15th May 2018–Lightning Ridge

Distance: 448 Km
Fuel: 49 L

Even as I left Roma I had not decided where I would stop for the night. I have previously stopped at Hebel (one pub, one store and about twenty houses) as well as Lightning Ridge (opal mining centre of NSW) so decide to just drive and see how felt when I arrived.

It was very dry country that I drove through, the grass was almost yellow but the weather was perfect, no need for air conditioning today. Didn’t stop at St George or Dirranbandi just kept going until I reached Hebel.

180515 102 On the Road to Lightning Ridge180515 103 On the Road to Lightning Ridge

When I was last in Hebel (click here) the General Store was up for sale with the threat of closure at Christmas if not sold but it was open when I arrived. I stopped in for a coffee and one of their home made pies (they are really good) and walked to their History Circle just to stretch my legs.

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It was only just after midday and the journey had been very easy so far; I decided to push on to Lightning Ridge which was only about 70km further on.

Goodbye Queensland:

180515 010 NSW Border

Arrived in Lightning Ridge at about 1pm and checked into the first caravan park I came to.

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Visited the Tourist Information Centre and paid $1 for a Car Door Tour guide. I don’t know if it is just an Aussie thing but a number of towns have these guides. An old car door is painted an appropriate colour and numbered indicating a point of interest, personally I quite enjoy them and so easy to find rather than the usual council signs which often peter out in the middle of nowhere.

180515 025 Lightning Ridge

The evening meal? Went to the pub, they had a bistro but all the meals were $28 then I noticed the bar sign for food served all day. Pizza – $15 – that’ll do me. It was quite good too, went down well with a couple of beers.

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21st June 2017–Hebel to Gulgong

Distance: 502 km
Fuel: 97 L

Set off early;  before 8am – hardly any packing up required because I left the camper coupled up last night so there was only the mat and power cord to put away.

Within minutes I was back in NSW.

170621 004 Hebel to Gulgong NSW Border

Filled up with fuel at Walgett and only made a couple of rest stops because I want to get as far south as was possible.  One rest stop commemorated John Qxley’s 1818 expedition.

170621 006 Hebel to Gulgong John Oxley Memorial170621 007 Hebel to Gulgong John Oxley Memorial

Originally I aimed to reach Dunedoo but made good progress and in the end settled on Gulgong an extra 65km toward home. I should be home tomorrow as I have less than 400km to cover (though admittedly through what will probably be the worst traffic of the trip).

Poor Gulgong is quite a nice little town but since the town was dropped from the ten dollar note I think it has suffered a bit. The Town that Used to be on the Ten Dollar Note doesn’t have the same ring to it as The Town on the Ten Dollar Note. The only caravan park in town has a slightly run down feel to it (though the owners are friendly)

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I had a look around town, it hasn’t changed much since I was last here – some shops have closed while new ones have opened, the Gulgong Opera House is still entertaining the locals but you can stand in the middle of the street with little fear of being run over.

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After wandering about the main streets I had a nice coffee and muffin in one coffee bar before filling up with fuel again ready for tomorrow.

When I returned to the caravan park at 4pm it was already feeling quite cool and I needed a jacket.

What Gulgong does have is an Indian and a Thai restaurant so I was spoilt for choice. In the event I went for Indian, resisted a Vindaloo and tried Shahi Korma Beef. The restaurant was nicely appointed and warm so I ate in – the meal was very nice indeed.

BTW I might be wrong about the local economy after eating I drove past several pubs which were surrounded by vehicles and seemed to be doing good trade.

20th June 2017–Injune to Hebel

Distance: 446 km

This will be my last day in foreign parts (for this trip at least); Hebel is only about 4km from the NSW border so I will be back on home soil tomorrow.

170620 034 Hebel170620 024 Hebel

I intend to start early tomorrow and get as far south as I can, the weather is forecast to be fine for the next few days but the downside to clear skies is cold nights. Last night I had to sleep under my winter doona and it is not going to be any warmer the further south I go. it was about 7’C this morning – remember I am not near the coast.

I will get at least as far as Gilgandra but might even try for Dunedoo or Mudgee – if I get that far I could probably make home in one more day ie arrive Thursday. I have allowed two days but I think one would be better.

I have passed through Hebel on a few occasions but this is the first time I have stopped. There are only about 15 to 20 buildings; it is literally a town where if you blink you miss it – though the right angle bend in the middle of town might bring you undone if you did blink.

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The pub sells fuel at $1.50/l however I have slightly under half a tank which should get me to Walgett (135km) where I expect more normal prices.

The caravan park is behind the General Store (which is for sale BTW) and $20 for a powered site. After a walk round Hebel and its “Historical Circle” I had a homemade peppersteak pie and a beer in the store for only $10 which I thought very fair.

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Once the sun went down went back to the General Store for a meal, not an exciting menu but a modest selection of beef, chicken and seafood meals, let’s face it the dining room has four tables so they probably don’t get a lot of custom. I ordered chicken parmigiana together with a couple of beers and it was very nice. Back to the camper to write this while listening to some music. A nice end to a nice day.