Sunday, April 25, 2010

Outback Day 2 - Nyngan to White Cliffs

I guess these posts will be as much about the journey as about 4WD-ing and camping.  Especially last week's post and this week's post.

Our intention was to leave Nyngan fairly early and make haste along the Barrier Highway to about Wilcannia.  Mostly not a long drive (about 400km) and on a sealed highway we thought that we would set off fairly early, arrive and set up camp fairly early and explore the area.

It didn't take much driving down the highway before we definitely got the feeling that we were heading in to the outback.  The Barrier Highway has a number of little roadside rest stops and we pulled up at one for a look.

The red dirt and the trees are typical of this part of the outback, and the facilities were well maintained.

After an hour or so we arrived at Cobar.  A town built on mining (copper was discovered in 1870) the it is worth stopping and having a look at the visitor centre, which houses a museum.  It is also worth a drive to have a look at the new mine.  Doesn't matter what you think of mining, the scale of the operations is always somehow impressive.  One of the other things that Cobar is 'known' for is being the home of the pub with the longest iron lace veranda in NSW.

After a bit of a look through town we continued toward Wilcannia and stopped for lunch at another roadside rest area.  As planned we arrived in Wilcannia after a couple of hours on the road. Being on the Darling River Wilcannia was once a thriving inland port, complete with riverboats.  Apparently paddlesteamers were preferred due to their draft and the variable, but usually shallow depth of the river.

When we arrived it was still fairly early so we decided to 'turn right' and head north to the former opal mining settlement of White Cliffs.

We had checked earlier, and at the junction of the road there was no indication that the road was closed, so we set off to look for accommodation in the locality.  Ultimately we chose to stay at underground accommodation in White Cliffs.  There are two places you can stay at, the Underground Motel and the Underground B&B.  It is a unique experience and although unplanned I enjoyed it a great deal.  There are only a couple of places in Australia where you can spend the night underground so we enjoyed the stay greatly.
 The entry to our accommodation

Particularly the view from the roof at sunset.

Outback sunset 1 - White Cliffs

Outback sunset 2 - White Cliffs

We didn't camp at White Cliffs as such but we did learn two important things - bring the 240V cord for the fridge...

Note the fridge on gas in the car park

We had also driven through a locust plague.  It is worthwhile checking your vehicle's airbox, particularly if you have a snorkel fitted.  I emptied the locusts from mine in Nyngan and again in White Cliffs.  I think the snorkel was acting like a bit of a vacuum cleaner when driving through the swarms.

Depending on how I feel tomorrow, I shall try and get another post up, from White Cliffs to Tibooburra...

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