|Travelling Australia - Journal 2008|
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|19 February 2008 - Darlington Point to Peak Hill|
We left Darlington Point Caravan Park just before 9 o'clock and headed north along the Kidman Way towards Griffiths. Weather was bright and sunny with little wind, promising to get hot later in the day; traffic was very light. Before we reached Griffiths we saw a few kangaroos resting in the shade of a gum tree a bit back from the road. We left Griffiths on Burley Griffin Way going eastward to the Newell Highway and, beyond Yenda passing through Binya State Forest which was a mixed cypress and eucalyptus woodland on low hills; this was a southern extension of Cocoparra National Park. Once past the state forest we were passing through cropland with scattered cypress. About fifteen kilometres before Ardlethan we left the Fruit Fly Exclusion zone intended to protect fruit crops of the Riverina Irrigation Area.
We turned onto the Newell Highway at Ardlethan at an elevation of 202 metres and headed north towards West Wyalong. We stopped at a couple of rest areas for photographs of the mainly cropping countryside then stopped in West Wyalong for a leaisurely lunch and look around the shopping centre.
After leaving West Wyalong we began counting trucks and B-doubles going the other way; in three hours we recorded 56 vehicles an hour heading towards Victoria confirming the Newell Highway's reputation as the main road between Melbourne and Brisbane. In fact, a number of the trucks passing us were stock trucks going to Victoria to collect cattle and carry them to northern New South Wales and Queensland where recent rainfall has prompted managers to begun restocking properties after the drought using cattle bought in Victoria. According to reports all available cattle-trucks were in use.
Some distance before Forbes we caught up with a herd of cattle being moved along the roadside reserve. We had planned to stop at the next rest area for a drink and this was in the middle of the cattle slowly making their way along the road side reserve. I had hoped they would come quite close to the van for photographs but they made a detour around the van so I had to rely on the telephoto settings. Closer to Forbes we saw signs of irrigation beside the road in the form of one or two Dethbridge wheels and a few feeder channels but there was no water in any channel.
We stopped for the night at a rest area two kilometres north of Peak Hill. No toilet and no water meant few visitors in the night except for trucks having a rest.