The Koala Capital of the World

Tonight we’re staying at Gunnedah, a country town in Central New South Wales that boasts that it’s the Koala Capital of the World.

Given that Australia is the only country that has koalas (little furry “bears” that have razor sharp claws), it’s fair enough to say it’s the Koala Capital of the World. The problem is, there are no koalas in Gunnedah.

If you go to the Koala Capital of the World, you expect to see koalas.

Driving in we saw none. Checking into our motel we saw none. Walking to the pub we saw none. We didn’t necessarily expect to see koalas cavorting naked down the centre of the street, or scurrying up telegraph poles looking for gum leaves, (koalas are not particularly intelligent creatures) however today we drove 650kms to the Koala Capital of the World, and we expected to see at least one damn koala!

We felt ripped off.

Admittedly, koalas are notoriously shy creatures. It’s not often you see them in the wild, unlike kangaroos that hop around everywhere, often into the paths of oncoming vehicles, causing extensive damage and sometimes death or serious injury to the drivers.

If you hit a koala you’d just squash it flat. Or it would bounce off your car like a hairy soccer ball. A squealing hairy soccer ball.

I believe you can find a recipe on the internet for koala stew. First though you would have to skin it, and that would be tough. They may look like cute little critters, but koala fur is like steel wool. And like I say, they can be vicious with their sharp claws. You would have to be very hungry to want to eat koala stew.

Before we got to the Koala Capital of the World however, Jennifer and I had a disturbing little episode when we went to buy lunch.

We went into a bakery in a small country town called Casino. Everywhere throughout the bakery were signs: WE WON’T SERVE YOU IF YOU ARE TALKING ON A MOBILE PHONE.

There were three of these signs placed prominently on the front counter, and several on the walls. A young lass came up to serve me. I felt like pulling out my mobile phone and asking directory assistance if there were any other bakeries in Casino.

There’s no doubt that some people can be thoughtless, and sometimes rude, when they are conducting a transaction in a shop and they’re on their mobiles. But there was something very aggressive and confrontational about these signs that made both Jennifer and me want to turn and walk out.

The signs were angry, and they emanated an energy that made us feel angry. But that’s what they, the people running the bakery wanted, in a sense. They expected rudeness, and in getting the rudeness, they would feel absolutely justified in displaying their signs.

Energetically, these people were out of balance. We looked at the servers behind the counter. They all had a dark vibe about them, as if they’d been conditioned to expect bad behaviour from their customers. So Jennifer and I were sweet and charming, even though the signs had made us feel quite affronted.

Then I noticed a tip jar. A large glass jar where customers could leave a tip, in coins. Presumably these were people who had not used their mobile phones. The thing about the tip jar though, it held some coins, but the jar was also full of a bright blue liquid. It looked like acid. I figured this was so no-one would steal the coins out of the jar. If they tried, they would get the flesh burned off their thieving little fingers.

I’ve never seen a tip jar booby trapped with acid like this before. There would have been about $1.80 in coins in the jar.

Despite the bakery’s food looking good, the signs and the acid filled tip jar were disconcerting, so Jennifer and I walked out and found another bakery further up the street. It was smaller, less salubrious, but when we walked in we were greeted by the manager with genuine warmth.

As I put my lunch order in I made a call on my mobile phone, just to check to see if I’d get acid thrown in my face. Thankfully, I didn’t.

I left a tip.

We ate dinner tonight at the Gunnedah Courthouse Hotel. We ordered a Spanish “parmi.” Crumbed deep friend chicken breast covered with chorizo sausage, red and green peppers, tomato and cheese, put under a griller. Spanish parmigiana in an Australian  country pub – for $15.

The wonders of globalisation.

Spanish parmi

9 thoughts on “The Koala Capital of the World

  1. Expectations have a way of disappointing. Had to laugh at the squealing hairy soccer ball. What a wild country you live in… jumping Kangas, squealing soccer balls, town names that roll like taffy offyour tongue. On a more serious note, I am hearing about those wild fires.. you are all save now, eh!


    • Hi Ingrid,

      The bush fires are close to where we live in Mudgee, but not threatening. But The Blue Mountains, where the fires are worst, is the main thoroughfare from Mudgee to Sydney. We drive through the mountains frequently.

      And in fact I have a follow up appointment with the neurologist in Sydney this Thursday, and I’m not sure the road will be open.

      It’s horrific – truly horrific. So many people have lost their homes, and lost everything. And the authorities say it’s going to get even worse this week.



      • HI Bill, I just Finally finished the book, it took a while because of the other goings on here ( the wedding, relatives, and the recovery, then my dads 89th birthday, bless his big heart). Since my only time reading lately is late and in bed I didn’t get far each night, before my kindle was sliding to the floor. However, I think I enjoyed it this way more. I moved along through it slowly like the Camino really happens. I got to savor it and it made for pleasant dreams. I enjoyed the parts up to Leon that I have been through and got to recall the places you were writing about. {side note: I would love you to put together a list of your albergues and hotels with a brief description and your personal rating. Or at least of your favorites!!} It was so enjoyable and the list at the end pulls all of it together in a poignant way. I am thinking of having one of my bookclubs read this (I belong to 3 at the moment) but its not out in paper is it? I wonder how non camino people would think of it?
        As to the post today, devils advocate- I HATE when people talk on the phone in public spaces! so I am siding with the non phone user sign-granted it maybe was not written politely. As a species we need to be more in the moment. We can’t do that if we are on the phone. Plus a lot of “those” users talk SO loud, it would just be kinder if they stepped out to finish the call and then came back in. I have had an urgent call before at in opportune times and I always apologize first and then make it quick or step out. The people that are face to face with you should always be getting your full attention. Even if they are just taking your sandwich order.
        xo Kathryn


        • Dear Kathryn,

          Firstly, thank you for those very kind words re the book. I’m so pleased that you enjoyed it!

          ( if you have time for a review, that would be great…)

          Yes, soon it will be available in print form, off Amazon. I’ll let you know when. I think the book might be interesting to non-Camino people, only insofar as an examination of the writing style. But you would know way better than me… 🙂

          As for phone users, I’m with you on that. I’m constantly amazed at the lack of thoughtfulness of some people when they’re on the phone. I always either walk off to take the call outside, or tell who,ever I’m talking to that I’ll call them back.

          Even if you’re ordering a pie from a bakery, the person who is serving you deserves your full attention. That’s just basic human courtesy, I believe.

          However there are ways of requesting that courtesy. And several prominent large print signs all over the front counter I don’t believe is the way to do it. I just found it overly aggressive.



  2. Well that certainly looks much better than the road house grill. I’m off on a road trip in December. Perhaps we should stop at Gunnedah for some Spanish food.

    I too laughed at your squealing hairy soccer ball. If it were a Qld koala it would be grunting. They are deceiving little things. So cute but can be so viscous.

    And I laughed at your booby trapped tip jar. I’ve never been able to put into words what I’ve sensed when I’ve seen jars like that. I’m glad you went to the other bakery.


    • 😳

      Thanks Donna. It’s amazing what energy you can create in the world around you through either the expression of calmness and harmony, or through fear and anger.

      Anger and hate usually stem from fear.

      It’s something that I have to be aware of – what am I scared of right now?



  3. No squealing hairy soccer balls but when I worked as an avigational cartographer for Jeppesen-Sanderson ( back in the old days I drew approach charts for eastern and central Australia. I always got a laugh out of the text that accompanied the charts warning pilots to buzz the air fields at low altitude to scare the kangaroos off the runways. Never not funny when I was 36 hours into a 48 hour shift.



  4. A few years back my husband and I went to Frazer Island, famous for dingoes, on a 4wd day trip. I was really looking forward to seeing a dingo or two, but the only one sighted all day was when I had to go to the bathroom and I missed it. Timing was never my strong point!


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