|Travelling Australia - Journal 2010|
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|20 May - Gilgandra to Tamworth|
The morning was sunny and clear as we drove out of Gilgandra on the Newell Highway. We had a reminder of the volume of heavy transports using the highway when we passed the Shell roadhouse on the edge of Gilgandra with more than 20 large trucks and B-doubles parked on both sides of the road. They were nose to tail along the road side and had reverse parked side-by-side in the off-road parking area.
The Newell Highway north of Gilgandra passes through cropping land with grain storage and stored bales of hay often seen. Sheep were also common, sometimes grazing on stubble. The land was moderately hilly at first then began a long climb up to 670 metres elevation, fortunately with an overtaking lane for much of the climb.
At Coonabarabran we filled with fuel then continued, initially on the Newell Highway turning off on the Oxley Highway bound for Gunnedah. Leaving the heavy transports behind on the Newell was most welcome; I find driving with transports hard work. And the condition of the Newell Highway was not particularly good with a rough driving surface common, presumably because of heavy transports pounding along it.
The Oxley Highway passes through decreasing agriculture and heavier, more extensive eucalyptus woodland. The Highway is also fairly hilly, not so much high or long hills but repeated low ones. We stopped at Oxley Crossing for a drink; this is one of the few rest areas along that section of road. Around Oxley Crossing roadside weeds had been sprayed with poison which had also killed gum tree saplings up to two metres tall growing within a couple of metres of the bitumen edge; the road was lined by dead saplings with brown leaves while behind them were normally growing trees.
The hills and eucalyptus woodland ended approaching the township of Mullaley at 304 metres elevation, the plain around the town was agricultural with extensive sorghum crops, hay in some fields and cattle grazing. Several windmills looked like the source of water for stock.
Open paddocks continued beside the Oxley Highway until Gunnedah and on to Tamworth. For a while past Gunnedah we could see pieces of raw cotton entangled in roadside grass; this usually comes from trucks carrying cotton from the harvest but we couldn't see where the cotton was going; we know there is at least one cotton processing plant in the Gunnedah area. Cotton harvesting ends in May so there were few signs of cotton in paddocks. Between Gunnedah and Tamworth we passed many cattle but sheep were no longer common in this part of the country.
In Tamworth we made our way to the selected caravan park. After checking in for four nights we set up on a large site and set the washing machine going to catch up on the laundry. Before this trip we installed a Lemair automatic washing machine in the caravan which makes us independent of caravan park laundries. The weather was warmer this afternoon than we have experienced for some weeks.