It was early in the morning when the sound of two bikes firing up woke me from my deep slumber. Staggering to the window I watched as the riders fiddled with their luggage straps, slipped on some warm jumpers under their jackets, and idled off into the dawns’ early light.
“Lucky buggers,” I thought, and returned to my warm bed. Tamworth would have to wait a little longer for me to make my dazzling entrance.
The bed was too comfortable, and it was nearly eight a.m. when I finally dragged myself out from under the covers. Within minutes I was dressed, packed, and ready to roll. Throwing my gear into the car, I slipped through the vacant lot next to the motel and headed towards the main drag. It was cold, very cold. I toyed with the idea of popping back to the car and grabbing a jumper, but decided to ‘tough it out’. Steam was pouring from my mouth and nostrils with each exhaled breath. I hadn’t seen that in a long time, and was actually enjoying making shapes out of the mist.
The sun was providing enough warmth to keep me from shivering, but the wind nailed me as I hit the main street, and I started thinking that it wasn’t such a good idea to be dressed in a t-shirt and long shorts. Particularly as the people around me were looking at me with a sort of astonishment. I grinned at them, and was rewarded with returned smiles. Friendly place. Definitely on my list of places to come back to.
I found a park with several bronze busts of famous country singers, and underneath each was an inscription noting the persons name, birth (and on many, death) dates, and as added touch, a verse or two from some of their most popular songs. Excellent. I took several snaps of my favourite artists, had a bit of stroll round the gardens and stage area, then turned my attention to finding the Country Hands of Fame exhibit. According to my little brochure, it wasn’t too far away.
Back on the street and heading west, the sun on my back the wind in my face, I strode forward with a purpose. The path lead past a small foot bridge, and I took a detour to have a look at the small creek / river that ran through the place. The water level was very low, and the water dirty, murky, and full of litter. People, let’s face it, are basically pigs.
I had walked a fair way, and was starting to wonder where the hell the Hands of Fame park was, and on impulse asked a lady who was power walking towards me. She was dressed in a neat tracksuit, and wearing an expensive pair of joggers, one hand held the standard issue water bottle, and the other hand gripped a bright pink iPod. I had to wave at her to get her attention, and as soon as she saw me she smiled and popped her earplugs out, “Aren’t you cold?!” she asked, her face crinkling up with concern.
“Yeah, only when I stop moving!” I replied with a laugh. I asked her where the exhibit was, and she pointed further down the road and said the words I dreaded the most when asking for directions… You can’t miss it.
Well, she was right. Racing across a busy intersection I literally stumbled into a dry, brown grassed park and there it was, Slim Dusty’s hand prints set in concrete. “G’day Slim,” I mumbled as I crouched down and placed my hands in the very cold indents he had made in the concrete. Nearby was James Blundells’ prints. I took photos… wandered around reading the various names and every now and then placed my hand in the grooves to compare sizes. I have fat fingers…
The traffic was still building as I left and made my way back to the main street. The footpaths were lined with jumpered commuters, huddled up to keep warm. Every now and then one of them would glance at me, do a double take and shuffle onward. They probably thought I was a holidaying Victorian 😉 To be honest, it didn’t seem ‘that’ cold, but it must have been. It was nine a.m. and the steam was still pouring from my mouth as I walked. My lips were rapidly drying out as well.
Back to the unit, a quick freshen up and double check to see if I’d left anything, yep, my toothbrush, and it was check out time. The friendly lady behind the counter asked me if I’d enjoyed my stay, and I was happy to tell her that my room at the Citysider Motel had been the best I’d stayed in since I’d been on holidays. She seemed happy with that and I was happy that she was happy. Anyone who goes to so much trouble to keep their rooms neat, clean and relatively up to date ought to be sincerely thanked, and have their establishment shamelessly plugged on the web. That name again folks in case some of you missed it, was The Citysider Motel.
As I slid into my car it hit me just how warm and cosy the ol’ hot rod was. The world lay at my feet again, which way, which way…? What would a visit to Tamworth be without seeing the Golden Guitar? So, I headed back into town, crossed the river ditch, and made my way along the highway until I found the big gitfiddle. It was big, it was golden, and the coffee shop looked inviting. I crossed the double lanes, and toyed with going in, but didn’t. I’ll save this delight for a future visit, maybe even drag some of my children kicking and screaming into the exhibit. That’s what us dads’ do… apparently.
There was one more thing I wanted to see before leaving town. Driving back the way I’d came, I crossed several intersections in town again, and made my way up through some neatly laid out, leafy, and well maintained suburbs to the lookout on top of a nearby hill.
The view from the top in the bright morning light was for some reason very relaxing. It was as pleasant a place to be on a cool May morning as I could think of this far from the coast. What also got my attention were a number of little plaques scattered around the viewing area like the one below:
It was certainly a novel idea, and gave me something to think and smile about as I returned to the car. Opening my maps I checked the distances from Tamworth to Canberra, Sydney, and Dubbo. Mmm. Then I thought about my little girls voice saying, “I miss you Daddy.”
Flicking the map back into the door holder, I swung round to face the rising sun and made my way East for a while, before finding the highway North and firing up to 100 kph. Flicking on the cruise control I started singing a John Williamson song as Tamworth disappeared in my rear view mirror. Nice place. I’ll be back, maybe in Spring, hopefully after it has rained. Can’t wait!