This photo says almost everything about today’s journey – open road, relatively sparse vegetation and the intense light of Australia … and yes, some dirty streaks on the windscreen. I’ve driven at least 30,000 km around Europe, but never with skies like this, even when filtered through my sun-glasses as in the third photo.
Today’s route is simply in-your-face Australian rural landscape, covering as much distance as yesterday – a bit quicker given we have no city traffic or mountains to deal with – and bringing us slightly east of Sydney. This is all new road to me, with new towns: Gilgandra, Coonabarabran and Gunnedah.
|Our morning leg-stretch is in Coonabarabran, self-described Astronomy Centre of Australia, due to its proximity to the Anglo-Australian telescope at Siding Springs. In a different time-line of my life where I continued studying physics with an astronomy bent, I may have found myself living out here. |
|When went in search of a rest-room, we passed what may be the most specialised business on earth “TIMOR LANE: Specialising in the spiral galaxy NGC362”, which seems to share quarters with a service for counselling illegal aliens. |
Also spotted, a French street sign “Une access centre”. This is a really cosmopolitan town.
|With some more time I might have explored the Warrumbungles, mountainous remnants of a thousand-metre high volcano that was active here millions of years ago. A little further east is Mount Mullaley, one of a series of lava domes rising from the plain near Gunnedah. |
|Solution for a hot dog on a hot route: a bag of ice in his water bucket! |
|We reached Tamworth around 2.30 and lunched on one of the tree-lined main streets. I’d visited here for a 21st birthday when I was at college, but have few memories of the town itself. By the time we reached our Armidale accommodation we were quite content to hang out in our air-conditioned room while Munson tried to get to know the owners’ dog. |
In the morning we went into town for breakfast, which we found at a cafe with outdoor seating. By 9am the sun was beating down so much we hurried gobbled everything down and scrambled for a shady venue to get a second coffee. Then it was time to refuel, pick up another bag of ice and hit the road for the last northward leg of the trip.