We made the collective decision – head west rather than to the coast and after a week it still appears a good decision. Although very quiet with few travellers due to the weather the temperatures have been relatively mild – high 30’s nothing more. So we pulled out of the cool of Armidale and ended up in Moree for a couple of days. Moree is recognised nationally as Australia’s Artesian Spa Capital. Despite the rise in temperature we took refuge in the artesian baths at the caravan park. Five of them in fact – each with a different temperature rating freezing, 34, 35, 37 or 39 – we tended to stick to 34/35. Great relaxing days – managed to get to the local Sunday market after Mass and generally just time to chill.
From Moree we headed further west to the quirky opal town of Lightning Ridge. The trip out to the Ridge highlighted country in drought with amazing numbers of kangaroos and emus scavenging for food and the cattle in the long paddock (side of the road). Talking of roads NSW must be broke – these highways are shocking. Plenty to do and see here, including underground opal tours a look at Black Hand carvings – outstanding – a series of car door tours – red, green, yellow and blue – very cleverly done – plenty of swimming in the park pool – kangaroos as guests after sunset until dawn – very few caravans in the park but a good time. Looking for a different tourist destination? Then Lightning Ridge is the ideal place for your next holiday!
The highlight was a trip to the Grawin Opal fields, a 100k plus round trip where we went to three pubs in a matter of kilometers. The locals were Australian as Australia gets – great memories. We rounded off our Lightning Ridge trip with a significant purchase that wasn’t related to the car, caravan or fuel – an opal as a memory.
The last couple of days we have literally spent at the back of Bourke. Hiding away in North Bourke 6kms out of town in a relaxing park called Kidman’s Holiday Park. Two pools here, one for Julie one for me. We have made some friends, a few cows, a couple of horses and a herd of Kangaroos. The Bourke Outdoor Visitor Centre is truly amazing – this class centre showcases the history of western NSW and the Bourke. It focuses on the people and the landscapes that have not only contributed to the life of Bourke but also the history of Australia
Apart from some our great poets like Henry Lawson, Fred Hollows also is a significant man in this out back town.
What has been amazing is that all of these towns have a river flowing through even in these harsh conditions – fishing is a pastime of the country folk as a series of different rivers connect to empty out some time late in the mighty Murray – the living conditions are harsh – the drought is evident our pioneers were some bloody tough people. Here we are in an air-conditioned – car and caravan and thinking we are doing it tough.
Tomorrow all going well we point the chariot North towards Queensland – destination Charleville via Cunnumulla – towns made famous by my mate Slim.