Broken Hill Road Trip – Part 3

This is the third and final post about my recent road trip to Broken Hill. You can read the other two parts: Spring Road Trip to Broken Hill and Road Trip to Broken Hill Part 2 by clicking on the links.


Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end and the final stage of my road trip to Broken Hill was the drive from Cobar to Orange for an overnight stop, and then back home to Wollongong.

Cobar to Orange

Another full day of driving. I am not sure why I add that detail. Firstly, it’s a road trip! That’s what you do on road trips – drive! Secondly, this is Australia; it’s a long way between towns, so of course, it’s a full day’s driving!

The desert is well behind us, the roads are good, and we’re up to Disc 8 of the Steven Fry Chronicles. The fields on either side of us are now filled with waving grain crops, there’s some yellow canola and the ubiquitous purple of Paterson’s Curse is still brightening things up. It’s a curse because it is toxic to livestock and in particular horses. Sheep can tolerate eating some, but the weed spreads easily and degrades pastures.

We started early after a good rest at Cobar Caravan Park. The low background hum I heard the night before is still present. Machinery? Something to do with the mine? Before we leave town we visit the Fort Bourke Lookout where you can peer right down into an open cut mine. Even with the steel cage between you and the sheer drop, it’s a bit scary. 

Iain, without a safety harness!

Nyngan

Our first stop, 130 km east is the town of Nyngan. Some people may remember Nyngan being flooded in 1990 when it was isolated for many weeks and its people evacuated. Nyngan is on the Bogan River. Just mentioning that is enough to make many Aussie’s smile. BOGAN!! Seriously?  I take my hat off to the people of Nyngan! What a terrific sense of humour they have. Nyngan has a Big Bogan! A bogan being Aussie slang for an uncouth or unsophisticated person. Nyngan’s Big Bogan certainly is a tourist attraction. We had to line up and wait to get a photo. He’s in a park across the road from the Beancounters’ House, presumably an accountant’s office. 

The Big Bogan – and Michele!

Australia has a propensity for “Big Things” as tourist attractions. Like The Big Pineapple in Nambour, Queensland, The Big Banana in Coffs Harbour, NSW. There was a Big Potato in Robertson NSW that looked like a big poo! The Big Prawn, The Big Oyster, The Big Lobster! One of my personal favourites The Big Merino in Goulburn. Anyway, I digress, 

Another scenic route (aka the long way round!)

Nyngan also has a couple of seriously good op shops. Michele, my travelling buddy and I had made a point of stopping at op shops on our road trip. We came away with some good buys and contributed to local charities. (Don’t worry folks it fits in with my year of zero pledge! I will get rid of as many items as I bought when I get home!) Next time I travel, I am going to take a close to empty bag and buy what I need from op shops as I go.

After Nyngan we head south and travel through some very small towns and right about now my phone which has been mucking up, decides to fail altogether. We don’t have a map. The roads are well signposted but I like to have an idea of where we are and how long before we get to our destination. We stopped in the small town of Tottenham, the geographical centre of NSW, to buy a map without any luck. Next Tullamore, still no map, but the phone has come back to life. Next Trundle and Parkes, our lunch stop.

Parkes – The Moon and Elvis

Parkes is a little bit famous for a couple of reasons. It has an Elvis Festival and secondly, it has a large radio-telescope which played a crucial part in the Apollo Moon Missions in the 60s and 70s. The movie, The Dish, was set in Parkes. Although we didn’t visit the dish this time, we had a great lunch at Wholesome Blend,  a healthy, tasty salad bowl and a good coffee. 

Elvis with a chainsaw?

As you do when you visit places like Parkes, we checked out the real estate prices. Very reasonable indeed!  I decided I could live in Parkes. Only four and half hours from Sydney and three and a half hours to Canberra, it’s close enough, but far enough away from city life with a good community around you. It’s even got the NBN (broadband internet).

The broad plains and rolling landscape between Parkes and Orange are delightful. Bands of yellow canola are interspersed with the green of wheat and other grains. We pass through Manildra and it’s flour processing mill and roll into Orange about 3 PM.

I took this back in 2012.

Orange

We have told our AirBnB host we’ll be arriving at five so we stop at Cook Park. Cook Park is a cold climate park and is set out in the shape of the Union Jack with bisecting diagonal pathways. It was certainly worth the visit with some colourful peonies and tulips on display. 

Orange hosts a Food and Wine Festival and is renowned for its “foodie” status. There are a lot of wineries in the surrounding area. However, we found it hard to get something for dinner.  Because of COVID restrictions, most places required a booking. We hadn’t booked and everywhere was packed because of reduced seating requirements.  After two circuits around town, we managed to get into the Parkview Hotel and had some very fine bangers and mash. (Pork and fennel sausages, truffle-infused mashed potatoes and squeaky fresh green beans.) I must admit I was ruing my Year without Alcohol pledge in such a fine wine town but trust me my soda water was delicious! (Note: no non-alcoholic beer or kombucha  in a cosmopolitan Orange pub even though it was available in Silverton!) 

The AirBnB The Swales was marvellous and I’d highly recommend it. Our host Mal was helpful and the very canny way they were able to divide their substantial home into two separate sections by simply closing two connecting doors, was very clever. They provided the makings for a good DYI breakfast.

Last day on the road.

Orange is about 4 hours from Wollongong so we did not plan any further stops and left town around midday after scoping out op shops and having one last look around. We bought a bottle of wine to give as a gift to Louise who had lent us our desert dress-ups. (See this post) Heading east from Orange there are places to stop and if you’re not in a rush to get home, have a look at Bathurst and Katoomba. Katoomba is the heart of the Blue Mountains and is a popular day-trip spot for tourists and locals. After that, it’s just suburbia and traffic and life back in the saddle! Sigh!

From Jewel-sea to far horizons.

It was great to see the blue-blue ocean again and smell the salty air but as I looked at my still dusty, insect-splatted car with the red bull dust trickling out from behind the number plate, I remembered how beautiful the flat red heart of Australia is too. 

The words of Dorethea’s Mackellar’s poem sprang to mind and I concur with her wholeheartedly.

I love a sunburnt country, 

A land of sweeping plains,

Of ragged mountain ranges, 

Of droughts and flooding rains.

I love her far horizons, 

I love her jewel-sea,

Her beauty and her terror – 

The wide brown land for me!


I’m planning my next road trip already! Six weeks in Victoria in 2021, provided the border is open of course! 

PS: We didn’t get to finish the 12th and final disc in Steven Fry’s Chronicles, we ran out of time!  

A mere 2,700 odd kilometres!

PPS: My phone ended up dying completely two days after we got home. $530 and a new screen later it’s all good! 🙁

PPPS: I now have a large touring map book under the front seat of my car.

Travelling Light!

This post is the first in an occasional series of Travel Tip Tuesday Posts. It will be a quick and easy read and include links to (hopefully) useful sites.


I have been on the road enough times that I have some travel hacks sorted out. I know it’s easier to take the ipad and not worry about a computer because you don’t have to put it in a separate tray when you go through the security check. I know you need a different adapter for the UK compared to the US. I take my own extension lead and power board that way I only need one adapter but can plug in all my Aussie devices at once. I know it makes sense to use packing cubes to make organising your suitcase easier. I even have those roll up vacuum bags that you can squeeze the air out of. I know about putting things inside your shoes. I know about making sure you are well dressed when you go to the airport to increase your chance of an upgrade. I know about having my carry-on bathroom stuff in a see-through bag. I know about wearing your heavy clothes on the plane.

This stuff I know!

It’s not the mechanics of packing I have a problem with. What I am not good at is taking the right amount of the right stuff. I always, always always overpack and end up bringing things home clean and pristine, albeit a little wrinkled. I end up wearing the same few things and lamenting my poor choices of what I thought I would wear. I pick up a particular jumper and think to myself “when did I think I was EVER going to wear that. Why didn’t I bring XYZ jumper instead!”

I have learned I don’t need something different to wear everyday but I still take too much. Viz a viz

  • The nice outfit in case I get an invitation to a fancy dinner (hasn’t happened yet!).

  • The fancy shoes to match the nice dress for the yet to materialize dinner invitation.

  • The extra pair of pj’s in case you can’t wash…I have always been able to find some way to wash my clothes, it’s not like I am going to the moon!

  • The 6 changes of shorts/pants/skirts – 4 would probably be plenty

  • The 10 T-shirt’s/shirts/tops – 6 would definitely be enough

  • The jacket and the wet weather jacket – I could get a wet weather jacket that looked ok to wear anytime

  • The hiking boots and runners – I don’t think I can cut down on these. I can’t run in hiking boots and my runners are not sturdy enough to hike in.

It’s not just  the ‘wasted” outfits that are a problem. As a solo traveller I have to be able to manage all that stuff on my own and still be able to fit it and me into a toilet cubicle!

(Just an aside I think that is one of the main hassles of travelling alone – going to the bathroom and having no-one to watch your stuff!)

To date my method is to pile everything up on the spare bed and then only take half – it’s still too much!

I need to be able to hoike that suitcase into the back of the car, onto the train, up the stairs by myself.

For my next trip (to Scotland – I’m excited) I have set a challenge to take just one 15kg checked bag and no carry on other than a backpack. (I will have an overnight layover, so need a change of clothes)  That will give me 8 kg of wiggle room if I end up buying anything.

I have a few months to get organised and I have decided to base my travel wardrobe on the “capsule” theory of a few outfits you can mix and match. 14 items –  30 outfits. That sort of thing. You’ve seen them no doubt.

That’s what I am going to do! You will be my accountability partners!  I will limit myself to 15 items (not including underwear etc) and 4 pairs of shoes. Two of which will be runners and the hiking boots.

Let’s see how I go! I will post again when I am packed.

Here are a few links I will be using to help me out.

https://www.momondo.com.au/discover/article/packing-tips-solo-travel

https://www.skyscanner.net/news/15-best-ever-packing-tips

https://pin.it/b7arfwfydz6gft

https://pin.it/lgomjp46vuzxby

BTW it’s going to have to be a big backpack!