Merv showed up right on time. He came through the door with a warm hug and gentle concern for us. He had seen the Facebook post from the day before and shared our relief that the dogs had been taken care of. He asked only if everything was alright now- and I appreciated that he didn’t dig for anything more. My brain was exhausted from the drama.
We had been planning a trip out West- to the Jondaryan Woolshed– and everyone was excited to get on the road. X wanted to see “the bush” that he had heard so much about, and O was eager to see the sheep and other animals at the ranch.
So we set out several hours west to “the other side of the Black Stump,” as they say here.
To get to Jondaryan (pronounced like the name John Darian not Jondha-rain, as I thought), you first have to cross through Toowoomba, which is on the crest of The Great Dividing Range. We chugged up the mountain, astounded by the surrounding beauty. he terrain was so different, certainly, than that which we see in the city, but also from what we saw on the way down the Gold Coast. The temperature dropped dramatically, and the sky was a much different shade of blue-grey than we had seen. We stopped at the top to take a few photos and enjoy the thin air.
From Brisbane, it’s about a two hour drive to Jondaryan. If you don’t stop to explore fruit markets and get smoothies, cruise through historic downtown areas that survived massive flooding, and take photos of mountaintops- which, of course, we did.
The woodshed is one of the oldest and largest sheep shearing operations in Australia, if not the world (don’t quote me on that). It was also the ground for many labor conflicts that paved the way for the sheep-shearing unions that contributed to the formation of the Labor party in this country.
But enough history, let’s talk ANIMALS!!!
Our official greeting to Jondaryan came in the form of three Clydesdales. They sauntered up to the fence for snuggles, which thrilled the boys. They had been close to horses before, but none as huge or friendly as these.
After that we explore the grounds a bit. It appeared that they had had quite a large event the day before to celebrate Easter, and were in the process of cleaning up. The sheep had been moved out to a barn far across the rise to give them a break from people. There were movers rolling tables out of the barn, and pulling down tents from the fields around it. Tents and camper vans dotted the landscape behind. It must have been quite the to-do.
O spotted a sign that read “Animal Nursery” so, naturally, that’s where we had to go next. We were delighted to find that we could go right into the pens and cuddle with the chicks, calfs, and piglets. Geese, turkeys were also nearby, but not as amenable to snuggles.
Afterward, we went to B’s happy-place. The equipment barn!
Through the old homesteads and school.
Crocheted wool food even!
After seeing those delicious-looking wool sandwiches, we had to get some nosh of our own. We ate, and then took one more swing by the nursery. And captured this adorable pig being… maybe not as cute as we thought.
On that note, we decided to take our leave. But the road trip adventure was not quite over. Merv took us on a backroads return to the city, allowing us even more spectacular views. I cannot begin to describe, and these pictures do absolutely no justice to, the beauty of this cloudscape. It was stunning and surreal.
From the fields and valleys that had been washed completely away by flooding a few years back, we ascended back into the mountainous region. Eucalyptus forests and lakes, signs warning us to take heed of wandering koalas, and more clouds- Oh! The clouds!!
We visited the Wivenhoe Dam, which feeds the Brisbane River. Though there are many thoughts to think here on the impacts of dams on nature (including causing the devastating flooding here in 2011), I chose to focus on the beauty of this place. And it IS beautiful.
This adventure took us from city to mountain to bush, fields and farms to lakes and forests and back home again. We saw more of the rich range of landscapes and experiences Australia has to offer.
Merv deposited us back on our doorstep tired and happy- reconnected to this place and re-content with the (sometimes very hard) choices we made to get us here.
Thanks, Merv! I hope you read this and know just how very much you have meant to us on our journey here. I cannot imagine it any differently.