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May 23 2013

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Birthplace of a nation

Maple treeTravelling through the New England Tablelands we’re just that little bit too late for all the brilliant colours of autumn. Most trees have lost their leaves already, except for the magnificent maples that are still bright red through to golden yellow.

While I’m not a cold weather person, I do love the colours of autumn, so while we’re driving along I keep saying “Look at that tree … and that one …” because, yes, they are few and far between enough for me to point them out individually.

We’ve just spent 2 nights with a friend in Inverell, which is a very pretty town in northern NSW. I got to sit on the back verandah with morning coffee while I watched watch the kangaroos playing behind her house, and the galahs, parrots and rosellas flying overhead and landing in the trees in the back yard. No matter how many times I see it, I never tire of watching Australian birds. I even love the screeching of the cockies!

Autumn coloursWe had coffee at the café at the tourism centre beside the river – and beside lots of beautiful autumn trees, and I managed to buy replacements for the stovetop coffee percolator and milk frother that I left at home.

We also had a campfire in her backyard. We weren’t camping, but a campfire is a campfire, and that was the first one of our trip.

But the trip goes on. We left Inverell this morning and drove to Tenterfield – the birthplace of the Australian nation. Well, depending on which story you believe, that is.

Tenterfield is the place where Henry Parkes made one of his rousing speeches about coming together as a federation. This one though was the first time he really strongly stated that “it’s time”, thus the big “birthplace of a nation” claim. Though I think there might be some strong competition for that!

Tenterfield SaddlerAs well as that – and perhaps more famously – Tenterfield is the place of the Tenterfield Traveller. Yes, Peter Allen’s grandfather was born and lived in Tenterfield and spent 60 years as the local saddler. His saddlery is now heritage listed and operates as a museum. Except for today when it was closed, apparently for the first time in living memory. We know this because a few locals who walked past while we were there exclaimed “But that’s never closed!”

But despite the cold and the rain, and the saddlery being closed, we spent a very pleasant few hours wandering through the Henry Parkes museum (worth the trip here just for that), and around the town.  Unfortunately the winery we stopped at just outside town was also closed, so we didn’t get to taste any New England wines. Probably just as well, after the weekend at the Hunter I don’t think I could have fitted any more wine in the car.

It's cold!!The drive from Tenterfield to Goondiwindi, along the Bruxner Highway is very pretty. Surrounded by mountains you travel through eucalyptus forests, until the mountains disappear and the countryside opens up. Over running creeks, past open countryside and paddocks of almost fluorescent green, the countryside provides an everchanging vista.

Cows graze in the paddocks by the road, and kangaroos abound. All was well until two roos jumped onto the road in front of the car. I slammed on the brakes and tried my best not to hit them. Fortunately I neither hit the kangaroos nor ran the car off the road, and we continued on our way to Goondiwindi, just over the border and into Queensland, where after the roo incident I was in need of a drink!

Aah, Queensland. Beautiful one day, perfect the next! Except for today when it is freezing cold and wet! But I’m sure that will change. Hopefully tomorrow we will wake up to glorious sunshine and explore the town of Gunsynd.

Tenterfield

Permanent link to this article: http://kathswinbourne.com.au/birthplace-of-a-nation/