We’re on the road again, this time for a ten day breakaway, and heading towards the town of Orange. As we asked about for opinions on what to do and see, how long to stay and where to stay in Orange responses were varied. Some wondered. why go at all and others suggested a week would not be too long. With the jury out on the merits of Orange we set out to discover why this country town holds the mixed reactions it does.
Our camping time has coincided with Queen’s Birthday weekend, and under normal circumstances we would not have ventured onto the roads but it was spend three days at home or bite the bullet and join the masses. We took the northern route of our planned circuit, opting for quieter more scenic byways. It was a good decision.
Regional and rural New South Wales has a strong economic coal producing base and evidence is everywhere. Blighting the countryside with heavy machinery, giant gashes in the landscape and not an apology in sight. With 50, 000 unrehabilitated coal mines around Australia it says a lot about the mining moguls’ lack of responsibility or accountability to make good the devastation caused by capitalist greed and arrogance.
The Merriwa Festival of the Fleeces is held over this weekend each year and if we were to be caught in any traffic this would have been our preference. Country roads lined with family and farming vehicles, trails of cheerful souls heading this way and that to events dotted around the small town of Merriwa. Today Merriwa is at the centre of a large mixed farming area focusing principally on cattle, sheep, wheat and horse stud.
The Festival of the Fleeces is held on the long weekend in June. This celebration of rural heritage includes shearing and shed hand competitions, games, a street parade, yard dog trials, a billy cart derby, spinning display and a woolshed dance. The town is half way between Newcastle (home) and Dubbo (on the way to Orange) and a perfect spot for lunch. But for the lack of parking for the NinkyNonk ((our teeny tiny caravan) we might have stayed for the running of the sheep event.
A short drive out of town beside the Worondi Creek we found the Merriwa rest stop and enjoyed nature’s beautiful surroundings. A meander along the creek bank and there, quite unannounced, was another display of nature’s stoic struggle to remain hidden from man. Set below the cliff face as if hanging from it was a set of five-sided rocks looking like a fistful of pencils. Some years ago when we visited Mt Katapur National Park we stood in awe at the foot of the majestic Sawn Rock formation, millions of years in the making, standing in solitary state and looking like the largest set of organ pipes I had ever seen.
The stunning and rugged terrain undulated undaunted each side of the highway as we made our way towards a two-day stop over in Dunedoo, population 806.