“It pays to know the locals” rang true for us in Tamworth as we are lucky enough to have our nephew Jon and his family living there so we had special guides to help us explore this beautiful country region. Check out the 4WD Barraba Track up to Dawson Springs in the Mt Kaputar national park…
Wow, what a great trip and place to camp – a special blog will follow for our 4WD mates!
Ian was stunned to see a Huey H model helicopter parked in a local farmer’s shed – to use his words “The last time I saw these choppers at work they were part of a slick of 12 on a LZ (landing zone) in South Vietnam”. This one is now in use as a commercial fire fighter.
We crossed the Great Dividing Range from Tamworth to Murrurundi for the final day of the ‘King of the Ranges‘ stockmen’s challenge and bush festival. A great showcase of the everyday tasks and skills required by stock men and women, and loved the demonstrations of the wild horse catch where the women outshone the men in speed and control on this occasion! Unfortunately it was a very wet and cold day, and even the horses were unhappy – ‘”You want me to kneel down in the mud – why?!”
Learning about the local agriculture and stock industries from Jon gave us a much better understanding of crops, soil types and local growing conditions. Constant research is underway to improve the quality and output of crops and to control the ever-present weeds. The intensive cropping includes cotton, sorghum, beef, chickpeas and wheat, along with beef, lamb, pork and chicken farming. The Narrabri info centre had great fact displays about each industry, but no copies were available…. presumably the info gets outdated too quickly! One fact we do remember is that that KFC now uses only Australian canola oil instead of imported palm oil.
The Long Paddock has been grazed bare this year due to drought conditions. These stock routes for mobs of cattle or sheep are easy to spot as the verges on either side of the road are very wide so that the livestock can graze as they travel. Water has to be available along the way and signs are put up so that motorists know stock is ahead as it is compulsory to give way. Certainly not an easy life.
All of this made us wonder why more farming tours are not available in local regions for everyone to understand a bit more about the rural sector and the food we eat? Overseas visitors might be interested too, and it might help farming families’ budgets as well? Do you know places or other countries where this happens well?
All in all, we loved the city of Tamworth. It is most famous as the country music capital of Australia, but as well we found it a thriving fun place to be and learnt lots too.