There wasn’t much of interest in Wee Waa apart from a rare find in a small country town, a three storey hotel. When rebuilt in 1912 after a fire, it was the first 3 storey building in Northern NSW. Wee Waa is the cotton growing centre and I am told this years harvest was excellent.
After Wee Waa I headed south to Pilliga and stayed overnight just out of town at the Artisean Bore. It’s a fairly large area with plenty of room for a number of people. The sides were pretty slimy but the floor was relatively clean. It has a covered roof so can be used in all weather situations. It is also a popular spot for locals with picnic tables and bbq area as well as toilets and a cold water shower. There were 5 other campers the night I was there.
From here I went through the towns of Coonamble and Gulargambone before stopping at Gilgandra for 3 nights. I had a nice wander around Coonamble. It sits in the banks of the Castlereagh River and is close to the Warrumbungle National Park. Whilst it has many empty shops there are a number of caricatures on large bias day in the sides of fronts of buildings depicting colourful town characters known by an amazing array of nicknames. Well worth taking the time to read them all. Coonamble also had one of the best aquatic centres I have seen outside a regional town. At least 3 pools and a very large grandstand. In this dry and hot part of the state I guess the pool is the place where the community gathers most during summer.
Gulargambone was a real contrast. Very small town with deserted streets and a sad looking little Main Street. There is a River Walk just off the Main Street but as I was about to reach the river other travellers told me not to bother as the mossies were thick and had chased them back out of the walk. There was an interesting house in the Main Street that was being pushed out of shape by a tree growing in and beside it.
Gilgandra was a lovely town and my overnight stay turned into 3 nights. I stayed beside the bowling club opposite the Coo-ee Centre and Rural Museum. There was a nice walking track beside the river that took you into town. The club opened at 4pm and I met some friendly locals there including the local butcher (one of three butchers in town) and a retired bank manager. The club had a Chinese restaurant so I had that a couple of nights fit something different.
The Rural museum was excellent with some great displays and a lot of old farm machinery. I picked up a few books here including one on the Coo-ee March. Gilgandra is where the coo-ee March in 1915 commenced from. 26 Gilgandra men began a recruitment march to Sydney over a period of a month, stopping at towns along the way to encourage men to join them. In all over 260 men marched into Sydney to enlist fir service in WW1. A friend of mine from Coffs Harbour took part in the reenactment March in 1987.
Instead of heading straight down the road to Dubbo I headed further west and stopped at Collie for the night. Collie (NSW) is spelt the same as Collie (WA) but pronounced Col-Eye. A local (and there are only 24 of them) told me it was always spelt Colli but when a bloke came up from Sydney in the early days to survey the land he added an “e” and the new spelling stuck. A young couple Tom and Emily own the pub and they along with the locals were a friendly lot. Meals are excellent and it’s not only the locals and farming community that support the pub but people come from the neighbouring towns of Gilgandra and Warren for a feed. The night I was there the police from Warren were there (in uniform) enjoying a meal with their families. The pub is the only business in town. There is a volunteer fire brigade, a church and a tennis court and a few houses.
Next was Warren which was only “up the road.” I liked the feel of Warren. It has a Wetlands walk on the edge of town and a cafe with a park with several information boards giving the rundown on everything from birds, mammals and plants in the area to the history of white settlement and historical facts on the local Aboriginal inhabitants. There was also an interesting write-up of 50 local “high achievers. I camped just out of town by the river where I met up with a fellow Coaster owner who has been on the road over 5 years.
From Warren it was a short drive south to Nevertire on the Mitchell Highway before heading east again through Narromine to Dubbo. Narromine was a base for the training of Pilots during WW2. 20% of all pilots serving in the war came through Narromine. For 20 years during the 50’s, 60’s and into the 70’s Narromine was the alternative International Airport to Sydney when it was changed to Dubbo.
I visited the Aviation Museum at Narromine and this was well worth doing. The museum highlights Narromine’s contribution to aviation and all the information related to either local aviation people or people who trained or spent a significant part of their life in Narromine. The Museum houses the only flyable replica of the 1909 Wright Brothers plane. The replica was built by a local father and son team.
Also at Dubbo I visited Taronga Western Plains Zoo (see Bucket List Item #45) and also spent some time at the Japanese Gardens. Very picturesque and tranquil.