Travelling Australia - Journal 2015c
|18 May 2015
Tamworth to Gilgandra
For a change the weather was cloudy and wet this morning although the rain was neither heavy nor long-lasting. Nevertheless, it did make final packing up a little more complicated. But we were away from the Tamworth caravan park before 9 o'clock in time to get mixed up with normal morning traffic as we made our way through the main shopping area on major roads. By then the rain had stopped and did not return all day.
We left Tamworth on the Oxley Highway with the town of Gunnedah as the immediate destination. The road is reasonable and has resurfaced sections several kilometres long. Initially, the land trends gently downward with the road crossing fairly low hills. About half way to Gunnedah the road enters the flood plain of the Namoi and Mooki Rivers. Agriculture concentrated on grazing (mainly cattle) at first with increased cropping on more level pieces of land; the floodplain is nearly all devoted to crops.
The Oxley Highway passes through two small villages (Somerton and Carroll) between Tamworth and Gunnedah. After passing through Carroll we noted that small pieces of raw cotton lined the road verge reminding us this is a cotton growing area; pieces of cotton come loose from harvested cotton bales being carried by truck to the gin for processing and are a sure sign that cotton is grown nearby. In this case, the cotton was probably being carried to the cotton gin near Carroll, one of four gins in the Gunnedah area.
We stopped briefly in Gunnedah for a cup of coffee and to refuel. Gunnedah is an unusual country town on the Liverpool Plains; the area is famous for producing cotton, beef, lamb, pork, as well as cereal and grain; by contrast it is also a coal-producing area. Several large grain silos along the railway line confirm the importance of grain to the towns economy.
From Gunnedah we returned to the Oxley Highway with Coonabarabran on the Newell Highway as the destination. On leaving Gunnedah the Oxley Highway left the floodplain and initially ran over fairly hilly land devoted to grazing cattle, with some sheep, and trending generally downward until reaching an extensive plain around the township of Mullaley where crops are king. On the plain around Mullaley we saw many paddocks of harvested wheat and one large sorghum paddock. Several kilometres after Mullaley the road leaves the plain (about 300 metres elevation) and enters the foothills of the Warrambungle Ranges which are more heavily timbered (gum trees and a lot of cypress) and where the road crosses a series of hills and valleys.
The road was reasonable, if a little uneven in places, and traffic was very light. The weather was clear with some cloud but no rain and little wind.
We stopped in Coonabarabran for lunch at a previously visited cafe then continued on the Newell Highway (strictly this is the combined Oxley and Newell Highway from near Coonabarabran to Gilgandra where the Oxley separates from the Newell)
The Newell Highway had a much better surface than the Oxley Highway we were on earlier and was easier to drive on. Traffic was also heavier comprising mostly heavy transports and a number of caravans. In a couple of places extensive roadworks were adding lengthy overtaking lanes. Given the number of heavy transports and the long hills on this stretch of highway between Coonabarabran and Gilgandra additional overtaking lanes will be most welcome. Although the overall trend of the Newell Highway is down to Gilgandra (from above 600 metres to a little over 200 metres at Gilgandra) the road does not descend evenly for the whole distance and there are several hills to be negotiated.
We checked in to a caravan park on the edge of Gilgandra for one night after refuelling at a roadhouse outside the town.
18 May 2015 - page 2
18 May 2015 - page 3