|Travelling Australia - Journal 2011
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|24 August 2011 - Bourke-Nyngan to Beckom|
After a comfortable night in the van we returned to the long and straight Bourke-Nyngan Road heading south towards Nyngan. The night had been quiet with little noise from passing vehicles to disturb our night. The morning was sunny but cool.
As the road drew closer to Nyngan we passed areas where trees and scrub had been cleared and crops planted. Several paddocks were covered in bright yellow canolla flowers, while others were the green of growing wheat. Cattle were also common. Nyngan receives higher rainfall than Bourke. Nyngan gets an average of 444 millimetres a year while Bourke, at two locations, records 354 millimetres and 327 millimetres. The higher rainfall is one reason for the higher level of farming activity around Nyngan.
In Nyngan we refuelled and checked out the public dump point for our growing collection of dump point locations. Then back onto the Mitchell Highway towards Narromine. Traffic on the road increased after we left Nyngan. The road ran parallel to the railway line which was being refurbished with timber sleepers replaced, ballast topped up, rail alignment checked and corrected where necessary. A surprisingly varied amount of specialised (and bright yellow) equipment was being used for the various tasks needed to refurbish the train line.
Between Nyngan and Narromine is a major cropping and sheep area. The townships of Nevertire and Trangie are built around large grain storage complexes and Trangie hosts a nearby cotton gin with more than a couple of dozen loads of raw cotton waiting to be processed. The roadside outside the gin was thick with scraps of raw cotton blown from truckloads of cotton being delivered to the gin. We continued to see emus from the road but the frequency of sightings was declining. The land is very flat and most native vegetation has been cleared leaving some residual patches of trees and shrubs. Traffic was a little heavier along this road with a variety of trucks going in both directions. There were quite a few caravans and fewer motorhomes and camper trailers.
On the outskirts of Narromine we passed a citrus orchard and as we passed the airport a glider was being towed into the air; the plains around Narromine are renowned for gliding and Narromine is a well-known gliding centre. The road passes through the shopping centre which has an attractive line of flowering plums trees in full flower with mainly white and some pink flowers. In Narromine we saw a stock transport truck loaded with sheep; previously they have all been cattle transports but we are now in sheep country.
Some days ago we had been advised to take a side road from Narromine to Tomingley on the Newell Highway and thus avoid Dubbo; this route would allow us to avoid two sides of a triangle, saving about 60 kilometres and also saving the time taken to go through Dubbo. Acccordingly, we left Narromine on the Tomingley Road after having lunch on the edge of Narromine. The advice proved to be accurate; the road was reasonably good and delivered us onto the Newell Highway. Shortly after joining the Newell at Tomingley we stopped in Peak Hill for fuel at a service station we use regularly.
The Newell Highway has a well deserved reputation for heavy truck traffic. On a previous occasion we had recorded three trucks every two minutes heading north over a half hour period; we got tired of counting after half an hour. But today the traffic level was not nearly that high although there were certainly a few trucks going in both direction. The road surface was reasonable but only a single lane in each direction so that traffic was often restricted to the speed of the slowest vehicle.
|Paddocks of canolla were often seen from the Newell Highway, this one is from Beckom Rest Area.
|Travelling Australia - 24 Aug 2011, Bourke-Nyngan to Beckom - page 2|
We passed through Parkes and Forbes without incident; in both towns the Newell has been routed away from the main shopping street but not onto a literal by-pass of the town; it still passes through the town but a block or two offset from the shopping street. This part of the highway was fairly hilly in patches with grain paddocks often lining the road.
Past Forbes the land opened up to be flatter with steadily diminishing number of trees. By West Wyalong the road runs over open flat plains with scattered trees. Scattered canolla paddocks with their bright yellow flowers were obvious along the way.
Between West Wyalong and Narrandera we pulled into Beckom Rest Area about half an hour before sunset and were able to position the caravan before it got dark. This rest area is heavily used by transport drivers stopping for a rest and we wanted the caravan placed in this dark rest area so that it was not likely to be hit by a truck or by a smaller vehicle entering the rest area in the dark to use the toilet.