Friday, August 20, 2010

Here's the plan! .. for Bourke and Lightning Ridge that is

Well, it's been a trying few months. We sketched out our Bourke early in the year and have only tweaked it slightly since, deciding to stick to accommodation accessible via black top (ie sealed roads) due to all the rain that's been around this year and our target destination is in black soil country.

Black soil is a tricky customer. Not a problem in dry weather, but almost impassable after rain. If it rains when you're on the black soil then you have to pretty much stop where you are and wait for the road to dry. I am told by a local that at this time of year (early spring) the road can take days to dry. Its not such a worry in the summer as the heat dries the road really quickly.

There's a famous Australian Painting called "Across the black soil plains" by George W Lambert. The link provided (in green) takes you to the image and a blurb from the George W Lambert Retrospective exhibited at the National Gallery of Australia but this painting is from the collection of the Art Gallery of NSW, so you could usually see it there if you are visiting Sydney. I digress...

Here's the deal.

Friday 17 September
Mum and daughter 2 will head off in the morning to fulfil their regular commitments. I'll spend the morning packing etc. Mum goes off to teach scripture in the local primary school, daughter to do a meals on wheels# run a couple of suburbs away. Both should be finished by midday. then we jump in the car and off we go, heading smartly with shared driving to Dubbo in central NSW.

Saturday 18 September
We are going to hit the ground running by heading off to Taronga Western Plains Zoo, which everyone says is really awesome. Daughter 2 was really excited when we booked a meerkat encounter, but the zoo is introducing a new female to the group and so the encounter got canned for a while. On the up side we got a free upgrade to a Big Cat Encounter. We've chosen tigers as mum has always had a thing for tigers.

Sunday 19 September
Today we have booked the Morning Walk at the zoo and this starts at 6:40 am. Then we can suit ourselves. Lots around Dubbo and Gilgandra to see.
We make our way up to Lightning Ridge for tonight and plan to eat at the Dig In for some camp oven cooking assuming they are operating.

Monday 20 September and Tuesday 21st
Two full days to enjoy lightning ridge. Monday we've got ourselves down for the Black Queen Theatre in the late afternoon. Lots else around the place to see as well, but we'll play it by ear.

Wednesday 22nd September
Today is the day we finally get to the fishtraps. Plan is to book the guided tour with an aboriginal guide. The tours are run from the museum which has recently opened. We've got ourselves pencilled in there for about 1:30 when the info centre reopens after lunch. Then we make our way over to Bourke for 4 nights.

Thursday 23rd - Saturday 25th September
We will explore around Bourke. Activities will be dictated by the weather and condition of the roads. We want to head to Leadknappers Reserve for the wildflowers, hopefully we've timed it OK for that. Maybe take a mud map tour or two. Then of course we'll head for a trip on the PV Jandra down the Darling River, and take the afternoon tour of Bourke and surrounds. Then there's always Mt Oxley. Somewhere in there, we will head up into south western Qld to see the sights at Eulo in outback Qld. Oh, and how could I forget, have to have a look at the back-o-bourke exhibition centre.. heaps of things to get round and see. I hope the weather stays dry so we can go on the dirt roads around the place, but if not, still plenty to do, or plenty of time to relax! I guess we'll see which it turns out to be.

Sunday 26th
Off from Bourke to overnight in Forbes. I must remember to stop by the bakery and get another of their delicious "dampers" while we're in town. It's not really damper of course. Bakeries, especially viet bakeries, have taken to calling any cob shaped loaf a damper. However call it what they will, the loaf we bought there last time we were in Forbes was seriously good.

Monday 27 September.
It's pretty tragic really and not terribly convenient, but we find we must always end our trips to the west, if we possibly can, on a week day. That way Grenfell Quality Meats is open and we can stock up and take some souvenir meat home for only the most favoured family members. Superb meat... and cheap as well. then it's home, probably fairly late as it's quite a drive from Grenfell.

So that's the plan anyway. Nowhere better for a mental health break than out to the western plains and the outback. I can't wait.

#Do they call this "meals on wheels" in other countries?? Basically its a volunteer service that delivers meals to (usually elderly) people in the community who can't cook for themselves any more. I am very proud of daughter for volunteering. She has a very busy life, what with her medical studies, boyfriend and friends, so it's full marks from me for making the volunteering a priority. :o)