Travelling Australia - Journal 2012b
21 December 2012

Coolah to Darby Falls rest area
location map
We left Coolah caravan park at about 8 o'clock after a very pleasant visit. We were still making for Canberra and would select a stopping place for the night later in the day. The Black Stump Way south of Coolah down to the Golden Highway was in good condition and mostly pleasant to drive on in sharp contrast to the same road north of Coolah which has the "degraded" surface.

The road runs through nearly flat crop land, most of it recently harvested. Some paddocks had sheep or cattle grazing on the stubble; one large paddock had several hundred Black Angus scattered among the yellow stubble making a memorable scene. Around the village of Leadville there was a pony farm beside cattle grazing with sheep in the paddock across the road. Goats were nearby but we couldn't tell whether they were domesticated or just happened to be there. There was one vineyard but the region could not be described as a wine region.

At the intersection of the Black Stump Way and the Golden Highway we turned west towards Dunedoo which was our immediate destination for a morning drink at the pie shop. On the corner of these roads there is a large rest-area with signs saying camping not allowed, adding there is a caravan park at Dunedoo. We detect a deliberate attempt to stop travellers free-camping in the mistaken belief they will pay for a night in the caravan park. As part of this procedure, free-camping is also prohibited in the very long parking area near Dunedoo shops and railway station.

These attempts by local authorities to force travellers into caravan parks are always interesting because of the poor business planning they display. The assumption is that caravans and motorhomes not allowed to stay overnight at rest areas will use the caravan park in town but that thought process fails to consider customer preference. A traveller not allowed to free-camp has the option of not stopping at Dunedoo at all.

Travellers are in three broad categories. At one extreme are the many caravanners who routinely stop in a caravan park every night and have no wish to free camp; they are irrelevant to this issue. At the other extreme are the travellers who flatly refuse to stop in caravan parks (except, sometimes, to use the laundry); if they cannot free-camp they move on. There are towns along the Queensland coast where free-camping is banned; they are known among free-camping motor-homers and caravanners as places to avoid.

Travellers in the third (middle) category have gone to considerable time and trouble to equip themselves to stop on the side of the road for the night if appropriate; they have no aversion towards caravan parks but neither do they consider caravan parks as the only place to spend a night. Generally, they do not see value for money in staying in a caravan park for one or two nights but may remain in an attractive area for a couple of days if they can use rest-areas overnight for free-camping. Many local authorities seek to attract these travellers because of the money they spend. A load of fuel for a 4WD tow-vehicle these days costs about $100, groceries for the week for a travelling couple roughly the same, and that expenditure is usually welcome in country towns. Traveller's expenditure in local restaurants, newsagents and bakeries benefits everybody. Many shires in South-West Queensland have a policy of attracting caravans and motor-homes and in those towns related businesses flourish. Signs banning free-camping give the message (possibly unintended, but nevertheless very real) that travellers are not welcome so the town doesn't get their business; they ignore the caravan park as well as the bakery, the newsagent or the supermarket and go somewhere else.

Leaving Dunedoo we travelled along the Golden Highway towards Dubbo intending to cross over to the Mitchell Highway running south from Dubbo when we could. The Golden Highway is a main road from the Hunter region to Dubbo and traffic was moderately heavy; mainly sedans with trucks well in evidence. The road has a good surface, good width and a pleasant route running through still more cropland.

We turned south off the Golden Highway along the short road to Wongarbon on the Mitchell Highway to take us around Dubbo. This was a narrow bitumen road with very little traffic on it; parrots were common along the road. White-winged coughs were also common in this area; at first sight these birds look like crows but details of their appearance (tail, beak, eye colour, body shape, white patches on wing) are different.

Coolah to Darbys Falls - page 2
On the Mitchell Highway we passed through Wellington to Molong. The road is good with very little traffic; some stretches are fairly hilly; this road is probably passing over the inland approaches to the Great Divide. At Molong we turned off the Mitchell Highway to negotiate a series of secondary roads to Cowra. They were all pleasant to drive on, sufficiently wide to comfortably tow a caravan and with mostly good surfaces. We passed through Boree and Cudal enroute to Canowindra and continued on to Cowra. The land was less hilly than around Wellington and elevation had reduced to 200 - 300 metres. Grain growing remained the major activity especially around Canowindra where grain paddocks seem to reach the horizon.

From Cowra we turned along a minor road to find an overnight rest area at Darbys Falls on the Lachlan River. This turned out to be a very pleasant, timbered rest area beside the road with a short access track leaving the road at the concrete bridge across the river (north of the river and west of the road). Many small birds (including wrens) could be seen in the riverside vegetation and Sulphur-crested (white) Cockatoos screeched overhead in the tall gum trees. A pleasant place for a night.

Cockatoo Sulphur Crested Cockatoos regarded the Digby Falls rest area as their own.

Van Caravan and tow-vehicle in Digby Falls rest area

daily map
21 Dec 2012 - Coolah to Darby Falls rest area