We left Mt maroon and although we are heading back down towards Sydney we wanted to go on a road we had never traveled before and stay away from the hordes of holiday makers that will be on the coastal route. For this reason we headed a bit more towards the west and to the town of Texas just near the border to NSW. It is a tiny little farming community with a silver mine near by. We were just there to stay in a caravan park to fill our tanks, empty the toilet and wash all the stinky wet hiking clothes and towels etc from the 24hrs of rain on the last day. Keddie was looking like a chinese laundry as we have put up 2 internal clothes lines. It was driving me crazy. After the last night there trying to sleep through the storm, I was also happy to go west outside the rain zone as there was another storm expected for Boonah that night. Just listen to me and with the farmers begging for rain.
We stopped in the town of Boonah on our way through and had a look at the “famous” clock made out of old junk by a local artist Christopher Trotter. We loved it but sad that it was not actually working as a clock at the moment.
The caravan park in Texas was small and not fantastic but it had what we needed and the people managing the park for the owners who were away, were very nice and VERY chatty. They were Caroline and Stephen (69 and 70 yrs) and had been on the road for 3.5 years. I asked them where home was and was told the van WAS their home. I asked how much longer they would be on the road and she said for as long as her husband (who was a diabetic) could tow the van as she refused to drive. They were such happy, helpful, social people and just loved walking around camp chatting to everyone(drink in hand at happy hour time) and making sure everyone had what they needed and knew where everything was. They encouraged us to go out to Birdsville for the Big Red bash music festival in June, where they would be working volunteer ushers. They got free tickets and a place to park their van in return. They were living on the pension out here in gypsy land and loving it, and working their way around the country, sometimes working just for a place to park their van. We were like the new youngsters on the block that they were here to give tips too and I guess we sort of are. M
However Texas had some great birdlife. A 30 minute walk around town added 5 new species to my list (although one was a noisy miner – which while annoyingly common in Sydney we had not yet seen on this trip and the other was a guinea-fowl which is not really native to Australia, but does feature as a feral species in my bird book so it counts). Others in the photos below. S
We had dinner in the pub in town that night after walking in (and annoying this pug dog in both directions). Instead of barking at us it sort of coughed which made us laugh and it “coughed’ even “meaner” like it would kill us if it could only get over the fence. It was nice walking into town in the full moon light and like many of these small country towns the streets were like a ghost town but as soon as you open the doors of the air conditioned pub it was like the whole town was inside. M
We headed to Bingara for the night and stopped at Cranky rock for lunch.
It was just a quick lunch stop and pretty hot so we had lunch inside with the fans going and headed out to do the short walk to this little gorge with some pretty amazing granite rock formations. Despite the heat, we did not get into the water which is a bit rare. Next we headed on to the Myall Creek Massacre Memorial. A very moving and sad part of the history of this country. I had read about this site and many others that do not have a memorial, in an couple of Australian history books I read in recent years. It seems that even Australians that DID go to school here, did not get the full history taught to them. This massacre due to the early land disputes, are a war memorial as far as I see it. It was a war for land and we (the white fellas) won! Interestingly the museum in town hardly mentioned this site just out of town apparently. This is part of the problem. M
We arrived at our free camp on the Gwydir river near Bingara late in the day. It was a gorgeous spot and probably one of our favorites. Although there were other people around, there was so much space we could not see or hear anyone. You could slip into the river just next to camp and hear the water sweeping past all night. The birds went nuts at dusk and dawn. It was great to be back in NSW, only to have daylight savings again. Now the birds were going nuts at 530 instead of 430am and there is more light later in the day! M
We stopped in town the next morning to do the “raved about” tour of the restored Art Deco Roxy theatre but they were not running it unfortunately. We just had a look in the windows, did a bit of shopping and headed back out on the road. Bingara was a proud and pretty little town with a good feel so, we looked in the window of the real estate agent and looked at which large properties we could buy just out of town. M
We hit the road again and one of the reasons we chose the road we took is that it was a smaller road with less traffic on it. We saw mostly local traffic, farmers and the like with the odd caravan now. It was pretty farming country here with rolling greenish hills though this is still drought country. They call it a “green drought” in areas with enough rain to make it a bit green but not long enough for the cows to get hold of to eat. M
We stopped at a geological glacial site on the way, which was a small gorge with some water holes in it. The rock was very interesting conglomerate rock with all different rock types in all different colours in it, formed during the glacial period here. It was 39 deg and the water was pretty warm and a bit green. I had a cooling splash and Steve slid in and had a swim.
We arrived 22 kms south of Tamworth at our next camp on Spring Creek farm. We met the owner who came to meet us at the property from her part of the property. She said they had 1000 acres, so camp wherever we wanted, just close the gates. She had mowed a nice patch for us on a hill, in a private area with the best views, so we camped there. There were no cows in that paddock, so no cow pies on our mat, was also a draw card. All we hear is birds, cows, horses and the wind in the trees. We don’t know where the owner’s house is, so all this feels like OURS for 2 days!
Those lights are Tamworth 22kms away!
In the hour or so before the moon rose on our second night on the prairie we had some lovely dark skies and the stars were amazing. It gave me a chance to try out my camera’s low light capabilities which were pretty impressive. If only the earth didn’t spin so fast – when zoomed in, the photo below of Orion’s belt, sword and Orion Nebula has some rather noticeable star trails with just a 15 second exposure. S
Of course, like everywhere, birds abounded. In particular we had several brown songlarks cackling and chortling in the fields around us. However, despite their abundance they were pretty hard to photograph, they would either be flying or hiding in the grass. However, as Belinda seems a little wary of some my claims in my Bird List when there is no photo evidence, here is a reasonable photo of one songlark briefly standing where he is visible (likewise with the mediocre photo of the turquoise parrot). S.
We had dinner while listening to the stereo system, almost the first time on this trip. It sounds great, but I guess we prefer to hear nature. We put on the xmas ipod music. The caravan has outside speakers and an out door TV also. We have watched TV only once since we started the trip and that was to get some news of the fires on coast and in Carnarvon gorge, which we had planned to go. We have removed the bit you put the TV on outside, so we could use that area for storage. But the stereo sound is so good that I am now listening to Mozart cranked up very loud with the outside speaker blaring across the paddock because our view is a bit of a symphony! I hope the cows can handle it! M
The day started with Steve going for a run and me doing some Yoga. It was hard to ignore the flies when doing a yoga nidra session. I’ll have to do that inside next time. Merry Xmas everyone! M