Noisy cattle grazing the long paddock also had an early start as I left Mathoura as the sun was rising. The young farmer was in his blue ute, elbow out the window and a cigarette sticking to his bottom lip. Saddles and swags were absent. He was mid way along the herd. Perhaps unbeknown to us, our role driving along was to bring up the rear.
Intermittently along the road, the driveways into properties had old spoked wheels and other redundant farm machinery either side of their dirt entrance. I thought then how kitsch this looks when I’ve seen it in the outer suburbs adorning small 5 acre blocks.
Paddocks were empty. Fences lined the paddocks and highways like scattered toothpicks. You could tell that some farmers had been broken. Green prickle bushes now stand instead of sheep. The further north I drove, into areas which had recent rain, the prickle bushes became larger. Their size is quite deceptive. I walked amongst a clump of them and they were up to my chest. This area was the envy of farmers further south. The rain had come, but for some – not their ploughs.
A sign to Moulamein – turn left – came into view on my way to Hay. I couldn’t resist. I looked at the map and thought ‘Why not!’ I stopped along this road to have my Muesli, and oh my goodness …the flies!! I burst out laughing when I went to take my second scoop, and there beside my macadamias and pumpkin seeds were 5 swimmers drowning in my milk. Each mouthful – well before each mouthful, I had to do a fish out and flick them off my spoon. Pesky trams replaced by pesky flies!
I stopped often to feel what it was like outside the car. Menthol and the fragrance of freshly cut herbs always seemed to surround me as soon as I opened my door. The warm northerly wind encouraged the flush of new green growth to exude their aromas. At my feet lay smooth weathered skulls – small lizard, birds and others I could not identify. The white bone still remained, slowly crumbling, yet the thoughts which were once encased, are long gone.
Often the trees were dark, like overcooked broccoli, with a border alongside the road of soft brushy ground cover. Undulating mounds of sand were dimpled with cushions of green. Galahs in pairs with their pink and screech fired from the treetops like pellets from a rifle. Large irregular white rocks although they looked like they had been placed along the edge of the road like the barrier around a campfire, I think were the consequence of a large blade of a grader.
All day the wind was from the north and was hot. 38 degrees. Dry. Not at all uncomfortable. I did however have a plan to spend the late afternoon at the Cobar pool. The cool water was enjoyed by children catapulting from the diving board, adults with kick boards and goggles, tots with flower cloth hats and me! I met the manager – a local for four generations. We chatted for ages and he shared with me some adventuring tips for my next trip!