Like many parents faced with three children and two weeks of school holiday, my wife Anna and I were faced with a dilemma - what's the best way to get our children off their electronic devices while ensuring they have fun?
We decided the best thing to do was to travel to Dubbo to see Western Plains Taronga Zoo for the first time.
Setting out in our trusty 2007 Subaru Forrester, our trip took us through Mudgee on the way out and Orange on the way back to Sydney with three nights staying just outside the city.
I'm not going to lie to you - over five hours in a car with a three year old is quite trying. In between entreaties from either Anna or myself for our boys to stop teasing, yelling or laughing at each other we attempted to point out the sights of the Blue Mountains, Megalong Valley and the low lands in and around Lithgow.
We actually had some success quieting the kids with an audible book Tolkien's "The Hobbit" with its stories of goblins and elves in dangerous journeys through mountains and valleys that closely resembled the geography of the trip we were taking.
In between demands for McDonalds and toilet stops (always minutes after leaving a major town) we finally made Dubbo after around six hours driving.
Western Plains Zoo is incredible. With hire bikes taking the place of a jeep you have the experience of traveling the plains of Africa encountering incredible animals almost as if they are 'in the wild'. Our kids were taken with giraffes, elephants, lions and hippos just metres from our bikes before we happily moved on to the next enclosure in complete safety.
With COVID-19 destroying international tourism and the potential for further restrictions on interstate travel, a trip to the corners of this state and spending your money while you do it is a great thing for yourself and our friends in regional communities.
IBIS World recently reported they expect 7,000 Australian tourism businesses to collapse as a result of COVID-19 and the lack of international tourists will wipe out as much as 0.7 per cent of our GDP. If regional communities are to survive they will need tourists from big Australian cities.
I appreciate this column is NOT a travel journal but I want to convey the sense of fun and adventure we had and encouraging St George residents to travel our regions. I can always get back to writing something 'political' next week.