We left Oberon, as planned at 8.30 am, saying goodbye to Lorraine, who happened to be staying next door at our motel.
Karen (the female voice on our GPS) took us to Bell via Tarana, Sodwall’s Rd, Lake Lyell and onto Lithgow (instead of Duckmaloi, Mt Victoria and the Darling Causeway, as suggested by Peter). It was nevertheless a very pretty road, with little traffic and we were able to take a beautiful picture of the countryside, burnt golden as it is, with a long line of sheep being fed grain. We think it is probably one of “the” pictures of the trip for us.
However, the picture of the Bell’s Line of Road was far from pretty. Vast swathes of burnt bush on either side of the road, some areas just black - black stalks of the remaining trees and the ground a lifeless, intense black – singed notice boards, melted road signs and road barriers. And it still smelt of fire, or rather a last night’s fire. Miraculously we saw no evidence of house loss, although we saw a road side stall completely destroyed. We stopped at the Fruit Bowl to purchase a couple of apple pies at Peter’s suggestion because 40% of their orchard had been destroyed. Brian purchased a chocolate milkshake but it wasn’t as good as the ones he and the others had enjoyed out west.
Brian replaced his jeans at David Jones in Hornsby. The left knee had worn thin and eventually torn across the knee. He was very flattered when the salesman, in response to his statement that he wanted to replace his jeans, produced ones that were intentionally torn, thinking he was trendy and needed his “fashionable” torn ones replaced. Some food shopping was also done at Hornsby in preparation for Weary Wednesday (when we mind grandchildren aged 1, 4 and 7 from breakfast to dinner) the next day and we were home around 3 pm.
We had travelled close to 3,000 km and had spent over $1.25 per km in the bush. A very successful trip, financially for the country towns, socially for the “intrepid travellers” as we had an opportunity to get to know each other better and inspirationally for us as we admired the fortitude, selflessness and community spirit of the country people. We were fortunate in having the time to learn a bit about the bush and the hardships faced especially during the current drought.