Forecast miserable conditions on the range and its really fun roads thwarted us so we headed further west and discovered new places.
Today we passed over the longest creek in Australia, Sandy Creek. We say this because at least four times a day on our trip, we crossed this incredibly long, winding creek. That or Australians are not particularly imaginative at naming their local natural features, but that can’t be true, after all there’s the Great Ocean Road, Great Barrier Reef, the Great Australian Bight. Oh.
So we did some research and found this site. This amuses me immensely. In fairness, we have seen many great names such as Christmas Creek (complete with tinsel around the sign), Dead Mans Creek, Dry Creek (lol) and several others named after local celebrities (read ‘wealthy businessmen’) and there are an awful lot of creeks in Australia.
Back to the journey.
The New England Highway between Armidale and Tamworth is lovely, as far as highways go, lined with silver barked eucalyptus trees with bushy leaf canopies, and rolling hills as the road makes its way off the range (around 1km up) down to around 400m. Just before Tamworth, the road winds tightly towards the valley floor, providing the opportunity for a well placed look out to appreciate the vast beauty of the area. We stopped for a pic, of course.
Lunch at a lovely unassuming cafe in Gunnedah (Jack and Jill’s) came as a welcome break to the increasing heat.
We continued past Gunnedah and took the Black Stump Way towards Mudgee. The landscape was incredible, very flat with distant hills and the occasional random hill which seemed to spring out of nowhere.
We paused briefly at Tammarah Springs where a helpful local informed us of the heavy presence of police on the highway, helpful just in case we accidentally exceeded the speed limit. Which of course, after my brush with da law yesterday, I’ll never do again! Mmm.
The road continued into a more heavily forested area, helpfully cleared at the edges to help manage the desires of the suicidal critters to hang out too close to the road.
We stopped at the Black Stump rest area and learned that this was the originator of the term ‘beyond the black stump’, a boundary of sorts in Australia. More information here and one of three places claiming this prize.
Our destination for the day was Mudgee which we reached via Coolah, the Golden Highway (more great names!) and rather large open cut coal mines. Now, I realise that energy has to come from somewhere but there are alternatives to these staggeringly destructive open cut mines which Australia likes to position in the middle of nowhere, destroying swathes of countryside away from the prying eyes of most people. We have seen several of these in our travels.
Our ride finished in Mudgee, a beautiful little country town in the mid west of NSW famous for its fledgling wine industry and local food. We plan to partake of both.
Tomorrow is home, the long way or the short way, we haven’t decided but, whatever we decide, it’s going to be lovely as the roads in this part of the country are simply beautiful.