Dubbo has a bush camp run by a member of the caravan club we are in. We stayed at one in the Hunter Valley, Pokolbin Cabins. Very nice. The camp is where a member of the CMCA club opens their land up to other members to use. The site also offered fresh water and our first job was to fill up our tanks. We had stopped filling our drinking tank, which is 80L. Our stops are a lot closer now so we didn’t need to carry the extra water. Spending 5 nights at Bogan Weir, we arrived at Dubbo with only 4L in total left.
This bush camp was a large grassed area. Only one slight problem. The camp sat right next to a trucking company on one side, quite loud and the local airport on another side even louder. Mmm. We did rethink our stay but thought for one night it wouldn’t be too bad. Come knockoff time the noise from the trucking company stopped and come night time the planes stopped flying. Being away from the town it was very quiet. I think we will stay for more than one night.
We hit the town. We didn’t need to do food shopping so it was nice to take the time to look at the shops. Something I don’t do very often.
Our first tourist spot was the Western Plains Cultural Centre. You walk into a large room that pays homage to outstanding local people. People like Rawdon Middleton who was a RAAF pilot in WWII. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for saving the lives of his crew and in doing so losing his own. Or Ella Havelka, her mother would drive her across the state in school holidays so she could attend dance programmes and performances. At the age of 15 she was accepted into the Australian Ballet School. Going on to joined The Australian Ballet and became the first Indigenous Australian to join the company. Well done.
There is a large old black board so people can write their own person thoughts on going to school in Dubbo. It was a fun read.
Turning around from the black board there is a large wool wagon. Wagons like this were the road trains of the time. Between 1870 and 1930 they would haul anything from wool and wheat to general goods. The journeys were slow and often dangerous. Even a small pothole on the roads could easily topple the heavy load. For the people living in the outback the arrival of the wagon was something to celebrate.
The wagon was massive. This one stood a good head taller than me and I’m not short. I could only try to imagine what it would have looked like fully loaded with wool bales anywhere from 3 to 5 layers high. Way back then a wool bale would have weighed around 110 kgs. No wonder we have so many ballads written about the bravery of the bullock teams.
The first part of the museum was packed with old farming items, from an old wool press to an English plough and more. Many of the farming tools brought out from England were not suitable to the Australian conditions. Almost everything had to be modified or made new.
The museum told several personal stories as well. They tell about a young Dubbo woman who lovingly worked on her wedding dress and a set of lingerie for her big day while her fiancé was away fighting in WWII. He never returned and she never wore the dress.
Or the story of William Cross better know as Bill, who was sent to Gallipoli. Bill was watching the enemy though a periscope when a sniper bullet hit the glass. The bullet exploded into his head and then entered his arm. He was transported to England where they amputated the arm. It wasn’t all bad though, as he gained an English wife. When he arrived back in Australian he was fitted with an artificial arm and returned to his life as a farmer.
I did smile when I saw the bathers. They looked more like a blanket than any form of swimming costume I have ever seen. It was a big thing for Dubbo to open an Olympic Pool in 1935 so everyone came out in his or her best suit.
Thomas Browne the author of Robbery Under Arms was a Police magistrate in Dubbo at the time he wrote the novel. (Thomas had taken up the position of magistrate after the previous one had been shot by his mistress.) He used a pen name of Rolf Bolderwood to write the classic novel. I think he may have had some inside information.
I really liked the museum but it was a little frustrating to read everything. Most of the smaller items are enclosed in class cases. Some of the information has been written on the glass and down the side of the bench making it hard to read. Adding to the problem the light levels were low. Hardly enough to see by, I know half is my problem, my eyesight isn’t what it once was.
We left the museum and walked across the corridor to the Art Gallery. The first piece of art that greeted us was a pile of wood.
Each piece of the wood has been polished by hand. The work engages subjects to notice the value of raw materials. It was a good thing I read the info on the art piece so I knew what I was looking at. I can appreciate it now.
The gallery was having an exhibition called Waste To Art. It happens once a year and has been going for 14 years. It is designed to challenge perception about ‘rubbish’ and it’s impact on the environment and is aimed at school children. I was very impressed with the work and the ideas.
To end the day we took the time to smell the flowers at the Regional Botanic Gardens. Free to enter which was a lovely surprise as volunteers run the Gardens. The Friends of the Garden and Dubbo’s sister city, Minokamo can take the credit for all the hard work involved in keeping everything looking so great. (They are always looking for more people if you are interested.) The garden not only had a Japanese theme to it but also showcases the native plant of the Dubbo region. Love it.
This time we didn’t have any food for the fish or the ducks but they stilled came to say hi.
The gardens are a credit to all the volunteers. We loved it.