A Travellerspoint blog

Walgett to Lightning Ridge

sunny 40 °C

Saturday 25th

A slow getaway this morning after a very forgettable night of heat and serious wind gusts and noted that most of the free dust at the site had been blown away over night. Mary said there were supposed to be visitor sites in town to see but we couldn’t see anything of note as we drove out of town.
The Castlereagh ‘Highway’ proved to be a misnomer as we juddered along at low speed all 75 kilometres to Lightning Ridge. More large trees on a Savannah landscape and what grasses appeared all looked like they were already dead. Grey and lifeless grass and a lot of sheep or cattle stations along the road so I guess that farming is still happening here.

Just before entering the town we stopped to see Stanley, the 18 meter high ‘Big Bird’ sculpture set in a very visible spot beside the highway. A photo was a must – and so we did!

Arriving at Lightning Ridge we looked at one possible caravan park in town but decided on the Opal Top Tourist site that we had already booked. Everything looked new and well organised so we were well pleased. Setting up in the oppressive heat was not very pleasant but we were glad when completed.

Lightning Ridge is famous for the locality having the only known Black Opals in the world and, the piles of ‘rubble’ extracted from the opal mines gave a rather untidy appearance that was perhaps exaggerated by the arid aspect to the whole area. Apparently the name of Lightning Ridge has something to do with the ridge having sufficient metallic substance in the ground to attract lightning strikes, however, I have yet to verify this claim although it may well be true!

After a bite of lunch and lots of water to drink we had a bit of a look around LR – especially as Mary was keen on the opal shops! Spent most of her time admiring items priced over $5000 – not sure why! Not surprisingly did not buy anything at all and we ended up getting some info at the Info office to help our decisions on sightseeing. Finished off at the Bowls Club (in air conditioning and had a cold lemon squash) before returning to camp.
Had a late shower in their new ablution facility and was surprised at the up-market look (without up-market prices!).

The aircon has kept the van much cooler today so hope for a better night!

Posted by psstevo 19:08 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Bourke to Walgett

sunny 41 °C

Friday 24th

Bourke to Walgett (C6 #397 NSW) proved to be a fairly long journey with little variety in the landscape even when arriving at the edges of Walgett township. We took a bit of time trying to locate our freecamp and succeeded by finding the correct road (not the one printed in the Camps book). It was quite large with plenty of free sites so had no trouble finding one of the dusty spots to set up. Unfortunately the awning refused to work so maybe the damage in Berri is more severe than we initially thought.

Got some photos of a white spoon-bill feeding in the dirty water nearby but too hot to go chasing photos!

Although we had the 12V fan on it was only moving very hot air around the van so we prepared for a very hot night – and we were not disappointed with just on 40C!!! Woken after midnight by several huge wind gusts and that did not help sleep either.

Posted by psstevo 19:06 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Bourke

sunny 40 °C

Thursday 23rd

Bourke – A pleasant small town that we enjoyed wandering around and checking out the sights. The old wooden wharf (multi-level to cater for flooding and low water events) gave a view over the Darling River (although it looked pretty awful greeny and very slow moving). There was a colony of Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos across the river bank and taking turns at flying down to a log to drink the ‘greeny’ stuff that passed for water.

Had a decent cappuccino at a lovely little ‘everything’ shop with very friendly staff and then had a look around the limited shops for a couple of repair items. As the heat was getting worse we drove around a couple of points to see what the tourists are supposed to see, however we missed out on the old paddle steamer trip as they had reduced departure times.

Drove across a non-river and the Darling to try and see the old lift-style bridge and hopefully the paddle steamer. Managed to photo the bridge but no sign of the paddle steamer.

Back to the very pleasant park and rested up in the shade.

Posted by psstevo 19:04 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Baden Park to Meadow Glen Rest Area to Bourke

sunny 39 °C

Tuesday 21st

Baden Park RA to Meadow Glen Rest Area (C 6 # 1057) was a reasonable one-day distance for Mary and although leaving a little later than usual we eventually for back on the road. The trees now seemed to be a bit taller and there was more roadside shrubs growing, still providing good shelter for emus and goats. We encountered two wide-load trucks on the journey and the CB radio came in handy as it enabled me to plan a safe road-side shoulder to provide the wide-load trucks to pass safely.

We stopped at the busy mining town of Cobar to get some information and to enjoy a coffee break. The information was very useful but I can only say that ordering a cappuccino at Maddies coffee and pizza shop will give you what I believe is the worst cappuccino in the world. It was apparently made from bore water and the only ‘milk’ used was watered down and lightly frothed – taking up almost a ¼ of the mug. Didn’t buy the T-shirt either!!

A few mining statue photos and then on to the Kidman Highway to the famous Outback town of Bourke, some 160 Km further on. The Kidman was one of the smoothest and best constructed roads in Australia. At last some engineers demonstrate how to avoid the bone juddering that most bridge and culvert approaches that are a hazard almost everywhere. The long straight highway, with taller trees and lots of scrub (great for feral goats to hide in!) and, almost at journeys end for the day we suddenly came upon a Savannah-scape with a few large trees and apparently dead grasses. How any animal could live on this was a mystery and one could only weep with the landowners struggling to survive in this endless and arid landscape.

We passed what appeared to be a large cotton operation and then we arrived in Bourke. A small town of 2800 people that services an area the size of Denmark!

Checking out caravan parks took a few minutes (there are only two here anyway) and we decided on the Mitchel Caravan Park almost in town as it had green grass (YES!) and was clean and tidy and had a friendly lady to handle our checkin.

Setting up in the stifling heat was a bit arduous but we were looking forward to a REAL SHOWER as it was 38C already. Mary had hers and I decided to wait a bit and then we saw the approaching thunderstorm – early in the hot season but still one to be wary of.

Off to the shower I raced and got back to the van as it started to rain with some thunder. It was a peaceful storm and soon disappeared towards the east and it became slightly cooler but we still needed the aircon.

A quiet evening getting our photos loaded onto Mary’s laptop and then we watched Frost until hitting the hay.

Posted by psstevo 15:33 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Spring Hill to Baden Park RA

sunny 40 °C

Monday 20th

Today we planned another modest trip (under 200 Km) to Baden Park RA (C 6 #1060) and by the time we departed it was already warm under a cloudless sky. The landscape did not change much and the thought occurred that this was a less interesting journey that across the famous Nullarbor Plains. More emus and then feral goats – in their thousands! So far we had experienced wild kangaroos, wallabies, emus, donkeys, shingle-back lizards, frilled lizards, as well as sheep, cattle and horses on the road or roadside! And that excluded the road-killed wallabies, echidnas, lizards and snakes!!

The Rest Area at Baden Park was quite nice apart from the thousands of wasps or bees that had a hive at the base of the water tank!! We were later joined by a couple of other rigs for the overnight stay and, at happy hour we suddenly had everyone sharing our shady spot for a ritual evening chat of places and people we had experienced on the road. Very useful in a getting information on where to stay or not as the case may be.

One couple included a retired nurse trainer and her husband and another was a gypsy character simply ‘on the road’ to almost anywhere!

Late that evening a Blenner’s freezer truck decided to share our campsite (even though a Truckie stop was only five minutes up the road) and so we all had a very broken sleep that night!

Posted by psstevo 15:32 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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