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Blue Snoopy is a 2018 Adria Altea 402PH Sports Caravan pulled by a 2012 Nissan Navara ST Dual Cab Ute.

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Bylong Mouse Races – 25 to 29 March 2010

In March 2009 we travelled to Bylong NSW for our second outing with the Winnebago RV Club to attend the 21st Annual Bylong Mouse Races.  Whilst one would question the sanity in watching mice race, this event is one of the “unique” novelty events on the Australian calendar and definitely a “must do”!  It is also an event where the local community raises significant funds that are distributed to the likes of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, Volunteer Rescue Service, local hospitals, local community facilities (for the benefit of the travelling public) and other worthy charities.  

Bylong is a very small NSW rural community (pop about 60 persons) located in the Bylong Valley midway between Mudgee and Muswellbrook just to the north west of the Hunter Valley.  From our home it is about 290 kilometers by the most direct route (over the Blue Mountains and then turn north just past Lithgow) or approximately 340 kilometers via a scenic route through the Hunter Valley, Denman and then along “The Bylong Valley Way” (now a fully sealed road) which is also another route through and across the Great Diving Range. 

This year we chose the latter route.

We departed Sydney a day earlier than required to ensure an early arrival at Bylong so we could assist if necessary with the preparation of the site where the event would be held.

After spending a considerable amount of time getting the motor home out of our driveway (a neighbor had parked close to our exit and there were vehicles parked on the opposite side of the road that reduce the amount of turning space available), we left our home at 9.30am for the relatively short drive to Sandy Hollow where we would be staying overnight.  Our late departure ensured that we missed the majority of the Sydney peak hour and the trip to the freeway that heads north was uneventful.

We left the freeway at the Cessnock exit and stopped at Cessnock to purchase some food items before heading on to Singleton where we stopped for lunch.  After Singleton we headed north west towards Muswellbrook and the turnoff that would take us to Denman and Sandy Hollow.

Travelling in the motor home affords you a far better view than from a car and each time we travel the New England Highway between Singleton and Muswellbrook we get good views of the scars on the landscape from the open cut coal mines.  They seems to be getting larger.

After leaving Muswellbrook, we became aware that the air conditioning in the Iveco had stopped working.  Ice cold air had been replaced with warm air from the outside where the temperature was around the 32 degree mark.  We need to address the air conditioning directly with Iveco before summer returns and we head to the northern parts on NSW.  Fortunately it should be covered under warranty.

We stayed overnight in the Sandy Hollow Caravan Park which is a 3.5 star park and really a little gem.  It is located on 10 acres and has excellent facilities and clean amenities.  There were also 2 other motor homes with Winnebago RV Club members who were also attending the Bylong event.

As was the case last year, we and 37 other Winnies camped in the vicinity of the homestead on a large rural property of a couple who are members of the Winnebago RV Club.  We arrived just after 10:00am to find that the event location setup had been completed.  After doing the mandatory setup to establish our camp (level the motor home, deploy slideout, extend the awning, raise the flag etc etc), we spent the remainder of the day talking to other club members.  “He” made a statement that never before in his life had he spent so much time talking.  “She” was totally at home and in her element!

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On Friday night our hosts provided a delicious BBQ (the local beef is “to die for”)  after which more time was spent renewing old acquaintances and updating each other of trip details over recent months.

Saturday started with a communal breakfast of bacon and eggs followed by a flat 1 kilometre walk to the showground for the mouse races. 

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Australian Motor Homes (a Winnebago dealer who was also the supplier of our first motor home) provided some sponsorship for the event and provided us all with bright orange “Bylong Mouse Races” shirts and that ensured we certainly all stood out in the crowd.  There was no way anyone would be lost whilst walking from the homestead to the showgrounds.

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Bylong has a population of 60, with one shop/garage and it was estimated that a crowd of somewhere between 2000 and 3000 people were in town for the event. 

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As far as the races went, “He” managed to pick 3 of the first 4 winners but didn’t place any bets with the bookies.  As soon as we got serious, “nothing, zilch, zero”.

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Collectively, the Winnebago RV Club members decided to create a pool of funds so we could participate in the silent auction to buy the runners in race 9, the “Winnebago Country / City Challenger” and also to participate in the calcutta on the final race.  From our pool of funds, we managed to acquire 2 mice in the silent auction, number 5, “Bylong Breeze” and number 10, “Winnie Mouse”.

Much to our surprise and delight, “Winnie Mouse” managed to win the race from lane 10 and a couple of our members experienced the enjoyment of receiving the trophy and sash at the conclusion of the race (see photo). 

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We were unlucky when our raffle tickets were not drawn in the main calcutta draw but we still managed to successfully bid for a mouse called “Hooter” at the calcutta auction. We were hopeful that “Hooter” would win and then we could donate back the calcutta winnings (approximately $2400) to the organisers as a general donation for the event.  

After returning to our campsite, we participated in “Happy Hour” which included a lively discussion about the club and where it is going and then a very enjoyable BYO BBQ.

On Sunday, a coach tour was arranged for us.  We visited a commercial pottery producer at Lue before heading to Mudgee and the Robert Oakley winery for tastings.  We had lunch in a pub at Mudgee where we were provided with either a steak sandwich or barramundi fillets.  We returned back to Rylestone and an establishment that produced a variety of olive oil.

Again we had a BYO BBQ for tea followed by trivia.  We were made aware of a violent storm that hit Mudgee and we all secured awning etc “just in case”.  We were fortunate in that we only experienced a few drops of rain but we heard that surrounding areas had substantial and welcomed rainfall.

On Monday we set off home and after waiting to dump our dunny at the CMCA / Kea sponsored dump site at Bylong we left the Bylong township around 10:30am.  The majority of the drive back to Sydney was in constant rain, something that we had only experienced once before when driving from Coober Pedy to Port Augusta.

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