THURSDAY 7 MAY COONABARABRAN
It was a one degree night. The new heater was much appreciated in the morning – turned it on and scurried back to bed to let the van warm up before venturing out again.
Got going, complete with sandwiches for lunch, mid-morning.
A local attraction was the Newcastle Hats factory and shop, out in the industrial area. It was heartening to find this type of industry in a country town. We supported it by buying John a new hat for bowls, in a style he had wanted for a while, but which wasn’t available in his local bowls shop. It was very reasonably priced. I bought a pretty, pale blue, soft cotton hat, with a fairly narrow brim, for $6.
My “to do” list had, for years, included exploring the Pilliga Scrub, and that was today’s plan.
The Pilliga is the largest inland native forest in NSW, and really significant in terms of its biodiversity. For a long time, it was logged for cypress pine and ironbark, but that ceased in more recent years. That history meant that many tracks criss-cross the area and several tourist drives had been created using such tracks. They would be major fire trails too, as the Scrub is prone to nasty bushfires.
We drove out towards Baradine, on a sealed road, then turned right and onto dirt tracks to drive the Butlers Lane Bird Route, a circular drive that eventually brought us back to the Baradine road.
It was a stop-start drive, as we went for short wanders, looking for birds. Did not see as many as we’d hoped – it was so dry – but did spot a “new” honeyeater, the yellow tufted honeyeater, which is a variant of the helmeted honeyeater, a special local bird of our area at home.
Although light on birds, the forest itself was interesting, with black and white cypress pines, different eucalypts. It would be wonderful to see after a decent rain spell, and in spring.
We had lunch by a small creek, partway round the circuit. It was a very pleasant few hours in the bush, during which we saw no other vehicles.
Back onto the bitumen and to Baradine, to look at their new Forest Information Centre. This was an impressive structure, featuring interior pole uprights of the local timber, and with interesting displays. We were the only ones there, and we spent over an hour browsing.
From Baradine, took the unsealed No 1 Break Track, due east, to the Newell Highway 51kms north of Coonabarabran, and thence back to town. That took us through more of the Pilliga Scrub country, as well as through farmland closer to Baradine.
Then we did a sizeable shop, not being sure of the shopping facilities where we were going, but certain that goods would be more expensive there.
I phoned and booked us into the camping ground at Lorne Station, Lightning Ridge, for a week from tomorrow. This would be a totally new area for us to explore and I assumed we would need at least that long there. From perusal of tourist information, and snippets previously stored away in my mind from articles and online material, I thought Lorne sounded more interesting and perhaps a slightly higher standard than the available options in town, at that time.
Not exactly crowded out by neighbours, here…..
Bought fish and chips for tea, not planning to be near a take away tomorrow night. The flake was the worst I had ever had – wafer thin, yet really tough, soggy batter.
While we were occupied on our laptops, after tea, there was a really loud bang, from outside, but close. We thought a bird or bat might have flown into the van, but a quick look around, in the dark, didn’t show any distressed critter. Things do go thump in the night, sometimes.