So I’ll just get it out there. We didn’t see any red slugs.
But we did get to see lots of my old work friends and colleagues at the Australian Cotton Research Institute, and were treated to a friend’s wonderful cooking and hospitality so much so that I think we may have set the bar a bit too high!
Narrabri showgrounds offered us a cheap unpowered site. It had big sky, a rugby club next door (the one I played the inaugural game of women’s rugby in Narrabri on in 1998!), had toilets and showers nearby, and as an added bonus, at 5:30am horses started training on the trotting tracks. There was a big trot meet in Narrabri that weekend, so the keen ones were out early. The sunrises watching the horses were really lovely.
We were also right next door to an old friend and housemate, Simone Heimoana, who still works for CSIRO at the research institute, and whose newborn that I welcomed into the world 18 years ago was playing semi-final basketball and is school captain! But actually, more than that – he can DO THE RUBIK’S CUBE IN ONE MINUTE and 42 SECONDS! Simply incredible to watch! His sister says he spends his time doing Rubik’s instead of studying for the HSC. I say go boy go!
Simone has a wonderful house and garden. She and her husband are veritable miracle workers with food, and she has mulberries, plums, grapes, limes, lemons, raspberries, feijoa, apples, nectarines, peaches among other things, PLUS a vege garden to boot. It was a real treat to see her and her family again after so many years. Just the sort of thing we intend to do around the country.
So in Narrabri we went out to the cotton research institute where we happened upon an anniversary of another woman I worked with all those years ago! That meant hugs, kisses, laughing, chocolate cake and a tour of the place, which has changed little, and a lot all at once. It was great to see old colleagues and friends, including another ex-housemate I was grateful I could introduce Jez and the kids to.
Simone showed us her entomology lab (LOVE a working agricultural ento lab!), and how cotton goes from the raw product on the plant through to woven thread to make all sorts of products for fashion, medical and haberdashery. So interesting, especially for kids, who rarely get to see any of the raw material their clothes are made from.
Rain came, and lo and behold, the rookies left their van windows open only to be greeted by wet pillows and van table. Luckily it wasn’t too bad, and it had dried by bed time. FIRST LESSON LEARNT – close all windows before going anywhere even if it doesn’t look like it’s going to rain!
Rain meant slugs though, and later that night after another great dinner at Simone’s, I coerced everyone to head up to Mt Kaputar as the rains came down. And boy, did they come down! About 20kms from My Kaputar the lightning, rain and thunder heralded the end of our red slug spotting adventure!! The lightning was pretty much on the very spot we were going, and it really was a bit ridiculous…. So we turned around. No red slugs, and leaving the following day. L
Butt the next day was onto the Warumbungle National Park, and the kids and I were super excited to introduce Jez to the park, our friends Meg and Peter, Pilliga Pottery and the amazing sandstone caves.