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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Going Broke

No, not the money kind of broke. I'm talking about a short visit to the town of Broke. Unsure where exactly that is? Well here's a quick tip. It's not in the US. Go south, a lot, and then spin around to the other side of the planet. LOL. Broke is a small town in rural NSW, about 220 kilometres as the crow flies from Sydney, Australia. My family and I (Ok- I really did just tell them we were going) took a drive up through wine country to see what we could see.

On the way, we passed 7 working pubs and quite a few remodelled into other forms of business. It's amazing just how many of these beautiful buildings we found in Cessnock area alone. But that area, formerly a coal mining hub, was booming when these hotels were built. The early 1900's were obviously a good time for a thirsty working man. It's hard to find a country town without one of these grand building perched on a corner. 

Aside from the pubs there were my favorite country things: Sheep, cows, house-sized boulders, Kangaroo's bouncing off in the paddocks, four rumbling wooden bridges to cross, a two bedroom slab hut up for sale on 16 acres that my darling beloved tried to convince me was a bargain for the taking. (It wasn't) Of course there were a few casualties beside the road: three kangaroos, two wombats, one poor squished inland turtle. But the best find of the weekend, and something that completely made the trip worthwhile, was finding an Echidna on the side of the road. Alive.

These solitary, timid little darlings, an egg laying mammal with a pouch, are rare to find close to where I live on the coast. And honestly I nearly didn't see him. When attacked, the echidna will burrow into the ground or curl itself into a ball using its spines as a method of defence against any predator. That's what it did when I made too much noise. Oops - I scared it. Their long nose is very sensitive, they use this to find food and they use their long sticky tongue to catch ants, worms and other insects. They only grow to 50cms at the most, weigh up to 7 kg and I think this one was on the small side.

Female echidna's lay a single egg in their pouch. After ten days, the egg hatches and a puggle (baby echidna) is born. They are born blind and hairless, and consume milk from a gland within the pouch. After an average of four weeks, the puggle develops sharp spines, and must leave the pouch.

We were headed to Wollombi for lunch, but the town appeared to be overrun by mad Mountain Bike riders so I missed my opportunity to pick up a bottle of the infamous Dr Jurds Jungle Juice from the source. According to online sources Dr Jurds is cheap and potent, perfect for high compression motors and mixes with oil for 2 smokes !!!!  LOL. Well my brother was fond of it when he was young - I must remember to get him a bottle for Christmas.

Oh, and about Broke. Population 400, three churches, one school, a pub (of course), we spotted one general store, and a good handful of houses. Just your average Australian country town. LOL But at least I can say I've been there.

Anyway, that's me till next time. Hope you're having a great week.


  1. Great pictures, Heather. When I saw the first one, I thought I was in Nevada, but then the animals put me on the right track. I'd better not let my dd see this blog, or she will have me traveling a very long way in search of an odd mammal. :)

  2. This is great! (I would have thought "Broke" would be a huge metropolis though! LOL)

    Thanks for giving me a look into someplace I may never see. I'm fascinated by it. :)

  3. Great pics and thanks for showing us a bit of your country. I really need to visit someday.

  4. LOL this is too cute, Heather. I'm going broke too but it isn't a place unfortunately. I'll bet you find all kinds of animals where you live. I'd love to visit Australia one day. LOL I need to find some of that Jungle Juice and wouldn't you know we don't have anything quite like that where I'm from.

  5. How great! I LOVE that little echidna! That must have been so cool to see him in person. I'm guessing they are in the porcupine family?

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us! :)

  6. Clarissa - maybe there are some Aussie animals in a US zoo somewhere? That might tide her over until she's old enough to pay for her own trip.

    Donna, Amy, Melissa - I have plenty of spare beds for the visiting traveller. LOL. But Melissa, I have a vague memory of drinking Dr Jurds. The less said the better.

    Jerrica - The difference between an echidna and a porcupine is that echidnas actually lay eggs, are smaller than a porcupine, and don't have barbs on their spines. Just a bit more trivia. :o)

  7. Very cool, Heather! I have never heard of a echidnas before. And a 10 day gestation period! It sure would make the whole pregnancy thing a lot easier, but a whole lot less time to prepare too.
    Loved the pics. :)

  8. Heather,
    What a great post! I love hearing about life in your country. I can't even imagine seeing kangaroo in the wild. How cool.

  9. A puggle...it just sounds cute. Until the spikes that force it out of the pouch...

    Thanks for sharing the pics and your adventure.