Travelling Australia - Journal 2014
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6 February 2014

Casino to Glen Innes
This first trip in 2014 would be shorter than usual because of commitments in the middle of the year; on this trip we planned to go to Victoria to revisit some places and to visit other places not previously seen. Our first destination was Mildura in north-west Victoria but we did not have a target date for arrival and would make our unhurried way through New South Wales to Mildura.

On this first day we drove from Casino up the Bruxner Highway to Tenterfield then turned south along the New England Highway to Glen Innes. Weather was mostly overcast with some bright sun around Tenterfield, there was even a brief (very brief) shower just after we left Casino. Traffic was very light, hardly anything on the Bruxner Highway and a handful of heavy transports and sedans between Tenterfield and Glen Innes. There were a few caravans also on the road but they were few and far between.

The Bruxner Highway from Casino to Tenterfield is a well-travelled road for us although it is still interesting as it climbs from about sea level to the Tableland at nearly 1000 metres elevation. The first stage is the climb out of the Richmond River Valley to 370 metres elevation near the Mallanganee lookout. Next is the descent into the Clarence River, crossed at Tabulam (elevation 136 metres), followed by the climb up the mostly timbered face of the Great Dividing Range through the village of Drake (499 metres) and the farming valley of Sandy Hill (559 metres) then over the edge of the escarpment at 914 metres near where farming land begins 10 kilometres from Tenterfield. There is a gentle descent to Tenterfield through grazing paddocks and vineyards until we turned on the New England Highway where running through the middle of Tenterfield.

The wind was quite strong once we were clear of the timber on the last few kilometres into Tenterfield and the sun came out the for the first time today; but only lasted the half an hour or so.

The New England Highway south of Tenterfield to Glen Innes was a better quality road than the Bruxner Highway from Casino. There were many hills, some small, some fairly long and high, along the New England which varies in elevation between about 850 metres and 1090 metres running through a mixture of woodland and open agricultural land, some of it grazed by sheep or cattle. The land here was pretty dry as a result of the recent low rainfall but did not look as completely drought-stricken as the paddocks we saw in southern Queensland last year. Traffic was very light; the most common vehicles on the road were stock transports loaded with sheep and heading north; we speculated unsuccessfully where they were going since we understood there is on reliable feed available in Queensland or New South Wales at present.

Between Tenterfield and Glen Innes we passed a property letterbox shaped like a Dalek from the Dr Who series; this was prominent enough to be used by truckies as a reference point when telling others about speed cameras and police cars.

We stopped at McDonalds in Glen Innes for a late lunch then returned about 7 kilometres north along the New England Highway to a large free-camping area set back from the road; this had recently been slashed so the grass was short enough to drive on comfortably. There were two or three vans already in place but we had no difficulty finding a suitable vacant area and stopping there. A creek running past the rest area is supposedly available for fishing but the water level was very low and much of the creek bed was completely dry.

The day had been noticeably cool after several weeks of mostly warm to hot weather in the Northern Rivers where 30°C during the afternoon was common. Today we watched the outside temperature reported by the Pathfinder slowly decreasing to near 20°C at this higher elevation and easterly airstream. By 8 p.m. the outside air temperature was down to 17°C (rest area elevation on the GPS was 1043 metres) and we were anticipating a much cooler night than we had been used to.

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