Unlike yesterday, today was all about the side-trip. On top of the point-to-point 445km, I took two side trips, each between 100 and 130km. All of today’s shots are from those trips off the main path.
First up was Lightning Ridge. Right up until the turn-off just outside of Walgett, I had no intention of going to Lightning Ridge. It’s a “world epicentre” of opal mining, and I really have no interest in opals. Anyway, I wandered onto Dorothy A. Fuller’s mine, littered with rusted-out, long-neglected machinery. Here’s an old International.
From there, it was on to today’s destination, Bourke. A fairly uneventful trip, apart from the bearded dragon that exploded under the wheels of my Maui 4WD campervan. I arrived mid-afternoon, so decided a little exploration was in order. I headed north-west out of town, on the road to Hungerford. Wide open plains abound out here.
Also, wildlife galore. Firstly, nuggety black shapes kept lumbering off the road as I approached. They were shingleback lizards – a stumpy-tailed, slow moving species of blue-tongued skink. It seems they like to bask in open areas like roadsides. I managed to get to this guy before he reached the long grass.
A little futher along, I saw a brown snake (although possibly not a Brown Snake), but unfortunately (although possibly fortunately) couldn’t stop the van in time to photograph it before it slithered off into the bushes. The next encounter was this bearded dragon. When I stopped the van he raised his head and started to flare out his beard, but one I jumped out it appears he decided on the “if I lie low, maybe he won’t notice me” line of defence.
And finally, an emu. I’d seen quite a few during the day, but for a flightless bird, emus are very flighty. It was hard to get them to stay close enough to get a shot other than a small brown smudge amongst some other brown smudges. Thankfully, this one stuck around, with the added advantage of the great afternoon light.
Tomorrow – White Cliffs via Wanaaring, a 391km route which takes in both the Nocoleche Nature Reserve and the Paroo-Darling National Park.