Where is our Southern Cross…….

There were no stars last night.

There were no stars the night before, nor the night before that and so on.

Our vast skies of majestic blue to inky black and sparkling at nightfall, now hover between a coverlet of smoke and ash or apocalyptic red.  As with everyone else, I am heartbroken and I fear this summer has changed Australia forever.

Despairingly, I watch the images and listen to the stories unable to comprehend all that has been truly lost.  How did our beautiful country, the place we are so very privileged to call our home come to this…….

My eyes are dry, I cannot cry,

I’ve got no heart for breaking.

But where it was, in days gone by

A dull and empty aching

                                                                        Henry Lawson


Footnote:  The ‘Southern Cross’ is a small but beautiful constellation of the southern sky.  It can be seen all year round from anywhere in Australia and it also features on the Australian flag.

About as bogan as a fourteen year old mother of four…….

Loaded up with things too precious to leave to the removal, I drove out of Newcastle.  My bones called for the ocean but I did not look back.  Instead, I focused on the drive ahead which would take me along the Golden and Mitchell Highways’ toward the outback.

The days’ heat had already begun to take hold and by dusk it had fatigued with a weariness you feel almost down to your marrow.  We had our eyes on the west but still stopped at small rural townships along the way.  In these places, some of which seemed to carry the immense weight of sadness and neglect to them, I was challenged to consider why the residents have stayed.  Towns that seemed years ago to have been a world of hard work and prosperity now have very little to show for it.


After just over 3 hours of driving, we pulled up outside the White Rose café in Dunedoo.  This is one of those rare old milk bars.  The kind that used to be around in all country towns during the 50’s and 60’s.  Stepping through the doors of the café you are met with an assortment of tables and sturdy hardwood chairs, a curved metal counter, polished glass and milkshakes made the old way by plunging a long handled dipper into a vat of ice cold milk.


The food was okay but not great and the wait can be long but perhaps the cafes’ charm is that it succeeds on nostalgia, kitch and as an air conditioned comfort stop for a hodgepodge of travellers.


Fueled by a steak sandwich and a GI Blues milkshake, it was back on the road where I occasionally stopped to stretch my legs or take a photo.  I was also not adverse to stopping roadside, eroding tiny parts of the landscape as the stock pile of water and ginger beer I had on board quickly diminished.


The sun continued to beat down, dry grass crunched under my feet and the land was parched.  It was a hot and tiring drive along the baking sheets of tar with little relief except for the ginger beer.  That was until we pulled up in Nyngan…….

Now it seems we like things BIG in Australia.  The Big Pineapple, The Big Banana, The Big Prawn, I think you get the big idea.


Nothing like a big, sunshiny yellow banana to make you feel good 

And where better to erect a Big Bogan other than right on the edge of the outback in Nyngan New South Wales.


Should you ever find yourself skulking along Bogan Way, or around the banks of the Bogan River or just mossying along Bogan Street which, by the way, are all smack bang in the Bogan Shire, you will happen upon this iconic structure.


Dwarfing all around, this impressively tall thong wearing stubbie holding statue – who looks uncannily like Hulk Hogan – is about as Australian as it gets from his Southern Cross tattoo and huge-ass esky right up to his mullet.


Hulk Bogan…….


Big Bogan


Little Bogan

I seemed to get my second wind in Nyngan.  Perhaps it was the break from the weariness of the road or perhaps it was just because I had a soft spot for this fun but often scorned and ridiculed effigy.

Late afternoon, and after clocking up just over 9 hours on the road, we headed to the copper town of Cobar for the night.  The 130k run from Nyngan to Cobar was slow going as unpredictable herds of feral goats (more than I have ever seen in any one location),  a random old sheep or two and the occasional kangaroo grazed or moved about right by the road side.


Cobar eventually came in the relief of a cold shower, cold beer and a Chinese meal at the local bowls club where it seemed half of the population of the town had gathered for happy hour.

Later that evening and back in the motel room although bone tired, I could not sleep.  I felt so very far away and the ghosts of the life I had lived in Newcastle from the beautiful ocean waves, my favorite coffee haunts, the lanes and street art, the sea caves and everything and everyone else in between bled through.

The air conditioning unit above the bedhead hummed and I eventually fell asleep knowing that morning would bring with it the blank slate of another day.  I had wide open spaces, the languid pace of the road, blood red soil and forgotten townships to slow me right down and the thought of it all filled me with a freedom and longing only this kind of travel can bring…….xx


Slice of Heaven – Part I…….

This is not the first time I have been to New Zealand yet each time I go, I seem to see it all in such a different light.  There was no way I did not want to once again explore those cities and their streets, nor find an equal richness in the heart of a small community just as I could not have but wanted to find that little piece of coastline whose rugged beauty stabs me right in the heart.


There was still a feel of winter chill left in the November air.  The temps at times were low and there was the occasional downpour of cold sporadic rain but nothing could dampen my enthusiasm upon seeing that lush green hobbit like landscape running right down to the sea.  When the sun came out, and it always did, it made for sapphire blue skies and the warmth of a love affair with this country began all over again so fickle is this heart.


I saw the Southern Cross as clear as a bell in those big inky skies, the almost soft golden light of sunsets over the Sounds, the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean and the long expanses of foggy beaches.  There were boat rides, whales always in the distance, forests, lovely wildflowers and weeds that seemed to even burst with their own kind of beauty.


It was wooly sheep in the greenest of pastures and fat happy cows who seemed to graze their days away.  It was the roar of the geysers, the stench of sulphur and the bubbling pools of mud.  It was a haka, the thunderous ferocity of which made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I haven’t even mentioned the craft beer and regional wines.


I walked for miles over the New Zealand landscape.  My feet, so very mistreated yet so irrepressible, never fail me.  There are some wonderful walks upon trails and tracks where the sense of isolation, the tall forest trees and the occasional glimpse of the city or ocean below was all I needed.


You really are spoilt for choice in the big cities of both islands but for me, the little coastal towns with their sandy beaches, stunning Sounds, boats and rocky inlets were perfection.  These were places where I felt a deep connection and happiness ……


The Maori language is beautiful.  They actually have 35 words for dung which is pretty darn impressive when you think about it.



New Zealand is a country of infinite beauty which just keeps on giving with an incomparable and unexpected charm.



Watched the running of the Melbourne Cup while in NZ…….pretend I do this everyday 🙂



Travel is always what you make of it and for me, it gives a gentle nod to appreciate even the tiniest of moments and although a homebody, any trip is never quite long enough…….x

Part II – Eat drink New Zealand coming soon