|Travelling Australia - Journal 2008|
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|20 February 2008 - Peak Hill to Pathana Lane|
Despite our proximity to the Newell Highway we were not too disturbed by passing trucks during the night which had been uncomfortably warm at first but cooled down by early morning. When we awoke there were two trucks/B-doubles in the rest area but we hadn't heard them arrive. We passed 43 trucks in 50 minutes before we left the Newell Highway on the outskirts of Dubbo. Heading towards Dubbo we were passing through roadside cypress woodland on terrain best described as mildly hilly, elevation was 431 metres decreasing to be between 300 and 400 metres enroute to Dubbo. On the outskirts of Dubbo we left the Newell Highway (at 0925) and made our way to the Golden Highway running to Singleton. Road signs on the Newell Highway and main part of Dubbo were useless in finding the Golden Highway; the GPS moving map display was crucial in negotiating Dubbo's roads.
Leaving Dubbo at an elevation of 282 metres, the road climbed to 308 metres through cypress and eucalyptus woodland, much of which had been cleared for crops and grazing. We stopped at Elong Elong briefly before pulling into the long vehicle parking area at Dunedoo at an elevation of 394 metres. We bought a pie for lunch from Dunedoo Pie Shop - this was the nicest pie I have had for many years, cooked on the premises the night before.
Leaving Dunedoo the road climbed gently to 400 metres elevation 3 kilometres from Dunedoo, passing along a broad flat plain between low ridges and devoted to grazing and crops; very few signs of habitation but the land well and truly in use an pleasant to drive through. At longitude 149° 48"E, we passed a sign proclaiming the top of the Great Dividing Range at 692 metres elevation, the GPS was showing 562 metres at that point. The transition over the Divide marked the eastern boundary of cypress which had become intermittent in patchy woodland and individual trees in paddocks but now ceased entirely to be replaced by eucalyptus woodland. The road trended down but there were a lot of reasonably steep and high hills until we got to Merriwa at 265 metres.
We needed petrol in Merriwa, which appears to have two petrol stations. We stopped at the first one bearing a Golden Fleece illuminated sign but with Caltex logo on the manual pumps. Credit card transactions used the manual self-carbon form. A bit of a step into the past. From Merriwa (265 metres elevation) the road climbed fairly steeply to reach 424 metres in 4.5 kilometres but then trended downward fairly gently towards and into the Upper Hunter Winery region we entered at Gungal. Around Singleton the landscape was heavily marked by colliery equipment and piles of coal, presumably awaiting shipment.
We stopped for the night at Pathana Lane rest area. This rest area is in two parts, the one we used was far enough from the New England Highway to be fairly quiet.