Friday, June 14, 2013

Thunderbolt's Way

I did forget to talk about the Artesian Baths in Lightning Ridge.  There are two pools built that get their water naturally from the earth - from about 1,000 metres below.  The larger of the two pools stays around 42 C (107 F), while the second pool gets the runoff from the first pool, so it is a bit cooler.  It felt beautiful to relax in the steaming mineral water and look up at the amazing night sky.  We even were able to spot  a shooting star.

Stanley the Emu sculpture on the way out
of Lightning Ridge.
We left Lightning Ridge after lunch and headed mainly east for four hours to Inverell.  This put us a bit out of our way, but served two purposes.  One, Brian wanted to travel Thunderbolt's Way, a beautiful stretch of road that he had driven on one of his visits to Australia before we moved.  Two, we simply had to stop in the village of Kentucky.

Inverell was a lovely little town that I would've liked to have spent more time exploring.  They are known as the Sapphire City and you can do lots of fossicking around town.  It looked like they had many lovely bushwalks and a fair amount of waterfalls.  There wasn't much going on that weekend with the holiday and several restaurants weren't open.  We ended up at one of the local pubs and spent some time talking to a lovely older couple that wanted to know what cities would be the best to find Blues music in, besides Chicago, Memphis, and New Orleans.  They were planning to drive down the Mississippi River via small roads, with a pitstop in South Bend to catch a Notre Dame football game.  Fun couple that had travelled all across the US and still wanted to see more.  I hope that's us after retirement - I'd love to travel all over the world!

We spent that night in one of the oldest buildings in Inverell, the Postman's Cottage.  The kids thought it was great to stay in an "olden days" house.  I loved it as well, even though it was fairly cold!  The kids had mattress heaters and Brian and I watched some tv in front of the fireplace, which felt great.  The boys thought slanted floors were great for rolling your trucks down!

Front Porch

Master bedroom - ignore my bag and thongs

Sitting room

Thunderbolt's Way is the stretch of road that the self-named bush ranger Captain Thunderbolt (Frederick Wordsworth Ward) spent most of his time roaming.  He is referred to as the "gentleman" bush ranger - not entirely sure what that means, but he did kick one of his gang members out of the gang after he shot a policeman.  Captain Thunderbolt had previously been on Cockatoo Island for horse thievery, but escaped to roam New South Wales until he was shot and killed at Kentucky Creek, near Uralla, where his grave is, although many claim that it isn't actually him in the grave.

Split Rock was his favourite hideout 

Probably him - he had an old bullet
wound to identify him

After visiting his grave in Uralla, we were off to the village of Kentucky - mostly because we wanted our pictures taken under the sign!  It's a teeny place - I think it was only 4 kilometres to drive through the heart of town - but fun to see nonetheless.  We stopped in the cafe for lunch and had a bit of a chat with the owner.  I promised to send him recipes for Hot Browns and Derby Pie!

I wanted the whole family, but it was raining
so I didn't want to use the tripod and get a
wet camera!

Cute boys

General Store, cafe, servo, and post office

You can't really tell, but the license plate was from Kenton County!

Then we were back off for a lovely drive of winding roads through the great dividing range.  It took us another 4 hours to get back home.  Maybe a bit longer, but we pulled off to look at the view and to have a cheese tasting at a goat farm!  Nathan was thrilled and we brought home some Feta for him to enjoy.

Overcast, but beautiful

It was an absolute whirlwind of a trip - 1,600 km (994 miles) in four days!  We saw a fair amount and the kids were wonderful in the car.  They've always been good travellers, but they outdid themselves on this trip.  We saw wild emus, had to stop for cattle to cross the road, and saw a massive amount of cotton harvested.  It was a great little trip that I'm so glad we took!

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