6 to 7 September 2019
Emmaville to Warialda via Cranky Rock, 151km
to Lightening Ridge, 308km
After our little detour to Emmaville we were ready to rejoin the route we had intended to make when we first left Brisbane. The opal mining town of Lightening Ridge had been our next intended stop after Goondiwindi where we both succumbed to the flu. We were almost back on track.
From Emmaville we took the unsealed and more direct road to rejoin the Gwydir Highway at Inverell. For 85km and over an hour we bumped along the dusty track through mile after mile of fenced, parched pastoral land. I don’t think we passed another vehicle on that road and we started to get a sense of the isolation of these outback farms.
Just before we reached Warialda we took a short detour to visit Cranky Rock. A jumble of enormous granite boulders seemingly thrown into place. Legend has it that in 1874 a “cranky” Chinese man murdered a woman and when chased by the police evaded capture by jumping from the rocks.
It was very windy on top of the rocks when we visited and I nearly lost my hat to a gust but despite the wind I eventually inched my way up the walkway to the platform to be able to look down into the pool below.
We broke our journey to Lightening Ridge in the small town of Warialda. We had decided to have a night in a cabin on the caravan site because of the high winds and the still very cold night time temperatures. We were very glad we did because shortly after we arrived and just as we decided to venture to the supermarket the sky looked like this. There was a dust storm coming. All over Australia the winds were reeking havoc. In Queensland they continued to fan the devastating forest fires. At sea they were whipping up huge waves. In New South Wales they were creating thick clouds of dust.
The dust storm bypassed Warialda and we eventually left the cabin for a quick walk around its pretty buildings. We couldn’t help but warm to a place that celebrates a Senior and Junior Citizen every year.
From Warialda we travelled through a beautifully hazy, post dust storm, pastel landscape. The Gwydir Highway was very quiet. “I’m glad we left early to avoid the traffic” Stefan quipped and in a change from the usual kangaroos we saw two dead wombats on the roadside.
As we continued on the highway we found more evidence of the drought in a dry river. We turned off the road and drove right into the river bed. It was hard to imagine there ever being water in it.
A little further down the road we found a more promising looking river in the tiny town of Collarenebri. The Barwon River is part of the Murray-Darling river systems. In the local Aboriginal language barwon means great, wide, awful river of muddy water and it is a pretty good description. It was, however, a good place to brew a cup of tea and enjoy our first lamington of our trip.
From Collarenebri we turned off the tarmac again and onto the dusty track to Lightening Ridge. The main road would have been an extra 40km and kicking up dust behind us is much more fun…