To give an overview of the trip here is a map of the whole route. It doesn’t include side/day trips but by clicking on it you can zoom in or out and view the satellite images.
Set off for Wollongong at about 8.30am, it was a pretty uneventful trip, drove south at first via Boorowa to get to the Hume Highway near Yass and continued on that heading north until Picton Road.
Arrived home about 1pm, unloaded the car but the camper will be sorted out tomorrow.
Filled up with fuel at the local servo – the most expensive fuel of the whole trip at $1.38/L – How does that work?
Statistics for Trip
Total distance: 2927Km
Total Fuel: 318L
Average Fuel Price: $1.30/L
Average Park Cost: $28.58/night
Drove to Cowra to visit the Japanese Garden – we have previously visited the POW Camp and the War Cemetery but for some reason haven’t visited the Gardens before. As they opened at about 8.30pm we left straight after having breakfast and arrived at about 9am.
They are beautifully laid out gardens over a fairly large area with a mixture of flat and hilly terrain.
After a couple of hours walking the grounds had coffee and carrot cake in the cafeteria before setting off for Grenville the town where Henry Lawson was born.
I have visited before and it is one of those lovely country towns where time has stood still. Driving past an Enhance petrol station was pleased to see diesel at $1.22 a litre so filled up ($1.37 in Canowindra and $1.28 in Cowra). That should get us home tomorrow.
After looking around for a while set off cross country back to Canowindra to visit The Age of Fishes Museum. Never been before… I mean fishes? Pah! Big mistake…
It was absolutely fascinating – all about fossils found in 1956 by a bull dozer driver rebuilding the road who realised that these impressions in the rock might be important. They are the fossils of fish from the Devonian Period 360 million years ago when life existed in the water but not on land, when the fish were first developing lungs as well as gills. It preserves over 3000 fish from a drying pond. The admission fee included an audio visual package which was worth taking. The visit took well over an hour it was so interesting.
Afterwards walked around the town centre looking at the old buildings before returning to the caravan park at about 4pm.
Lazy start with only just over 300km to travel.
Tom Tom took us on all the back roads with absolutely no traffic to speak of, a really nice way to travel through little villages, bush and rolling farmland. All along the route were ‘animals on bicycles’, clever and funny at the same time.
Stopped for lunch at a tiny place called Cumnock; the local ‘supermarket’ was also the hardware, paint supplier, Post Office and cafe. Ended up having a couple of homemade pies, coffee and tea all of which turned out to be quite good.
Arrived in Canowindra (pronounced without the ‘i’) early afternoon and found the caravan park. It’s a small council owned park with a caretaker who is also the local taxi driver; as he was out just rang the phone number on the office door and was told to pick a site; he would pick up the money later.
Sure enough after we had set up and had some tea he turned up. $22.50 per night, three nights for the price of two – free clothes washing machines, dryer, BBQ, nice clean toilets and showers – how good is that? Pity we can only stay two nights.
Took advantage of the free washing machine and dryer before a quick trip to the local IGA for milk etc.
Woke to sunshine though it was cool, only about 10’C but after the previous day that was wonderful and it very soon warmed up.
After breakfast left for The Warrumbungles only a short 27km drive to the Siding Spring Observatory. There was a small exhibition about the work they do and a lot of information about the solar system.
Strolled up to the observatory dome itself and took the lift to the 4th floor where there was a viewing gallery to see the telescope itself. There is now a panel about the 2013 bushfire when they thought they had had a repeat of the Mt Stromlo disaster and lost their telescope(s) to the fire. Apparently it was a close run thing and it was only their own clearing of the area previously and the concentrated efforts of the local Bush Fire brigade that saved most of the equipment.
The view from the base of the telescope building is spectacular too.
The observatory is the centre of a virtual solar system laid out to scale. The starting point is the dome of the big telescope, it represents the Sun while at various points over many kms are boards representing the scale and location of the planets. I think the scale is 1:38million.
After coffee in the souvenir shop we set off for the Warrumbungles National Park. First stop was the Whitegum Lookout – a great place to stop – the lookout itself was only a 500m walk from the car park.
Then on to the visitor’s centre – still in demountable accommodation after the 2013 bushfires though, at last, a new centre is being built on the site of the destroyed old one. The helpful lady there recommended a couple of the shorter bush walks for us. Decided on the Wambelong Nature Walk which was a moderate 1.1km circuit. I have to say that it is a definition of ‘moderate’ I was previously unfamiliar with – the last section of the walk involved a lot of walking over very steep rock formations. It was worth it for the scenery but it was hard work – afterwards our backs, knees and ankles knew that they had been working.
After this returned to Coonabarabran, filled up with fuel at the local Coles Express before returning to our site at about 3pm pretty well exhausted.
Last night was wild and windy with squally showers occurring intermittently – or at least that is what I was told, I actually slept soundly and missed most of it. In the morning the ground was wet with puddles here and there but I don’t think the actual rain amounted to more than 5 mm. The temperature certainly took a tumble from the low/mid 30s of the past few days to a fairly cool (but not cold) morning.
There was a band of thunderstorms predicted today to sweep across northern NSW forecast to reach Coonabarabran at about 2pm so we didn’t want to leave too early as it was only about 300km to travel. In the event this was probably a mistake.
Spent the morning packing up in slow motion doing each job with a break for tea or coffee or allowing plenty of time for things like the mats to dry in the sun. Watched most of the other vans pack up and head out and by the time we left at almost exactly 10am the park was just about empty.
Set off in bright sunshine heading south – within minutes it was 11am as we crossed the state border into NSW.
The first couple of hours were uneventful and we stopped in a rest area at about 1pm to make coffee using the gas stove, again trying to delay our arrival in Coonabarabran.
About a 100km from our destination the skies from the west started to look ominous and while we waited at road works thunder crashed about us and the heavens opened – a mixture of hail and belting rain. The hail made a hell of a noise on the car but I don’t think it dented the body work and it didn’t smash the skylight on the camper (as happened to a bloke we met on Saturday). The heavy rain continued on for about 10 minutes or so then the skies lightened, I made a quick stop at a rest area to check for damage before arriving at a very dry Coonabarabran.
Checked into the caravan park about 4.30pm when the lady told us all they had was a few spots of rain! certainly the grass was dry when we found a nice spot (told to pick which ever site we liked) but because of the gusty wind decided not to put up the gazebo even though staying for two nights. Didn’t need it as there was plenty of shade over the site.
After a cup of tea and a biscuit I drove the short distance into the town centre to get milk and some groceries from the local Woollies. Noticed a little hamburger place advertising Fish and Chips so that solved the evening meal.
The first visit was to the local Tourist Information Office, it was open and was part of the library – there can’t be many libraries open on Sunday.
Armed with some leaflets we went to sample the delights Goondiwindi has to offer. First stop was the Big Cod!
Then a short drive to Salisbury Bridge once again joining NSW with Queensland but this time exclusively for stock movements. On the NSW side a short distance away is a sandbar known as Bondi Beach – a popular swimming spot according to the brochure. The stock bridge is at the end of Bondi Rd.
Then it was back to town for a walk along the top of the levee as far as the boat ramp. Lots of boats waiting to launch on this Sunday.
Time for a scenic drive, on the way yet another ‘historic’ bridge to NSW this time across the Dumaresq River – bitumen on the Queensland side, dirt in NSW.
Arrived in the little town of Yelarbon with the intention of buying food but faced with a choice of two pies or a sandwich at the roadhouse ended up just filling with fuel (115.9c compared to Goondiwindi’s 133.9c a litre).
While we were there the entire police force of SE Qld turned up to talk to a bloke about something.
Had a quick look at the strainer post that marked the end of the longest fence in the world before heading back to ‘home’.
Opposite the Goondiwindi airport a local farmer has got rid of a pile of junk lying about his farm at the same time adding to the cultural life of Australia. Neat eh?
Just a reminder if you click on a picture you get a bigger version.
At about 6.30pm there was rain and thunder. Fortunately it was forecast so we had already taken the Gazebo down and had put away everything that shouldn’t get wet. Got into the camper watched the news and Doc Martin on TV. The new ventilation set up seemed to work well; ran the fan all night. During the night the wind was quite strong and it rained again though personally I slept through it all.
Did my washing this morning so that I have enough clean clothes to get me home. Didn’t leave the park until after 9am but it didn’t matter we were only going to Goondiwindi which is only about 100km away.
First stop was Texas Rabbit Works. Now a museum but for a very long time, until myxomatosis wiped out their business, it was a thriving industry from the 1930’s until it closed in 1992. It provided rabbit meat, pelts and fur for hats. There was a video showing the whole process of making an Akubra hat. BTW Akubra now have to import rabbit fur.
Still had the cooling rooms with massive pipes carrying the ammonia coolant, the steam engine and the cooling compressors. It was well worth the visit and cheap at $7.
BTW I have absolutely no idea what sort of boiler that was, too much is missing.
The journey to Goondiwindi was along minor roads shadowing the border with NSW. They were in good condition and made the Gwydir Hwy look like a goat track.
Arrived at a suitable caravan park at about midday and booked in. I had wondered whether it being a Saturday would cause problems but even late afternoon the park is largely empty, about a dozen vans and tents.
Set up quickly and went into town to look around. First stop was Gunsynd’s Memorial on the banks of the Macintyre River.
Nearby was the Tree of Knowledge, not the Labor party version but a tree where he locals came to view the possibility of flooding which happened regularly before the 1956 levee was built however the levee has been over topped a few times since.
Drove into NSW across the ‘historic’ bridge (the river is the border) past the old Customs House from the days when NSW and Queensland were separate colonies.
BTW there is an election on both sides of the bridge; the Queensland State election has been called while on the other side Barnaby Joyce’s New England byelection is happening.
Bought a 6 pack to top up my depleted beer supply then drove and walked around the town checking out the landmarks and weighing up the options for tonight’s meal. Two Chinese or a Thai restaurants are currently favourite.
After a shower ventured back to town for food. Decided to try the Chinese Malaysian restauant Bao Bao. It was very good and reasonably priced; $46 for the two of us – main meals, desert, tea and a beer.
This morning set off for Stanthorpe in Queensland along the appalling Gwydir Highway; how it justifies the name highway is beyond me. it is so narrow and bumpy. I suppose to be fair it is designated a ‘B’ road. Anyway we survived it…
About 25km from Glen Inis where I expected to turn north toward Tenterfield Tom Tom said turn right which I dutifully did and we travelled for 12 km along an undulating unnamed road before reaching the New England Highway; clever Tom Tom cut 40km off the journey.
Stopped at Bluff Rock rest area about 60km south of Stanhope for a break. It was about midday and it dawned on me that in Queensland it was only 11am. Had a quick review of the map and decided to change the destination to Texas a small town just inside the Queensland border. With a name like that you just have to see what it is like don’t you?
Turned out to be quite a nice small country town with a main street including a Post Office, newsagent, hardware store even a couple of supermarkets, a pub and half a dozen other businesses like motor repair, cafe etc.
The Spirit of Texas:
First stop was the site of the original township but it was difficult to find and I am not sure if we did. The town was moved to its present location after floods in 1895 and 1921 from the original site you can see that the current town is on a slight rise.
Visited the dead centre of Texas.
Explored the supermarket and town centre and bought noodles, biscuits and ham for sandwiches.
I have never stopped in Grafton before but I have been over its bridge on several occasions and wondered who designed it to be such a difficult bridge to negotiate. It is very high and narrow for two lanes of traffic with very tricky bends at each end and no footpath either side. I never had to cross it often enough to wonder why.
Today I had a serious look at it. It is a two level bridge with a railway and two footpaths occupying the lower level – you would never know that from driving to or on it.. At one time it was possible to raise a section for river traffic to pass but that was sealed up years ago. It needs a good coat of paint as it is covered in rust but the reason for that could be seen next door where a $240 million bridge is being built.
I suspect the town has been waiting for this new bridge for a very long time as it is such a bottle neck with queues at either end almost continuously yet otherwise Grafton is just a typical country town.
One of the reasons for visiting the bridge was to see the wreck of the SS Induna which was supposed to be at the SW corner of the bridge but I couldn’t see any sign of it. Winston Churchill escaped the Boer War on SS Induna before it became a rail and vehicle ferry across the Clarence River.
Headed south to Shannon Creek Dam 18km away. Not the most exciting dam that I have visited but it was full and nearby they had created a very nice picnic area.
Then it was north to Junction Hill to visit an Open Garden we had been given a postcard about at the Festival. It was a very beautiful garden in a suburban street which charged $2 for entry (worth it). They also offered morning or afternoon tea of scones etc for $10 and, as it was well after lunch time, we tried that. I wonder how they get on with their neighbours – remember the fuss and eventual closure of Janet’s Royalty Rooms in Woonona?
Returned to Grafton to look at the Arboretum in See Park but it was a bit underwhelming so spent the next hour trying to get round detours for a festival event and road closure. It was hell! (especially when you have no idea where you are going).
Late afternoon took down the gazebo ready for tomorrow’s departure.