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A Walk on the Wild Side

Crossing the Australian Outback the Easy Way

sunny 37 °C

The Australian Outback can be brutal –it’s been in the high 30s for the past few days – but, unlike the early pioneers, we had an air-conditioned 4x4. We started from Armidale and wondered why an Australian woman laughed when we said that our guide book described the city as similar to a Cotswold village. We pictured honey coloured stone cottages; ivy covered medieval mansions and misty rivers meandering through lush water-meadows like those of Bourton-On-The_Water. But this is downtown Armidale…
Oh-oh! We obviously missed something? Maybe this Armidale pub sign says it all…
However, we stayed at a delightful alpaca farm a few miles from town and got to stroke these little guys…
From Armidale we drove 5 hours to Dubbo and were pleasantly surprised when we arrived in the tourist friendly riverside town…
While Tasmania and New Zealand are gentle reminders of 1960s rural England, mainland Australia is much more like today’s California. Big box stores, splashy shopping malls, wide, shady, sidewalks and heat. Thirty seven in the shade but we cooled off in the hotel pool and shopped at air-conditioned Woolworth’s – Yes, dear reader, Woolworth’s is alive and well in Australia, (and is called ‘Countdown’ in New Zealand). Woolies has excellent food with prices comparable to home, (although the fruit and vegetables are expensive considering that most of it is homegrown). The only bad thing about Dubbo is that its sounds like the nickname of the school dimwit and we wonder why they don’t change it to something inviting like Kookaburra Landings or Coolabah Creek.

We could have managed the 400 kilometers from Dubbo to Cobar, our next stop in the bush, without a steering wheel. Hour after hour of dead straight road through parched eucalyptus forests and miles of scorched farmland sounds boring – but it wasn’t. Watching out for kangaroos, emus and flocks of flambouyant birds in the bush kept us alert, as did the 200 foot long road trains transporting cattle and sheep across the dusty red prairie…
These sheep had the right idea when it came to keeping cool…
The checkout girls in Cobar’s only supermarket thought we were kidding when we said that we found 37 degrees a little hot: fifty in the shade is not uncommon. However, as we constantly hear on TV and in the streets, this is an unusually blistering fall.

We broke our six hour drive from Cobar to Broken Hill at the one horse town of Wilcannia on the banks of the dried-up River Darling…
The width of Wilcannia’s main street shows that it must have been quite a place in its heyday but it has almost given up the ghost; just one café, a post office and a medical clinic administered by The Royal Australian Flying Doctors.
Three hours later and we are in the mining metropolis of Broken Hill where we visit the NSW home of the iconic winged doctors. This plane is being serviced at their regional HQ …
We still have nearly 500 kms of bush before we hit the lush green gardens of Adelaide, but we will miss the wide open plains that stretch in all directions under the relentless sun, and we will miss the kangaroos, the feral goats and the flocks of emus that scavenge the sparse vegetation in the desolate lands of central Australia. Here’s a final goodbye to the emus…
We hope to see you tomorrow in the South Australia capital of Adelaide.

Posted by Hawkson 03:27 Archived in Australia

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Sounds like you have adapted well to the heat. Beautiful emus.
Looking forward to photos of Adelaide.

by Sue Fitzwilson

We have the same heat here right now. 50c in the sun and 34 in the shade. No significant rain since november.

by Kelly Waugh

Half those degrees would be very welcome here right now. Still multi-layer fleece (artificial) and jacket weather plus rain gear of course.
Woolworth's (and Kresge's?)brings back prairie boyhood memories, the 5 and 10 cent stores.

by R and B

Nice to have a post again. Photos catch the big sky of Oz nicely. The emus hanging around bring to mind the Gabriola turkeys - but scaled up - way up. You'll be richly rewarded for your long drive when you reach Adelaide and the beaches of Glenelg.

by Tom

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