Musswellbrook Antics

Trip Start Dec 03, 2004
Trip End Nov 31, 2005

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Saturday, January 29, 2005

Went up to Quirindi (south of Tamworth in inland NSW) for my WWOOF work at Castle Mountain Farmstay on Thursday afternoon. The first part of the bus ride, from Sydney to Musswellbrook, was fine: all rolling white-grass hills with distant dots of eucalypts, the endless expanse of blue sky, and the omnipresent lowing of cows. A herd of kangaroos leaping past a sedate bunch of brown cows makes me laugh. Then in Musswellbrook, already about half an hour behind schedule, the bus pulls over and I can hear it making a shrill beeping sound, the type cars emit when something's gone wrong deep inside. The driver struggles with something for a bit and then whips out a cell phone. The air, he tells us, is gone (for a long time I thought he meant the air conditioning, which is always too strong on Greyhound, so I was mad that we were pulled over for this stupid reason; but then later I learned that this has something to do with the compression system and that without air, the brakes are shot. Which is a more acceptable reason to be pulled over on the side of the road.) Nervous, because the farmstay people are expecting me at 9:00 in Wallabadah, an hour and a half up the road, I ask how late I should tell them I'm going to be. The driver shrugs, nonchalant: "Who knows . . . mechanic has to come up from Maitland . . . has to fix it . . . could be ages."

If you're ever on Greyhound and the driver says something "could be ages," I'm going to let you in on a secret: this means five hours. We sat in Musswellbrook, outside the train station, in the dark (no lights on the bus because when it was on it made that shrill whining beep), trying to sleep, everyone of us seven passengers lolling over our seats with our shoes off, stinking up the confines of the bus. Fortunately I'd been able to get ahold of the farmstay people and they were willing to come to Wallabadah at 2:00 in the morning to get me, otherwise I'd have been stranded on the side of the road.

So, finally, the bus pulled up in Wallabadah, a tiny town that seemed to consist of one darkened hotel/pub, I pitched my tired self off and met Peter Hatfield, one of the owners of Castle Mountain Farmstay. Peter has only one leg and gets around on crutches, but he does a great job running the farm and doing construction work anyways---getting up and down ladders, driving, riding on ATVs, none of this is a problem for him. We get in the car and there's a half an hour jolting ride down on a gravel road into the dark before we arrive at the farm, which truly is in the middle of nowhere; it's a 2000 acre property. I'm staying in one of their little "dormitory huts" that they've built for backpackers at the farmstay, sharing it with a Swedish guy named Reto, who thankfully sleeps soundly through my stumbling in and bunking down.
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