|Travelling Australia - Journal 2010|
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|19 May - West Wyalong to Gilgandra|
A sunny morning with no wind; pleasant for travelling. Leaving the caravan park on the Newell Highway we drove along West Wyalong's crooked main street (allegedly
the result of building the road along the original bullock track which weaved between trees and gold mining claims) then on to Wyalong, with a more conventional
The land north of West Wyalong is flat and heavily devoted to crops. Some sheep and cattle were grazing near Wyalong but further out the scenery was dominated by crop paddocks, some with scattered trees, others with a line of trees along the edge. Interestingly we could not see bales of hay, either in heaps or under galvanised iron roofs; these are usually scattered on paddocks where stock are grazed.
As the Newell drew closer to Forbes the more usual mix of crop paddocks, grazing stock (sheep and cattle) and bales of hay resumed. The sight of stock transports full of sheep leaving the Forbes sale yards confirmed that sheep were significant around Forbes. Passing a distributor of on-farm metal silos with more than a dozen silos lined up for sale, confirmed that grain is also significant. At least one fruit orchard was passed approaching Forbes.
The Newell Highway was not particularly busy. Heavy transports were prominent in both directions but numbers were not as high as we have seen previously on this road. We were cruising at 89 kph and the trucks going in our direction were only a few kilometres faster and mostly spread out. Whenever a truck caught up with us I slowed and pulled over on a straight stretch of road with no oncoming traffic so it could pass. Six or seven passed and all thanked us, either by flashing indicators or on UHF.
Past Forbes there were more grain paddocks. Increasingly we were seeing paddocks of green, newly germinated, grain; there had not been enough locusts to clean out the crop. We saw a few locusts whirring past and one or two hit the car but there were no squashed locusts on the caravan at the end of the day.
Terrain from Forbes to Gilgandra varied from flat and open with few trees to fairly hilly, sometimes with substantial coverage of eucalyptus or cypress.
We stopped in Peak Hill for fuel. This was a little earlier than necessary but I knew from experience that fuelling in Dubbo while towing the van is not easy. From about Peak Hill the Newell Highway has occasional overtaking lanes making it easier to let trucks pass.
Trucks were a permanent factor today. Our speed of 89 kph was just under traffic speed going north on the Newell and trucks caught up so gradually that there was rarely more than one in sight. But when we were stopped for several minutes at road works we had six B-doubles or large trucks queued behind us when we finally moved on. I pulled over and let all six pass; a line of six heavy transports looks much more comfortable through the windscreen going away than in the rear-vision mirror following behind. A steady stream of trucks passed in the other direction and there were numerous trucks in rest areas and outside road houses.
Arriving in Gilgandra we drove to the caravan park and checked in for one night. After uncoupling we drove into town for a look. We walked along the shops then drove around the town. Gilgandra is very spread out and gives the impression that it was once much bigger. Older buildings (post office, larger shops and hotels) which are usually clustered as the heart of a township are spread out in Gilgandra in an unusual distribution.