Thursday, 24 May 2018

A New Adventure Begins

After three busy days at work for me and the boys playing caravan home improvements, on the Thursday we headed off on another adventure.

This time we had a little convoy heading west.

Along the way we decided to visit the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope, affectionately known as "The Dish".  Google Maps showed two routes to the dish from Parkes, so we took the closest one intending to do a loop and we were surprised to see no signs.  We travelled along and missed a turn, once again not signposted.  Once back on the correct road we realised why it wasn't signposted.  Yep, a gravel road.  Not to worry, it really emphasised that The Dish is in a sheep paddock in the middle of no where.

On arrival there were lots of signs to turn off your phones.

The visitors centre had lots of interesting information.  This console was created for the movie "The Dish" and is rather close to the original design.

It was interesting to read the facts and fiction panel about the movie.

By then it was lunch time.  We always enjoy seeing Apostle Birds when we venture west.  These ones were rather tame and Mick had one eating out of his hand.

As we drove out of the car park we noticed a sign on the road we had come in on.  I had to laugh.  It was really quite a good road.

The scenery around Parkes was lovely, with wide open spaces.  However, everything is looking very dry.  Normally there would be lots of wheat crops planted by now, but hardly any this year.

You always know when you are approaching a country town by the proliferation of billboards.

Back on our travels we headed through the village of Bogan Gate.

And, finally to our destination for the day - Trundle, for the Abba Festival that would be happening on the weekend.  We attended last year and had a ball, so we weren't going to miss it this year.

One Adventure Ends

Sunday was the final day of the balloons and the morning event was Kavanagh Balloons Key Grab.  The idea is that there is a giant key on a flagpole and you have to fly your balloon close enough to grab the key.  If that is achieved you win a new Balloon Basket, which is quite some prize.

Just as we arrived one balloon got ever so close, but no cigar.

It was fun watching the balloons trying to get close.  The ideal area that they would drift in from had a tree in the way and the breeze kept taking them away from the key at the last minute.  No one else got anywhere near the key while we were watching.

We did get to enjoy seeing lots of balloons again though.

It was fun seeing all their different approaches. Some were nearly touching the ground and moved ever so gracefully across the sports ground.  They were disqualified if they touched the ground, which happened to a couple of balloons.

However, I'm not sure that this balloon was meant to be so low behind the houses.  It must have nearly touched one.

What we also noticed was how young some of the pilots were.

After that we packed up and headed for home, but we called in at the Cudal Swap Meet on the way.  You can't pass a swap meet.  

I'm  really glad we did call in as I found a Swedish Ivy plant that I have been looking for to replace one that got frosted last year.  They aren't one you seem to be able to get at a nursery.  Happy dance.  It will live inside for the winter.

The autumn trees were looking a treat as we drove through Orange.  They don't call it "The Colour City" for nothing.

When we arrived home we were delighted to see that we had visitors.  Our friends from Rockhampton had arrived to spend a bit of time with us.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Saturday at Canowindra

Saturday is the big day of the Balloon Festival, which actually runs for a week.  The days start early for balloonists, as that is when the weather is calm.  I was snug in my bed and didn't feel like getting up with the sparrows.

Eventually, the world seemed to awaken and we could hear people out and about and that there were balloons in the air.  Although they look like they glide silently, there is a frequent roar from the gas burners.  I stuck my head out of the van, dressed in my flannie jarmies, to be greeted by this lovely sight.

This group of balloons were taking passengers for a ride.  Notice the large sized  baskets.

Mick had got up and dressed by now and headed down to the main oval in the showground.  I was still in my jarmies when he came to get me.  "Don't worry", he told me, "There are lots of people in their jarmies down there".

The reason for the excitement was that "The Frog" balloon was being inflated.  Well, I saw a couple of other people in the jarmies, but not "lots".  After a little while I went and got dressed.

By the time I returned many balloons had arrived back in town from their early start somewhere out in the countryside.  Canowindra has the perfect geography for ballooning, having gentle hills and lots of open spaces.  The farmers are friendly towards the ones that land in their paddocks and are apparently rewarded with a bottle of champagne.  I loved this view of loads of balloons in the air and everyone going about their business as if it was the most normal thing to see in the world.

Meanwhile, the frog was gradually being inflated.  It is rather large and then has those legs to fill up with air.

Then, to everyone's delight, another balloon started to be inflated.

Before long the frog and hummingbird were both ready to take off.  We had seen the hummingbird last year, but hadn't seen it fly.

Not the most flattering view, but we were at the whim of the breeze.

Aren't they spectacular.

They didn't stay up very long, but we all enjoyed seeing them.

Now, how to fill the day before the evening's events?  Why not go exploring on foot again.

There are some lovely homes.

And a quirky letterbox or two.

We found a nice coffee shop when it was time to recharge the batteries. Yummo.  This is such a bad (but rather nice) habit we have when we are away from home.  I suppose all things in moderation is OK.

Every man and his dog seemed to be holding a garage sale.  Why not?  It is the perfect weekend to draw a crowd.  We bought a couple of little things.

We finally made it back to the main street, where some buskers were performing.

And a stage coach trundled past.

We ended up back at the markets, where there were some more stalls.  No, we didn't bring one of these sculptures home.

We did partake in a free ten minute ukulele  lesson.  We learned "Row Row Row Your Boat", with all of one note!  It was fun, but I don't think we will be rushing out to buy one each.

We wandered back down the crooked street.  I did find a patchwork shop with some cute caravan and motorcycle fabrics.  Score.  Fail on the fabric diet front though.

What are we to do when we see this sort of sign?

Of course we had to take a ride around the streets.

A coach eye view.

There was still plenty of the day left, so next stop was the museum, which we have visited before and is very good.

Lots to see there.

Mick wanted to take another look at the old railway line, so here he is "walking the line".

More of the rustic buildings.

We even had a chat to a kookaburra on the way home.

The main event was on Saturday afternoon and evening, so we wandered down to the main oval.  This was quite different from last year, when the proceedings were held at the sports ground over the road.  This year's version was very convenient for all us campers.

Firstly we were entertained by the local dancing troupe.

These littlies were too cute.

Over the back there was the Fossil Museum car on show.

The food market was a very popular venue all night.

As the evening closed in there was a parade of the balloonists with their baskets on trailers letting off their burners, creating quite a spectacle.  The crowd was growing all the time.

A stall was selling these blow up suits.  They didn't look all that comfortable.

Then, finally, what we had all been waiting for......The Balloon Glow.

Unfortunately, the wind pick up and it was too hard to keep the balloons under control, so the display was cut short.  It was still rather stunning.

Also, unlike last year, the entertainment continued beyond the balloon glow.    We were entertained by Peter Byrne and his show "Forever Diamond".  He has been acting as a Neil Diamond tribute artist for over 20 years, and was rather good.  He certainly had everyone up and singing.

You forget what a large catalogue of songs Neil Diamond had, and we surprised ourselves with how many of the words we remembered.

After that, it was time for bed. It certainly had been a busy and full day.  Well worth travelling up for the weekend.