Illustrated Journal of Our Caravan Trip from Melbourne to Cairns and Back During July, August and September of 2016
Written by Bill Leithhead, Melbourne, Australia
Gilgandra to Moree, including Coonabarabran's 'Crystal Kingdom' then on to Moree.
Our caravan at the "Crystal Kingdom", Coonabarabran.
Our family came this way in 1979, and the kids enjoyed seeing the minerals. So we occasionally call in if we come this way. Somehow, it all seemed more exciting back then!
The "Crystal Kingdom" is a large display of minerals, mostly from local volcanic outcrops, plus others from elsewhere in Australia, and some from overseas. In 1979 our we and our three young children travelled up this road on the way to Cairns and back. The crystal display here in Coonabarabran entranced our children, and they vividly remember it.
Sad to say, the exhibition is not what it once was, and the lady at the counter even tried to sell us little chips of minerals beause of their "healing qualities"! Back in 1979 I remember a newer, resher and more extensive collection.
But time marches on. The museum mainly contains a lot of excellent examples of zeolites and related minerals, associated with the nature of the magma extrusions that resulted from volcanic activity about 17 million years ago.
This shows how, some tens of millions ago, volcanic magma intruded through the old seminentary rocks originally formed at the botton of a very ancient ocean in this region. This gave rise to the mountain range called the Warrumbungles
This diagram is of the volcanic activity that punched up through sedimentary rock millions of years ago, and after aeons of weathering, the volcanic rocks have worn down to give the range of mountains called the Warrumbungles.
Glenyce looking at some of the exhibits at "Crystal Kingdom", Coonabarabran, NSW.
Glenyce perusing some of the hundreds of mineral specimens viewable at the "Crystal Kingdom", Coonabarabran.
A nice specimen of the mineral called "prehnite"
is a common local mineral, being a hydrated calcium aluminium silicate hydroxide. It can sometimes be made cut into green gemstones, but not from this specimen.
A very handsome crystal arrangement of the minerals blue quartz and stellerite.
A very handsome crystal arrangement of the minerals blue quartz and stellerite. Blue quartz is standard quartz (colourless), with tiny fibres of asbestos such as crocidolite, suspended in it. Stellerite is a hydrated calcium aluminium silicate, a rather uncommon mineral belonging to the category called the zeolites.
Armillary sundial sphere in a Coonabarabran street, presented by the Anglo-Australian Observatory for 35 years of cooperation.
Seen in a Coonabrabran main street: a very nice example, in bronze, of an Armillary Sphere Sundial
, presented to the townsfolk to celebrate 35 years of cooperation with the Anglo-Australian Observatory. There are many large telescopes erected on the peaks in the Warrumbungles. The night-sky is excellent for observation, being so far from cities with their light pollution.
When I was backing in to our powered site for the several days we were here, Glenyce, my guide, hear a metallic "clunk", and called out for me to stop backing. When we had a look, our caravan underneath had contacted a short tap which was just at the rear of the site. It was somewhat bent at an angle, and my guess is that it had been bent by contact with numerous previous caravan undersides!
A very low tap could not be easily seen by me as I backed, so I made contact with it.
Fortunately, no damage was done to my caravan, which is built to be fairly tough! But it a dumb sort of thing to do, to be having a short tap like that protruding from the ground. We were lucky! This reminded me of the approximately 4 or 5 times over my 50 years of caravanning I had seen caravans or camper-vans back into a tap at the rear of a site, causing a broken pipe, and a fountain of water, making a repair necessary, with the water having to be turned off for everyone for the short time necessary for the repair by a plumber.
Never a dull moment!!
Van over errant tap, showing proximity to our ensuite.
Anyway, here we are, happily parked next to our own "ensuite", which is a small shed containing a toilet and shower all our own! We've been at this unusual caravan park several times over the years - just Glenyce and myself, and have always enjoyed the five different warmed swimming pools, which we always share with a lot of people from all over Australia, plus international visitors. The clientele at this van park are usually closer to our own age, known colloquially in Australia as the "grey nomads", because large numbers of retired Aussies do spend sometimes several years roaming around this wide brown, green and red land, midst desert and forest, at the seaside and in the Red Centre.
Many just buy or rent a van to do the "Big One", namely, travel all around the country, from the lower southern states, up through New South Wales and then tropical and savannah Queensland, across to Katherine then Darwin, then the Kimberleys through to Broome, then down the coast to Perth, next to the South-West, Esperance, the Nullarbor Desert, travelling easterly until the loop is closed.
Some people do the Big One clockwise, and some do it anticlockwise, or both, in turn. Some just have a camper van, and others have a long, luxurious monster of a thing which can even extend out sideways.
A nd, of course, Australia being as big as it is, the grey nomads folks can always fill in to the middel, - inland- to Kalgoorlie, WAS, and surrounds, and then The Red Centre, Alice Springs, Uluru, King's Canyon, etc. Then there's inland NSW, such as the Newell Highway (this trip), and further inland from that. But we love the beautiful Austrtalian coastlines.
Australia, as it were, is everyone's oyster - to be opened and savoured in their own sweet time!
Our car and van parked in the pleasant, leafy surrounds of Gwydir Carapark, Moree.
Day 5 Sun 17/7/16
Moree day 1; recovery in artesian pools
Lap pool maintained at 28°C, beautifully lit at night.
Glenyce and I have spent a good deal of time, leisurely lapping in our own time in this lapping pool. Nice memories!
It's interesting to note that the distinctive name of the caravan park, "Gwydir Carapark", is laid down in large letters at the bottom of the pool.
The 34°C and 35°C pools are very pleasant, but in our opinion get rather insipid after one has felt the blast of heat from the 39°C pool!
Pool at a pleasant 34°C. A pleasant relief from the hotter pools.
At 35°C, like the cooler one, these pools are shaded, which makes it quite pleasant compared with glaring sunlight on the next hotter one, at 37°C, and of course, these are somewhat shielded from the breezes. They get a lot of hot weather up here in Moree, so cover is valuable.
The 35°C pool is very pleasant for lingering.
I must admit, I myself do spend most of the time in these hotter pools, and Glenyce is just the same. They are closer to blood temperature, and seem to enwrap the body, so to speak.
These two hotter pools at 37°C and 39°C are very popular indeed!
Moree day 2; recovery in artesian pools
This is the one I like the best - at 39°C.
The hottest pool here: maintained at the natural 39°C ground temperature of this artesian water.
This is the temperature at which the artesian water comes out of the ground here, that is, 39°C. It has travelled from the Queensland coast area, as rain on to the Great Dividing Range, and has taken about one million years to arrive, percolating through permeable rocks via the Great Artesian Basin water system. It is pure, and needs no chlorine treatment, and is low in minerals. Amazing!
Myself and Glenyce luxuriating in the challengingly hot 39°C pool; that's the temperature at which the artesian water naturally occurs around in this region.
Quaint sign offering various massages for pool users.
I've had massages quite a few times over the years, and find it rather a waste of money, or time. But that's a personal quirk, because obviously most people enjoy it.