It’s been something of an hiatus for me as family envelopes time. Travel however is still very much part of our world and revisiting those places we love, very much part of out time. But it is time to hit the tar… a very much anticipated event.
Given time and inclination I plan… and the planning for this trip has taken time-upon-time. Taking friends and family along with us is something I love to do, such as including the Grandies while we tour, or even bringing them to us on those much enjoyed occasions. It all makes for those special memories. This time we have my Sis’ in tow… and I’m looking forward to the fun and games we can get up to as we drive ‘The Man’ to distraction.
However, it is said that the journey is as important as the destination… and for us this is always, unequivocally, the case. The journey is from Homebase in SE Qld, heading south and back again in a majestic loop around NSW. And as I am still in the throws of coming to terms with the new ‘WikiCamps’ I used the opportunity to explore the ‘trip planner’… and what a journey that was! However… I do love the new platform and improvements even if I am still coming to terms with the visual. I know people are complaining about the change in the much loved ‘WikiCamps’ but seriously… I luv the changes. The thing is that you do need a destination overall… and as we usually travel with that, it seems it isn’t a problem to adapt.
Then and Now – The Pilliga
First major stop on our journey is the Hot Artesian Bores of the NSW outback. There are a few of these, the most notable being in Moree where they have harnessed the bore to create an aquatic wonderland and where the local caravan park becomes part of the pleasure with its own hot bore baths available for the campers. I explored these in past articles on the Newell Highway, however this time we headed for the Pilliga Bore, now as with others, it is an outback bath and a delight to enjoy as you soak in these ancient waters. For $5 pn, per camp site paid at the cafe in town, you can enjoy the free flowing hot mineral waters pouring into the public pool. Being self contained here btw is the order of the day.
Venturing into the past as you explore the present will always have its rewards. It’s good to reflect on what was… and what life had become. The hardships of those who lived in the remote regions of the outback should not be forgotten, along with their struggles towards change, but more importantly the march of time that brings with it change also needs to be appreciated and respected. Change is inevitable as it moulds itself towards a future, be it for the better or worse. In the changes around these ancient bores we have perhaps preserved a future and as with now, so many travel across the land. It once was a land once visited by so few, but now these same priceless places welcome hundreds if not thousands of visiting feet over time.
During out stay at the ancient bores, between soaking in the mineral rich water, we took time to explore the Pilliga’s ancient lands. The area is currently in severe drought and the flies are out and about… those pesky little buggers that pester you skin, I dragged out my veiling net draped it over my hat and went on to enjoy the adventure. This 1 1/2 metre square of fine black net lives in our van and I have blessed the day I fashioned it. Long and draped over a broad-rimmed hat, it flows around me like a wedding veil but ohh what a blessing when the bush flies are in the air
Exploring the salt caves in the Pilliga, well down the track, was an easy walk after a long drive. At hand you can appreciate the history of the ancient mineral salts that made their way through the earth to form the stalactites. Some of which, even though they were well licked by the wildlife, were harvested by the colonists to salt down and preserve meats. The caves wound deep underground, and mostly now have collapsed and are dangerous to attempt entry, but exploring their entrances and the stories told on the information boards was great. I loved the old fire towers… and once again, then and now was an interesting comparison.
We travelled on down the dusty bush tracks to discover the art installations of ‘Sculptures in the Bush’ done by local artists honouring the tribal camp grounds at the foot of the escarpment. It was an interesting walk along now dry tracks as you wound your way through the ancient camp and it is easy to imagine the laughter of children and the crackle of camp fires along the creek… now dry with drought. Riverbed sands burying the ground springs which were the life blood of the campgrounds. The passage of many feet, both of man and wildlife, along with wind burying these treasures of the sandy creek beds.
The most poignant amongst the installations was a word of advice found on the info plaques around the sculptures. It read:
“I hope you see it as being at one with the gorge rather than being a separate entity, rather than being just a sculpture sitting by itself on an escarpment. See it in the larger scale, see it as a landscape painting, as well as a sculpture.”
It was a delightful adventure exploring the Pilliga, and as we moved further south, our adventures continued… out into the ancient escarpments and the caves of habitation… those of the old tribal people and those of the colonial era of bushrangers.