Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
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17 August 2012 - Dunedoo to Tamworth
The day began with a blue sky and bright sun; the same way several previous days have begun. Our destination today was Tamworth for another family visit. The GPS recommended a very long route down the Golden Highway to Scone on the New England Highway then north along the New England to Tamworth but the most cursory check of a map exposed this route as excessively long and involving descent into the Hunter Valley then climbing up again to Tamworth elevation of about 400 metres. On previous occasion we had noticed a tendency of the Garmin GPS to ignore secondary roads and we suspected that was happening here so we manually planned the route to Tamworth.

Leaving Dunedoo along the Golden Highway we passed through a particularly attractive area of agricultural activity in a wide, flat valley or floodplain. Many paddocks were the bright green of germinating wheat, some paddocks were being grazed while a few canola crops were setting bright yellow flowers. In bright sunshine against a blue sky the whole scene was memorable.

In accordance with the plan to manually select the route to Tamworth we soon turned north along the grandiosely named Black Spur Way running to the village of Coolah. The GPS persisted in recommending a turn back to the Golden Highway for about ten minutes then worked out a route to Tamworth along the secondary roads it had previously ignored. This secondary alternative was 40 kilometres shorter and involved less hill climbing.

The road to Coolah was a pleasant surprise with two wide bitumen lanes, much recently resurfaced. Coolah itself was larger than expected; it appears to be a township which was settled and flourished during early pastoral expansion but, because it was not on a major road or railway, had been bypassed while the residents had got on with life.

The road north of Coolah, towards Mullaley on the Oxley Highway, was not quite as good as the road from the south. Parts had deteriorated; some to the extent that a sign had been erected warning of "deformed road surface" ahead. The sign was correct in that the surface was uneven but, taken at a reasonable speed it was not too bad. After crossing the Coonabarabran-Quirindi road enroute to Mullaley the road surface improved substantially and remained quite acceptable to the Oxley Highway. From the Golden Highway to the Oxley Highway via Coolah was 124 kilometres, two thirds of it good quality and one third needing a slower speed.

From Mullaley we used the Oxley Highway, via Gunnedah, to get to Tamworth. The day had remained sunny and bright and was getting warm by midday. Traffic on the Oxley Highway was moderate with heavy transports common. In Tamworth we made our way to our usual caravan park and checked in for three nights.

Country near Tamworth Beside the Oxley Highway approaching Tamworth.

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