‘The Man’ and I travel the eastern seaboard more so than anywhere else in Australia. So much so that it has become a home-ground path. This route is our first ‘go via’ on the Eastern seaboard when we consider another adventure but there are times when you really have to venture further. We haven’t taken the out-back run… Route 39 down the Newell Highway, for some time and we felt that it was time to venture out and shake up our habits. We were yearning for the gold fields of the Victorian highlands and a good winter stint along the beautiful banks of the River Murray and as it turned out it was really great
The best part of travelling inland is that I love country towns, their character and the hidden gems they have to offer and exploring the country towns along the way is always a real joy.
Route 39 begins north in Qld and when we reached the border town it was to rediscovered the hospitality of Goondiwindi.
We revelled in the History. The “Beer and Bulls*t” tour at the old Vic Pub found in the main street was an absolute delight and for $25 we had a great meal of pub grub and drink thrown in. Being regaled with tales about the ‘Goondiwindi Grey’ was a trip back into history by a local larrikin who hosted the tour and it was a really great way to enjoy a lunch-time break.
We were on the move south over much of June/July and this time we stayed on the route west of the Great Divide in NSW. It was a voyage of discovery. I was amazed at the great developments along the way the least of which was how Moree has grown up, maturing to be come the queen she could have always been. Here we rediscovered the wonderful artesian bores, that are the lifeline for so much of the Outback at the moment. The drought out there is severe, compounded by the water greed of unsustainable station crops such as cotton further north, and the disaster that is the management of our great ground water resources that feed the Murray-Darling catchment. Water allocations granted and coveted during the ‘good’ seasons is unsustainable for much of the time and as the Darling runs dry and muddy, still they argue on the drain of this wondrous natural system.
The water bore heads and natural springs are mostly capped now to contain and control the drain from the great artesian basin. The flows are nothing the volume that they once were but at least now they too are tamed for commercial use to a degree, preserving this wonderful resource. I found myself earmarking for the future adventures, a tour into the artesian country… a trip into Lightning Ridge perhaps… but that is for another time, another adventure.
Once we hit the Riverina country, that between the beautiful Murrumbidgee and the Murray, we were once more back in the wealth of the land. A wealth that our forefathers and mothers lived from. The colonial era in this region is a great experience to explore. From the stories that can be found about our favourite sons, such as Ned Kelly’s exploits down thru to the terrors of ‘Mad Dog Morgan’ whose cave can be found in the Galore Hill Scenic Reserve. Visiting their hideouts was a great entertainment but one we best enjoyed was meeting Agro.
Agro is a Murray Cod, a temperamental character he is too. If you want to meed a Murray Cod up close and personal then this is the place to go. Narrandera Fisheries Centre is a spot off the Newell Highway but it is a detour we very much enjoyed. This is a research and breeding centre but Agro is king.
It is worth the small entry price just to meet this character, and to learn more about fish and fisheries in NSW. To see Agro actually swallow and cough up the filter system (below) was something it will take a time to forget!
As we settled eventually into our camp along the Murray River we spent our time also, wandering along the shores looking for wildlife (and fishing) and were also delight to meet some of the locals. You know how you wonder about that elusive animal the ‘drop bear’ of Aussie legend. Well wonder no more… we stumbled across the infamous drop bear, and a fearsome creature he was too.
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Discovering Australia and Her Lore