When we woke this morning it was much warmer than yesterday – Bertha’s thermometer showed 6.5 degrees at 7.30 am. Still, after having the heater on for a while, and having had hot showers, the sun started to make a difference and we were obviously off to another beautiful day.
We took our time getting started as there was no way we could leave the caravan park early even if we wanted to – vans and motorhomes and SUVs are squeezed in everywhere so we had to wait until quite a few had moved before venturing out. We probably shouldn’t admit it but it was actually quite interesting sitting back with a cup of tea just watching as others struggled to maneuver around trees, SUVs, caravans etc in an effort to escape! Full marks all round – not a single bingle, and only a few frayed tempers!
From Bailey Bar Caravan Park we headed off into town for a bit of a drive and a walk around. We had stayed a few days in Charleville 5 years ago and it is always interesting to see if we can identify changes since our last visit.
Our first stop, after filling up with diesel, was at the Charleville railway station. This is a nice old building and was apparently built in 1957 after the previous station burnt down. It is huge and must have handled a lot of passengers and cargo way back. Today it doesn’t even seem to be permanently manned. It was interesting to see the old pay-phone still in use.
Next door to the station was a major change since we were here last – the Bilby Experience attraction has relocated to the station from the Cosmos Centre further out of town. We would have liked to go in but they were mid-way through a tour and we didn’t want to wait for the next one.
We then found an area set aside for motorhome and caravan parking and set about on a walk around town. There are some beautiful old buildings here; many still used for their original purpose but others which are now used quite differently. As some of our readers will expect, we had to stop for coffee and cake at a bakery, and it was delicious! All in all we spent a couple of hours exploring Charleville, and made a few purchases along the way. We will almost certainly visit Charleville again sometime, but we will try to find somewhere with a bit more room to stay.
By now it was nearing lunch time so we thought that it was about time we hit the road. Once back on the Mitchell Highway we couldn’t help but comment that for an A grade highway this road was in quite poor condition. Lumpy and bumpy and very narrow in places – meeting an on-coming truck was a bit of a test of nerves at time.
One thing we did notice was that for most of the distance we travelled today, both sides of the road have been graded as part of water and flood management efforts. The plan seems to be to keep any flood waters, and there are plenty of “floodplains” signs around, off the actual road surface and divert the water out into the scrub. In this way, presumably, there is a better chance of at least some traffic getting through.
A fair distance outside Charleville we came across some obviously quite recently completed bridge works at Angellala Creek, and the remains of what was the original bridge, and a memorial. Unfortunately we couldn’t find a place to stop to check things out properly but subsequently Dr Google has advised us that in September 2014 a B-double truck carrying 52 tonnes of ammonium-nitrate crashed at the bridge and caught fire. The combination of spilt diesel and the ammonium-nitrate subsequently caused an explosion that destroyed the bridge and was heard up to 30 kilometres away. There were multiple firefighters and rescue workers hurt in the fire and subsequently a total of 15 heroism awards were made. The new bridge was opened in May 2016 and a memorial commissioned to thank all those involved.
We eventually stopped for lunch at the tiny town of Wyandra. There is not much to this place – a hotel, a general store/Post Office/caravan park, a ‘Powerhouse Museum’ (closed today), a primary school, and a free camp. Oh, there were some emus and kangaroos wandering around town as well.
There was plenty of room at the free camp so we pulled over and had lunch. It was such a nice quiet, open and flat space that we decided to stay here the night, so we did a quick set-up for Bertha then got out our chairs and enjoyed some reading time in the sun. Several more visitors have arrived but there is plenty of room for us all. Not even the kangaroos seem to mind a few visitors to their land.
This really is the life!