The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere


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Sidetracked at Wantabadgery – on the way to Wagga Wagga

Day 3 & 4 – Sandy Beach at Wantabadgery

You know, sometimes you find a camp spot that you’d be happy to spend a bit of time at, and this is one of them. Right on the banks of the river it was a lovely clean, mowed area with picnic tables, a toilet (composting) and water – and plenty of room to camp without being on top of someone else.

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Marion and I were a bit cheeky and pulled up either side of a covered picnic table and claimed it as our own while we were there. It wasn’t a problem as it was mid-week and not a lot of people around.

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This photo MUST have been taken after 4pm – it looks like Happy Hour is in full swing by the level of my vodka and tonic!

We were camped near some lovely people from Yeoval and they were amazed when I said I had been there – quite by accident of course – when I was bringing Brutus home to the Gold Coast not long after buying him. You’ll have to read my first blog if you want to catch up on that story!

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I know, this photo has a fingerprint on it, but it’s one of the few I’ve got outside Marion’s van.

Sandy Beach is on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, which Jack made the most of by having several swims. He loves the water almost as much as he loves sticks to play with. And sticks and water together – dog heaven!

We had a couple of lovely days here, the weather was good, the facilities fine, Jack was a happy dog – and I think Marion is getting into the swing of this. A camp site like this certainly helps! If I hadn’t needed to fill up my gas bottle I could have easily stayed a few more days.

Day 5 – Arriving at Wagga Wagga

Wagga Wagga wasn’t far away so we checked out one of the other freedom camps at Oura Beach on the way there. It had a few more people staying there but once again looked like a good place to go. It was a little closer to Wagga Wagga than Sandy Beach, too. Love the sign going into town!

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As you come into Wagga Wagga there is another free camp right on the edge of town at Wilks Park, but I’m so glad we have a cousin here and we were able to stay at their home on acreage a little way out of town.  Wilks Park was right on the highway, and although it had good facilities and gave easy access into town, it was crowded and noisy.

Being here was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with Gretchen and Richard, and Marion was thrilled that Richard was able to fix a squeal in her air conditioning. A hot shower and shampoo was very welcome, too.

Jack met some cats for the first time in his life – and they soon let him know who was boss! His ball, another favourite toy, rolled into the horse paddock during one game and that was an interesting encounter to watch. The horse just wanted to be friends but Jack was very wary and couldn’t get out of there quick enough. That was the biggest dog he had ever seen!

We enjoyed a nice evening together before heading further south the next day. The Rutherglen wineries are not far away ……


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Wending our way to Wagga Wagga – Day 1

My sister, Marion, and I were finally going to start our travelling together away from the comfort of the ‘known’ environment we had enjoyed at Orange. We have a cousin in Wagga Wagga so thought we’d head in that direction. It was only 320kms away and we could take as long as we liked to get there so out came the trusty Camps book and we picked out some spots to aim for.

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Day 1   Orange to Gooloogong

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We left Orange on Monday morning and headed to a little town called Eugowra, which is noted today for its street murals but in the past was famous for its bushrangers, so they feature heavily in the murals. After all, in 1862 they did pull off the largest gold robbery in Australia’s history!

At Escort Rock near Eugowra Frank Gardiner and his gang of bushrangers including Ben Hall ambushed and robbed the gold escort coach on its way from Forbes to Bathurst in New South Wales.

Eugowra’s Wild rocky hills that so successfully hid those bushrangers of the past now attract a new kind of bushranger to Nangar  National Park and local orienteering events.

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If you click here it will take you to a really informative site about Eugowra, its history and its beautiful natural attractions.

When we looked at our Camps book we decided that we would stay at Gooloogong, for no reason other than it is a famous Australian name (although Evonne did not come from here), and it was also on a river. We are now travelling with Marion’s little Jack Russell (called Jack, of course!) so bushy camps with lots of sticks are the sites of choice. He has a stick fetish and will play with them for hours. This photo was taken at our second camp at Bethungra Dam.

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As you can see by the map above we really did a zig-zag route today to get to Gooloogong but on the way we went to Canowindra (pronounced Canowndra – don’t ask me why!) and Cowra.

Canowindra(pronounced ka-noun-dra) is an historic township located on the Belubula River in the central west NSW shire of Cabonne. The name of the town is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘a home’

Old Main Street

A fine blend of modern business and services located amidst rich history. The bendy main street, Gaskill Street, is partly an urban conservation area and shows excellent examples of late 1800’s architecture.

Canowindra’s History

The river flats along the Belubula River attracted early settlers, gold was discovered and started a flurry of mining but the real riches came from the green gold of Lucerne with massive amounts being grown and shipped.

I thought this was a funny little snippet from the town’s history.

In October 1863, Ben Hall’s gang took over the village for three days and entertained the whole population, as well as some stray travellers, all herded into the inn. An account of the incident was reported in the Bathurst Times, also quoted in the Maitland Mercury. A monument to Ben Hall, on the site of Robinson’s inn, the Travellers’ Rest, was erected in 1951, but evidently further research has indicated that the events recorded here happened at the inn on the other side of the river.

Canowindra today is better known for 2 major tourist attractions – The Age of Fishes Museum and its Balloon Challenge. If you want to see something truly spectacular get to Canowindra next April and see the sky filled with hot air balloons. Here’s a link to the information.

While you are there it’s worthwhile visiting the Age of Fishes Museum. There have been some major fossil finds at Canowindra (bet you’re still pronouncing it as it looks).

Imagine a world ruled by fish! Long before the dinosaurs the mighty rivers of the Central West teamed with bizarre ancient fishes – fish with armour shells, fish with lungs, and huge predators with jaws like crocodiles. Thousands of their fossils were found at Canowindra and give us a unique glimpse into life during the Devonian Period – the ‘Age of Fishes’.

A chance discovery in 1955 revealed an extensive fossil bed dating from the Devonian Period. This 360 million year old formation contained the fossilised remains of over 3500 freshwater fish. Many were new to science. This unique fossil collection is now on public display in the township of Canowindra, only a short distance from the discovery location.

The Museum displays many of these beautiful fossils together with live aquarium displays and wonderful recreations of life in the Devonian.

From Canowindra to Cowra. Cowra is the site of a Prisoner of War camp in the Second World War, and is famous for the Japanese POW breakout in 1944. There is now a beautiful Japanese Garden and an avenue of Cherry Blossom trees to recognise the strong links between Cowra and the Japanese people.

Cowra Japanese GardenAt 1.50 am on the clear moonlit night of August 5, 1944, the largest Prisoner of War breakout in modern military history occurred at Cowra. More than 1000 Japanese prisoners launched a mass ‘suicide attack’ on their guards, Australian soldiers of the 22nd Garrison. To the Japanese, the disgrace of capture could finally be overcome by dying in armed battle.

Armed with crude weapons, four groups each of approximately 300 Japanese threw themselves on to barbed wire fences and into the firing line of Vickers machine guns. Protected only by baseball mitts, blankets and coats and using their comrades as a human bridge to cross the tangled barbed wire, more than 350 Japanese clawed their way to freedom.

All escapees were captured during the following week. A total of 107 POWs were wounded, 231 prisoners died along with four Australian soldiers.

From the tragedy of war and the Cowra Breakout came a long lasting friendship between the people of Cowra and the nation of Japan. There is much in Cowra today which serves as a reminder to these events.

The Cowra website is very easy to navigate and has loads of information about the area and events. Click here if you want to find out more.

It was time to make our way to our camp site for the night.The freedom camp at Gooloogong was a bit of a sheep paddock really, so there were lots of flies that drove us crazy. The river was way down a very steep bank which we decided would be easy to get down to but we weren’t sure we would make it back up to the top, so we looked but didn’t touch, so to speak. Hope Marion is going to enjoy this lifestyle – tonight is not a good introduction!


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Beautiful Bingara – on the banks of the Gwydir River

After a month on the Gold Coast I finally I headed off (minus my gall bladder) on 28 September to attend a Solos Rally in Bingara, New South Wales, that started on 7 October.

Gold Coast to BingaraIt was only about 600kms away so I knew I would have time to explore some of the local area when I got there. Well, that was what I planned to do! When I arrived in Bingara I found this wonderful campsite on the Gwydir River about 7kms out of town and it was soooo relaxing I didn’t want to go anywhere else. As you can see I had a great spot right on the banks of the river.

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Camping on the Gwydir River, Bingara

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Gwydir River, Bingara

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Visiting wildlife – ducks and water hens

As I had volunteered to help with the Merchandising Stall I entered the Rally early to do a stock take so I was lucky to get a great location only a short walk to the showers, halls, and, most importantly, Happy Hour venues.

The Rally started on the Monday and about 290 campervans and motorhomes descended on the little town of Bingara. The program was full on! There were bus trips organised nearly every day to local points of interest, and of course there were Line Dancing, Rock n Roll, Country Dancing and Belly Dancing lessons every day too.

A cocktail party was held one evening at the most amazing Art Deco theatre called the Roxy. It has been restored in the last few years and they also showed a short film about the history, restoration and re-launch of this beautiful building. I hope these photos do justice to the amazing detail on the walls.

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From  man-made to natural wonders, one of my other outings was to a place called Sawn Rocks. These rocks were formed when Mt Kaputar was a volcano and after it erupted the lava cooled slowly and created pentagonal shapes.

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On the walk in to the rocks from the car park there were also some different plants that I hadn’t seen before.

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Hop Bush

Hop Bush

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Pink Stars

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Cough Bush

Back at the Rally site there were still a lot of activities happening. There was a Pet Show organised for the Sunday afternoon and more than 50 pets were on display, mostly dogs but also a couple of cats. A lot of Solos travel with dogs, mostly for company but they are also an added protection for people travelling alone.

IMG_0688 IMG_0689The ‘horse’ races and Fashions on the Field were also held on Sunday afternoon.

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At the Starting Post

Sunday night was Concert Night. There were some fantastic items prepared by different groups at the rally and an opportunity for the dancers to show off what they had learned during the week. I had written the words for a song about Solo Travelling that the choir sang and the audience joined in as I had put the words on a Power Point Presentation. It is sung to the tune of My Favourite Things from The Sound of Music.

Solo Travelling

(sung to the tune of My Favourite Things)

Fresh water, hot showers, connecting to power
Making new friends, and of course Happy Hour
Sitting round campfires when everyone sings
These are a few of my favourite things.

Staying a few weeks instead of a day
Meeting new travellers who are going your way
Sharing a camp oven meal fit for kings
These are a few of my favourite things.

Sunrises, sunsets, night skies filled with stars
Driving for hours and seeing no cars
Living a lifestyle on freedom’s strong wings
These are a few of my favourite things.

Chorus 1

When it’s raining, when it’s muddy
When the roads are bad
I simply remember my favourite things
And then I don’t feel so sad.

Gravel pits, campgrounds and staying odd places
Where you meet new folks, catch up with old faces
Sharing a drink or a meal at a site
It’s always the start of another great night.

Clean public toilets, good dump points and power
Access to Telstra – did I mention a shower!
Good info centres and country pub bars
Camping out solo beneath the bright stars.

Other grey nomads enjoying their travel
Contacting friends while at home they unravel
Enjoying life’s pleasures, simple as they can be
This nomadic lifestyle is all right by me.

Chorus 2

Solo travelling, sometimes lonely
Wondering what it’s for
I simply pull into the next roadside stop
And then I’m alone no more