A frustrating day on Thursday. We learnt what it means to ‘hurry up and wait!’ Marc had expected to have leave by 2pm at the latest. So we had a leisurely morning waiting for him …. and waiting…. and waiting. The Defense Force’s mysterious ways meant he was not able to leave base until 4.30, having done very little all day! So we waited – and waited – and waited some more.
Here’s some photos of planes and a tank. I threw these in ‘cos Wagga Wagga is the base for training for the Air Force and Army. There’s this sort of stuff around – but not as much as you would expect.
When Marc was finally let loose we were all starving. The Thirsty Crow, a local microbrewery, provided a tasty shared meal again for the four of us. As we were leaving the motel, we noticed that there had been a small country market right next door to us. Having nourished our starving bodies, we ambled over to have a look. Only to discover we could have bought really tasty food from there. I did buy some spelt liquorice made locally. I have never seen it anywhere before. This and some organic dried blueberries will see us right for nibbles when we’re back on the road again.
To top the ‘hurry up and wait’ day off our key card refused to let us back into our room! Neither card worked. Even the manager had difficulties. Eventually her master card restored order.
Having focused so much on graduation ceremony stuff, I realise I have neglected to introduce you to the town in which we have been staying.
This picture below is of Lake Albert on the outskirts of Wagga Wagga. There must be something special in the air there as the region has bred many a famous Australian sports person, including former Australian cricket captain Mark Taylor, rugby league great Peter Sterling and AFL legend Paul Kelly. It created so much interest that the Australian Institute of Sport researched it in 2005. Evidence showed that it was more than just a fluke. The phenomena has been labeled the ‘Wagga Effect”. Simply put, the hypothesis is that smaller towns have more space for kids to play, competition is limited, so they participate with grown ups. The researcher put it down to motivation to follow in heroes’ footsteps.
I took the middle photo outside our motel room. You can see the tops of the blue market tents. The above photo is of our recalcitrant room door. I snapped that one while I was waiting to get back in.
Wagga-Wagga is a word derived from the Wiradjuri aboriginal language, meaning ‘the place of many crows.’ Wiradjuri were the original owners of this land. Settled by whites in the early 1830’s, Wagga-Wagga has grown into a thriving major support city for over 200,000 people in the region. NSW’s largest inland city, it has a population of over 55,000. As the ninth fastest growing inland city in Australia, Wagga is important as an agricultural, military and transport hub.
Marc had to return back to base for the night. Check out was at 10am this morning. He called us at 8.15 to say he could leave. And didn’t have to return! That meant we could take him to the airport for his 4pm flight. Having successfully negotiated with the kind motel manager for a last minute late checkout for one room, TRH and I left for some sightseeing.
We found Church Street a block away from where we were staying. It was girded along all sides by stately looking churches of all denominations. Unfortunately the only cathedral in town was wrapped in meshing and scaffolding for cleaning so I couldn’t get a photo. Next we went to view the Wagga Wagga National Art Glass Collection. I was given permission to take photographs as long as they were not of individual pieces. Boy I wish I could have done that. There were some exquisitely stunning items there. The exhibition showing at present is Gulbalanha: know and understand each other. The photo on the bottom left is taken inside the gallery. Outside the gallery was this stunning sculpture made of river red gum titled Life balance.
We took Shalini to the airport at 1230 to catch her flight back to Adelaide via Sydney. That’s Marc top right talking to her on the mobile while she was in Sydney waiting for her connecting flight. After a leisurely lunch with Marc we dropped him off at the airport in time to catch his flight to Melbourne via Sydney. Wagga Wagga has no direct flights. He will not arrive at the Navy base, where his next phase of training starts, until 11pm tonight. There are 8 Airmen travelling to the Cerebus base by stretch limo from the Melbourne airport. Shared expense means it will only cost them $50 each for a two hour drive.
TRH (The Retired Husband) saying a final farewell on this trip – bottom left. Top photo is of a semitrailer that was driving next to us as we departed Wagga Wagga. Bottom right shows the beginnings of the Hume Highway that led us on to our next overnight stop at Wodonga, just over the border into Victoria again. The countryside was a picture post card lush green with herds of dairy cows and sheep grazing. Today we drove a sedate 140 kilometres and finished the day off with dinner at a local Irish pub, O’Malley’s.
© Raili Tanska