Day 22 | Coonamble to Peak Hill
We head off from Coonamble to Gulargambone for the next water tower art work. Painted in 2018 by Jenny McCraken, the works are titled; “Lucky Dip”, a Kingfisher diving into the river. The art work does not disappoint. We stop at the park in the centre of the township and take a walk around to view the street art.
Ten artists from around Australia worked on street murals to give the township a makeover. Two outback icons where Peter Browne and John Murray. The works are quirky and I just loved photographing them. There is also an amazing sculpture titled “Ghosts of Bullocks Past”. Sculptured from steel rod and wire netting, it’s a reminder of how wool was transported in the colony days.
The population of Gulargambone is now about 500, people have moved out because of the high crime rate and there are only 2 local shops and a rural supplies shed that are open on the day we visited.
We were walking back to our car and 2 dogs in a property started barking at Cinta. The woman came out of the house and yelled at us for upsetting her dogs. It wasn’t a pleasant way to end what had been such a wonderful walk admiring the street art…
As we continue on through to Gilgranda for our morning tea stop the landscape is still dry and barren. We are on the Newell Highway again and there are plenty of trucks passing us by today. We notice a change, the landscape is becoming dense with bush lands and there are large boulders along the highway. We also pass the Tomingley Gold Mine, it was commissioned in 2014 and is a massive site alongside the highway.
We decide to bypass Dubbo and stay at a small caravan park at Peak Hill. We prefer to support the small regional townships along the way.
Wildlife: dead kangaroos
Day 23 | Peak Hill
The Double D Caravan Park. What more can I say. This park scores a 10/10 for customer service. When I was looking for a place to stay, the Wikicamps reviews were amazing. Kev and Deb are great hosts and some of the facilities they provide include: unleashed dog area, doggy day spa, doggy day care, a camp kitchen which has absolutely everything you can think of, an outdoor dog friendly kitchen area, bath mats and music in the amenities block. Every morning there are pancakes for breakfast and if there are only a few people staying, guess what, you get a cooked country breakfast. The windscreen fairy also visits overnight. A lot of caravan parks could learn a thing or two from these amazing people.
We set out early this morning to take a walk around the decommissioned open cut gold mine. There are 3 paths to view the mine site. We took the goldmine discovery trail approx. 1.3km and some parts were a little challenging for me in the heat. The mine operated from 1996-2005. Gold was actually first discovered in the Peak Hill area in 1889 and from 1904-1917 it produced in excess of 60,000oz of gold.
Wildlife: parrots, cockatoos, galahs, shetland ponies, budgies.
Day 24 & 25 | Forbes
Leaving Peak Hill this morning for our first stop at Parkes. It’s time to get the hatch over the shower fixed. A timely exercise as we had a storm last night at Peak Hill. Luckily there wasn’t much rain in it. It’s only a 15 minute job so within no time we are off on the road again.
Slightly cooler weather today at 29 degrees and a similar landscape to yesterday. Cattle, sheep stations and crops adorn the highway.
On the outskirts of Forbes we detour to see The Dish; Parkes Radio Telescope. It’s a parabolic Dish 64m in diameter & weighs 1000 tonnes above the control tower. It certainly is a sight. The Dish observes 24 hours a day and takes 15 minutes to rotate 360 degrees.
We have found a lovely free camp site at Forbes alongside the Lachlan River. You can stay for 48 hours and there is water & bins are provided. Toilets are about .5km away across the road. Bird life aplenty. I’m madly photographing the pelicans diving for fish along the riverbank. As we sit in our camp chairs, the reflections in the river are mesmerising and I find my mind is constantly wandering.
Wildlife: Pelican, galahs, wild ducks, water hens, cockatoos, parrots
Day 26 | Forbes to Griffith
We are leaving Forbes this morning and heading to Weethalle where we plan to spend the night at the showgrounds. The landscape is quite barren apart from the trees adorning the highway. Their foliage is different this morning, it has a yellowish tinge. There are many cattle grazing in the paddocks and there are fields of crops.
We arrive at West Wyalong for morning tea. A dry township with many yards of gravel instead of grass, a clear indication of a drought affected area. We leave the Newell Highway and take the Mid Western Highway through to Weethalle to see our first silo artwork.
The silo artwork depicts farming life in the Weethalle district and Heesco Khosnaran an artist from Melbourne was chosen to paint the silo after being shortlisted with 3 other artists. The works are amazing and I spend quite a bit of time trying to get the right photograph. It’s difficult to get a good photo as they are so expansive.
It’s time to head off to the showgrounds to find a spot to camp overnight. It’s a dust bowl and we can only see 2 power boxes. One of which is beside a very large fallen tree. It’s 32 degrees and we decide to travel a little further to see if there is something more interesting along the way.
We are now in Riverina country and the wind is picking up and there are whirly winds all around us in the paddocks whipping up red dirt. The wind is ferocious and Andrew can feel the sway of the van behind us. He slows right down. We pass Rankins Springs and there is a dramatic drop in temperature to 19 degrees. We could see the storm ahead as we were travelling. The land is so flat and so dry that the water is all over the road, it’s gushing along the highway.
We are 20k out of Griffith and it so lovely to see vineyards & orange orchards along the highway. All of a sudden a warning light comes on in the car; tyre pressure low. There is nowhere to stop on this road, we travel on slowly, not knowing what’s going on. We arrive at Griffith and immediately pull into a service station. It’s drizzly and we are both out of the car to see what’s happening with our tyres. Luckily there is only one tyre that seems to be quite low on air pressure. Topped up and off we go the find the Willow Park Rest Area.
It’s a beautiful lush green park with toilet facilities and a dump point and we are heading for a cool evening. We have some spare time this afternoon so Andrew suggests I get the drone out again and see if I can get it into flight. I’ve been doing quite a few tutorials since we left Peak Hill. I managed to calibrate the IMU there but unfortunately couldn’t calibrate the compass. I’m hopeful that I can finally do this. I set my home point and then calibrate the compass and prepare for take off. Bingo. Finally. I am absolutely beside myself! The battery only last about 15 minutes and when it’s at 30% you need to be heading back home. The flight is short, however, it is successful. I can’t wipe the grin off my face…
Wildlife: Goats, cattle.
Day 27 | Griffith to Lockhart
It’s 16 degrees this morning and it’s a little fresh for us far north Queenslanders. The Riverina country is lush and the vineyards are irrigated through the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Scheme which runs along the highway. The landscape is now only vineyards and fruit orchards. Coming into Leeton there are hundreds of date palms along the highway, they look magnificent.
Lockhart is the home of another painted water tower. It features a cascading waterfall and local birds. The work was undertaken by two Blue Mountain artisis, Scott Nagy and Janne Birkner (Krimsone). It reflects the importance of the regions most vital asset – water. It’s a difficult tower to photograph as the trees have grown so tall and cover some of the artwork. I am slightly disappointed.
We encompass another storm on the highway and decide to keep travelling onto Corowa. Little did we know that Missy Higgins and the John Butler Trio are performing at a local winery. Traffic is heavy and we are in the middle of it. There is no trying to turn this caravan around on the highway.
The Ball park Caravan Park is our home for the night. It’s a very large park and the sites are tight. It takes us an hour to manouvre the van into position. We are both exhausted! It’s cold and drizzly, so we settle down for the night with an expected low of 9 degrees.
Wildlife: Cockatoo, dead kangaroo, black goats, sheep.
Day 28 | Corowa to Chiltern
Waking up to 9 degrees is fresh. We decide to rug up and head out of the park for a walk along the mighty Murray River. There are cockatoos everywhere in the trees, they sure make a mess. The parklands are awash with broken branches from the trees. There’s a couple of houseboats across the river and I can just imagine hiring one and travelling along the river, it would be so serene.
After two tiring days of travel we decide to cross the border to Chiltern and stay by the lake for 3 nights so that I can prep for the board meeting. It’s only a short drive, less than 30k! We arrive at the Lakeside Caravan Park and meet Ty and Esther. Turns out our friend Wendy from Townsville has been a life long friend of Ty’s parents. It’s a small world. The park is really lovely, located right on the lake. The sites have concrete slabs and lovely green patches of grass. The amenities are spotless. I can’t wait to spend a few days here.
Wildlife: Cockatoos, alpaca, llama, sheep, rabbits, dead baby rabbit.
Week 4 total expenses: $709.47, up a little from last week due to the expense of repairing the hatch on the caravan and joining a caravan park membership.
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That’s a wrap for Week 4 of the Lap of the Map.
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