After spending time with relatives in Tamworth, we’re back to our leisurely travels — covering 50 kilometres to reach Wallabadah. Unless we have an invitation or a personal recommendation to a specific location, we aim to spend our nights at free campsites as published in Camps Australia Wide book.

Wallabadah rest area, October 2011
Situated right next to the New England Highway, the Wallabadah rest area is a large park with plenty of room for all the campers to spread out.

The large rest area at Wallabadah is adjacent to carefully tended gardens commemorating the arrival of the First Fleet to Australia in 1788. Comprising eleven ships that contained convicts, soldiers, seamen and their families, the First Fleet is remembered as the beginning of “settlement”, and our nation celebrates its national day on January 26 — the day on which the First Fleet reached its final destination of Botany Bay.

The best book on the subject of the First Fleet that I’ve read is 1788 by David Hill which provides insights into the hardships that the settlers faced — not only during their long sea voyage, but also after reaching Australia. In wandering around the gardens, I appreciate the names of the people who came to this country — either by force or by choice — but also wonder about the unremembered Indigenous people who were displaced by those we do commemorate.

Wallabadah rest area, October 2011
The shadecloth over the picnic area are cleverly arranged like a ship's sails.

Wallabadah rest area, October 2011
The names of the passengers, officers and crew that sailed with the First Fleet are engraved onto these stone tablets.

Wallabadah rest area, October 2011
The ships have their own headstones in flower-garden beds.

Wallabadah rest area, October 2011
The Second Fleet is also memorialised in the gardens.

Wallabadah rest area, October 2011
This little fountain spouts water from the top of the anchor. The small number of koi in the murky pond are protected with wire mesh from predators.

For our girls, the main attraction in the Wallabadah rest area is not the First Fleet gardens — or the terrific play equipment — but Quirindi Creek. The shallow, clear stream flows over large rocks and is within easy access from the parking grounds. In the heat of summer this would be a good place to hang out and cool off.

Aisha and Brioni exploring Quirindi Creek, October 2011
The two older girls loved walking along the creekbed.

Aisha and Brioni exploring Quirindi Creek, October 2011
Our truck is parked at the rest area on the other side of the creek.

Calista and Delaney playing in Quirindi Creek, October 2011
Calista and Delaney enjoy paddling in the cool waters.

We’re thankful to be on the road again, regrouping as a family and working out the balance in our relationships. We like to alternate visits to friends and family with time alone, and getting to relax at such a beautiful, free camp ground is a bonus!