Day 2: Off to a Great Start
Knowing nothing about racing was not entirely a disadvantage at the Wallabadah races as two horses in the first race refused to enter the barriers so my odds went from 1 chance in 5 to 1 chance in 3. I still lost my $5. Here’s the form guide if you want to try & pick the winner yourself and here’s the results for all five races. At least I picked the winner of the second race then promptly lost my $7 in the third race. With 100 passengers from the Southern Aurora we were able to contribute significantly to the local economy and not just the bookmakers or TAB. The first race was at 2pm and the last one, the Wallabadah Cup was run at 4.45pm. Since it was fine but hot there was no inclination to move very fast or frequently between races, except for a visit to the bar or take away. Today was the 162nd Wallabadah Cup as the races have been running since 1852 and are truly country races that remind us city folk of what we have lost under our sea of housing developments.
Earlier in the day we had stopped at Werris Creek Station to visit the Railway Monument & Museum. Much precious time, energy and resources have been put into making this one of the best local museums I have visited with a memorial dedicated to railway workers who died whilst on the job. They deserve our support so they can continue these tributes to Werris Creek’s railway heritage of which they are undeniably proud. The Southern Aurora headed off to Tamworth as we boarded the buses to Wallabadah, driven by two excellent ladies who even took us for a ride up the hill, round the bend and along the straight to the finish line just for the fun of it before delivering us safely at the equally spotless Tamworth Station afterwards.
Wallabadah is also home to the First & Second Fleet Memorial Gardens. It’s nowhere near the sea but railway enthusiasts would not dare to criticise the eccentricities of others. It’s a good spot to stop for a break and see if your relatives are listed on the stones for the ships of these two fleets. There’s also a list of the names here.
After the heat & dust of the races navigating the showers was a refreshing but hazardous experience as the Southern Aurora ventured uphill to Walcha Road Station. During an excellent dinner which included an exquisite lemon tart, we were delighted by the scenery through the picturesque Moonbi Ranges. Gum trees give us a real sense of Australia being our home. By the time we arrived at Walcha Road it was very, very dark and after a quick drink at the Walcha Road Hotel we soon headed all the way back to Tamworth, Taree, Gloucester, Maitland and Broadmeadow the next morning before finally crossing the Hawkesbury River and onto Sydney. We really set a good pace but I was soon fast asleep and oblivious to it all. Not a scone in sight today either.