Well, the rain thwarted us again today. It’s great for the farmers but not so good for us travelers hoping to get off the major highways.
With the Silver City Hwy closed due to rain, Dad and I had no choice but to retrace our steps back down the Barrier Hwy. But all was not lost; the Outback never looks the same twice and the same country looks different depending on whether you travel west or east.
And so it was that we drove across the flat plains, over the small hills and past the salt bush. The rain started to fall around 9am and we could feel the flora sigh with pleasure. The dust washed off the salt bush and grass, intensifying their colours, and we could almost see the leaves uncurling to drink in the precious droplets.
We stopped for breakfast at the Little Topar Hotel. The bacon was plentiful and the sunny side up eggs perfectly cooked. There is no town, just an isolated 90-odd year old hotel that seems to be a major truck stop.
The 540km from Little Topar and Nyngan were uneventful. The rain fell steadily and the landscape closed in as more trees grew along the roadside. We saw some emus, kangaroos, feral goats and livestock.
Then things got interesting.
We decided to cut through from Nyngan to Walgett. The road was open. A lengthy stretch was gravel and clay. It was beautiful, slippery and slow. We engaged 4 WD and took our time as mud spun up from the wheels and spattered all over the vehicle, including the windscreen .
We ran out of daylight just as we hit the narrow bitumen Warren-Carinda road. With the help of our spotlights, we made good time, and spotted some huge wild pigs and roos.
The Carinda-Walgett road is now sealed, wide and in good condition so it was easy to cover what we thought would be the final 70km of the day. Unfortunately, when we got to Walgett we discovered a town where every building entry was covered with metal bars. There were a lot of heavily intoxicated people on the street and the smell of fear in the air. We stopped at one of the three motels in town to ask about accommodation and I think we were both relieved to hear there was nothing available at all in town.
So we drove another 75km to Collsrenebri, which has a pub with accomodation. We arrived a Collie just as the cook closed the kitchen but she still cooked us up a huge plate of chicken schnitzel, vegetables, chips and gravy as we settled in for a beer before retiring to our simple yet acceptable room.
I have to give a special thanks to my friend L who phoned us in Nyngan to give us some local knowledge and directions given she used to live out here. It was both helpful and thoughtful.