Friday, September 23, 2011

The Back O' Burke, where the birds fly backwards so they don't get sand in their eyes.

1st September 2011, Spring, Oh! Lovely Spring.
Our  Spring Trip to NSW Outback.

After a sad day yesterday, with my cousin Chris having his funeral, we left our home at Salt Ash to travel to the NSW Outback. We left at 6.30am, it was very foggy and not very much traffic at that time of the morning. I was very surprised. I was very surprised when we reached Hexham and there was not a traffic jam, as there is most mornings. Even after going through Maitland and Greenhills, all the traffic was going towards Newcastle, which was great for us travelling north.

We had morning tea at Muswellbrook, after travelling through some extremely foggy areas. Just about, everyone controlled themselves on the road and stuck to the speed limits and we saw many police cars, which is great.

We had a smooth drive to Uralla where we had lunch. I like the little town of Uralla, we have stayed there many years ago when we broke down coming over the Moonbi range, we were going north at the time and I have never forgotten what it feels like to brake down and not one person stop for you. A man did eventually and we were fixed up a couple of hours later and drove to Uralla for the night. We also spent a weekend there some years ago, when there was historic car racing on. The town is on the highway, and they closed off the highway to traffic while there was a Grand Parade down the main street. After lunch we walked over to the information office to see if the road from Uralla to Inverell was good enough for us to take the van or did we have to go to Tamworth and then across. After talking to the lady at the information office, we decided to go on the Gwydir Highway, and we are very happy we did. The road was very smooth with not many rough patches. We arrived at Inverell about 3.30pm, just before the schools are out and all traffic has to go slower. Not that there is much traffic in Inverell, but the school zones do slow cars down. (most of the time)

After booking in and setting up we had a caffeine hit and a walk up the street. We did some shopping, I bought myself a new jacket with a hood from Millers, bought some other little things, came back to the van park to have a rum and coke and dinner, a shower, watch TV and then to bed. James didn’t made it to the watching of TV, he is asleep and it is only 7pm. He is propped up on his elbow, he has driven for 8 hours so I suppose he is very tired.

After having, a great sleep tomorrow will be an exciting day….I hope

2nd September 2011 - Friday, Inverell,

I couldn’t believe it James was asleep at 7pm, I woke him up at 7.30pm to watch The Big Bang Theory, which he did. We then got into bed to read but we both were too sleepy to read so off went the light and to sleep we went.

We both woke about 6am, read for a while and the got out of bed about 7am when it started to warm up a bit. I think that the overnight temperature was very low.

James isn’t having too much luck with the radio/CD player in the van, as it would not come through the speaker properly. I thought here we go again, this is the third new player we have had in the van in six years.

HOWEVER, NO! After going to the shops and buying some ‘bits’ to fix the problem. James fixed the player, after we came back from a visit with Phyllis, he had the wires crossed….wrongly put together.

We arrived at Phyllis’s house about 10am, we had a cuppa while she talked about the family history that she is doing. Phyllis has made up six books, all the same, dealing with all the family. Photos and little stories about those who are in the family. It was very interesting reading about those who came before us.

We took Phyllis to the hospital for an x ray, which didn’t take long and then off to a Chinese Restaurant for lunch. After lunch we went back to Phyllis’s house for another coffee and more talking about family history.

We arrived back at the van about 3pm.

I read until rum time, and then dinnertime, yes more eating. Watched a bit of TV and then to bed for a good nights sleep before helping James drive to Lightning Ridge tomorrow.

3rd September Saturday 2011- Inverell

We woke up to 5mm of ice on the car, which made it a bit cold. The further we got into the day the warmer it got.

There was not a cloud in the sky, the sky was perfect, a nice blue which seemed to go forever. The road to Lightning Ridge was long. It was a two-lane road and I think that in the 380 kilometres there were only 20 cars and 2 semi- trailers passed us coming towards us. We were overtaken by 2 cars, now that is great, we had the road to ourselves but it did make you think that one would have to have a very reliable car. We made it to Collarenebri for lunch, and that meant that we got to LR about 2.3pm. We had lunch down by the Barwon River. There were a few people with vans stopped there. It seemed a nice place to stop for an overnight fee rest. The last time we drove this way there wasn’t any grass in the paddocks and only little green bits by the side of the road, where the sheep and kangaroo and different sorts of wild life ate. The last time going through here we saw lots and lots of road kill. This time we didn’t see any road kill, which was nice, but in saying that we didn’t see any animals either. Now the paddocks were full of grass and crops of sorts. This made for a wonderful trip, nice and easy with no one trying to hurry you along.
Coming down off of the Great Dividing Range onto the Liverpool Plains.
Overlooking the Liverpool Plains. Northern NSW Australia

This is the entrance to Lighning Ridge.
At last we arrived at Lightning Ridge.
We found the caravan park, just up the road from the hot pools, the van park is nice and new. The amenities were lovely and clean and new.

After setting up we drove into the Tourist Information just outside of town. We got some information and then decided to go and see KB, of course the directions that James had was wrong. Actually, they were correct but we interpreted wrong. I do know I am clever, and at times I can multi skill, but one thing I can not do is drive and navigate at the same time. So after having James explain to me a few time where we were suppose to be going we headed off. Therefore, after driving for a little while we came to a dirt road, which meant we had driven to far.. Well! We were on the wrong road. After ringing Jan and James got the correct directions, which he also interpreted wrongly, we drove off. After driving on a dirt road for about 1 kilometre, we came to water over the road, we turned around and took another road and came to a mine. We hightailed it out of there, as we didn’t want to get shot or anything like that. I asked James to tell me what Jan said to him and he said that they live in 3 Mile Creek Road. After looking at the map, we were completely in the wrong direction. Now I know why I navigate and he drives, sometimes it works better that way. The road we needed was next to the Information Centre, they lived 1 kilometre from there. It took us 15 minutes to find them from the time we set off. Lightning Ridge is not that big that one would get lost, especially when given the directions…

Anyway, we found them, they are living in a railway carriage, very comfortable. Not what I would like. They had it set up very nicely, still no electricity, but they do have some tanks for water and that is an improvement on the other place that they had. We had a lovely couple of hours catching up before we left to go back the caravan park for dinner and a well-earned rum and sleep.

These are the rail way cariages that our friends live in.
So different to anywhere else in the world.

We sat in the shade of the trees.

The TV will only get one station and not very good so we are listening to some Cds that James brought along. I found that very relaxing.

Tomorrow we are going to the pools for some R&R.I just cannot wait.

Sunday 4th September 2011 - Lightning Ridge

Woke up to a windy cold day, but I must say that as the day went on the day got better and warmer.

The sky never had a cloud in it all day and it was just wonderful.

1st we had breakfast

2nd We drove down the in the Information Centre and there was a market there. Although it was windy and cold there were about 20 stallholders selling all sorts of things. James took the bag to buy potatoes seeing that it was a market but as we found out not that sort of market. They were selling more the mining sort of stuff, opals, books and junk of all descriptions. James bought some DVDs and 2 books. I bought nothing, nothing for me there at all, although we did look at some opals. James had to go to IGA for the potatoes, which we did later in the morning.

3rd We came back to caravan park, changed, and went for a dip in the hot pools. The pool was extremely clean, I do believe that the pools were updated although I thought they looked that same as they where 10 years ago. The day before about 5.30pm went for a drive to the pools and there were so many people there I just was not going to go in, so we came back to the caravan park and had dinner. To day, we drove up to the pools and there was only one other couple there and a man with a boy. I thought that was just great, we had the pool to ourselves - well, sort of- we stayed for about an hour or so. The water is about 40 degrees and very hot, and very refreshing. I did get very hot and the sign said to get out every so often and have a shower. James did that and said that the shower was just so cold. I didn’t have a shower as I thought that I would cramp up, so I just stood up every now and again to cool off, which worked wonderfully.

4th We then came back to the park, had lunch and then took off again to have a look around to see if anything had changed since the last time we were here. The shopping part of the town hadn’t changed at all. There were many proper houses built since the last time we were here. Although there were still humpies, you couldn’t see most of them from the road, or tracks as they are.

5th We drove up to the mine, The Opal Mine and we were the only people there. I like it when there is no one else around to take up the time of the person serving me. The fella there was great and bought some opals, in fact we bought Teagan’s birthday gift there. A Black Opal, very rare and only found in Lightning Ridge. I do hope she likes it.
An Underground Mine

6th On the way back we decided to call in on Ken and Jan which we did and of course there were very welcoming, after spending an hour or so with them we said our goodbyes and said we would see them in another ten years. Now that would be something.

7th Drove back to the van park and started talking to our neighbours, we had Happy Hour with them and then after three hours we decided to have dinner so off we went to BBQ our dinner which was lovely, and considering that we have dinner at 6 pm at home and this was 8pm I thoroughly enjoyed it.

8th all we did today were catch up with the Blog and shower and got ready for bed.

Looking forward to going to Bourke tomorrow. I hope that it will only take 3 hours to get there.

Nighty night till tomorrow and we will see what holds in store for us. Only good things.

5th September Monday, 2011 Stewarts Birthday. Bourke.
 First we had to go through Walget which was 70 k down the road.
There wasn't any water in this river 10 years ago when we came through. This time there is and the country is looking just wonderful

Main street of Walgett

I did try and ring Stewart but the number I had wouldn’t go through. I thought I would message him and that wouldn’t go either. I will ring him tonight when he gets home.

We had a very good trip to Bourke, in fact, it was only in 320 kilometres from LR to Bourke and in that time 8 road trains passed us coming towards us, there were also 6 caravans and 10 cars, that’s all that was coming towards Walgett. We only had 2 4WDs and 2 cars pass us on the way here. It sort of gives me the creeps, seeing no one else on the road for miles and miles. I also think, as I did when we went to Winton that the centre of Australia goes up in the middle, as it seems that we are always climbing. We use a tank of gas, and nearly ¾ tank of petrol to get here. I also think that we had a head wind.

The park is 6 kilometres out of Bourke on the Cunnamulla Road. I wouldn’t mind going to Cunnamulla, but I don’t think that we can go this trip. James is now reading all the information that we received from the Back O’ Bourke Centre. Bourke is a very historical town. More historical than I thought. I did know that Henry Lawson came here and wrote poems, but that was about all.

Tuesday 6th September 2011, Bourke.

We drove into town, it is about 6 kilometres, and this was about 9.30am. First, we drove to the Wharf. This wharf was rebuilt after the flood, which one I do not know, as every so many years they have a’ big’ one.

Secondly, we drove out to the cemetery to see some graves of famous people. I thought that we would see Captain Starlight, but no, we saw the man who caught him instead, Sergeant John McCabe. The sheet of paper said it was Captain Starlight’s grave. He was a famous bushranger who ran amuck through NSW.

1991 Australia of the Year Professor Fred Hollows, who was the eye surgeon who is known world wide for his determination to restore the sight of people going needlessly blind. His motto is ‘that all the world may see“’ .

Also in the cemetery are several graves of Afghans who were associated with camel trade that ceased in the 1920’s.

Republican William Sly, who opened the first pub, own the first cradle and the first grave. The headstone of his daughter is the oldest in the cemetery. We couldn’t find it, but we found William Sly’s headstone.


Drove out to the lock and weir, this weir was the first built on a river system anywhere along the Murray or Darling River systems, in fact in Australia. Built in 1897, the lock and weir is also the only one of its kind built on the Darling river.

While we were in town, we went to the other information centre and bought some tickets for bus tour around the town. This office was at the old station. find out how much wool was shipped out of Bourke

It is a shame that the government of the day put an end to the rail line, but that happened everywhere in NSW. All the little towns were growing, but with the end of the rail line some of them went downhill and it has taken a long time for the bigger towns to grow.

On the way back to the van park, we stopped off at the Bourke Bridge (North Bourke). This was the first bridge over the Darling at North Bourke and was built in 1883. This is a Lift-Up Bridge and the remains of the pulleys and cogs can be easily seen. James went fishing just below the bridge but he never caught a thing, although there was fish jumping in the water. The water along the Darling River was brown, I wonder if it is always like that?

This holiday is taking its toll, we came back to the van, had lunch and I had asleep. James didn’t as he thought that we would sleep in and miss our booked tour of Bourke.

On time, the bus pulled up and there were 10 couples on the tours, which made it a nice small groups of people. We all climbed aboard and then started off for the trip around town. We saw

The house build very high on stilts, just in case of a flood.
The hospital, which is very new. The government gave 15million to build.
Ardsilla fruit 1890’s, which went broke because the government saw it fit to stop at once the water allocations for that farm. This farm employed 300 people from the surrounding area and put millions back into the community. Makes me wonder why they had to stop the water allocations. The bank took over the farm, rented it for a while and now it is up for sale. The oranges trees are being pulled out. We picked some, they are the best oranges I have tasted for some time. Now it is gone.
Police inspector’s quarters built in 1901. This fine old wooden house is now a women’s Refuge.
The Western Herald first known as ‘ The Central Australian” established in 1868 and Bourke’s first paper. Was first published in 1887. This building although undated, is considered to be the oldest building in Bourke
The London Bank was built in 1888 and is the last surviving example of Victoriana business, the bank closed in 1890s depression
Post office began 1880
Post office hotel was built 1888 and was the drinking hole of Henry Lawson.
Police station is the 1889 vintage and is the site of the first court house of 1865, Bourke’s first court case was held in open air and concerned a bushranging chare.
Courthouse built in 1900 for the cost of 9,5400 pounds.
The crown on the spire apparently indicated a Maritime Court, the furthest inland Maritime Court in Australia.

After the tour of the town, we went to the cotton gin, to see how we need to keep our cotton growing. In addition, what it entails to get the cotton from the field to the maker. We also know now that they only irrigate the cotton for a period of 36 hours, 3 lots of 8 over the growing season. I wonder if our politicians know that.

Because of the water restrictions on the farmers, we saw what that could do. There was an orange grower who the government made bankrupt because they took the water licence off of him. Now they are pulling out all the orange trees. So sad.

I thought when we came here we would see a town like many others on our travels that is just surviving, but this town is going ahead full steam. Or was.

Wednesday 9th September 2011- Bourke

Would you believe it! It rained last night, to start off with a couple of spots, and then a couple more, and then the shortest shower I have heard. All this made the car very spotted with the dust that was on it.

The day started off very cool, I had to put on a cardigan, as usual the further we got into the day the warmer it got.

We went to the Back O’ Bourke Exhibition Centre. There is a saying out here and that is ‘you don’t know Australia until you know Bourke.’ and there is another saying - “where the crows fly backward so they don’t get dust in their eyes” we spent nearly 3 hours at the centre reading and getting a better idea of what it was like to live in the 1800’s and the heroes and the people that made this town what it is today.

In the afternoon, we drove into town to get some bread and have a look at the only general store in town. I thought that it would be something to see, but it was like any other store.

I really do not know where the people buy their modern clothes from. I suppose they go to Dubbo that would be the nearest town 300 kilometres away.

On the way back we called in to the art gallery and bought 2 reproductions of a drought and flood, they will look great when they are framed.

We came back to the van and had a rest, I cooked dinner and James read and then went to sleep, just like him.

8th Thursday September 2011 - Bourke

AM - We woke to rain. It seemed to rain all night but the ground was not wet this morning when we woke up. The sky was that black, grey so we knew that it was going to rain, and it is raining now, not hard, just nuisance and another thing it is freezing. I didn’t think that it would be so cold. It must be below 10degrees.

James is now reading and I will be doing some knitting when I have finished here.

I thought that we would go to Mt Oxley, seeing that it is the highest part around here. It is on a dirt road, 35 kilometres from the main road, which is 50 kilometres from Bourke. Now that is out of the question, as the road will not be passable for a car, maybe 4WD. There is not much more to do here, we may as well just stay in the van and relax, seeing that we are leaving tomorrow and it is a long trip 300 odd kilometres from Bourke. I just hope it is not raining.

PM - It is still raining, it has rained all day, now it is getting to be a bigger nuisance. We decided that we had a bit of cabin fever and went at 12 pm, by the wharf to see the Historical Crossley Engine, Twin Cylinder Oil Fuelled Stationary Engine, this is a fully restored 1923 vintage Crossley oil fuelled stationary engine. The engine was manufactured by Crossley Brothers of Manchester England. This engine is a fine example of an early four stroke engine, which followed on from the steam engine era. There are volunteers who start the engine every day. This engine was originally used from 1923 to 1938 in the Sydney Power House to generate electricity for Sydney. The engine was then sold to the Allowrie Butter Factory at Coffs Harbour and used from 1938 till 1949. The engine was then sold to a Narromine property and used from 1949 to 1964 to pump water for crop irrigation. The engine was donated by Bob Crawford and family of Narromine in 2001 and fully restored to working condition by Don Burns and Bourke Shire Council in 2002. It is really lovely to see old engines working, and this engine was so quiet. The volunteer stood a 50 cent piece on a part of the engine and it didn’t move at all.

After spending some time there looking and finding out about the Crossley Engine, we came back to the van had some lunch and as it was still raining, I knitted and James read his book.

In the ladies I met a lady called Elvie Douglas and she paid us a visit for a couple of hours which was nice. We talked about knitted socks and all sorts of things. I am sending her some patterns as she has never knitted socks. Elvie had been talking to another lady who knitted socks and was quite taken by them. Now she has all the information, Elvie can not wait to get home and start knitting.

We are not moving on tomorrow if it is raining, but sooner or later we have to move on, and the rain has to stop.

Lets pray it does stop.

Friday 9th September 2011 0- Bourke

It was fine when we woke this morning and I think that we were the first to move off at about 8 am.

Between Bourke and Walgett there was only about five vehicles on the road. We got gas at Walgett, although it was a bit tight with the van on, but we got in and out with out too much trouble.

We took the karmalai highway through Burran Junction, were there was less traffic on the road. We met a great big vehicle, some sort of farm vehicle and he pulled over to let us through.

We called into Burran Junction for some bread for lunch. We went to this tiny little garage, store, newsagent and decided to have pies (James wanted that) I had 2 sausage rolls. Mine tasted great, I think that was so, as I hadn’t had a sausage roll for a couple of years. We drove up the road a bit and then pulled over and ate them. They were so tasteful.

We pulled into Narrabri about 3pm, checked in and then walked up the main street just to see what was there and get some vegies for tea. We also had a coffee at a nice cafĂ©, where we bought some cream buns. We hadn’t had any of them for, well, I can not remember when. It started to rain on the way back, so we just hurried up a bit. It ended up not raining, I was so glad. On the way to the showers I saw the best rainbow I had ever seen. I could see the colours distinctly and they were so bright and vivid. The rainbows we have at home are pale and the colours blend together.

After we had dinner, we got into bed and James read and I did my puzzles till lights out

Saturday 10th September 2011 Gunnedah

We woke to a wonderful sunny day, but that changed not long after, although it didn’t rain it most certainly looked like it would. We drove through the little town of Boggabri. I thought that it would have been bigger than it was. We only drove up the main street. We had been following a 5th wheeler and really didn’t want to pass him, so we took a side track, as we were turning the corner to go down the main street, he came out further up. I didn’t think that our little side trip made a difference to the time we were behind him.

After getting to the caravan park and checking in, we went to the swap meet at the show ground. It is a large show ground, first we went to where the dog show was and turn around not knowing where we were. So heading back to the car and driving off we found that the swap met was next door. We spent 3 hours there, looking at all the ‘stuff’ we also spoke to many stall holders there too. It was a shocking day as the wind was very fierce. I am so glad that I bought the coat with a hoodie on it. I wore it and the hood kept my ears and head so warm. I didn’t bring a scarf or beanie with me as I thought that this trip, seeing that we were going north and nearly to the Queensland border I wouldn’t need them. I was wrong. Gunnedah seems a rather large town and very friendly. We went to the tourist office and the lady there gave us some more information of sites to see, and little car drives around the town.

Sunday 11th September 2011 Gunnedah

Today is a sunny day, well it is to start off with. James is sitting outside reading. I am making a cake for morning tea and attending to this writing.

The cake tasted great with the cappuccino I made. We decided to go for the drive yourself around town tour. I drove and James tried to navigate. Just as well I had a good look at the map before we left, as James didn’t know where he was or how he was going to get anywhere really.

We had a nice drive around looking at a lot of sites, the best on was the lookout, I could see to the mountains in the north, south west and east, across the Liverpool Plains and Breeza Plains. What a great sight it was. We some time just looking at our wonder country.

We called back into where the swap meet was to see a car show. A little disappointing just 20 cars where there, some where really old and some newer.

As the day went on it got colder and colder. James was talking to a man that said last night he stayed at Walcha and it snowed very lightly. I am just glad it didn’t here. I must say Walcha is a lot higher than we are.

12th September Monday Gunnedah

Today was a very slow day. The itinerary for today is,
Newsagent to see if we won the millions that we bought a ticket for. We went and no we didn’t win anything. The only consideration is that there are a lot of other people out there didn’t win anything either.
Try and find a GIO, insurance has to be paid. AND no there isn’t a GIO office here, the closest is at singleton. Quite a few hours away. Will do pay the insurance when we get home
Have a look at the museum, which we did. There was so much stuff there mostly farm implement. One shed full of farm machinery was donated by one person. We had a great chat with him and he was very interesting.
We went up to the Pensioner Hill, which is a smaller lookout overlooking Gunnedah. The hill, in the depression was a shanty town. We met a man there who took us around and told us some of the history of the town. He also showed us plants and gave us the names of them, all of the were in flower which was most interesting. Most of the plants were from Western Australia. Plants we haven’t seen before. Before coming back to the park we went to the nursery and bought some plants. Now all we have to hope that they grow.
A walk down the main street of Gunnedah. There was a few shops that were closed down. The town had a wonderful main street and some beautiful buildings, and the widest street I have ever seen in a town in Australia.
Tomorrow we leave after having a wonderful time travelling through the Outback of NSW, a place that I must do again. There is a lot to see, pity we do not have a 4WD to go to those other places that an ordinary sedan car can not go safely.

13th September 2011 Monday

I couldn’t believe how cold it was, James woke me up about 4am to put the heater on. I was warm so I didn’t notice how cold it was. Once we warmed up, we went back to sleep till 6am when we got up to a light frost. Now that is why it was so cold.

After we had breakfast we packed the van and started off about 7am, a nice early start. The day was the best we had seen for a week, every since the cold front came through. There wasn’t a cold in the sky all they way home. The road from Gunnedah down the Quirindi was just perfect. The road was wide enough for people to pass and there were quite a few trucks on the road also. Once we joined the New England Highway there was a bit more traffic but not what I thought that there would be.

Anyway we arrived home safe and sound and that is all that matters in the long run. We had a wonderful trip, even if it did rain for a day or two and was a bit windy.

Not to get ready to go to Kirrily’s for a week and then back home for two weeks and off again. So I will keep everyone updated.

Some interesting fact about Burke.

One person declared it was so hot in Bourke that when locals died and went to hell they sent back for extra blankets.

Everyone should drive to Bourke, if for no other reason than to experience the road between Nyngan and Bourke, the state's longest stretch of road.

‘If you know Bourke, you know Australia