Author: Mark Lambert
10th October 2019
So what was the plan? Well, good question. You could easily be forgiven for thinking or even expecting that we had one, but truth be told we knew it had been snowing not too far from home and thought the kids would love a day trip . Well not just the kids, we thought we'd all love a day trip!
Anyone with young kids and a television will likely be familiar with Queen Elsa and Princess Anna in the 2013 Disney feature film Frozen. In our house, we're no exception. It's a bit of a long standing favourite in our house with a bit of a soft spot for the scenes where Princess Anna wakes her sister from a slumber in an attempt to convince her to build a snowman . "Do you want to build a snowman? Come on, let's go out and play!" is the catch cry and that's exactly what we had doing the rounds in our house when the snow came to within 45 minutes from home.
So I guess we did have a plan - 'to build a snowman'.
It had been freezing cold for a few days and just had that feeling in the air that 'it must have been snowing somewhere'. If you're reading this and live anywhere within a few hours or so of snow you most likely know what I mean. It had been freezing cold with that super crisp feeling in the air. It came as a bit of a surprise though right at the end of Winter only a couple of weeks out from Spring. The trees in town had even started to blossom through a warm patch over the last week or so. For all money it seemed like the Winter was behind us. Well, as it turns out that assessment clearly wasn't quite on the money..
We had a quick look online to see what the roads were doing and where the snow was looking the best and we were on the way. We were loading the kids in the car and off to see the snow. In the Mudgee and central West region we use the 'Snow Watch Mudgee And Surrounding Area' Facebook Page to get the latest and greatest 'crowd sourced' info. Check out Facebook to see if there are any local snow finder pages near you. Even better, why not look a little further a field if you're not in an area near snow falls to give yourself the opportunity to make a day of it. For us, there were reports of very light snow about 30 minutes away the night prior but this was now all gone with nothing to see. In any case, there wasn't anything of significance locally and certainly nothing that we could achieve our snowman goal so we were off for a day trip. We decided the best place to head was Oberon, around 40 mins the other side of Bathurst from Mudgee so it was about a 2.25 hour drive each way.
On the highway heading East, not long before turning off up the mountains over to Hill End we noticed a new sign that had been posted to promote tourism in the area that seemed very fitting for the day. It read "Life is in the detour". Not only is this very fitting for the day but in all honesty it could likely be argued, a pretty good philosophy on life in general.
We had been on the road for about an hour and heading over the mountains between Mudgee and hill End on the way toward Bathurst when we were given an awesome surprise and opportunity for a mid way break when we managed to see our first snow for the day. Even better, it was fresh and was just starting to fall as we headed over the mountain. When we arrived there was nothing to be seen and on leaving it was a picture of freshness as the white had started to take hold. Needless to say, when you're off to the snow with the kids in the back, no time pressures and the skies start to deliver the goods it's a perfect time to pull over for a quick break. The kids loved opening the windows, letting the snow drift in and the fresh feeling of the snow in their hands. It only lasted 15 minutes but was the perfect prelude to the remainder of the trip and the excitment to come.
Image: Parked up at Wattle Flat to check out the fresh snow falling on the way to Oberon.
On arriving at Oberon it was pretty clear that the town had been at the centre of some solid falls. The lead up on the road unveiled a picturesque slideshow of snow covered fields , snow capped mountains and a blanket of white around every turn. Oberon itself was a sight for sore eyed with the streets littered with people and deep footsteps in the fresh snow. The Central West town had come to life with locals and visitors making the most of the conditions. Streets were lined with all manner of Snowman variations and smiles a plenty.
Not one to just 'settle' for the easy option, we continued on through Oberon, past the locals and tourists alike on the way to Jenolan Caves to see if the road was now open to check out the snow down in the caves area but unfortunately on arrival we were still greeted by nothing more than a road control station preventing access into the area due to the slippery roads and heavy snow. Not unexpected as we knew the roads had been closed, we were just hopefult that they might have been getting closer to open by the time we got there. Turns out, it was a turnaround point for us to head back to the Oberon area.
Prior to heading back to Oberon though, we thought we would head out for a quick look in the pine forest to check out the fresh snow in the trees. And funnily enough it was worth every minute, think Christmas trees in a bed of snow and a dusting of white all around and you're pretty much on the money. Granted, they're not primed ready for Christmas but it was a nice drive all the same. Don't let 'your eyes get too big for your belly' though when it comes to heading off piste, a decent setup and a bit of know how is needed to negotiate the slippery surfaces once you're heading down inclines into the forest in the snow, don't forget you still need to be able to climb back out.
Image: Heading back out along our tracks through the pine forest.
Back in Oberon we were on a mission, to find the perfect spot to build our Snowman. As with everything, it pays to get off the beaten track so to speak and find your own little piece of paradise. Albeit, there are times that a crowd is part of the experience, we were on a mission to find a nice spot to run around in some fresh, deep snow and build our snowman.
After a couple of laps of town, we stumbled across a sensational little spot alongside a creek in one of the backstreets on the edge of town.
Image: Parked up and getting ready to build our snowman.
The parks and fields along the main roads were already well and truly 'snowmanned' out of course so the extra 15 minutes to find a spot for the kids to make their own tracks was well and truly worth it. On arrival, there wasn't a footprint to be seen and to top it off the snow had just started to fall again! The kids were in their element.
Image: The older kids making first tracks in the snow and loving life.
It didn't take too long though until the cold started to cause some grief and we had cold fingers in the mix. One of the downsides of not having a longer term plan for a quick run to the snow surfaced as a lack of the ideal waterproof snow gloves. The kids were kitted out in their knitted fingerless gloves which truth be told were great generally and the perfect choice for normal, everyday life but not too useful when it comes to building a snowman. Fortunately though, we had the latest and greatest paw patrol sand buckets and shovels to help us get this show on the road. The rest was Dad coming to the fore to take one for the team with freezing cold hands to pack our snowman together while the rest of the team laid in waiting in the warmth of the car providing plenty of moral support.
As he started to take shape and fingers warmed up, the troops re-emerged and were on another mission. A snowman isn't complete without the customary adornments to add the life like facial features and limbs required to really bring it home. So the team were onto it and before we knew it, we had our snowman! A real life 'Olaf' (Olaf is the snowman in Frozen that emerges from the snowman Elsa and Anna built).
Image: Some quiet time with our snowman.
There's a lot to be said for the simple things in life, I think that one of the reason's this day was so amazing and one that we'll remember for a long time was that we were just going with the flow and had no real plan for the day. The goal was to get out of the house, do something different and enjoy the time with the family. Was there anything extreme about it? Nope, but it certainly qualified as an awesome little family adventure. My kids certainly thought so anyway and at the end of the day, I guess that's all that really matters.
Is there a time and place for planning and getting the details right? Of course there is, in fact in applies more often than not you could argue. Some trips you wouldn't even think about kicking off without a robust plan but when it comes to the day to day and taking advantage of the opportunities as they arise there's a lot to be said for a bit of sponteneity. Tick off the basics, make sure you have a decent setup and can get yourself out of trouble in the general sense and then go for it, you'll be pleasantly surprised how much you get out of it.