Back On The Mainland

Our last night before catching the early ferry was interesting in that we came across an outback pub with a rock band playing on Sunday. It wasn’t quite ‘Duelling Banjos’ but it wasn’t far off. As well as the music being great the people watching was quite interesting to say the least. We stayed to the very end.

The day crossing back was long, calm and boring broken only by a trivia quiz in the Spirit Bar. After docking we wanted to get away from Melbourne before we set up camp for the night but it was far too late when we eventually found what we were looking for. We had decided the route back would run out well west of the Great Dividing Range and we would pick up some good camping spots as we went. We travelled up part of the Kidman Highway (good old Nicole’s ancestors). The first stop was at Barooga at Quicke’s Campground beside the Murray River. We were entertained by a couple of thousand cockatoos and it was also a great swimming spot.

The driving out in the Central West, as it is known, is on arrow straight roads that are billiard table flat, passing huge blocks of very well irrigated land growing potatoes, fruit and even rice. As we got further north it changed to massive flat plains studded with occasional clumps of trees, the grass burnt brown (it’s late summer now) but still being grazed by cattle and sheep.

Next stop was Darling Point, another small village sitting on a crossroads on the banks of the River Murrumbidgee also with good swimming in the river at the ‘Town Beach’ – beach being somewhat of an exaggeration. The evening dips are more welcome now as the temperature is in the early 30’s most of the time as we get further north.

We passed through Forbes and Parkes on the Newell Highway and then headed out through the Goobang National Park to the small town of Yeoval. What a great little place – a couple of shops, a garage for fuel and what we call a proper Aussie pub. We stopped at the pub for a beer and of course, as soon as we open our mouths it’s pretty obvious we’re not local. Within ten minutes of being there the barman who was called Rabbit and had a stammer had offered us a nice camping spot at the back of the pub with the use of a shower and toilet.

People came over to talk and to tell us where they had been in London i.e. Acton and Wembley! On leaving several said ‘Will we see you tomorrow? It’s a good night in here on a Friday’. We spent the following morning in Yeoval, a fair bit of it at their small museum where we were given a personal tour around. A part of the museum is dedicated to Banjo Paterson who was born in Yeoval (a famous poet and war correspondance but more famous for writing the lyrics to ‘Waltzing Matilda’). We finished off with a coffee at the post office/petrol station/cafe/general meeting place. Outside they had a huge blackboard with the names of everyone who had a birthday that month and another smaller one displayed the citizen of the month and the youth of the month. Inside there were photos on the walls of most of the people who lived in the town, both old and young and even a couple of dogs. What a lovely idea. On entering the town the sign has the strap line ‘The Greatest Little Town in the West’. How true that is.

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The campsite is based near Beccles in the Waveney Valley in Suffolk.

Dove Cottage,
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