Sunday, September 06, 2020

NSW Road-trip, Day 1: On the Road to Gundagai, Junee and Temora


Gustav and Logan saw us off at 7.30 this morning as I aimed to reach Junee by lunchtime. The beginning of the journey had a long underground stretch as we entered the new M8 road tunnel starting near Sydney Park, emerging eight minutes later on the M5 motorway. Aside from a couple of roadside stops to empty Raff, it’s fairly dull highway driving until Gundagai. This retraces some of the journey I made five months ago to collect Raff just as the state borders were starting to close down.


At Gundagai, I pulled in for an obligatory doggy photo of Raff with the famous statue of the Dog on the Tucker Box. It’s not especially big as Australian roadside monuments go (you’ll see what I mean in later posts, but don’t forget The Big Banana), about comparable in size to Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid.

It’s encrusted with three generations of plaques noting the various political luminaries who have paused in its presence. The one right at the front notes Air Marshall Sir James Rowland, Governor of NSW at the time (1987). Recent family tree researches show that his wife, Lady Faye Rowland (nee Doughton) was a cousin of my great-grandmother, the swimmer Beatrice Kerr.


The road from Gundagai winding backwards to Junee is exceedingly pretty, fields of canola like a bucket of yellow paint thrown over the landscape.


2020-09-06 Junee RaffThe Licorice & Chocolate Factory occupies a restored flour mill in the small Riverina town of Junee. Despite the proximity of Junee to Temora where I lived for nine years, I have a feeling that today is the first time I’ve actually set foot here rather than being whisked through on the way to another small Riverina town. The Factory was very busy for this Sunday lunch, with probably a few hundred people eating, shopping and viewing the attached display of vintage vehicles. I collected a bag of goodies – licorice boxes and chocolate pizza - from their store, only needing to keep it all cool and collected for the thousands of km of road ahead of us.



At 3 o’clock we finally reached Temora, where I attended school from age 10 (Year 4) until I finished high school and went off to live in the big city. It had only just dawned on me that today was Father’s Day, so I firstly drove out to the airport to visit the park named for my late father Graham. He passed away suddenly in 1999, a few months after I’d moved to Seattle, and not many months before his 60th birthday when he was to visit me in the US of A.


The last time I’d visited was for the park’s opening in September 2001 – a timing that left me temporarily stranded in Australia as the imminent events of 9/11 closed down international air transport for a week or more. The location of the park near the airport reflected just one of Dad’s many contributions to the local community, setting off the train of events that led to the opening of the Temora Aviation Museum shortly after his death. The ubiquity of Tiger Moth plan emblems through the town twenty years later shows how much this benefitted the community – even the hotel that Raff and I were booked in to had the emblem.


Prior to leaving on this road-trip I located all the off-leash areas in the towns where we would be staying so that I could take Raff out for “zoomies” in between his car confinements. This large stretch of grassed area proved ideal for him to burn off energy and sniff around. A couple of friendly horses in a paddock across the road gave me an opportunity to introduce Raff – all parties were very well behaved, rubbing noses across the fence.


Saturday, August 29, 2020


It's been six years since my last roadtrip, and we're using this troublingly quiet time to our advantage with a circuit of western NSW through some places I lived as a kid (Bourke, Temora) and some new places like Broken Hill & Lightning Ridge. The last few years have been rather awkward in terms of away time coinciding with when Gustav can get time, but we hope to grab a week later in the year. So this trip will just be with Raff, while Gustav consoles Logan over a pizza or dozen.

My initial plan (see Instagram) was to do the route counter-clockwise, with a concluding leg through the Snowy Mountains. Looking at distances, availability of pet-friendly accommodation etc turned into this clockwise circuit of nearly 3000km. That's about the same as driving from Seville, Spain to Malmö, Sweden, or Seattle to Chicago.

The numbers in circles represent the number of nights that Raff and I will be spending in each location. The trickiest section was the approach to Broken Hill as there are very few options for pets  in the SW quadrant of NSW outside of Mildura.

We're setting off in just over a week. It's to be seen whether I'll update the blog as I go. Most likely I'll Instagram en-route and do a retrospective series of blog posts. 

Saturday, April 04, 2020


It's three weeks since Rollo's fire went out and I still grieve his loss against the ambient shock of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Against all odds, I've found another pup to join our family, and he's Rollo's nephew, a sable-coloured mally from the Mornington Peninsula in Melbourne, Victoria.

I went through my old list of names, and finding nothing that suited, I foraged online and came back with Raff, meaning variously red wolf, wolf counsel, 

The surname database says:
Recorded in many forms including Ralph, Ralphs, Ralfe, Rafe, Raff, Ralls, Rave, Rawle, and Rawles (English), Raoul, Raoult, Rault, and Raoux (French), Radou and Razoux (Provencal), Radolf, Radloff, Rahl and Rahlof (German), and many others, this is a surname of ancient Norse origins. It derives from the personal name "Radulf," composed of the elements "rad", meaning counsel or advice, and "wolf", a wolf, an animal much admired at the time for its ferocity and cunning. The personal name was introduced thoughout Northern Europe and the British Isles by the famous "Viking" invaders of the 7th century.
Read more:
Other sources link the name to: floodtide, prosperity, abundance. The first of these is obviously a nod to the quantity of urine unleashed by a malamute puppy during its house-training period.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Rollo in Valhalla

After 24 hours emergency care from a spontaneous pneumothorax, Rollo passed away at Sydney University Veterinary Hospital just shy of 3years and 3months.

It's just over two years since I felt Munson's slowing heart, and I can't express the grief of losing another companion so quickly, even before I'd had a chance to show him the world.

Tomorrow will be the first time in over 21 years that I will wake up without a malamute wrapping my heart with love.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Rollo is now nearly two and a half, a strapping boy of 49kg - less than Munson or Bondi, but I suspect stronger than either.

For those of you who followed us on our Facebook page, I'm sorry for the sudden disappearance, but I just got fed up with the whole site. We do post on Instagram still.

Monday, January 22, 2018



I'm Rollo, named after the Viking who became the first Duke of Normandy a looong time ago. Even before there was a Munson or a Bondi.

Some of you may know me from my dad's instagram (hashtag Rollo or whatever that means) but if you are meeting me for the first time: HELLO!

I am 12 months old, and while I am not as big as my brother Munson was, I am more than twenty times bigger than my older cat brother Logan. I also like swimming but what is it about these waves that keep hitting me again and again? I am looking at them now. I am also looking at my dad who has seaweed on his head on purpose. I sometimes think I understand him less than these waves.

My dad is a bit sad now that Munson has gone away, but I am keeping him distracted by digging holes and eating shoes. If you come visit, I will eat your shoes. Please visit, or just *send shoes*.

bye for now