I’ve been back on the Gold Coast for over a week now, so I have decided to pull my finger out and write and publish this post. Returning to the same practice was like catching up with friends and family that you haven’t seen for ages. I had a great time down in Tamworth this year, and although I can’t share stores from my practice, I can share stores and pictures from my time in the town.
Last year I flew to Tamworth via Sydney as Jas and I planned to holiday in Melbourne after our placement and driving down made no sense. This year, however, we had no such holiday planned so I decided to check out some other towns and drive down to Tamworth. After checking Google maps, I decided to follow the coast down to Grafton before cutting inland and passing through Armidale to Tamworth. Some of the roads were a little sketchy over the range, but overall, I had a lot of fun driving down. The trip took about 9 hours including a stop for lunch.
The road between Grafton and Armidale was really cool. It changed from rolling green hills to tall dense forest and wound over the range like a snake. I had a lot of fun playing Calvin Harris’ new album loud as I cruised along.
Last year I stayed in the nurses quarters based at Tamworth Hospital, however, when I tried to organise to stay there again, I was disappointed to find it was unavailable. At the time, I was unaware that there was construction taking place directly outside the quarters, so in hindsight, I was very glad to be living elsewhere. My home for two weeks was this little self-contained cabin at the caravan park. It had two rooms, a shower and toilet, a full sized fridge and a microwave and stove top. It wasn’t 5-star, but it was suitable.
Tamworth was hot again this year – so hot actually that I got to experience some pretty crazy summer storms most afternoons. There were also quite a few fires in the neighbouring towns. None were threatening Tamworth (as far as I’m aware), but the did throw some particulate up into the sky and create sunsets like this one.
While I was in Tamworth, I was lucky enough to score a free ticket to a new festival that was starting up. The Summer Starter Festival brought Blue Juice, Josh Pyke, Boy and Bear, Stonefield and a few other bands to Tamworth. I had no idea what the festival would be like, but I didn’t have a lot planned instead, so I decided to go along. The weather was threatening to ruin the fun, but the advantage of being able to park out the front and come-and-go as pleased meant that I had nothing to lose, but heaps to gain. I met up with a friend from the practice and was quickly introduced to her friends as they arrived. I waited about 2 minutes in lines total – that includes entry and buying drinks. Beers were purchased with cash, not drink tickets. The food was provided by the local rotary, I think; but nothing was vego. There was a huge green ground to party on, but most people loitered under the grandstand/corporate box. When I arrived, there were more bins on the festival ground than party-goers. Nevertheless, I rocked out to some cool bands in an intimate performance before heading home to bed. Not bad for a (mostly) free day!
You can see the beer tent on the right, and the food tent in the distance – the lines looked similar to this throughout the day. Eventually, more people turned up to party, but we all still had an acre or so each to dance on.
The guys int he budgie-smugglers were some of the local organisers, and they actually got kicked out of their own festival for stripping down to their speedos during Josh Pyke’s set while the rain poured down. Needless to say, the cops got booed and Josh stopped his set as they were escorted out of the festival.
It rained about 4 or 5 times during the afternoon. Occasionally, it looked like we were all doomed, but then it would be bright and sunny again. The best part about the rain was watching it pool on the roof of the stage before sliding off and drenching unsuspecting partiers below. After hiding from the rain with my camera the first time, I decided to take it out to the car so I could party without the worry.
I declined the offers to continue partying after the festival as I had a few things planned for the next day. One of those things would not have gone down well with a hangover: a 10k+ bushwalk. I headed up to the scenic lookout to take some photos and I decided to do a long walk in the bush to see if I could spot any native wildlife. Unfortunately, I only saw a few lizards on the walk. In case I didn’t have much luck, the long walk I had planned headed towards Marsupial Park where I would be guaranteed to see some native animals.
The Sun was high by the time I got back to the car, so I decided to find the time to head back to the lookout to capture a sunset. I have already uploaded the panos that I shot on my final afternoon in Tamworth, but here are some more shots from the same session.
As part of my placement this year, I spent a day in Nundle, a small town about an hour south-east of Tamworth. I went there last year too, but didn’t take a camera with me. The town is too cute not to grab a few photos of. It consists of a general store, a post office, an antique store, a community health center/kindergarten and a pub.
Tamworth hadn’t changed much from last year; it still looked the same and I remembered how to get around quite easily. I swam at the local non-heated pool regularly, but I was disappointed to discover that QLD student/concession cards aren’t valid in Tamworth. I miss having such easy parking in front of most destinations. I enjoyed heading to work during peak-hour traffic – even after stopping for coffee on the way, I would make it to work in under 10 minutes. Peak-hour generally meant that I had to slow down for the round-a-bout or stop at the single set of traffic lights on the way. Good times.
I was excited to see that some of my favourite cafes were still open, and even more excited to visit some new cafes! If you want my hot tips – the best cafe in Tamworth is Adimis. The guy who owns the place seems like a nice bloke – he told me he’s had a heap of cafes now and you can tell he’s picked the best elements of each cafe to make the one in Tamworth. Adimis has great coffee, exciting food and friendly, fast service… if you can get a table. It’s not a huge cafe so you’ll have to get there early or be prepared to wait. Nevertheless, go and check them out! They have a little coffee shop on the main stretch through town that is open Mon-Fri for a coffee fix on the way to work!
The Old Bell Tower was still open too. It probably excited me a little more last year as the coffee wasn’t quite as good each time I visited this year. It was a bit too hot, even after asking for it warm, but still quite drinkable. It is Campos coffee after all. The vege burger comes highly recommended too.
The most excited new find was Ruby’s Cafe. This little cafe is on Peel St (the main street) and is a little coffee shop and gift house bundled together. It has cute decorations and a really cool selection of gifts and housewares, but what blew me away was the chocolate selection. The male half of the couple that run Ruby’s has a passion for chocolate, so he has built this selection of imported chocolate from all over the world. I enjoyed a passionfruit filled dark and an orange infused dark from Belgium, however, it was nearly impossible to go past the French and Spanish selections too. I did have help selecting these two chocolates – I thanked the guy who helped me by giving him a piece of each before I left. He returned the gesture by giving me some cacao nibs to try – they were also delicious. I tried to get some more chocolate to bring home to Jas, but unfortunately, they weren’t open when I left town the following Saturday.
Tamworth has some real beauty if you slow down and take it all in. The river that winds through the town is probably not good for swimming in (unless you’re a family of ducks), but it is fun to use as a giant mirror while the sun sets on another hot, dry day.
The drive home was a lot harder than the drive down. I took a different route home so I could visit Jas’ Dad in a neighbouring town for breakfast. He was staying by a lake in the middle of nowhere – if you could somehow forget about the ski-boats on the lake, the place was actually quite nostalgic. We had a good catch up after enjoying a barbequed breakfast, but I couldn’t stay too long as I wanted to avoid driving across the country at sunset.
I was glad to be driving home in aircon. The forecast for Tamworth the day I left was mid-40’s, and my outside temperature actually registered 43 at one stage. I must have driven through a cool patch as the shutter went off for this shot.
I arrived home exhausted and it’s taken me a few days to settle back in on the coast, but it’s good to be home. Next time I visit Tamworth, I’ll be on the home-stretch as far as study goes. Thanks for having me Tamworth.