Distance travelled: 510km.
Big spottings: Big Apple (Stanthorpe); Big Triceratops (also Stanthorpe ); Big Sheep (Guyra).
Note – I am using the “big” classification rather loosely – basically if it is larger than life and erected by the side of the road, I’m counting it!
I was worried about how Day 1 would go, but as it turns out I needn’t have stressed about it. Our kids can cause World War III travelling from home to the shops in the car, but somehow they managed to survive the whole day without annoying each other (or their parents) too much. A combination of reading books, drawing, watching TV shows on the iPad, singing along to the music and filling in travel bingo booklets helped the kids to pass the time.
Our route from Brisbane took us to a homestead outside of the township of Allora, about 200km west of Brisbane. It’s springtime in South-East Queensland and the fruit trees were in full bloom. I had flash backs to the cherry blossoms of Japan earlier this year, and found myself wandering through the grounds of the homestead we were visiting taking dozens of blossom photos. Just beautiful!
From Allara we drove another two hours through the Granite Belt , an area known for its vineyards and its fresh fruit. No stopping in Stanthorpe for wine tasting today unfortunately – just the obligatory Big Apple photo – as we continued to the border town of Tenterfield in time for lunch. It’s old-world and a true country town. From homemade meat pies to the most incredible country-themed shop window displays, it made a great little stop to refuel both ourselves and the car. Tenterfield is also the home of Peter Allen, also known as the “Boy from Oz”. Think “Tenterfield Saddler”, “Rio” and a lot of pink jumpsuits and maraccas. There’s even a pink Peter Allen Motel for the diehard fans.
From Tenterfield we passed through some beautiful countryside – open farmland filled with plenty of sheep and cattle. Things looked pretty dry but you get used to the brown land of Australia with just a tinge of green here and there. It’s so different to what you see in so many other parts of the world.
The Celtic town of Glen Innes and its surrounds is about 100km south of Tenterfield and gave me a momentary flashback of being in the UK, especially bonny Scotland. They have built their own version of Stonehenge here in Glen Innes; there is a very British Red Lion Pub; the nearby town of Ben Lomond houses a castle; there are even herds of shaggy Highland cattle (AKA hairy coos) lining the New England Highway. All that was missing were bagpipes and a nice eighteen year single malt scotch!
Another hour from Glen Innes and we reached the Armidale bypass. Our home for the night was another twenty minutes on from Armidale near the township of Uralla, so we continued down the highway before turning off the bitumen and onto the dirt road, across the cattle grids and past the livestock to the lovely Wayward Jerseys farmstay.
Wayward Jerseys is a working cattle property that also hosts farm tours for day guests and overnight packages for out-of-towners. Guests stay in an independent three bedroom cottage across from the main homestead and have an all-access pass to the farm. There’s a host of petting animals – a goat called Jack, two poddy calves called Caramel and Strawberry, two mad piglets, a week-old lamb called Sesame, plus a posse of ducks, geese and a rooster who wander the pen in formation. My three year old said “Mum, they’re playing Follow The Leader!” There’s also a horse called Wilson, named after Tom Hanks’s volleyball on “Castaway”.
In the few hours that we have been here, our kids have bottle fed Sesame, fed apples to Jack and Wilson, patted the calves and the pigs, crossed creeks, climbed boulders, spied newborn calves, stepped in cow patties, found animal bones, been swooped by magpies, perched on tree branches and played in the playground. Pretty good afternoon if you ask me!
We discussed our day’s highlights over dinner tonight (which was a fantastic barbecue pack provided by Wayward Jerseys from a local butcher in Uralla) and we all agreed there were too many to only pick one each. Needless to say the blossoms, the hairy coos and our exploring on the farm were among my highlights!
A great start to our roadtrip and a wonderful first day of our holidays.
Here’s to more of the same on the farm tomorrow!
x Sonia x