Bungle? .....Never!

by Bushducks

Sitting in Rover, on an angle, under a scrawny gum we looked at the abandoned homestead wishing we hadn't slowed down to inspect it. 46 degrees centigrade, in the middle of N.S.W and Rover had stalled - these ducks had made a definite bungle! Time to sit and stare across the hot barren plain and let the flies drink our perspiration. A fine line of dust on the horizon transformed into a blue Jackeroo with an equally old Blue Heeler in the rear.

"Got a problem?" asked the Blue Heeler's master.

"Nah," we replied. "Engine got a bit hot, just letting him have a rest"

"Got any water?"

"Yeah, heaps thanks."

He gave us directions for a shortcut across the Lachlan River, past a stockyard, up by the railine and said we'd be in Eugowra before we knew it. Said Joe at the garage was good with them foreign machines.

"Tell him Mac from up Doma Creek way sent ya. Ooo rooo!" And he and Blue were gone.

The first midi at the Fat Lamb Hotel, Eugowra didn't touch the sides. Joe was correct in his diagnosis, a new radiator cap from our bottomless barrel of spares fixed our overheating problem and all was cool again.

We continued northeast up the Boree Creek, through Cudal to Molang on the Mitchell Highway. Nearby is the last resting spot of Yaranigh, the Aborigine who guided the white explorer, Thomas Mitchell in his travels.

We travelled on, skirting the Catomobal Range, crossing Mitchell's Creek on a long and dusty road. This new Red Rover has similar habits to Old Red - the dust was on our teeth from the less than perfect door seals. So we aimed for the public pool at Dunedoo on the Coolaburragundy Creek. 40 odd degrees, but "the pool don't open 'til 11am" some anxious children told us.

A top up of gas at 39.5c/litre and we continued north along the railine to the semi ghost town of Merrygoen. If it wasn't for the old rail junction and the small BHP mine, the tumbledown Railway Hotel and the small general store would cease to survive. And where then would you buy such a huge range of home-made jams and chutneys as to be found here? Off the beaten track with the sheep hiding in the shade under the hand operated signal box, Merrygoen seemed stuck in a time warp. We could have easily stayed longer, but our true destination loomed to the north so we threw some tomato chutney in the fridge and moved on.

Mendooran on the Castlereagh River, surrounded by drought-stricken droving country has had its share of floods. Each time little of the town escaped damage, and each time it has been rebuilt. The townsfolk all expect at least one more massive flood in their lifetime.

We crossed the Castlereagh River on a high steel bridge above the trickle that was the current state of the river. An old stockroute led to a magic camping spot by the Pangula Creek. On a high 40 degree day to have massive spreading gums, tall sheoaks, ponds of reed and waterlilies with happy birds and great grassy expanses was magic! This was the Ulungra Springs Stock Reserve. Some of you fishing sorts might tell us what the huge fish in the springs are. The gate is unlocked, please close behind you and remember droving stock do have preference over camping travellers.

At the turn of the twentieth century this area saw conflict between the white settlers and the aborigines come to a head. Jimmie Governor, a part aborigine worked this country, knew this country well, and just downstream on the Castlereagh at Breelong took bloody and violent revenge on his employers. The sad tale of events formed the basis for the renowned novel by Thomas Keneally and the thought provoking movie by Fred Schepisi, "The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith"

At the crack of dawn, we headed Rover north up the stockroute towards the headwaters of the Pangula Creek. No bungle today, we continued upstream to Yarragrin and then the Wallumbarrawang Stock Reserve, a top spot for breakfast in the shade, or to rest your filly.

Northwest again to Torraweenah. Now this is horse country. Some even say the "Endurance Capital of Australia". Every April it hosts the big endurance horse ride that puts life in this little settlement. Beware of those innocent looking sticks in this region - Tooraweenah refers to the home of the brown snake. The Mountain View bush pub has served beer to passing travellers since 1910. We took a seat on the verandah and stared down the empty street. There in the distance were the massive crooked mountains of the Warrumbungles.

These volcanic souvenirs of yesterday are high barren dun coloured peaks reaching up to 1200m. Heavily forested mountain ridges and deep echoing gorges. We bush walked our Bushduck webbed toes off, stretched Rover's coils out, fingernailed our way to peak tops, sat with some Yarra Valley liquids watching the prolific parrots while the wedge-tailed eagles studied us from high above. The ranges are quite extensive, so leave heaps of time for exploration.

Then come night time it's a whole new bungle-jungle game. Sugar gliders, marsupial mice, and a myriad of stars above. Siding Spring Astronomical Observatory up the track at 1165m is seen from many points in the park.

Warrumbungle National Park. Ph. (068) 421 311. Camp sites, $10 per night. Toilets & hot showers at main campsite. Burbie Camp, accessible down a short 4wd track has no facilities. Permit essential but easily obtained.
Rock Climbing is allowed in most areas of the Warrumbungles, excepting those areas considered fragile or of public risk.
Siding Springs Observatory open for tours 10am-4pm most days but no public night viewing. Night sky viewing open to the public at Skywatch observatory, Coonabarabran, Ph. 422506, sessions commence 7.30pm each evening.

© Bushducks 1994
All photos © Bushducks 1995

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