Day 55 to 59 of our Big Trip of the Simpson and now the Flinders Ranges

Saturday, Aug 22, 2015 at 19:29

Member - Matwil

Day 55 Monday 17th
We took off early in the morning after stocking up with freshly baked bread and rolls and headed off on our way to Lightning Ridge. The lady that runs the mud baths at Eulo had given a back route to follow that would take us through two wilderness national parks. One on the Queensland side of the border (the Culgoa Flood plain NP) and the other on the NSW side. We got to the turn off to the National park and headed in. About 10klms in we came to a fork in the road and a sign between the two forks that said “Road Closed”… but which road. A look at the ground told us that there had been quite a few vehicles through recently so we ignored the sign and headed on. It was a rough road but through genuine flood plain country. I don't think I would like to be here if it rained… you would be stuck till it dried out. After about 30 klms of slow driving we came to another fork in the road. All the previous traffic had veared left but no road was shown to be there on any of the maps we had. We continued straight ahead as that is where the maps pointed us but a look at the ground and the road suggested no one had been through here for a very long time. Anyway we plodded on like all good adventurers do. We have a high clearance 4WD so what could go wrong? (bull bars excepted). About 20 klms in and the road getting more rough I pondered out loud. “I hope the gate at the border is not locked.” Louise confirmed she was thinking the same thing. We got to the border and guess what The Toulby Gate was locked.
Oh well time for lunch, which we had and then back to the main road from wence we came. The round trip wasted about 3 hours, but again it is all part of the adventure.

Given it was now after 2pm we needed to look at the map and make a decision where we would camp the night. We decided on a place called Goodooga as it appeared they had accommodation there. We got there about 4.30pm and saw what was on offer, and the town which had almost died and decided to press on. It was 59 klms to Lightning Ridge or 41 klms to a place called Hebel just across the border in Queensland. A quick look at Wicki Camps and we decided to head for Hebel. We arrived at about 5.30pm just on sunset. In Hebel there is a General Store with caravan park out the back and a pub and a few houses. In we go to the general store to book into the caravan park. We were greeted by Barbara who checked us in for $10 a night. She then said “are you cooking for yourself or would you like me to cook for you?” What an offer and we took it up.

It was one of the best decisions we have made. We got a nice grassed campsite, the first in weeks, and the dinner was fantastic Dinner and wine for $50. What value.

After dinner we were straight to bed for our trip down to Lightning Ridge in the morning.

Day 56 Tuesday 18th
We were up early and took off arriving at Lightning Ridge about 10am. Bloody hell this place is full of people and cars. Worse than Pitt Street in peak hours. We stopped at the Information Centre to see what the sights were. We were told the car door tours was the way to go. We did one and that was enough. This is a tourist town with no soul. We stopped at one of the opal places to see if there were any bargains as they were offering 50% off. As I just said a tourist town and at 50% off was still too expensive. A sales girl suggested she could explain all about opals to me, but I told here my great grandmother had the largest black opal collection in the world (true). Not to be put off she asked if I needed to know anything about doublets and triplets. Of course the answer was no. I was not in the mood for a heavy sales pitch. We decided we had seen enough of Lightning Ridge and that we could tick it off our bucket list, and headed off. Where to now.

We decided on Wee Waa or Narribri and off we went. We got to Wee Waa in the early afternoon and stocked up on supplies. After looking at our camping options we decided to press on to Narribri as there appeared to be a very nice Park there. We got to the caravan Park on the river and checked in. They have a large grassy site for tents and you can take your vehicle there to. Just the spot for us. The RSL Club is across the road. So we put up the tent and headed over to the Razzle for a beer and dinner, and it was a great dinner as well. At the Razzle we looked at the brochures and decided we would stay an extra night in Narrabri. The town was giving us good vibes. We looked at what we could do next day. Mt Kaputar National Park looked like worth visiting. This National Park had slipped under my radar when I was researching for the trip.

Day 57 Wednesday 19th
WE had a sleep in till about 7.30am and then up breakfast and on our way. We drove to the top of Mt Kaputar through some very interesting country. They have two camping areas on the mountain, one half way up and one at the top. Both worth considering on another trip. We reached to summit which is 1500metres above sea level and the view amazing. (See photos). On the way up there are two other lookouts that have equally amazing views. They claim that from the top you can see a third of NSW and I believe them.

After we came down from the top we went to another part of the park which has rock formation called the ‘sawn rocks’. This was also spectacular. We then went back to town as it was getting late, and stocked up on the supplies we had forgotten to buy the previous day, back to camp for dinner and bed.

Day 58 Thursday 20th
We were up early and packed up. Today we are heading for Piliga and the Piliga State forest. This is the area where the “Lock the Gates” protest started against coal seam gas exploration. I wanted to have a first hand look at it. Before we headed off Louise wanted to zip up to Bellata as she read in a tourist brochure this is an area that grows the best hard wheat in Australia and there is a farmer there that makes pasta which is exported to Italy and you can buy some at the Information Centre. Its only 60 klms up the road so off we took. When we got there, there was a service station, some houses and that's all. We went to the service station and asked where the information centre was. There is not one. So back to Narrabri. We dropped into the Information Centre there to be told that the brochure was old and they had closed the operation down. So much for brochures. So we headed off to the next stop Piliga. On the way we stopped off the look at the Australia Telescope Compact Array, run by the CSIRO. What a set up.

It delves into deep space. There are 6 dishes on a railway line that allows austronomers around the world to explore space. They have a lot of info on space etc that is fat beyond my comprehension, but the visit was well worth while. Then it was on to Piliga. We got there at lunchtime. The only things in Piliga is a primary school, hot spring baths and a general store. We made lunch and then headed off to Barridine, which has the Piliga Discovery Centre. We arrived late in the afternoon and the staff there was very helpful, giving us full information on camping and the sights to see. We decided to camp at a place called Sculptures in the Gorge as some people we met on Mt Kaputar told us it was a great spot. We arrived just on sunset and set up camp. The silence is deafening… beautiful and only one other camper here.

Day 59 Friday 21st
We had a nice sleep in and were up a bit later than usual. After breakfast we took off for the sculptures in the scrub walk. There are five sculptures set on a 3 kilometre walk, half on the top of the gorge and half at the bottom. It is through an aboriginal area and the sculptures were done with a lot of input from the local people bringing them back to their roots and country. This area is awash with wildflowers and wattle at the moment and is a picture to behold. Today we saw over 10 species of wild flowers and three or four different species of wattle. The cameras got an over work.

In the afternoon we headed off through some of the trails through the Piliga and ended up at a tower that gives you a 360 degree view of the whole forest. This is a very important area for native vegetation and wild life. There are over 900 species of flora in the park. The diversity of wildlife is amazing too with quite a few threatened species. National Parks has taken over about half the park with the rest made up of state forest and state protection areas. There used to be many saw mills through this area but they have all gone except one. As a bit of history most of the states wooden railway sleepers came form this area.

We are now back at camp now with the fire lit and about to have dinner. Tomorrow we are down to Coonabarrabran, the Warrumbungles and the next day to Musswellbrook to see my daughter and catch up on my newest grand child who we have not seen for 12 weeks. And then unfortunately home.
I had better buy a lotto ticket so we can do this all the time.
Wanting to explore our vast wide land
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