The delightful historic town of Sofala

Visiting the small town of Sofala is like stepping back in time. It is one of the most unusual gold mining towns and it has a authentic charm and atmosphere. The town itself sits on the banks of the Turon River.

Main street

When we arrived, the heavy wet weather continues. There are free camps available up and down the river however 2 out of the 3 we visited we couldn't fit the motorhome in due the the trees and the very rough tracks. It didn't help that there had been lots of heavy rain recently and with the the potential of getting bogged, let alone flooding, we decided to stop overnight on the bitumen just around from the bridge, in fact we were right in front of the old bridge which rescued after a past severe flood ripped the bridge from its moorings. It is now part of a picnic area just at the entry to the "main street".

Old restored foot bridge

Sofala is a delightful village in the historical Bathurst region with a rich and intriguing colonial gold mining heritage. It would seem that the town hasn't changed much in 50 years. It is surrounded by beautiful national parks and is about 40km north of Bathurst on the road to Hill End.

This beautifully restored old miners cottage is available for rent

Michelle discovered a second hand book shop that is absolutely crammed full of books of every sort. This is a really book lovers paradise. In fact Michelle had to visit yet again the next day before leaving. Apparently it is connected to Slado's Bookshop in Bathurst which is closing it doors permanently, leaving this Sofala shop open for book lovers.
Down the road further is a wonderful old pub The Royal, and a museum which was closed at the time of our visit due the late hour most likely as well as several other mini businesses.

Slado's Book Shop

We heard that trout fishing is also popular in the area and of course there is also gold fossicking, even tours you can book if you're feeling lucky. Though we only stayed the one night, I hope we can come back in warmer weather and explore this town and just sit back and unwind watching the river flown by.

Premer Lions Park

Premer Lions Park Rest Area has a toilet block with 1 hot shower. There are 20 sites and of these 10 are powered. There is room for big rigs esp on the perimeter. It is not a free camp as they ask for a donation via a honesty box which I believe we should contribute to whenever a place asks for a donation especially if it is reasonably clean if we want to continue to have such facilities available on our travels.

We were there in heavy wet weather and the grounds were just managable for rigs if you pick your spots even for big rigs. The road passing is used a fair bit during the day but the traffic is almost non existent at nights. Contrary to the photos, there area was very green whilst we were there.

The amenities are very basic and were cleaned daily whilst we were there by members of the local Lions Club.

The town itself is quite run down but the pub is friendly so another camper told us.We didn't get to meet any of the locals on our walk around town probably most were keeping inside out of the wet weather, though we walked during a mini dry spell.

Moonbi Free Camping with a sweeping view

We free camped at Moonbi Lookout, just north Tamworth where it was quite windy overnight and down to just 5 degrees in the morning.

Michelle 1/2 way up the lookout
The view south from the lookout

There are old but very serviceable toilets there. There is also a picnic table which you can see in one of the photos and a couple? of BBQs of the wooden sort.(bring your own wood).

The view north to our Motorhome

We had some visitors pop by to have a look from the lookout but there were no other campers there over night.

Dangar Warfalls & Gorge

We head further south on our way to Canberra this time towards Armidale.

I love the architecture of old churches and though we didn't go hunting for them, these two were on the road we took near the city.

We also decided to have a bit of a cultural visit and popped into The Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place. Never have we been so disappointed in a place. There was almost nothing to see. The few paintings were scattered around including propped against the wall but on the floor. The floors were very untidy with bits of packing rubbish strewn around. When the woman at the counter didn't offer anything else to be seen, we left not even 10 minutes after we got there.

One of the few art work available to be seen.

We then went on to Dorrigo and the Dangar Falls. How blessed the residents must feel to be so close to these lovely waterfalls being just 1.5 km away.

The falls are easily accessed and viewed from the platform at the nearby picnic area. It is very pretty & very peaceful.
Rob walking on the easy bitumen track

These are cascade waterfalls are small but picturesque within a beautiful bush setting on the Northern Tablelands. I loved the rock pool area which would make a great spot for dabbling in the waters and having a picnic.

One can scramble over the rock pools at the top or even picnic on them or in the nearby designated picnic area

Mother of Ducks Lagoon Free Camp

Just short of 70 km down the road from Glenn Innes is this free camp spot at Guyra alongside the Mother of Ducks Lagoon. The name is intriguing with the promise of lots of bird life.

The free camp site is on a grassy section between the road and the actual lagoon with a brick toilet block. It is within walking distance of town. There are a few other vehicles but since it is so wet we are all staying snug inside our vehicles to keep warm and dry. Maybe tomorrow we'll see more life in the place if it clears up a bit. We only planned on staying overnight (only allowed 1 night).

We took the car and went for a look around town and in search of some food as it was too late and I am too tired to cook. We found a lovely friendly fish and chip joint open which we really enjoyed.

Due to the heavy wet weather, we didn't get to explore the lagoon itself, but here is the info I have garnered: The Mother of Ducks Lagoon is freshwater and 14k in circumference, a marshy wetland in a silted volcanic crater. It is Natural Heritage Registered Reserve because it attracts many species of various migratory birds who come to nest here. About a 300mtr walk from the campsite the is a viewing platform and hide from where one can get some photos when the weather is conducive to that.

Guyra, itself is a tiny town with a population of 2100 and consists of a short and narrow main street, two pubs,a few old buildings and something like 6 Churches! It is 37k Nth of Armidale on the New England Hwy at an altitude of 1330m thus making it the highest Town on the New England Range. It is in the midst of a "Pastoral District (500,000 sheep and 100,00 cattle) with a past Tin mining history and with a Temperate Climate of Summer Temperatures 11 - 23c and Winter 1 - 11c is also ideal for Horticulture. A 20 Hectare Glasshouse that produces 72 million Tomatoes pa is nearby and is a major source of employment for the area." just quoted from the local rag.

Beardy Creek Free Camp

Beardy Creek is approximately 8 kilomteres north of Glen Innes on the New England ... It is a free camp with a forty eight hour maximum stay. (Camps Australia Wide 7 #148)

I am standing up on the track which the truckies would use.

There is plenty of room for large vans here, and it is a good spot for quick overnight on your way though to see one of the majestic national parks in the New England Region.

A beautiful rainbow embraces the motorhome
 We enjoyed our friendly time in Maryvale but it was time to move on again. In keeping with our motto of taking it easy, we travelled just 200km after attending church first at Warrick. Our destination this time was at Heritage Park on Beardy Creek just north of Glen Inness.

Got to keep an eye on the rising creek levels

We generally average 80k/h but the hills slow us down significantly. Rob was very concerned about the brakes on the motorhome as they were shuddering something fierce when heavily applied. I was to drive within eyesight behind to reduce the stress on the brakes and to be within cooee if something terrible happened.

Hardly a soul in sight.
Nothing happened on the trip. The grounds are very wet and we chose not to camp at the 'proper' camp grounds as it was so boggy. instead we went just 50m further to what appears to be a very large truck stop. Rob reckons that not many trucks would stop there due to the approach from the road and they certainly can't veer off the hard track. Once we had parked and settled, we enjoyed relaxing and looking out with the creek just metres away. We weren't going to be doing much walking since there was a gently but constant drizzle of rain. We were watching the already high river to ensure that it wasn't likely to go any higher.

Maryvale and Condamine River

Our stay in Maryvale was a joy, mainly because of the company of our friend John who recently moved there. We generally  plan to meet up with John each time we travel to Queensland.

The very friendly Maryvale Pub -they have their own free 'Uber' driver

We first met John and Kathy in Western Australia back about 6 years and have spent many camp nights in their wonderful company. Sadly Kathy died in a bike accident early this year but John still wants to travel and meet up.

John's place - it's not really a free camp - we just did a send up for fun

He has just bought a flat 1 acre block in Maryvale just east of Warwick and is encouraging his friends to drop by and camp a night or two with him whenever you are in the area. So we did just that! John had other friends there whom we naturally befriended. We soon got to know John and Tracey and enjoyed their company too.

Tracey delighted us by cooking for all of us on the first night.  I returned the favour the second night and John the third night with the 4th night being a combined BBQ pit fire night for all comers.

Maryvale is such a lovely friendly place, it is no wonder that John is happily settled there. All John needs now is to get his plans passed so he can get his shed up and move in properly.

Daggs Falls & Queen Mary Falls

The five of us went for a drive through to Queen Mary Falls, stopping at Daggs Falls first.

Our two daggy friends (Pls note Rob is NOT a dag) ;)
We walked to see the Queen Mary Falls with the two Johns & Tracey doing the full walk down to the bottom of the falls and back.

A scrumptious lunch was enjoyed by us all at the Queen Mary Falls kiosk of their Wicked Cheesy Wedges with sour cream, bacon and onion and salsa.Oh my, these were so yum, I am almost salivating again as I write. (I am going to try to duplicate this recipe one day.

BTW you can camp behind the kiosk for a fee in their little caravan park. We were well nourished for a bit of light 4WDriving around Condamine River which is the head of the Darling/Murray River.

4WDriving around Condamine River

We stopped at a look out that overlooked the Gorge and lovely countryside.

John's car in front of us.

It is a wonderful drive going over no less than 14 river crossings! It was a fabulous day of great fun with these marvellous friends.