“Why did the lizard cross the road?” “Because it wanted to get to the other side, but didn’t account for the 4.5 tonne of Toyota and Jayco awesomeness screaming down the road like a bat out of hell”
We left Cobar punctually at 9am, as planned, however decided to change our route from Wilcannia to White Cliff, affording us the opportunity over the next few days to explore further north around Tibooburra along with Camerons Corner – where Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales all meet, as well as being a place where we can see the Wild Dog Fence (longest structure in the world – single fence of over 5000km in length).
Unfortunately, you will be sad to hear that we left Bogan Shire on this leg of the journey, but similar to Caroline’s previous entry, we encountered roads that were flat and straight. Red earth dominated the scenery as far as the eye could see, interrupted by our first sightings of wild goats, emus and the occasional flat lizard. Before spotting the fauna, I decided to try something new to entertain the girls offering a reward*; 10 cents for any kangaroos they spotted and 20 cents for any emus – thinking that emus would be less frequently observed as it we didn’t see them that often splattered along the roadside. *Insert disclaimer now, the reward was only offered if said animal was verified by either Caroline or myself. Despite seeing a significant number of emus along the Barrier highway, I didn’t have to part with a cent! Phew! It could have been expensive!
Continuing along the Barrier Highway, surprisingly still in New South Wales, it was pleasing to see elements of “Bogan Shire” continue through the Darling River Shire. The effort that someone had put into pre-Christmas decorations, dotting random trees over a 5 km stretch with ornaments including saucepans, coffee cups, televisions, circular saw blades and eskies. Five trees in total – put a huge smile on my face. Reflecting on these marvelous ‘sculptures’. I think Darling River Shire must have a fantastic marketing department – they have some creative ways of attracting the locals. It is definitely a must see if you are in the area – up there with the Big Banana, Big Merino and the Big Ant – which we should see in a couple of days in Broken Hill.
We stopped at Wilcannia for lunch, a beautiful little town with sandstone buildings and stopped for lunch at a playground nestled next to the Darling River. After a few sandwiches, we tried to tire out the girls on the play equipment. Upon getting back in the car, success, both girls were out for the count! Leaving Wilcannia we headed down Opal Miners Way on route to White Cliffs, a small Opal mining town with a population of approximately 100 people. Similar flat, straight roads as we had previously experienced, with slight changes of local fauna. Rather than sighting emus and goats along this stretch we were greeted by a large rustic sign painted on rusted aluminum sheeting “Warning Black Cows”.
For the next 100kms Caroline and I had our eyes open, scanning the horizon for these treacherous black cows. After crossing what seemed to be a dozen cattle grids, I finally saw some black dots on the horizon. Initially I adjusted my gaze, thinking the black dots were similar to the mirages we had seen earlier in the day – then asked Caroline to confirm what I had seen. Yes. Black Cows! Meandering along a highway, with a 110km speed limit. Time to slow down. We allowed half of the herd to cross the road and slowly accelerated past the stragglers, continuing along our way towards White Cliffs.
The last fifteen minutes along Opal Miners Way were pretty uneventful. We arrived in White Cliffs, filled up the fuel tank – a mere $1.74 per litre, and parked the van in the caravan park – a site that was TOTALLY different to our last stops. Dry, red earth – no grass! We left the van to explore the town.
First stop was some of the opal mines in the area. We talked to one of the mine owners about how opals were formed, the difference in colours between opals and asked about the famous Pineapple opal – the only place in the world where these Pineapple opals have been found! After leaving the opal mine we headed to the local pub for a refreshment. The bar lady whom served us had recently moved from Broken Hill to White Cliffs with her son for work and was very helpful in helping us understand the quality of the roads for our trip tomorrow to Tibooburra. Before leaving the pub we met her son, who was one of 13 children attending the local school – where the children attended composite classes, ranging in age from kindergarten to year 12!
For dinner tonight we headed to the underground motel, a motel that due to its underground nature reports maintaining a constant temperature between 22 to 23 degrees all year round. Generous portions and a very interesting building. With the cost of everything so far in White Cliffs, I dread to think what a nights’ accommodation would cost!!
Almost time to retire for another night – a short 250kms tomorrow to Tibooburra. Despite the short distance, I fear it will be a long drive. It’s still a major road but it is unsealed – hopefully there will be signal up there, else it may be a few days until we post again. Stay posted!!