Tuesday 31 December 2019
On an early morning walk along the Main Street of Quirindi (where square concrete slabs, depicting old cattle brands, had been inserted in the pavement), we met the owner of Pearl Blossoms, which held two lines of business for her, that of florist and café, in an attempt to weather the drought. She was just opening for “cooked breakfast”, (which Herb and Jessie enjoyed at our suggestion) and appears to be one of the luckier business owners as many shops were empty, and others about to close their doors succumbing to the effects of drought and other issues facing all country towns.
Opting for the “long way” to our next overnight destination, our first stop was the First Fleet Memorial Garden, where every person who sailed is listed. We wanted find two of Brian’s forebears, who came out on the same ship, the Charlotte, and to find out why on earth the garden is located in Wallabadah, 350 km from Sydney. We found out, so ask us when you next see us if you are interested.
Disappointingly the Op shops in Tamworth, where I thought I’d do well in finding pudding basins, were all shut. Even more distressing though were the fields we passed en route to town, bare as bare, not one blade of grass and no animals in sight (see the attached photos of a bare hillside and of cattle resting under a tree with no grass and nowhere to go).
At Barraba we made a purchase from another dual operator, this time ladies’ wear and hairdressing, called Frocks ‘n Locks and bought lunch provisions from the IGA. We found a park with a shaded table and bench but with the temperature rising only sat long enough to hurriedly eat and comment on how still and quiet it was – no human noise, no cars, planes, wind blowers, howling children, splashing swimming pools, just no sound at all.
Despite the drought, horse shows must go on and it was good to see the annual camp draft and rodeo taking place in Upper Horton as we came down the hill and into the township.
The drive from there to Narrabri, over and around wooded hills, was pretty, but it would have been prettier if it hadn’t been so dry and “grey” looking. The road to Sawn Rocks, a rock formation we had planned to visit, was closed due to a fire. (We subsequently learnt that the ban had been lifted the day before but the local authority hadn’t yet responded.)
Upon our late arrival we looked for “Buy in the Bush” stores but they were either shut or sadly closed for good. 10 minutes before closing we found a menswear shop and purchased 4 nice shirts for Brian, something we could never have managed in Sydney. We had the undivided attention of a helpful assistant who knew what she was talking about. We were so grateful, and so was she when we told her why we were in town
We dined with the other intrepid travellers at The Shack, at the Narrabri RSL where Herb told us some of the things he’d learnt from his Farmstay host. It made Jessie and him happy with their choice of accommodation when told that the farmstay income was keeping the horses on the property in feed. The farmer talked of depression and the rate of suicide amongst farmers. I had read in the local newspaper that Narrabri Rotary was joining with Rotary clubs from Wee Waa and Bogabri to introduce a “Neighbours in Need” programme to help drought affected neighbours look look after each other. Amongst other initiatives they have advertised that if someone gathers 5 drought affected neighbours together, Rotary will provide meat for a BBQ; for 10 families, Rotary will put on the BBQ. Donations are being sort and I’m thinking if I have money left over from the donations I’ve been given for this trip, that would be a good place for it to go.
Lastly, attached are 2 photos of some amusing notices which we spied in shop windows. The first was in a shop in Quirindi, with antiques and memorabilia, and explains the reason the items were for sale.
The other 2 were on the window of the Men's Shed retail store in Barraba. The notices are the top one on the left side and the bottom one on the right side of the photo.