Sunday, 24 November 2013

Wandering to Wilcannia, Cruising on to Cobar, Barrelling towards Bourke and Brewarrina and Lobbing in to Lightning Ridge.

Monday 4th November

We were up early and after provisioning at the local supermarket, we headed off again.

We drove through similar landscapes as we have seen around Broken Hill and were amazed at the number of goats we saw……hundreds of them!!!

We arrived in Wilcannia in time for lunch. It has all the makings of a pretty little town with lots of lovely old sandstone buildings.

Sadly, much of the area is unkempt and there is a lot of litter around.
There were gorgeous places near the river.

We stopped in a lovely little park for lunch but there was such a lot of empty beer cans and rubbish around.
We walked through town and a few young lads were friendly and said ‘Gidday’.
From there, we drove on to (1061) MacCullochs Range Rest Area. Talk about up-market… even has a Playground.
And what’s a playground without kids?

And Mum watching from the side!
I told you there were goats!
I’ve already told Ron that I’m not going to the toilet by myself tonight!!!
We had a couple of blokes in a caravan nearby and I had a bit of a chat to one of them. He was very friendly and used to be, among other things, a postman in Ryde and a nurse in Gladesville (my old stamping ground….talk about your small world!!)
Tuesday 5th November
Today is Melbourne Cup Day and Guy Fawkes Day, not to mention Herman from ‘Herman’s Hermits’ Wedding Anniversary (not that we will be celebrating any of them).
We drove off towards Cobar and arrived just about lunch time. There were more goats. The scenery was scrubbier.
We saw lots of emus and a few kangaroos as well.
We called at The Tourist Info Centre and the lovely young girl there loaded me up with ‘must sees’.
She was decked out for Melbourne Cup in her little black fascinator. I asked if she had a horse and she replied that she had one in a Sweep but she could not remember its name. It was a favourite and Gay Waterhouse trained it and Damien Oliver was riding. I wished her luck.
I walked across to The Miners Heritage Park, commemorating the significance of mining to Cobar since 1869. Cobar is often called The Copper City.
 We went for a bit of a walk around town then headed out to The ‘Newey’ Reserve for lunch by the water. It was a pretty spot and lovely and cool in the shade with a beaut breeze.

Cobar’s drinking water actually comes from Burrendong Dam near Wellington approximately 400 km away!!!!  
After lunch, we headed up to Fort Bourke Lookout with views over New Cobar Open Cut Gold mine.
The lookout looked anything but welcoming with its high fence, barbed wire and fully caged lookout.
But, once inside the lookout area, it is obvious why it is set up like that.

It is a long way down to the bottom!!!!
 From here, we drove on towards Bourke and stopped at (1086) Curraweena Rest Area.
More ferrel goats, red dust and blow flies……Ahhh the real Australia!!!
Ronnie was listening to the radio and heard that the girl from Cobar Info Centre’s horse had won The Cup so I suppose in a way, I did have a reason for celebration after all, even if it was by proxy!!!!!
Wednesday 6th November
We drove to Bourke. It is a pretty town, perched on the Darling River. We drove around and had a bit of a look about and ended up at the Wharf Precinct.
 The Riverboats used to go up and down the river around here and the wharf has at least three different levels to cater for different heights in the water levels. It looked like it had been a while since they would have used the top level.
The country between here and Brewarrina is very dry.

 We drove through from Bourke to Brewarrina and found the loveliest free camp (403) Brewarrina Rest Area about 1.5km north of the town centre right on the Barwon River.

We even had little wallabies come visit for a drink of water!

Thursday 7th November

From here, it was off to Lightning Ridge where we were greeted on the outskirts of town by ‘Stanley’ the 18 metre tall emu, with a VW car for a body and satellite dishes for eyes. Makes you wonder what artists would do without VWs!

Then it was off to town for a bit of a look about.
Our friends from Sydney, Christine and David Roussel lived here. Christine was a well-known and highly respected Opal Carver before she sadly passed away a few years ago. David was a miner (and of course, once a miner always a miner)! So he is still here.
When we lived in Sydney, David helped me make a little wooden rocking elephant for Paul’s first birthday. (He was forever tinkering about and making stuff). Paul did like it and Ben was happy to help with the rocking.
We came out here to visit them at Easter about 25 years ago and had pretty much lost touch with then since. They had two children a couple of years older than Ben and Paul.
After a few enquiries around town we found a piece of Christine’s carved opal in a shop. And we learned that David has a new partner and also works at ‘The Chambers of the Black Hand’.
We went and booked into ‘The Opal Caravan Park’ ($29.70). It has a pool with hot bore water and the amenities are fabulous. They even have a trolley for the laundry basket and hairdryers in the toilets. Very flash!
We had a soak in the pool. My back was feeling a bit fragile. I think I must have slept a bit funny the night before but the waters did relieve it. We chatted to a few of the other tourists before adjourning for dinner.
Friday 8th November
We decided to stay another day. I went on the ‘Chambers of the Black Hand’ tour. It was fabulous. It is a mine tour and the artist, Ron Canlin has carved hundreds of sculptures in the sandstone level above the opal mining level.
He makes his sculptures by copying drawings and from his imagination. They were amazing. He also has a wonderful sense of humour and has painted about 20 ‘Where’s Wally’s’ all around the sculptures.
I look pretty amazing in my hard hat too!
Some sculptures are plain, and some are painted.

He was still working on the lion and his drawing (which he has adapted somewhat) and tools were there.

I loved his quirky ones, like the feet disappearing down the hole and the wombat in red boots.

His Super Heroes were fabulous and just in case you didn’t notice ‘Where’s Wally’; he is next to Spiderman’s foot.

I really love The Invisible Man too!
David was not working today but one of the other fellows gave me his number and I called him. He was so pleased that we had gotten in touch and he called round to see us that night on his way to Lodge.
And didn’t he look dapper!
We had a great old catch up and lots of laughs for about half an hour and he offered to come back tomorrow and take us for a bit of a drive around.
Saturday 9th November
David arrived early and carted us off around town. We did lots of the touristy bits and later went to the shop that Eyla his partner works at.

She is really lovely and I even bought a new frock from her. We visited the fossil museum and found out that David had donated lots of fossilised opal he had found over the years to the museum as well. We also found out that he had managed to find quite a bit of good opal over the years. But like all good miners, he is now thinking of getting yet another claim to work.  
He still has his fabulous sense of humour and had us in stitches for most of the day.
We went back to their place for coffee and he still is surrounded by bits and pieces of machines and every time he goes to the tip he comes back with almost the same amount as he took to dump. He looked much more like his old self without the bow tie!

This was my favourite thing in his collection of miscellaneous stuff.
Afterwards we went into town and had a bit of lunch and then we drove out to the Bore Baths.
We went there when we were here last time and I remember them being quite warm. Ron and I went over later in the afternoon and it was way past warm. I have a new respect for how lobsters and prawns feel. It was boiling. We only managed a couple of minutes in there. It was sooooo much hotter than any bath I have ever had!!!


It was built by miners and the stipulation was that it always had to be free. I was surprised by the fact that there is still absolutely no fencing at all around it.
When we got back home, we went in the heated pool here to cool down!!!!
We have had a ball here and will finally head into Queensland tomorrow!


arrived in Wilcannia in time for lunch. It has all the makings of a pretty little town with lots of lovely old sandstone buildings.

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