After a um well lets say not the best nights sleep – Thomas you are looking mighty fine about now !!!!! We packed up charlie and headed off towards Lightning Ridge. We hadn’t even made it out of Narrabri before the boys in blue were in our sights doing Random Breathe Tests (RBTs) – i missed out 🙁
We followed the Kamilaroi Hwy along some extremely long and straight roads with properties as long and probably as wide as the roads were traveling on. The land in many places is really dry and the irrigation canals are dry as dry can be.
There has been some recent rains which has left some water laying by the road and some puddles but for the most parts the rivers, creeks and canals are dry – its a really sad sight to see.
This is the Pagan Creek Bridge next to the Namoi River near Walgett.
You forget or just don’t understand how cut off some of these towns still really are until you start driving and realise just how far from ‘normal’ accessible everyday activities like fuel and groceries they really are. Burren Junction only had the final pavement linking it to Walgett laid in 1993, 21 years ago, sounds a lot but 1993!
Trying to understand the sheer magnitude of these places is really hard to do. This one was just outside of Cryon (between Burren Junction and Walgett). You know its big when the driveway looks like this and you cant even see the house !
We had the first sightings of wild eeeemoos (for the adults and non-Aussies Emu’s) just outside of Burren Junction. After the first dozen we stopped counting, but it was still pretty cool to see them wandering the paddocks as we zipped on by.
We joined the Castlereagh Hwy just outside of Walgett where it intersects the Kamilaroi Hwy and headed to Lightning Ridge. By this time the sprinkling had set in and was enough to be annoying with the windscreen wipers but not really do too much else.
We were greeted into Lightning Ridge by “Stanley” the 18ft metal Emu and the typical outback property entry.
Opal is found in many parts of Australia but it is the elusive Black Opal that has made Lightning Ridge famous. Black Opal was first discovered in the area in the 1870’s but the indiscriminate finds were little more than curiosities when presented to gem buyers in Sydney.
Once in Lightning Ridge we followed the “Car Doors” tour. There are four each a different colour and each one showing a different aspect of the ‘ridge. You literally follow different colour painted car doors as your guides. Apparently, someone years ago had the bright idea that with so many abandoned cars in the area, why not recycle parts of them and use the doors to mark the various areas of the town.
You really do need to be a special sort of soul to be able to live here, a bit like Coober Pedy i suspect! We’ve been to both and i’m not sure that we have any real reason or wanting to go back to either again. They really are persistent, patient and hard working souls – mining of any sorts particularly the hand cutting types is bloody hard work for a lot of the time not much return.
Just some of the sights we saw …..
It was then time to re-trace some of our steps and make our way through Brewarrina and onto Bourke.
Following the combination of Kamilaroi and Castlereagh Hwys we made our way through Walgett and on towards Brewarrina crossing the Barwon River a number of times, which did have some water in it.
We fueled up in Brewarrina and headed to the weir and Aboriginal Fish Traps in the Darling River, which due to the water levels weren’t running although some had water in them and it was easy to see how they would function when the water was flowing. Known in the local Aboriginal language as Baiame’s Ngunnhu. It is believed that Ngemba, Wonkamurra, Wailwan and Gomolaroi people have shared and maintained the traps for thousands of years. The traps are believed to be at least 40,000 years old, possibly the oldest surviving human-made structure in the world. Consisting of river stones arranged to form small channels, the traps direct fish into small areas from which they are readily plucked. The traps form a complex net of linked weirs and ponds along 500 m (547 yd) of the river.
It was getting on late in the day and we had seen plenty of ‘road kill’ already and didn’t really want to make any more of it, so we headed for Bourke. We had a few stops for rivers, roads and clouds and to let the wildlife go by.
By now we had managed to see Emu, Kangaroo, 3 beautiful big eagles, goats, plenty of birds, sheep and cattle.
Once we arrived in Bourke we grabbed a feed at the RSL and then headed to the west to see if we could bag a sunset like yesterday – unfortunately it wasn’t to be. We did however check out the Darling river and the bridges crossing it.
It was then time to find some accommodation so we checked into the campground, however as we really weren’t sure what the weather was going to do and the locals were a bit unsure too, as there is a storm front coming across QLD and they have had some rains in the past few days so rather then potentially getting wet in the tent (and another rather uncomfortable nights sleep) we opted for a cabin.