After the weekend we headed inland into New England and up to Armidale. The original plan had been to drive the wonderful Oxley Highway from Wauchope up to Walcha and then onto Armidale. This is one of my favourite driving roads but it was shut due to a number of fires. So we headed north on the Pacific Highway and then onto a good substitute -the Waterfall Way via Bellingen, Dorrigo and Ebor to Armidale-a 298 km drive and there was virtually no traffic on the road once we had passed Dorrigo.
It's a beautiful part of the country. Vast National Parks on the Great Dividing Range and many waterfalls. Well there would be waterfalls if there had been rain but sadly the drought means that most of the waterfalls are dry or reduced to just a trickle.
The impact of the drought goes far beyond the poor farmers and the rivers. The towns are really suffering. Shops have closed and long faces are everywhere It is very tough time for people dependant on the land for their livelyhood. Many cattle and sheep are on the Long Paddock-meaning they are grazing on the vegetation on the edge of the roads. Out in the paddocks cattle and sheep are being fed expensive bought in feed.
Although the coastal strip to the east of the Dividing Range is in drought some areas are quite green due to recent rain and as we drove back home on the superb Thunderbolts Way from Armidale to Gloucester we passed through one area which was really green. A local in the general store at tiny Nowendoc explained that this was due to a localised snowfall being slow to melt a few months earlier.
It was unseasonally cold and windy whilst we were in New England but there was no snow and the light was, as always wonderful, and the sky was big. Here are my photos from the inland journey.
|A green area on the Waterfalls Way north of Dorrigo looking south west towards the Gumbaynggin National Park|
|Ebor Falls on the Waterfalls Way. Usual a roaring torrent now just a trickle.|
|Roadsign for northern hemisphere tourists|
|Abandoned threshing machine near Dangersleigh south of Armidale|
|Mailbox for 133|
|Dangars Gorge, Oxley Wild Rivers NP. There was just a small pond of water under the huge drop which should be a waterfall.The gorge is a refuge for the brush-tailed rock wallaby but I was there too late in the morning to spot any.|
|Beautiful bush vegetation -above Dangars Gorge.|
|Abandoned farm buildings on road out from Dangars Gorge.|
|Where sheep may safely graze.Near Dangersleigh.|
|Werona Station, near Gostwyck|
|South of Nowendoc on the Thunderbolts Way.|