I had to do an unscheduled dash to Dubbo last week. Dubbo is an important regional city in the heart of wool and wheat country, about 400 km (250 mi) west-north-west of Sydney. Bill could not go with me, and I was having trouble raising the enthusiasm to drive the six plus hours on my own. I felt I had too much on my mind to concentrate properly on the road, and I couldn’t spare the time to break the trip overnight.
There are a couple of flights from Sydney to Dubbo, but they are very expensive. So, fresh from our experience in taking the train to Broken Hill, I decided on the daily Express Passenger Train (XPT) service which is ever so slightly different to the Explorer. Both run on diesel, but with the XPT there’s a power car at each end of the train, one pulling and the other pushing, and the carriages are “dumb”, so the ride sounds and feels slightly different, even though the internal fit-out seems identical. The carriage doesn’t squeak so much, but the air conditioning fan is noisier, so neither alternative is whisper quiet 🙂
Every day the service to Dubbo leaves Sydney Central at 7.18 am, arriving at Dubbo at 1.45 pm. After a quick internal lick and polish, with the seats being rotated to face the opposite direction, it leaves Dubbo at 2.15 pm and arrives back at Sydney Central at 8.45 pm.
7.18 am seems a strange departure time doesn’t it? Not 7.15 am. Not 7.20 am . . . 7.18 am, on the dot. There must be a very good reason for that. There are a lot of country trains leaving around that time, so I suppose it must have something the do with the track switching, and safe travelling distance between them. I was amused when our pre-departure announcement ran through a list of possible destinations, and advised us that if that is where we wanted to go, then we were on the wrong train!
It meant a 4.30 am wake-up for me, as we live about ninety minutes down the south coast. And the next day was Anzac Day, so it was another 4.30 am wake-up to attend the Dawn Service at Dubbo War Memorial Cenotaph. I am no morning person – but what can you do? Sometimes a girl just has to do what a girl has to do.
I stayed three nights in Dubbo. It was a personal trip, so no sight-seeing as such. On the last morning, with a little time to kill, I went for a wander and stumbled across a stormwater wetland called Egret Park. According to something I found on the local council web-site, “the main purpose of the wetland was to treat urban stormwater by removing litter and other pollutants before the stormwater entered the Macquarie River”.
The result is a peaceful haven for bird life. No egrets, but by approaching stealthily, bit-by-patient-bit, I managed to get close to a shag (a cormorant), sunning itself on the board-walk. It even obliged by spreading its wings to dry. Other water birds were ducks, purple breasted swamp hens, a spoonbill, a heron, and several ibis – which look so much nicer in this environment than when invading urban city rubbish bins.
I only had my phone camera with me, and trying to zoom in on some shots made the focus fuzzy, but better than nothing. I don’t think many people must use the area, as the birds were wary and even the ducks tried to camouflage themselves under over-hanging trees. But after I stayed very still for ten-fifteen minutes, they finally came out to play. But the spoonbill would not come close, you can only just make it out on the left of the pond shot.
On the way home I snapped a few shots of the council street plantings – ghost gums.