A week of average and sublime experiences


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Oceania » Australia » New South Wales » Tamworth
May 28th 2017
Published: May 28th 2017
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Rock formation enroute to Cassilis Rock formation enroute to Cassilis Rock formation enroute to Cassilis

Cleaved down the centre. This rock was just in the middle of nowhere. It appears to be split exactly in half.
We ended up at the Cassilis bowls club camping spot because we drove into a tremendous downpour and the free camp we intended to use was awash, despite being on top of a mountain! Apart from the day that we left Melbourne, this was the first time we had run into any real rain on the trip, so we cannot complain too much. Certainly we have had some very cold mornings and the odd day, but generally the weather has been fairly kind. It was a bit of a surprise however to find the day after arriving in Cassilis that we could do some sightseeing around the area in good weather. Cassilis is a very hospitable hamlet, but has very little else to hold ones attention.

We popped into Merriwa, which unlike Cassilis has a larger population and a business centre, and sought out the Information Centre. Geoff had passed so, so many wineries on this trip he was suffering withdrawal and was keen to visit a few in the area. He quickly lost interest when told that one whose sign we had passed on the road in to town was in fact 26kms down a dirt road. With no
Burning Mountain South of Willow Tree Burning Mountain South of Willow Tree Burning Mountain South of Willow Tree

This is the result of a coal seam, some 25-30 mts below the surface self igniting some 6000 years ago. It is burning at the rate of 1 mtr per year. The red in the foreground is iron oxide and I think the white is alum. There was no smoke and little smell, but a slight heat haze could be seen at the top of the hill when viewed from this angle.
knowledge of the quality you might find at the end of 26 kms of dirt road, it is a bigger leap of faith than even Geoff was prepared to make. But we did find an interesting rock formation called Battery Rocks a bit out of town on our way to Denman. As it was the day (or 2) after Margaret’s birthday we had lunch in a very nice cafe’ to celebrate and took the opportunity to sample a couple of wines from another local vineyard. That saved another trip out of our way, as it would have been a struggle to buy anything after what we selected to have with lunch.

The following day, we took the shortcut from Merriwa to Scone (pron: sc ohne) and arrived in a little hamlet called Willow Tree, where we found the local recreation reserve and low-cost camping that included power, water, ablutions and freight trains. Geoff left to retrace our route to a place/feature called Burning Mountain, about 50 kms back down the road. This is a ‘natural’ feature caused by a self-ignited coal seam being in a state of constant combustion. It was stated that it was a 1 ½ hour
Quirindi  & Bobs shedQuirindi  & Bobs shedQuirindi & Bobs shed

I was reliably informed that most of the products were still intact.
return hike to see it, but that did not deter Geoff – he has climbed the Great Wall of China after all. It was however fairly late in the afternoon when he arrived so it was a very brisk walk up a mountain that in parts gave the impression of being part of the Great Wall itself. Thirty minutes up, a few photos (you have to take photos to prove that you did get to the top!) and a walk in the area designated ‘unstable’ because you could not get any real sense of the “burning mountain” from the look out, and 25 minutes down including a couple of stops to photograph some kangaroos, and the job was done – 1 hour! Only one train had gone through when Geoff left to go back, but Margaret had some bad news when he returned as the frequency of the freight/coal trains had increased somewhat. Later when we were heading off to bed, it seemed that there was only 5 minutes between rumble and roars (yes, I do mean from the trains!). We had paid for 2 nights, but a unanimous decision was made in the morning to move on.

Wallabadah
Bobs shed Bobs shed Bobs shed

These are replica's of 2 Holden Torana's driven by Peter Brock.
(pron: walla-bud-dar) beckoned. And so we headed 18 kms up the road to a lovely free ($10 per night) park behind the “First Fleet Gardens” and only had to put up with the trucks passing... We did stay here for 2 nights as the trucks (and all traffic) were restricted to 60kph through the town, so the noise was really at a minimum. The biggest problem was that as the trucks approached or departed to the south, they played havoc with out very fragile TV signal!! Gee it can be rough in the bush. We did a get the opportunity to tour around and on the first day we went to Tamworth, and got some washing and grocery shopping done. Margaret wanted to return via the little town of Nundle so we did that and passed a sign indicating a camping spot at the Chaffey Weir, and duly did a quick tour of the site. It looked good and although there were already several vans set up, there was still plenty of space available. We continued into Nundle (it is very famous in its own brochure) to find that it had not changed since our last visit in 2010. Next
Chaffey Dam free camp Chaffey Dam free camp Chaffey Dam free camp

Surface steam and fog from the front of our van.
day we went across to a place called Quirindi (pron: kwirin Di – as in Lady Di), which means “nest in the hills”. It really is important as the hub of the Liverpool Plains, although it does not seem to have quite embraced the 21st century yet. We took a trip to the local look-out known as “Who’d A Thought It Lookout”, right on the edge of town and providing 360 deg views of the town, surrounding farming areas, and the Great Dividing Range. Three quarters of the way up to the look-out is a private museum, which is open to the public, and known as Bob’s shed. Bob is a die-hard Holden/Peter Brock enthusiast and collector of household memorabilia. Consequently the display space is divided almost equally between a very comprehensive collection of domestic products (most still intact) which are housed in a mock general store, and the collection of at least 13 or 14 cars – mostly Peter Brock Torana replicas. There really was something for everyone inside the 6 bay shed.

Returning to the van we hitched up and moved some 50 kms over the hills to Chaffey Weir. This place is really a little slice
Chaffey Dam free camp Chaffey Dam free camp Chaffey Dam free camp

Later in the day - looking upstream across the dam
of heaven. We found a spot that gave us views to the South over the water to the dam wall. When we woke the following morning there was an amazing combination of mist rising from the water and low cloud that had dipped low over the dam. Geoff grabbed the camera and was running all over the place taking photos in his pyjamas, and it was only 4 deg outside – it was that good. As the day developed, it just opened up more photo opportunities and many more amazing views were committed to the SD card. Although it appears to be Crown Land, there is a donation box at the entry and a sign warning that as livestock graze the area, campers enter at their own risk! Cows do graze the area, so it is wise to keep an eye out for fresh meadow pies. The cows are very used to campers being in their paddock and will move very close to the vehicles without any fear at all. Dogs are allowed here and a nearby camper has a beautiful Kelpie bitch; now it is in the Kelpie’s DNA to herd livestock, but when it showed signs of doing
Chaffey Dam free camp Chaffey Dam free camp Chaffey Dam free camp

After much searching, we have determined that this little guy ia an Eastern Rosella.Good of him to pose for me!
that the cow in question just turned and started to move towards the dog! “Don’t come the raw prawn with me shortie!”

Tomorrow we move on to Armidale and a visit with a clubbie builder who I met up with a couple of years ago. We will have all the trappings of modern life again for a day and be able to send this out.

Until next time,

Geoff & Marg.


Additional photos below
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Wallabadabah First Fleet Gardens Wallabadabah First Fleet Gardens
Wallabadabah First Fleet Gardens

The smaller gardens all represent the ships that were in the First Fleet.
Chaffey Dam free campChaffey Dam free camp
Chaffey Dam free camp

Couldn't resist the surface fog and cloud
Chaffey Dam free camp Chaffey Dam free camp
Chaffey Dam free camp

Just paddling away on a mirror like pond.
Chaffey Dam free camp Chaffey Dam free camp
Chaffey Dam free camp

That's us between the 2 big trees.


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