Darwin or bust - a short drive up the road travel blog

Welcome to White Cliffs

Someone's amazing front garden at White Cliffs

Dan fossicking for opalised pineapples

The first solar power station in Australia was at White Cliffs

Aerial view of mines at White Cliffs - bizarre pattern

Huge open cut mine at Cobar - a very, very big pit!

The Big Bogan and friend at Nyngan.

Glenn McGrath - honoured with a statue in Narromine

Beautiful opals

Who's a pretty pink cockatoo?

From Broken Hill we headed up to White Cliffs for the night. A tiny opal mining town 275 kms north-west. They say for every house you see there are ten more underground, however it only has a population of less than 150 people. While not a pretty town it is very interesting to think that people put up with the extremely hot summers, dust and isolation in an attempt to strike it rich. To do your grocery shopping the nearest supermarket is in Broken Hill apart from the very basic general store in town.

You can see what is called opalised pineapples here as this is the only place they have ever been found. They are rare and valuable and shaped like a spiky ball of opal.

We stayed at the local pub which had basic motel rooms and huge meal portions for dinner. They were all very friendly and our accommodation included complimentary continental breakfast. At dusk we drove up to the lookout for a sunset shot and got a little lost which isn't a wise thing to do as there are mine pits everywhere. Unfortunately all the maps we had showed something different.

The very first Solar Power Station in Australia was built right here in 1981 and was used until 2005. As the electricity was sold to the community, this was also arguably the Worlds first commercial solar power station.

Then another 334 kms down the Barrier Hwy to Cobar for the night (yes Australia's outback is very big with hundreds of kms between towns). We stayed in a one bedroom cabin at the caravan park which was a bit of a disaster as it was a very, very cold night and the cabin provided little insulation. The temperature dropped to minus 2 overnight and it probably wasn't much warmer inside. Thank heavens the bed had an electric blanket but we both struggled to get out of bed in the morning.

We'd never stayed in Cobar before and didn't really know much about the town. The locals we met were very friendly and explained it was a copper mining town and the name Cobar is derived from the aboriginal word for copper and means red earth. At its peak in the early 1900s Cobar had a population of 10,000 and its own stock exchange. Now the population is around 4,000. We were advised not to miss the Fort Bourke Hill Lookout just outside of town which gave amazing views of the HUGE open cut mine and the town.

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