Day 12, Wednesday March 27th Dubbo to Tocumwal
It’s a clear morning, not hot, not cold. We leave at 8:45am this is sheep grazing land and similar to that of country Victoria. On the outskirts of Parkes we see ‘the Dish’ in the distance, however, Parkes is now just as famous for its’ Elvis Festival. We stop in Forbes, captivated by its grand buildings, roses, and lovely gardens. The town was built on the discovery of gold in 1861.
We pass on through cattle grazing country and stop at West Wyalong. I’m lured by a sign outside of the butcher shop advertising Cattlemen’s Cutlets, I can almost taste them, sweet juicy crumbed cutlets. The two old butchers wander around the shop looking for the cutlets, none in the cabinet, none out the back, finally one declares “do you want ‘em today?”, I guess things move slower around these parts. We have our lunch (sans cutlets) at a pretty little park at the southern end of the shops. There’s now a stiff breeze blowing from the southwest that is playing hell with the driver-side mirror every time a truck passes and that is often, so we set to work with the gaffer tape again to right the problem.
As we continue south we encounter three lots of cattle grazing ‘the long paddock’, it is great to see drovers and their horses working this time-honored tradition.
At Narrandera, Home of the World’s Largest Playable Guitar, we stop to photograph an old disused railway bridge. By Jerilderie it is still windy and very hot. Jerilderie is famous for Ned Kelly and his gang having held the people of the town captive here for two days back in 1879, hence the sign: “Welcome to Jerilderie, Hold up in Jerilderie”
We arrive at the Big 4 Tocumwal Tourist Park at 5:15pm just in time to pick up a few groceries. We get the van set up and a big black cloud quickly extinguishes the heat with gentle soaking rain. The air is filled with the sweet smell of eucalyptus. I take out my ukulele for a little practice and to my horror find that it has broken in two in the heat, there goes the sing-along at Tarnagulla. The neck has fallen away from the body and is hanging by the strings. We cook some snags in the camp kitchen and the rain continues all night. It’s nice to be back in Tocumwal where we spent so many summer holidays. The park is just behind the main street, it is grassy, staff are friendly, and the amenities are first class.
2022 Note: The Dish, the radio telescope made famous when it conveyed the images of the moon landing for NASA back in 1969. That’s right, those famous images of Armstrong and Aldrin stepping on the moon were delivered by the Parkes telescope out in a sheep paddock. Parkes was made famous again with the release of the movie The Dish. If you haven’t seen this uplifting movie of human achievement, do, I’m sure it’s available out there somewhere on a streaming service.
The Long Paddock is the tradition of using roadside land to drove and graze cattle. Examples of the age-old tradition of droving cattle can still be seen today and we often come across droving crews. The reason that it persists is that it is a good way of moving cattle whilst keeping condition on them.
On another trip, we got the chance to buy some Cattleman’s Cutlets, this time at Cowra. What are they? Picture a dainty little crumbed lamb cutlet then think beef and about 4 times larger!
Life is never dull on the road. One can never predict what each day will bring; fascination, joy, awesome beauty, or a disaster, no two days are the same. I guess that’s what keeps us coming back for more.