Travelling Australia - Journal 2014
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13 February 2014

West Wyalong to Hay
Western Highway - B64
We left West Wyalong on a warm, bright morning with fairly thin high overcast possibly indicating that the forecast rain may really be on its way. Just outside West Wyalong we turned off the Newell Highway onto the Mid-Western Highway running 251 kilometres to Hay.

Traffic on the Mid-Western Highway was very light and dominated by heavy transports. This highway is a convenient way for trucks From South Australia travelling to Brisbane, or anywhere else in Queensland, to go. They can use the Sturt Highway from South Australia to Hay, the Western Highway to West Wyalong then the Newell Highway up into Queensland. Presumably the stock transport B-doubles carrying cattle or the B-doubles loaded with hay are trading between South Australia and Queensland (or northern New South Wales).

The Western Highway from West Wyalong to Hay is two-lanes of bitumen of varying quality; 90 to 95 kph was possible all the way, sometimes very comfortable, sometimes a bit bumpy.

From West Wyalong the Western Highway passes through cropland with wheat very much in evidence, sometimes with sheep grazing in wheat paddocks after the header has finished. The land could be described as gently rolling low hills with higher hills in the distance; the road was mostly long straight sections, sometimes flat, sometimes moderately hilly. Several settlements are marked on the map; Yalgogrin was one or two buildings and easily forgotten, but Weethalle was a more substantial place with grain storage, a hotel, fuel station, general store and caravan park. This was still cropland with nearly level paddocks of wheat lining the highway and extending into the distance. The ground had sloped down to the west from West Wyalong (elevation 320 metres) and Weethalle was at 230 metres elevation.

Rankins Springs, the next settlement, 89 kilometres from West Wyalong) was also a substantial township servicing the grain-growing industry. Shortly after passing through Rankins Springs the road climbed over a timbered ridge reaching up to 300 metres with a mobile telephone tower on the ridge. As soon as the road descended onto flatter ground on the other side cropland resumed.

sign Extensive wheat paddocks 14 kilometres west of Rankins Springs.

Since leaving West Wyalong the vegetation in the roadside reserve had been thick and healthy comprising a mixture of gum trees and cypress as the main cover on both sides of the road.

West Wyalong to Hay - page 2
About 30 kilometres after passing Rankins Springs the vegetation structure began changing; for a while there was only mallee beside the road but then gum trees/cypress resumed but grain became less common in paddocks. Although the next township (Goolgowi) appeared to be a service centre for the grain industry this was pretty well the western edge of grain growing.

West of Goolgowi towards Hay the elevation continued to reduce (121 metres at Goolgowi to 85 metres well before Hay and into Hay) and agricultural or cropping activity ceased; the land was flat to the horizon and covered with grassland. Gum tree and cypress roadside vegetation so common in the cropland had ended and now there really wasn't any consistent roadside vegetation at all; the grassland and scattered trees continued right to the road edge.

The only variation was just past Goolgowi when we passed a new chicken raising activity with six or seven new poultry sheds complete with nearby feeder towers and air conditioning fans on the end of the buildings; there were also five new brick houses, presumably for facility staff to live on-site. We couldn't see any signage indicating ownership of this poultry facility but we had previously noted the trend towards locating poultry raising establishments well away from large urban centres (where local residents complain) while being close to feed suppliers and on good transport routes to the capital cities so product can get to market easily. This remote location meet those criteria without difficulty.

The settlement of Gunbar marked on the map 76 kilometres before Hay comprised a very old stone church and a galvanised iron public hall (with outside toilets nearby). The rest of the place had gone. By this time the Western Highway was clear of the extensive cropland stretching west from West Wyalong and was into grazing country; sometimes we saw cattle or emus. The land was now flat to the horizon with no distant hills in sight to provide variety.

sign Grazing grassland 80 kilometres from Hay and near Gunbar. This photograph was taken 80 kilometres from the wheatland in the photograph above.

The weather had been warm to hot all day with cloud cover growing heavier. There was some scattered rain but so slight that individual drops could be seen on the windscreen and they soon evaporated.

Arriving in Hay we made our way through the main shopping street, along with all of the heavy transports on the Western Highway, to the roundabout on the Sturt Highway and from there went to the selected caravan park. The weather remained warm (the television news reported maximum temperature in Hay today was 35°C) with occasional drops of rain. After sunset some wind came up.

West Wyalong to Hay - page 3
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