|Travelling Australia - Journal 2010|
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|24 September 2010 - Dunedoo to Coonabarabran|
Although the Dunedoo caravan park is between the busy Golden Highway and the railway line we were not disturbed by noise during the night. The temperature dropped sharply overnight and blankets were added to the bed as the night progressed.
The morning was misty as we drove out of Dunedoo on the Castlereagh Highway bound for Coonabarabran via Mendooran. The Castlereagh Highway is a less well-known highway but has a mostly good surface. Leaving Dunedoo the road passed through mixed cropping and pastoral activity with sheep, cattle and canola easy to see; there were one or two horse studs as well. Approaching the village of Mendooran we passed a couple of collections of bee-hives. Traffic was light and included several heavy transports.
At Mendooran we crossed the Castlereagh River and turned off the Castlereagh Highway towards Coonabarabran. This road was not quite as good and we slowed a little to reduce bouncing; the road remained hilly with a gradual increase in elevation reaching 555 metres by the turnoff to New Mollyan. At this point we were on top of a spur running east towards the Castlereagh River with tributaries behind and ahead of us. Cypress trees became more common along the roadside.
Rest areas are few and far between on these secondary roads and we had difficulty finding a place to pull off the road for a hot drink but eventually stopped at Greenbah Creek where gravel had previously been dumped and there was an area large enough to get the caravan clear of the bitumen. The road joined the Newell Highway south of Coonabarabran and we had an easy run into that township. We checked in at a large and relaxed park on the Newell Highway; the place was about one-third full. We set up on a large, well-grassed site clear of the river red-gums dotting the park (this species drops branches at random and can be dangerous).
Then we drove into the Coonabarabran Visitor Centre to collect information and after lunch went to the newly constructed Pilliga Discovery Centre at Baradine 45 kilometres away. Baradine's economy had relied on timber felling but much of the cypress pine and eucalyptus in the Pilliga is now unavailable in national parks and many mills have gone out of business (a few still operate cutting cypress logged in the remaining State Forest). The hope is that tourism in the Pilliga will be Baradine's economic salvation with the Discovery Centre leading the way.
We returned to the caravan to find that the park was now full; but we noted that many caravans were still connected with their towing vehicles and we correctly surmised those vans would be gone in the morning.