Friday 3 January
While Brian while downloading a photo-resizing app I took the opportunity of the 8am opening of Mink and Me gift shop at The Hub to do some shopping – some lovely aboriginal painted tea towels, a box of pub quiz cards, cake testers and a women’s grazier’s magazine. Lucy the owner of Mink and Me, is a young farmer’s wife originally from Dural. She told me the last rain they had had was in 2016, that they were OK because they were mixed farmers and that they had their own feed, but she though those who only farmed crops would be finding the going tough. She said her husband was hanging in there mentally but felt that many would not really last much longer. Fortunately the #buy from the bush campaign had been very good for her business; she had been flat out before Christmas and was now glad of a bit of a quieter time.
There was nothing to buy at Gulargumbone and in fact nothing much there at all. An attempt had been made to add interest to the town through art and a row of shops, which otherwise would have been left to decay, had been painted in bright colours and artists had made historical installations in the windows. Murals painted on the sides of buildings, galahs made from corrugated iron decorated the town and were placed on the sides of roads to the town and a well designed bullock team, made from recycled chicken wire, certainly added a liveliness to the town that other towns of similar disposition lack.
We travelled west to Warren, where we stopped at the kiosk at the Window on the Wetlands Centre to purchase local produce on Jill’s recommendation. I caught up with Lauren with whom I had spoken on the phone. I purchased locally produced honey and asked what all the bees do in a drought. She said the bee keepers can no longer supply the honey because there are no bees. I then said I noticed that some of the gums were beginning to blossom, a lovely creamy colour. She said it was very unusual as they are spring flowering, then another lady joined in and they started talking about all the signs that rain might be coming, in addition the blossoming trees – kookaburras, green leaves sprouting on trees, a flock of pelicans had arriving in town, a frog being heard and finally antsn invading the house. Such an uplifting chat, full of hope.
Philippa Graham, who has friends doing it very tough in Nevertire, assured me that there was nothing in town except the pub. However, we never saw it as we passed through on our way to Trangie, where we stopped for a counter lunch at the Hotel Trangie because at 43 degrees it was just too hot to picnic. I was interested to try the food as the publican, Shaun, had posted on social media that it was “ bloody good pub food” and so it was -- the best chicken schnitzel I have ever had. We chatted with Pete, a Stock and Station agent, over lunch. He told us the hay on the road trains we have seen all day travelling west was coming from Victoria or South Australia, that each load would cost around $20,000 and that a bale of hay would keep alive around 10 cows for a week.
We stopped at the Ewe Two gift shop on Dandelo, but I was hard pressed to find anything to buy. I’m almost shopped out but still haven’t found a few of the things I really want to buy. I did buy a Christmas tea towel at a craft shop in Narromine while filling in time waiting for Brian who was visiting the Aviation Museum. The co-op shop was being manned by two oldies and some of the goods must have been made by “ancients” as they were so old fashioned.
Herb has, we think, found Brian’s Crown beer glasses at “Shelley’s Antiques and Collectables” in Gilgandra. We found the shop, full of dirty old used goods and junk masquerading as “antiques”, padlocked shut. Herb, who asked the owner how he ever managed a stock take, was told that it wasn't necessary because the shop was considered a hobby.
Our final dinner at the very busy Gilgandra Services Club was a fitting farewell to a happy week of fun and activity. Photos were taken of us and some our most prized purchases. We left with new friends and a hope of "doing it again".