A Road Trip To Armidale
Two weeks ago, we packed the car for a family road trip to Armidale NSW to attend a wedding. We had no plans for the drive, except to stop somewhere for the night and to stop off at charity shops to hunt for vintage pieces. Although the vintage shopping idea caused for a look of concern on everyones faces, we drove off excited for the adventure ahead.
About an hour out of Brisbane, a huge black cloud came over our car and it poured with rain. It was a beautiful sight as the dry, grassy yellow plains soaked up the much needed moisture. After 5 hours, we decided to find somewhere to spend the night. With 2 kids mad about wildlife and 3 adults pretty much the same (my brother also with us), we agreed a cabin in the bush would be the perfect option for us. But with little more than an hour to find one.. were we just dreaming?!
A quick look on 'Stayz' and that was it - we had found a place! Up ahead in Dalveen, Stanthorpe. A little 2 Bedroom Workers Cottage, fully renovated, 7 kilometres off the highway. We rang the owner Gillie, who welcomed us immediately (she only needed time to make up our beds). Sounded great although we hadn't yet seen any photos. The quote was cheaper than the nearest motel room and there were 5 of us..!? Gillie was lovely, surely the cottage was lovely too..
As we drove up the dirt road to the property we avoided hitting the many Kangaroos jumping out in front of the car. The kids were squeeling with excitement. We knew we were at the right place.
Then we saw the cottage. Yes, it was as lovely as Gillie and as organic and unpretentious as the surrounding landscape..
As we entered, sunlight was beginning to fade. Gillie had left the lamps on for us. The little cottage glowed with warmth. Big fluffy cushioned lounges in front of a brick fireplace called us. We spent the rest of the evening by the crackling fire as we played board games and read all the interesting material on the region, with its national parks and wineries. As I sat and stared at the odds & ends vintage and antique decor, its own eccentric style which somehow worked perfectly, I couldn't help but marvel at what a cute little place we had found.
Waking up to total silence felt strange, yet so beautiful. We were so rested. My favourite view in the morning was looking out onto the paddock. It was so serene..
The kids wandered outside to play, look for wildlife and do cartwheels in the grass..
The boys packed the car while I observed all my Vintage/Opp Shop finds from the day before. All pieces sourced for an up and coming market stall...
From left.. Ceramic Plates (made in England) $8 each, Wooden Vintage Tennis Racket $1, 'Bear Tape' Vintage Tin $15, Plastic Vintage Cannisters 0.50c each, Blue Wedgwood Dish $7 and Vintage Girls Dresses $15 and $2.
It was time to get back on the road.
I quickly stopped to meet Gillie in person at her house nearby. She welcomed me in and I instantly felt at home. While the boys waited in the car, I payed the bill and chatted with Gillie about life in the bush. They were really feeling the lack of rain. She pointed with sadness to a big hole in her garden where a 70 year old tree had to be dug out, only the day before. I waved goodbye to her, admiring her strength for living and working in this harsh environment.
It didn't lack beauty though. As I left I noticed the beautiful Wisteria growing around her home..
It made me want to go home and plant some!..
Back on the road we passed beautiful wildflower trees growing by the roadside.. bright pops of yellow and purple. I stopped and picked some for my Aunty Eileen who we were seeing in Armidale..
It was time for a pit-stop lunch... in Tenterfield. We walked past the historic shop 'Tenterfield Saddler' as mentioned in the famous song by Peter Allen. The smell of leather called us in. The little historic house is owned by a private Businessman and run by volunteers in the town after the local council refused to fund it. Everything in the house was in original condition.. wallpaper, tools and all! We got chatting to the volunteers. What a friendly bunch and how proud they were of their town. Including this chap by the name of Dave. A saddle-maker, who still in this time and age, makes his own thread and hand-sews his own saddles! Surely there's not many left like Dave...
I fell in love with these plaited horse whips. Not that I have any affiliation with horses or horsewhips!? I think what I loved is that they were just so Australian in style and so beautifully made... to last.
It was time to get back on the road and say goodbye to our new friends. When leaving we were invited for a cuppa at 'the farm' next time we were passing through. Country folk and their kindness!
We arrived into Armidale just after lunch. What a charming city with its heritage buildings, gorgeous weeping willow trees and stunning countryside. No wonder the area has just been added to the 2014 Australian Travel Bucket List. We headed up to Aunty Eileen's home excited for the weekend's festivities. The kids couldn't wait to feed 'Star' the horse with a bag of carrots and apples..
Our overnight road trip adventure was over. I remembered back years ago when a wise older woman once told me ..when possible, travel with your gut instinct rather than a plan... and it will take you to the most interesting people and places.
Sorrento Dalveen Country Homestay ....http://sorrentodalveen.com/what/curlew-cottage/
The Original Tenterfield Saddler Shop.... All products are 100% made in Australia. http://www.tenterfieldsaddler.com/pages/index2.htm
For information on Armidale...see Australian Traveller Magazine... http://www.australiantraveller.com/armidale/the-highs-of-armidale-2014s-biggest-bucket-list-surprise/