FRIDAY MAY 15 GILGANDRA TO LIGHTNING RIDGE 311kms
We both slept in on a very chilly morning. Still managed to leave the park by 10am. The park was just about empty by the time we left.
I liked this park, but one black mark was that the cleaner was doing the nearest block before the usual 10am departure time. The other amenity block remained locked up.
After turning onto the highway from the park, we had not even managed to get into top gear, before being stopped by roadworks. Stop? We’d hardly started…
Not even in top gear yet…
Made our way back through the town and out the Coonamble road – the Castlereagh Highway. The country side was flatter and drier and we moved north. It was a lovely blue sky day.
Not all that far on, there was a silver corrugated iron sculpture of a cockatoo or galah, by the road. As we trundled by, could see no sign to explain what it was or why it was there. Further on there were two, and then three. The intrigue sent me scrambling for the information brochures. Seems Gulargambone – which village we were approaching – relates to aboriginal for “many galahs’ or something similar. Mystery explained.
We did not stop in Gulargambone but it looked a pleasant place. I noted a caravan park. Could be interesting to stop a night or two on a future strip, and look about.
Beyond Gulargambone the paddock dams were full and the grass indicated there had been recent rains.
Refuelled at Coonamble at a servo that was also a bus stop. There were a number of people off the parked bus, milling about; a couple of them were very slow to get away from the front of the diesel bowser to let us pull fully up to it. Couey got all excited, thinking she would be getting out here, and started up her barking routine. That made them move!
The diesel was $1.359cpl.
Coonamble appeared to be another town where it would be fine to stay a night or two.
The road surface had been quite bumpy and lumpy, in sections, since Gilgandra, but got even worse after Coonamble. More roadworks too – much needed!
A snake wriggled across the road, at speed, in front of us. Hmmm – so they were still out and about in these parts.
By the time we stopped for a break and to eat lunch, at Walgett, I was feeling somewhat seasick and not really hungry. We parked at the Rotary “Primitive Camp Area” on the southern outskirts of Walgett. This area had toilets, shade and was attractively laid out – an attempt to attract campers to the area by providing a free camp area. However, in the half hour that we were there, several “local’s” cars cut through the area, using it as a short cut, at a fair speed and kicking up lots of dust. Two cars stopped briefly, side by side, and small somethings were exchanged in a two way transaction between the drivers before both sped off. Definitely didn’t think it was somewhere I would want to stay overnight.
Walgett Primitive Camp Area
Made John a sandwich, but I only had an apple for lunch. We managed to give Couey a run, before the cars speeding through put a stop to that.
After Walgett, there were puffs of cotton beside the road – escaped from harvesting or transport of same. There was also a large grain loading facility by the railway.
The road became awfully uneven. John slowed right down, but we were still being thrown up and down.
We were both really glad to reach the outskirts of Lightning Ridge, heralded by a rest area on the Castlereagh Highway, with a huge metal sculpture opposite. This quirky fellow was Stanley the emu, To my mind, he typifies the nature of the town.
We drove straight through the town and out to the Opal Caravan Park, on the Collarenabri road. This park had been established since we were last here in 2009, and was almost opposite the thermal Bore Baths.
The very obliging lady on Reception was fine about cutting down our pre-booked stay from two weeks to ten days, as we had stayed longer than originally planned at Canberra. Our en-suite site cost $45 a night. Instead of the park chain discount, she gave us a free night, which was worth more. I bought two polo shirts, with the very attractive logo of the park on.
I was very pleased to have booked ahead. The ten en-suite sites were all full, and the ordinary powered sites pretty well occupied too, even though the extensive park must have over a hundred sites. The travelling public have “discovered” Lightning Ridge, it seems.
Everything was drive-through, making life so much easier. The ground surface was rounded small river gravel. The sites were a good size, with landscaping between each pair of sites. This was still becoming established – when fully grown in a few more years, there will be lovely shade. The caravan sites were clearly marked with white painted markers that looked like cement, cast in large basin-shaped moulds – very effective.
There was a large unpowered camp area – gravelled – and a more “bush” camp area beyond that, on the natural black soil surface of the area.
Our en-suite was excellent. A good size. The shower had a glass door – no clingy shower curtain here – wonderful. It was nicely tiled and very clean. The exterior was corrugated iron. The colours of the park all reflected the arid lands colours of this environment – very tastefully and practically done.
John reckoned this was the nicest caravan park we had ever stayed at. I thought he might have forgotten a few good ones, but agreed that this was right up there.
They also had a few cabins, a good camp kitchen, BBQ area and swimming pool (despite being within walking distance of the Bore Baths). There was an opal fossicking area on one boundary. John found out that we could give Couey ball throwing exercise off in the bush area near that, right away from the main park area. They also offered doggy day care, if we wanted to go off on tours.
This was a place that was truly into meeting the needs of travellers.
Set up for our extended stay here, then just relaxed. We were into shorts and T-shirts, finally. Blue sky and sunshine. Bliss.
I cooked fish from our freezebox for tea, with French fries.
December 21, 2022 at 10:10 pm
Love that park, we’ve stayed there twice.