Friday, October 24, 2014

ROADTRIP: Armidale to Eureka

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Munson’s properly getting into the thrill of the road again. This is his first big roadtrip since we left the French farm heading for Paris and the UK eighteen months ago.

We chugged north for a few hours through Guyra and Glen Innes. There seems to be some competition for Scottish-ness in this part of the state: Glen Innes proclaims itself at the heart of Celtic Country, and Maclean is Australia’s “Scottish Town”, both sporting street signs in Gaelic.
Armidale - Tenterfield - Casino - Lismore - Eureka
Tenterfield Saddler

At Tenterfield, we parked outside the shop of the Tenterfield Saddler, famous from locally-born Peter Allen’s song of the same name, written in tribute to his grandfather who plied his trade there for over half a century. The saddlery still operates, its wares intermingled with memorabilia of Peter Allen and his first wife Liza Minnelli. I met the former at a Bondi BBQ on Australia Day, exactly a year before his final performance in 1992, and nearly met the latter a few years’ earlier when working as an usher at Sydney’s State Theatre. At a weekend matinee performance of Anything Goes, I found myself  in the foyer wedged between Liza and Sammy Davis Jr, both touring with Frank Sinatra.
Peter Allen Gustav & Munson @ Tenterfield Saddler
BingeebeebraTenterfield seemed to be cash-only and short on ATMs so after I bought a belt from the saddlery, we just scraped together enough for lunch away from the midday heat  at a pavement cafe.  

The next stretch of road was the most tortuous of the week, a couple of hours of up hill and round dale between Tenterfield and Casino. The time was  occasionally enlivened by idiosyncratic Australian locality names like Mummulgum and Bingeebeebra;  always good for throwing over to Gustav for ‘Strine elocution purposes. There’s also a Dalek roadside letterbox on the highway out of Tenterfield, which we didn’t stop for.
DSCF0381 (2)  Munson @ Casino
Casino earned a quick leg-stretching loop around the main street before pressing on to Lismore and the final journey to Eureka in the Byron Bay hinterland.

We’d now have the luxury of three nights at the house of my friends Nick and Craig, who had exited Sydney life a few years earlier.
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Our longest driving days behind us, it was very easy to fall into the relaxing embrace of the idyllic Eureka scene, Munson working the room at the neighbours’ Friday apéro.
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