Cobar to Broken Hill

Today’s journey would be 470kms. There are helpful signs on the exit from Cobar telling you that (for example) there is “no fuel for 254kms”, depending on which road you are taking. Make sure that you have enough before leaving civilization – you do not want to go “splutter, splutter, stop” on these roads and at these temperatures (nudging 40°C).

Driving distances out here are mathematical – you set the cruise control to 100kph (the limit is actually 110kph) and keep going along a mainly straight, unvarying road. Divide your distance by 100 and that’s when you’ll arrive, adding a little on for comfort breaks and lunch. It’s tiresomely predictable but I love it.

GoatsI was very surprised to drive past goats beside several 100 kms of road. I was not expecting goats in outback Australia. Some were inside a boundary fence but very many were just grazing beside the road itself. One or two, only one or two, along with several kangaroos, used the road as their final resting place, probably having fallen victim to one of the many Road Trains on the route. Every now and then we past emus, too, and happily no dead ones.

From Cobar there was a small settlement or two before we stopped in Wilcania on the Darling River. We’d covered 270kms, a little more than half the distance to Broken Hill. Here we found a shady table for lunch in the company of two Kookaburras. Cormorant-alikes were fishing in the river.

The town was approaching dead. Apparently there used to be a dock here for trading along the river but modernization took care of that.

Road to Broken HillThere is absolutely nothing in the 195kms between Wilcania and Broken Hill, just road and outback. The closer we got to Broken Hill, the more sparse the vegetation became. This was the outback New South Wales that I was keen to see. Wonderful in a desolate kind of way.

Outback GateFrancine snapped entrance gates into distant properties that were probably approaching the size of Wales. You do not suffer from neighbour noise here. Heaven knows how they fence these vast expanses

No OvertakingWe’d come across a couple of road work stretches where, in the UK, we’d have a sign saying something to the effect that there were no white lines. [I’ve seen our drivers  – take the lines away and they are completely disoriented.] Here, in Australia, the sign was more bemusing. “No lines, do not overtake unless safe”. Bloody hell! Surely that applies whether there are line or not, doesn’t it? The implication here is that if there are lines, you can overtake come what may. I don’t get it.

30 kms before Broken Hill a sign beside the road announced “Central Time Zone, subtract 30 minutes.” More Australian weird. Broken Hill is actually in NSW but, because it was tied to Adelaide via the railway and postal system, it is on Adelaide (Central) time, half an hour shifted from the rest of NSW. The clock in Busby II is now wrong.

After 6 hours of completely painless driving we pulled into Broken Hill itself. I’d used 2/3rds tank covering 470kms so, seeing a cheap fuel station, I topped up while I could. Then we went off in search of Coles supermarket for supplies.

I was hoping for a Coles roast chicken but, as I suspected, we were too late in the day and they’d sold out. We grabbed a quiche to supplement our cold meats and salad.

We are being brave, for us. We’ve booked  in to the Starview Primitive Campsite, run by the Broken Hill council. It has 15 pitches and a walk-in tent area. There is no ELH [Electric Hook-up] (so no aircon) but it does have a toilet and shower block (two of each I think). We are effectively off-grid. We’re hoping that the fridge will run on 12V charged by the on-board solar panel, now that we’ve sorted the switches out.

The entrance gate is electric and access code controlled. Francine had the code emailed to her on making the booking. We made our approach and stopped at the gate. Francine climbed out and went to enter the code. Magically the gate began swinging slowly open. We were in.

We’d booked pitch #7 which looked big enough to allow us to reposition the van for shade, should we need to. Arrival, with no ELH, simply required putting the van into “park”.

Now, where’s that beer? I’ve got four cold ones and I need every one of ‘em.

Posted in 2024-01 Australia