Travelling Australia - Journal 2015c
|23 May 2015
Warren to Cobar
We left Warren on the road to Nevertire which on the Mitchell Highway. This was a nearly straight, almost completely flat road running through cropping lands. We passed two cotton gins on the way as well as several large paddocks where cotton had been recently harvested (yellow wrapped modules were lined up along the fence showing what had grown there). We also passed a large paddock where the cotton had been harvested but the cotton plants had not yet been removed. To complete the cotton story there were cotton plants growing on the side of the road where pieces of cotton blown from modules being transported had contained viable seed which had germinated and was now producing cotton by itself.
The Warren to Nevertire road was noticeably better quality than the Oxley Highway from Gilgandra to Warren with two good bitumen lanes. Weather was clear and bright with no wind and very little traffic. Heavy rain in recent days had softened the gravel verges in most places and pulling off the bitumen had to be done carefully. We pulled over a couple of times for photographs and Pathfinder or caravan did not get bogged but the grassy verges must have been softer and wetter the second time than they appeared judging by the gravel thrown up by the tyres once we were back on the bitumen. After that experience, we did not stop again.
At Nevertire (one large grain silo, a pub, and a few houses) we turned right on the Mitchell Highway bound for Nyngan as the immediate destination. The land was flat; reference to the GPS showed a very gentle slope down to Nyngan on the Bogan River (20 metres difference in elevation in 50 kilometres easily qualifies as a "gentle slope"). The Highway was mainly straight running through crop land with some stock grazing; roadside vegetation was very sparse (mostly non-existent) so we could see what paddocks were being used for. Surprisingly, there was a considerable number of sheep visible from the road and very few cattle. Our understanding, supported by observation over several years, is that the number of properties growing sheep, especially for wool, is declining rapidly under market pressures. Traffic was light, predominantly sedans which easily passed us.
We left Nyngan on the Mitchell Highway, very soon turning off onto the Barrier Highway bound for Cobar today. Both highways are major arterial routes with good bitumen surfaces, good signage and routes suitable for inter-state trucks. We had noticed that the otherwise common B-double heavy transport (sometimes known as an 18-wheeler) tends to be replaced in these distant parts by the road train (possibly described as 22-wheelers) which can carry even more freight but are longer and need even more care when overtaking.
After leaving Nyngan the Barrier Highway enters moderately hilly ground; the road goes over an almost continuous series of smallish hills as it steadily increases in elevation. There was no indication on a topographic map of any range of hills or mountains; it appeared to be more a matter of a major topographic feature. Land use remained cropping and grazing, increasingly with scattered timber dominating a grass understory; eventually the trees took over completely and the road was lined with scattered woodland, mainly eucalyptus with cypress common, especially near the road. The woodland appeared to extend into the distance from the road. Judging by property signs this country was devoted to grazing although we saw neither sheep nor cattle.
We stopped for lunch at Florida Rest Area 45 kilometres east of Cobar where signs proudly proclaimed the edge of the Shire of Cobar; according to the GPS this was also the high point on the road between Nyngan and Cobar; we had climbed from 173 metres elevation at Nyngen to 262 metres at Florida and would descend to 241 metres at Cobar. These are not great elevations but they destroy any suggestion that central New South Wales is entirely flat; nor is it barren, we had been driving through healthy woodlands surrounding this rest area.
23 May 2015 - Warren to Cobar, page 2
This is a large rest area with a small bitumen loop near the entrance. There is plenty of space for overnight stays; we have stopped here overnight before. On this occasion the gravel/clay surface of the rest area looked a bit too soft after recent rain to drive on safely so we stayed on the bitumen.
Behind the rest area is a recently refurbished railway line running on an embankment. Given the declining number of working train lines in New South Wales it is unusual to see a train line in good condition but this one carries concentrated ore from the Elura/Enterprise silver-lead-zinc mine north of Cobar to the Port of Newcastle for export. The branch line to Enterprise also services the CSA gold mine. (as we were to find Cobar's reputation as a mine rests on copper but there are also gold mines as well as the Enterprise silver-lead-zinc mine. The railway line appears unused but we were abruptly awoken during a previous stop here by an ore train very noisily passing the rest area at night.
Continuing on to Cobar we checked in to the only caravan park in town and were directed to a comfortable site.