350. Sunday 29th December 2013. Christmas in Colli…Part 2.

Lots of photos again.

Saturday 28th December

Donnis has two days off!

Today we drove to Narrabri a one way trip of 190 Klms via an unfenced back road to Burren Junction, Wee Waa (pronounced Wee War) and on to Narrabri. The road has no line markings and no speed advisory signs on the corners and undulating road surface with unmarked dips. It was a challenging 92 klms to Burren Junction.

Narrabri was a bustle of Saturday morning activity with a promise of a hot day forecast by an already hot main street when we arrived. Donnis had her shopping day, the one she missed out on two days before. What she had not counted on was the shops, almost without exception, closed at midday. Even the tourist information bureau chased us out at 2pm as they wanted to close. Hmmm! Just as I was getting interested in the cotton harvester display. Can you imagine a giant harvester worth somewhere around a quarter of a million dollars was parked inside the tourist office as a cotton industry display?

Harvester at the Narrabri Tourist Information office.

Harvester at the Narrabri Tourist Information office.

I gathered some reading material and learnt a few interesting tid bits. First of all in my last post I commented how cotton growing uses a lot of water. It does but by comparison to other industries it is a minnow in the water use department. For example according to the cotton industry propaganda, a 1Kg of cotton uses 1,500 litres of water. While a Kg of wheat requires 1,10 litres but rice needs 2,385 litres of water. All that is fine but consider this, a Kg of beef requires a staggering 50,000litres or a Kg of wool requires 171,500 litres. Where these figures come from is not explained.

The day was hot, as expected. We could not even touch the body of RALLYE due to the heat. The sky was an impossibly washed out cobalt blue, dissolving into apparent whiteness without a cloud anywhere.  Thank goodness for the cool air conditioned comfort inside RALLYE. Even at 6pm it was still a scorching 38°.

Nearing Wee Waa on the return voyage we were delayed while a large flock of sheep were herded across the road by a farmer and a dog on his ATV.

Sheep across the highway.

Sheep across the highway.

The towns in the area depend on the crops of wheat and cotton, often with the two crops on opposite sides of the road, while a few sheep stations keep the wool and lamb industries alive. Wheat silos and cotton gins are a common sight. We stopped at Burren Junction to find the thermal pools are closed for the summer season as the water is too hot at 41.7°.

Burren Junction Artesian Bore Spa Pool

Burren Junction Artesian Bore Spa Pool

Burren Junction sign and information about artesian bores.

Burren Junction sign and information about artesian bores.

WOT THE! Too hot? Donnis tested the water and pronounced it cold. I suspect the pumps at the bore have been turned off. As it was late in the afternoon Donnis reminded me to be aware of kangaroos suddenly jumping out from the roadside.

After leaving BJ we quickly picked up the back road and almost immediately encountered our first challenge. A small flock of sheep – about a dozen –were on the side of the road, I slowed to about 90 KPH as they started to move away from the road when suddenly one bolted straight back onto the road, I hit the brakes and swerved to my left but had to be mindful of not only the rest of the flock but also a deep gully on my left. I hit the sheep on the drivers side sending it spinning and twisting off the road while I struggled to maintain control. I stopped 100m further along the road. Bugga!  Thank goodness there was no other traffic. In fact along the entire 184 klms return trip along this road we only saw one other vehicle. The front drivers mudguard was buckled as was the bumper bar and the driving light was shoved back into the chassis.

Damage to RALLYE.

Damage to RALLYE.

We were both shaken but went back to look for the sheep. It had struggled back onto its feet and was somehow limping back to the rest of the flock. Grrr! 6 weeks ago I elected not to insure WWWGO. I took out third party accident and liability insurance only.

For the next 80 Klms I slowed several times to avoid kangaroos on road verge, some jumping into our path as we approached. It was a tense drive home.

Old railway bridge. The train does not run out west anymore.

Old railway bridge. The train does not run out west anymore.

That was not to be the last adventure in store for us. Around 10pm I was leaving the bathroom after a welcome shower. Donnis was on the phone dialing 000. A car parked in the front yard of a house across the street was on fire! Hmmm! The car is owned by the occupant of the house who has been involved in some drama’s over the past few weeks. We had heard shouts and a car zooming away up the gravel alley beside the house but took no notice until Donnis saw the flames. The volunteer fire brigade arrived and quickly extinguished the fire within a few minutes.

Car fire.

Car fire.

By now the street had quite a few cars parked a respectable distance away. Suddenly out of the darkness a man came around the corner shouting “What the F…ing hell is going on here???” It was the cars owner who was not at home when the drama began. Lots of shouting occurred but we could not understand what was being said. We went to bed while the drama rolled on.

Sunday 29th December

Sometime around 1am I was aware of the fire truck leaving but saw the Police 4WD was still parked outside.

The car is a crime scene this morning.

Crime scene.

Crime scene.

Hmmm! The owner was involved in an altercation a few weeks ago when he bashed his wife/partner/girlfriend and pushed her through a window. They both ended up at the hospital (across the street so neither had far to travel) Donnis treated the woman while the man stripped off when in the waiting room and as the Police were questioning him ran off, naked, down the street. Perhaps this is a bit of payback by her family.

Today we went to Lightning Ridge,   (http://lightningridgeinfo.com.au/)    home of the world famous black opal.   (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning_Ridge,_New_South_Wales)    The road from Colli to Walgett was probably the second worst we have seen for road kill bodies. Almost every 200 metres was a body of a kangaroo but included within the tally were wild pig, emu, eagles and other birds.

Giant emu built from metal spare parts on the highway near the turnoff to Lightning Ridge.

Giant emu built from metal spare parts on the highway near the turnoff to Lightning Ridge.

Flying emu express.

Flying emu express.

 

It was Australia's most difficult towns to carry out a census. There are people here who just do not want to be found.

It was Australia’s most difficult towns to carry out a census. There are people here who just do not want to be found.

John Murray art Gallery.

John Murray art Gallery.

Had we known the temperature today would get as high as 46° we would not have made the trip or at least not left so late in the morning. By the time we stepped out of the car at LR the heat hit us a body slam. The bitumen was bubbling and of course we scuttled into the first air conditioned building we found, John Murray’s Art Gallery.

http://johnmurrayart.com.au/   Once inside I began to feel unwell, a combination of moving from AC into heat and into AC again. No wonder us elderly folk struggle with heat exhaustion. This was a warning sign to stay out of the heat and keep cool and hydrated. We were keeping hydrated OK but staying out of that heat was a challenge.

The John Murray Gallery was filled with his humerous art of which we were tempted to buy one of his originals. But the old question arises, where do we keep it until we settle down?

After the gallery we bought some ice creams and ate them at the artesian bore pool which was a comfortably cool 40° compared to the outside temperature which also included a wind heat element making it just too uncomfortable to be outside, even in the shade. However the pool water was far too hot for anybody to enter.

Lightning Ridge Artesian Bore Spa Pool. Too hot for anybody to enter the water.

Lightning Ridge Artesian Bore Spa Pool. Too hot for anybody to enter the water.

From there we drove around some of the diggings and miners homes on the ridge. To live and work in LR you need to be an umm err, …individual. OR escaping and hiding from the law or other persons. The houses reflect the individualism of the owner and gives the area a decidedly unique appeal. We love it.

Eccentric? Who said eccentric? Not me!

All right, all right. Ya gotta be eccentric to live and work in LR.

That said, we both love the place…heat and all.

Of course all our viewing was done from the air conditioned comfort of RALLYE and we only opened the window to take photos.

 

IMAGES OF LIGHTNING RIDGE.

The astronomers hand built home.

The astronomers hand built home.

The Bottle House

The Bottle House

Lightning Ridge residents like to build their own homes or use other options available to them.

Lightning Ridge residents like to build their own homes or use other options available to them.

Castle at Lightning Ridge hand built from local rock among the moonscape of  tailings from exploration mining shafts.

Castle at Lightning Ridge hand built from local rock among the moonscape of tailings from exploration mining shafts.

Messages all around his property.

Messages all around his property.

The owner of the castle is sending messages to visitors.

The owner of the castle is sending messages to visitors.

Even on a Sunday in the desert, the garbage must be collected/

Even on a Sunday in the desert, the garbage must be collected/

Excentric house design.

Excentric house design.

Individual House design.

Individual House design.

Moonscape of tailings.

Moonscape of tailings.

The cattle know where to find the best shade in 46 degrees.

The cattle know where to find the best shade in 46 degrees.

 

Moonscape of tailings.

Moonscape of tailings.

A couple of windlasses in the middle of a tailings heap.

A couple of windlasses in the middle of a tailings heap.
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