Wednesday 1 January
A new decade dawned, but the Public Holiday thwarted the Intrepid Travellers’ plans of spending up big, because all shops (bar one) were shut.
We left the motel in Coonamble at 7.30 am for a 100 km dash to Moree to do a heritage walk of the Art Deco façades of shops, hotels and banks (see first 4 photos). En route we found a flourishing community garden at the back of the Uniting Church (see fifth picture). (It would seem that green fingers abound in Uniting Church congregations.).
Our only purchases for the day were at the newsagency which had fortunately (for the proprietor) opened for a few hours.
Another 100 km back to the motel for a quick shower and breakfast found us vacating the motel before the late departure time of 11am.
We found Wee Waa an attractive town as we had Moree. What a difference trees in the main street make in an otherwise hot and dusty townscape, especially if they are planted down the centre of the road.
We continued on to Pilliga, to the artesian bore baths; the water at 37 degrees was cooler than the ambient temperature. Horses were enjoying the water (see sixth and seventh photos).
I had thought we might purchase lunch at the Pilliga café, and even though I had assurances over the phone that the café “only shuts on Christmas Day”, its doors were firmly closed. Fortunately, we had all planned for “nowhere to eat” on New Year’s Day and so we ended up having a DIY lunch in the shade of a giant iron bark in Baradine, (50 km on a dirt road from Pilliga)
Kate, at the very interesting NPWS Pilliga Forest Discovery Centre in Baradine, was helpful in advising us how to get to and from the 19 metre forest tower, a 90 km round trip on dirt roads. We scurried up the tower egged on by the fierce heat (41 degrees) and our desire not to look down. The 360 degree view of the forest tree tops was impressive (see photo); the forest is comprised of Cyprus pines and iron barks, once extensively logged but now left alone. Fires are a natural part of the ecological process and there was much evidence of fires from previous years.
We hurried to Coonamble, looked at 2 other motels, in order to spread our spending, but ended up staying with the Shaws and Herb and Jessie. It was by now 43 degrees, the air-conditioning was ineffective (and didn’t cool the room sufficiently until after midnight) and we were tired having driven over 530 km.
At least the Coonamble Bowling Club was open and air-conditioned. Everyone felt better after drinks and dinner but at 7.30 pm a hush descended over the packed dining room and Bingo started. We were the only table not participating and continued chatting, but after a number of scowls from nearby tables we felt it better to take our leave, disappointingly sooner than we had planned.