Well this year has been a real downer for a travel connoisseur like myself. Fortunately here in Australia we are getting to some level of normality, just don’t try and cross any borders. So to get around this small issue and get my travel junkie fix I’m heading out back to the Outback. The Outback is more a concept than an actual real place. I’ve had many non-Australian travellers tell me they did a great day trip from Sydney to the outback when they were visiting. No Australian would actually agree it is possible to do such a thing without flying and I’m a little confused where these tours might go. According to the NSW government though Outback NSW starts about 8kms out from Balranald, which in turn took me 650kms of driving to get to today!
The drive out of Canberra is the usual suburban sprawl giving way to countryside, albeit partly on a freeway and partly not, because of governments. As I head north, I drive through the local wine region, with many cellar doors, having a closed sign on them. Maybe it is because of covid or maybe its because it is Thursday. As my drive continues I drive past alternating fields of yellow and purple. The yellow fields full of canola are spectacular. The purple fields are known as Paterson’s curse and also as spectacular. The difference is that Canola is used for oil and Paterson’s curse is used for photos of purple fields.
The hills start to disappear as the landscape flattens to start looking a bit like the Outback. As I reach the outskirts of the town of Griffith, vineyards appear in large quantities. I didn’t realise we produced wine here, but I shouldn’t be surprised as Australians will grow wine grapes anywhere we can. The vineyards give way to wheat and eventually the vast Hay plains where other than low shrubbery the view is flat with very little features to attract my attention. That is a good thing though as this route has truck hurtling along at regular intervals, the most direct route from Adelaide to Sydney.
Finally I arrive in Balranald, a small town probably most popular as a stopping point for my destination tomorrow of Mungo NP. I scouted the main street for dinner options and the local club is open and I’m sure my choices will be chicken parmigiana or honey chicken. I’ve always wondered how chinese and italian inspired food has become a staple at Australian clubs (which in itself is a very australian thing also). I also wish I was in Griffith where I saw an Afghan restaurant and could have sampled the local wines! With the way things are going I may be back for another road trip next year.