Beyond the Black Stump

No time for decluttering, no time for The Year of the Gardening. I’ve been on the road, back of the black stump.


A five day road trip to the Hunter and north west region of NSW. Lots of road hours! We stopped at the Warrumbungles, Coonamble, Gunnedah, Coonabarabran, Baradine, Armatree, Scone, Aberdeen and the southern bit bit of the Pilliga forest. Drove through Gulargumbone and Gilgandra. (Don’t you love the names? Spellcheck doesn’t!)

Let’s play “One of these things is not like the other”. Can you pick the names not from the north-west but from the Hunter? Yes, the ring-ins from British words. Disappointingly, there were no scones in Scone.


After Sydney, the Upper Hunter looks open and free. After the wide, open fields and never-ending sky of the north-west, the Hunter looks over-populated and crowded and commercial. Yes, the north-west is dry whereas the Hunter is green and lush (between the coal mines!) but the colours have an amazing beauty. And yes, you have to travel vast distances between “sights” or towns. But there are plenty of roos, cattle, horses, birds, farms, vistas, occasional emus along the way.

And the air speaks of the openness and vastness of the horizon. The night sky is so black, the Milky Way uninterrupted by light pollution or, well, by anything. It is a dome of not just constellations, but the smudge that is the Milky Way. (Google: night sky under Coonabarabran for some idea of what I saw.)

This panoramic shot gives you an indication of why research telescopes are here.


I witnessed an amazing artistic, multi-art performance. Another Googling effort will give you some idea: Moorambilla. And if you’re from Australia, ABC will be broadcasting a documentary later in the year.



I’d go back in an instant. (But not in summer, ’cause it’s hotter than Hades.) In fact, I have to go back. The air, the light, the space is addictive. And I want to go further into the Pilliga. The rock formations spoke of ancient times.


Just look at this view. Not a fence, road, structure in sight. Just the horizon.


Only downside? Bugs on the windscreen.



17 thoughts on “Beyond the Black Stump

  1. Ahhh, Gilgandra… We went on a serious road trip last year – 4,000km round trip in a 1959 Plymouth Belvedere. Gilgandra is where we met a drunken country music singer who was staying in the same motel as us. He was lovely early in the night, then morose by 10pm. And in bed by 10.30pm. Those musos certainly know how to party! Favourite picture from the trip was the mist through the Warrumbungles after we left Gilgandra. It was going to be our longest day in the car, and it was going to be super hot, so we left at the crack of dawn. It was beautiful.

  2. Ahhh…the air, the space and the light really are addictive…there is nothing like the vastness (and the stars out there.) You covered a lot of distance in just a ‘long weekend’! The event sounds very special for the kids.

    I remember as a kid we were all piled into the car a number of times to do the Melbourne-Dubbo route and on to Queensland through Gilgandra, Coonabarabran, Narrabri, Moree, Goondiwindi…remember the RACV Strip Maps?! I used to pore over them, tracing one evocative town name after another. There is nothing like being out on the open road!

    • I still pour over the maps. There always seems to be the possibility of an adventure, or something, down a small road. OK, I know there is just more space but it is so easy to dream. I imagine an adventure from the Billabong series.

  3. Crazy gal! I am NOT a road trip sorta gal. A colleague is heading on a road trip and is super excited, but I can’t get in on it with him. I suppose I just get bored, and hot and stuff. I went to Orange with the BF for a wedding, and at 5hrs, that was about our limit!

    • But yet you’ll hop onto a plane for a flight that lasts hours! The trick is to break the journey up with side explorations and frequent stops. We stopped frequently at different places – a “town” that only has a pub and a wheat silo for lunch, a station (as in farm), Siding Springs, and two towns all in one day.

  4. ha, I do love those names! So interesting and fun to say. The photos are stunning! I love being out in the middle of a wild place – very relaxing to step away from developed areas.

  5. Almost missed this one! I have done many a road trip, but it’s been a few years now. It’s so different wherever you go – in the Eastern-most 2/3 of Canada, the highways cut through forests so there is Tall Dark Green on both sides of the road and the views are mostly restricted. But I have also lived on the Prairies with their endless sky, and driven from there to the Rocky Mountains. I think landscape affects us a lot. My dad is accustomed to having a water view and he gets restless when he’s landlocked. Meanwhile, there are hardly any lakes or rivers in Southeast England where Rom grew up, and he refers to the tiniest water hole as a lake or a reservoir!

    • Yes, our environment definitely affects us – our moods, our health – even for those unaware.

      After a short drive I find driving through tall forests claustrophobic. My favourite view is mountains in the distance over a flat plain. I can’t laugh at Rom because even though everything here is on a vast scale, water holes and creeks tend to be the exception. I think Canada is Queen of the lakes! So our lakes may be disappointingly small. Except in flood!

  6. Lucinda, I am dizzy keeping up with your travels! The thing I most associate with road trips is the question, ‘Are we nearly there yet?!!’

    • Found your comment! WordPress had sent you to spam prison!

      As the Are we there yet! The answer is itechnology and videos in the coach. Keeps everyone, who cannot see the beauty of looking out a window and dreaming, quiet.

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