I am sorry for the slight delay in telling you about our holiday trip. We have had a couple of computer problems which prevented me from accessing our holiday photos for a while. At least I have had a chance to plant up all my punnets for hot-weather vegetables, and some have even started to come up!
From Sydney, we went west over the Blue Mountains and across the beautiful Central West, with its rich farmland and lovely old towns. We were nearly to Parkes when we first noticed a recurring motif of our trip: sheep grazing in what appeared to be a recently-ploughed field with sparse greenery in it. Dear readers, that's what happens when rain doesn't arrive on your wheatfield at the right time. It's happening all across south-western New South Wales, and has been for the last eight years. The price of bread will not be going down any time soon!
Again when we were nearly to Parkes, we saw signs indicating the presence of Chilean Needle Grass. I assume this is the same "Spanish Needle Grass" that Mary found in her dress in Little Town on the Prairie, and which Pa says is so dangerous to stock. Fortunately, while this nasty plant is considered a Weed of National Significance, we only saw a few signs about it.
There is one major tourist attraction at Parkes, and we visited it the next morning:
We were lucky enough to have picked a day of calibration testing, so the Dish was very active! Then off we went on the 350-km trip to our first farmstay. Forbes for lunch, West Wyalong for afternoon tea, a comfort stop at Rankins Springs. Finally, we reached it:
As we stepped out of the car and stretched, a beautiful kelpie bounded up to make friends. And what does a tired three-year-old do when he sees a strange dog? Throws up his arms, screams, and starts running. And what does the friendly kelpie think? Time to play Chasings! The Geek managed to contain his laughter and catch the Sprig, but the damage was done: the Sprig spent most of his time at Corynnia Station in the Geek's arms, and cried whenever he saw a kelpie. He was not even too keen about the fat little puppies that we met later! On the other hand, the Twig loved Wal and the other dogs -- a new departure for him, as he's never been comfortable around dogs either. I am not sure whether it is maturity, or whether farm dogs are so much better trained than pet dogs (and make no mistake about it, they are better trained).