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Showing posts from August, 2010

Roadside slices 1

Going west the trees get shorter and shorter and their leaves smaller and tougher.  Then the trees thin out to the point where there are none. Last time I was out this way I was overwhelmed by the redness of the land but it is so green at the moment the bare earth is hardly visible.

Friendly grocer

Supermarket, Wilcannia When I tell you this is the local supermarket, one of the few shops in town that is open I guess you get the idea. Even the pub, which is also open has its windows boarded up.  We heeded the plea “It’s worth the walk” to go visit the takeaway for lunch but found it out of business so after buying a few rations at the Friendly Grocer we went back to the service station over the road (where petrol costs a fortune) to have very good hamburgers to fortify us for the next leg of the journey.    Shop next door to the supermarket

Seen better days

Watch the slideshow first, it doesn't loop. Derelict buildings, Wilcannia (slide show) And this is the face of Wilcannia that intimidates people, even when the streets are almost empty with just a few smiling locals ambling about.  I have shown you many old towns with similar shambolic buildings, but there are rather a lot here.  The slide show is but a sample of the more picturesque derelict buildings (some of which are probably occupied) and to be fair to the town there are also neat houses with tidy gardens but I generally don’t photograph the ordinary.


Wool store and below other colonial buildings Dating from its heydays in the late 1800s when Wilcannia was a busy inland port, there are many wonderful colonial buildings. Such a surprise to see out here in this isolated and quite arid part of the state. This alone is enough to give the town great charm.

The Darling

Darling River, Wilcannia For those who travelled west with us on our River Run early this year you might remember Pooncarie where we met up with the Darling River and Wentworth where we saw it join the Murray .  On this trip we meet the Darling again but further north.  Last time I was at Wilcannia (some 12 years ago) the Darling was way up those high banks in flood.  Today it far from that but nice to see flowing as I'm told it was just a chain of ponds a year or so ago. It’s hard to believe based on the state of the river today that this was once a busy inland port for the paddle steamers plying the length of the river.  This bridge built in 1896 has a span in the middle that could be lifted to allow laden barges to pass through.


Parntu, meaning fish in the local Paakantyi language Wilcannia is the only town between Cobar and Broken Hill. You’d reckon people would want to stop here for a rest having driven 260kms and with another 200kms ahead to get to Broken Hill. But many won’t dally here. The town has around 700 residents, many of whom are aboriginal Australians. It’s isolated. It looks battered and beaten and has a bad reputation but I like it and there’s much of interest here so we will wander about for while.

Go west

Madam TomTom, our new passenger After a nice breakfast at the local bakery we followed Madam’s instructions and turned along the highway to ‘Cobber’, which we reached 130 kms later.  Passing through this town I was rather surprised to have not heard a peep from her so pressed the button to see what she had in store for us next.  “Go straight ahead for 440 kilometers then turn right to A-’del-aide”.  I guess we weren’t going to hear from her for a while.

Flood town

Bogan River Nyngan I guess Nyngan is best known to Australians as a place that floods. In 1990 the town was inundated when valiant attempts to raise the levy banks with sand bags failed.  All 2500 residents had to be evacuated by helicopter.  After all the recent rain the river was up but a long way from flooding.  


Emu, Caravan Park Nyngan Waking to the sound of birds I sighed happily, knowing we were really on holiday but when I stuck my head outside the door of the caravan I didn’t expect this fellow eyeing me off.

Big sky country 1

End of Day 1, near Nyngan As day 1 is drawing to a close the land is getting flatter and flatter and the sky disproportionately bigger and bigger.   We’re in Nyngan looking for the Riverside Caravan Park.   “In 300 metres turn left towards Cobber”.   We smile at the first evidence of Lady TomTom having any Australian sensitivity.   Cobber is and old Australian colloquial term for a friend or mate.   The only trouble is that the town is Cobar (pronounced Co as in coat and baa as in sheep).

A new Royal

Royal Hotel, Trangie Manouvering through a country town our new passenger squarks “go through the roundabout and take the second exit”.  Taking no heed, we turn left and right looking for the Royal Hotel. (Regular readers will know I collect R oyal Hotels as a way of exploring country towns). The small town of Trangie delivered our first for the trip.  

Our extra passenger

Near Parkes, canola in full flower I’ve just loaded TomTom GPS on my iPhone and am tinkering with it.  It doesn’t take long to realize this sweet spoken new passenger is going to be a distraction.  “After 15 kms keep left to Moogee”.  Waahhh! It wasn’t her mispronunciation that was disturbing, it was because Mudgee is north-east and we want to head north-west to Narromine.  Ignoring her demands we whizz past the exit while I tell her we are going via Orange to settle her down.  At Molong, we’re happily following her insistent voice “After 100 metres take a turn left towards Forbes.” Surely Forbes will take us south!  A minor argument erupts right now.   Hubby stops the car, jumps out and commands in an angry tone as he slams the door “You sort it out”.  (He’s actually off to buy lunch but likes the dramatic effect). Stung into action I check what Google Maps has to say, via Cudal it suggests.  I’m sure that’s a dirt road. So with a sigh I dig out the low-tech paper map and decide

An outback adventure begins

Road out west, canola beginning to flower. We’re on a new outback adventure, a long one so we are going to be on it for quite a while. This time it’s late winter and oh so different from the summer or even early winter .   Day 1 and we’re cruising along through countryside I have taken you through often but today it’s raining, raining all the way. The fields are green with thriving winter crops and I’m so happy to be free for over 2 weeks and because the canola is beginning to flower.

Country Lines 4

These lines sum up the journey ... the railway line in the front, tilled fields, green grass, big blue sky and a few power lines thrown in for interest.  That's the end of this trip, I hope you've enjoyed it. We are off on a very exciting long adventure into the outback tomorrow.

New crops

We are on our way home passing fields sown with new crops. I think this might be canola so it will be pretty around here in a few weeks time (about now).


We can't leave town without visiting the railway station. It's a big one. Down at the end, among the many signs is one to refreshments. Through the big doors you chance upon a very grand eating hall (below). We had afternoon tea before calling our explorations quits and snuggling in at the camp for the night before the long drive home tomorrow. <


Later we checked out the Broadway hotel, now a local history museum. It was fun to wander the corridors and rooms checking out the various displays and stepping out onto the verandah. Look at the width of it!

All aboard

And two other vintage trains bought back memories for me.  Firstly above the old rattlers that were still on the mountains track when we moved here 17 years ago. And below it was a train like this that carried me from Queensland to Sydney and thence to the Blue Mountains in the late 60s on a school excursion. It sealed a lifetime love for the mountains.


It's hard to get past the sheer mechanical beauty of a steam train. And look at the photo below. It shows how there is a box with a hole at the top in the roof of the roundhouse to carry the steam up and outside.


Our next place to explore was the Railway Roundhouse. Now I have never heard of such a thing. It turns out to be a big garage for trains. The turntable in the centre (see below) allows the trains to go into their various parking spots. Half of the roundhouse is still operating on train repair and refurbishment, the other half is a museum. I rather like trains and this place lets you crawl all over them so there is more to come in the next couple of posts.


I think I'm a downstairs person. Much as I love grand houses I am always drawn emotionally to the more humble worn parts.

Coach house

I was more fascinated by the photographic possibilities in the coach house at Monte Cristo. They have a huge collection of horse drawn vehicles.

Grand living

Inside the house was a grand display of all the nick nacks so favoured in the Victorian era. It is a mystery to me how people can enjoy living among such clutter but the state of my husband's office suggests to me that he would have made a very fine Victorian gentleman. What about you? In light of the comments I've added some secondary photos which illustrate the style if not the extent of the objects on display.