We’ve been on a short road trip down to Victoria and back to visit a relative who lives west of Melbourne. Back when we were younger we drove the two thousand kilometre trip with two overnight stops but these days we prefer to take our time. Besides, after the incessant rain in the western areas of Queensland and New South Wales, some of the highways are in poor condition and the ever-present road works are even more numerous. So, we didn’t take the obvious route along the Newell Highway via Dubbo.
After a couple of hours we stopped at Goomeri (pronounced GOO-MERRY) for a coffee break. It’s a tiny town, just a collection of shops and houses at an intersection. We’d stopped there before a few times, back in the early days. The restaurant we’d gone to then was still there – but to our surprise, it was now a bookshop that served coffee. Goomeri’s not exactly on a tourist route and given the state of book publishing these days, I wondered how much profit they were making. They had a good collection and featured a few books by local writers – good on them. I hope the store does well.
And the coffee was nice.
Our first overnight stop was Goondiwindi (pronounced GUN-DA-WINDY). It’s a rural town on the Macintyre River, just near the border into New South Wales. Goondiwindi’s main claim to fame is Gunsynd, a grey stallion which dominated middle distance racing in the very early seventies. At the time he was as popular as horses like Black Caviar and Winx. He was doing so well in 1972 that his connections decided to run him in the Melbourne Cup. He was never raced as a stayer and had never run over the Cup’s 3200 metres – and he was asked to carry 60.5kg. He ran a very creditable third in the race. Sadly, after a short career at stud, he contracted cancer and was put down at the early age of sixteen. The horse was owned by a syndicate of people living in Goondiwindi – hence Gunsynd, the Goondiwindi Grey.
We arrived at our pre-booked motel late in the afternoon. The 550km trip took about six and a half hours of driving, with a couple of stops for lunch and breaks added. Like most motels these days, there was no restaurant but admin provided a list of nearby eateries. We decided on the Chinese restaurant next door, where we had a lovely dinner at a reasonable price.
Next morning’s breakfast was in a café that had probably been around since the 1950s, complete with juke box (we didn’t try playing it) and lots of vinyl records.
From there we walked down to the Macintyre River and Gunsynd Park. Like most outback rivers, it’s generally placid, flowing between deep banks. But when the rains come, it floods. The town was saved from flooding in 2022 by the levy banks. More about that below.
Like many outback towns, the boring grey concrete water tanks are being turned into works of art which say something about the town.
Breakfast and ablutions completed, we headed over the border and west to Bourke in NSW.