8th Nov–Coonabarabran to Canowindra

Distance: 328Km

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.

171108 002 Cumnock171108 001 Cumnock

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.

171108 003 Canowindra

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.

7th November–The Warrumbungles

Distance: 84Km
Fuel: 48L

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.

171107 040 Warrumbungles Siding Springs Observatory171107 012 Warrumbungles Siding Springs Observatory171107 024 Warrumbungles Siding Springs Observatory171107 026 Warrumbungles Siding Springs Observatory171107 049 Warrumbungles Siding Springs Observatory

The view from the base of the telescope building is spectacular too.

171107 013 Warrumbungles Siding Springs Observatory171107 015 Warrumbungles Siding Springs Observatory171107 016 Warrumbungles Siding Springs Observatory171107 033 Warrumbungles Siding Springs Observatory171107 036 Warrumbungles Siding Springs Observatory

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.

171107 047 Warrumbungles Siding Springs Observatory171107 055 Warrumbungles Siding Springs Observatory171107 006 Warrumbungles Earth171107 124 Warrumbungles Jupiter

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.

171107 062 Warrumbungles Whitegum Lookout171107 063 Warrumbungles Whitegum Lookout171107 068 Warrumbungles Whitegum Lookout171107 069 Warrumbungles Whitegum Lookout171107 073 Warrumbungles Whitegum Lookout171107 079 Warrumbungles Whitegum Lookout

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.

171107 122 Warrumbungles Wambelong Nature Trail171107 084 Warrumbungles Wambelong Nature Trail171107 086 Warrumbungles Wambelong Nature Trail171107 087 Warrumbungles Wambelong Nature Trail171107 089 Warrumbungles Wambelong Nature Trail171107 091 Warrumbungles Wambelong Nature Trail171107 093 Warrumbungles Wambelong Nature Trail171107 095 Warrumbungles Wambelong Nature Trail171107 099 Warrumbungles Wambelong Nature Trail171107 104 Warrumbungles Wambelong Nature Trail171107 108 Warrumbungles Wambelong Nature Trail171107 114 Warrumbungles Wambelong Nature Trail171107 117 Warrumbungles Wambelong Nature Trail171107 118 Warrumbungles Wambelong Nature Trail171107 120 Warrumbungles Wambelong Nature Trail171107 121 Warrumbungles Wambelong Nature Trail

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.

6th Nov–Goondiwindi to Coonabarabran

Distance: 355Km

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.171106 003 Coonabarabran Post Office

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.

171106 002 Coonabarabran John Oxley Caravan Park

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.