Sunday, September 23, 2012

Coonabarabran to Broken Hill

The second day of the trip to Adelaide is 845 km so it's a long day. There is no decent accommodation available for the last half of the journey so you have to make Broken Hill during daylight hours so that you don't have adventures with kangaroos and emus on the road after dark.

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The Warrunbungles. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you might be able to see the Siding Springs Observatory. I really need to stay an extra day some time and take a look at the place.

We had risen early and after about an hour's drive, had breakfast at the small town of Gilgandra. Australia has some unusual names for many towns.

We ate breakfast at a small cafe which had a seat built into the back of an old car body.

Gilgandra is your typical small outback town. A wide street with a bunch of shops lined up on each side.

The antiques shop was quite large inside with all sorts of 'stuff' that I recognized from my childhood days. If you want an old Sunbeam Mixmaster, this is the place to go.

The town flooded in 1955 and this sign was about four feet up. When there is heavy rain, flooding is common in rural areas in Australia because the land is so flat. Major highways can be cut for days.

The floral emblem for Australia is the wattle (aka Acacia). Since it was September, the flowers were out in full bloom.

We reached the half way point in the day's journey, Cobar, about lunch time.

It was well over 90 degrees, even though it was early spring. The heat was a bit unusual and was gone the following day. The town follows the usual country town pattern of a wide street lined with shops.

While we were eating our lunch, I noticed the dog waiting patiently for its mistress outside the Newsagent.

Yet another meat pie.

We continued on our way and after an hour or so we pulled into a rest area so that I could have a nap. There are signs all along the road reminding drivers to take a break. Accidents due to drowsiness are a real problem in the outback.

Toilet at a rest area.

I've beefed up the colour a bit but the soil in the area is very red.

More wattle.

I presume they are snake holes.

Occasionally we would come across some water, but not very often. The rains finally came about two or three years ago ending a decade long drought. The countryside looks quite lush now compared to what it looked like during the drought.

I liked the effect of the blurred background.

About 4 pm we arrived in Wilcannia which could probably be called the saddest town in Australia.

In it's early history, the town was quite important because of its location on the Darling River which is one of Australia's longest rivers. The town is now very poor and over 50% of the population are aborigines.

The one petrol station.

The supermarket just to the right of the red building closed recently. It was the only supply of food for the town. You can read about it here. There is no accommodation and travelers only stop for petrol to get them to Broken Hill.

There seemed to be nothing going on.

We continued on for the last part of the day's trip into Broken Hill.

It's quite flat with only low scrubby vegetation. Oddly enough, some clouds built up and there was a bit of rain.

A couple of emus. We saw lots of them throughout the trip but no kangaroos which was quite odd. I suspect the ending of the drought let the emus come into the area and the kangaroos moved elsewhere. 

You really have to be on the lookout for emus and kangaroos. They can cause significant damage to your car if you run into them. The emu is quite large.

We arrived in Broken Hill about 5:30pm and put our watches back 30 minutes. Although Broken Hill is in New South Wales, it is so far west that they use Adelaide time instead of Sydney time.

This trip across the New South Wales outback is quite special. Mile after mile of straight road with very little traffic. Initially it looks like there is not much there to look at but after a while you realize that the scenery keeps changing all the time and it is actually quite beautiful.