|Travelling Australia - Journal 2011
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|10 May 2011 - Thargomindah to Noccundra|
We drove out of the caravan park at 9 o'clock. Our destination today was Noccundra which we would get to along the Bulloo Development Road to near Nockatunga Station then along the Noccundra Warry Warry Gate Road to Noccundra Hotel. The entire route comprises a single lane of good bitumen with variable edging. Weather was sunny and bright but with a cool to cold wind. The road is usually not fenced and property boundaries are marked by grids across the road to stop cattle wandering; most were reasonably flat but one or two were a bit bumpy. Some helpful person had written on the road before one grid that a rough grid was ahead.
Although narrow, the road surface was generally good with few signs of the bitumen breaking up. Only at one point, a floodway across the Wilson River very close to the Nockatunga turnoff, was the bitumen surface breaking up after recent flooding. The road was generally nearly flat and made up of long straight sections. Traffic was very light. We met one cattle road train at a part of the road where it was easy to pull off the road and stop while he passed; we also met three 4WDs travelling together, two of them towing aluminium dinghies, we each pulled off on our side of the road and passed easily. We also met a tractor towing a mower cutting the grass on the side of the road. There was even less traffic going in our direction; one Telstra 4WD passed us and a caravan and motorhome travelling together caught up with us briefly when we stopped in the Grey Range. They also ended up at Noccundra Waterhole.
Unfenced roads means that drivers have to be alert for cattle wandering onto the road but we didn't see any cattle before we turned off at Nockatunga Station. We did see a few pigs, surprisingly no emus. The only kangaroo we saw were about three roadkill, two of them had been claimed by wedge-tailed eagles, one of them in the middle of the road but we saw that far enough away to slow down sufficiently to give the eagles time to fly away and to be safely clear by the time we passed.
|Bulloo Developmental Road between Thargomindah and Noccundra.|
|Grey Range separating the Bulloo River catchment from the Lake Eyre catchment. The effect of recent rain on the grass is obvious|
|Travelling Australia - Thargomindah to Noccundra - page 2|
A line of electrical power poles carrying a single cable ran to the left (south) of the road and there was a sequence of microwave transmission towers nearby, otherwise the only sign of human existence was a handful of signs to properties along the road. The land was not quite flat but nearly so; 57 km from Thargomindah we stopped at the only rest area along the road on a slightly higher point (192 metres elevation) where the road passes through Grey Range. 23 kilometres further on we passed close to some outcrops of this vaguely defined feature (elevation up to 200 metres) which separates the Bulloo River catchment from the Wilson River catchment (part of the Lake Eyre Basin).
The whole region is covered in mulga in various shapes and sizes, except for some large open, flat grassy plains stretching into the distance on both sides of the road.
Near Nockatunga Station we came to the intersection with the road to Noccundra. The Garmin GPS we use had the intersection, and the road to Noccundra, in the wrong place but the Noccundra Hotel was correctly positioned (correct co-ordinates of these points are listed below). Just before we reached the intersection we passed several hundred beehives being laid out from a flat bed truck with three or four workers in protective clothing, including face veils, handling the bees. On the road to Noccundra we passed another two groups of beehives. This was a large scale operation presumably to take advantage of local plants in flower; we hadn't seen many of the numerous mulga trees in flower but the less common gidyea trees were covered in flowers.
Near Nockatunga Station we passed several hundred head of cattle (most of them white) being moved by at least four drovers on horses. This was the most significant cattle number we had seen since leaving Thargomindah.
Arriving at the Noccundra Hotel (one of two buildings in Noccundra, the other is the Community Hall) we turned down the dirt track to Noccundra Waterhole a couple of hundred metres away on the Wilson River. There were three or four caravans already set-up but there was plenty of space for us along the bank of the waterhole. I disconnected the caravan and we returned to the hotel to fill up with diesel fuel (costing $2.12 a litre but in a spot as isolated as Noccundra price is less important than availability) and to check on meal times.
The Noccundra Hotel is an old single story sandstone building with steeply pitched galvanised iron roof which now serves as a hotel with some roadhouse features. Taking on many roadhouse functions has not been allowed to change the appearance of the hotel and there is none of the garish advertising which detracts from the appearance of conventional roadhouses. Fuel pumps are around the side and accommodation is at the back. The hotel is tastefully presented with green grass and trees along the front and a simple sign showing the name "Noccundra Hotel". A large bitumen parking area out the front is available for vehicles including road trains. A light aircraft was parked beside the hotel and a taxi-way runs to the nearby runway.
We returned to the hotel for the evening barbeque. In the bar were drovers from nearby Nockatunga Station, the drivers of five empty road trains parked outside the hotel and a few other travellers staying in the hotel. We were a bit disappointed to see that the mouse plague in Thargomindah extended here and when a mouse scurried through the barbeque area dodging feet we were the only people to take any notice.
Noccundra Waterhole - 27° 49' 15"S, 142° 35' 32"E, elevation 84 metres.
Noccundra Hotel - 27° 49' 05"S, 142° 35' 22"E, elevation 85 metres.
Intersection of Noccundra Warry Warry Gate Road and Bulloo Developmental Road -
27° 41' 33"S, 142° 42' 41"E, elevation 109 metres.