Travelling Australia - Journal 2015b
|14 April 2015
Narrabri to Narrandera
We left Narrabri on the Newell Highway bound initially for Coonabarabran 110 kilometres away. The weather was good for travelling with mostly blue sky to start with, although cloud cover increased to be nearly continuous later in the day.
We remained on the Newell Highway all day passing through Coonabarabran, Gilgandra, Dubbo, Parkes, Forbes and West Wyalong before stopping for the night at Narrandera. We had morning coffee at a known coffee shop in Coonabarabran, lunch at McDonalds in Dubbo and a cup of coffee in the bakery at West Wyalong. We refuelled at a truck roadhouse near Gilgandra.
The Newell is the primary route between Melbourne and Queensland and is heavily used by transports. B-doubles can be seen in large numbers on the road or in rest areas as drivers rest. There was also a substantial number of caravans heading north; we initially assumed these were Victorian caravanners joining the traditional rush north at this time of the year but when we started looking at number plates we realised most were Queenslanders returning to their home state. A considerable amount of work is being done to maintain and improve the Newell Highway, most obvious are the road rebuilding projects and the addition of overtaking lanes.
Driving for more than 600 kilometres of the highway allowed us to see the many differences along the route. The section from Narrabri to Coonabarabran was undoubtedly the best and looked as if it had been rebuilt fairly recently; the surface was a pleasure to drive on and the route was mostly flat in long straight sections; closer to Coonabarabran where the road passed though the Pilliga Forest was a bit hilly and the B-double we were following slowed from 105 kph to 60 kph on one or two hills. South of Coonabarabran, where the road passes through the Warrambungles, is also hillier than the rest.
The Newell Highway generally runs along the western slope of the Great Dividing Range at about 200 to 300 metres elevation. But there are exceptions where the highway reaches 600 metres elevation. Most of the land crossed is farming land (crops or grazing, sometimes both), except for hillier parts which tend to be national parks or other form of nature reserve. Mostly there is a thick band of trees and shrubs (often cypress and gum trees) along the edge of the bitumen.
Farming activity tends to be local in nature; a good example was the practice of burning crop stubble which was quite common around Parkes. We understand the practice of burning stubble has fairly recently been adopted to destroy the crown rot fungus which has become more common since regular ploughing was abandoned as "no-till" practices were widely adopted. There is some doubt whether stubble burning is effective in controlling crown rot but the practice persists.
We stopped in West Wyalong for a cup of coffee at a bakery, before continuing onto Narrandera where we stopped for the night.
14 April 2015 - page 2