Day Six: Dubbo to Parkes to Condoblin. 3 hours 13 minutes, 237 km. Overall Grade: A
Dubbo Western Plains Zoo, is $46 a pop per adult, $24 for kids (4-15) and under 4 free, Concession Card holders $33.50 and there is a 10% discounts for families of 3 or more - Plus $15 bike hire if you fancy a cycle through the zoo.
The day was a bit overcast but the first stop at the Meer Cats was pretty damned cool. Understandably popular, they’re active, cheeky, and genuinely adorable - think the stereotypical lone sentinel standing lookout on its hind legs. A live cricket feeding concludes an interesting talk from the keeper, one of many strategically-timed throughout the exhibits to coincide with the movement of the attending crowds.
My only grievance would be the incongruity of the open plains and the artificiality of animals approaching for a staged feeding and 15 minute display session, while people click away. But then again, how amazing are our photos? When riding our pushbikes Jenny installed her Go-Pro on her chest for some cool action packed shots – well really just of the road ahead.
The drive to Parkes was uneventful; we stopped in at Peak hill for lunch at a dirty and ramshackle truckies’ diner, which could use some serious TLC and maybe a visit from the health inspector. Then again, I guess I'm not a truckie. A Freezing cold-snap came on as well. Escaping the diner we ate our food in the park, everyone seemed to have about 5 less teeth than they ought (In a literal sense). I wondered if the scourge of ice in country towns may have found its way to Peak Hill. It just had a really depressing, run-down vibe to it.
However, a rather striking old gold mine on the top of the hill shines brazen oranges and reds in the afternoon sun, with a deep maroon pool of water collecting in the bottom. Recently reopened 1996 - 2006 after being abandoned 100 years before, it is again non-operational. Free access is available, with a number of walks around its rim.
Before leaving town Jenny got excited by the purchase of a pretty red kombi toy at the quirky car toy shop. It seems that it just takes a Kombi to make her smile and it made her feel as if she had a true Aussie outback souvenir. I guess anything you buy from outside Sydney makes it novel and exciting.
Parkes was a brief affair. For those who miss the Elvis festival in January there is the Elvis museum and automotive museum in their newly-constructed information centre. And, if you’re into anything ‘space’ as in outer Space then Parkes offers some pretty cool history – their radio telescope was used to broadcast the first moon landing back in 1969. If you haven’t seen the movie ‘The Dish’ it’s well worth a watch. It will give you a massive insight into the role a little country town played in one of the World's biggest moments. Plus, it's got a great script, great cast and is very entertaining – in true Aussie style.
We had a quick look around town and decided to stock up on groceries and fuel, then head east for something a little different - 20 Utes displayed artistically in a paddock. Who'd a thought!? With the setting-sun casting long shadows out onto the field behind the installation it was definitely worth the drive. An interesting and jovial take on the last 50 years of Australian society, commissioned by a range of artists from around the country – we loved it!
We capped it off with free camping and a fire at Lake Gum Bend camping area - a great little free spot 5km from Condoblin. Clean toilet block with hot showers, gas powered camp kitchen and a manmade lake for those aquatically-inclined. The grass camping area is set back from the lake and dotted with trees and campervans bigger than ours. It's a bit muddy after the recent rain but otherwise a great little spot and welcome change to your everyday tourist park in town.
Great day had by all!