With no rain to keep us awake we managed a good night’s sleep at last. We drove across the bridge over the Murray River to Moama to attend the local Baptist church and were warmly welcomed by them there. The pastor, in his first church, gave a very good message and, the musicians did a really great job without being ‘over the top’! Mary did the Moama Markets and bought a couple of small items before we headed back across the border for lunch at the CP followed by a walk around town to get a few photos of their heritage buildings.
At 1500 we boarded the PS (paddle steamer) Emmy Lou for a cruise along the river. There was evidence of the recent heavy flooding with many River Gum trees precariously hanging onto life at the fringe of the river bank. A large number of houseboats were moored along this stretch of the river – a very popular if slightly expensive holiday option. An enjoyable hour or so on the peaceful river cruise before walking home for our evening meal. Afterwards we had a pleasant walk along the levee and back through some adjacent bushland enjoying the sounds of nature.
Echuca to Narrandera
We awoke to a lovely cool morning and very soon had everything organised to depart at 0800, with a brief stop across the river at Moama for petrol and bread. Oh, and Mary found some bargains at Woollies as well!
The road was good and we soon arrived at Deniliquin for a morning tea break. It was already getting warmer – a greatly appreciated situation considering how long we had travelled in cold and windy weather. The terrain was very flat so cruise control came in very handy so I could almost relax as we trundled through the pleasant rural countryside.
We arrived at Jerilderie and made a brief stop, and headed on a stroll along the very small main street. It was then that we realised that Jerilderie had made their claim to fame a bank robbery by the infamous outlaw, Ned Kelly in 1879. Everywhere there were signs telling how Ned and his gang had terrorised many in the town for several days, including several leading citizen. He ordered the destruction of the telegraph facility, and to ensure that word did not reach outside the town made several locals chop down some 500m of telegraph poles to ensure his safety. In a generous gesture to his misguided local supporters he shouted a few beers at the local pub before riding off to a generous round of applause from those whom he had not terrorised. An interesting highlight in a tidy small town in outback NSW.
We had lunch at a road stop along the highway. One thing that we did see was the amount of water lying in paddocks, alongside the road, and in the muddy streams nearby. There were several road signs advising of water across the highway however, the levels had subsided enough not to hinder our progress. The recent very heavy rains had caused some road damage but did not seem to have damaged the grain growing alongside the road.
Arriving at Narrandera about 1330 we quickly got ourselves set up before a walk into town. An interesting place with typical 18th and 19th century Western NSW architecture. The weather was quite warm with lots of friendly, fluffy, white clouds overhead. The CP at Lake Talbot, close to town was on a ridge overlooking a part of the Murrumbidgee River system. We had noticed, as we arrived at the bridge before entering the town, that the river was high and had lots of swirling muddy water. Apparently there was a flood level several meters higher expected the following day and it was likely that the other CP in town would likely be submerged. We had made a good choice of came this time. We booked ahead for Dubbo and enjoyed the mild evening with poor TV reception!
Narrandera to Dubbo
Another sunny day (we could easily get used to this ‘normal’ weather) and we headed up the Newell Highway on a good flat road again. Travelling via West Wyalong, Forbes and Parkes we saw evidence of the recent rains. We decided not to stop at the famous Parkes space telescope (featured in the movie ‘The Dish’ some years ago, for its role in the first moon landing) but lost the saved time at Forbes and Parkes with several road works delaying us for some time. We did enjoy lunch at a lovely park near Forbes however.
The vast grain fields of western NSW looked a picture with green young wheat or almost ripe winter wheat all along the highway.
We arrived at the Dubbo CP on a warm and sunny afternoon and, after setting up, made the mandatory visit to Big W so that Mary could print out more photos for her album! Back to camp and both very tired as we had covered a large distance in a fairly short time.
One tiring feature of this part of our trip was the huge number of B Double trucks using the highways, contributing to some of the bad road patches we had to try and avoid. However, even the bad patches here were far better than the general state of Victorian roads.
The sizable town famous for its open zoo as well as its historical importance as a major support town for the west of NSW. Needless to say we headed off to visit the zoo nice and early, along with many other sightseers too! At the zoo one has the choice of transport around the 5 – 6 Kms of zoo roads. Drive your own car, walk, cycle, or pay a ransom to hire a golf buggy. We opted for the walk as we needed the exercise and in spite of the warm day. All the animals were housed in large open exhibit areas, and if zoos are to be relevant in today’s world then this seems to be the best option, especially as a number of animals are endangered and this zoo (allied to the famous Taronga Zoo in Sydney) has a major role in breeding rare species of animal here.
After a long and hot day we drove back into town for another vital visit to the Big W photo facility!
A very enjoyable evening in the warmth so we could eat outside at last. The CP was a rather noisy place, we belatedly found out, being next to the main truck route through town, a rail line and the nearby airport. It was however, a pleasant and well-maintained spot and handy to a major shopping facility.
Dubbo to Tamworth
Again we made an early start on our journey to Tamworth on a good road, although with a few bad patches. The heavy trucks using the highway on this stretch probably contributed more than their share to the damage. A brief stop at Gilgandra (didn’t see much to encourage a longer stop) and then on to Coonabarabran for morning tea. The nearby Warrumbungles were missed this time and maybe later will be visited to enjoy.
Lunch adjacent to a large park in Gunnedah, being used by a local high school for their sports day. A couple of good young athletes but most just jogged around as poseurs! Thought of friend Neville who was from this area.
Arrived at Tamworth(home of the famous Country Music Festival every mid-PM at a quiet site near the river. A Top Tourist CP but had very limited facilities for any busy period. Watched TV to close a nice and sunny day that threatened a thunderstorm, but which did not eventuate.
Tamworth to Glen Innes
A cool start to the day as we departed our camp. We were not long on the road before an idiot motorcyclist, tried a chicken with an approaching motorist. A very near miss for everyone.
We soon hit the first Moonbi hill and climbed slowly to the lookout back towards Tamworth. Very pleasant. Arriving in Uralla we enjoyed a walk around this interesting country town with many shops having shop models attired in clothing appropriate advertising material for their shop. Also famous for the Captain Thunderbolt statue recalling another highwayman of the 18th century.
At Armidale we managed to get some petrol at a reasonable price and had a look around. It had changed since I last visited on one of my sales trips when working for JAL some years ago. Still a nice university town, even if somewhat cold.
We had lunch at Guyra (another interesting bush town) and continued on a good road to Glen Innes arriving about 1330. A rather tight CP site up a slope which I didn’t really need after so many kilometres, however. I managed that obstacle and we soon got setup.
Mary & I walked around town and did some shopping as some serious thunderclouds approached, however, they did not bother us as they seemed to split into two streams and drifted around both sides of the town. Many 18th and Federation period buildings added to the picturesque town with its Celtic history. I cooked dinner on the outside gas cooker as the storm threatened, but a few rain spots and that was it.