After our wonderful time and the relaxed start into the new year in Federal, one of the most beautiful places in Australia, we were again full of energy and eager to explore the fifth continent. Accordingly, we could hardly wait to hit the road with our beloved Kifaru again. Our first destination: Dubbo, a small country town in the middle of the state New South Wales, where we once again wanted to visit dear friends.
In order to make the approximately 900 km long trip as relaxed as possible for our daughter India, we had planned three intermediate stops. The first stop was near Dorrigo, a small village in the middle of the famous Gondwana rainforests of Australia, which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage site since 1986. Unfortunately our schedule was very tight. Therefore we had only one day available there, which we spent with three short hikes through the colonial town, to the urban waterfall and in the nearby rainforest.
The next place to stay was at the end of a long gravel road, which demanded everything from our old van. But as always, Kifaru brought us safely to the finish line and the Cathedral Rock National Park made up for the exhausting ride. The huge, 270-million-year-old granite balls formed an exciting contrast to the nearby rainforest. As if stacked by a giant, the rocks rose over 200 m out of the surrounding eucalyptus thicket. But the most beautiful part of the day was to be the evening, when the three of us read good-night stories at the camp fire, while the local Wallabies came for a visit.
The last stage before Dubbo was the Waterfall-Way, a highway lined with small and large…well…waterfalls. One of the most impressive cascades, the Wollomombi waterfall, was considered the highest of Australia with its over 100 meters drop, but the latest calculations put it on the 2nd and 3rd place. The sight of this deep incision in the highlands was an unforgettable view, especially in combination with the Chandler waterfall in the background. After another night in the van in a small village along the route and a morning “bath” in a splashed park in Armidale, we finally reached the house of Bec and Mark in Dubbo.
We had met the two zoo keepers at our trip through Africa and we became close friends. Accordingly, we felt at home with them immediately and were looking forward to the days together. Next to the catching up, some strolls through Dubbo and playing with Mark’s new drum set, one highlight was the visit of Bec’s and Marc’s workplace, the famous Taronga Western Plains Zoo. This huge animal park uses a large part of the savannah-like landscape of Dubbo to present mainly African animals alongside the well-known Australian species. So in the two following days we were extensively viewing giraffes, elephants and rhinoceros.
But our biggest treat was the VIP tour we got on our first day. It started with hand feeding some of Bec’s beloved elephants, and even India got very close to the gentle giants (on Papa’s and Mama’s arm). After their long trunks, it was the long tongues of giraffes, that grabbed the carrots from our hands, followed by the long “fingers” of the meerkats that were sitting on our lap. After more pats for snakes, lizards, koalas, possums, echidnas and Tasmanian devils (okay, we just looked at latter), our first zoo day was already over.
Despite 42 degrees Celsius of heat, we went once again through the extensive grounds of the animal park the next day and discovered a sweet rhinoceros baby as well as pet friendly wallabies. In addition, we learned how hippopotamuses got their huge teeth cleaned (and filed) and that the Galapagos tortoises can get nearly 200 years old. The funny gimmicks of the spider monkeys and gibbons fascinated India and finally we had a close-up meeting with the ostrich of Australia, the Emu.
Here are all picture of this blog: Dorrigo, Waterfall Way and Taronga Zoo
Exhausted and sweaty, we then looked forward to a cooling bath and found this in Dubbo in the form of a water playground. There we had a lot of fun, before going to dinner at Bec’s and Mark’s place. Then our time with these two great people was already over again and we packed Kifaru for the next stage, at the end of which, however, more great friends would welcome us again. But more about this in the next report …