Now I know I have said this before, but that was one heck of a week. Possibly one of the most trying we have had this year. Thank goodness we already had this weekend planned well in advance (and we had such a great time last weekend).
After work we headed off to try out a new place for us at Oak Park, just north east of Goomalling, on the lands of the Ballardong people. Arriving there just on dark, we were able to secure a great spot and get the fire crackling quickly. We were also lucky enough to spot a new-for-us bird, a pallid cuckoo. As it turns out, we have heard this bird on many occasions, just not realising what it was. A quick walk around the park took us past the very full lake, but no orchids. Unfortunately the park is somewhat overwhelmed by farm weeds, making it hard for natives to grow. Hopefully we will have more luck later in the weekend. The rest of our night involved gin and tonic / beers, s’mores, instant noodles and a great fire.
Saturday morning we were up and ready for breaky at a very appropriate time, given the late night and difficult week. Despite forgetting our bedding and the low temperature, our sleep was not uncomfortable thanks to the tiny space we inhabit. The tiny space is also versatile enough for us to cook our breaky and to sit inside and stay warm. Eventually we were ready to move on to Wyalkatchem and the rodeo, also on the lands of the Ballardong people. But our first stop was actually only a minute along the road, where we were lucky enough to see some donkey orchids. In a few short weeks it will be very beautiful all around this area. Perhaps we will be lucky enough to come back.
By 11.30 we were setting up the camper and awning in the middle of the oval adjacent to the Wylie recreation centre, along with hundreds of others. Setup, we wandered over to the rodeo ground and quickly realised it was going to be a jam packed afternoon, in and outside of the arena. Just as we were hatching a plan of where to watch the action, the heavens opened up and the rained pelted down. Nothing for it but to race back to Tas, to close the windows and change out of wet clothes! Fortunately it didn’t flood Tas and didn’t last long at all, so we decided to have a walk into town before lunch, finding the town as deserted as it has been every other time we have been here. I guess everyone is at the rodeo grounds.
With the first events due to start at 2pm we enjoyed a lovely lunch before heading over to find a spot and watch the action. We were lucky to slowly edge our way through the crowd and find a standing spot within the first hour. We then stood there all afternoon, cheering the bull riders and wranglers, the bronco riders and barrel racers, cowboys and cowgirls. Eventually we got a seated posie on a hay bale and were able to watch a few events in a bit more comfort. Fortunately the rain held off for the entire event, although it was really cold. The crowd were fun and enjoyed themselves, despite being jammed into a very small space, along just one of the 4 sides of the arena. We definitely enjoyed our day but agreed that aspects of the events do appear to be stressful for the animals and that is hard to watch. The lack of a good view also meant that photos were hard to get, but there is some reasonable video of a couple of competing riders.
Just as it was getting too cold to sit on a wet hay bale much longer, the event ended and we headed home for a spiked hot chocolate (spiked with crème de menthe). That warmed us up fabulously, and some stuffed spuds not longer afterwards helped with keeping us warm. Our evening consisted of staying warm at home, interspersed with wandering over to listen to some live music. Of course the music had a distinct country theme, but most were well known to non-country folk like us. As with the rodeo, most people were just having a great time, dancing along to the music and enjoying time spent in the great Australian bush. Like last night, we had a late one, not making the bed until just before the music stopped at midnight. Despite the noise, we didn’t needed much rocking and before we knew it, it was “coffee time”.
Sunday morning was very cold and very busy with people packing up their setups all over the oval. After breaky we started our pack up, interrupted by one sticky beak who was keen to have a tour of Tas. The rest of the sticky beaks just stopped what they were doing and watched us jack Tas up, position Maz and drop Tas back on. There was even one little cheer and a thumbs up. Nothing like feeling under the pump to perform. Time to get outta here and find some orchids. Our first stop was Elashgin Reserve where we managed to find some pretty spider orchids. Our next stop was Korrelocking Reserve where we found some new-to-us Candy Orchids. There were also loads of galahs and corellas in the trees and even a crop duster doing loops past us. Our intention was to make a last stop back in Wyalkatchem but we decided to head down to Goomalling instead for lunch and to try our luck at a more likely orchid spot.
But first a stop to have a look at the underwhelming Naaning Well, where there was not much to see, but a few little birdies happy to whistle along with me. Further along we rolled into Goomalling and found the Nature Walk and another remarkable lunch spot. Over a great charcuterie, we were entertained by pigeon fighting with corellas, an aerial duel between a wattle bird and some noisy minors, and a mumma ring neck feeding her demanding chick. A cursory wander within a few metres of Maz suggested we might not see much, but when our solitude was broken by 3 other groups of people arriving at the reserve, we realised a wander a bit further afield was likely to be more fruitful. Still within sight of Maz we found some blood orchids, a little blue beard, some donkeys, more candy orchids and another new-to-us, the clown orchid, aka ant / man / Jack in the box orchid. Fabulous, such exciting finds!
Now though, it’s time to go home, with a quick stop to admire the house among the canola and one last stop at our favourite spot near Toodyay, Wongamine Nature Reserve. There were loads of cowslips to brighten our afternoon and some green hoods, but not much else. The snails we saw here a few short weeks ago are gone now. Time for us to go too. What a lovely, calming, simple weekend, we needed to hit the reset button. Can’t wait to do it all again when we head down to Perup for the September long weekend. Come at me spring, I am ready for you!