on to Nindigully via Walgett, Lightning Ridge

We passed the harvester boys, who’d set off before we were up this morning.

We’ve also just passed the 2,000km milestone.

Outback Radio has played some great tracks: James Brown’s “I feel good”, the Stones’ “Brown Sugar”, but sometimes it just goes too far. “Rawhide” is a good roustabout travelling song – then “Convoy” was played! First time the kids had heard of Rubber Duck’s battle with the bears..

It’s Halloween tonight so we’ve also heard “Werewolves of London” (new one on me) and “Monster Mash” of course.

Arrived at Walgett dead on eleven. Ideal timing for coffee – except that the town is shut. So it’s just the flask and cakes on board till we reach Lightning ridge, 75km north.

Lightning Ridge


Since ancient times opal has been sought. Mark Anthony and Pliny through to Queen Victoria. It was included in the crown of the Holy roman Emperor. But 95% of the world’s opal is found in Australia. The most valuable black opals come mainly from Lightning Ridge and can fetch prices equivalent to a good diamond, per carat.

A large portion of Australia inland was once covered by a sea, leaving deposits and creating an environment suitable for the deposit of opals – along with other gems, precious metals and minerals.

Lightning Ridge attracts large numbers of tourists and fossickers – some of whom strike lucky. In the “Inland Sea Opal Store” we hold a beautiful A$10,000 opal – but don’t buy anything, today. After reviving tea and coffee at the cafe next door, we set off for Queensland. Only 30km to go ’til the border.

Halloween afternoon

Have just crossed into Queensland – as “Queensland Calling” was playing on Outback Radio.

Stopped for picnic lunch of salami, ham and Brie on Turkish bread with Ranch, Sweet Chilli and Mayo. Thanks, subway, for teaching us about multiple taste combos.

It’s 28 degrees under high blue skies. Walk along a red sand track and discover a shallow gravel quarry. Dogs love their swim in the cold, clear waters within, topped up by last night’s rain. Someone asks when the crocs appear, now that we’re in Queensland. David says at 3 o’clock 🙂

Setting off after lunch, suddenly there’s a flurry of roos crossing the road in front of and all around us. We miss them all thanks to the driver and good ABS. A joey was alongside the truck, right under Ed’s hand, just avoiding impact with the deadly hard metal. “Everything’s wilder in Queensland” someone says. We’re glad of our roo bars – hitting an animal that big at any kind of speed would be Goodnight Vienna for all concerned otherwise.

The land is still flat though more tropical. Huge, irridescent black and red butterflies flutter by as we pause at roadworks. It’s the main road, it’s Sunday, and there’s minimal fuss as half a dozen men and women with big machinery re-metal the road. We slowly drive across a few hundred yards of red earth.

Now huge cornfield on one side, tall mixed grasses and stands of trees on the other. Queensland feels lush and expansive.

Staying at the famous Nindigully Pub – www.nindigully.com. Oldest pub in Aus. Camping here alongside the river for 3 nights, visiting the area incl some stations and fishing before going to stay with family friends about 5 hours north of here, at Springsure.

Invited for a cup of tea by Cate Stuart on her 5,000 acre cattle station. Beautuful cattle, wide open spaces. Cate says that she misses the far west though, where there’s “more room”. Ask what size her other station out west is: 50,000 acres! Cate runs Brahmans, Hereford, Black Angus and the popular Droughtmaster.

Treat ourselves to a great meal at the Gully. Ed orders the famous “Roadtrain Burger”. This “oversize” meal features a 1.2kg burger inside a massive, freshly cooked bun loaded with cheese, lettuce, beetroot, gerkins. Served on a tray with home made chips on one side and tempura-fried onion rings on the other. Ed made a valiant effort and we took the remainder home in a doggy-bag. The five farmhands at the table nxt to us shared one between them.

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