It’s just over 4 weeks since my last entry when we were so excited to get back out there. Well, we have not been disappointed! I must also mention here that our concerns about not being made welcome in these country towns have been unfounded. Everywhere has been busy with travellers who like us cannot leave NSW and we have all been made to feel very welcome. Lots of hand sanitiser everywhere and having to sign in but that’s to be expected.
We headed first for Glen Innes and stayed the weekend at the free camp where we have stayed before. On the Monday we needed to get a slow puncture on the van fixed so while Chris was arranging this I caught up with emails etc as we’d been out of coverage for a couple of days. When I checked the banking I discovered a discrepancy and rang the bank. Our credit card had been comprised so reluctantly we had to cancel it. That was a hassle as the new cards had to be sent to our postal address and then Jo needed to forward them on to us. The bad transaction was on the day we left Tweed. How long had we been around that area and this happens the day we leave. It took us nearly 3 weeks to receive our new cards and change all our direct debit accounts onto the new card. What a pain but all sorted now, thank goodness!
In Glen Innes we again checked out the Standing Stones at the home of the Celtic festival in town. Boy was it cold! As you can see from the photo, Chris had long pants and a beanie on. It must be cold!
From Glen Innes, we went through Inverell onto Warialda and Collarenebri. Collarenebri was a great spot, called a primitive campground and was created using a government stimulus package. It had everything us travellers needed including hot showers, a dump point and water to fill our tanks so not too primitive! Thank you Collarenebri.
Next stop, Lightning Ridge. (3rd time lucky!) We checked into Lorne Station for the week making good use of their weekly special. Power and water $25 a night, pay for 5 and get 2 free. A very good deal. Lorne Station is only about 3 kms out of town with basis facilities but a huge open space with plenty of room to wander and explore. Everyone was friendly from the other travellers to the 2 guys who look after the place and the best book exchange we have ever come across. Thanks Barry and Doug! (Check out the 2 photos of Opals that Doug found on the property)
Lightning Ridge certainly lived up to its name by giving us a huge spectacle of a storm as we watched the thunder and lightning go around us one evening at happy hour. We sat watching thinking the storm was going to miss us and we were enjoying the show when all of a sudden the wind changed. Within minutes we were running to our vans and shelter, some hanging on to their awnings for dear life.
While at the ridge we did the touristy things including the “Chamber of the Black Hand” This is where an opal miner spent 25 years of his spare time carving out the most incredible carvings from the last supper to super man, the Simpson’s and most anything else you could think of. You have to wonder what drives some people. All these are done with an ordinary butter knife and fork.
We also did the “Just Rustic” tour where we drove out to Bando Station and listened to Rob, the 4th generation owner (his son and grandson making 6 generations) talk to us about life on the land, the river systems, water divining and so much more. We were told to allow 3 hours for this visit but we were there for well over 4, also enjoying the museum and the morning tea of coffee and homemade scones with jam and cream.
Another highlight of the Ridge was the “John Murray Art Gallery” in town. This artist really has a flare for the Aussie outback. We bought a couple of prints which we will frame and hang in our new home (one day!)
One of the days we drove out to Goodooga and tried the hot springs pool there and another day we drove out to Grawin where most of the opal mining is now done, stopping at the hot springs pool in town on the way back.
We drove out to Grawin in convoy with another couple Gael and Jeff, also staying at Lorne Station. We were doing the “Pub in the Scrub” drive which takes in a 150 kms round trip and 3 pubs. The Club in the scrub, the Hilton and the Sheepyards. Of course we had to stop at each one! We had lunch at the Hilton and we have to say it was pretty average but we didn’t expect much more because of where it was. We visited the war memorial and laughed at the chickens and ducks that were running around.
We were reminded a bit of Coober Pedy as we saw the craziness of the way of life for these locals. The addictive nature of the hunt for opals and with temperatures reaching into the high 40s in summer. No underground homes here though.
After leaving Lightning Ridge we were heading towards Dubbo stopping at Walgett for one night and then Coonamble for 2. We based ourselves at Nakadoo Station, just out of Coonamble and explored the town from there. We walked around town enjoying the amusing stories of the “Nicknames Hall of Fame” and the next day we drove out to Pilliga National Park near Baradine to see the Sculptures in the Scrub. A beautiful walk through the bush with lots of birds and wild flowers in bloom as well as all the sculptures. We then called into the Pilliga Forrest discovery centre before driving back to Coonamble.
In Dubbo we had arranged a 2 day catch up with Emma, Graham, Josh and Ellie and we were excited to see them all. We haven’t physically seen these guys since Christmas so were long overdue for a visit. We arranged to meet at the big 4 caravan park for a couple of nights and a visit to Dubbo Zoo on the second day. We hired a cart and with 2 bikes as well we drove around the zoo seeing all the animals, some closer than others. We were disappointed that there was no feeding of the giraffes like the last time we were there or the safari bus adventure but this was another COVID related issue that we had to live with.
We managed to get 2 sleepovers with Josh and Ellie in our van which I was so happy about. We never get to see enough of these two.
With the short visit over and promises to see them again soon, the Booroowa Jones headed home and we head off towards Broken Hill but with a couple of overnighters on the way and a detour to White Cliffs first which is where we are now.
White Cliffs is another place known for opal mining and like Coober Pedy, it has the underground homes. We arrived today at Potch Gully, a free camp just out of town. After setting up we drove back into town to check it out (which didn’t take long) and book the bus tour for tomorrow. Then back to our van to temperatures around 36 degrees and so much dust everywhere! Everything in the van is covered with a thick layer of the red dirt this country is famous for. In the 8 1/2 years that we have been travelling we have never known this before. Not sure I like it!
*Note that today is our 45th wedding anniversary*