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Upon heading off from Katoomba, I gained a great travel buddy: Daryl from Michigan, USA. He is a raw food vegan, travelled around New Zealand for 3 months in a van and travels much the same as I – just going where the wind takes him. Spontaneity! I was really glad he joined me for the 3 hour drive from Katoomba to Dubbo, as I ended up having car problems. It seemed as though the fuel wasn’t getting to the engine and so it would regularly ‘judder’ and not accelerate in higher gears. Hills were not easy, and it got to the point where it would even ‘judder’ in first gear! I was regularly pulling over (on an entirely dark country road) because of this. I drove the car in spasmodic first gear for the last 8km to Dubbo – buggared if I was calling NRMA when we were this close. We came over the crest of a hill and saw the shining lights of Dubbo (Halleluuuujah!) we practically rolled down the hill into Dubbo – the trip ended up taking SEVEN hours!
We met our awesome Couchsurfing host Erin, who we felt at home with as soon as we arrived. She even let us stay at her place when she was out of town one night! Not only that she was such a totally chilled gal that she hosted two other Couchsurfers who had car problems and had got stranded out in Cobar (though we were thinking that maybe Erin is unlucky for those arriving by car??).
The chain of events that occurred from staying with her made for a serendipitous visit. Erin first posted about my fundraiser on her Facebook page. Her neighbour Teagan, a Dubbo Rotaract member, saw this post and was around within an hour to say hello – she has a Shelterbox sitting in her workplace! The next day she mentioned my fundraiser to the Shelterbox representatives, Peter and Lorraine Croft, who she works with. They were in touch with me in a flash! So I went to meet them and not only did they provide free zoo passes for Daryl and I, they also had an interview lined up for me with the Dubbo Weekender! Dubbo people – keep an eye out for me in the paper this Saturday (2nd June). Peter and Lorraine are so amazing that they have just recently been awarded Paul Harris Fellowships, for their role in raising funds for 50 ShelterBoxes!
Western Plains Zoo was just as amazing as expected. The way they design it, it feels as though you are on Safari and can just walk right up to the animals! Seeing them at such close-range really moved me, and gave me an appreciation for the saying ‘God’s creatures’. How did we go from single-celled organisms to animals on stilts or a trunk with 40 000 muscles?! Riding a bike to get around the zoo is definitely the way to go, though I recommend taking your own if possible as the hire bikes have the hardest seats ever and you’ll be feeling it the next day…
There are LOTS of animals there ranging from Lemurs to Galapagos Tortoises to Elephants as well as Wombats, Echidnas and more. We not only got to feed the giraffes,
we also got to handle a python, and see some lizards, Ring-Tail Possums, Echidnas and Nelson the Koala up close! Big thanks to Erin’s friend Bron for giving us a ‘backstage tour’.
After seeing “Kuringai” up-close, Echidna’s are now officially my favourite Australian animal. Who wouldn’t love a shuffling ball of spikes?! The most unusual animal I saw though was the African Wild Dog. They didn’t sound like dogs when they barked, it was a high-pitched sound similar to Hyenas (though not as ‘evil laugh’ sounding). Amazing colours.
On one of our nights in Dubbo we were introduced to the ‘Midnight Cafe’. A monthly event where locals musicians get up and jam, and you can come along to enjoy the music whilst sitting on couches, drink coffee, and relax. It’s an alcohol and drug free event, run by local members of the community. A great idea and it was excellent seeing some of the talent in Dubbo.
Along with this we got to learn about the Dubbo Community Gardens (similar to allotments in the UK). You can buy a plot in the garden for about $35 a year, meet fellow gardeners and everyone is urged to grow everything organically (without pesticides and using natural, healthy alternatives to grow and protect your garden). I got really excited about gardening again and I LOVE picking fresh veges/fruit, so I look forward to starting my own (when I’m in one place long enough to do so!). This is Erin’s plot, where she is growing beets, garlic, dill, parsley and more.
Before I got to Dubbo I didn’t think there was much going on there but I have to eat my words now! All this excitement in only 5 days, and we would have stayed on to experience more but the road was calling…
We kept an eye out for big MALE roos
and passed through Dunedo (pronounced dunny-doo) on our way to the coast.
And the car? Thankfully it was only a faulty coil lead and a dirty fuel filter so nothing major. Thanks to Mid City Mechanicals in Dubbo for getting me sorted so quickly 🙂