On the way to Coonabarabran, we drove through the Piliga Scrub – somewhere, for some reason I’ve always wanted to go. I think I just like the name. But it didn’t disappoint. 500,000 hectares of  public bushland with 350 species of birds and animals. It is low lying, sparse scrub. It had recently rained deepening the colour of the red earth. And against the recently burnt and blackened trees with new bright green foliage, it was just stunning. Paths with emu tracks took us to a small lake – a great respite from the midday day sun. There was a chorus of deep, metallic drum like noises – the very knowledgeable park ranger identified this sound as the Poddle Bong frog. She was also the person who worked out the snakes we had seen in Mt Kaputar were blue-bellied black snakes.

19. Park rangers who love their job and know their stuff

20. Poddle Bong frogs and the person who named them

Another walk in the Piliga took us to the Sculptures in the Scrub in the Dandry Gorge. The photos say it all. It was hot – still. It never lets up. It was great to retreat to the air-conditioned car and head about 60ks to Coonabarabran where we were meeting Sandy and Walter.

21. Air-conditioned cars

22. Friends to walk with

23. Friends who really know how to bushwalk and can lead the way so well.

Coonabarabran is all about the Warrumbungles National Park and the dark sky. The best walk is a 13k walk to “breadknife”. It’s a moderate to steep climb up to Crater Bluff with some rewarding vistas at the bluff. For John and me it was a hot, tiring walk. For Sandy and Walter, it was just another walk in the park. They are well-equipped, know what they are doing and have fantastic fitness. John and I didn’t follow up the 19km walk the following day as did Sandy and Walter. They were back home in no time. They were great company and guides.

Some of you will be shocked to hear that Walter is even more left wing than I am. It’s so nice to share time with people with similar views and we can whinge and laugh at all the things in politics which drive us crazy. As with all political tragics, we would just like 30 minutes with Bill Shorten to tell him what he needs to say. And they say youth is arrogant.

We enjoyed some other short walks – the most notable being the sandstone caves at the southern end of the Piliga Scrub.  It is a significant aboriginal site for the Gamilaraay people with grinding grooves and rock art. Beautiful at sunset.  So, some great walking, some more wine and beer, some cooking and eating together. What more do you need? Our only disappointment was that the “dark sky” was cloud covered so we couldn’t see the stars in the observatory.

24. Talking politics

25. Finally going to all these places I learnt about in year 5 social studies

Next stop Mullumbimby. If you follow our path on a map, it all looks very hodge podge and illogical. We did have a plan but a few things happened so now we are just making it up as we go along. So we are off to visit Steve and Jane in Mullumbimby – our favourite town in NSW and it’s nothing like all the other towns we’ve visited even though there are motels, bowling clubs and Chinese restaurants.

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