We got away at 1505 which was pretty much when we planned to launch. The anticipated holiday traffic did not materialise, at last at that time of the day and we have a clear run tino the Blue Mountains, our only challenge to speak of being rain approaching Lithgow which slowed us to 40 km/h. That would have been helpful a bit pater on our approach into Bathurst when a roll down a hill when I allowed the car to creep up to 118 was pinged by Mr Plod. Hid friendly warning about roos on the road softened nothing.
The usual commitment to the highway was given over to the camera and made a few stops to take pictures. It’s a conscious effort since, once I am behind the wheel its pretty hard to pull over unless its for fuel or bladder. But the steaming heat of the coast makes for some spectacular cloud and the sunset is peachy so we stop for the colours.
However that slows us down. We arrive in Dubbo at 2130, jus tin time to do some last minute shopping (batteries for our tent lamp, sunnies for the next day and some gifts for Christmas. But we are way too late for the caravan parks which are long closed, one behind high gates and barbed wire! So we head up to Narromine and pull over by the river in the Rotary park. The moon is an orange sliver on the horizon in front of us – large and ‘specky’ but too elusive for our cameras. We make camp in the car and slow drift off, though the fact that this place is likely the preferred spot for rustic assignations keeps me a little on edge until the last ute has come and gone from the river bank one hundred metres or so from where we have strategically parked.
23 December 2017
When we pulled in last evening we rattled some galahs out of their trees though nothing could have been sleeping under the sound of a msall aircraft doing touch and goes 300’ above us. At just after 5am the first of one hundred galahs coughed awake and soon the raucous noise of their calls had every other feather chirping and calling as well. There is nothing quite so discordant as immature galahs and we seem to have parked under a vast nursery of them.
It promise to be 37 here today but right now, as we roll towards 0600 the air is cool and fresh. The rose pink horizon has already transformed to that blue grey hint of heat and the drum of insects in the eucalypts now competes with the galahs. I’m thinking fo heading down to the river bank given the local toilet block is locked but the prospects of snakes in the long grass and rank undergrowth deters me.
In the end nature wins out and I took a careful trip down the bank into the weeds and deadfall. No snakes but the locals are starting to walk in the cool of the morning so I don’t waste any time. Nice pun.
The sun cracked through the lattice of gum trees along the river bank at 6am. The day is bright and clear and there is no traffic. But by the time we get to Trangie the cars are on the road and traffic is building. We are distracted by some uniquely Australian farm gate Christmas decorations. If we stop to photograph every one we will never make it to Broken Hill. But we stop in Nyngan for coffee and a bacon and egg roll – or raisin toast in the case of Kavitha.
By the time we pull into Cobar its 1030 and 33 degrees. We pause for not every long at all since we do want to get to Broken Hill and there is only one way to tackle that next 430km – start! Actually the next 430km is the most intense mind game while driving that I have ever played and its been the same game for the dozens of times I have driven it. Break it into 240km (to Wilcannia) and 190km (Wilcannia to Broken Hill). Knock off the first 50km to get to 190km by ignoring the roadside markers, playing music or, in some cases mentally wirting a short story (Cobar inspires ghost stories for some reason). Then knock of 10 lots of 10km and suddenly there are only 90km to Wilcannia. I tried counting goats once but the trick is avoid paying them too much attention least you collide with them. Or something else. 430 is not so far but when you are driving across a billiard table for most of it you need something to help break it down. Having Kavitha in conversation of course makes the biggest contribution to making the jump from Cobar manageable.
We top up in Wilcannia and arrive in Broken Hill a little after 2.30pm local time – it helps that we are donated another 30minutes by driving west. We drive to the first caravan park we can find to grab a tent site. Its 39 degrees here and we find a pale, round and large mushroom of a man, all white gills and clammy hands hiding behind a desk under an air conditioner. His body spills down his legs as he stands to colour a map for us. The effort makes him sweat. We find our site (it looks good) and then drive to the Pro hart gallery observing as we do so that our host has fallen straight out of a horror murder movie. This guy is the evil monster. We spot him later in the afternoon driving a banged up Commodore with some equally banged up Broken Hill lads who all looked like they were heading to Mr Minute to have their knives sharpened.
The Pro Hart gallery is about to close but they let us scout around without paying the entry fee. But we purchase some gifts so I’m sure they got their monies worth. Generous and friendly, we appreciated having access for even the short time that we were there. Who knew he was a Christian? Hostile to organised religion. Good for him.
We visit the Line of Lode memorial to dead miners, a sombre oven of a place which articulates the most appalling ways that men died. Suffocated. Electrocuted. Blown up. Drowned. Crushed. Fell down a hole. Caught by a belt. On and on.We have driven past this so often and wondered what it is, sitting in stark melancholy above the town. Now we know and are glad we have visited.
We check out a mineral museum, walk a little of the main street then head out to the Living Sculptures on the hill out of town. We had reconnoitred this earlier but the light was too harsh on the sandstone so we planned to come back when the light was more gentle and soft. That proved to be the case but even as we enjoyed the sunset and the effect it had on the stone it occurred to us we needed to scamper back to the caravan park to put up the tent while it was still light. Given we have never seen this tent before (we purchased it a few months ago at a tent sale and have not even gotten it out of its packaging yet) putting it up for the first time in daylight would be prudent. We are glad we did. Just on dark we got the thing sorted out at last. The instructions were pretty confusing. Trouble is, it’s unlikely to return to its compact bag. But we’ll worry about tomorrow. Right now we are enjoying a warm evening behind insect nets and are imbibing a cool drink or two. This is the first time we have used a tent we can stand up in, let alone one that has a porch which accommodates a couple of chairs! Glamping indeed. A fan is plugged in and we’ll shortly drop on our hiking goose-down mattresses and turn the lights out.
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