Travelling Australia - Journal 2015b
|13 April 2015
Casino to Narrabri
Today we set off on an unusual trip. Our intention was to attend a relative's wedding in Hobart and after much thought we had decided to drive to Melbourne without the caravan, cross Bass Strait on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry then drive to Hobart. After the wedding we planned to visit Strahan on the west coast and go on a Gordon River cruise before returning across Bass Strait.
We would take our Territory 4WD leaving the Pathfinder and caravan at home. One this first day of a carefully planned trip we left Casino on the Bruxner Highway bound for Narrabri for the night. We began the, by now, routine drive up the face of the Great Dividing Range to Tenterfield. Weather was good, bright and sunny with a few clouds and no wind. Traffic was very light in both directions; mostly sedans with one or two heavy transports; there were also a few caravans going in the opposite direction.
In Tenterfield we turned left onto the New England Highway for the 95 kilometre stretch to Glen Innes. Traffic remained very light, the weather was a little more cloudy but still good for driving and the road was good; long straight and mostly flat stretches with a good surface. Previously we have seen many sheep along the road between Tenterfield and Glen Innes but there were more cattle than sheep today. We stopped in Glen Innes for coffee and early lunch at McDonalds and bought fuel at a United servo just outside the town. We left Glen Innes on the Gwyder Highway heading directly inland and mostly down the long, gentle descent of the inland slope of the Great Dividing Range. A few kilometres from Glen Innes we turned off to Sinclair Lookout for some photographs of the rural scenery then continued towards Inverell.
Past Inverell we made a detour from the main roads to Narrabri (Gwyder Highway to Moree then Newell Highway to Narrabri) and turned off at Delunga to go to Bingara. We had often heard Bingara mentioned by motorhome and caravan people as well as bird-watchers and were curious to see what the place was like. We also wanted to check the road from the Gwyder Highway to Bingara and from Bingara to Narrabri.
13 April 2015 - page 2
The road from Delunga (on the Gwyder Highway) to Bingara turned out to be entirely adequate and we would have no difficulty towing a caravan along it (although not quite as fast as we went today). The land is pretty flat, mostly cleared and heavily devoted to cropping. The full-width bitumen road surface is quite reasonable for the first part from Delunga then very good for the last ten to fifteen kilometres to Bingara. Bingara itself was a surprisingly large township reached across a long and narrow bridge over the river. Looking very attractive as a place to visit for a few days in future.
Bingara to Narrabri road
Following our GPS, cross-checking with road signs, we drove through Bingara shopping centre leaving town on the road to Narrabri 108 kilometres away. Leaving Bingara, the Narrabri road had a good, full-width, bitumen surface and was reasonable to drive on. Many road maps show this road as either gravel, partly gravel/bitumen or as "under-construction" and we were surprised to find the good bitumen lasting all the way to Narrabri. Not only was the road pleasant to drive on in a 4WD but towing a caravan along it would not be difficult although the first 10 to 15 kilometres from Bingara are a bit hilly with many curves and would be slow going while towing a caravan. Once the road clears the hills closer to Bingara it runs across what appear to be a naturally occurring grassland where the road has been mostly built in long, straight and flat sections.
A little more than halfway between Bingara and Narrabri the road crosses the Nandewar Range (containing Mount Kaputar) including a narrow section of Mt Kaputar National Park. This is a hilly section where the road winds around the mountains and over hills before descending on the other side to cross flat and open farmland to Narrabri.
The fact that this road between Bingara and Narabri is bitumen for its entire length certainly does not mean it is an all-weather road. Travelling along most of it would be impossible after heavy rain because of creeks running across the road. About ten creeks of varying sizes cross this road on floodways; these are concreted sections of the road surface which dips down, sometimes up to three or four metres, to form the bed of the creek where it crosses the road; when the creek flows after rain, water possibly several metres deep runs across the road. After a dry spell only one creek we crossed was running across the road (depth 3 centimetres), others had stopped flowing, most had dried up as well. But after heavy rain several of the floodways would be far too deep and dangerous to negotiate in a normal 4WD.
13 April 2015 - page 3