central and Western NSW

Old Apr 10th, 2022, 09:29 PM
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central and Western NSW

It is hard to believe it is almost a year since we did our trip down into NSW. Over the last twelve months we have done several one to two week trips in south Queensland and eight days in New England earlier this year. But now it was time for a longer trip to include visits to our grandchildren in Canberra and Sydney. Once again weather and road closures did influence where we went. So we packed up the camper, packed our masks and plenty of sanitiser and braved the new Covid normal.



We are just happy to wander around, staying a couple of nights in small towns and just enjoying being on the road. We do not need to have lots of things to see and do and I will admit to having seen enough small town museums that we do not have to visit every one, unless it is something special. We also do not do big days and are not the ones arriving at the caravan park at 4 in the afternoon. We are the ones with our feet up and the glass of wine. Pretty ordinary really.



One of the problems after having done a few trips is that first night out is often somewhere familiar. We had to wait for the Gore highway to open and this time we were back in Moree where we stayed last year, so it was just a one night stop before continuing on the Coonabarrabran for two nights. We camped at Tooraweenah a couple of years ago and went to the Warrumbungles so did not include them this time.



We have been travelling along the Newell highway for 25+ years and never knew this place with sandstone caves was there. They are about 35kms north of Coonabarrabran and at the request of the aboriginal caretakers, there are no signs on the highway. Details can be obtained at the tourist office. The car park is 1km off the road and then a 1.7 km loop walk (easy) takes you past towering sandstone cliffs. Thousands of years of weathering have resulted in small caves and hollows, and cliffs with layers and feathering and delicate protrusions of stronger rock that has not eroded. There are ancient grinding stones and some carvings of emu and kangaroo feet. The colours are wonderful, ranging from white through cream, gold, salmon, red and purple. It is part of the Pilliga Nature reserve and there was a variety of trees, bushes and grasses and in places, great views over the valley. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing this stunning place.


Sandstone caves Coonabarrabran









Next day we turned off the highway just south and went down through Mendooran, Dunedoo, Wellington before arriving in Molong. There is a small caravan park and it was good to be able to walk to the shops. Molong is a nice little town with some attractive buildings including an old Cobb and Co coach house. There is a sculpture trail from Molong to Dubbo, so next day we drove along as far as Yeovil. The theme is Animals on Bikes and there are a lot. It has been there for a few years and some could do with refurbishment, and some were difficult to see, but we spotted plenty and some were quite quirky and well done. It is ‘ drive by ‘, so not easy to stop for photos. In Yeovil there is a huge sculpture of the ‘ fractured ‘ head of Henry Moore. We have seen it before but it still impresses. We enjoyed the drive back without trying to spot animals on bikes. We stopped in Cumnock which was a tidy little town with some scrap metal sculptures. We also went for drive around some of the other small villages nearby, including Manildra where there is a large flour mill. It was a pleasant stay in Molong with all the facilities we needed in a good little supermarket and a butcher where we bought some very good steak.

We did not see much of Orange as we skirted round the edge before turning off and and passing through Millthorpe and Blayney. Millthorpe is a pretty little place all gussied up for tourists. It was then a lovely drive but quite slow travelling as it was very hilly- long and steep – and very bendy. P is not keen on towing up and down hills but this was not too bad as there was not much traffic. He usually pulls over when possible to let cars pass. The Abercrombie caves are along this road and also a couple of small villages. Our destination was the small town of Crookwell where there is a great caravan park again in walking distance to the shops.



Crookwell is apparently the centre for growing seed potatoes but we did not see much evidence of this. There is a working sock factory which is interesting and a busy main street. The IGA has a good selection of different cheeses, a lot from the UK. We have found that we often find different cheese in these small independent grocers. The deli there even had sliced brawn which is not something you see often so we bought some and it was delicious. P’s mother used to make brawn when he was growing up on the farm, so a bit nostalgic for him.



The next day we went for a drive through Laggan to Taralaga. The country was gorgeous with rolling hills and pastures. This is prime wool country and we saw plenty of sheep. Taralga is a pretty place with some lovely old stone buildings including the hotel, and rusted metal signs of animals with humorous sayings around town. There were a couple of very nice B&Bs fronting onto the main street. It was a lovely drive. Crookwell has some attractive shop facades and buildings, quite a few gift shops and some lovely things to buy if you have plenty to spend. There were also some empty shops which is standard now for these small towns.



Last edited by rhon; Apr 10th, 2022 at 09:31 PM. Reason: paragraph
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Old Apr 11th, 2022, 02:01 AM
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On our way out the next day we finally saw what appeared to be potatoes growing. It was only a short drive into Canberra with a stop for morning tea in Gunning. I can vouch for the coffee and scones at the Merino cafe there. It was lovely to see our grandchildren- 16 year old twins- and spend a few nights there. Our eldest son has lived in Canberra on and off since 1994 and we have spent quite a bit of time in Canberra over the years dog sitting when the family travels to England to see the other grand parents, so we do not do much there.



On Friday we left the camper there and headed down to Sydney to see our other son and five and three year old grandsons. P does not enjoy driving in Sydney and if we did not have family there we would never go there. But it was lovely to spend time with them at last and we were pretty worn out, especially Grandad who was run ragged by two busy little boys. We are ten years older than when the first two were that age and it shows!!. On Monday we went back to Canberra and spent the night there before packing up to start the journey home.



We visited Grenfell last year from Forbes and liked it so decided to stay two nights. We turned off just before Berowra where there are lots of lovely murals which we saw a couple of years ago. We then followed back roads to Young. The country is looking great with rolling hills, lots of sheep and some lovely views. As we neared Young, we passed a vineyard and cherry orchards and soon arrived in Grenfell where we set up and later a council employee came and collected our money.



Last year we just visited the main street which has lots of old buildings and saw the painted silos. This time we went up to O Brien’s hill which gives a good view over the town. Here there are the remnants of the gold mining era with shafts and discarded machinery. Also up here is an Endemic garden which features flora native to this region. The poet, Henry Lawson, was born here and there is a memorial at his birthplace. As he was born in a tent, there is nothing there, but a series of interesting plaques details his life. I now realise I knew very little about Henry Lawson who was a melancholy man. A gum tree planted by his daughter in 1924 is now a magnificent tree. We had not seen any painted silos or water towers this trip so we went for another look at the ones in Grenfell.

The next day we drove back through Forbes and followed the Lachlan Valley way to Condoblin. Forbes is the start of the Sculpture on the Lachlan trail which features six large sculptures ending in Condoblin. We saw the fantastic goanna on the edge of Forbes last year. The sculptures are large and set in the bush to great affect. We particularly enjoyed Bird in the Hand which features a cupped hand holding a waterbird to highlight the significance of the wetlands. It is made totally from chain welded together and stands in the bush with the river and gum trees as a backdrop. The other one we liked was Heart of Country and is a tall rusted steel statue of an aboriginal man poised with a spear. Above the heart is rusted mesh to enclose rocks. The backdrop here is a small rocky hill with sparse bush. It was very evocative. We really enjoyed the drive which follows the Lachlan river and at times is quite close. The country is lovely with lots of gum trees and wetlands close to the river. With the sculptures as well, this makes for a very attractive drive.


Goanna sculpture at Forbes.


Bird in the Hand



Heart of Country
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Old Apr 11th, 2022, 07:40 AM
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Thanks for sharing this. If I may ask a few questions, we too are are in the midst of planning a visit to the grandchildren in Sydney in September but have been struggling with an itinerary for an 11 day road trip in between visiting the family and heading off to Japan. Based on suggestions here and on trip advisor I almost finalised the following (then I read this trip report!)Sydney
Katoomba
Dubbo (via Parkes Orange and Bathhurst)
Coonabarabran (for Warumbungles)
Lightning Ridge. “Orange door” stuff- have yet to find out what that means?
Armidale (Waterfall way)
Belleningen
Moonee Beach
South West Rocks
Sydney

We will be renting a car rather than a camper but will likely stay in cabins on campsites where possible. Any thoughts re the above.

Apologies for taking this slightly off track but your travel style doe seem remarkably similar to our own so your thoughts, however brief would eb much appreciated.


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Old Apr 11th, 2022, 06:45 PM
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No Problem Crellston.

We have only actually stayed in Dubbo many years ago when we still had children at home, Coonabarrabran and Lightning Ridge for one night. But have been to the others in passing with the exception of Moonee Beach which is on our to do list one day. But it looks fine. We tend to stay in smaller places, and keep in mind we are not in a hurry and spend a lot of time just going for a walk or reading or doing Sudoku. Most of the places we stay in for two nights can be seen in a few hours. Coonabarrabran to Lightning Ridge, assuming that is your plan, would certainly give you a glimpse of the wide open spaces.
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Old Apr 11th, 2022, 06:53 PM
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Condoblin is well known for the Utes in the Paddock. Various artists have taken utes and turned them into art. They are clever, quirky, often irreverent and certainly worth seeing. Fortunately we saw these a few years ago when they were about 20kms from town and still in a paddock. They have since been acquired by the council and moved to the edge of town. I say fortunately because at the moment they can only be viewed at a distance from the highway while the council is building the infrastructure to support them. There are quite a few and we could recognise several from a distance.



We went for a drive out to Gum Bend lake which is only a few kms out of town and it is a very attractive spot. It is all nicely mown with a new amenities block. This is where people free camp and there were about a dozen vans there. The amenities block does have one unisex shower, but you really need to be self sufficient. We are not which is why we stay in parks. We can go without power, but I like my shower at the end of the day. We had a wander up the main street which is pleasant with gardens and palms, and stopped in at the butcher and IGA.



The caravan park here is on the banks of the Lachlan river and full of lovely trees. We stayed two nights and as we sat outside with a glass of wine looking over to the trees beside the river with flocks of corellas swooping about, I thought that it does not get much better. It is the simple things, really, that give the most pleasure.



Australia is such a vast country that for international travellers, it must be daunting to visit. We have the big ticket places and the lovely coasts all around. But I sometimes think that even a lot of Australians are missing seeing our beautiful bush. There may be nothing else to see and the distances are so great that this misses out in favour of the attractions of the coastal regions. People have to make an effort to go there and sometimes it is just too hard.



We were still undecided on the route home and there was some weather coming further north. So we decided to go to the small town of Hillston for two nights before making a final decision. The country became flatter and we started seeing large paddocks for cultivation. We stopped in at Lake Cargelligo which has a huge lake with very nice surrounds. After leaving Lake C we could see a small row of hills in the distance and large paddocks. On the way we passed a Jojoba plantation, a potato farm and a citrus orchard. The information centre had local olive oil for sale as well as jojoba products. The South African man in the van next to us worked at an almond plantation. So it is quite varied agriculture there.



The caravan park was great and we had a lovely grassy site and a bit of shade. I have to congratulate these small town councils which provide and maintain these small caravan parks for travellers. They are usually well maintained and budget friendly and this was no exception. We even got a seniors discount. After setting up we went for a walk to the lake which was a bit low, and then back through the bush beside the river where some small boys were having a lovely time splashing around. This is just a nice little bush town. There are a couple of pubs, a small IGA, a couple of other stores, a good baker where we bought rolls a couple of times. A local told us there were 48 cases of Covid in town then, and it is only small. There is a suspension bridge over the river which leads to a walk, but the walk was closed because of recent flooding. However it was still a lovely view of the river from the bridge. In the end we decided to stay a third night because it was really quite pleasant and there was still rain about.



Around midday on the Sunday, some camper trailers, roof top campers, tents began arriving and it soon became apparent they knew each other. And then the park was full, including several cabins. Most seemed older than us (we are late sixties), or maybe I have my rose coloured glasses on. No, definitely older. We were interested to find out who they were and soon the sign went up. They were the NSW Bird Atlassers and this was their autumn camp. They were there for the week and spend their time monitoring bird species around NSW and ACT. They were very enthusiastic and headed out in groups about 8 and returned about 4 to compare notes in the camp kitchen. What a great activity!
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Old Apr 12th, 2022, 03:26 PM
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Now it was decision time. We had thought we might go home via Cobar and Bourke, but decided to leave that until we head down to Broken Hill and into SA. So Nyngan it was. We have never been there. It was about 340kms, but flat, no hills and little traffic. I often think when we are on these roads that for someone from the UK or Europe, these wide open spaces and endless nothiness but bush must be quite overwhelming. We passed what we think was the almond plantation and were on the Kidman Way for awhile. We could have done a pub crawl as we passed three hotels in splendid isolation before arriving in Nyngan. On the outskirts is a large solar farm with viewing platform.



Nyngan is the centre of the Bogan shire and has a large, tongue in cheek statue of a bogan. Next to it is a coach and wool dray, and there is also a nicely presented museum and shearing museum. Once again there are a couple of small supermarkets and a good butcher where we bought excellent lamb chops.



The caravan park was beside a paddock with a herd of pretty goats- white with brown faces. I often wonder why we do not do more with goat here in Australia. Not just for the meat but also for the milk. We had not tried goats’ cheese until we visited France which produces a variety of excellent goat’s cheeses, and sheep’s milk cheeses as well. But other than a few small producers there is not much here and we do not see much of the boutique product.



We had been considering a visit to Brewarrina last year but weather prevented it, so this time we continued on to it. It was not a big day and pretty flat. The country is in very good condition and the grasses along the side of the road were lush and quite attractive. Brewarrina itself is a spread out town with lots of services for the First Nation population. The big attraction here are the fish traps in the river. They have not been visible for quite awhile because of the river height. However we still did the tour at the aboriginal heritage centre with a very enthusiastic guide who gave us a lot of insight into the history of his people and how the traps worked. The fish traps were a wonderfully ingenious method of trapping about 30 percent of fish travelling upstream and allowing the others to continue to maintain sustainability. Archaeologists estimate they are 40,000- to 50,000 years old and are one of the oldest man made structures in the world. It was quite interesting and enlightening.



This time the supermarket was a small Friendly Grocer and there was also a small butchery where we bought some pork medallions, sausages and bread rolls. They have diversified and also do salad rolls and sandwiches and burgers. We have enjoyed the butchers in these small towns. It is surprising what you find. In Uralla earlier this year we bought salami flavoured with the steamed botanicals from the boutique gin factory just out of town. How about that!



There is also a lot of street art around the town including a very elaborately painted amenities block near the information centre. Just out of town is a swing bridge which used to open up to allow paddle steamers through. We stayed two nights, with only one other van in each night.



As P was not keen to return home via the Gore highway yet again, we had hoped to go via St George and the Moonie highway, but it was closed and the Gore had opened up, so the decision was made for us. We headed back across to Moree through Walgett and Collarenabri. It was another big day and this road is now leading the “Never going on this road again“ stakes. It was quite rough. We go on dirt roads which you expect to be not so good, but for a designated highway you do have higher expectations. Anyway back to Moree for another night. We will have to look at another route next time. In the end we decided to do the extra 20kms and go from Goondiwindi via Yelarbon and Inglewood for a change. This gave us the chance to see again the painted silos at Yelarbon which are very good. It was raining so we did not get a photo and there are now five silos painted. I think our last photo is only three.



Anyway, home again for a few weeks until after Easter. We enjoyed our little wander around central and western NSW. The country was looking wonderful everywhere. There was even water in Lake George between Canberra and Sydney. There are some appealing little towns out there. Despite the eye watering cost of fuel at the time, there were a lot of vans on the road, mainly from NSW. I think it was a bit early for the annual migration of people from Victoria and SA to warmer climes. Hopefully it will not get as busy as last year as we would like to go west and north once the heat there goes. We will see. There are still a few new small towns calling and some to revisit.



Happy travels.


Painted emu Hillston


Big Bogan, Nyngan


Street art Brewarrina






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Old May 14th, 2022, 04:26 AM
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Thanks so much, rhon. I really enjoyed your meanderings around. Some of the places I know quite well & it’s always interesting to see them through others’ eyes.
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Old May 14th, 2022, 06:00 PM
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Thanks bokhara. I have also been enjoying your reports elsewhere. At least I am assuming that is you!! We were hoping to get away again but this weather......
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Old May 14th, 2022, 06:08 PM
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Thanks Rhon, It’s me - too lazy to have different screen names for here & TA. 🤣
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