Friday, 14 September 2012

Dubbo Road Trip

For the last 6 days we have been camping with 150 of our friends from the Little Explorers home education group. We travelled about 5 hours inland by car to the town of Dubbo. After we set up camp at Dubbo City Holiday Park we were ready to explore the area with our fantastic itinerary. Of course there was time to visit the jumping pillow first!

Days 1 and 2 - Dubbo Zoo

Our first experience of the week was 2 days at Dubbo Zoo. On our first day we cycled the 3km to the zoo followed by the 6km around it to see the animals. Cycling was the highlight for R more than the animals. We took a Wild Africa bus tour which allowed us to actually go into the cages. On day two we were up hideously early for the 6:30am morning walk. This allowed us to see the animals in their night accommodation behind the scenes before they were let out on exhibition. We got to get pretty close to the animals and enjoyed interesting facts from out volunteer guide. Later that day the children got even closer to the giraffes in order to feed them some carrots in the Giraffes in Focus session.


Kids in the elephant transport box

When we arrived back at camp there was time to apply make up and nail varnish (R too) before bedding down for the night.

Day 3 - Dundullimal Homestead, Botanic Gardens, Traintasia

On day three our first trip was to the Dundullimal Homestead. We had a fantastic guided tour around this homestead which was built by the first white settlers in the area in the 1840s. We got to go into the homestead itself along with the stables and the grounds around it. Afterwards we managed to force down a cream tea in the cafe.

Dundullimal Homestead

Inside the drawing room

Babies' cradle

The stable block

Rusting machinery in the grounds

In the afternoon we walked around the Shoyoen Japanese Botanic Garden. The garden was small but had some beautiful blossoms on display. Some people thought the talking/musical public toilet was the highlight but we have these at our local railway station so we'd seen it all before.

On the way back to camp we popped into Traintasia to see the model railway layout.

Day 4 - Dubbo Gaol, Flying Doctors, Cultural Centre, Observatory

Day four began with a visit to Dubbo Gaol. We followed the self guided trail around the gaol which included visits to the cells and gallows, an interactive video presentation and life like models. The dark cells, used for solitary confinement, were particularly exciting.

Around the gaol were interesting information plaques about the inmates.

The gallows

After our visit to the gaol we went along the the Royal Flying Doctor Service visitor information centre. Here we saw a real time map showing the locations of flying doctor planes in NSW. At the time of visiting one was on the ground at the base in Dubbo whilst the other was in the air on an emergency call. We saw a film explaining all about the flying doctor service which, in addition to emergency medical assistance, provides regular health and dentistry clinics to remote locations in Australia. We also saw some artefacts in the history room including Medical Chests which are supplied to remote communities to alow people to administer first aid whilst waiting for the RFDS.

Above -  modern and 1950s medical chests

After lunch we headed to the Western Plains Cultural Centre. Here we had a look at some of the artefacts in the museum and some art works in the gallery. We saw lots of old farming machines along with a display showing collections of objects pertaining to various careers, some of which we had never heard of before. There was also an old school room with wooden desks which Dad and I remember from school. These were brought up to date with modern computers.

Wattle and daub walls from the first homesteads

In the evening we visited the Dubbo Observatory. There are no pictures as it was pitch black. We went outside to use the telescopes and saw Saturn, Mars, a galaxy cluster of stars, our nearest star, binary stars and the milky way. There was a new moon so it was even darker. Afterwards we saw some dated but interesting footage about the distances in space and the make up of the sun. We also saw a very amusing film about astronauts performing zero gravity experiments in space. Then it was back to camp for an early night before the drive home.

We had a great time and were especially lucky to get to do some things as a group that we wouldn't have been able to do as individuals. So thanks again to V from the Little Explorers for organising this fab trip for us.

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