Travelling Australia - Journal 2015c
|29 May 2015
Bulla Park to Warrawong-on-the-Darling
A few other caravans, motorhomes and campers came into this well-placed rest area before sunset. During the afternoon the weather remained fairly good with some cloud, some sunshine, no wind and no rain. However, at 8 o'clock steady, but gentle, rain began falling and lasted until about 4 in the morning.
By morning there was 5 millimetres of rain in the rain gauge and we were becoming concerned about the possibility of becoming bogged if the rest area surface had been softened by the overnight rain. We watched other vehicles in the rest area drive out without difficulty and sinking only a few millimetres into the sand/clay. Checking the rest area surface showed some very firm areas where water had run off but in other areas the top 5 millimeter layer was soggy and soft but below that appeared firm. In case of difficulty, I engaged four wheel drive on the Pathfinder before steadily and slowly towing the caravan to the upward slope to the Barrier Highway. We didn't sink obviously into the sand/clay but could feel the wheels sliding slightly from side to side as we moved forward. Despite this, getting out of the rest area turned out to be without difficulty and we were soon on the Barrier Highway heading towards Wilcannia.
After 41 kilometres we stopped at Emmdale roadhouse to top up with fuel without incident. The diesel pumps in the middle of the parking area for convenient access by long vehicles (caravans and heavy transports) were padlocked to eliminate the problem of people driving off without paying for fuel so some time was taken getting somebody to come and fill our tank.
We continued on the Barrier Highway which is mostly nearly flat in nearly straight stretches. Traffic was light, mainly a few heavy transport. There was occasional rain lasting for only a few dozen drops at a time; there was no wind. After considerable recent rain, the ground beside the bitumen was fairly soft; many stretches carried signs warning of soft edges but that condition appeared to apply along the entire road. In a few places a heavy transport had begun pulling off the bitumen but the left-side wheels had sunk so badly that the driver pulled back onto the road while the right-side wheels were still driving. The gouged wheel track served as a warning to everybody else on the road to take great care leaving the bitumen.
There were a few sheep visible from the road but feral goats were the most numerous animal seen. Our previous experience of feral goats, on an earlier visit to Broken Hill, and travelling along this road to Cobar a couple of years ago, was that they were very wary and goats grazing on road-side vegetation very quickly disappeared into the scrub. But the goats we saw today were unconcerned about traffic on the road and continued grazing as if we weren't there.
Many goats seen from the highway were behind property fences and probably reflected changes in attitude to goats. Instead of being considered as a nuisance which take fodder better used by sheep or cattle the goats themselves are regarded as an asset and are sold for processing into goat meat reported to have a ready market overseas. Goats are generally sold by weight and prices of $40 to $80 per animal are quoted.
As we approached Wilcannia we kept a sharp lookout for signs to a new caravan park called Warrawong-on-the-Darling we intended to stay at for a few days. The park was reached down a clearly marked side road to the right and through a gate (also well-signed) to the reception area. Located at 31°S 34'E, 143° 24'E. We initially checked in for three nights then took up an offer of a fourth night free. After checking in we selected a site (all sites are well-grassed) overlooking the billabong which is the centre-piece of this park.
This caravan park is within a few kilometres of Wilcannia and had fairly good free-to-air television reception (no SBS). We use Optus Broadband for Internet connection and quickly found there was no Optus coverage here; Telstra coverage was OK but we did not have Internet.
29 May 2015 - Bulla Park to Warrawong, page 2