it for all the 'lie ins' in the world. The last balloon inflated was the Monster one and we waited and waited for it to leave but when we departed around 8.30am it was still on the ground.
We then went to do the grocery shopping before heading home for a 'sort' of lay day.

Saturday 14th April 2007.
It was 'get ready' day today. We cleaned and packed everything away and are now ready to leave Canberra.We have enjoyed our time here but it is time to explore new pastures.

Sunday 15th April 2007.
We left the caravan park around 9.15am, which isn't bad for us. We had to travel through Canberra to access the motorway we needed. No one told us that it was the Canberra Marathon and some of the roads were blocked. This sent Alice into a spin and us going round and round in circles. We eventually found somewhere to pull over, not an easy feat in city traffic with a 21' van on tow. We consulted the map, I asked a passer-by and Peter told Alice which roads were blocked. So with all this knowledge on board we were finally able to leave Canberra. We saw the marathon runners and they didn't look like they were enjoying themselves either! We arrived in Orange without any more 'stressful moments', set up camp and more or less flopped. Tomorrow we explore.

Monday 16th April 2007
We had a look around Orange today and liked what we saw. It is a lovely old town with very quaint buildings and such beautiful trees, so many autumn colours. After visiting the Tourist Information Centre we decided to do the recommended tourist drive.

We drove through very dry countryside and arrived at a Lake Canobolas. The lake is used for recreational purposes but is also one of the water supplies for the town. The same story as elsewhere, the water level was very low. We did a couple of short walks, one across the dam wall where some children were fishing; they hadn't caught anything. The other walk was to look at a suspension bridge. The bridge was a small, flimsy affair over a stagnant pool that might, in better times, have been a creek. We couldn't understand why the bridge rated its own signpost. Two of the eighteen suspension straps had snapped.

After we left the lake we went to Mount Canobolas; we had been assured by the Tourist Information Centre that there was a very nice tearoom at the foot of the mountain. They were right, only trouble was it had just closed. Never mind, we headed up the mountain and were rewarded with superb views of Orange and the surrounding areas. The atmosphere was a little murky, not so good for photos. We left there and headed back into Orange and somehow got a little lost; Alice gets herself into a snitty every now and then. We had pulled over to chastise her and check out the old fashioned paper map. When I looked up we were outside a pub! A sign from the angels that I needed a drink. Even more strange is that it was the very same pub that was highly recommended to us by the chap who booked us in at the caravan park. Also, it is not every day that you find a pub in Australia with a name of Robin Hood.

Naturally we had a drink then wandered around to the bottle shop and found litre bottles of Margaret River wine for $6.99 a bottle. A bargain! We took three and said if they were any good we would be back for more. The salesman replied that he didn't think they would be the same price next year. Next year? Is this man for real or what? I replied I was thinking tomorrow, not next year. We then went home and enjoyed some decent red. Yep, it was pretty good.

Tuesday 17th April 2007.

We went into Orange again this morning to see the ladies at the Tourist Information Centre again, we needed more information. We then had to visit Centrelink, which was really good fun. By now we needed Gloria Jean and found her tucked away in the Post Office building. It was rather a nice building, old with high ceilings and pillars. We had our coffee and tea and then left for Byng.

We travelled a long way down unsealed roads before we saw any sign of life. Byng was recommended to us by the information centre as being a small Cornish village. It was a village once but all that is left now is the church and the grave yard. The church was erected in 1872 and is made from bluestone which is prevalent in this area. We had a look at the grave yard opposite the church, the 'residents' were mainly the Cornish pioneers. There were a lot of Spicers there, plus a William Tom who was one of the first to discover gold in the area. He died in 1904 at the grand age of 80. From there we travelled to a town called Millthorpe which was recommended by a lady we met at the church. It was amazing she spoke to us at all as we had covered her and her son in dust when we arrived.

Millthorpe was a lovely little town with very old buildings, a nice coffee shop and friendly people. We had a wander around and a coffee and tea and then left for home. Again, whilst travelling around today we couldn't help but notice how dry the land is and felt very sorry for the cows and sheep trying to find food.

Wednesday 18th April 2007.
I walked into town to the hairdressers and Pete Mate met me later at Gloria Jean's. We then went to wash the car and do some shopping. It was then time to pack everything away ready for our move tomorrow.

Thursday 19th April 2007.
We were packed up and ready to leave around ten o'clock. We had an uneventful journey through to Mudgee where Jan and Ross were waiting for us. We received a warm welcome and a cup of coffee, and then we set up camp. Ross and Jan then took us for a drive into town for a look around. It seems a nice town, very old buildings and bigger than I though it would be. We found Gloria Jean's and had some more coffee before heading home for happy hour. Once back at camp we quickly discovered that there was something wrong with the power. We didn't have any! The experts couldn't locate the problem so we were without power all night, luckily we have gas and battery back up.

Friday 20th April 2007.
We awoke to a very cool morning and as we still don't have power we couldn't put the heater on. We had breakfast and very quick showers in the caravan then went out for the day. Ross was driving and he took us into a National Park to Dunns Swamp. The name conjures up images of reedy dirty water but it was a lovely spot used by families for all sorts of recreational purposes. We had our morning tea and then did a short walk around the water and up some rocks. It was a pleasant walk. We then went into Rylstone, a small pretty village where we enjoyed a good lunch at the local hostelry. We then had a drive out to another small town before heading towards home. On the way home we called in at Lake Windermere, we had a walk across the dam wall and then returned home for Happy Hour. The good news was when we arrived back at camp the power had been reinstated and life had returned to normal.

Saturday 21st April 2007.
Today was the day, the Air Show. Apparently Mudgee has this air show every year and we hadn't heard of it until now. We arrived at 10.00am just as the Roulettes were beginning their routine. It was magnificent to watch. From there on it was one display after another right through to 4.00pm. We were never bored as there were so many different things to interest us. All of which Pete Mate has mentioned on the webpage. Talking of Pete Mate, he had a grin from ear to ear all day; I would say he was in his heaven.

My favourite plane is the Tiger Moth (pictured above) but unfortunately they were not doing joy flights. One day! We did see the plane in the air doing a few aerobatics. We all enjoyed a really great day out.

Sunday 22nd April 2007.
Get ready day today, washing and cleaning plus a little shopping before our trip to Dubbo tomorrow.

Monday 23rd April 2007.
We set off about 10.00am and had a good run through to Dubbo. It wasn't far but I felt a little jaded when we arrived so after setting up camp and having lunch I was more than happy to take it easy. I did some more knitting and Pete Mate worked on the web site. Jan and Ross went into town to collect mail and then before we knew it, it was Happy Hour once again.

Tuesday 24th April 2007.
We went into Dubbo today, to the Old Gaol which was recommended by a lady from Geraldton whom I met in Orange. It was really interesting and very well done. We did the self guided tour through cells, yards and anything else you associate with a prison. The displays were life-like dummies and audio accounts of why they were there. You could swear after a moment or two that they were real. We also saw a hologram of a man who narrated the story of Nosey Bob, the hangman and his victims. We were all in agreement when we left the Old Gaol, that the poor prisoners had very tough lives. Some of them were there for stealing food for their starving children but then some were there for murder and rape - one extreme to the other.
After the Old Gaol we had lunch and then drove out to the Japanese Gardens which, while nice, were not as nice as those in Toowoomba and Rockhampton's Botanical gardens. After the gardens we went to an old historic homestead. We had a very pleasant time having a look at how they lived in the very early days of white settlement in Australia. The tour guides in the house were very helpful and friendly. We enjoyed afternoon tea there before heading for the Bowling Club in Dubbo. We enjoyed Happy Hour there before going home to smarten up before returning to the Bowling Club for dinner. The club is within walking distance so we walked there and kind of staggered back after eating and drinking enormous quantities of everything. We had a really good day out and a very enjoyable evening to complete the day.

Wednesday 25th April 2007.
We had a drive out to the dam at Wellington today. What a shock we all got, it was so low it was hard to believe. We spent some time there looking and taking photos. We could see where the levels had been in previous year and that really brought it home to us how serious this water shortage is. From there we went to the lakes where we thought we would get some lunch but the café was closed due to illness. Onwards we go, to a little country town called Mumbil where we found a lovely little pub with really nice meals. Once refreshed we travelled to the Japanese Gardens which were okay. Again we have seen better though the goldfish in the ornamental lake were really huge.

Two good looking chaps eying up tonight's fish dinner.

We then went in search of the Mount Arthur Lookout but failed to find it so went home for Happy Hour. It was a good day out, good food, good company but a little disconcerting regarding the water issue.

Thursday 26th April 2007.
Today we all went to the zoo and at the end of the day they didn't keep us! We had heard that the Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo is the best in Australia so we thought we had better check it out. Another venue that needs an 'adults only' day, screaming kids everywhere. We drove around the zoo as it is so big; it has 15kms of walking tracks. It was a really good day, we saw so many different kinds of animals but . . .

. . . my favourite would be the lion, so regal and disdainful. Leo the Lion is the 'Mrs Bucket' of the animal world.

The otters were so cute darting here there and everywhere waiting for their feed. The animals were well looked after and most of the pens had plenty of grass. Even though we drove around the zoo there was still quite a bit of walking so it was a very short Happy Hour tonight as we were all tired.

Friday 27th April 2007.
The rain we have all been praying for has arrived with a vengeance. It poured down all day. We hadn't planned to do much other than some shopping. We did that and then spent the day reading, knitting and the web site. We had a very short Happy Hour in our caravan and it was too cold and wet outside.

Saturday 28th April 2007.

It is 'get ready' day today as tomorrow we are off to Lightning Ridge. Only problem is, it is still pouring with rain. The rain cleared in the afternoon, so we were able to pack some things away. We all went out in the evening to the Bowling Club for dinner. After dinner we had a drink in the lounge where we were entertained by a really good singer. He sang a great range of songs, many from times gone by. We all had a good laugh, a dance or two and a lot of drinks - too many drinks. We all enjoyed ourselves very much.

Sunday 29th April 2007.
We were ready to leave around 9.00 a.m. and it was time to say our goodbyes to Jan and Ross. It has been good to catch up and we enjoyed quite a few good days out and many Happy Hours. No doubt our paths will cross again and we will enjoy a few more Happy Hours. We had a good run to Lightning Ridge, apart from livestock on the road and a really terrible road surface; it shook us, the caravan and car to bits. We arrived around 3.00 p.m. and set up camp. The people are very friendly and helpful; I think we are going to like it here. We had a very quiet Happy Hour without our two 'partners in crime'.

Monday 30th April 2007.

We had a few jobs to do in the morning around the caravan. In the afternoon we visited the information centre to find out what there is to do around here. We then had a drive around the town which didn't take long. We visited The Bottle House, which was on the list of attractions. It was supposed to be exciting and educational; sadly it wasn't either of those things. The house was built forty years ago, partly with bottles, and it is now full of junk. We paid our $5.00 each for a tour which would have been a waste of money, except the lady showing us around was a real character with a good sense of humour. From there we came home, parked the car and walked across to the pub. We were a little disappointed as we expected to meet some unique characters in a place like this but we didn't meet any in the pub.

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