Hunting for opals but finding red dirt
Lightning Ridge, New South Wales
Lightning Ridge (tho I would have spelt it with an 'e' in Lightening so good job I just uploaded that photo of the welcome sign hey) - a small town with a lot of holes in the ground and signs saying 'Warning: you are about to enter an area of intense opal mining' followed by warnings about watching your kids and big holes. Just to prove to Jude how dangerous those holes are and why he couldn't run to the top of every mound of dirt he sees (and man there are a lot of those about) I took him over to look at one with a wire over the top and as we peered cautiously down through the holes and I explained that it would be much worse than a bump on his head (Jude's usual reason for why I ask him not to do something that is dangerous) the strap that keeps my lens cap attached to my camera hooks on one of the bits of rusty old wire and comes off and we see the poor little thing falling eternally to its doom. Hmmm lessoned learned for Mum who was trying to take a shot through the wire...... (good job I keep the camera on its strap around my neck even tho I feel like a bit of a dork)
So, lets go back a few days. From Broken Hill we drove as far as Meadow Glen Rest Area, Barrier Highway, 63km West of Cobar (as per the address I had to write on my Remote Traveller Census form). Amazing how exciting a small hill can look on the horizon when you have travelled through so much flat land. Passed through Wilcannia with no problems and no unsavoury looking types hanging about on the streets despite all the warnings I had been given.
A morning in Cobar and a visit to the rather impressive open cut gold mine (only from the top mind) and it was off to Bourke and hopefully the back of it. The drive there was filled with sightings of goats, emus, sheep, a fox, kangaroos and finally 3 little black pigs. And in all that way only one dead 'roo spotted. Conversely, on my way out of Bourke heading South East to Byrock a few days later, I saw all of those things again but apart from the emus, they were all dead. (this was also the same road that I had an emu run out in front of me causing me to come to an almost complete stop and she (or is it he in the emu world) left their two adolescent children on the other side of the road and I thought one of them was just gonna run into the side of my almost stopped van in its anxiety to also cross!)
Bourke was brilliant. If you go there thinking its going to be some romanticised version of an Aussie outback town (as the lady in the cabin alongside me here admits to doing) then you will be disappointed. Its an outback town that has long since seen its hey day and there are a lot of stores closed down and bars on some of the windows but it is clean and every person I spoke to there was friendly and not only interesting but interested. What more can you ask for? Weeelllllll, some of those dirt roads around town could use a bit of seeing to if you want to drive around on them in a campervan with somewhat precariously placed items inside but as soon as you got off the roads and onto the bright red bush tracks all was good (with no recent heavy rain of course).
We enjoyed a visit to the BackOBourke Exhibition Centre with its brilliant hi-tech displays only unfortunately it was done at Jude speed not Pauline speed so missed out on a lot. We also had a great cruise on a paddleboat down the Darling which also involved a lot of running around (the joys of travelling with a 2 year old) but we saw a lot of bird life and heard a lot of history too. Our last day we visited the very large and historic cemetery and got to pay our respects to Fred Hollows who is buried there.
An hour or so down the track that arvo and we were at Byrock which I would totally recommend to anyone although there is only a pub and a general store but a lovely walk through the bush to THE rock that the town is named for and worthy of a visit itself.
Last night was spent in a free-camping ground on the edge of Walgett and then this morning a quick drive up the road to The Ridge (as in 'First time to The Ridge is it?)
Jude is coping really well with his new travelling lifestyle and loves spotting playgrounds wherever we go. He has really come into his own as far as the 'terrible twos' are concerned in the last few weeks and has learnt how to throw a humdinger of a hissy fit and discovered the joys of disagreeing with everything I say (Jude I'm over here. No you are over there.) But generally he is still my little sweetie and hopefully this phase will be as short-lived as his last tantrum phase.
In only a few short days we will be crossing the border back into Queensland and picking up our original journey not too far from where we left off. About time hey!
PS What's the collective noun for emus? I have seen so many in the last week or so it has reminded me of the train ride between Oslo & Bergen with Simone when we decided that you could actually come very close to seeing TOO many waterfalls