Day 35 - Trilby to Bourke to Walgett

Trip Start Apr 17, 2012
1
35
37
Trip End May 27, 2012


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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Monday, May 21, 2012

Waking up to the sounds of paradise was a joy, however we had mixed, bittersweet feelings this morning as we were leaving Trilby and the outback to make our way back to civilisation to try and be home in Sydney in 36 hours so Julie could go to work on Thursday. There was no way we were going to drive back to Sydney in a straight line though, it was our intention to stretch it out and see as many places as possible. We still had a little bit more Darling River to follow and several towns to visit. Not wanting to waste too much time, we ate our breakfast and got packing. There wasn't too much to pack up - just two camping chairs from the banks of the river and our antennae off the roof.

Once we were all packed, we found it hard to just jump into the car and drive off, it was too peaceful. Knowing that once we drove out of Trilby we were now on our way home was a bit hard. We were fully aware that this was the last time we'd see certain birds which are endemic to the area so we really tried to make the most of our final moments there. Eventually it was time to leave, the camper roof was lowered and the engine started. After a few final photos we were off, we dropped in at the homestead to say goodbye to Liz and thank her for her hospitality and her suggestion of campsite. We were really happy with our campsite. Before we knew it we were heading eastbound to Bourke on the West side of the river. Since this was the less developed road, we wanted to take this all the way to Bourke.

As we got to Louth and the fork in the road which gives us the choice of staying on the West side or crossing the Darling into Louth to join the East side road to Bourke. The decision was made for us when we saw the road closed due to flooding signs so we crossed the bridge and headed to Bourke on the East road. It was 123km to Bourke (or 2 and a half hours), it didn't seem that long because travelling along these roads is pure joy but as we arrived in Bourke we knew it was lunchtime because we were both feeling low on energy and needed food. We stopped in at Tito's Cafe (run by real italians) and got burgers and coffee. Once we had finished and were feeling refreshed and replenished we did some sightseeing around Bourke.

We did some driving around to try to get a feel for the town then we checked out the old Bourke wharf. This was where some serious quantities of wool was loaded onto paddlesteamers for the 2000-odd km trip to South Australian railway ports at Morgan and Murray Bridge. The wharf was designed/built with several different levels to match the varying water levels of the river allowing loading/unloading at most river heights. Once we had taken umpteen photos of the wharf we checked out the Crossley Engine nearby. Next thing we knew, the aroma of fresh coffee was wafting up our noses, conveniently enough there was a cafe next door with a giftshop, souvenirs and country homewares for sale - awesome. I think it was called Outback Living. We ended up buying coffees and a few souvenirs before continuing on.

It was well after 2pm when we left Bourke, we did a quick drive a few kms North of Bourke so we could check out the old Bourke Bridge over the Darling. The bridge has been rebuilt bigger and stronger than before so the old one is now for pedestrians and cyclists. It's a grand old thing with a great view of the river (as most bridges do - unless it's a railway bridge) making it a good place to take a few happy snaps. Time was now dragging on, it was edging towards 3pm and we had no idea where we would make it to this afternoon - let alone where we might be able to camp for the night. With heavy hearts we said goodbye to the Darling River which was now heading North East whilst we has to go East to Brewarrina. We had followed the Murray Darling system from the mouth at Goolwa all the way to Bourke - a distance of over 2000km. Bye Darling!

A few kays East of Bourke we joined the Little Bogan River for a while, then the Bogan River (both tributaries of the Darling so we were still on the system). Eventually this became the Barwon River just before Brewarrina. We didn't stop for long as we were feeling quite anxious now, it was late afternoon (4pm in late autumn) and we had so much uncertainty ahead of us still. We checked out the river and weir and the ancient Aboriginal fish traps which allowed them to round the fish into these little stone structures and catch the fish. It was quite a pleasant and picturesque little reserve and would've been a nice spot for a picnic but we didn't have much daylight remaining and had to press onwards. It was now a sealed road which helped us to travel at a higher speed but darkness began to fall fast when we were about halfway through the 133kms to Walgett. Then with 50kms to go we noticed that we had no fuel - it was below the empty line and resting on the plastic stopper.

Now we had to drive slowly again, I dropped the speed down to 70 km/h and we hoped for the best. It was cold, dark and remote and we really didn't want to break down out here. With 10km to go we were stopped by roadworks (WTF?) which worried us as we had to use fuel to get going again. Before too long we could see the glow of a town in the distance. It was fully dark when we drove in to Walgett. The first thing was to get fuel, it may have been pitch black but it was only 6:30pm so the servo was still open. The next thing we had to do was find a camp. The GPS had one campsite over the river (the Namoi) and kinda under the bridge. There was no civilisation and we couldn't see a thing. There was so much bush that there was no access in. We followed a rough track which headed under the bridge but it was slow and narrow and we thought we were about to get amushed by boogiemen so we reversed back out.

We had to go back to the servo again and ask the girl working there if there was a caravan park or camping area. She said there was a free council supplied camping area about 1 km down the road. We also asked where we could get some decent food and she told us to try the club. As we drove down the main drag we checked out all the other food options. There was the typical country town chinese restaurant and plenty of stodgey burger shops and seafood takeaways which didn't capture our interest, a bit further on and we saw the club, this looked half decent so we made it a plan to go there after we inspected the camping area. Another 400m and we were there. It had toilets, barbecues and looked well maintained so when we did a quick drive through to look a bit closer we picked our spot for the night then drove straight back out and down to the club.

After a pretty full day it was good to sit down in a country style RSL Club drinking a coke and watching the oldies play housie. There was plenty to choose from on the menu too - even for Julie. We ordered our meals and unwound at our table discussing our day. The food was quite delicious and we had a bit of a chuckle looking at all the big clothing labels you see out there - such as RM Williams, RM WilliaMS, rm wILLIAMS AND RM WILLiams, plus the odd bit of Lowes and Target. Shirts generally are collared and chequered (or variants of chequers) - very agricultural indeed. With full stomachs we didn't have much energy left so we headed out and drove back to the camping area.

Still feeling knackered by our day we set up our camp and put the kettle on to make some tea. To help us feel a bit more at home I put the antennas up on the roof and scanned for TV channels. Walgett had the lot - all digital so we had all the mindless entertainment we could ever need. Being so close to the centre of town meant all phone and internet signals were full bars too so download speeds were good. We were feeling a bit dirty as we hadn't showered the previous day due to the bore water - and we actually still smelt like bore water from 2 nights before so we used some hot water and shower gel on a facewasher to have "camp baths". It's amazing how much cleaner you feel after having one. Then, to top it off, a light baby powdering or moisturiser can make you feel like you are in 5 star accommodation.

The camping area wasn't packed, there was an Avan, a caravan, a camper trailer and a roof top camper there and that's it. By 10:30 we were asleep.
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