Growing up in country New South Wales and travelling frequently between Dubbo, Parkes, Forbes & Albury, it was tradition in Kirstine’s family to stop at the roadhouse at West Wyalong. Her dad would buy cheese sandwiches and a couple of buckets of chips, and we’d keep driving. Of course, once dad did the maths on how much money the roadhouse was making from a loaf of bread and block of cheese, it became mum’s job to make the sandwiches before leaving home. Chip & cheese sandwiches are still a road trip staple even now.
That’s all we knew of West Wyalong, until we decided to stop there as we headed south to meet some school holiday obligations for the kids.
Jodi and James at the West Wyalong Caravan Park welcomed us with a site for the night, and it is so wonderful to have people excited to meet you!
The kids did some school work (that’s how much they love the education program we are using – they NAG US to do school work!), and played totem tennis, while Paul & Kirstine caught up on trip admin. A storm was a-brewing, so we had a quick tea of chicken and salad rolls before watching a family movie and sending the kids to bed. The wind picked up, so we pegged down the annex to the roof top tent to stop it blowing in on the kids.
It was a windy night, and sadly not much rain travelled with it. Jodi had said that the farmers were really looking forward to some rain over the weekend. It’s certainly not the first time we’ve heard about farmers needing rain, and if we had one magic power as we travel the country, it would be to summon rain clouds bursting to the brim with soaking rain to communities that need it.
Kirstine got chatting with Jodi the next morning, and asked if we could stay another day. After checking their bookings, James came to tell us that we were welcome to stay another night. The kids were ecstatic – no need to pack up camp! Leaving Paul to work on some of his drone videos, Kirstine took the kids into town for a walk and to pick up groceries. We hadn’t known how large West Wyalong is! You don’t have to go through the main street of town when you are on the highway, so it was wonderful to see the heritage buildings and thriving businesses.
That afternoon the kids played with others that had arrived with their families, and even had turns at cracking a whip! This continued into the evening, and they eventually fell into bed after tea, though our eldest daughter almost didn’t make it to tea time. She was so exhausted that she fell asleep cuddled up to Paul.
Paul spoke to new arrivals from a caravan club about our trip, and we heard other stories about NSW Ambulance paramedics who left the job because there was no support when their mental health suffered, concerns of mothers for their children who’ve joined the military, and dismay at some so-called “communities” who turn their backs on people when things get tough. Thankfully West Wyalong is not one of those communities. Jodi spoke of the supportive townspeople, and how comfortable she is there with James, even though she’s not from town originally.
These inclusive communities have the best chance for survival, and resilience where mental health is concerned. James and Jodi are delightful, so if you decide to venture off the highway and see the town of West Wyalong, rather than just the roadhouse, stay at the West Wyalong Caravan Park, and tell them Driving Oz with the Black Dog sends their love!