WEDNESDAY 29 APRIL WEST WYALONG TO GILGANDRA 340kms
Yes, it was a really cold night! About the only drawback of a poptop caravan, that we’d found, was that the vinyl sided walls of the poptop seemed to allow the inside to be colder when the outside was chilly. But, against that, the cross ventilation allowed by the zippered flaps made hot days more pleasant inside. And we did spend much more time in hot places rather than cold.
It was hard to venture out of the warm bed, so it was another 10am departure.
The Newell Highway passed through attractive country, in this part of NSW. There were always hills somewhere in the distance, and scenic variations to keep the drive interesting. There was generally no more than forty five or fifty minutes between towns or villages, which provided more variety.
There was, as we expected, lots of truck traffic, in both directions. We were overtaken regularly by large trucks, but this did not cause us any issues. John always attempted to use the CB radio to let the truck driver behind know that we were aware of him coming up behind us, and used our lights to show when it was safe to pull in front of us again. I would expect that the long-haul drivers of the Newell were pretty experienced and on this part of the highway there were lots of places where overtaking was easy.
We stopped at a very pretty park in Peak Hill to eat lunch and stretch our legs a bit.
In the much larger Dubbo, we were able to park the rig in a side street and went shoe hunting. Eventually fetched up at Athlete’s Foot and bought a pair of very comfortable specialist walking sneakers which were, by a huge margin, the most expensive footwear I had ever owned!
John found a car radio type shop. He wanted a new aerial for the CB, as a recent encounter with an overhanging branch appeared to have terminally damaged the existing one. He found what he wanted, on display, but the assistant on duty couldn’t work the stock computer and didn’t seem very interested in helping, anyway, so John walked out. Said he’d spend his money somewhere that deserved it.
By the time we reached Gilgandra, it was time to stop for the day. The caravan park there was a member of the OzParks group, so we joined that on the spot, for $16, and our site then cost $20. It was a large, park-like establishment with lots of trees, bordered on one side by the Castlereagh River. The amenities were perhaps a bit dated but they were clean enough. We found it a pleasant place to stay and it was set far enough back from the highway to mute the traffic noise in the night. Yet again, we were able to stay hitched up.
We went for a walk around the park. It was large enough to make this worthwhile exercise. Right up at the far end, a couple who were obviously longer-term dwellers, had established a thriving vegie garden. It was not just a few pots or boxes around their van, but several big beds. There was obviously no water shortage here – we were envious of their productivity. Our recent summer gardening back at home had been limited by water restrictions that had seen us showering surrounded by buckets to catch water that was carried out to water the tomatoes!
After browsing through some of the tourist booklets that I’d picked up over the past couple of days, John floated the idea of detouring to the Warrumbungles National Park for a few days. I liked the suggestion. We’d had a brief visit there, back in 1997 Term 1 holidays, after attending step daughter’s wedding in Sydney. It was tent based camping then, and we’d really enjoyed the place. We should be able to do some walking and it would be great to stay in a “bush” setting again.