After great discussions on the best way to head north me preferring to go on the bitumen road back through Coonamble and Rob preferring the dirt road to Burren Junction (the road directly to Wee Waa was closed) we left the Piliga Bore camp after another long hot swim – I can see why most people stay for much more than 1 night.
We headed up the dirt, or more correctly sandy mud & water, road with 4WD fully engaged. The road is 38km long and about 70% is still dirt but we made it through with no problems you’ve heard the expression happy as a pig in mud well literally that was Rob. The mud was at least 30cm deep and the road rutted from other vehicles also there was a couple of deeper water crossings but nothing too scary. Thankfully the mud wasn’t smelly and much of it has already fallen off but definitely a big clean up job required.
Coming out at Burren Juction which is much smaller than the small town of Pilliga, but much tidier, we went for another soak in artesian baths. The water coming into this one is much hotter but seemed to cool quicker may be due to the depth of over 1.8 meters or even the large concrete plug in the middle. Good if somewhat old toilets and even hot showers which cater for the many campers, already there would have been about 25 there and more rolling in. We hear that some people stay for months on end, Rob asked what they did during that time apart from soaking in the pool. Apparently reading, puzzles, handcrafts, eating, drinking and playing jokes on each other – are we ready for that life?
We carried on along the Kamilaroi Highway through Wee Waa and then headed north on the Newell Highway. We thought camping at Sawn Rocks north of Narrabri would have been good but the road was closed so continued north on the highway turning on to the Gwydir Highway. Strange to be travelling amongst the road trains and various other travellers but good to hear from Rob the places he stops when driving the trucks. Much flooding around and some very fast flowing rivers and creeks but we could see the water was already dropping. After consulting the free camps book (thanks Cherie) we found there were 3 places listed between 20 and 30 km east of Moree we checked out the first, Tareelaroi Weir again engaging 4WD, to find a perfect spot right on the fast flowing Gwydir River. Absolutely magic we are the only campers here and after picking up the litter that was around I quickly started taking photo’s before the sun went down and the full moon rose. Apart from lots of birds and kangaroos passing by we were also visited by a couple of local farmers on their little John Deere buggy. Great to hear about the town and the lifestyle round here. We also chatted about Brisbane as their son has moved north recently (so recent you can still smell the gum leaves on him 😃) just 5 minutes from our daughter.
Woke to gorgeous blue skies although apparently more rain has been predicted in the next few days. Enjoying breakfast by the river watching the yellow crop duster plane flying very low over us wow what amazing skills these guys have certainly no room for error. We lingered enjoying our second to last morning watching the birds especially the Pelicans who were honking as they flew by.
Back on the Gwydir Highway we continued west through a few small towns including Biniguy where the Southern Hemisphere’s largest pecan farm is situated and has been since 1965. Stopping at Warialda we bought a few provisions including a huge pork chop from the butcher, it was so huge I had him cut it so we could share 1 – they eat big in the country. We then travelled north towards the Bruxner Way and then on to Texas the creeks and rivers had dropped down considerably and there was only one place where water was over the road, some of the roads had previously been closed. On arriving in Texas we decided to stop by the river for lunch it was in full flow and where you can normally cross the causeway was a raging torrent with large logs jammed. Still plenty of campers here though and we wondered if they had arrived for the Country Music Festival the following weekend.
I’d noticed on my Pocket Earth App a campground on the East side of the Coolmunda Dam but on arrival found it was a private camp that was closed. We followed the road round the other side but there was only another private campground charging $20 per night so decided to continue to Leyburn the home of Australia’s first Grand Prix, they still have yearly sprints here, and stay in the free campsite on the edge of town right on Canal Creek.
A few other campers stayed overnight at Leyburn but a huge mown grassy area provides plenty of room for all, a basic toilet and showers available at the tennis courts in town. Just a pub and a corner store here but bet it hums each August when the motor enthusiasts hit town. A quiet night with plenty of bird life and the sheep across the river baaing, sadly no campfire to cooked the planned damper as we didn’t have enough wood on board. Woke to steady drizzly rain which isn’t a bad thing as assists in cleaning off the mud as we travelled home to Brisbane.