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A NSW Sojourn

A NSW Sojourn

On 4th October, continuing from Goondiwindi, I entered into enemy territory and made my first stop at Narrabri. It is quite a pleasant mid-size town but its main claim to fame is the adjacent Mt Kaputar National Park at the western edge of the Great Dividing Range. I remained there for four nights and unhitched the trailer so I could venture into the National Park. There is a road (of sorts) almost to the top of Mt Kaputar with a short climb to the summit. Travellers can enjoy some spectacular views and interesting rock formations – again evidence of volcanic activity. The road is closed to caravans but my bus managed it. Passing was ‘interesting’ with steep falls in places on one side of the road - and required backing up at times to find wider sections of the road.  I think the bus acquired a few new rattles.

After that I decided to turn west to Bourke at the end of the sealed road. The “Back O’ Bourke” is the Australian vernacular for anything further west and sparsely populated. There are many national parks and reserves. Bourke is on the banks of the Darling River but again the country is very dry and although the river still flows, the level is very low.

After a short run of 200 km, I stopped at a very well-planned holiday park and was able set up right on the river Bogan and just a short cycle ride or walk from the town of Nyngan. 25 years ago the town was completely inundated when the levee protecting the town gave way. The entire town was evacuated with the aid of RAAF helicopters. The levee has since been repaired and heightened so the town is now better protected. The holiday park was on the opposite bank to the town and completely lacking a levee. My bus was less than a metre above the river level!

Next stop was Condobolin, again a riverside town but the river was not as attractive as the Bogan. Nice country town and again a short walk or ride to the centre.

From there I moved to Oberon on the western slopes of the Blue Mountains about 200 km west of Sydney. It was a bit of return to cooler weather because of the elevation. The main attraction is the Jenolan Caves some 40 km further into the mountains. I spent a day going through two of the eight cave systems.  They are spectacular and from my memory far more spectacular than Cheddar Caves in the UK. I would have climbed about 1,000 steep steps which tested my complaining hip.

Whilst waiting entry into one of the caves, a lady asked me if there was an easier route to drive down the mountain after they had visited the caves. Our conversation led to the fact that she went to school in Swanage and now lives in Salisbury. She and her husband were on an extended Australian holiday. Unfortunately I had to tell her that both the possible routes were equally steep, narrow and tortuous with many speed limits of 15 kph around the worst hairpin bends.

Meanwhile my rear windscreen had been smashed when travelling along unsealed roads. I hadn’t been able locate a replacement locally but I found out that a company South Brisbane manufactures or cuts one for Coasters. I was also after some cosmetic changes to the interior of the bus and decided to head towards The Motorhome Conversion Company and the glass place as they are both at Brisbane. I did not want to return to Queensland along the normal route and followed a different route through the New England region which was completely different to the normal Australian vegetation with many trees seen in England. Avenues of poplars seemed to be highly favoured alongside the roads and leading to farm homesteads. It is a very rich agricultural land and I also passed a large number of vineyards producing boutique wines. Most vineyards had their own restaurants where you can sample and taste wines before buying. I would have enjoyed them during my drinking days but was anxious to get to Brisbane.

After repairs and alterations are complete, I plan to head south again, this time along the coastal fringe before turning west along the NSW/Victoria border that follows the Darling River system and continue my journey into the next set of travels.

Tags: Camping Stories, Travel Stories

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