Easter Road Trip End

27 April 2019

I left Griffith at 9:00am and arrived home at 4:00pm.  On Thursday 18 April 2019 I left work at Rozelle and started this road trip to the Outback.  I have completed 2,800 kilometres (1,740 miles) in 9 days.  I am very pleased with what I have seen on this trip.  I was actually more frightened doing this trip than the USA road trip. Here in Australia we have very remote areas which I did not experience in the USA.  There are not as many vehicles on the road and I was without GPS and phone reception for 2 days at one stage. Not even the hotel I stayed in at White Cliffs had any internet.  Lots of rough roads, water over the roads in areas which had the first rain in 2 years, quirky characters in the remote roadhouses along the way, magnificent colours of landscapes which change from dry red earth of Broken Hill, pinks of the open mine in Cobar, to the lush green of Mildura, the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers and the beautiful grazing land of the Riverina.

The last couple of stops were firstly Barellan, a small country town of 390, the home of Wimbledon Champion Evonne Goolagong, with a giant tennis racquet in her honour.

Of course it is defined by its pub, the Commercial Hotel.

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Temora is known as the friendliest town in NSW and famous for their air shows. I didn’t see any air shows but here is one of their pubs and one of their churches.

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People think I am crazy doing this on my own, but I am enjoying solo travel so much. It is exciting and addictive, as it gets the adrenaline and endorphins pumping.  The more I travel the more I take in and want to explore the smaller towns. I would do so much more in each town if I planned differently, but I didn’t give myself much time to plan as I decided to do this trip a few days before I left.

I have audio books which keep me entertained and awake and thank my local library for providing this free service.

Home now and ready to go back to work until I go off on another odyssey.

 

 

Easter Road Trip last leg

26 April 2019

Balranald has cute frog sculptures around town.

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As I approached to stop at Hay, I decided to go through to Griffith.  Griffith has a colourful history with a large Italian population who influenced the area’s wine, fruit and vegetable industry. I had dinner at the Griffith Returned Services Leagues Club and had this pumpkin soup in a bowl as big as a basin.

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This Fairey Firefly aircraft is a monument outside the Griffith Returned Services Leagues Club.

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Next time I go to Griffith I will take a walk around the Hermit’s Cave area.

 

Easter Road Trip Mildura

25 April 2019

It is ANZAC Day today, giving thanks to Australian and New Zealand men and women who fought to keep our country safe and free.

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Today is also my late father’s birthday and he would have been 85 today. Happy birthday Dad.

Leaving Broken Hill, I heard about the Bra Tree and was not really sure what I would find.  It is a colourful memorial in honour of Maree Kester, a teacher and motorcycle enthusiast from Broken Hill who died from breast cancer in 2010. It was her wish for people to leave colourful bras on the tree. Typical of an Aussie to use humour in memory of all women lost to cancer.

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The 3 hour drive south east of Broken Hill, through the red earth, the landscape changed colour.

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What a refreshing surprise when I arrived at Wentworth and the Murrumbidgee River.

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And then I arrived at Mildura.  I knew the name and that it was near the border of NSW and Victoria but had no idea of the beauty of this place.

I booked a room through Airbnb on the Coonawarra Paddleboat. The rooms are small but the location is breathtaking.

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This place feels so good I am getting emotional. Watching pelicans take off and land on the water. Birds skimming the top of the water. I am trying to see fish jump out of the water but  always looking in the wrong spot, and only see the ripple left behind, the ducks paddling and swans gliding up and down the river, listening to the kookaburras, waving to the people going by on their tinnie or houseboat. I’ve enjoyed many moments on my road trip but sitting on a paddleboat on the Murray River I feel I could stay here forever.

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Why didn’t I know about Mildura!! I almost didn’t drive down this way! What a pretty oasis. It is known as the Mediterranean in the Outback. One minute I am in red earth remote, historical Broken Hill on the border of NSW and South Australia, then 3 hours down the road on the border of NSW and Victoria is this gem. This place is my Wow spot for this road trip. I had to drag myself away from the paddleboat on the Murray River to go and get some dinner. It is a short walk to the lively restaurants and bars but then the river is so peaceful you feel you cross into another world. It is a 10 hour drive to Sydney and I would stay here for a week but have a job commitment. I highly recommend this place. Put it on your must visit list.

 

 

Easter Road Trip Broken Hill Day 2

24 April 2019

Silverton, population 50, 1172km (728miles) west of Sydney, an old mining town but referred to as a ghost town.

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The setting for the movie Mad Max II and the location of a museum of artefacts from that movie.

A couple of quirky local artists.

Another scary part of my journey, was driving to the Daydream Mine.  20km of, what I felt was, rough off road track. My poor Corolla Hatch copped a pounding.  But you cannot go to the Outback without getting red dirt all over your car. I was reassured by locals that my car will make the trek, and it did.  I want only sealed roads for the rest of my trip.

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The Daydream mine have a tour which takes you 30 metres (100 feet) down an old silver mine shaft. What a tough profession, mining was, still is, but in those days, doing everything by hand, in heat topping 51C (124F), only crazy Aussies. The guide, Jason, is a wonderful character providing information, of the hard work of a miner in the 1800s, like only an Aussie can entertain.

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Easter Road Trip Day 6 Broken Hill

23 April 2019

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I arrived at the most western town in New South Wales, Broken Hill. The reason I decided on this road trip. From White Cliffs I had to go back to Wilcannia to take the road to Broken Hill. Only one place to stop between Wilcannia and Broken Hill is the Little Topar Hotel.

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The hospitality was typical country although their “ring for service” bell might make you believe they do not offer friendly service. But the rabbit trap “ring for service” bell is typical Australian humour.

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Broken Hill, known as the silver city, the Capital of the Outback, is the longest lived mining city in Australia. The break in the hills which gave the name to Broken Hill no longer exists due to being mined away.  The city has beautiful heritage listed buildings.

And modern buildings.

The Living Desert and Sculptures of Broken Hill is the perfect place to be for sunset.

 

The Palace Hotel is the Outback site for the movie, Priscilla Queen of the Desert. The movie starts in my local area, the Imperial Hotel in Erskineville Sydney and ends in the Palace Hotel Broken Hill.  Broken Hill now hosts the “Broken Heel” drag queen festival in September each year. I don’t like to be negative in my blogs but these 2 drag queens were not a good advertisement for the Broken Heel Festival or drag queens in general, on this night. They had just completed a show for the Indian Pacific guests and were in the foyer in full view of patrons hoping to get a photo opportunity. They eventually capitulated but they were the most uninviting Drag Queens I have encountered. Hopefully this was just a bad night because they gave drag queens a bad image.  Give me good old Sydney drag queens any day, oh, and the Idaho Queen of drag, Minerva Jayne.

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famous paintings seen in Priscilla Queen of the Desert

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Easter Road Trip Day 5 White Cliffs

22 April 2019

White Cliffs is an opal mining community with underground dugouts for accommodation because of the extreme temperatures in this region. Again, I encountered some floodwater and places of mud where the water receded. The colours out here are spectacular contrasts. Red earth and green trees.

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White Cliffs people say “where blue sky meets red earth”. The storm rolling in added other dimensions of colours.

White Cliffs has a population of 150.

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The golf course gives a very different meaning to “green”.

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White Cliffs golf course Hole 1

While waiting for my hotel room, I went to the local pub with Olivia as the friendly local barmaid keeping everyone watered. Met the local school teacher with 11 students, 4 of which are her children. Met a local who came in to tell the mates he got off with a $1500 fine and didn’t losse his gun licence. It transpired he had gone shopping in town, took his gun out of the boot, placed it on the ground while he packed his groceries in the boot and forgot to put his rifle back in the boot. Being around city people I realise I only have their perspective on guns in Australia but have not experienced the rural perspective till this trip. In Cobar I noticed there are gun, hunting and “shooters” magazines.

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After Port Arthur, I had forgotten we had a gun culture before but did not realise we still have one and it is not just the Americans who have guns. In the early 1980s I used to make my own ammunition for target shooting and my ex husband’s pig and kangaroo hunting (I only shot targets). When I lived in Brail we had access to all  types of guns.  Guns are accepted in rural areas, just city people do not seem to have an understanding of the need for guns in rural areas.

Anyhow, I found the locals very interesting friendly people who have a intriguing tales of how they come to be in this remote, small community.

The Underground Hotel was as interesting as I expected.  What I did not expect was how sleeping in a “cave” is damp, musty and my allergies flared up.  I was glad I was only there one night though, but also glad I had the experience.

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staircase to the roof
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roof of the underground hotel

At this hotel I met people whose children had my son as their teacher, people whom I met in Cobar, and 25 Jehovas Witnesses who were travelling around remote areas “spreading their teaching”.

One of the local artists uses rail spikes for his art.

 

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Finally for White Cliffs, this sign in the local toilet.

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Easter Road Trip Day 5 to Wilcannia

22 April 2019

What a fabulous sound rain is on a tin roof!! Cobar had  the first significant rain for 2 years. I got ready in the morning to drive to White Cliffs, 3.5 hours of driving. There was a lot of water on the road and I asked the driver of this road train what the condition of the road was to White Cliffs and he suggested I contact Wilcannia Police for an update on road flooding as there were some road closures.

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The Wilcannia Police reassured me the roads were open. However, when I went through my fisrt lot of .2 metre floodwater across the Barrier Highway I was so scared that I turned around to go back to Cobar. Then I watched another car go through the water and decided I would follow him if I could see the water was not too deep. After the third lot of floodwater I encountered a police officer and asked him what level floodwater would be ok with my Corolla hatch. He said “just follow another car. If they get through so will you but perhaps .3 metres will be enough”. That was reassuring. The problem was the care in front of me took off and I didn’t see him go through the floodwater but I decided he did get through so I should be ok. I remember being told to drive through floodwater slowly, do not speed up and do not stop. It was nerve wrecking because I didn’t know how many spots were flooded. Thankfully the rain receded and all I had to worry about then was goats, kanagaroos and emus. There were lots on the side of the road today but none jumped out in front of me.

158km (98miles) later I stopped at a small roadhouse in Emmdale. What would you tink about stopping at a place with bullet holes peppering the sign?

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I was told that the original owner of the roadhouse had a reputation for shooting and that the story goes he shot up the sign.

I am getting into more and more remote Australia. Next stop Wilcannia is a township which looks more abandoned than lived in.

The local police station and post office are a reminder of what the town was like.

The old bridge is what is left of a time when this town was prosperous with paddlesteamers on the river.  But the river has long since dried up.

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One more hour to go to my next stop, White Cliffs.