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    Western NSW – Down the Darling, July 2020 - Part 3

    Click here to read the previous part of this trip.

    Day 21 – Thursday 16 July 2020 – Aloes Camping Area

    Weather: minimum of 6.7ºC and fine

    I wake up early at 4:30 am when some idiot started his car and let it run for 30 minutes before he left. Why are some people so inconsiderate, at least three similar people I have run into in the past 13 months on trips. Yet another cool night. Listened to the two radio news and get up at 8:00 am. A few of us walk over to the artesian bore, a lot less people are here today and the water is a few degrees cooler. Back for breakfast and then we pack up.

    At 9:35 am, I head off with John and Maureen. Eda and Ray and Ron and Donna are leaving for Queensland (Ron and Donna end up not coming back to Sydney for another 12 weeks!). After stopping at the oldest house in Lightning Ridge to take a photograph, we leave town at 9:45 am. At 11:00 am we stop at Cryon (123 km). We were driving into a strong headwind till Walgett, so fuel economy was poor at 14.8 but after there it was 12.8 or so. We leave Cryon (a very small village) at 11:25 am.

    At 11:50 we arrive in Burren Junction and go for a drive around, not planning to stop, just looking. We then continue on to Pilliga and stop at the Pilliga Bore Baths at 12:25 pm. This is 205 km from Lightning Ridge. It is a cool 15ºC. We decide to have lunch here.

    PilligaPilliga
    The Pilliga Artesian BathsThe Aloes Picnic Area

    This spot has a very large camping area and a small artesian pool. There are a few people camped here and others just passing through. I decide to go in the pool, the temperature is about 36ºC I reckon. Very nice. The pool is free but there is a small fee for camping. After the swim, I have my lunch. We leave at 1:20 pm.

    We head south towards Baradine and at Kenebri we take a track into the state forest (no idea which one as there are a few here) towards The Aloes Picnic Area which is at an intersection with the road to Narrabri. It is a pretty good dirt road and we arrive there at 2:10 pm. There are a few spots you can camp at, one is on the right as you come in, another is in behind the trees to the left straight opposite (the old homestead site I think) and another one just past the intersection near the three water tanks and windmill.

    We decide to camp on the right near a table. This is amongst pine and gum trees and backs onto Etoo Creek which is dry. We have travelled 265 km today. We set up camp and collect some more firewood, there is heaps around, lots of it is gum tree.

    PilligaPilliga
    Etoo Creek near our campsiteThe water tanks near The Aloes

    After a cuppa, I go for a walk along the road and a bloke stops to check on me. He had driven past about an hour earlier and has been visiting a friend. He tells me that there are koalas seen here. I spend the rest of my walk looking, but see none.

    At 4:00 pm I start the fire as it is still cool. We are cooking a roast dinner, I am doing a small lamb roast and John is doing some small beef steaks. While waiting for coals, I sharpen my chainsaw. We put the vegies on at 5:30 pm and the meat at 6:15 pm. They are all done at 7:00 pm, although my vegies are not really cooked enough, despite being on for a long time. We sit around and read and go to bed at 11:15 pm.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 15ºC
    Arrived: The Aloes Picnic AreaTime: 2:10 pm Distance: 265 kilometres

    Day 22 – Friday 17 July 2020 – Aloes Camping Area

    Weather: minimum of -1.5ºC and fine

    A very, very cold night, minimum of -1.5ºC and still -0.1ºC at 8:00 am when I get up. Despite this, I was quite warm during the night. It is not too high here, only 276 metres, but the clear sky and still air has let it cool right down. We have breakfast and pack up and leave at 8:55 am. It is still only 8ºC.

    We drive south on the dirt road towards Baradine. From here we go to Coonabarabran, arriving there at 11:00 am. This is 70 km from our campsite. It has warmed to 11ºC, even though we are now at 550 metres. I buy some cakes from the bakery for morning tea. I also refuel, 85.4 litres at $1.199 $102.38, an average of 12.2 litres/100 kilometres for the 652 kilometres since Bourke. We move to a park on the way out of town and have morning tea. Note the toilet is actually near the park near the creek.

    BaradineDunedoo
    Hotel BaradineOne of the bird sculptures, this is an owl

    We leave at 11:50 am and head via Mendooran to Dunedoo, arriving there at 1:05 pm. We have travelled 183 km today and it is a cool 14ºC. We have lunch in the park in the main street, a nice spot with toilets and some artwork, metal bird sculptures. I purchase an excellent lamb pie from across the street. We leave at 1:35 pm.

    We head towards Gulgong. Our plan is to camp at a spot called Crusher Campground which is located on the Cudgegong River. You turn off to the right just after crossing the river about five kilometres before Gulgong. It is about seven kilometres from the Castlereagh Highway to the camping area and we arrive at 2:30 pm.

    Cudgegong RiverCudgegong River
    A drone shot of Crusher Camp Ground and the Cudgegong RiverOur campsite

    The site is fairly large, but a huge section of it is low and there are lots of bogs from where local hoons have obviously ripped up the tracks and camping area with their four wheel drives. The higher section of land is not all that flat. There is already a vehicle in the best spot. We end up finding a spot where we can put both vehicles, but it means parking across one of the tracks. This should not cause a problem as there are plenty of other tracks.

    At 2:45 pm after a lot of looking around, we set up camp. The river is very nice here, platypus are seen here apparently. It is a pity that the place has been affected by idiots. Speaking of which, there is a car here which has a bogan family in it. They drive in and out and around and about. Then they park near us and the bloke starts work on his vehicle, bashing parts of it for hours. What the hell is he doing? The kids are in the river on floats. They finally leave well after dark.

    Anyway, I take some photos with the drone and we light a fire in John's firepit. I cook some potatoes, capsicum on my grill on the fire and then John's sausages and my Scotch fillet steak. Another excellent meal. We go to bed at 11:00 pm, it is a cold 5ºC.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 14ºC
    Arrived: Crusher Camping AreaTime: 2:30 pm Distance: 240 kilometres

    Day 23 – Saturday 18 July 2020 – Home

    Weather: minimum of 0.9ºC and fine

    A very, very cold night, minimum of 0.9ºC and still that at 8:00 am when I get up. Calm and sunny and foggy over the river. We have breakfast and pack up. I leave at 9:05 am, John and Maureen will leave later. I have to travel via my ex-wife's place to collect my dog. This is way out of our way.

    I drive via the direct route and come out on the Castlereagh Highway to the south of Gulgong. I stop at Capertee at 10:30 am for morning tea, 120 km from our campsite. It is still a cool 9ºC. My friend John rings from Melbourne where he lives. He works in a hospital and it has been very hectic down there due to COVID. I leave at 10:50 am and head via Lithgow and then the Bells Line of Road.

    I stop at the Bilpin Fruit Bowl at 12:07 pm to buy an apple pie for diving next week. Expensive, but excellent. A funny thing happened just before I stopped, the car's dash screen came up with a Take a Rest sign at 11:57 am. This is strange, it has never happened before, despite driving for much longer periods. Perhaps because the Bells Line of Road is so windy, it senses that you must be more fatigued.

    Home
    Back home again

    I leave at 12:15 pm and at 12:47 pm I stop at North Richmond for lunch. I have averaged only 8.2 l/100 km since Bilpin, it is all downhill. I wish the fuel economy was like this all the time, although it was a good 12.0 from Capertee to Bilpin and that is very windy and a lot of up hills for a few sections. I leave at 12:55 pm. I pick Veto up at 2:30 pm from the northern beaches and get home at 3:50 pm.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 17ºC
    Arrived: HomeTime: 3:50 pm Distance: 360 kilometres

    Summary:
    Kilometres: 4,868
    Litres: 644.4
    Cost: $729.34
    Economy: 13.2 litres/100km
    Camping cost: $132 in national parks, $89 in caravan parks, tours $51.50
    Other costs: a few meals out and some shopping, but similar to expenditure at home

    A really great three week trip, I strongly recommend it to all.

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