23-Dec-2001 -- “Round Box”, Booligal, NSW
This was the first of a 14-confluence journey through outback New South Wales over the Christmas break.
So as to not make the 4000 kilometre round trip not sound entirely ridiculous, the official explanation was that the purpose of the trip was to visit some of my wife’s family for Christmas and Boxing Day in Caboolture, Queensland (about 50 km north of Brisbane) – but we all know the real purpose of the trip!
Picture 7 shows the planned GPS track for the entire trip. The actual distance traveled was about 150 km extra per day due to the rounding effect of creating the GPS tracks with only about 25 legs per day, some back-tracking to find optimal access tracks and some ill-fated attempted short-cuts.
Of the 14 confluences in the plan, two had been previously visited (29ºS 150ºE and 29ºS 152ºE) but were only a few kilometres off the Newell Highway and New England Highway respectively, so I thought I’d drop in on them for a quick look.
I’ll have some wrap-up comments on the entire trip in my narration for the last confluence of the journey (34ºS 147ºE).
Anyway, back to this confluence.
We were on a fairly tight timetable to get four confluences and 1000 kilometres done before nightfall, so I didn’t actually expect to be able to get this one, as the map I had did not indicate any roads or tracks within less than about four kilometres of the confluence.
From the map, it looked like the confluence was located on the “Round Box” station near Booligal. I started off by attempting to speak to the owner and/or manager of the station and drove several kilometres down the station’s main driveway off the Cobb Highway to a cluster of houses and other farm buildings. I knocked on the doors of a couple of the houses, but there were no signs of any people – just a lot of agitated dogs.
After getting back on the Cobb Highway we drove on to Booligal, getting further away from the confluence, and then headed south-east along Gunbar Road. By some stroke of luck, we found a track following an irrigation channel in the general direction of the confluence that took us to within just a couple of hundred metres of the confluence.
The confluence itself is in a grazing paddock about 50 metres from a dam. There were several sheep and cattle nearby and also plenty of kangaroos.
After getting back on Gunbar Road, and buoyed by the unexpected first-up success, we decided to attempt a short cut to the Lachlan Valley Way rather than driving back to Booligal. As it turns out, this was a pretty poor decision, as the dirt road shown on the map rapidly deteriorated well before Lachlan Valley Way and was not drivable in my two-wheel drive car. Trying to extricate ourselves from our predicament, we tried several other tracks not shown on the map – all to no avail and, indeed, getting us slightly lost. After more than an hour of mucking around, we eventually back-tracked to Gunbar Road and drove into Booligal and continued our journey to the next confluence.