Odometer: 5756 km
We have driven from Bourke via Nyngan to Dubbo, and then on via Parkes and Orange to arrive in Bathurst.
Driving from the empty, dry and quiet outback into the pastoral, nearly English landscape of green rolling hills of Central NSW, “the Food Basket of Australia”.
The road from Bourke to Nyngan was typical outback, with one road house about halfway the 204 km stretch. Still lots of small trees and grey green shrub, red earth and abandoned buildings alongside the road. Traffic was increasing slowly and we proudly joined the Australian tradition of wanting to catch up and overtake that speck of a car in the distance!
We started seeing larger gum trees and shrub was replaced by agriculture as we approached Nyngan. Nyngan is a rather nondescript town, located on the Bogan river in the Bogan shire. It is the proud owner of the Big Bogan statue, another of those typical Australian “big things”.
For the non-Australians, I have found a quite accurate description of a bogan online:
Driving on to Dubbo there were more small hamlets at regular intervals. We drove alongside fields with crops and the occasional flocks of sheep. No more cattle grids, no more road trains. We were now in the country of large grain silos and big farms.
We spent two nights in Dubbo, in one of the many motels close to the city centre. It was quite a shock to the system being back in a largish (pop 38,000) country town, and Dubbo traffic was rather overwhelming. NSW school holidays are still in full swing, and Sydney-siders have flocked en masse to the country side with their families.
Dubbo is famous for its outdoor zoo, which we gave a miss on account of the large number of school kids around. However, we did visit the Dubbo gaol. It is a relatively small but well preserved gaol built in 1887, with both a female and male section. Eight men were executed at this jail for serious murder offences, the last one was in 1905. Three of these men were buried in unmarked graves inside the prison compound and are still there. The gaol was finally closed in 1966.
There is a clear self guided tour taking you around the buildings, including climbing up to a watch tower. I made Mike stay to watch the small play about its famous inmates….
We had a lovely dinner at a restaurant called Veldt in Dubbo, modern Australian cuisine. I can highly recommend it, both ambiance and food were very pleasing to our big city taste buds.
As it started raining I clocked up my 10k steps by doing some serious browsing along the shops in Macquarie street, and having my hair cut.
We drove from Dubbo on to Parkes, home of The Dish. No, not just another big Australian landmark, this time it is the actual radio telescope that was the prime receiving station for the Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969. It also assisted in the Apollo 13 emergency in 1970. The Parkes radio telescope is now run by CSIRO as part of the Australia Telescope National Facility.
What can I say, it is big! With a diameter of 64 (!) metres it still is one of the largest single dish telescopes in the southern hemisphere dedicated to astronomy. It started operating in 1961, and has been upgraded regularly to remain at the cutting edge of science. Half of the more than 2000 known pulsars have been found using this telescope!
Access to the visitors centre is free, and there is a small theatre with 3D movies about astronomy related topics for a small fee.
On our way to Orange we were stopped by the police for a random breath test (RBT). We are entering wine country and it was a Friday. Mike was driving and we can happily report that he scored a zero alcohol score.
We stopped in Orange to get Mike a new sleeping bag, ensuring that on our next camping adventure he will be warm. We had a small walk around but it was cold and overcast. It appears to have some nice historic buildings, shame that as in Dubbo the majority of traffic goes straight through the centre of town. Orange is a country town that serves as the entrance to the wine country. It is similar in age and size to Dubbo and Bathurst.
We will be in Bathurst for several days, time for doing laundry, plan our onward journey and relax. We were supposed to be here after the Mount Panorama race, but as that has been put back we are now in Bathurst in the week leading up to “The Race”. Might need a Holden or Ford shirt to blend in……
- Best coffee: The Press, Bult street in Dubbo
- Accomodation Dubbo: we stayed in one of the many, many motels in this town. For a special trip you can stay at the safari park, sleeping with the beasts. But you will have to book several months in advance!
- Tip: Dubbo gaol is worth a visit, $20.50 per adult.