Willandra National Park and Cocoparra National Park

Wednesday 27th September

Knowing we were going to have a long day in the truck we decided to leave rather early, hitting the road after filling the water tank and checking the tyre pressures, by 4.10am with no kms on the clock. We knew we were going to see a fair amount of road kill on this trip, but didn’t expect to see our first one, 5 minutes from home along the Wakehurst Parkway!!

As the GPS didn’t recognise Willandra National Park, we pinpointed Condoblin, which we had to drive through anyhow, the GPS came back with a final destination time of 12.15pm. We stopped at Richmond to fill up on cheap diesel fuel before the trek through the mountains to Lithgow.

Stopping at Lithgow for a coffee just after 6.30am, the temperature was 11 degrees, then onto Bathurst, having a dream run, especially at that time of day, finally arriving in Condoblin at 10.35am (382km), just under 2 hours  earlier than what the stupid GPS said we would arrive. We stopped for another coffee then headed off to our next destination at 10.55am, Euabalong West, where we were going to hopefully find the Rail line track which would take us into Trida. The tarmac soon turned to dirt, which was how we were going to travel for the rest of our trip. As it was very windy the flume of dust that the our truck and any other vehicle threw up was incredible, you could see something coming from a fair way off.

Passing through Euabalong, where there was a tiny town, then on to Euabalong West where we did come across the dirt track which travelled right beside the railway line arriving here at 12.10pm, reading now 455km. The track was well used, just sitting below the railway line, dotted with a fair bit of road kill, including goats. We passed no one for a rather extended period of time before a small truck went past on the other side of the railway line. I did point out a ‘mob’ of emus running along that same side of the track, looking rather funny as all we could see were their long necks and heads popping up and down. We passed over The Kidman Way, were we had to stop for one truck travelling along it, before heading over it and continuing our journey to Trida.

Passing through Roto, we think these places were marked on the map as abandoned railway sightings only as there was nothing there, even we arrived and drove straight through Trida, where we did exchange waves with some locals.

Turning left at Trida, making our way down to Willandra National Park, we were in the middle of nowhere, the country side was flat, except for the occasional splattering of groups of trees which you could make out in the distance, through the heat haze, the temperature now reading 38 degrees! Its hard to describe the country side, it’s dry, dusty, red dirt and nothing, absolutely nothing around, except for the group of trees every now and then, oh and the emus, we have never seen so many emus around, not just one or two, but loads, some just standing, some just running around, more emus than kangaroos!

Finally arrived.

Finally arriving at Willandra National Park, at 2.40pm, having done only 676kms, we were both tired after a long day in the truck, but excited to finally be here. As I mentioned the occasionally splattering of trees on the horizon, the National Park just happened to fall into one of those splatterings. We passed the shearing shed, then passed the main homestead to the camping ground, where we discovered was empty, so found a good spot and set up. It took an hour, which in 38 degrees and after 10 hours in the truck wasn’t too bad we thought. We got a fire going, then sat back to enjoy a nice cold, well deserved beer, only to discover that they were frozen, so I had wine and Jas had bourbon.

Another truck with camper trailer in tow pulled in about 5pm, setting up camp in one of the other spots, but other than them, there was no one. We had sausages and grilled veggies for dinner, sitting beside the fire, watching the wildlife pass through our campsite. It was getting rather windy, so we put the fire out completely and headed to bed, it wasn’t a late night, just after 7pm, but after such a long day, an early night was very much needed!!

Thursday 28th September.

Jas had to get up to go to the loo during the night, and thinking he had been asleep for hours, only to discover it was only 9.30pm! It was then, not long after that the wind started to really howl, not just a slight breeze but really knock the tent around and make a lot of noise. This kept us both up for quite a while, waiting for it to die down, then, when it didn’t, only slightly ease up the pitter patter of rain started. It wasn’t at all cold until the very early hours of the morning, just before the sun rose.

Woke up and didn’t get out of bed for another hour, the wind had eased and the tent had held up rather well, with no damage, the rain had stopped and the sky was slightly cloudy and it was a lot cooler than the day before.

Our first ever proper flush toilet.

Had breakfast, teas and coffees during a relaxing pleasant morning and it was during this time that I finally used what I thought was going to be a drop toilet, only to discover it was a full, working, flushing toilet…in the middle of nowhere, I was gob smacked, still am every time I think of it now as well. The mob that had arrived the night before were packing up and heading off, to where we’re not sure, but on their own adventure no doubt.

Our campsite for the next few days.

It was time to go and explore our surroundings, well the sheep station to begin with. We had a look around the main homestead, which in it’s time would have been a magnificent home, with it’s surrounding verandah, bedrooms and bathrooms down one side and kitchen, dining and living area down the other side, the typical U shaped house. We then drove on to the shearing shed, which was rather large, the station housing some 90, 000 sheep in it’s full operation. The shearers quarters not far from the shed, which housed up to 16 shearers, then the cooks quarters, a larger kitchen and meet hall, with a meat house and then a shower block. The ‘Overseers’ house was to the rear of the of the property.

The main Homestead of Willandra.
Can’t help the flower photos!
The creek that runs through the National Park.
The main Homestead’s main entry door.
The main road leading out of the National Park.
Nothing to see…anywhere.
The properties Sheep Shearing Shed.
The grounds around the shearing shed, looking back towards the main Homestead.
Inside the Shearing Shed.
City Folk!!
Behind the scenes of the Shearing Shed.
Rather large holding pens for all of the sheep.
The Shearers kitchen quarters, including a large bread oven!
The Shearers huge Mess Hall.
The Shearers Showers!
The Shearers sleeping Quarters.

Drove back to the main area, had a look in the Ramshed, where they kept their rams, the ‘Men’s Quarters’ where up to 8 stockman stayed, stables, the gardeners quarters, the blacksmiths quarters, then another small cottage completed the stations accommodation. It was all great to see, some of the cottages / quarters you can actually stay in instead of camping. Back to our campsite for a late afternoon snack and the first of our defrosted beers!!

The ‘RamShed’.
Jason with some kind of skull.

We settled in for the afternoon, Jas catching up on some of the many mags he had to read while I started my Christmas craft gifts. We were having a new idea I had found for dinner, steak, potato, garlic cheesy parcels cooked over the coals in foil, so we got the fire going to get some coals for our dinner. We had two beers then had a bottle of our new favourite drink, sparking shiraz, which is delicious.

Settling in for the afternoon, catching the last of the sun’s rays.

Dinner turned out a treat, so it will definitely be on the list for when we take the kids again. It was a lot cooler in the evening than the night before so the fire was lovely to sit by and there was no wind, so it made for a very pleasant evening, just a few too many clouds to star watch. We were in bed by just after 8.30pm, which was a late night for us, and hopefully no wind to keep us up.

Friday 29th September.

A much better nights sleep than the night before, there was no wind or rain. Up by 8.30am for breakfast, teas and coffees and in that order too mind you before we set of for another explore, this time just on the border of the National Park. While we were getting ready to leave, Jas suddenly spoke, I wondered to whom, only to discover that two walkers strolled past having just been on the trail you can do. They had arrived yesterday, stayed in the ‘Men’s Quarters’ and leaving today.

There were so many emu’s around the area, these were just beside the main Homestead.
I have decided I like emus.

We headed off on the short drive you can do around the area, seeing so much wildlife on our way, even at the main homestead as we were driving out we scared off a mob of about 15 emus. There were so many kangaroos around, not just grey, but also red kangaroos and some very dark grey ones about the mix as well and emus in the places there weren’t kangaroos. We drove past an old stump in the ground to discover a frill neck lizard sitting atop of it, just lazing in the sun, until city folk came past, stopped and took photos of it!! It didn’t move, so wasn’t too fussed on having it’s photo taken.

The Shearing Shed.
A lonely kangaroo sitting in the shade of one of the only trees around.
The view of the horizon through the heat haze.
Just sitting there, minding his own business.
He didn’t move at all.

We passed a shingle back lizard making it’s way across the red dirt track, minding it’s own business, until we stopped to take it’s picture. More kangaroos, more emus, I love the Australian outback, even though there might not be a lot to see of the landscape way out here, the assorted and quantity of the outback wildlife certainly make up for it.

This is me trying to get a Kangaroo and Emu in the same frame!

Back to the campsite for lunch and a cup of tea, before heading off on the 5km circuit walk around the creek. Just before we left some other campers had arrived and they came over for a chat. They had travelled up from Canberra and were staying for the long weekend, they had mentioned that at the homestead behind the Men’s Quarters there were hot showers you could use, so after our walk, that’s exactly what we were going to do.

A mum with her baby chicks in tow.

The walk was an easy one, following the path of the creek, we were surprised to see how messy the whole area was with fallen trees everywhere, not just across the creek, but slightly inland as well. Thinking we would see some snakes on our travels we were surprised yet again, considering it was very snakey territory and very warm to not see any, we didn’t even see lizards.

The mess of the creek around the property.
A collapsed bridge.
An old boiler.
Jason checking out an old, rusty truck.
Opening the gate so I could get through!!
The Shearing Shed and Shearers Quarters.

Back at camp we got everything ready for our trip to the free hot showers…something we were very much looking forward too. There was hardly any water pressure, but the water was hot and it felt lovely to be clean again, especially after the very hot day on Wednesday. As it was only 4.30pm, we settled in to camp by getting the fire going early, dinner was going to be grilled chicken with a pre-made satay sauce and some rice. While we were having a beer and snacking on some nuts, a couple that had just arrived came over for a chat, they were on the tail end of a three week journey that took them up through Lightening Ridge and down again, heading back home, stopping at Willandra for a night only.

Dinner was a delicious meal, needing something to warm up as the air was getting slightly cooler once the sun went down. We stayed up for a while longer, trying to star gaze and satellite watch, which was rather hard through the light cloud that kept making it’s way across the sky. We were in bed by 8.30pm, another late night for us!!

Saturday 30th September.

Up early, having to use the toilet, the weather was rather fresh with yet again a cloudy day with a cool wind blowing, which hopefully will all disappear by the time we get up, as it was still only 5.30am.

Unfortunately it was still windy, cloudy and cool when we did rise, so had to pull out the big gun jumper that I brought with us. Breakfast, teas and coffees, all while watching the very busy ground go past our feet, a large variety of ants going about their daily business, a few small spiders, strange centipede looking creatures and a small flying insect that had a tuft of wattle stuck to its back making it look like a fluffy, yellow ball with little legs and a head!!

We decided to do the rest of the walk we didn’t complete the day before by taking our lunch with us and sitting in the grounds of the main Homestead by the waters edge watching the bird life go flitter here and there. It was a lovely day, a yet again a slight breeze to keep things on the cooler side. We stayed there for over an hour before heading back to the campsite, still surprised we hadn’t seen any snakes, even sunning themselves by the waters edge.

More of my new favourites.
Having our dinner on the verandah of the Shearing Shed while watching the sun set.
Getting Lower.
Just about gone.
The clouds make for such a pretty sky.
Different colours and patterns again.

As we were having a roast turkey roll for dinner we decided to get the fire going early so we would have some good coals, settling back having a lovely cold beer watching the flames flicker about…one can never get bored watching a fire I have decided. Our dinner was cooked to perfection, so instead of eating it by the campfire we organised takeaway on plates, took that, plus our drinks and sat of the Shearing Sheds verandah and watched the sun set over the large expansive, empty fields. As the sky was yet again covered in soft layers of wispy clouds, it made the sun setting even more special, the patterns of pinks, purples and oranges hopefully made for some lovely photos.

Back to the campsite we had a quick chat to our neighbour then settled in for our last night in front of the fire at Willandra. We washed up and packed the kitchen away so it was less for us to do in the morning as we wanted to get going rather early. In bed after a very pleasant evening by 9pm.

Sunday 1st October.

Absolutely shit night sleep by both of us, first we both had to go to the loo, but it was worth it, as the sky was covered in stars, more so than when we went to bed, the Milky Way was very prominent. We were then disrupted by what we think was a field mouse having a lovely time wondering around the campsite and climbing on the tent roof, it was ages before we both fell back to sleep, then having to get up early to get packing to head to Yenda.

Leaving Willandra National Park.

We were ready by just after 9am for our journey to Yenda, and that including a shower at the Mens Quarters again. It was just under an hour to Hillston where we stopped for a coffee and breakfast, Jason having a chicken, asparagus and camembert pie, myself a breakfast quiche, which we both said was very nice. Pushing on to Griffith, where we filled the truck up before making the final assault to Cocoparra National Park, just 25kms outside of Yenda, arriving at 1.30pm.

The Wattle was beautiful throughout the countryside.

There were a few people dotted about the campground, so we did two laps to finally decide on a spot, nestled amongst the trees, with the very dry creek bed just below us. We set up then sat and shared our lunch with the now thousands of flies for both deciding on having an afternoon nap, also to escape the flies!!

Our campsite at Cocoparra National Park.
It was a beautiful campground…no campfires though.
The very dry creek bed behind our campsite.

Jason had a quick shower before we head off in search of the only pub in Yenda to have a meal, a few beers and watch the ruby league Grand Final. Found the pub, which wasn’t busy at all, grabbed a spot in front of the TV at the bar and settled in for a good night. The meal was surprising as the pub had a Chinese restaurant attached to it, so that was our meal, king prawn omelette, fried rice and garlic beef. I thought it was a nice meal, although Jas was a little disappointed as it wasn’t the kind of meal you expect to have sitting at the bar, in an outback pub waiting for the footy to start…the things you experience in the outback all add up, even the meals!!

Unfortunately, the Storm beat the Cowboys, which was disappointing, but none the less it was a good night. The pub didn’t get nearly as full as when were at Nundle or Sofala, but still full of locals willing to cheer and yell at the TV, just as much as the next person. We left not long after the game had finished, making our way back to Cocoparra, not encountering too much wildlife on the trip, just the occasional kangaroo making a dash across the track.

Back by 10pm and pretty much straight to bed, with the sleeping bags over us for extra warmth, to hopefully also induce a better nights sleep for us both!!

Monday 2nd October.

And a better nights sleep it was, both warm and with no critters keeping us awake during the night foraging through our kitchen. We both slept in to a little after 8am, getting up slowly, the sun was out though, which made it a bit easy to get up. Had a very leisurely breakfast, with tea and a coffee later on, while going over maps for our future expeditions. Deciding on another coffee late in the morning before Jason finally went on a bike ride to explore the area a bit more, I stayed behind and did more Christmas craft with the flies!!

My Christmas craft!!
Ribbon Stars.

He was only gone 1.5 hours and as it was now after midday we had a late lunch of dips and biscuits, Jason then working on a few things on his bike, before we had showers to freshen up, before we went on a quick drive to see the Woodshed Falls, which was via a 20min easy grade walk. It took us maybe 5 mins to get there to discover that there were no falls at all, as the creek was bone dry!!

The dry waterfall, looks like water, however it was just a ray of sunshine, great position of it though.
Very, very dry.

Back at camp, sitting in the sun, Jas reading, me catching up on this while we now wait for the sun to go down so we can start dinner, as I’m not interested in sharing every meal I have with the flies!! As there was a total fire ban in Cocoparra we are having bacon and onion scrabbled eggs cooked on teh camper trailer stove. We decided to go for a drive up to Mt Bingar to watch the sun go down over the large expansive fields, however when we got to the top we discovered that there was no view at all, so drove back down the road a bit before stopping at a corner in the road where we could see the sunset through the trees.

Getting ready for another sunset.
A beautiful cloudless sunset.
Nearly gone.
Half and half.
Gone.
Looking more like country folk now!

As there weren’t any clouds in the sky, the sunset wasn’t as pretty as other times, but still lovely to see, especially when the sun was just hitting the horizon. Back to camp for our dinner without flies!

Our bacon and onion scrambled egg wrap was delicious and we sat under the stars, although it was getting rather cool without a fire to keep us warm, which sucks. We finished dinner, washed up and packed everything away, so there was less to do in the morning, as we were leaving early for our long drive home. It was our latest night of the trip, in bed by 9.30pm.

Tuesday 3rd October.

Up by 7am, after a fairly good sleep, not having breakfast, we packed up the trailer in under an hour, ready to hit the road by just before 8am. We headed to Temora, where we stopped at the Round a Bout Bakery for coffee and a very nice quiche for me and mushroom, pepper steak pie for Jas, we also bought our morning tea of a hedgehog slice and a coffee cream round eclair.

Packed up and ready for our drive home, leaving Cocoparra National Park.

The quiche and pie were delicious, but nothing on the hedgehog slice and eclair, which were sensational! We were making very good time, and the stunning scenery of the yellow fields that were splashed throughout the landscape made the trip all the more pleasant. We finally made it, unfortunately, back to reality, Sydney, by 3.30pm having done 674kms from Cocoparra National Park.

Somewhere during our trip home, the yellow splattered fields were stunning.
The yellow fields of Canola.

It was such a lovely trip, seeing amazing countryside, a variety of wildlife, lots of dust, exceptionally large fields full of crops and massive expansions of flat land, as far as the eye could see. Would recommend a trip to Willandra National Park to anyone, despite the fact that it is so far out and in the middle of absolutely no where!!

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