Saturday, October 31, 2015

Roma to Bourke

Going to Adelaide via Roma gave us the opportunity to go via the outback town of Bourke. I had never been there before so this was my big opportunity.

Marianne took a bunch of photos through the car windows as we sped along at the speed limit of 110 kph.

It can be ten or more minutes between seeing one car or the next. You have to pay attention because of the roadkill and also live kangaroos and emus.

We stopped at the hotel at Muckadilla. When Robin was about 15, we stopped here for the evening when all the motels in Roma were full.

Where Robin first sat up at a bar and ordered a drink. Soft drink, but still a drink.

The road goes on and on, mostly quite straight.

We stopped for a break at Morven.

Other western towns have displays of old farm machinery like this beside the railway line.

The Westlander train still runs from Brisbane to Charleville twice a week. I did this journey in 2011 and you can read about it here and here.

A small river with water in it. Most were dry.

We arrived at Charleville which strikes me as a sad town. Geoff and I stayed a night in this town back in 2010 and we went for dinner at this hotel, the Corones, which appears to have closed. Gracie Fields was here in WWII and slid down the bannister of the stairway.

The hotel that used to stand here burned down, possibly under suspicious circumstances. There is a new hotel in its place.

We turned left and headed down to Cunnamulla and Bourke.

Some road kill. There are thousands of dead kangaroos strewn on or along side the highway.

Brief stop for some road work.

Prickly pear, which is a pest species of plant. It has mostly been wiped out.

We arrived in Cunnamulla where the temperature was 37 degrees Celsius or 100 F.

I had no idea what to expect in Cunnamulla but we both liked the town. The locals had obviously gone to considerable effort to beautify the town with flowers lining the streets.

There were not too many empty shops. However, there were not very many people strolling around in the heat.

We headed further south towards the border of NSW. We could see a large storm in the distance.

More roadkill. Every now and then, the local council sends out a truck to remove it, but there is soon more. It's easy to see well in advance because there is usually a flock of birds eating the carcase.

The cloud had a deep blue colour that the photo does not capture at all. In the centre of this photo you might be able to see a red column which was a willy-willy or small tornado.

Somehow we managed to avoid the worst of the storm with only a few drops of rain. I was glad to miss out on that storm. Before we reached the storm, the temperature had reached 39 degrees (104). After the storm, it dropped to 29.

An emu.

It is one thing to hit a kangaroo. Your car will be damaged, but you will probably be ok. Hitting a large emu is another matter since the body comes in through your windscreen. They are very large birds.

We saw more emus than live kangaroos, but later in the day near dusk we would have seen many more kangaroos. It is very dangerous to drive on these outback roads at night.

We arrived in Bourke and stayed at a motel near the Darling River. Temperatures were much lower than in Cunnamulla.

Old style bathroom.

Inside the motel room.

The reason for this photo of a stone will become apparent later because I was surprised to see this stone.

The motel was surrounded by an electrified fence. Apparently, the local young indigenous boys are prone to cause damage to vehicles in the parking lot.

The next morning we walked down to the river.

The Darling River which is one of the largest and longest of Australia's rivers.  There is a phrase 'Back of Bourke' which refers to the land on the western side of the river and is the true 'outback'. On our drive down from Cunamulla, we had been Back of Bourke,

Note that the river had plenty of water in it. In the next blog you will see what it looks like further down stream after the cotton farmers take the water out of it.

It is just lovely by the river in the early morning.

We went for a walk around the town. This is the local Men's Shed where men can come to get help with their problems and to socialize and improve their well-being. It is a wonderful idea, particularly or older men and those who have lost their partners.

The jacarandas were in bloom here as well as further north.

This is a short version of a road train. Some have an extra wagon. When you meet one of these coming in the opposite direction, move over, slow down and hope that no stones hit your windscreen.

Lovely old building.

Many of the shops had steel shutters to protect the windows from the vandals.

Even the Police Station had grates on the windows.

The Court House. Mostly the weather is very dry so buildings stay in good condition.

Old pub.

We found this building interesting.

I had an apple cream puff for breakfast which I bought at a local bakery. If I had added a slice of beetroot it would have all supplied four of the major food groups.

Marianne's healthy breakfast. It is a struggle to get her to eat healthy food like this since she keeps wanting to eat salads.

More of the electrified fence.

Rottweilers in the back paddock.

Security camera overlooking the parking lot.

The Airedale quilt made an appearance.

This stone comes from our beach at the top of the Chesapeake Bay and I brought it with me to fulfill a childhood dream.

Back in 4th grade, I had a teacher called Jack Pettitt. He told a story about how the traveler arrives in Bourke and goes to a pub near the river. The locals bet him that he cannot throw a stone across the river and the traveler accepts the bet since the river is only about 60 yards (meters) wide. The all go outside and the traveler looks for a stone and cannot find one and then loses the bet. I brought my own stone.

My shoulder is shot from years of playing tennis and you can see the white bit in the center of the photo where my stone landed.

The ripples.

I was really glad that we went to Bourke. I believe that there is a lot more to see in the area.

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