Our last leg before home and quite a few kilometres to put in front of us yet but the roads are straight and there is little traffic compared to the coast road, so it is easier driving. We take breaks very couple of hours and at Coonamble stopped for a picnic by the (dry) river which was one of our favourite meals – sushi and sashimi from a sushi bar in Dubbo.
Country folk are proud of their towns and so many in this area have large, ugly wheat or grain silos by the side of the road. One way to brighten up the vista is to engage an artist to create “Painted Silos”. One very good example is at Weethalle where the art beckons you almost from the horizon!
It would be worthwhile doing a road trip just checking out all the painted silos!
On the Queensland border we found a typical outback pub – corrugated iron and hitching rails but with so much character. This one is at Hebel and there were several old timers contemplating the world problems over the never ending glasses of beer!
Soon it became dark and this always poses a problem whilst driving in the country as the kangaroos, wallabies, goats and sometimes pigs wander onto the sealed road or are attracted by the car lights. There is always road kill at the side of the road so the message is “don’t drive at night” . Nevertheless the sunsets in the outback are glorious and this one was no different.
The clouds seemed to set the horizon alight, everything was still and it was total magic watching the colours change quite quickly before the sun dipped over the horizon altogether.
We spent the night in St George and had dinner at the local pub where the message was very clear to all and sundry
The next day we had a short break at Surat – a small rural town on the Balonne river and which has become known for its fishing and its park along the banks of the river.
The area around is scenic and there are vast reserves of oil in the Surat Basin – as the website states: “Hydrocarbons in this part of the Surat Basin are generated in the underlying Bowen Basin Permian sequence and are liquids rich. Oil is also trapped in the Triassic age Showgrounds Sandstone and in the Jurassic Age Evergreen Formation. It is estimated that the “potential recoverable resources” are between 200,000 and 300,000 barrels.”
Our final stop just before we reached home was in the historic town of Charters Towers. Beautiful heritage buildings line the main street and this is where the first stock exchange in Australia was built in 1888 and is indicative of the rise and fall of fortunes in the Charters Towers goldfields. Today it is an Arcade of shops and cafes and is a perfect spot for a light lunch before resuming one’s journey.
It has been a wonderful trip and an eye opening insight to the vastness of Australia. We covered 17,500kms in just 7 weeks and yet there is more to see and experience. What will remain foremost in our minds are the long, straight roads, the vast open country, rolling hills and fertile farmlands, cotton balls by the side of the road in the cotton growing area, the never ending sunsets both on the coast and in the outback, the Nullarbor cliffs and coastline, oysters and seafood, road trains and fabulous Kakadu as well as all the Aboriginal history throughout the whole country. There are termite mounds by the thousands, millions of sheep and lambs, wallabies and wildlife and, of course, the fabulous little country towns and the welcoming people in every place. This is Australia!
I can’t wait to go again!