The thrumming flames wrest heat from damp wood and start to get serious about radiating. Bedding lies scattered around the floor in front of it, owners all in the kitchen area taking note of the brief on arrival which went something like “If Bruce is happy, you are all happy”. And the quickest way to ensure Bruce is happy is to pull your finger out, which in this case is best understood to be “don’t stand around watching us unpack”. So there is a happy chatter coming from the kitchen as food is sorted and placed in appropriate storage for the week. Rain has set in and tats away on the tin roof, rain which had made the inbound track slick and slightly interesting to slide around on as we came in from the highway. The kitchen has been sorted and everyone has drifted in and are standing around talking nonsense. The girls are all in pajamas already, much to the perplexed boys who probably wonder what PJs actually are.
It’s been a long day of driving. But a good one. We departed Bathurst at 6 o’clock in the morning and drove through patchy fog and misty rain, through paddocks frosted white with ice. We broke our fast at Dubbo, refueled, and updated Facebook for family. The L-Platers took over at Nyngen. They did a great job, pushing us through Cobar to Meadow Glen where the plates were swapped out for speed and we picked up the pace through Wilcannia to Broken Hill which we made by 5pm.
We agreed that if we got away at 0600 we would land in the shearer’s quarters around 8 or 8.30 pm. So we all set alarms for 5.30 – that would be plenty of time to stagger to our cars and get going. We would breakfast in Dubbo. So what the heck was Rod doing leaping out of bed at 0500 and whistling us all awake? No idea but we stumbled around giving him an earful and we eventually got away at 6am. We took breakfast at Dubbo as planned then pushed on to Nygnen, took the obligatory photos with the “Bogan Shire” sign, swapped drivers back to the L plate team and rolled on to Meadow Glen, a picnic spot 45 minutes on the other side of Cobar. Its singular standout feature is the gravel carpark which can make for an entertaining and dusty departure if you apply a little weight to the pedal at the same time as you pull the steering wheel hard down. (But I didn’t see anyone do that!)
We pulled into the shearers quarters at 8.30. A great run. And the L platers have another 7 hours in their log books.