Once again we woke to a rather chilly morning which evolved into a beautiful clear and sunny day with temperatures in the mid-to-high teens.
After another slow start, which we are now renowned for, we headed off in Bertha to the Peak Hill Gold Mine Experience which was only a short drive from the caravan park. Although we knew that there had been a gold mine in Peak Hill, we had never visited it before but when we got there we were most impressed. There are several walking trails and you can actually walk right around the old mine, but we simply walked to the main interpretive information area.
The Peak Hill Gold Mine produced a total of 153,000 ounces of gold between 1996 and 2002 under its current ownership. Gold was first discovered here in 1889 but was initially recovered by underground mining whereas the more recent work has been done by open cut techniques. Since production stopped a huge effort has subsequently gone into rehabilitating the old mine to make it environmentally safe and friendly. This is an ongoing process.
From the gold mine we ventured back into town to the antique store/lolly shop/café for a nice hot cup of coffee by the wood fire (it was a little chilly out at the mine). After coffee we made a short visit to a local store where we bought a few second-hand books for later.
Then it was back to the Newell Highway heading South. The Newell is known for the high volume of trucks on the road and this was certainly the case today. There were plenty of trucks going in both directions and a reasonable number of caravans and motorhomes going in the opposite direction to us. The highway is, however, in reasonable condition so there weren’t really any issues with all the trucks and other traffic.
There were some roadworks just south of Peak Hill but really, although there is some inconvenience at the time, it is great that the highway is being upgraded. These particular works were actually realigning the road and will remove several curves from the highway and that will be a good thing!
Our next stop was at The Dish, 19km north of Parkes. I just love coming here to look at the Dish, but also to have one of the Dish Café’s beef and burgundy pies. We’ve been here several times in the past and the views and the pies have been great every time. We actually bypassed The Dish on our last trip so we really had to visit this time.
One thing that we had never seen before was a person actually on The Dish itself.
Visitors are requested to turn off mobile phones etc so as to avoid Radio Frequency Interference to the dish. There are signs everywhere and they go as far as not having paywave EFT facilities in the gift shop or the café (ie you have to insert your card and manually enter your PIN).
After a delicious lunch and a good look around the displays and gift shop, we returned to Bertha and headed back to the highway. We didn’t go through the Parkes town-ship itself but continued down the Newell which effectively bypasses town.
We soon arrived at Forbes and headed straight to the Visitor Information Centre which is located in the old railway station. There is a statue of Ben Hall the bushranger outside.
The ladies there were very helpful and supplied us with maps and some brochures. They also gave us directions to a freecamp on the outskirts of town, but still walking distance to the mainstreet, shops, cafes, restaurants, etc.
Within a few minutes we had found the freecamp at Wheogo Park and had Bertha setup in freecamping mode. There are a number of other caravans and motorhomes here but we found a great site and have fantastic water views over Lake Forbes (the water is only about 7 metres away). It wasn’t long before we were sitting on a bench by the water enjoying a cup of coffee. Several other vanners came by and joined us for a chat beside the lake.
After coffee we went for a walk along the path, returning to Bertha before it became too cold. We have phone coverage, internet access, and access to 32 TV channels, so we should be set and cozy for the night.
Thoroughly enjoying the motorhome experience!