Big Brown Land

A long way from home

One of the joys of travel is it gives you a different perspective. It doesn’t take long to become blind to what is in front of you, a bit of distance and a fresh outlook reminds you of all the things you noticed when you first arrived in a city or country.

There is a lot to love about living in Sydney and I have always appreciated the harbour, the beaches, the instantly recognisable landmarks and the wonderful climate. The one thing that I have become a little oblivious to is the size of the place. Not so much the size of Sydney, the size of Australia. Once you hit the open road then you realise how big this country really is.

Robyn’s mum and dad live on a farm in a place called Ungarie in NSW. This is 550km (340 miles) from Sydney and it’s a 5 ½ hour drive. We head back every school holiday to have a week of rest and relaxation and have just spent another wonderful week in country NSW.

When we first arrived in Sydney, 14 years ago, we drove to the farm and back over a weekend, a 1,100km round trip. This was the same distance as a “once in a lifetime” big drive we made from Dublin to Bracknell and back. When you live in such a large place you get used to travelling long distances.

The farm has always been a great place for a holiday. It’s a working farm with dogs, cats, chickens, sheep, tractors, motorbikes and paddocks (not fields, as I am constantly reminded) with crops in them. The girls love the freedom of being able to do what they want and roam free.

I enjoy this as much as they do, what I have also started to appreciate is how flat it is. Why have I just started to appreciate this feature? Well, it makes it a lot easier to ride my bike. Flat, straight roads and a distinct lack of traffic make it easy to ride further and faster. I rode over 100km’s last Sunday and saw only 17 cars!

Ungarie is a little off the beaten track but to only have seen 17 cars in 3 ½ hours was pretty impressive.

I don’t think they get many MAMILS out here. It would be hard to explain the joys of Lycra to the local gents who are more interested in the practical things of life such as the weather, sheep prices and the performance of the latest John Deer tractor. Discussing the benefits of spending thousands of dollars on a carbon fibre bike or the merits of different types of inserts in your cycling shorts would be an interesting conversation for the “local” on a Friday night.

So with this in mind I shall continue to indulge my new perspective on life and enjoy the solitude and good fortune of having large parts of the country and the open road to myself.

Ungarie....a no horse town

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