Staying in Bourke Saturday 29/7- Sunday 30/7/2017
Yesterday was, of course, Stephen’s birthday. We planned to go to the Exhibition Centre in the morning and a cruise in a paddle steamer on the Darling River in the afternoon. A fitting way of celebrating Stephen’s birthday. Our plan was to leave the Winnie at the caravan park and walk to the Exhibition Centre about 2 kms away, but we would then have needed a bus to get out to where we could catch the Jandra. When Stephen rang up, they said there was no bus, so we would need to drive ourselves, but that Sunday was a good day for the cruise as it was 2 hours long instead of 1.
We decided to stay an extra day here and do the Sunday cruise. We still walked to the Back O’Bourke Exhibition Centre, which is really a museum, but with an attractive layout. Going through the history of this area, we could better understand why such a dry area was considered to be such a find by Major Mitchell. It was thought that Bourke would become a big town. In the end, only some of the dreams were realised. We were able to read the stories of individuals who had come to the land in the early days to settle and make a living. Drought and floods came. People had to survive or give up.
Yesterday evening we joined some of the other people in our park for stew, damper, and a singer/songwriter providing live entertainment. There were a variety of stews to choose from, cooked in pots on the large campfire. It was a very enjoyable way to end the day.
This morning we made another slow start to the day, then went and did some shopping. Stephen had rung up a newsagency to reserve the Saturday paper, and was able to pick it up as the shop was nearby. We went down to the town wharf, and were pleased to see a rather nice cafe and gift shop there. Although we didn’t stay for morning tea, it was good to see something like it just in the right location. As well, they have on display the Crossley Engine, one of the first to run on diesel. It is fired up at a certain time each day during the tourist season, just to prove that an engine from 1923 is still quite capable of working well.
We then drove to the wharf where we would catch the Jandra, a replica paddle boat. We had lunch and a rest. We were the first to arrive at around midday, but the place certainly filled up by 2.30 p.m. when we left. Our skipper gave a good commentary. There was lots of wonderful birdlife, including lots of pelicans. We could better understand why the banks were a bit messy – with floods happening quite regularly over the years it doesn’t make sense to have too much infrastructure near the river. The trees appear to survive the flooding quite well, perhaps party because the land is flat and even a full flood the water doesn’t move really fast, as it would in a mountainous region.
We’ve come home, attached hoses/electrical cord and put on a meal of stir fry steak and lots of vegetables in the pressure cooker.