SATURDAY JULY 25 TO THURSDAY AUGUST 20 LIGHTNING RIDGE
We ended up staying at Lightning Ridge for four weeks.
Our original booking was for two weeks – to cover the period around Opal Fest and give us time for any other activities we wanted to do in the area. Then, we had planned, to make our way across to the northern NSW coast, for a “beach fix”.
As our first two weeks were nearing an end, I realized that the state of my leg, still with two open ulcerated areas, would prevent any beach walking and paddling. Hadn’t really thought about how I would deal with sand in wounds before then. Dumb. So John decided we might as well stay put at the Ridge. The weather was beach-like anyway, and we were enjoying the town and this caravan park. And being lazy! The decision was made enough in advance for us to be able to remain on the same site.
Very comfortable on this site
A lot of our days here were uneventful and much the same, so not interesting enough to write up individually. Some special events and aspects will get their own entries, later…
In the meantime, this is how we passed most days…
Each morning, I would wake up about 8am and would take Couey for a walk right around the “settled” area of the park, which was quite extensive and took about 20 minutes, unless we stopped to socialize.
There was always much of interest along this route for Couey to sniff, so it could be a stop-start walk at times. I found plenty of bird life to watch while she worked out who had passed since she was last that way.
Grey crowned babbler
Because the park’s powered section, of 98 sites, was full every night, and because there were those non-booked arrivals in absolute need of a powered site, who would fit in anywhere they could be placed, it was interesting each morning to see these different arrangements. Someone who was having to wait days for repairs and parts was parked up in front of one of the big work sheds, where a long power lead was fed out to the rig. They had a less than inspiring view of the car wash bay and the dump point – but, hopefully, considered themselves fortunate to have a spot at all.
Metal art by the entrance
There were places on the perimeter road around the powered sections, where there were holding or pumping tanks for the sullage lines, buried to ground level. These had an electric power inlet to make them work. A couple of these had an extra power point and sometimes travellers occupied the adjacent, wide, roadway, like a site. As with the shed, these were provided to help out travellers in real need. However, I was not sure that the man who did the daily rounds emptying the rubbish bins appreciated when these people spread themselves right out across the roadway, blocking it and causing him to have to go bush to get around them. Not just him, either – we walkers were blocked too!
Lots of the park’s native plantings were in flower
Also of interest on my morning perambulations with the dog, was the unpowered section – an extensive area. Around the period of Opal Fest, it was totally full too. No real marked sites here, so it was a bit random and Rafferty’s Rules. Towards the end of our stay, there were fewer rigs there. The majority of those parked there were waiting for a powered site to become available.
Once the ground – that was very boggy when we arrived – dried out, there was usually two or three camps set up in the “bush” section, where people could really space themselves well apart.
Part of the large unpowered section of the park
Once our morning walk was done, it was dog breakfast time. I was having to keep morning and evening blood pressure readings for my doctor, who was still tweaking the combination and dosage of pills to keep that in order. Once that was taken, I could take said pills – and then had to wait at least half an hour before eating or drinking. Then, mostly, by that time I couldn’t be bothered with breakfast, so just had two mugs of plunger coffee, which I really savoured.
John would continue to sleep through all of this. Dog would usually have “asked” to go back in Bus, where she could guard him – and sneak up on my bed to do so. I had learned to cover my bed well, immediately after getting up, with a large old sheet.
Gotta be here to do the guarding properly….
To fill the mornings, I read, wrote up my diary, wrote postcards, embroidered or knitted, most days. Would sit outside under the awning if the weather was dry and warm enough.
Eventually, John would surface and breakfast – late.
I might need to head off to the fairly well stocked IGA for a hunting and gathering session before lunch. The small size of Bus fridge meant that this happened a bit more frequently than I liked. Our diet was heavy in salad and vegetable matter – “added bulk” did not only apply to the dietary label! John also drank quite a lot of milk and I could only accommodate 1 litre bottles of this, so regular replenishment needed. Of course, I am “difficult” or “fussy” – his terms vary – because I cannot stand full cream milk in my coffee. So my bottle of light milk also took up space on the fridge door, that could otherwise be filled by his cans of beer. I was never sure why I was the unreasonably choosy one, when he couldn’t stand light milk? We managed…
Afternoons might be more of the same, punctuated by a couple of dog exercise walks, or we might go off on a little sightseeing jaunt, or a browse of some opal shops.
Tour bus collection ….. by Dodgy Signs
Occasionally, the man went off and played bowls.
Couey always got an afternoon walk session where we went over to the bush area, past any campers there, and then she was let off the lead. We walked the length of the perimeter fence and some of the little tracks through the low scrub. She would range ahead, maybe thirty metres or so, then come back and check on me, then range out again. That’s the cattle dog instinct at work.
Great park for the dog
There were plenty of fallen trees and branches in the bush area and we’d taught Couey to hurdle some of these. Such fun that she would seek out things to jump. She always looked longingly at the very big dam on the other side of the fence, that was the outflow from the Bore Baths, we thought. She would just love to go swimming in that – but the fence was very sturdy chain wire mesh, thankfully.
During the early part of our stay, the many large, muddy puddles along the way caused us angst – and her much enjoyment. As the days passed, the puddles shrank and became more muddy and less watery – and we discovered that the car wash bay was good for more than cars… The ensuing hose downs never deterred her from mud wallows, though.
Sometimes in the late afternoon, we would have a happy hour outside before tea – if the weather was particularly nice. If we had sociable neighbours, with them too. I bought a small cask of Sauv Blanc for such occasions, which I preferred to beer.
Some brilliant sunsets
Such were our days. Very relaxing, but with some regular gentle exercise.
Every three days I would have to change the dressings on my leg. Back in May/June, this used to take about an hour, as soaking was involved. Now that healing was – finally – well advanced, it was much quicker, taking about half an hour, by the time all the needed stuff was set up. The hard part was peeling off the really tight knee-high stocking – and getting it back on again without dislodging the new dressings. Always a chore I did not look forward to.