Dubbo to Forbes

This next section of the Azadi Far Ride to the Murray, takes us from Dubbo to Forbes and it wasn’t without it’s drama. But we still continue – undeterred!

Day 1 – 29km

The horses did not like being stabled at the Dubbo Showgrounds and it wasn’t very “restful” for them. So we relocated out of town to Terramungamine Reserve. Parts of it are also a stock reserve and it had grinding grooves, which was fabulous to view! It has picnic tables, toilets, ample space to set-up camp and you can access the river to fish.

Melika threw a shoe that we had to re-apply before we could get going, this only took a couple screws and a couple minutes. We left Terramungamine Reserve and headed to Rawsonville Bridge along quiet bitumen roads. The Rawsonville Bridge was lovely. Though Mum said it bowed each time a truck went across! We headed to Narromine Stock Reserve, following the stockroutes along the highway and encountered more cactus! I had two drivers stop to check we were okay because it took so long to remove all the prickles from both horses. The only accessible water for the horses was puddles and drains, brimming with water from the recent rain.
When we reached the stock reserve and set-up camp on the Macquarie River I unsaddled the horses and took them down to the water. They had a lovely roll together. Unfortunately upon returning back up the path, Melika who was loose behind us, did not follow us back up single file. She leapt up and over boulders, suffering a minor muscle strain in her hindquarters. We stayed here another day before heading to Narromine for a dinner with the CWA. I reached out to some acquaintances to find somewhere for her to rest. They put us in touch with a retired Drover who was happy to keep an eye on her in his paddock for the next three weeks.
Grinding Grooves
Terramungamine Grinding Grooves

Day 2 – 15km

We loaded up Melika and she was floated to Narromine Racecourse, where we planned to stay that night. I rode Glory from the stock reserve along the highway partway and then along a quieter back road alongside the rail line. That evening we joined the local Narromine CWA for their meeting and spoke about the how’s and the why’s of our journey along the stock routes. It was great to see the evolving realization of what the stockroutes mean to the community and represent for Australia. They gave us a huge hamper brimming with beautifully well-thought out gifts, comprising food, drinks and a gift card to help us with the remainder of our journey.

CWA gifts
CWA Narromine gifts
CWA Narromine giftcard
CWA Narromine gifts

Day 3 – 41km

Melika had improved immensely with the couple days of rest at the racecourse. But still, I didn’t deem her sound enough to continue with us, either in the float or being led. She was taken to the retired Drovers paddock for rest and we continued the next leg of our journey with Glory south west of Narromine. This stockroute along McGrane Way had a lot of drains brimming with water and we even had to cross a section of flooded road. We came across some roadworks and it appears that they’ve also been cleaning out some of the stockroute dams which is great. Our overnight stop for the day was at Bogan River which had nice shade and good grazing. There was strong signs of pig activity so we made sure to keep all food up out of their reach.

I’d had word from the retired Drover and our friend, that Melika settled rapidly. She had already caused the neighbors to swoon with her sweetheart personality.

Glory and Shane' Bogan River

Day 4 – 24km

We left our toasty warm camp spot at the Bogan River and continued south. This was a relatively cruisey day along relatively quiet bitumen roads. Only a handful of trucks and cars passed us by. We passed through forest, where the branches touched tips over the road and alongside open fields. There was ample water in all the drains and the one creek we came across also had water. Though Glory preferred the bog puddles. We continued to see strong evidence of pig activity with well worn tracks and even thick mud caked across the road where they crossed. That night, we camped near the Bogan River again, but on Bungaldramine stock reserve because the river was dry.

Bungaldramine stock reserve dam
Bungaldramine stock reserve dam

Day 5 – 24km

It is certainly colder when we camp out in the open than sheltered under a forest. I inspected Glory’s shoes and noted they were at a tipping point for uneven wear on his fronts (4 weeks now), so vowed to remove them in the evening. We left this spot and continued along Bogan Rd which is all dirt road. There are loads of pig tracks in the stock reserves to follow instead of the road however and we opted for this instead. A few cars passed by but as soon as we passed Peak Hill/Tullamore Rd junction, the traffic pretty much died away.

There was lot of puddles and water in the drains for Glory to drink from. All the dams we passed were full also. Stockroute Creek had flooded over the road but only knee deep so easy enough to cross. There is a dirt track leading to Bogan River at some point also and it had some water in it for a drink. We reached our overnight camp spot near Collingwood Lane at the stock dam. There is good grazing and the dam was very full, but quite boggy around the edges. I noticed the following morning, that there is a fenced holding yard not far from the dam, for stock.

Day 6 – 26km

We were still able to ride through the reserves following tracks well into late morning. There was water in Bogan River and ample water in the drains and creek’s. The water disappeared as soon as we were adjacent the Northparkes Mine. It was here the road became bitumen and traffic increased. The pig signs and activity lessened during the day which was a relief also. The day brought silly sheep that only looked straight at the ground, even when you were right next to them. Then we startled a fox during its midday snooze and passed numerous abandoned farm houses. We stopped for our overnight spot a bit shorter than anticipated, at Goonumbla near the railway crossing. The support driver advised the other spots had only a puddle of water or the water was hard to find due to the paddock being so overgrown.

Glory sunset background

Day 7 – 40km + (meant to be 28km)

We left our spot overlooking the rail line and headed for Tichborne! Getting to the outskirts of Parkes was relatively straightforward following bitumen road. There was water in a creek and a stock reserve dam early in the day. Once we got to the outskirts of Parkes we were affronted by the bypass which appears to go right smack through where the stockroute goes.

We were still able to follow the stockoute corridor all the way from Reedsdale Rd, along the bypass until Henry Parkes Way. Inadvertently, we passed through one of their compounds which only had a fence towards along Henry Parkes Way. I moved the temporary barrier fence so Glory and I could squeeze through and put it back. We were confronted by two women about it being a closed site, I explained that they set up right in the middle of the stock route and there was no fence or signs. They tried to tell me that Drovers and their livestock had to take the detours through suburban streets. Though they weren’t Australian and couldn’t describe what or who a Drover was to me when I asked.

Then there was more….

When we went into the stock reserve between Henry Parkes Way and Brolgan Rd the gate was locked. There was a personal access gate however and I could see tracks where people were walking recreationally, which is nice.  We waere able to get around through another gate adjacent to it and we refreshed ourselves at the dam. There was an old set of livestock holding yards halfway up and plenty of bird, bat and possum boxes. At the end we discovered it was triple locked where the railway line and underpass is for Brolgan Rd. I left Glory at the gate and walked through to see if it was open on the other side and it was also locked. I’d rung and left messages with the TSR rangers that we were passing through and to let me know if there was anything we had to be aware of and had heard nothing back. So, we had to double back and go back down a road the bypass construction company made for traffic.

and more…

Glory was a bit anxious with all the construction vehicles, beeps, signs and flashing lights. But we made it out of Parkes and back onto the stock routes south west of Parkes. We encountered the bypass again and it severely interfered with the tail end of the stock route as it meets the Newell Hwy. Again they had put up barriers, plus all this green flagging tape. We circumvented the barriers but I cut all the green flagging tape that crisscrossed the stockroutes. Another of their staff came at me faffing around about it being a no entry area because it’s a wildlife corridor. I explained to them, yeah the stockroute is a wildlife corridor and you’re blocking it all off from travelling stock as well…then kept going! The company “Georgiou” and it’s staff don’t seem to have a clue about stockroutes or the impact they’re having. What’s more concerning is some residents commented they were told that Parkes wasn’t going to have a stockroute anymore because of the bypass.

and a little bit more…

We got all the way to the creek without too much more amiss but then, the livestock crossing was fenced off on both sides of the creek! There was also fence all the way back to Watts Lane. So again we had to double back to turn around to get to the road bridge. Watts Lane had a cattlegrid that thankfully was buried in the dirt, so easy enough to cross. We had a wonderful dinner and dessert with our host Abby Bryant and their family. Then spent the evening talking stockroutes, trains and mental health.

It was a nice close to a hectic day.

Parkes bypass
The Parkes bypass

Day 8 – 25km

From Tichborne we entered the stockroutes off Millers Lane. The entry further north and closer to our host had a locked gate. Which is stupid because the corridor is open ended onto Millers Lane. This was pretty uneventful and we were along the stockroute right into Forbes. We came across someone with a metal detector who was prospecting, we saw motorbike riders using the stock reserves closer to town and there was clear evidence someone has taken a mob of cattle all the way through and into Forbes during the last rain event. We also came across a couple feral pig skeletons, so collected the tusks for a jewellery maker. Then we weaved our ways through Forbes suburbia to reach the showground across the river.
Mum has headed into Sydney to collect my grandfather, who is flying in from Germany. He will be hiking alongside us for the rest of the journey to the Murray River. Again this wasn’t without drama as his flight was cancelled due to flooding in Dubai! It’s been a drama filled section, but still thoroughly enjoyable.
Horse and rider along stockroute
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