Distance traveled = 1392km
Our final week on the road begun as chilly as last week ended. We enjoyed a lazy morning and hearty breakfast before a short walk to the “Pioneer Settlement”. It’s here the 1890’s has been recreated showcasing an Australian village on the Murray river. Having already enjoyed the settlement on our previous trip we were keen to show Danni and Garth the highlights of this place, however much to our disappointment many of the attractions weren’t operating due to the time of year, nevertheless that didn’t stop us as we spent most of the day at the settlement. The blacksmith held us in awe as he manipulated steel using old school techniques, while a ride in the old Dodge was a must. By late afternoon we were back at the van park where the kids quickly resumed their love of the jumping pillow while we relaxed with a drink in hand and a very friendly magpie. Our Saturday night was spent having some quality time with the kids in the games room.
We woke on Sunday morning with the mercury barely in the positive, the wind chill made it feel even worse. Winter in Victoria in a swag was becoming very tough, with the temps expected to plummet even further over the coming days we decided to have our next few nights indoors…. Back on the road the wind showed no sign of letting up as we crossed back into NSW. This final border crossing making it feel like our holiday really was nearing an end. We zigged and zagged our way across the Hay plains before arriving at Deniliquin. This was one of those little must-see towns as I’d heard so much about the “Deni Ute Muster” that I wanted to put a place to the name and with the muster only a few weeks away the venue and town were getting spruced up. Pushing further across the farming plains we rolled into Jerilderie for a late lunch and a history lesson on Ned Kelly….. By late afternoon we’d made it to Wagga where the comfort and warmth of a cabin would be our home for the next 2 nights. We completed our day with our feet up watching Sunday footy on the tv.
Monday morning reminded us why we’d chosen to stay in a cabin, the temp at 7am was -2deg (felt like -4.6). The car and outdoor surrounding furniture was covered in a heavy frost, but thankfully we were all cosy inside our cabin. After a lazy morning undertaking some domestic chores, we headed out for a bit of sightseeing, however since we’d been to Wagga on numerous occasions there wasn’t too much new for us to see. Instead some of the family chose to do some retail therapy while the other half did some geocaching therapy. With the family content with this outcome we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon around Wagga. By early evening the temperatures were once again dropping to single digits and by lights out it was already subzero.
Tuesday dawned once again in the negative figures but there was an air of excitement especially with the kids as today we were heading to snow country. Our kids had never seen snow so the prospect of seeing and touching it had them buzzing…. Leaving Wagga, it didn’t take long before the mountainous country loomed in the distance. We stopped briefly in the township of Adalong and Tumut before having lunch at Blowering Dam. Shortly after leaving the dam catchment and the first snow sighting was made, the recent cold snap had provided a dusting of snow further widespread than normal. This was all it took to excite the kids even further and soon afterwards we’d pulled up so the kids could have a play in the icy snow beside the road……. With time on our side we made the short detour into Mount Selwyn where the midweek crowds and conditions were favourable allowing us to spend an hour in the snow. None of us were appropriately dressed for the conditions but that didn’t stop us having a great time for the kids first snow experience. Back in the car we were soon arriving at our Jindabyne accommodation which would be our base for another few nights. A relaxing but early night followed as the prospect of a big day on the snow had us all keen.
Wednesday couldn’t come quick enough, when the curtains were pulled back to reveal perfect clear skies our excitement levels grew even higher. Just after 8am we were at Bullocks Flat Skitube getting fitted out with our snow gear for the day ahead. The steep skitube ride soon had us at Perisher Valley where the expression and excitement on the kid’s faces was priceless. With us all rugged up looking like the “Michelin Man” we headed outside for a day in the snow. After watching and learning the hype of the season skiers we joined the que for our ride to the top of the mountain. Our other traveling family who were regular skiers had joined us as we disembarked at Perisher mid station. It was here the fun began as we all enjoyed some fun in the soft snow, the kids enjoyed snow fights, made snow angels and so much more. The nearby café provided the perfect backdrop for us to recharge with a hot coffee before we jumped back on the chairlift for the ride to the top station. At 2000m above sea level and with the winds starting to howl we were thankful of our warm ski clothes. The views were postcard perfect with snow as far as you could see and it wasn’t long before we’d built our very own snow-man, complete with features and clothing…. With Garth and Danni heading back to Smiggins to ski we decided to descend the mountain as the kids were keen to try tobogganing and tubing. After obtaining our sleds we were soon ready for our first downhill run of human tenpin bowling, I say that because the rules were pretty simple – toboggan down, get off to the side of the slope and walk back up hill. But no, so many foolish people wanted to walk back up the main slope where they were perfect tenpins for the out of control toboggan riders….. It proved to be so much fun. We spent a few hours here alternating between tubing and tobogganing but eventually our weary bodies told us it was time to call it a day…. Heading back to Jindabyne we all rejoiced in what had been a fantastic family day on the snow. By nightfall we’d met up again with our travelling buddies where we all enjoyed a nice meal in the nearby restaurant marking the end of our 8-week adventure together.
Thursday dawned with an air of sadness, our 8-week “purposeful meander across oz” was coming to an end but not before one more thrill. As we packed the car, it started snowing! After playing in the snow all day the kids could now see it falling, all be it only for a brief time – they were so excited…… The 5-hour drive home required one minor detour into Canberra where we officially completed our goal of visiting every mainland state and territory in 8 weeks.
For now, our adventure across Oz had come to an end!