Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day 10 - Bourke to Forbes

Sunday 26th September
We check out of our accommodation at approx 8:45.  We head to the bakery for a mobile brekky.  The bakery is not yet open. The sign on door says they open at 9 am .  This communicates very effectively to me that they don’t bake on Sundays. We’re keen to get away so we head for the IGA. We’re developing a serious fondness for Khans’ Super IGA.
We forget fuel. Clever. We double back to the depot and utilise the 24 hr card service and we are on our way once again. Plentyiful wildflowers heading down on the Mitchell Hwy.  Daughter stops to photograph a dilapidated old building visible from the road. It is large and industrial looking but beyond that we have no clue what it may have been.

The wildflowers are about in abundance for the first say 20 kms or so down the Mitchell hwy.  Its not too long before we come to a spate of road kill. As many would know we’ve always been bizarrely fond of roadkill in our family, but after our joey experience yesterday this interest has clearly become an obsession.  Daughter is driving and pulls over. From a distance I think this roo looks like a male, but only a crazy person would take my word on that guess, and in an case the carcass needs to be moved off the highway for decency’s sake.  Its really aweful seeing the road kill that people have just kept running over and mangling.  Daughter retrieves the rubber gloves from the boot and dons her PPE.
The roo is indeed a male. Mum and I are sitting in the car and daughter is dragging the corpse to the verge before we suddenly twig.. Hang on we should be videoing this.  We reach for our cameras with the enthusiasm of wild west gunfighters, but we are too late.  “Put it back and do it again we say”…. But we are no doubt unintelligible due to laughter and daughter looks at us with a puzzled expression accentuated by gestures from her pink gloved hands.   Ah, simple country pleasures.

We’ve hardly gone any distance before daughter is pulling up again. Roo number two another male.  We keep on in this fashion and by the time we’re pulling up for roo number three, daughter is concluding that perhaps she shouldn’t bother putting the gloves away.  By this stage I’m getting more efficient at the film crew caper.  I’ve moved my box of books out of my way and I’m shooting open the sliding door and getting the zoom in about right for the next scene before daughter has the first glove on. 
I don’t like to brag, but I have to say for roo number three we got a quite satisfactory video… 12th man eat your heart out.  
At 66 kms we’re back into country that has lots of what I guess are budda trees.  They look similar to the threes we saw around the Ridge at any rate.
I glance out the window to a dam and see several camels taking a drink. . The car speeds on. Looking across the red soil into a nearby paddock there is no shortage of carpeting wildflowers . Yellow is the overall effect.  The road side for mile after mile is bordered with green and the gold of the yellow daisies.  Where they drop off the cassia picks up.
Throughout our drives there has been a consistent theme and this has been brought home to me by the artist Jenny Greentree.  This is the real value of art. It helps you see your world more clearly.  One of the original pastel works I bought from Ms Greentree is of this very scene, albeit on a dirt road.  The grey green of the general vegetation highlighted by the flowering cassia.  She named the piece “Green and Gold”.  Driving down the highways, byways and tracks: green and gold. Other colours come in here and there, but always this constant. Green and Gold. Our national colours and I have gained a greater appreciation of them on this trip.
Our trip meter reset at Bourke is on 56.8 when we exclaim at a particularly nice stretch of roadway.  Worthy of a tapestry… or an embroidered landscape scene by Judy Wilford.
We arrive at Byrock, which is a featured stop on one of the mud map tours of the Bourke district.  I am intrigued by the promised gilgai swimming hole which is reported as being a 10 min walk from the Mulga  Creek Motel, but resist the temptation. We have a long way to go and potentially a lot of road kill to interfere with.  
The Mulga Creek Hotel looks really nice. We take a brief comfort stop.  The grounds are very attractive and clearly very well tended.  I would certainly be inclined to give staying here a go.  
Heading out of “town” once more, a discarded rag assumes the posture of a deformed macropod in our imaginations, before laughing at us as we pass.  
About 50- 60 kms out from Nyngan, the vegetation changes from Mulga to taller woodland dominated by eucalypt trees. No end to the flowering yellow shrubs. 
Girilimbone pop 66 signage says they have an RSL open 5pm. Good effort for a town of 66 people.
Back in cropping areas. We pass a crop that covers a vast area, but it doesn’t look to be doing too well.  Very short but seed heads visible and it looks like it's browning off in places. Unlike the pattersons curse lining the roads which is looking a treat.  Still the yellow cassia bushes keep on keeping on.  They must be tough and seem to live happily pretty much everywhere we’ve been.
As we head steadily south east, the vegetation changes.  Trees are taller and eucalypts dominate.  I’m taking a turn in the back having noted the change, mum pipes up:.  “I like the mulga”.  Daughter replies. “Yes, I like the mulga too.”  Mum loves the tropics and rainforests a lot so her professed preference for the mulga surprises me.
We pass down through numerous little communities. Coolibah, seems a fairly run down sort of place, quite unusual as most of even the tiniest little places we’ve passed through have been neat and evident of considerable civic pride.

Nyngan appears to be a nice town. Bigger than I expected. Part of the parking area at the local reserve is under water. There's a market on so we drive in for a closer look. It looks like it's gearing up for some sort of event with stages and things. A few stalls but they look like stuff for people with properties, and time is precious so we give it a miss. We stop to photograph a sculpture installation in one of the small parks of a flock of sheep and a bloke with his sheepdog working them. While here mum spots a pink cockatoo in a tree next to the car and gets some brilliant photos. The wagons roll.               
Trangie.  Narromine. No time to explore.  We take a turn down to Parkes from Narromine and we are now in that area of NSW that is quite possibly my favourite of any... well aside from the Capertee Valley of course.  I do love the beautiful rolling hills and the swathes of brightest yellow and rich purple interspersed with deep green that clothe the hills.  Majestic gums provide texture and interest.  Having sussed out options in Narromine for lunch and finding that the local community actually expects to rest on Sunday after 1pm (good on them) we head on and turn down a quiet dirt side road and pull up in the shade of some mature gums.  We sup on some soft cheese and crackers and not finding that terribly satisfying, decide that we will change tack and finish off with a feast of vegemite saos.  Knew those saos would come in handy! As we munch we watch the antics of a pied butcherbird and a couple of magpies that are prowling about down near some standing water that lines the road.  Everywhere we’ve been, there has been water lying about. What a year its been!
Hunger satisfied we head back onto the main road.  Paused for some reason we notice the paddock nearby is crowded with all sorts of coloured sheep, all with their tails intact. That is not a sight you see every day.
We’re travelling through heartland NSW now. It is gorgeous. I don’t think I will ever tire of driving through this part of the country at this time of year.
As we approach Peak Hill we are welcomed to part of Wiradjuri Country.  Entering the town we take a spin up a side street heading for a quick squiz at the Open Cut Experience.  Bonus! They have that beautiful flowering gum we have been admiring all through our trip.  We pull over for a photo opportunity.
The Open Cut experience looks quite extensive and is more than we have the energy to do today, but there’s always next time.
Heading down to Parks we pass the Dish and are again amazed at how beautiful this stretch of highway is.  We wonder what the hills visible in the distance are.  A quick stop for fuel and before you can say Jack Robinson.. or Will Robinson either, we are making the turn to check out the statue of Ben Hall at the Railway Visitor Info Centre.  We climb out of the car and are attracted to an open door with gear in it relating to Ben Hall.  Is this the Ben Hall experience they are spruiking?  We pass through onto the station platform. Passing through some… shall we say, displays.  Daughter and I look at eachother and laugh.  No words required.  It’s essentially a junk shed with some hessian strung up, which is fine.  Then to the hessian they’ve pinned brochures and the odd photo of Ben Hall. Daughter says she also recalls an old dust pan with some grass poking out of it. … we’d say it was daylight robbery and that was the bush ranger experience, but there was no charge.  Clearly the Ben Hall Experience is located elsewhere on site..
We move into the arts and crafts area.  They have some nice hand made things. Daughter acquires a really cute baby singlet with tiny black ants embroidered on it.  Another with grub stitch frogs. Both are really lovely.. Naturally, being short of reading material and overendowed with reading time, I have made a b line to the books.  One that is the life story of some old local person involved in the Ben Hall events, by a descendant after many hours of interviews.  And the other… drum roll.. the Judas Covenant, author signed about Ben Hall penned 2006.  Looks good, introduction is interesting. Irresistable subject matter.  It’s a deal.
Before doing the payment transaction, we wander into the Ben Hall room. I’m wondering if the artifacts from the Albion Hotel we saw last time we were here have been moved to this location as I cannot find any references to suggest the Albion Hotel display is still open.  Turns out the answer to that question is no, no they haven’t.  They have a few other things a few of which are of dubious interest.  Probably the pick of them were some old coins found on the creek where Ben Hall and gang hid out, and a replica pistol of the type that would have been used at the time.  Some bullets too.  You can ask to have a DVD played for you, but we didn’t do that. 
We are all most disappointed to think that the Albion Hotel displays may have been closed. We really enjoyed that when we were here last time.  Yeah, it was seriously dusty, but overwhelmingly the thing was of great interest to us all… three generations worth too and we all enjoyed it, so not just to us old fogeys.
Anyway, we head out of the Ben Hall room, and start our transaction with the two elderly ladies manning the info centre this afternoon.  Both are characters. One lady is into harness racing and loves to chat.  We collectively try to figure out how to work the card machine for visa payment. No joy there. We pay cash.  Both ladies are very friendly and we have a lovely time dealing with them, then it’s off to the Lake Forbes Motel which we find just as clean and comfortable as our last visit. Service as friendly too.  Love this place. It even has free wireless broadband.  We order dinner for them to deliver to our rooms. Home cooked meals. Daughter and mum order the steak and report it very nice and cooked as ordered.  I go for the lamb cutlets and find that they also are nicely cooked. You just can't beat the Lake Forbes Motel. No longer a Country Haven affiliate, now their with some other mob, but it doesn't matter they are still the same good value.

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