The “Visit Gunnedah” website promised cycle routes around the town and out to two hills for views over the same. I am pleased to report that all expectations were met.
But first I had to get there. This involved a descent from the high country down to around the 400 metre mark and as it happened things warmed up nicely. 23°C was the arrival temp at G. On the way I stopped at a “View”. To get to it I had to turn right off what was basically a freeway with a stubby right hand “get off” lane. Then track through the central reservation and drive across the oncoming lane. It looked like a spot specifically made for an accident but I made it OK.
This was the 80 year old lookout built on top of a huge granite boulder. The granite wall continued all around the car park. An impressive amount of work.
This was the view. The road snaked down between the two sets of hills and I could see a line of stationary traffic in the distance – hopefully due to roadworks and not an accident. As it turned out, it was and wasn’t.
There are lots of rocky outcrops along the road and one such rock is known as Thunderbolt’s rock Legend has it he used to look out for troopers (or things to rob) from there. I saw the rock from the road and was disappointed to see that today it is well nigh covered in graffiti. What times we live in. No respect for our elders.
The caravan park is off the main road through town and quite full. Turns out the weekend is busy due to Drag Racing at the Airport – just across the river. Once racing for the the day stops it’s quite quiet.
Sunday I set off early for a ride around town and to climb the two lookout hills without the drag race soundtrack. The first was named Pensioner’s Hill and this Pensioner whizzed up it at around 3.5 kph using the mountain drive without a problem. The top of the hill had gardens and stone carvings of Gunnedah persons of note.
The views of the town from up there were interesting.
The water treatment plant
Coal wagons waiting to be filled
Gunnedah is sited on a huge coal basin so, as well as agricultural products, coal is shipped out from the town by rail. The Gunnedah Basin and the Liverpool Plains have been in the news quite a bit in recent years. The plains have very well set up for agriculture by nature with good soils and underground water BUT the coal industry has it’s sights set on expanding and Santos really wants to get coal seam gas happening. With fracking’s history of mucking up the land with the toxic chemicals used, some serious fighting is going on. On my cycle ride and time about town I saw nothing of this – not even an anti-fracking poster. I certainly had responses to gentle leading questions that climate change is not impacted by fossil fuel usage and has nothing to do with the current drought anyway.
The climb up the second hill to Porcupine Reserve was a bit harder. In fact it was nearly as steep as Carol and Jon’s driveway on the inside of one hairpin bend. The front wheel popped up but the bag on the front and me leaning forward countered the move. Yes!! I win!!! A race to the top at (again) 3.5kph.
The view out over the Plains was stunning. I sat there on a conveniently placed bench just soaking in the view. Eventually two enormous dogs appeared with two humans in tow and the spell broke.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is that Gunnedah reckons it is the Koala capital of Australia. The advertising blurb has it that all you have to do is look up into a tree during the day and there they will be. At dusk and dawn you will find them wandering along to the next tree in which they will sit/sleep for the next day.
I spent Monday afternoon looking for one. Cycled along to Cohen’s Bridge and over it into a patch of River Red Gums which, I am informed, is the Koala’s favourite in this area. I thought they were picky about their food so looked up the Australian Koala Foundation’s pages only to find that they eat the leaves of quite a few Eucalypts and have regional tastes.
B and I elected to take the high road
We visited the bed of the Namoi River
A farmer coaxing the cows to drink. Almost a Billabong
Lots of trees. No bloody Koalas.
Anyway, I looked and looked – nothing. No worries, I then went to explore a Lagoon next to the caravan park.
Once again, lots of trees
A few birds
But, no Koalas.
Tomorrow I am heading for Gilgandra and have no idea what to expect.
I have been in contact with the Spirit of Tasmania booking office and am wait listed on a berth for the 21st August. Not promised as yet but just in case I will head south at a fair rate of knots for the next week.