Temora is not exactly a typical tourist destination. Settled in the center of New South Wales, near West Wyalong and Wagga Wagga, it is a long drive from most places tourists visit in Australia. Truth be told, I probably would have never heard of it had my boyfriend not spent his early years there. This is how I found myself being woken up at 1:30am on Boxing Day.
Having only gone to sleep at 10pm on Christmas, I wasn’t exactly in the mood to wake up 3½ hours later. James poked me until I got out of bed, and when I stood up, he tried to give me a hug—but I’d already gone back to bed. Needless to say, we didn’t make it out of the house until just after 4, obviously a much more reasonable hour. However, since we were going to be on the road for at least 14 hours, it was necessary to already be far away from the Sunshine Coast by the time the sun came up. James likes to tell the story of getting ready for the road trip, because when he poked me at 4am, I threw my stuffed elephant across the room. I am not a morning person—but in my defense, I was throwing him onto my backpack so I wouldn’t forget him. James is still convinced I was throwing it at him.
The beginning of the trip was nothing spectacular—James and I were driving on our own, since I had forgotten my iPod, complete with iTrip, in Brisbane, so we were stopping off there before heading to Toowoomba. Funnily enough, even with the detour and the stop, we still beat his family to Toowoomba.
From there, we drove through Queensland and New South Wales on the Newell Highway. The drive was not especially interesting, although after a while mountains started looming in the distance and the edge of the road became tinged with red dirt. I attempted to play radio commando and make sure my iPod was playing most of the time, but I still got to listen to a lot of cricket on the radio. Being Boxing Day, it was the biggest day of cricket of the year—the first day of the Boxing Day test match against South Africa. I actually learned a decent amount about cricket from sitting there and listening, since I can’t do anything else besides gaze out a window in a car—and I certainly wasn’t going to be allowed to drive. Unfortunately, cricket isn’t exactly the most interesting sport to watch on TV, much less listen to on the radio. The men of James’ family gave me a very good demonstration the next afternoon of exactly how cricket is to be enjoyed—stretched out on a couch, fast asleep, with the TV blaring.
We didn’t make a whole lot of stops. We stopped at Macca’s (McD’s) somewhere near Goondiwindi, and at a Hungry Jack’s near Dubbo. These places can generally be described as the middle of nowhere. We did stop near Forbes, close to Parkes, where the huge radio dish is located that played a part in broadcasting Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon. As a side note, you should watch “The Dish.” This is a quality movie—with plenty of Aussie humor—about the Apollo 11 mission as seen through the people in Parkes’ eyes.
We finally arrived in Temora 16 hours later, after taking a tour of the farms that James’ dad used to own and visiting a few of his family friends. We spent another day and a bit there, staying with his grandmother and visiting his grandfather, who had broken his hip, in the hospital. During that day, I got the grand tour of the town and the area surrounding it, and it really was quite interesting to see where James and his family were from. I like being able to picture somewhere when he talks about the farm. His father drove us everywhere from Lake Centenary, the manmade lake with plenty of people enjoying watersports on it, to the airport, which actually has houses outside with garages that back up onto taxiways—so instead of hopping in the car and going for a drive, you just hop in the plane for a fly instead!
One of the funniest things that happened on the trip happened when James’ dad did a quick U-turn on the main road and pulled to a stop on the shoulder. Both him and James had been trying to disgust me all trip by pointing out and attempting to identify roadkill (“Ooo...that could be a kangaroo.” “Nah, too small.” “Are you sure? It could just be because it's missing its head.”). This time, his father opened the door and picked up a dead, rainbow-colored bird, and proceeded to tell me all about the rosella (a kind of parrot) and how it was one of his favorite birds in the area, all the while wiggling it so I could get the full effect of the fact that its neck was very much broken.
On the way back into town, we stopped at The Railway hotel, after first having stopped at another pub but being told that the beer that James’ father wanted was not on tap there. The beer he wanted is this stuff called Resch’s, apparently what he used to drink all the time. It’s a local brew to New South Wales, and after two beers, I have to say that I would have a constant headache if that’s all I drank. Not that it’s bad.
Another thing that happened in Temora: the one day I happened to be wearing a skirt, James’ father discovered a popped tire, a result of going 120km per hour on a gravel road. Since James had told him about how my father came up to rescue me the last time my tire went flat (in my defense, I had nothing to unscrew the lug nuts with and my spare tire was flat), I got to learn how to change a tire. This essentially meant James’ father pointing and me doing all the work. While I was changing the tire, I heard, “Don’t kill it yet! Kristin!”—you know, what I always want to hear before my name is called. I walked over and found that, while fertilizing James’ grandmother’s beautiful roses, his mother and brother had found a redback spider—one of the most poisonous spiders you can find. They showed it to me and then quickly killed it.
I definitely liked visiting Temora, even if it wasn’t located on the tourist map. I don’t know that I can recommend driving all the way out there (it was a 5-ish hour drive even from Sydney), but I truly enjoyed seeing the area and, after the initial nerves, meeting some of James’ extended family!