|Travelling Australia - Journal 2013
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8 May 2013
Nindegully to Surat
Many caravans had left the Nindygully pub free-camping by the time we began moving just before 9 o'clock on a cool, sunny morning. Driving out of the pub car park we turned left towards St George about 45 kilometres away along the St George-Murindi Road. This was a variable quality road; at first we found more than 85 kph was uncomfortable because of bouncing but we were passed by B-doubles doing at least 95 kph without apparent discomfort. After a few kilometres the road surface improved considerably and 95 kph was a comfortable speed.
The road was flat and in long straight sections running through fairly thick woodland vegetation at first; along the road we could identify acacias, eremophilas, eucalyptus and she-oaks. Prickly pear was common along the road looking very healthy up to four metres high. About halfway to St George the vegetation opened up and looked as if it was grazing country but neither sheep, nor cattle (or even goats) were seen. Traffic was light.
About 25 kilometres before St George we entered the irrigated cotton-growing area for which St George is famous. Many now-empty paddocks were lined with rectangular bales of harvested cotton waiting to go to the gin; when we passed the gin the yard was full of bales waiting processing so it was no wonder many were still in paddocks. Most paddocks had been harvested and looked as if they had been prepared for the next planting; but one paddock had not been harvested and stood out from the rest.
The irrigated cotton area ends about four kilometres from St George; as we drew closer to the town we passed a fuel depot and were able to fill up with diesel at minimum effort. Central St George which was not nearly as busy as expected on a weekday morning. We had seen many caravans in Goondiwindi yesterday (a local said there were at least a hundred caravans a day in Goondiwindi; looking around made that easy to believe) but St George was very quiet with one other van seen and very light traffic on the main roads.
We left St George on the road to Roma bound for Surat as our destination for the day. After a few kilometres we came to a police roadblock where I was breathalysed and had my licence checked. This was quite a big operation with the road completely blocked and passing vehicles forced into side lanes to stop for processing. Trucks were far more thoroughly inspected than caravans and some conversations between truckies on the UHF radio indicated that semi-trailers often failed inspections. There were between twenty and thirty police at the roadblock, some may have been under training but it was still a large number of police gathered in one town.
Traffic was fairly light but included enough semi-trailers and B-doubles to make us think that this may be part of a north-south truck route extending from New South Wales, entering Queensland at Mungindi and going via St George to Roma.
The St George cotton-growing area does not extend to the north of the town; this is well-vegetated grazing country were we saw a few sheep, a few emus and some cattle. Then trees became thicker and the land gradually rose to about 250 metres elevation before descending slightly to Surat. Near Surat the trees and scrub had been mostly cleared; paddocks were bare today but on our last visit here the paddocks had been full of sorghum ready to be harvested. The road was mostly good with a speed of 95 kph comfortable; road width was alright for a normal B-double to pass going in the opposite direction but the wide load (only slightly wider than normal too) had everybody moving off the bitumen.
We passed through Surat itself stopping at the Surat Fishing and Restocking Club rest area on the bank of the Balonne River for the night. The rest are is near a substantial bridge across the Balonne River which flooded badly a few years ago. The flood water has gone but flood consequences are still obvious; some smaller gum trees which were submerged for long enough to sustain damage have leafy growths up their trunks in exactly the way gum trees respond to bushfire; large river red gums have a black band three metres high around their base where they were submerged for many days.
The river bank is a favourite spot for birds. A large flock of hundreds of corellas making their usual raucous noise were sitting in several large river red gums; they became particularly noisy when I walked under the trees they were sitting in but when I walked away the noise didn't really diminish.
|Nindegully to Surat - page 2|
|Bridge over the Balonne River at Surat.|
|The Pale Headed Rosella has a blue front but not usually this bright. This photograph has not been retouched or enhanced.
|Part of a large group of corellas resting in red river gums along the river at Surat.
|Nindegully to Surat - page 3|