Way Out West Where The Rain Don’t Fall

15th to 18th June 2017

Tamworth to Goondiwindi 360kms

The Fossikers Highway

Another lazy morning, doing some washing, and enjoying the gorgeous sunshine. It was a perfect sunny winters day, and feeling warm. As this is the home of Country music in Australia, and the Country Music Hall of Fame was right next door, we thought we’d better go check it out. So we had a nice walk across to it, paid our $7 each, and really enjoyed listening to, reading and looking at all the information they had collected. It was amazing the names we remembered, and just how many great artists Australia has produced. Well worth a visit. Waiting for the washing to dry, we hopped on the Mule, and had a little tour of town. We found the Golden Guitar, and the Country Music Association of Australia, entertainment centre. Slim Dusty, Tex Perkins and a whole bunch of other famous Aussies (Tex is originally a Kiwi) got together to form the CMAA and fund this building. Then we drove down the Main Street of town and found a nice old building to have a beer and lunch. Next door was a music shop, so in the spirit of the Occassion, I went in and finally purchased an Harmonica for Will. He’s always wanted to learn to play, so what better place to start.

Drying out in the sunshine. Everything was a little bit wet.

The Hall of Fame was great, The Gold guitar a bit hhmm, and the motorbike was ridden from the UK to Aus by Geoff Mack, who is the guy who wrote “I’ve been everywhere man”. Cool.

Practice session, number one.

Friday morning, we woke to an overcast cooler morning, but we were excited to be heading north and the possibility of crossing into Queensland, where it’s sunny one day and perfect the next. Yeah! Today we are following The Fossickers Way, which goes through quite a few small little country towns that are mainly farming and obviously good for fossicking. Lots of brown tourist signs pointing off to places to fossick, but we are just loving the quiet road and lovely scenery. After a relaxing lunch on the Gwydir river, in Bingara, we carried on our ride along the very enjoyable, Fossickers Way (B95), and stopped for fuel at the final little town, called Warialda. A pretty town, with some lovely old buildings.

A quick break in Barraba, which was pretty, and had some cool old buildings.

Lunch spot on the Gwydir river, and the sun came out, must be close to Queensland.

From here, we deviated off onto the North Star road, which had us riding mostly past cleared farm land. It wasn’t long before we started to see, what looked like, heaps of used toilet paper, along the side of the road. Just as I was beginning to feel really disgusted, I realised it wasn’t actually toilet paper. It was cotton! We’re entering cotton country. Just like that, gems to cotton. It was everywhere. All the empty fields had been harvested, and now they were getting prepped for replanting, and looses cotton was blowing around on the side of the road. At last we joined the Bruxner highway, and rapidly came to Boggabilla. We crossed the Macintyre river, and at the same time, the state boarder. Yay, we’re in sunny Queensland. A short stop to check for caravan parks, it’s good enough to tent it, we did a brief reconnaissance around town, before arriving at the Goondiwindi Holiday Park. A bit out of town, but nice and green, and friendly. It also has a pool and spa, fed by an artesian hot spring, “Hot pools” yeah!

Hot Pools, yeah! 

So we’re back to the old routine, of Jenny sets up the camp, and Will goes shopping. By the time he gets back, the tent and beds are sorted, and we’re ready to go sit by the fire with the other campers. It was a nice big fire, but we were too slow and missed out on damper. Bugger! But we chatted and enjoyed the fire. After an easy dinner of steak and salad, we went to bed in our tent. A pretty good day, and maybe we’ll stay another day and enjoy the spa.

We had a massive site, lovely and grassy. A ripper fire to enjoy, with good company.

Well another day enjoying the warmth and the spa it was. The morning was spent in our little Helinox chairs, reading and soaking up the sun, just like all the Grey Nomads were doing. At lunch time, we hopped on the old Mule and went for a tour of town, to find the legendary Goondiwindi Grey, (a famous race horse called Gunsynd, short for Goondiwindi Syndicate). We crossed back over the state boarder into NSW, but it was too cold here, so we returned to sunny Qld and had a relaxing lunch at The Victoria Hotel in town. It is a nice looking building, and lunch was great. A quick bit of food shopping, before heading back to camp to bask in the hot pool. While in there relaxing in the 37C water, we chatted to fellow campers, and especially a couple of ladies travelling in a slide on camper, on a Hilux extra cab ute. They’ve been travelling for four years around Australia so far, and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. They were super interesting, telling us about the time they had spent in Fiji volunteering, and passing on some great information about living simply and minimalist life. They also do a fair bit of house sitting, when they want to stop for a while.

Gunsynd won a Cox Plate and got a Third in a Melbourne cup.

The Macintyre river used to flood regularly, before a levee was built, and the locals would gather on the banks to discuss how high it was going to get. Together with the Barwon, flows into the Darling and the Murray, and forms Australias longest river system, at 3,370 kms long.

Not the best shot, bloody sun was in the wrong spot. But great building.

After way too long in the hot water, we only needed a light dinner, so we sat and had some nibblies, a couple of beers, chatted to Brad, another camper, who was up here from Melbourne working on the cotton farms. He’s had a tough life, but is still out here trying to make a go of it. You always meet the most interesting people out on the road.

Jen and Kay with their great little outfit. They’ve even got a photo of the vehicle in a very precarious situation, which they recovered from, signed by one of Will’s favourite gurus, Roothy. Big fans ladies.

Goondiwindi to Meandarra 225kms

“Which way you headed?” Was a frequently asked question, so we always had to have an answer. We don’t always stick to that answer, and sometimes we can’t decide either. Today was one of those days. Lightening Ridge, and more hot pools, or Roma, and onto Carnarvon National Park! We need to send our warm weather gear home now, and some other things we haven’t used, so Roma is a good place to get that done. So that’s it, off to Roma. Old Stupid Destiny had her “tour guide” hat on today too, so when we asked for directions to Roma, she chose a lovely, scenic route for us to take. First off, taking us the long way through town, just in case we hadn’t seen it yet…….We Have!

Then she made us ride towards Lightening Ridge! We said Roma? What are you doing? Luckily, Will mentioned a right turn in about 11kms, and as we really didn’t care which place we ended up in, we decided to let SD2 lead us a stray. Which she bloody well did. The ride along Goodbar road started off nicely, it was quiet, scenic, and the sun was shining. We were enjoying this road heaps…….until……bam! Dirt! Ugh, good one Stupid Destiny. I guess it had to happen eventually, and what are the choices? So slowing down a bit, we took it easy until we got a handle on the road, which was pretty good really. The new tyres seemed to make a good difference too. So sitting on about 60, we continued to cruise along enjoying the day. Will seemed to be enjoying himself a little bit more, as somehow he’d accidentally pushed a button on his intercom, while adjusting his visor, and turned on some music from his phone. How’d he do that? I want to do that!

Cruising down the back roads was great in 20C, with the sun shining.

After about 26 kays, and four or five kangaroos, we turned off onto Kondar, which was sealed and still quiet and lovely. We saw an emu running across the paddock, and a dead pig on the side of the road. Now that was a first for us! At first we thought it was a bloody ginormous wombat. Ha ha ha. This road suddenly came to a T junction, and we were instructed to go left, and then 500 meters down, turn right. Just a paddock on the right, not even a track, so we pulled over. Old Google maps showed this road coming out south of Westmar, or if we turned around and went the other way, it would come out just East of it. A swift u-turn, and we were off towards the Moonie Highway, and Westmar. Nothing much here, just a little pub/shop, and a rest area with clean toilets and showers, and a table we could sit at for lunch.

Check out the blue skies. One of the locals was enjoying the shade from The Mule. Cheeky Maggie!

Sitting in the sun, eating our ham and cheese rolls and enjoying the left over mornings coffee, a big old Denning bus, towing a trailer with an old Subaru wagon on it, pulled up. Alf, the bus driver, went off to buy himself a pie and a coffee, then came and sat with us and shared some of his life stories. Yet another interesting person, travelling in an interesting way. He was off to do some prospecting, with his lovely old dog, Cassie. He enjoyed the slow easy way the bus enabled him to travel with all the comforts he needed. Thanks for the chat, Alf, and happy travels.

1975 Denning, built here in sunny Queensland.

Okay, now Stupid Destiny was taking advantage of our chilled out mood, and headed us off towards St George, instead of Meandarra (the shorter route), which I voiced my doubts about. Again, Will assured me she had a plan to turn right in just a few kays, so we carried on. I insisted that this road too, would turn to dirt, but both Will and SD2, were too busy listening to AC/DC, and ignored me. So onto Flinton road we went, which was pretty interesting to begin with, and actually took us to a tiny little (once upon a time it was one) town. And you guessed it, Bam, dirt! Ha ha, I’m right again….bugger actually, after lunch should be easy riding, not concentrating and being even more careful.

This was definitely not the road we wanted to be on, although it was pretty good, and quiet, and scenic, but a huge mob of Roos, came bounding crazily out of the shady tree line, just after Will and his bloody AC/DC, roared past, to scare the beegeebies out of me, and slow me right up. About 30 kilometres on this road, and Will had decided we’d tested ourselves enough, it was getting on in the day, and he spotted an off. Yay, thank goodness. So SD2 overruled, and we found the sealed road, and headed north towards Meandarra. Another rather important issue, was Will was on his fuel light, and the next place after Meandarra, was Surat, 90kms further. We won’t make it.

Enough dirt for today, let’s bail.

Riding through the little town, it looked pretty neat. Over by the river, was a large gaggle of Grey Nomads, all parked up for the night, which sparked our interest. But first, fuel! So we rode around town, not really spotting anything that looked like it sold fuel. Break out the Google maps, to locate the fuel station, and it looks closed. It is closed…..oh fuck! What now? Lucky Will isn’t a giver-upper, and spots a prepaid machine. Saved! Well sort of, it was dodgey, and only gave us $26 for our $30. But it’ll get us to Surat, tomorrow. That’s right, we’re staying. It’s 4pm, and with the amount of Roos we saw today, it’s only going to get worse. So back to the river we went, and nabbed a nice river view spot for our tent, for free, with a toilet and shower across the road too. Super! Added bonus, the pub close by, was doing $20 pizzas, so that sounds great.

It’s not Roma, or Lightening Ridge, but it looks alright. Good enough for us.

So Stupid Destiny started well, finished poorly, but all in all gave us a great day. She gets to live another day, even if we didn’t actually reach either of our destination choices. Huh, not even close.

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