Saturday, September 5, 2015

Western NSW to the Warrumbungles 29-31 August

Once we arrived back in NSW it felt like the trip was practically over, so we drove on, stopping at rest areas for a couple of nights, on a mission to reach the Warrumbungles. We hadn't been there since the 1980s, when our kids were still at school.

Apart from around Broken Hill, western NSW is greener than I've ever seen it. Obviously there has been significant rain which we have been oblivious to while we were in the west. There is short green pasture everywhere, except where the feral goats dominate. It's a bit of a dilemma for the farmers. The goats do such a lot of damage, but the farmers make good money from periodic musters, so there's no real incentive to get rid of them. Meanwhile they roam the verge of the road and wherever they please, munching as they go.

We also saw lots of emus, some with young chicks, many more than we have seen previously in the whole trip. Also an astonishing amount amount of road kill, mainly kangaroos. We didn't see as much anywhere else on the whole trip. I wonder if road trains use shoo-roos; they certainly should since they can't swerve to avoid animals on the road.

Plenty of emus
The goats eat anything and everything
No goats and lush pasture
After a couple of overnight stops in roadside rest areas we arrived at the Warrumbungle National Park. In January 2013 a severe bushfire raged through the Warrumbungles and we were curious to see how well everything was recovering. We spoke briefly to one of the scientists working in the Education Centre and he was optimistic about the recovery. The eucalypts are growing well but the pines sustained significant damage and don't appear to be re-shooting as much. There is plenty of wattle and a diversity of other flora, but the koalas are an unknown quantity. There are still plenty of kangaroos. Apostle birds, crows and cockatoos are also making their presence felt today.

First views of the Warrumbungles
As we didn't have sufficient time to do any of the walks we opted for a drive to Whitegum Lookout where everything is growing well and there was arrange of wildflowers in bloom as well. From there you could see how much damage the fire caused with skeletal black trees protruding from the new growth below.

Skeletal trees but some new growth
Lots of new growth, above and below, with David for perspective

We also took the short drive to the Siding Springs Observatory. We hadn't look at the large telescope which was unattended and watched a video which used jargon that exposed the black hole in our space knowledge, and unfortunately the Education Centre was closed for redevelopment. 
The Anglo Australian telescope at Siding Springs
We returned to camp to a clear sky, an almost full moon and burnt all the rest of our firewood on a cold clear night. The next morning we experienced our first and last frost of the trip, and it was a heavy one. Not bad for a whole winter.
Heavy frost

Even a white solar panel
The Warrumbungles marked the end of our 4 month camping trip, and now it was time to return to the family fold and all things domestic. We stopped in Gunnedah to visit my uncle and aunt, then stayed overnight at Dungowan with my sister. Our final day had a couple of diversions, one to Lake St Clair near Singleton, then finally to North Rothbury to check in with my son and daughter-in-law and their 3 children who were happy to see us.

It has been a wonderful trip with so many memorable experiences and places it is hard to choose an absolute highlight. However, for both of us, the day trip to the Horizontal Falls comes close. 

The Horizontal Falls from the air
About to roar through the gap
We both agree that Western Australia has some stunning scenery and is definitely worth a return visit. Overall we travelled 22 160 km in just over 4 months.Now to plan the next one…..

Our journey, starting and finishing in Sydney

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