|Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
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|11 August 2012 - Florida Rest Area to Bathurst|
The night was cold and quiet. One train did pass but that was after sunrise and it sounded as if it was only an engine relocating. Noise from traffic on the road was a non-event.
Leaving the rest area we turned towards Nyngan as our first destination. The day was sunny with virtually no cloud, there was a slight, cold breeze. Traffic on the Barrier Highway was light, mainly sedans with a few road-trains going in the opposite direction. The road passed through eucalyptus woodland with patches of cypress common; there was a thick lower layer of shrubs two to three metres high. The goats which had been so common before we reached Cobar yesterday were now not to be seen but the bush was much thicker here and animals more than a few metres from the road would mostly have been screened by shrubs.
Ten or twenty kilometres from Nyngan the continuous bush was replaced by flat, open, cropping land. Nyngan was the home for several large grain storages. The Barrier Highway ends at Nyngan where it intersects the Mitchell Highway. After refuelling in Nyngan we left on the Mitchell Highway bound for Narromine and Dubbo. The Mitchell very gradually improved but the first parts were heavily patched, with the patches breaking up. The road is in long, straight sections over flat ground. Farming activity was a mix of cropping and grazing with sheep more obvious than cattle. Emus were also present in some numbers, but there were no goats.
Between Nyngan and Narromine the land was particularly flat. There were several signs of irrigation but the full extent of irrigated land only became clear by reference to a large scale map; the Macquarie River north east of the Mitchell Highway provided the water for irrigation and much irrigated land beside the river was not seen from the road. This was a cropping area with grain storages at the villages of Nevertire and Trangie as proof of the output. Near Trangie we passed the cotton gin with dozens of cotton modules lined up on the ground outside waiting to be processed. Some paddocks nearby had been used for growing cotton and rectangular modules of harvested cotton were lined up along the edges of the harvested area where the module builder had left them during harvest. These ten metre (32 foot) long modules, usually with a blue tarpaulin on the top, are characteristic of cotton harvests. Some newer harvesting equipment leaves raw cotton in round bales about 2.5 metres in diameter; these are often covered with yellow plastic.
After passing through Narromine we continued towards Dubbo on the Mitchell Highway. Traffic was heavier on this road, all sedans with no trucks at all seen on the road. Approaching Dubbo we passed through extensive road works; long overdue given the state of the Mitchell Highway so far today.
We continued through Dubbo on the Mitchell Highway and headed towards Wellington, Molong then Orange. Wellington was surprisingly large. After passing Dubbo we left the open plains and entered an area of continuous, low, rounded hills. The area was mostly cleared with scattered woodland, especially along the creek lines. Land was heavily devoted to grazing sheep and cattle and was very picturesque. The Mitchell Highway between Dubbo and Orange was of reasonable quality with a mostly acceptable surface. Traffic was moderate with very few trucks but quite a few sedans and 4WDs, many showing low level driving skills by overtaking in dangerous places.
Leaving Orange we remained on the Mitchell Highway to Bathurst. The hilly cleared land continued with sheep and cattle grazing. Traffic was moderate. Arriving in Bathurst we had come to the end of the Mitchell Highway; we made our way through the town to the selected caravan park and set up for one night stay.