Thursday, April 19, 2018

Northward Progress

After those little thunderstorms in Gilgandra, it’s mostly back to the usual: sunshine and warmth. I learned that during that windy day I spent in Gilgandra there were some serious dust storms out in the bush.

On the way to Gulargambone, my next stop, I saw a sign for the “Hotel Armatree”. It was 3 km off my route, but I had plenty of time, so I checked it out. It was indeed open, and had pizza for lunch. It was run by a friendly couple but, of course, it was for sale. One could camp there, too.

The caravan park in Gulargambone seems to be a popular meeting place of the “grey nomads”, and there was quite a mob of them there. I joined them for the roast dinner. Lots of friendly folks. Surprisingly, as it was school holidays, there were no children.  

Hotel Armatree

Gulargambone Mural

Gulargambone Mural

The next day was an easy ride to Coonamble, just 48 km further north. Along the way, I got a glimpse of the Warrumbungle range to the east. I’ve visited them on previous trips. Like all the town in this area, Coonamble is heavily fortified due to vandalism. The caravan park is pretty grim, but at least this time there was a relatively thorn-free tent spot.

Distant View of the Warrumbungles

That afternoon in Coonamble, I went to a park to put the “thorn-resistant” tube on the back wheel. In the process, I found a broken spoke. It was on the left side, while they usually break on the right, so I don’t know what happened. I had some spares, and it seems OK now.

While I had the bike all apart, several aboriginal guys and one woman showed up. They asked the usual questions, but didn’t seem to know where Melbourne was. They all had smart phones.
I actually did have a tailwind for the long ride to Walgett. At what price remains to be seen. Aside from the flies, of course. Just a short way out of Coonamble, I started a stampede. A small herd of cattle, some with long horns, were trapped between the road and fenceline. Road trains don’t phase them, but these apparently had never seen a push-bike before. Thanks to that tailwind, I was able to get ahead of them, figuring they would then stop. When I stopped to shed a layer, a farmer in a ute pulled up to warn me that they were still coming, so I moved on. The rest of the 116 km ride went quickly, and I arrived in Walgett in early afternoon, along with a swarm of several thousand flies.

Walgett has a large Aboriginal population, and vandalism is rampant. All the businesses are heavily fortified, many with no windows at all. There’s a camping area on the edge of town, where I just set my tent up in a shelter after dark. Aside from a couple cruisers in noisy cars, and the dog pound across the road, it was peaceful night.

On the Road to Walgett

A Little Closer



Walgett Campsite

The headwind returned the next day, so the shorter ride to Lightning Ridge took about as long as the ride to Walgett. It's a pretty bleak ride, the road trapped between fencelines most of the way. At least the headwind helped keep the flies away.

On to Lightning Ridge

Lightning Ridge Sunset

Lightning Ridge is a tourist town, in an opal mining area. The best caravan park is a sort of a resort, a fairly pleasant place.  It has a nice tent area, shared with the local kangaroos, so I planned to stay two nights and relax. The second night, however, major thunderstorms arrived, dropping 27 mm of rain. That turned everything to mud, and there was a chance of rain the next day, so I rented a cabin for the third night.  (That also gave me a chance to update the blog at the library.) Tomorrow I'll move on to Queensland.

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