With a public holiday on a Thursday, I had the urge to get out of town for a few days. I jumped in the car and headed West. Here are a few things I found along the way:
The Long Unwinding Road
Nowhere does long, straight roads like rural Australia. I could never keep attention on the task long enough to measure any of the long stretches, but some go well past the horizon. This particular stretch was somewhere between Nyngan and Cobar on the Barrier Highway. One day I’ll have to check out 90 Mile Straight in WA for the ultimate in highway monotony.
Moonset over Silverton
I arrived in Broken Hill after dark, but not too late. Being ANZAC Day, however, everything was closed. I decided to push on to Silverton and without tourist information, phone reception or fuel to spare I made makeshift camp next to the road. I awoke at dawn to see this scene: a setting full moon, wispy clouds lit by the morning sun and an abandoned railway ticket booth.
1001 Photos at Menindee Lakes
This has got to be one of the most photogenic spots I have ever visited. A bit of a challenge to get to in the tiny Audi they decided to give me, but the National Parks guide said I could get to the first access point, 5km in, without 4WD. It didn’t tell me that recent thefts have caused them to move the registration box in another chunk. There’s something life-affirming about soft sand, a ridiculously inadequate car and one rule for 11km: DON’T SLOW DOWN. $7 successfully paid!
As the sun rises, Menindee Lakes reach their full splendour. There are spectacular images to be taken all around.
About 100 km southeast of Broken Hill, the Darling River spills into a chain of shallow lakes. Menindee Lakes are part of a catchment and irrigation scheme, which has left them ringed by dead trees and bushes. On still mornings they form a near perfect mirror.
The fractal nature of the natural world is on full display in Menindee Lakes and it can throw out all sense of scale and proportion.
Moments after sunset Menindee was turned golden by the last rays of the day. The water is absolutely still and a near-perfect mirror except for the multitude of slimy bubbles.
A Howlin’ Moon
After sunset at Menindee Lakes, the full moon rose for the evening. The moon was a bit of a theme for the trip. So impressive (as it always is) in flat country, the near-full moon came up just after sunset to disappear around sunrise on the first couple of days of the trip. This was my walk through the desert scrub to get back to the car after taking photos of the lakes at sunset. Thankfully no snakes!
Who You Gonna Call?
Yarrangobilly Caves are in a small, but dramatic region of limestone karst near Kosciuszko National Park. Here in Jersey Cave, one of the older ones in the area, everything is covered in layers of grey and pinky-orange flowstone and other speleotherms. It looked remarkably like Ghostbusters 2 slime (ectoplasm?). Wonder what’s at the top of the stairs…