Finally, the last installment of our recent little holiday.
We were greeted with this wonderful sky on the morning that we left Lightning Ridge.
This van is a Lightning Ridge landmark. The artist John Murray lived in it for the first few years he was in town. When he opened his first gallery he turned it into a plane and mounted it on a pole to act as his sign.
Our first stop for the day was for a cuppa at the blink and you miss it locality of Cryon, between Walgett and Wee Waa. There was plenty of room to park.
There were no houses, but there was a huge silo setup, complete with railway siding.
I'd say the hall would service quite a large area. The sky continued to be rather lovely.
Even more silos.
Once back on the road we started to see cotton waste and evidence of irrigation dams. Finally, I have a photo of a windmill. Such wide open spaces.
Lots of bales of cotton and there was also many paddocks of cotton waiting to be harvested.
We arrived in Wee Waa, cotton capital of Australia, in time for a picnic lunch.
Notice the clock face.
The pub was a beautiful old building.
We were surprised to see this delightful garden in the main street.
Garry was happy to see he has a garage in Wee Waa.
The convent had lovely grounds.
We had a quick look in the op shop and Mick homed straight in on a little coffee perculator. We had commented that we should bring one along for when we have no power. It was a little cutie, looked like it had never been used and cost a whole $1.00. Score! Yes, it works like a dream.
We had no booking for our accommodation that night and had vaguely thought of stopping somewhere near Narrabri. We considered that it would be a good option to free camp. However, when we checked out Wikicamps, which is such a wonderful app when camping, we came across the Old Baan Baa School. It was inexpensive and the reviews were all very positive. I called and yes, we could come and stay for the night.
Firstly, where is Baan Baa? I'd never heard of it. Well, it is south east of Narrabri.
There is no power, but the bathrooms were spotless, even with bathmats and shampoos provided. You really couldn't ask for more.
The school closed in 2005 and was left vacant for 5 years before going up for auction. The owners live in the principal's residence and the rest is used for tourism.
Karen related its interesting history, from when it originally opened in 1885.
The grounds have been revived, new gardens planted, and old ones rediscovered and restored. One building now houses a B & B and another is used for catering meals to various groups that visit.
Karen's husband makes quirky sculptures which are dotted around the garden.
Karen is a collector, especially of old irons. One classroom is dedicated to a museum. We were welcome to explore all of these buildings. It really was a wonderful surprise to stay somewhere like this. Her husband collects old tractors and engines, so there were some interesting bits and bobs in the yard as well.
We were warned that there would be train noise. We weren't worried. We reckoned that means the railway line is actually used. We were a little surprised to see that a passenger train even goes through.
We wandered over to the little pub and came across the war memorial. It is obviously new - wow!
What a stunning installation.
It was hard to photograph some of the panels due to the backgrounds, but they were great, covering the different forces and the different eras. When we left the pub it was dark and the panels were floodlit. The community should be proud to have such an asset.
Our final day on the road.
Mt Kaputar dominates the skyline in the area east of Narrabri.
We travelled through Mullaley towards Coolah. There was a large herd of cattle on the road. They looked in surprisingly good nick. I actually thought we would see more stock on the roads.
A poor windmill that has seen better days.
What we did see was lots of cotton growing in the area, something we hadn't seen in this part of the world before. They used to grow lots of sunflowers here at one stage. There were irrigation pipes, but no flood irrigation. The cotton looked ready to harvest.
We had considered travelling as far as Gulgong. There is plenty to see and the showground has great camping. However, the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Where we had been wearing tshirts just the day before, there was snow forecast in the hills around home.
We arrived at Gulgong by lunchtime and found nice hot pies to eat. It was really quite cold. As we were so close to home we decided to have a quick look around and then keep on our way. It wasn't the weather to be playing the tourist.
Gulgong has some lovely old buildings This store has a huge frontage.
The best bit though is underneath. If you head down the hill to the left of the top photo there is an entry to the basement. This is kind of like a $2.00 shop, but much better. A real Aladdins Cave. It is huge and stocks just about everything you can think of. You can see how long the aisles are, and there are about ten or more aisles. Yes, I found a silicone cooking spoon at a small price. I wish I'd bought another.
We were delighted to see lots of hot rods around town. The A Model Ford Hot Rod Club were holding their annual rally in town. We saw some very rugged up drivers. As it turned out, we would probably have struggled to get a camp site with so many visitors already.
Not long after we got back on the road it started to rain.
As we drove through Mudgee the sun came out and everything looked so bright and clean after the shower.
It was lovely to see a rainbow, even though it wasn't all that bright.
We felt like we were coming home when we started to see the golden poplar trees. Until this day we hadn't seen any autumn coloured trees for quite a while. There were even hills! I love the wide open plains, but I really do love to see the hills when we get close to home.
I think we had every reason to feel that the weather was wintry when we looked at the thermometer.
It was so good to get home to a warm house and have a big bowl of hearty soup for tea.
We had only been away for nine days, but we saw so much and had heaps of fun. We really are blessed to live where we have access to such varied landscapes.
I'm not sure where our next road trip will be to, but I'm sure we can find somewhere. In the meantime, our van has been cleaned and packed away in the shed ready for our next adventure.