Posts Tagged ‘Coonabarabran’

486. Sunday 17th April 2016. A drive through parts of western NSW…

20/04/2016

Monday 11th April

Heading west from Gymea we picked up the Great Western Highway. Much of the highway climbs over the Blue Mountains and passes through the fertile plains beyond the Great Dividing Range. The highway begins a steady climb through umpteen small heritage listed towns and is only one lane – both ways. Road works are an ongoing works in progress. I would call it simply the Western Highway and omit the “great”. That said the area is steeped in historical sites. More sites than we can expect to have time to see on this journey.

First up we stopped at the town of Katoomba which sits atop the range at 1050 metres above sea level. In the winter it snows here. Today however it was a pleasant 27° and winter is still around the corner.  We paid the parking fee to visit the Three Sisters

The iconic Three Sisters at Echo Point, Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Enlarge the photo and look at the first sister on the left. You can see a narrow bridge from the cliffs to the sister.

The iconic Three Sisters at Echo Point, Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Enlarge the photo and look at the first sister on the left. You can see a narrow bridge from the cliffs to the sister.

Three early settlers found a way to bring horses and wagons through the Blue Mountains and the plains beyond, Their endeavours opened the region to expansion. Those historic expeditioners were. Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson. Suburbs have been named after them along the road they surveyed. These statues at Katoomba are in honour of the original convict labour used to build the road, the soldiers appointed to keep the convicts working and also to the local aboriginal population who did their best to harass and stop the invasion.

Three early settlers found a way to bring horses and wagons through the Blue Mountains and the plains beyond, Their endeavours opened the region to expansion. Those historic expeditioners were. Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson. Suburbs have been named after them along the road they surveyed. These statues at Katoomba are in honour of the original convict labour used to build the road, the soldiers appointed to keep the convicts working and also to the local aboriginal population who did their best to harass and stop the invasion.

Tourists simply cannot get enough of the views.

Tourists simply cannot get enough of the views.

at Echo Point

Echo Point is the location at Katoomba where all the tourists buses and other visitors spill their passengers to gawk and go OOOh when they see this spectacular view of valleys and steep sandstone cliffs.

Echo Point is the location at Katoomba where all the tourists buses and other visitors spill their passengers to gawk and go OOOh when they see this spectacular view of valleys and steep sandstone cliffs.

This viewing platform is an on the edge experience

This viewing platform is an on the edge experience

Donnis enjoyed the scenery.

Donnis enjoyed the scenery.

Look beyond the bearded guy in the crumpled hat and note the huge sandstone cliffs of the Grose Valley.

Look beyond the bearded guy in the crumpled hat and note the huge sandstone cliffs of the Grose Valley.

and gape in awe with thousands of tourists at the huge vista which are the Grose and Jamison Valley’s. It is sort of a green version of the Grand Canyon. A very steep narrow staircase leads down to an equally narrow bridge joining the sandstone cliffs to the first of the three sisters.

Atop the first sister with the Grose Valley in the background.

Atop the first sister with the Grose Valley in the background.

Closeup of the foot bridge to the sister. For some reason the bridge is named Honeymoon Bridge.

Closeup of the foot bridge to the sister. For some reason the bridge is named Honeymoon Bridge.

On this occasion my knees failed to live up to the expectation of my mind so we left the walk to braver souls.

Next on the agenda was Scenic World where the operators provide a free multi story carpark. A good thing they do as the lines of people willing to spend big dollars to be terrified meant we would run out of daylight before being able to join the Scenic Railway

This is the end of the Scenic Railway, Note that it sits atop a steep drop to the valley floor.

This is the end of the Scenic Railway, Note that it sits atop a steep drop to the valley floor.

which offers a 52 degree incline whilst dropping over the edge of a cliff then hurtling towards the valley floor before brakes and safety cables bring you to a stop at a platform dangling over yet another cliff above a valley floor further below. See   www.scenicworld.com.au

Scenic Skyway is a cable car suspended 270 metres above the valley floor. The floor is glass!

The Skyway with the glass floor moves slowly across the chasm between to cliffs. To add a little terror it stops halfway while  controller explains something trivial.

The Skyway with the glass floor moves slowly across the chasm between to cliffs. To add a little terror it stops halfway while controller explains something trivial.

Equally thrilling is the Scenic Cableway which descends 545 metres to the floor of Jamison Valley.

Scenic world has three rides which make the strongest person feel trembly in the knees. This is Cableway.

Scenic world has three rides which make the strongest person feel trembly in the knees.
This is Cableway.

But… we had to find accommodation for the night and continued on the Not So Great Western Highway, followed the steep Victoria Pass to Lithgow, a once great Coal Mining Centre and the Military contracted Lithgow Small Arms Factory. The town still has a strong community spirit which accounts for the very modern Workies Club where we had dinner.

Tuesday 12th April – Happy ..th Birthday Donnis

Looking at a map I now realise we will have to compress our days, missing some sights, in order to use the planned route and find our way home by the weekend. We skipped the attractions at Lithgow and pushed on to Bathurst where we drove around the famous Mt Panorama Motor Racing Circuit.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Panorama_Circuit    Most of the track and some of the pit area is open to the public.

Entrance to the Mt Panorama Race Circuit.

Entrance to the Mt Panorama Race Circuit.

The start lines for races.

The start lines for races.

...and the race is underway. Top speed of 60 Kph has been achieved.

…and the race is underway. Top speed of 60 Kph has been achieved.

At the top, Skyline Pass with terrifying steep off camber left and right bends. around the

At the top, Skyline Pass with terrifying steep off camber left and right bends.
around the

I have been watching the Mt Panorama Race, on television, in October each year for all my adult life. It was thrilling driving the same track, at 60 Klm per hour where the professionals are racing at speeds up to 300 KPH. How is it possible?

There is lots to see at Bathurst but we are on a mission to fit in as much as possible every day.

We picked up the Castlereagh Highway and drove to Sofala, an old gold mining town established in 1851.

Boot Hill, the dead centre of Sofala.

Boot Hill, the dead centre of Sofala.

Most of the original houses pre 1900 are still intact, some habited. The narrow street follows the Turon River for all the 300 metres which comprises the town.

At one time Sofala was big enough to have sufficient population to justify a gaol.

At one time Sofala was big enough to have sufficient population to justify a gaol.

Donnis looking for a book at the Sofala Book Store. It was the only store, apart from the pub, which was open.

Donnis looking for a book at the Sofala Book Store. It was the only store, apart from the pub, which was open.

This ancient building was an eatery but not open when we visited Sofala.

This ancient building was an eatery but not open when we visited Sofala.

I was a bit cruel and left Donnis hanging around for awhile.

I was a bit cruel and left Donnis hanging around for awhile.

There is so much history here but we only had time for a walk around, a quick lunch then on to Mudgee.

Mudgee is also an old gold mining town but survives today due to sheep farming. It is a wealthy town, full of attractions but many of the old historical shops and houses have been modernised and in our opinion has lost a lot of its character appeal.

We drove on to Gulgong, birthplace of Henry Lawson, arguably Australia’s greatest poet and the man who appears on the original $10 note along with some town buildings.

The Henry Lawson Centre at Gulgong.

The Henry Lawson Centre at Gulgong.

I have been a keen reader of the collective works of Henry Lawson. Regrettably while travelling my collection of books were stored in our garage. After 4 years in storage and several years just sitting on the bookshelf the books had become musty smelling. I did not feel like moving all those books once more only to sit on a bookshelf and perhaps never be looked again. I gave away my collection.

Sob sob.

For those interested in why I liked the stories  and poems by Henry Lawson, please refer to the following site.   http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poems-book/verses-popular-and-humorous-0022000

The wonderful thing about Gulgong is that it is still old. The gutter/footpath edging is made from rough dressed sandstone.

Gulgong have left the original rough dressed sandstone on place for the gutters and foothpath edging.

Gulgong have left the original rough dressed sandstone on place for the gutters and foothpath edging.

I am so pleased they retained this feature. There is minimal attempt to modernise the buildings.

Musty old building in Gulgong. Despite its appearance it has been fitted out inside with a couple of flats.

Musty old building in Gulgong. Despite its appearance it has been fitted out inside with a couple of flats.

Mmmm. This buthchery has been on this site for 100 years.

Mmmm. This butchery has been on this site for 100 years.

We stayed overnight at the Prince of Wales Hotel, built somewhere around 1875 or earlier and much of the old building is retained and incorporated into a newer but still old style interior.

ONe of the dining areas at Prince Of Wales Gulgong

One of the dining areas at Prince Of Wales Gulgong

POW outside Dining area.

POW outside Dining area.

POW Fireplace for the outdoor dining area.

POW Fireplace for the outdoor dining area.

Wednesday 13th April

Today we elected to turn more northerly and miss the large towns/cities of Dunedoo, Dubbo, Orange and Wellington. I guess my driving plans were too ambitious for the time we have available.

Shortly after leaving Gulgong we turned off on the Black Stump Way, a back road in fair condition. For those unfamiliar with Oz, the Black Stump is/was a mythical/real place in the middle of nowhere with unexplored territory beyond. To say you went west of the Black Stump meant you have gone into countryside unexplored by white man. One such town is Coolah which sits squarely in the middle of Black Stump countryside.

A mechanic shop/panel beater/spray painter at Coolah had a great many old cars dating from around the 1950's. This looks like a Vanguard. Then again it could be another British motor car. Anybody know what it is?

A mechanic shop/panel beater/spray painter at Coolah had a great many old cars dating from around the 1950’s. This looks like a Vanguard. Then again it could be another British motor car. Anybody know what it is?

Trains do not run anymore  in many of the older established towns. This example in Coolah has all the bits and pieces removed from this signal post. Even the station has disappeared and only the tracks, overgrown with thick grass are the only indicators a train once came to town.

Trains do not run anymore in many of the older established towns. This example in Coolah has all the bits and pieces removed from this signal post. Even the station has disappeared and only the tracks, overgrown with thick grass are the only indicators a train once came to town.

In fact Coolah calls itself the Black Stump capitol.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Stump   It is a small town and like many small towns is struggling to retain is character and to stay alive in the 21st century. It is sad to see many closed shops and knowing young people have to leave town to find work. By coincidence Donnis worked at the hospital here for three months in the winter of 2014.

The road eventually joined the Newell Highway at Gunnedah. (By taking this route we also cut out other towns such as Gilgandra (where I have a cousin – Hi Lance) and Coonabarabran. We stopped for lunch then decided to stop for the night at Tamworth, famous for the Country Music Festival in January each year. We arrived earlier than expected and drove as far as Bendemeer where we stopped for the night.

i30 parked outside Bendemeer Hotel.

i30 parked outside Bendemeer Hotel.

The old pub was built in 1864 and apart from a few modern touches still looks and smells like 1864. The old highway which ran through the town brought traffic and customers to the small town was diverted in 1983/84 and the town is trying to re-invent itself and find new ways to attract customers off the highway.

During dinner tonight we received terrible news. Our good friend Glennis passed away last Friday. Glennis was diagnosed with tongue cancer only a few months ago. She made the decision not to have radiation therapy so she could enjoy her remaining time as best she can.

 

No longer will we meet at various country locations while travelling in our motorhomes. Last Thursday she and partner Eric were married in a simple ceremony on their property in the Daintree Rainforest. Glennis died the next day.

Vale Glennis.

We also heard from my cousin Bob, he has three types of cancer and has elected not to take any radiation treatment as it will only detract from his quality of life and may not give him any longer to live.

Sigh!!!

Thursday 14th April

Woke to a chillier morning than we are used to and drove to Armidale. Wow! It is even chillier here. Having lived at nearby Guyra for 5 months back in 2013/2014 I realised at this altitude (just on 1,000 metres for Armidale and over 1,300 metres for Guyra) it can be cold all year round. Two days ago we were at Katoomba also on 1,000 metres and on first getting out of the car noticed a chill in the breeze. Here the chill occurs without any breeze.

We stopped here to visit friend Greg T who is in a nursing home. Greg is only a few years older than me but has suffered Parkinsons Disease for about 10 years. Recently he acquired Alzheimers Disease. Doctors believe he now has Lewy Bodies, another degenerative disease and he needs constant care. While visiting he stayed awake long enough to recognise our presence but fell into a deep sleep and could not speak with us. His wife Linda and two of their sons, Jason and Gavin spent a good hour with us. I am sure in Greg’s subconscious he knew we were there.

Sigh!!!

Passing through Guyra we stopped to speak with Greg’s third son, Justin, before we travelled the New England Highway to Warwick in Qld before taking some back roads through to Beaudesert and Canungra and arrived home after 10 hours on the road.

Gee it was wonderful falling asleep in our own bed.

461. Sunday 11th October 2015. A long drive followed by a funeral…

11/10/2015

Monday 5th October

Today was a public holiday in Queensland, sensibly we stayed off the roads as traffic will be crazy with holidaymakers and school holiday traffic return to whence they came.

Tuesday 6th October

On waking we checked emails and found my Aunt Maude had died overnight. I phoned my cousin Bob who was at the Funeral Home when I called. The funeral will be at Coonabarabran western NSW at 2pm on Thursday.

Well Ok then. First cancel physiotherapist appointments this week. Phone my brother and sisters with details and ask if any can come to the funeral.

Went to see the doctor but just as I arrived she had an emergency so I have rescheduled my appointment for next week. If anybody is curious, yes I am still in pain – nerve pain – so this pain will require a Nerve Pain Clinic.

We will pack tonight and leave for Coona in the morning and stay overnight at Moree. The entire trip is at least a 9 hour, possibly longer, drive.

Wednesday 7th October

We left home by 9.30 am and drove north to the outskirts of Brisbane before turning west and then turning south. This may seem strange but it is a quicker route than heading south and then west. We drove through the outskirts of Ipswich and then through Warwick, to Goondiwindi and then south to cross the border to Moree. We are staying at the Artesian Spa Motel so we can use the artesian pools here. Tomorrow we will push on through Narrabri, the spooky Pillaga Forest and on to Coonabarabran. The Pilliga is a forest with the Newel Highway running through it. There are lots of stories about Yowies. The following link contains a good story about Yowies, Bunyips and the tragic Pilliga Princess.   https://oldbroadintheoutback.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/yowies-bunyips-and-mysterious-tales-from-the-pilliga-forest/  Truck drivers especially had a fear of driving through the forest at night.

Oops, we discovered on arrival that NSW is on Daylight Savings Time. What we thought was 4.30 was really 5.30.

Sigh!

Thursday 8th October.

We were on our way by 8.30 for the drive to Narrabri, through the Pilliga Forest and on to Coonabarabran.

Back in October 2012 – Post 278 – https://frankeeg.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/278-sunday-21st-october-2012-dubbo-through-to-the-warrumbungles-to-coonabarabran-and-hugely-changing-countryside/   – I visited some Aboriginal Heritage Caves in the Pilliga Forest. At the time I felt a spiritual presence of many people as I walked around the caves. I was the only person at the caves and although I felt alone, exposed and an unknown, non-threatening spiritual presence of many people, I still managed to walk the caves and take photographs.

I did not see a Yowie.

Arrived at Coona in time for lunch.

Coonabarabran is an old town populated by old homes. This is one example.

Coonabarabran is an old town populated by old homes. This is one example.

This wonderful Art Deco movie theatre stands out as a once busy but now sadly no longer used as such.

This wonderful Art Deco movie theatre stands out as a once busy but now sadly no longer used as such.

The Royal Hotel has now ceased trading. Interestingly the lights still burn twenty four hours a day.

The Royal Hotel has now ceased trading. Interestingly the lights still burn twenty four hours a day.

Allan and Rae arrived and we joined then for a burger. Aunt Maudes funeral was short, emotional and simple. From the church we followed the hearse to the cemetery. Interestingly the man from the funeral parlour walked ahead of the hearse and the procession followed.

Directions in Coona begin and end at the Clock Tower. The tower sits in the middle of the town on the Newell Highway. Locals will give directions such as “coming from Tamworth or Narrabri, turn left at the Clock Tower, take the next turn on the right and follow until you see the church”.  From the Golf Club the directions are, “follow this road to the Clock Tower, turn left and then turn right at the Shell Garage then follow the road to Nana’s house. Even printed attraction brochures use the Clock Tower as a reference guide.

The iconic middle of town Clock Tower with the sandstone court house and Police station in the background.

The iconic middle of town Clock Tower with the sandstone court house and Police station in the background.

On the third corner of the Clock Tower Intersection is the courthouse built from locally quarried sandstone.

On the third corner of the Clock Tower Intersection is the courthouse built from locally quarried sandstone.

The busy Newel Highway passes through town where all traffic, including trucks. The Clock Tower intersection includes the Coonabarabran Hotel on one corner

The busy Newel Highway passes through town where all traffic, including trucks. The Clock Tower intersection includes the Coonabarabran Hotel on one corner

The Imperial Hotel is on another corner at the Clock Tower intersection.

The Imperial Hotel is on another corner at the Clock Tower intersection.

This Military Sun Clock is on the Courthouse corner.

This Military Sun Clock is on the Courthouse corner.

The sun clock gives an accurate time but is not adjustable for Daylight Savings in NSW.

The sun clock gives an accurate time but is not adjustable for Daylight Savings in NSW.

A gathering took place at the Golf Club where we got to meet several family members we have not seen for many years and all the children and grandchildren we have not met. Later at Maudes house we joined a family only gathering and had drinks and finger food until dinner time.  Donnis and I both enjoyed the interaction of all the various family members especially the grandchildren who easily spoke & mixed with the adults.

Friday 9th October

Donnis decided to drive all the way home today. At Goondiwindi just inside the Qld border we bought some salads at Coles and went to a park for lunch. In town near the MacIntyre River bank is a statue of a champion, Australian Legend Racehorse, Gunsynd, which was owned and trained by a local. Gunsynd  is probably the greatest racehorse never to have not won the Melbourne Cup. It seemed rather strange therefore to find a giant lifelike statue of a Murray Cod in the park where we lunched. The statue was only installed and dedicated a month ago.

Hmmm! A tribute to the Murray Cod at a place nowhere near the Murray River. It seems the MacIntyre River was stocked with Murray Cod some years ago and they have multiplied. An annual fishing competition is held at Goondiwindi.

Hmmm! A tribute to the Murray Cod at a place nowhere near the Murray River. It seems the MacIntyre River was stocked with Murray Cod some years ago and they have multiplied. An annual fishing competition is held at Goondiwindi.

Hmmm! The Murray River is a long long way from here and as far as I can determine does not flow into the Murray. I cannot find any information on Google but suspect the MacIntyre was stocked with Murray Cod.

Saturday 10th October.

Time to just chill out at home.

Sunday 11th October

Grrr! Everything that could go wrong went wrong. First of all the laptop would not turn on. We kept getting a message that the start system could not be found.

Next our iPad would not run either Google Chrome or Apple Compass without closing the programme suddenly.

Our other laptop a basically useless thing which takes forever to run anything we decided to stop using it.

Finally found a way to get the laptop working so decided to do a backup…just in case.

The backup finally stopped after 9 hours stating the external hard drive had insufficient memory.

Hmmm! The hard drive has plenty of memory but to be certain I formatted the drive.

In desperation we bought a new HP Pavillion All In One Desktop Computer. Once we got it home and unpacked we discovered the screen is smashed.

WOT THE!!!

Hmmm! Tomorrow we will have to go back to where we bought it and get a replacement.

The laptop and external hard drive are ready to start a backup before going to bed.

278. Sunday 21st October 2012. Dubbo through to The Warrumbungles to Coonabarabran and hugely changing countryside…

21/10/2012

Monday 15th October

Apart from spending a good part of my day at the Western Plains Zoo I re-visited the freedom camp site at Terramungamine with the intention of finding the aboriginal rock grooves. As it turns out they were reasonably easy to find but badly signposted. Not one sign anywhere along the highway, the turnoff to the campsite or the campsite itself. In the end I just walked along a track beside the river and found a sign at the site.

Duuuh!

The one and only sign at the site of the Aboriginal weapon and tool making groove site.

I drove all this way and searched for the site to find The Grooves.

Perhaps the National Parks people are trying to keep visitor numbers down and quite frankly once at the site there is very little to see.

On the return trip to Dubbo I saw a set of satellite dishes on a hilltop. Although it looks impressive it seems it belongs to a little known rural telecommunications company.

Telecommunications array.

Tuesday 16th October

In the morning I drove in TERIOS to Wellington about 50 Klm from Dubbo. Wellington is another Heritage listed town but regrettably I was running out of time to explore.

Interesting but weird sculpture at the entrance to the Wellington Caves road.

Closeup of a part of the sculpture. It reminds me of a creature from the movie, Day of the Triffids.

Interesting but not weird tree also at the entrance to Wellington Caves road.

The mission today was to visit Wellington Caves.

Fibreglass Diprodoton, the skeleton of which was found in Wellington Caves.

These are unusual caves in that they are privately owned and operated and at one stage a phosphate mine was undertaken.

Entrance to the phosphate mine below the original opening to a limestone cave above.

The caves and mine contain many bones including that of a Diprotodon a huge car sized ancient relative of the Wombat. I only had time to visit the mine tour from which I learned that the phosphate (bat guano from a million years ago) was intermixed with limestone and as a result was somewhat low grade. The guide had no idea why there were such extensive tunnels in the hillside if such low grade product was virtually useless. What were the miners doing underground 100 years ago? The mine and caves were closed for 80 years and only re-opened to the public this century.

The skeleton of another animal, Thylacoleo, a Marsupial Lion were found in this mine.

Plaster model skeleton of the Marsupial Lion found in the mine.

On the way back to Dubbo I diverted onto a gravel road to Ponto Falls expecting to see umm err a waterfall or two. I arrived at a section of the Macquarie River where the river widened and rushed across a shallow section canoeists call a “gravel race”. It was by any standards a low grade gravel race. I was disappointed there was no waterfall.

Tonight while washing up in the camp kitchen I was approached by a strange man wearing a fishing jacket. Instead of fish hooks, lures, sinkers and other fishy stuff this man had several mobile phones (one for Australia, one for incoming Indonesian calls, one for outgoing Indonesian calls, another phone for Malaysia and so on), his glasses, pens, scissors, notepads, bulldog clips and all connected to his jacket with neck straps. He claimed to be a Christian healer and travels overseas curing people from such things as cancer, broken bones, sleeplessness, hatred or anything else he could think about on the spur of the moment. The other people in the kitchen beat a hasty retreat leaving me with my arms in suds at the mercy of the healer.

Dubbo and Wellington have lots of interesting natural and other attractions just waiting for me to explore. Regrettably I am moving further north so I will have to explore another time.

Wednesday 17th October

While it is fresh in my mind I want to give a pat on the back to the Dubbo City Holiday Park. Yes it has some items which need attention but overall the experience was good. As I do not usually stay in van parks I should mention this is the first park, ever, which provides a full level concrete pad. Not just a half pad to use as a flat space for an awning or annexe but a full pad to park on and still have awning/annexe space. Each space is separated by small trees or shrubs. Not totally private but enough to delineate space and provide some shade. They also provide a good clean well equipped camp kitchen which has and enclosed section for inclement weather and an outdoor section for good weather. There is a Sunday night happy hour with a sausage sizzle and a musician. They also have a car/caravan washing facility beside a dump point. They are also the cheapest in town.

I left Dubbo this morning with mixed feelings. On the one hand I wanted to stay and explore the area and the many natural attractions it has to offer. On the other hand I do need to get further north and I do want to see The Warrumbungles.   (http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/nationalparks/parkhome.aspx?id=N0035)

I arrived in Gilgandra for coffee and after weighing up the attractions to visit I decided to travel another 90 klms to Coonabarabran and a further 35 klms to Warrumbungle National Park.

WWWGO in camp at Warrumbungle NP.

The Warrumbungles is an area of former volcanic activity and is well known for fossil finds. Interestingly the drive from Coonabarabran through a delightful valley showed many small backyard telescopes. These scopes are owned by amateur star gazers, dedicated scientists who sometimes work from home and individuals who offer public access…for a price. I booked into a powered site inside the park and settled in for the night.

The trip from Gilly to Coona showed a marked change in the countryside. From flat plains to long gently rolling hills to increasing ranges and finally out to The Warrumbungles and the short steep hills and mountain ranges had WWWGO back to 2nd gear at times.

Thursday 18th October

This morning I set out with the best of intentions to walk around Split Rock, a massive monolith visible from many places throughout the park.

Split Rock.

I wore I long sleeved shirt and carried lots of water and a broad brimmed hat. Within 30 minutes the 34° heat and loose rocky, steep pathway slowed me considerably. Either I was dehydrated or my hypertension was kicking in but I felt unwell and discretion is the better part of valour so I slowly walked back to the car-park.

I met this mother Kangaroo with Joey on the path from Split Rock.

From White Gum Lookout I was able to identify the grouped trio of landmarks with Crater Bluff on the left, Belougrey Spire in the middle and The Breadknife on the right.

Belougery Spire

Next on the list was the Siding Springs Telescope something I have wanted to see for a number of years.

Siding Springs telescope seen from the campsite at the Warrumbungle NP.

Although I was able to see the telescope, access was not available except by postcards in the gift shop.

Biggest telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. Siding Springs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siding_Spring_Observatory

A unique giant solar system model commences at the observatory which is the SUN. At locations throughout the nearby towns are models showing the distance from the sun. For example Mercury, Venus and Earth are on the same mountain. The planet Pluto is at Dubbo 90 klms away.

http://www.solarsystemdrive.com

The first sign showing plantes stretching out from the sun. The telescope is the SUN.

MERCURY is located in the observatory car park.

VENUS is located a few hundred metres outside the carpark.

EARTH located half way along the winding road to the observatory.

SATURN located a few klms north of Coonabarabran.

NEPTUNE is located way out at Gilgandra, 90 klms from the SUN.

Friday 19th October

I drove to Coonabarabran this morning to collect my mail. It has not arrived so I need to stay, at least until the mail arrives, perhaps Monday. I visited my aunt Maude and discovered my cousin Bob and wife Dianne were there as well. They had been travelling Queensland and broke their journey to attend a funeral in Cobar then return home for a few days before returning to Queensland to collect their caravan. Bob arranged for me to put WWWGO on his property and camp there while waiting for the mail.

Tonight we joined the house-sitters, Adrian & Maz for drinks on the verandah.

Saturday 20th October

I received an email this morning and I want to share it with you. I also want to thank Linda C for sending it to me. Let me set some background. In Australia we have many animals which are killed on our roads…Kangaroos, Emu, Wombats, Fox, Camel, Wild Pig, Horses, Cattle, Sheep and well almost any type of animal which is capable of wandering onto a road. Many of these animals cross a road where they want to cross a road. Sometimes they frequently cross in areas on a regular basis. So regular in fact that local traffic authorities place warning signs so motorists are aware to be prepared to take evasive action. The link below will take you to a YouTube presentation from the USA but the information can apply in any country. Without explaining any further I suggest you open the following link in a new tab and then, like me, shake your head and wonder that these people walk among us and even more frightening, they breed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CI8UPHMzZm8&sns=fb

In the morning I drove to Baradine to see the Pilliga State Forest and particularly the Sculptures in the Scrub.    http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/pilliga-national-park/sculptures-in-the-scrub-walking-track/walking

The road to the Dandry Gorge site is along 33 klms of gravel road which became narrower as I drove, full of potholes and deep bulldust ruts. I had not seen another car since leaving Baradine so decided to turn around, explore Baradine

Baradine Hotel

and then drive back to Coona via a back road from Baradine to the Gulargembone Road and then to Bugaldie and on to Coona.

Siding Springs Telescope seen from the other side of The Warrumbungles near Baradine.

One of many farmhouse ruins seen along the road to Baradine.

In the afternoon, from Coona, I drove 33 klms along the Newell Highway until I found the Yaminbah Trail turnoff. (The site is deliberately not signposted on the highway as requested by and out of respect for, the local aboriginal communities) A 1 klm reasonable gravel road ended at the car-park to the Sandstone Caves in the Pilliga nature Reserve.    http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/Pilliga-National-Park/Sandstone-Caves-Walking-Track/walking

A sign told me the track was a 1.7klm loop and would take an hour. An hour? Once I found the caves and wandered around absolutely stunned it took longer than an hour. These caves are huge and I tried to image what it may have been like 1,000 years ago, sheltering perhaps hundreds of people.

Caves Pathway.

Wall of sandstone at the beginning the caves.

There are some sacred cave paintings and some sites where sharpening and shaping of stone axes, spears and axes was carried out.

Sharpening and shaping grooves in sandstone.

It felt awesome to be able to see this site, for free and without guides and other cultural restraints. That explains why there are no other signs along the highway or in Narrabri or Coonabarabran advertising the site. There is one simple low to the ground sign, Yaminbah Trail and unless you knew what was at the end of the trail most people would just drive past. I must thank the Kate at Pillaga Forest Discovery Centre at Baradine for the information and rough maps to find the site. I might mention that it was a very hot day with temps around 34° and I started my walk after 3pm. I took a 2litre bladder of water to ensure I did not dehydrate. I also wore a hat which quite simply was a must. Members of the local Gamilaraay Aboriginal community have done a great job of preparing walking trails and interpretive signs along the loop track around the sandstone outcrop.

Sunday 21st October

The last day of the week. Clouds rolled in during the night and light rain fell during the day along with a drop in temperature.

Today we went to the Coonabarabran Bowling Club to see the annual Yabby Races.

http://www.about-australia.com/events/coona-yabby-races/

Last year the event raised $17,000 in one afternoon with the funds going to a local charity. Yabby races are a bit like cane toad races, or frog races or cockroach races. First there is an auction of the creatures, they are put in a central starting grid and when the grid is raised the first creature to hop, crawl, slither, or scuttle off the edge of the circular table is the winner. Of course there is side betting and raffles and lots of drinking. The auction and subsequent racing is noisy but by the third race silly amounts are bid for the yabbies. $300 for a yabby to race in a game of chance was pretty much the norm. One particular race the first place prize money was $1,100, second was $300 and $150 for third. The charity got around $300 for that one race. There were 8 races on the afternoon with auction bidding increasing with each race. People came from nearby towns including a coach load from Tamworth. All in all it was a noisy fun afternoon and a local charity benefited from it all.