|Travelling Australia - Journal 2010|
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|17 May - Deniliquin to West Wyalong|
The morning was cold but sunny with no wind. We left Deniliquin on the road north to Conargo; this was a noticeably good quality road with hardly any traffic. The flat land was used for a mixture of cropping and grazing cattle and sheep with some alpacas. At Conargo a road sign points towards the Old Man Plain Sunset viewing area. Conargo is on the Billabong Creek which meets the Edward River at Moulamein and is the northern edge of the maze of waterways based on the Murray River. North of Conargo is supposed to be the edge of the inland plain and also the beginning of the saltbush country.
At Conargo the road turned east towards Jerilderie. The land was dry and very flat, covered mostly in grass with scattered gum trees. We could see cattle and sheep grazing and occasionally a paddock had been ploughed or planted with the number of silos clustered near houses evidence of a grain growing area. A roadkill wallaby on this road was one of the few roadkill seen in many weeks. About ten kilometres from Jerilderie we passed a large herd of Angus cattle on the Long Paddock; they were making very slow progress as they grazed along; we had noted that the fence along here was often at least a hundred metres back from the road giving a considerable area available for transient stock to graze.
At Jerilderie we joined the Newell Highway and B-doubles became a fact of driving life. Although the day was warming up comfortably we had seen only a handful of locusts, for which we were thankful; the Pathfinder had a layer of dead locust bits smeared across the lower part of the roo bar and bumper which I would remove after we were clear of the locust infested area.
North of Jerilderie, on the way to Narrandera, we passed through very flat land with decreased number of trees. This changed about 30 kilometres from Narrandera when we entered a region of low hills with stands of cypress common. Since Jerilderie we had been hearing on the UHF radio from the escort of a 4.5 metre wide load ahead of us and going in the same direction; as it drew away the signal got weaker but it was not of direct interest since it was ahead and getting further ahead. But then we heard a new voice warn of a 6.5 metre wide load heading south in Narrandera and coming towards us. A load that wide takes up both lanes of the road and would require us to get completely off the road with the caravan so we trie to keep track of that wide load. The road we would use into Narrandera narrows for some way as it crosses the Murrumbidgee River and Irrigation Main Canal, which is wider than many rivers, and there was nowhere to pull over so we were very interested in this 6.5 metre wide load. Listening to the radio calls from the escort vehicle confirmed that our UHF radio was picking up calls from at least 10 kilometres away. As we crossed the bridges we passed the escort vehicle going the other way then saw the large tractor with attachments folded up behind it which was the centre of the fuss. But by then we were into Narrandera with the wide load behind us and concerned about where to park with the van connected while we had a lunchtime pie in the bakery.
Leaving Narrandera still on the Newell Highway we continued to pass sheep, cattle and cropping land. Traffic was very light with two or three B-doubles going in the same direction a little faster than us and a handful of vehicles in the opposite direction. On many occasion we could see the road was empty for two or three kilometres ahead and a kilometre behind us. The weather seemed to be good for travelling but the wind was rising and we were not aware of it until we stopped about 30 kilometres before West Wyalong to transfer 20 litres of diesel fuel into the Pathfinder because of higher than expected consumption.
The sight of Apostle birds on the side of the road 20 kilometres from West Wyalong confirmed we were getting into the drier parts of Australia.
Arriving on the edge of West Wyalong we checked into the Ace Caravan Park and set up for two nights.