The weekend of September 28th was a long weekend in Sydney, so we went on a trip. We stayed at a great farm-stay called the Cubby House about 3 ½ hours outside of Sydney. The views of the Capertee Valley and the mountains were amazing. On Saturday we went to the Jenolan Caves, Sunday we went to the Western Australia Zoo in Dubbo and on Monday we stopped at the Zig Zag Railway on the way home.
(Pictures are at the bottom!)
The Cubby House
I would call the Cubby House a mountain retreat. It’s at the end of a long country road with no visible neighbors (accept the owner’s house) and has really amazing views. The official website for the property is here, but this site has better pictures.
We arrived at the Cubby House late Friday night. With 2 kms to go before arriving at the cabin, we had to go through a closed gate. I’ve learned that the gate is to keep the cows from straying off the property and is common on farms. Being from the developed suburbs, I’ve never had to get out my car and open a gate to continue down a road. At 11:00 pm, in a strange and dark place with no cell phone coverage I was a little nervous about this. I kept thinking we were at the wrong property and some farmer was going to come after us with a shotgun or that this was a scam to lure “city folk” to the country and make stew out of them!
All my worrying was put aside when we saw the place lit up for our arrival. Even late at night we could see the gorgeous views. To give you some idea of what we were looking at, the Capertee Valley is said to be the second largest valley in the world; the Grand Canyon is the first. In addition to the great view out on the land, the night sky was amazing all weekend. The first night gave us a large, bright, almost full moon and the second night the sky was full of stars. The owners were telling us they have regular guests that bring their telescopes to check out the stars.
Our last day of our visit, the owners drove us around for a tour of the 1030 acre property. Yes, I did say 1,030 acres. The owners have 2 young children and SPie had fun running around the sheep pen with them. She also had a great time chasing the chickens into their enclosure. Another thing I learned is that chickens are nervous little things and don’t like to be chased. (I’m learning so much here!) One highlight of the tour was viewing a large stone that has naturally formed in the shape of a face. It’s similar to the “Old Man on The Mountain” that was in New Hampshire. They showed us another rock that was supposed to look like a teapot, but I couldn’t see it. The face was much better. The owners obviously love the land and enjoy having visitors. If we had more time here, we would definitely stay again.
In true Australian style, the limestone caves are linked to convicts. The story is that a farmer discovered the caves when he went looking for a cattle thief who was known to have used the caves as a hideout.
The caves cover a large area and are deep underground. I don’t think it would be possible to visit all of them in one weekend. We toured two of the caves including one with a “cathedral” area where concerts and weddings are held. We actually saw a bride heading to the cave for her wedding. The cave also had a water pool and various cool “stalactite formations” (Don’t ask me what it means…you’ll have to look it up like I did.) We took some pictures, but the images don’t capture the reality. You’ll just have to visit the caves yourself.
Western Plains Zoo
The locals call this the Dubbo Zoo because it’s in the town of Dubbo; about 5-6 hours drive from Sydney. The admission tickets are good for two days, so you could make a weekend trip of the zoo and the few other sites nearby.
The zoo is built with an open range design that is meant to create the impression of being in the wild with the animals. Instead of the animals living in walled enclosures and viewed through cages, they are roaming in the grasslands and water habitats and are separated from the public and from each other by moats and other non-obtrusive methods. We did see a lot of fencing separating the tigers from each other. I’m ok with that.
The layout follows a 7 km loop with walking trails in the middle and is designed for visitors to drive or ride bikes between the exhibits. Bicycles and golf carts are available for rental, but the families in the know have a better plan; arrive early, park for free along the road across the street from the zoo, take your own bike in, pack lunch in a cooler pulled behind the bike. It is a great way to see a zoo.
SPie touched a tortoise and enjoyed looking at the animals, but I think she loved watching the bicycles and visiting the playground even more.
Zig Zag Railway
The Zig Zag Railway is a coal burning steam train that follows a section of the original path of the railway built in 1869. The purpose for the railway was to bring the produce from the Blue Mountain areas to Sydney. To make the trip down the steep mountains, the tracks were laid in the shape of a “Z” with reversing stations at various points.
Sherp was talking with one of the train employees and they let him move the track for our train!
Moving the train track:
The cows in the road - the one's we closed the gate for!
View of Capertee Valley from our farm stay
Sunrise at the Farm Stay:
Rock Face at the Farm Stay:
The tiger at Dubbo Zoo:
Patting the tortise:
A rhino doing what everything in nature does (aaahhh)"
Inside the caves - looks like jellyfish!