What a fun drive! We were not sure if the road was going to be sealed or not, and it was not. But what fun. The surface changed constantly from compacted river bed, to clay, to drifting river sand, to rock. It really is just a road for the people who live and work on the stations out here to get on and off and through their property’s. Many of the cattle grids (and there were many, I’m thankful they were not all gates) had signs saying visitor must report to the homestead. We didn’t do this as we were just passing through.
The other aspect that made the drive fun, we only met a hand full of vechiles all day. Being new to this driving with the van I had found the drive into Broken Hill tense. The road was narrow, there was no hard shoulder to forgive any misjudgment and it was very busy with road trains. So today, other than slowing for the cattle grids this was a relaxed and fun drive.
The scenery was unlike another we had come across. Flood plain for as far as the eye can see. Sometime trees but other totally baron. The colour also changed from a dark grey fine powdery dust, to the red sand to a limestone cream. The wind was up a little and it provided endless entertainment as it blew and moved lines or swirls of sand and dust about. The road would be clear and then out of nowhere there would be a line of sand snaking its way across in front of you. Someone would shout ‘dust crossing’, and then it was gone as fast as it appeared. Like flames dancing in a fire it was mesmerising to watch.
Wildlife aplenty too. Roo’s and emu’s, goats and sheep and the occasional eagle and cow or bull. This is where the “dust crossing” cry came from. We were traveling through a patch of abundant wildlife. Frequent calls of “roo crossing”, “goat crossing”, “emu crossing”. Then it was quiet and a line of dust snaked its way across the road, “ooohh” i said. Ken took his foot of the accelerator …… “dust crossing” and we all broke into giggles and laughter. Maybe we were all a little board but it amused us.
A quick stop for lunch at an old fashion and delicious tea house and we saw that we could continue to follow the Darling through to Bourke. The road was only marked very faintly but there were camps all the way along so we figured it must be well travelled. It was certainly in better condition than the road in the morning but similar scenery. We had pick a well rated station to stay at and pressed on to get there but again it was just before dark.
We had the place to ourselves and arrived just before Liz the station owner was about to head off for a meeting with the shearing team. Shearing was starting the next day and it was a busy time on the station. She gave us a wonderful book about the the station, there families story and the workings of a sheep station. It was a fascinating read.
We camped right on the banks (the very steep banks) of the darling river just near the homestead, airstrip and hanger. Unfortunately we slept in and missed the little Cessna taking off to go and assist the muster of the sheep for shearing. We took a short walk around in the morning and then made our way to Bourke and on to Lightening Ridge for our next stop.