Date: 7-8th June 2020
Travelled: 304 kms from Lightning Ridge to Bourke in the North-West Region of New South Wales
Visited: Brewarrena and Bourke
Stayed: Mitchell Caravan Park $34 with all services. S30.09023, E145.94957
Heading south on the Castlereagh Highway there is a reasonable amount of traffic, mostly caravans and a few motorhomes intermingled with the trucks. Back in Walgett we refuel at a discount truck stop before turning west on the Kamilaroi Highway for Bree (Brewarrina).
We arrive in Bree in time for lunch and a wander about town. It’s Sunday of a long weekend and seemingly everything is closed except the IGA and the Visitor’s Centre.
We find a parking spot overlooking the Barwon River weir, have lunch and relax after 2 hours or so on the road. The Barwon meets the Culgoa just around the bend and it‘s the Darling River for the next 1472 kms.
We find the Visitor’s Centre is open. They have an interesting historic photo gallery of the local pioneers as well as information on the lives of the local Aboriginal peoples. We chatted to the ladies working there for ages, two young women, obviously very proud of their community.
Anyway the day is getting away and it‘s still 100kms to Bourke so we return to the Kimilaroi and continue west.
Map of Bourke after zooming out to provide perspective to NSW.
There are two camping areas in Bourke, we take the one closet to town, the Mitchell Caravan Park. It’s still a kilometre into town, but it’s only 10 minutes.
Whilst Bourke is a lovely place to walk around and explore, everything is closed except the pub and the IGA (supermarket). We were a little disappointed to find even the tourist info closed and the adjoining Crossley Engine was not running at its scheduled time. Anyway we battle on walking the banks of the Darling River before making our way back to the Winnebago.
We have some local lamb chops accompanying our Bingara sausages on the BBQ at the caravan park as soon as the sun sets. Bit of FaceTime with Indiana and Cooper followed by an episode of Jack Ryan (S2) and our day is done.
Fairly grim start to our second day in Bourke. We have walked around Bourke and cannot find anything open for a coffee. Things are grim, Pam wants me to drive her home and make her a coffee…
After a late breakfast we take the drive out to North Bourke to the Back of Bourke Exhibition Centre, which is actually open. We pay the extraordinary sum of $21 (pensioner) per head to enter.
The $42 probably didn’t set us in the right mood to really enjoy the exhibition. It’s room after room of old pictures which are interesting in themselves but each is accompanied by long winded information panels which we found just too much. So we drive on to North Bourke to explore the old bridge.
Our last stop is Bourke Cemetery, luckily it‘s still open. The lady at the exhibition centre has given us a guide to the cemetery, so we set of to visit murdered policeman, bush rangers, Afghan camel drivers and Chinese gardeners who form part of Bourke’s history as well as the grave of Fred Hollows the famed eye surgeon.
We wander the dust and thorns for an hour and manage to find most of the notorious, before heading back to the caravan park.
The pub is open for dinner tonight and we walk down as the dark settles over Bourke. The place is buzzing. The meal was excellent. We sit at a covid safe distance from another couple of travellers from Coffs Harbour and chat on for an hour or so rapping up our visit to Bourke nicely.
PS: We did manage to find an excellent double shot (short) cappuccino ☕️at the Caltex servo on the way out of town.