The sky was looking a paler shade of grey when we got up but soon the sun was out and it warmed up. In fact it stayed in the mid-20s most of the day.
After getting ready and packing up Bertha, it was only a couple of minutes from the caravan park until we were on the Newell Highway and across the border in New South Wales.
The first town we drove through was Boggabilla – we didn’t actually stop but we love the sound of the name!
This part of the country is very flat, and there were obvious signs of recent rain with plenty of water along the sides of the road. Vegetation ranged from canola crops, wild meadows, trees surrounded by crops and/or canola, and some paddocks with cattle or sheep. Basically everywhere appeared to be lush, and green and yellow.
Road conditions were generally good, and unlike our complaint yesterday about rest stops, along the Newell the situation is much improved with regular “proper” rest stops off the highway, with seats and benches, and many with toilet facilities. Unfortunately many were too soft and muddy to consider using them.
Big trucks are still an issue however the only real solution appears to be to add extra lanes to the highway system. Apart from road trains and generally large trucks, there were plenty of oversize trucks as well. On more than one occasion we saw overtaking trucks on the wrong side of the road heading straight for us. Having said that there was at least a reasonable provision of overtaking lanes which goes some way to alleviating the problem of shared highways. My general approach is to pull over as soon as I can when a truck or some-one in a hurry is behind me, and so far we have managed to stay out of trouble.
We stopped at Moree for a combined coffee and lunch stop, and enjoyed both at the Café Omega in the main street. A long walk followed in order to keep up our step numbers.
Moree is known as “Artesian Water Country” and it appears that nearly every second motel and caravan park claims to have artesian pools or spas.
After lunch and our walk we continued along the Newell.
Canola and associated grain handling facilities remained the main attractions along the highway. We were particularly impressed with one grain facility which had clearly invested in solar panels.
At one point along the highway we commented on the large amount of mud and dirt left on the opposite side of the highway by a truck that had obviously come off a dirt/mud road and left huge mud tracks along the highway. Just our luck that another large truck decided to overtake us and promptly spayed the front of Bertha with a lot of that mud. Visibility was so bad than we had to pull over at the next rest area to give the windscreen a really good clean.
Soon we arrived at Narrabri. We were a bit surprised to see a few houses that looked like older style Queenslanders up on stilts, even compete with palm trees. There are some beautiful buildings in this town and there are obvious attempts to retain the heritage of the town.
First priority was to check into the Narrabri Blue Sky Caravan Park. We stayed here a few years ago and it has a good number of drive-through sites especially for overnight stop-overs. The facilities are good and there are nice touches like the herb garden for use by visitors. Today it was a little bit damp underfoot and the managers told us that they were expecting heavy rain overnight. In fact they have cancelled the scheduled sausage sizzle for tonight due to the forecast weather. According to the local TV news, the SES is flying a helicopter into Narrabri tonight to help with expected rain and floods. Not exactly what we wanted to hear!
Once Bertha was all set up, we headed off on the short walk into town and to explore the shops, including purchasing some supplies for afternoon tea.
Back at Bertha we decided to enjoy a cup of coffee and cake at the camp kitchen. Several other travellers came over to check out the camp kitchen facilities and to have a chat.
We moved back to Bertha just in time as a light rain began to fall. As we finished dinner the light rain became a bit heavier, so we’ve battened down Bertha’s hatches and look forward to a night in front of the TV.
Yes, we’re still living the dream!