We did not plan to spend so long in the Riverina region of New South Wales, but for the last six weeks, we have meandered around exploring this interesting corner of Australia. We stayed in Wagga Wagga, Jugiong, Ariah Park, Coolamon, Lockhart, Hay, Deniliquin and visited many of the towns in between. The town folk are friendly and accommodating, we feel welcomed and accepted everywhere we go.
We fell in love with the fluro yellow canola fields and rolling hills of Ariah Park.
We marvelled at the number of historic buildings found in every town and day dreamed about renovating one, turning it into a wonderful shop and studio space.
We had picnics and sunset BBQ's at many of the riverside settings.
We opened our little stall at the Coolamon Scarecrow festival and joined in the annual town fun.
We celebrated with Lockhart at the Spirit Of The Land Festival. This festival originally took shape during the worst drought in the Shire's 110 year history and escalating concerns over rural suicide and economic hardship. We were in awe at the talent in the region and touched by the many stories of farmers finding restored hope through art, as they overcame severe depression. It was hard to pick a favourite farm machinery sculpture, each one was unique and clever. This is a brilliant festival and we loved spending a whole week in Lockhart. We immersed ourselves in the culture, mingled with locals, ate oysters from Coffin Bay, drank cold beer, fed geese, wandered around under the towns deep verandahs and listened to soothing jazz by the lagoon.
Travelling back roads, stopping in little towns and villages, we visited museums, galleries, licorice factories and other such touristy things.
We did some serious Op Shopping. Worth mentioning is the Red Cross in Lockhart (124 Green Street). There was a whole wall of remnant fabric and table linen, we were there for a good hour digging through baskets. Also, the Salvation Army Store and Country Cottage Antiques and Linen in Deniliquin, both have a delicious selection of vintage fabrics. We filled our newly acquired vintage suitcase full of golden wool, Lithuanian table linen, wooden dice beads, floral fabrics, woven scarves and gingham throws. Our fruit basket brimmed with fresh lemons, free range eggs, grapefruit and oranges.
We spent the 11th anniversary of when Sam and I first met eating ice cream, sprawled out under shade of a river gum in Hay, while the temperature sky rocketed to 37.5 degrees. Hay was dry, dusty and well damn hot! In Hay we set up our stall at the Bishops Lodge Spring Market. Amid the scent of blooming roses, we chatted to the locals and other stall holders. Stormy rain clouds teased us all day. We learned that it has not rained in Hay since March 2012.
We left Hay, south bound for Deniliquin last Sunday and drove through the flat plains with not a tree in sight. At least the baby emu chicks gave us something fun to watch.
The Riverina has been very good to us. If you are ever out this way, we recommend taking the time to look around.
Our final market in the Riverina, before we cross the border to Victoria, is the Deniliquin Craft Market on Saturday 27 October 2012.
We are here in Deni (as it is known by the locals) for the rest of this week.
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