After the excitement of the Abba Festival it was time to hit the road again. However, we didn't retrace our steps back home , we kept on going. Our destination for the day was the small town of Gulargambone, population 500.
Our route took us through Trangie and Warren.
The landscape continued to change, now featuring miles and miles of cotton crops in the wide open plains.
Bales used to be rectangular, but now yellow round bales seem to be the way to go. We saw many in paddocks and met several trucks loaded with bales. I heard on the radio that this year's crop was about the best on record, due to the dry weather. They seem to be about the only primary producers that are enjoying the dry. However, all the crops had been irrigated during the growing season. There is much debate about the practices of cotton growing, but I won't get into that.
As we approached the town of Warren we passed the cotton gin. The area was surrounded by more bales, neatly stored.
We have only been through Warren once before and I had no real recollection of it. It was bigger than I remembered. It was also lunch time, so time for a break.
The town is located on the banks of the Macquarie River. The river starts just south of Bathurst and finishes about 100kms north of Warren in the Macquarie Marshes
, which eventually drain into the Darling River. It is somewhere I'd love to visit when it isn't so dry, as it is an amazing bird wetland.
A kookaburra kept us company while we ate in the park.
The main street had lovely old buildings and this Peter Brown mural on one building.
There were a couple of lovely old weatherboard churches.
Then it was back on the road towards our destination. We knew we were getting close when we came across some corrugated iron galahs.
And we're there.
Now, for a little background.
In a previous life I worked at the local credit union. In the mid 1990s the banks and other public services were leaving small communities in droves. The town of Kandos (100kms from home) had their main bank close its doors on the Friday and we opened in their premises on the Monday. I travelled there and back each day for a couple of months to get the branch up and running.
The federal government tried to fill the gap a little bit in some of these communities by opening Rural Transaction Centres (RTCs), providing access to Centrelink, Medicare, the internet (this was the 1990s) and financial services. Our credit union provided the financial services at Eugowra, near Forbes (140kms from home), Trundle (220kms from home) and Gulargambone (320kms from home). I provided occasional relief at Eugowra and Trundle (which were very long days), but never at Gulargambone. As you can imagine, I have a soft spot for these little towns.
Back in 2004, a group of us were on a motorcycling holiday and we decided to camp at the caravan park at Gulargambone, so I could visit the RTC, and catch up with the girls I often spoke to on the phone. This was before the current resurgence in the popularity of caravanning. We were the only ones in the caravan park. When we went into the amenities block and opened the toilet or shower doors you could hear all the spiders webs breaking. No one had been in there for a very long time. We had a good night and it has provided much amusing reminiscing ever since.
The town also had a new initiative at the time - "2828" - a visitor information centre, coffee shop, gallery and function area. The galahs were installed at all the town entrances at about that time as well.
So how are things going now?
We saw that the galahs are still there.
2828 is still going strong and has just had some new people take over. Here's hoping they continue this fine tradition.
Yes, the RTC is still trading in the post office and our local credit union is still represented, although it has had a name change. The main street unfortunately doesn't have a lot happening.
There are some dumpy houses ,but they are definitely outnumbered by nice houses.
Now what about the caravan park? Well, it receives rave reviews in magazines and on forums as being one of the best in the state. That is some turn around. You are greeted by nice gardens. I forgot to take a photo of our camp site, but they are nice big drive through sites, which make an easy getaway in the morning.
The amenities were spruced up and not a spiders web in site. We couldn't help notice that even the dump point was prettied up.
On of the biggest improvements is a huge camp kitchen/entertainment area that has been built.
There are colourful handmade rugs for the cooler nights. When the camp kitchen was first built visitors would crochet or knit a square, which were then all joined together to make these communal rugs.
Each Wednesday and Sunday during the cooler six months of the year there is camp over roast provided for $15 per head. We turned up on a Sunday, which was ideal. It was a great way for everyone to get together.
Our hosts, Dave (on the left) and Bernadette (on the right) make everyone feel welcome and included. The meal was lovely.
They are also great fundraisers for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) running a mini raffle each camp oven night. The prizes are all donated by visitors to the park. They were small crafted items, bottles of wine and other bits and bobs. They raise many thousands of dollars each year. When we left I donated my winnings from Trundle to this great project.
It is a popular destination for grey nomad, many of which stay for several weeks at a time and get involved in helping around the park by getting fire wood, gardening and helping with the camp oven roasts or making things for the raffles. It has a real sense of family for those on the road. We can see why it is so popular.
Gulargambone is now also having a second resurgance, as while we were sewing over at Baradine (not that far away), there was an influx of artists to Gulargambone. I'll show you what they got up to next, as this post is too long already.