The Wild Wombat’s Wonderings!


Part 8


16 January 2000 – A relatively calm day.  Preparing for the push east & the end of the trip, tho I will be stopping by a number places yet.  Not sure just when I’ll be able to post the last few weeks of the trip.  I may have to wait until I get back.  Just read & went out for pizza with my hosts.


17 January 2000 – Up to the sound of rain!  The Perth sky was weeping for my leaving. :-)  However, the day turned clear, sunny & warm.  I stopped near Meckering.  The town was leveled in 1968 by a 7.2 earthquake.  There was one spot where the uplift, 1.6 m, was left alone.  It is still very evident.  Lateral movement was on the order of 2+ m.  In Cunderin I checked out the museum which had pictures & artifacts from the earthquake.  In Merredin the Shire office was kind enough to give me a plot of Burracoppin.  I used it & the map in the front of the novel to check out the locale for Mr. Jelly’s Business/Murder Downunder.  I was able to track down many of the sites.  I took a number of photos of different sites.  I checked out the house situated where the murders lived.  On the way out I met the owner who was very aware of the novel.  He invited me in for a cuppa.  I had a loverly chat with him & his wife for several hours.  The licensee of the Burracoppin Hotel was also aware of the novel.  This was different from most of the novel locales I’ve visited.


18 January 2000 -  I took my car in for the 30K service.  I’ve been doing some driving!  Another sunny, clear day.  Then out to Burracoppin to find Burracoppin Rock.  This is where the novel ended.  It is a granite outcropping.  I headed south to Kondinin for a motel over mainly a one-lane road.  From there it was about 75 km to Wave Rock.  It was worth the trip.  It is really an impressive site.  I checked out a number of the other sites in the area. 


19 January 2000 – Heading east!  Not a cloud in the sky tho it was cool early, but turned warm to hot later.  This would be a driving day.  From Kondinin to Merredin, east to Southern Cross on to Coolgardie south to Norseman [the town was named after a winning horse!] & on to Belladonia.  A total of about 780 km.  I began in wheat fields.  By Southern Cross the land had gone to mines.  It was too dry for wheat.  The land, while covered with brush, bushes & trees, became more & more barren.  Water is a very precious commodity out this way.  The sign in the bathroom at the roadhouse in Belladonia noted that tankers trucks water in from Norseman some 200 km west.  Lots & lots of sky!  Turned my clocks forward 2½ hours.  This will be a short day.  I have some 1000 km to drive tomorrow.  I’m going to try for Ceduna.  Not a hell of a lot to see over the distance.


20 January 2000 – Into the rising sun!  It was quite cool, tho clear as a desert can be.  My windscreen was quite misted over.  The day stayed comfortable.  I didn’t have to put on the AC in the car all day.  Nothing but desert scrub as far as one can see.  There are patches of low trees & bushes.  However, for a goodly portion of the way there was nothing but some low scrub.  The Nullarbor is pretty empty.  I stopped for some petrol in Caiguna.  At Mandrabilla I got a meat pie along with the petrol.  I filled up here as it was cheaper.  Next was the Nullarbor RH for a little bit more petrol.  When I got to Penong, I filled up.  The price was down again.  It was over $1.10 a litre on the Nullarbor or about US$2.80 a gallon. I carried on to Ceduna, 1008 km in all.  About a 100 km past the Nullarbor RH, just past the Yalata RH, the landscape changed.  I began to see fencing & in a  little while wheat fields.  Back in civilization.


21 January 2000 – It was cool & lightly overcast.  It was another good driving day.  I headed more or less directly east on the Eyre Hwy.  I stopped in Kimba for petrol.  By now the wheat fields had turned into rough rolling countryside.  Lots of mining goes on here.  I had lunch & petrol in Pt. Augusta.  Once again I ran into the problem of stopping the pump & then having it add a cent or two.  While this won’t break me, there is no reason the petroleum companies should get the money.  If they cheat enough folk, it really adds up.  I drove over to the Wilmington B&B to say hi to the folks I stayed with a couple months ago.  It turned out that there was room, I was off by a day in my reckoning – vacations do that.  They have a very nice B&B.  It is just the place to stop heading north from Adelaide.  It was a short day of only 530 km.  After dinner I’m going to see just how bright a full moon is. :-)  It is bright!  I could read by the light of the full moon.  Amazing.  The night was crisp & cool.


22 January 2000 – I didn’t get away fast this morning.  I was too busy chatting with a 78 year old rodeo rider.  I finally pushed off under mostly sunny skies & cool temps.  My day’s drive took me from wheat fields & steeply rolling countryside to vineyards & orchards along the Murray River.  I stopped in Renmark for petrol.  Then on to Mildura which is the heart of the Australian fruit growing industry.  I tried to look up the chap I stayed with back in Sep.  However, he was away.  He may have taken a short trip before the harvesting season begins.  He offered me a job picking grapes in Feb back when I was there in Sep.  Naw, I’ll pass.  I did go to The Great Australian Icecreamery in Mildura.  They do good ice cream.  Another day of relaxing & watching the countryside roll by.  A couple more adventures to go.


23 January 2000 – Another fine day, but rather cool.  Temp in the low teens.  Another day of covering distance.  However, there was some variation in scenery.  At first I drove thru orchards & vineyards.  My route was near & later followed the Murrumbidgee River.  I could tell where the river was by the trees lining the banks.  I stopped at Balranald for petrol.  The land seemed to be drying out & wheat fields appeared.  After Hay the land became really boring, flat & relatively barren.  Beginning in the vicinity of Narrandera I came across fields of corn.  Reminded me of home.  I stopped in Wagga Wagga for Lunch.  I hadn’t continued on very far before the landscape drastically changed.  From flat fields to rolling hills which continued to increase in height.  I was in the foothills of the Snowy Mts.  It was nice to be back in mountainous country.  Worth a photo or two.  Staying at the very nice Cramarric B&B.  Easily talked into staying a 2nd day to tour the area.


24 January 2000 – After a full breakfast I was off to drive in circles.  The day began clear & quite chilly.  I needed a blanket last night.  My first stop was the Thomas Boyd Trackhead of the Hume & Hovell track.  The main attraction was the neat, tho short, wire & mesh suspension bridge: basically 4 wires, some stays for the bottom wires & chicken wire on the bottom & sides for comfort.  It is very bouncy.  :-)  I walked for about 30 minutes on the track in the fresh air of the foothills.  The Blowering Dam Wall, part of the Snowy River Hydro Scheme.  There were some very nice views of the rough countryside.  After lunch I drove thru Adelong [the main street is National Trust] to Batlow.  This took me thru orchard country.  Lots of apple & other fruit trees covering the hillsides.  I continued on to Paddys River Falls, just south of Tumbarumba.  From there I took the long way back thru the delightful hills.  By the time I got back the sky had partially clouded over.  At one point I noticed a sharp ring about the sun.  This plus the type of clouds moving in would in January in Albany, NY, indicate time to batten down the hatches for a major snowstorm.  I wonder what the weather will be like tomorrow?  Off to the heart of the Snowy Mts.


25 January 2000 – It was cloudy with the threat of rain & cool.  I first drove by the Tumut 3 Power station.  It was still closed, but an impressive structure.  On to the Tumut 2 Underground Power Station.  I took the tour of the installation.  It was very impressive.  Even more so when you realize this was done about 40 years ago.  I wonder if Oz would have the drive to do such a project today.  The immensity of the Snowy River Scheme is mind boggling.  Between politics & the Greenies nothing like this could be done to move water around the US west.  I stopped in Cabramurra.  It is the highest town in Oz at 1488 m.  I stopped for petrol & a snack in Khancoban before completing the drive to Thredbo.  For almost the entire drive I was in the middle of heavy forests with tall trees.  It felt a little bit like being back in the Adirondacks.  I do like mountans.  The hotel rates, this was “off-season,” were higher than the town.  I did find a relatively inexpensive hotel.  I coered some of the room cost by selling the lass at the front desk a Wombat Designer Backrub Mitt to have her consort use on her. :-)   The view of the ski slopes while eating dinner was very pleasant.


26 January 2000 – Happy Australia Day!  It was quite overcast.  This did not augur well for the climb.  It was strange to buy a lift ticket with no snow on the ground.  I did save some by getting the Olde Pharte rate.  Despite the clouds the view on the way up was quite pretty.  The hike itself to the top of Oz was relatively easy & pleasant, tho I was puffing.  Besides being out of shape we were climbing from 1700 to 1800 m up to over 2200 m.  I was higher than Denver when I began to walk.  The air gets thinner up there.  I passed a couple of snow patches on the way, but they were far off the track.  No chance of making a snowball in January.  At the top we got occasional glimpses of the valleys surrounding the peak.  The clouds closed in as I started down.  While I saw some sleet, no snow. :-(  I was very wet by the time I got down.  I turned on the heater in my room, watched some cricket & took a long, hot shower.


27 January 2000 – Up to a very dreary sky.  It was going to be even less fun to climb Mt. Kosciusko today.  It rained past Jindabyne.  The land was drying out.  The heavily wooded slopes became less so & open fields appeared.  By the time I reached Cooma it had stopped raining, tho the sky remained overcast.  Up the Monaro Hwy to Canberra.  I could tell I was no longer in the bush.  The rivers had water in them & traffic was heavy enough to be a real pain.  I’ve only found 4 lane roads in cities, usually they needed 3 or 4 lanes in each direction, but I digress.  Often they don’t connect with each other.  I stopped in Canberra for lunch with Alan & Carmel Brain.  I had stayed with them back in August.  Then on to Moss Vale.  I arranged a meeting with the lawyer who handles the Upfield estate & left word with the PoC for the Berrima Museum which has some Upfield material.  I topped off the day with some Colosseum Pizza. [That is their spelling!]  It is real good stuff.


28 January 2000 – A call woke me up.  It was to set up an appointment to view archive material on Upfield at the repository in Mittagong.  Good!  There was some neat material there.  I went thru it & copied a little bit of it.  I had some time to kill & did so a little bit in a “book barn.”  I saw the magic word “Books!”  I then met with the lawyer in charge of the Upfield estate.  We had a very nice chat.  I mentioned my interest in doing a limited edition of one of the long out of print novels.  He viewed the project positively.  I would keep him informed of my progress.  The “Wombat Enterprises, Unlimited” imprint may see light of day again.  It was a very good meeting.  I then headed under partly cloudy skies to Sydney.  The end was near!  I didn’t get too confused finding my way up to Terrigal, about 80 km north of Sydney.  I would be relaxing with Ian & Karen Bennett for a few days until I sorted everything out.


29 January 2000 – Relaxed for the day.  Went for a walk with Ian.  He went swimming; I walked Robbie, the pooch.  This was before coffee!  I caught up with my email & even some work on notes.  My hosts’ daughter is in the market for a car.  I may have a buyer.  I’ll know in a day or so.  Nice to not be driving! :-)


30 January 2000 – I drove over to the other end of Sydney to visit with Susan & Graeme Batho.  We all had a nice long natter while she was making up bottles & bottles of plum jam.  Yum!  We discussed the rather odd Sydney bid for the 2006 Worldcon.  I’m not sure the chap promoting it really knows what he is talking about.  He hasn’t ever, I believe, run any sort of con.  I also heard rumor of a Melbourne bid for 2005.  Actually, I believe, both bids are a little bit premature.  We shall see.  The business meeting changed the Worldcon bidding scheme.  I think Sydney in the 2008 to 2010 period would be about right.  Maybe Sydney will have gotten its highway system a little bit more complete.  It is very poor right now.  The traffic snarls the Olympics will generate will be world class. :-(  None of the highways connect to each other.  After I got back to Terrigal I took Ian & Karen out for dinner.  I had a good steak.


31 January 2000 – I headed into Sydney to find out how little I’d get from Mossman Toyota for the car.  The appraiser, Dez [?] must be related to Ned Kelly & should receive the same end.  The price was insulting.  I’m going to try another dealer.  I called & changed my flights.  I’ll be flying out of Sydney at 1545 on the 3rd.  I arrive in Albany [according to the schedule] at 0005 on the 4th.  I get back the day I lost heading over, but not the 2 hours lost to Daylight Savings Time.  1999 was 2 hours shorter for me than everyone else. :-)  I wandered about central Sydney enjoying the day.  I then picked up the car & headed back to Terrigal.


1 February 2000 – A relaxing day.  Sydney is warming up & getting a little bit sticky.  Thunderheads are about.  I need a few.  I went over to Brian Hilton Toyota, the dealer who stopped answering me back in April/May.  The appraiser there was a little bit more reasonable.  I’ll be selling them the car.  They will simplify things by just crediting my MasterCard account.  I sent off some email including my flight schedule to a few folk who need to know the details.  It will be good to get home.  Had a short chat with my possible relative.  Hey, there aren’t too many “Finder’s” about.  Of course, all “Finder’s” are good folk!


2 February 2000 – The day is starting out mostly cloudy.  It is a day to pack & get ready to bid adieu to the Land Down Under.  I’m looking forward to home, but I’m leaving with the feeling I would like to return and see all the other parts I didn’t see & spend more time in some of the places I did visit.  It has been one hell of a trip.  I’ll send this off & add some notes after I get back.  I’m looking forward to getting back to the gym.  I feel blobby.