WILLANDRA NP TO SYDNEY VIA GRIFFITH, GRENFELL AND ORANGE
For the previous part of this trip, click here.
Monday 25 September 2006
We had planned on two nights at Willandra but there is not really enough to keep us occupied. We are now two days ahead of plan so I need to do some rescheduling. The small visitor centre has a brochure for Cocoparra National Park which is down near Griffith. We decide to head there for a night and then onto Griffith and then to Weddin Mountains National Park which is back near Grenfell.
On the way out of the park we examine the Willandra Shearing Shed and Shearers' Quarters. These are still used once a year by neighbours in an attempt to keep the historic nature of the park going. A good idea.
It is an easy drive to Hillston where again top up with milk and bread. We try to buy some more nibblies (like camembert cheese) but the supermarket has the worst selection of such things I have seen since I was a kid in the 1960s. We make do with what we can get, figuring that we can buy some more things in Griffith tomorrow.
We travel via Goolgowi and then take the Mid Western Highway towards West Wyalong. My mapping software on my laptop shows an access road coming off the highway and I have downloaded the track to the GPS.
|The view from a small lookout on a walk at Cocoparra NP||The campsite at Cocoparra NP|
Well, this track is not signposted and is very overgrown and rough. It is called the Whitton Stock Route and was used by the Cobb & Co coaches. We head this way and that way, unsure if we are still on the right track as there are many tracks leading off. Finally we arrive at the park and head to one of the picnic areas at Jacks Creek where we have lunch. After lunch we do a nice walk which goes up the creek.
After this we go to the top of Mount Bingar. This is accessible by road and gives magnificent views all over the flat land towards Griffith.
From here it is time to head to the camping area at Woolshed Flat. We find a nice camping area and have our pick of spots as there are only two other vehicles here. We do a couple of walks before settling down for drinks and dinner.
Tuesday 26 September 2006
We head into Griffith and find a very nice town. I want to go to the national parks office as I know the Area Manager from when we worked together in 1988. We have morning tea with him and grab some leaflets for the next parks we plan to visit. On the way out of town we visit the supermarket and bottle shop.
|A Lockhead Hudson and a Supermarine Spitfire in the maintenance hanger||A Commonwealth Boomerang|
We head off towards Temora with the aim of visiting the Temora Aviation Museum. We arrive there at midday and have lunch in their grounds before exploring the museum. This is one of the best museums in NSW. If you have even only a little bit of interest in planes, it is still worth seeing. There are a couple of Supermarine Spitfires, the most famous military aircraft of all time, as well as many others. There are also displays on World War II when the airfield was an RAAF Training Base. Nearly all the aircraft fly and the ones that do not are in the process of being rebuilt. I will have to organise a weekend here when the planes are flying, I have heard that it is a great time.
After a beer at one of the pubs, we drive to Weddin Mountains National Park. This is another park that just jumps up out of the flat surrounding land like Cocoparra. There is only one camping area and this is called Ben Halls Camping Ground. This is located near a cave that legend has it was used by the bushranger, Ben Hall, to hide in. The camping area is probably one of the best I have seen in a NSW national park and had the best designed fireplace/barbecue I have ever seen. It was large enough to permit the use of camp ovens, your own barbecue or for an open fire as well as having its own BBQ plate. These should be in use in all NSW national parks. We did a walk here that was quite interesting.
|The Ben Hall Camping Area at Weddin Mountains NP||Ben Halls Cave|
There was only one other vehicle here and we had a great baked dinner with apple crumble pudding afterwards.
After dinner sitting around the camp fire we saw lots of aircraft passing overhead on their way from Sydney to Adelaide as well as a few shooting stars and satellites.
Wednesday 27 September 2006
We took it easy this morning as we did not have far to go. We did a walk up to Ben Halls Cave and then drove to Seatons Farm which is only a few minutes away. This amazing old homestead is an example of Australian ingenuity at its best.
|A shed at Seatons Farm - note the flattened corrugated iron||Inside the main house at Seatons Farm - note the dirt floors|
The property was occupied by old man Seaton in the late 1920s and during the Depression it was set up as a farm. Times and the land were hard and the buildings represent this. The home is small, nothing like the huge Willandra Homestead, with dirt floors. Every bit of material on the property has been recycled once or more. The sheds have walls made from flattened corrugated iron so that it stretched further. One of the sheds is full of old wire, iron sheets, bottles, everything you can imagine. All the old machinery is still there, sitting where it was when the family sold the property to the Government in the 1980s. A very unique place, showing how the less well off farmers did it in the early and mid 1900s.
From here we travelled to the historic town of Grenfell. This is beautiful, with lots of cafes. We had a nice morning tea here as well as picking up a few supplies at the supermarket.
We drove onto Eugowra (where we had a beer in the pub) and to the park. The directions on the national parks web site as to the location of the access road into the park are contradictory (one part says it is 10 km from Eugowra, another 15 km from Eugowra and 50 and 70 km from Orange and that there is no road access to the park) and not clear (eg the name of the main road is given but this does not appear on any map I could find). However, my GPS shows that it is exactly 11 kilometres from the Eugowra Hotel (the centre of town) and there is a very small sign pointing to the park near a windmill. Despite what is said or implied, you can access the park from the eastern side as well.
|The camping area at Nangar NP||On the top of Mt Nangar looking towards the north-east|
The road in is not too bad and it passes an old homestead before you enter the park proper. The park is similar to the last two and jumps up from the surrounding area. The Terrara Creek Camping Area is even better than the one at Weddin Mountains. It is smaller, perhaps able to handle eight to ten cars, but really new and well set out. We drive on to Dripping Falls (they weren't) where we had lunch.
After lunch we drive to Mount Nangar. This is four wheel drive only and some parts it was easier in low range. At the top there are fantastic views of the valley below and the walls of the cliff opposite as well as views to Mount Canobolas near Orange. There is another access road from the eastern side that comes from the Canowindra Road. This is said to be four wheel drive only and is not signposted or advertised. You can see where it comes off the track to Mount Nangar just before the steeper sections begin.
We go back to the camping area and set up. A four wheel drive with a couple of blokes goes past and up the road. A few hours later they come back, embarrassed that they have no matches to start their fire. I give them a spare lighter.
Again, a great night with a few drinks, lots of stars, satellites and aircraft (it seems planes flying from Sydney to Adelaide stray to the north of a straight line and go over the top of here).
Thursday 28 September 2006
Well, that was the last night. We head home via Orange and Bathurst, arriving just after lunch.
Vehicle was Toyota Prado V6 3.4 litre petrol 1999 model. We ended up being away 12 nights, travelling 3,695 kilometres. The fuel averaged $1.32 per litre, we used 480 litres and averaged 13.0 litres per 100 kilometres. The car was relatively heavily loaded and the maximum speed was 100 kph on the main tarred highways and 80 to 90 kph on dirt roads. For more details about our Prado, click here.
Even though we had the roof top tent (see below) that would create more wind resistance, the car was not as heavily loaded as the Central Australia trip. As such the fuel consumption was a half a litre per hundred kilometres better.
We used a Shippshape car top tent that we borrowed from our dive friends Les and Elly Caterson. Fantastic! We have since purchased our own one we loved it so much. For more details about it, click here.
|Food ||$ 256.73|
|Grog ||$ 74.27|
|Repairs ||$ 30.00|
|Miscel ||$ 138.00|
|Camp fees ||$ 48.00|
The Last Word
This was a great holiday. A vastly underrated trip that is as good as any of the more famous Australian Four Wheel Drive Treks like Central Australia and Cape York. You could easily spend more than the time we did on the trip. More days at Warrumbungle NP, Gundabooka NP, Mutawintji NP and Mungo NP as well as more at Kinchega NP if and when the drought breaks. You could also do the vast majority of this trip in a conventional vehicle.