Over the last two days, we have driven a short way from Bourke to Cobar (160 km) and then today 360 kilometres from Cobar to Griffith
There was nothing whatsover between Bourke and Griffith, so we arrived at lunchtime and had the afternoon to look around the town. In my early planning, I had thought of spending two days in Cobar but I’m glad that I changed that to just one day with two days in Bourke. That was a much better choice.
It was hot when we reached Cobar (37C) and it helped us appreciate the tough mining days of the past. There are still active mines in the area and over 114,000 tons of copper have been extracted from the Great Cobar Mine. This photo from the visitor’s centre shows what the mine looked like in the late 1800s. All the trees for about 30 km. around the town had been cut down for use as pit props or firewood for the boilers.
This series of photos was taken from the administration building which is now the visitor information centre and museum.
The Peak Gold Mine Lookout behind the town provides an excellent view of the town and the deep open pit which is the New Cobar Open Cut Mine. This is a working mine and it is fascinating to watch huge trucks making their way up from the 150 m deep hole. Beside the viewing platform is a rather ugly Filtration Plant which is vital to the survival of the town.
We found a green and most comfortable place for lunch in the tree’d and grassed area by the old town reservoir. It was very comfortable in the shade in this oasis like picnic area even though it was a hot day.
We had a flat tyre today. Unlike my previous outback trip to the Flinders Ranges when I needed a 130 kilometre tow into town for repairs, This one occured just 400 metres from the tyre shop! It was repaired by a laconic bloke who was telling me that a $500 bill would be in order. In the end, the lady in the office charged me the standard fee of $35 which was much less than reasonable.
There is not a lot to see in Cobar. The main sreet has some old buildings including the interesting and the most prominent Great Western Hotel (1898). The pub’s timber veranda with cast-iron balustrades and a lacework balcony is 100 metres long and, as such, is reputedly the longest cast iron veranda and balcony in Australia. It looks as though it may not stay up for much longer. There is a good Thai restaurant in town and the Bowling Club is a good place to eat.
We left for Griffith this morning, stopping at the towns Heritage Park which is full of old mining reilcs and machinery.
You know that you are in a remote location when this type of sign appears as you leave town.
The first town of any size was Hillston, 256 km south. There is nothing much along the way – just more arid country with grassland, stunted trees and mulga type woodland. We saw an occasional sheep ansd a few cattle but there were hundreds of feral goats.
Along these outback roads there is normnally a rest stop with table and chair (and perhaps a toilet) every 50 to 70 km or so. We drove around 150 km this morning before one appeared and I was very grateful to see it. I’m developing a little bit of arthritis in my knee and it begins to ache after a long time of sitting with my knee bent. If I’m gerting in and out of the car to take photos or look at things, I can go on all day, but I need to walk for a few metres every now and then on long trips.
The place where we eventually stopped was originally the site of an early gold field. The explanatory sign told the story of this place that would have, at the time, been in the middle of nowhere. Today, the temperature had dropped to around 20C and the gusty wind made it feel a bit chilly as we stopped for a ‘cuppa’.
We passed a number of sheep stations, each with their own long driveway. This one was much closer to the road. It’s certainly not the sort of environment in which I would like to live.
Near Hillston, we crossed the Lachlan River – one of the main tributaries of the Murrumbidgee River. Apart from the Darling River at Bourke, it is the first river that we have seen for many days with any water in it.
Around Hillston and further south to Griffith, the landscape changed from desert to farms and orchards. Gone were the landscapes that I have been writing abiout for the last week. Now we were passing vast almond and citrus orchards along with vineyards. We passed extremely long wheat fields and Canola fields that stretched to the horizon. It struck us that were now back in farmland and we had left the outback behind.