Cobar – Coonamble

An easy drive from Bourke to Cobar, 160 odd Km south of Bourke on the Kidman Way.  Cobar (“Copper City”) has been a major producer of copper, gold, zinc, lead and silver, second only to Broken Hill in NSW. It became best known as a copper-mining centre, and it is still most widely known in that connection.  Once set up, I went to Mt Grenfell Historic Site for a picnic and to see some aboriginal artwork.  Sadly the artwork was badly weathered, but it must have been magnificent when fresh.  Lots of different shapes rather than just hand silhouettes.  Sadly there are no aborigines alive who can interpret the paintings, or maybe they choose not to.

20170815-4226 Rock Art Mt Grenfell Med

20170815-4231 Rock Art Mt Grenfell #3 Med








The rock overhangs that house the artwork are surrounded by treed, rocky, undulating country, a great setting.  There was a waterhole that the aborigines used near the rock art, it was dry, but a lovely spot amongst the rocks.

20170815-4233 Waterhole Mt Grenfell Med


The picnic area at Mt Grenfell was attractive with scattered trees and plenty of tables, which I had to myself.  I haven’t taken one of my trademark picnic table photos this holiday, so here it is.

20170815-4235 Russ at Mt Grenfell Med


Near Cobar is the Fort Bourke Lookout, 300 metres high, that is above a massive gold mine.  You can just see the tunnel at the bottom that they are now mining, after mining the open cut.  It is a massive hole, I didn’t spend long at the edge.  Mining started here in 1871 and the mining then was via conventional shafts.

20170815-4237 Goldmine Cobar Med


The view from the lookout in the opposite direction is over extensive mulga plains.  You may notice the wattles at the left just starting to flower.

20170815-4240 View from Fort Bourke Cobar #2 Med


While I was at Cobar I met Terry and Jo, a couple from Cobram, who were camped near me, they are genuinely lovely people.  We had some good conversations and they invited me to have dinner with them on the day I drove to Mt Grenfell, so I didn’t have to worry about cooking tea.  Jo made a delicious mushroom fettuccini with chicken, cream, parmesan, seed mustard, and garlic.  They shared the leftovers with me so I have another meal ready to go, bonus.  They had had some tragedies in their life including losing a son killed in a hit run at 4-1/2.  So they were very understanding when I talked about Margie, and I was able to reciprocate about their losses.

The drive to Coonamble was just over 300 Km and a very easy drive with few towns.  The country around Coonamble is the flood plains of the Castlereagh and MacQuarie Rivers.  Very flat but with lots of trees of good size.

I came here to visit the MacQuarie Marshes that are the largest semi-permanent wetlands in south-eastern Australia covering 200,000 hectares.  About 10% is a nature reserve and the balance is in private ownership and is grazed.  The marshes are covered with reeds, grasses and red gums, but at the moment the marshes are fairly dry, and diversion of water for irrigation has depleted the health of the wetlands.  The road through the marsh was a dirt road some 25 Km long, which gives an idea of how extensive the marsh is.  The drive is an enjoyable one with lots of trees on both sides of the road.



There are many floodways across the road and at one place I had to drive through water about 1/2 metre deep, this part of the road had reeds alongside over the height of the car.

20170817-0629 MacQuarie Marshes Road Med


The road also crossed the MacQuarie River, which was like a small creek, in fact some of the many creeks I crossed were bigger.  When you get out of the car to take a photo or look around, the bush is silent except for the sound of many birds.

20170817-0626 MacQuarie River Med


I haven’t used the drone for a while so I put it up to view the dry marshes.



I did also indulge in a drone selfie.



I am off now to the Pilliga Forest for a couple of nights.

This entry was posted in 2017. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Cobar – Coonamble

  1. Rhonda says:

    Enjoyed the picnic table shot Russ, but what is going on with those legs? Looks as though you have been wearing long socks and got sunburnt? Do you know how old the aboriginal paintings are? The open cut mine looks like a huge scar on the land! We are also enjoying many, many wattles in the hills now that Spring is almost here, but envy you being in such a warm climate while we are experiencing freezing cold days. Another good read Russ when you run out of books is called The Longing by Candice Bryce. It is non fiction but well researched by an art historian who has incorporated lots of aboriginal history of Western Victoria. Well worth a look! Love Rhon xx

  2. Barb Gifford says:

    Wow Russ, loving the photos. You sound like you are having a great trip and meeting lots of great people.

  3. David Incoll says:

    It’s nice to see the wattles in flower. Its apparent from all your posts that it seems to have been very dry in the areas where you have travelled where you might have expected more water. Is it a particularly dry year?

  4. Russ says:

    It has been and is a particularly dry year in NSW and Qld. Some areas have had enough rain to keep grain crops going but lots of areas face putting stock onto their crops if they don’t get rain in the next few weeks. In contrast Victoria and lower NSW have had reasonable rain. The area I have been in is normally dry, for example Tibooburra has around 250 mm of rain per year. Irrigation around places like Bourke using water that fell in Qld feeding rivers of the Murray-Darling system allows crops of cotton and rice. In my opinion rice and cotton exports are like exporting water from the dryest continent (apart from Antartica. The dry is why the roads have been so bad because they need rain to wet the roads to grade them. Lots of Grey Nomads like me also mean more traffic that damages the roads.

  5. Russ says:

    Thanks Barb, it has been a good trip and I have met a lot of really lovely caring people. After several days out of contact I arrived in the Warrumbungles today and it looks just as great as when we first visited 35 years ago while on long service leave. I misread the walk I took before lunch and ended up doing 5 Km instead of 1.5, just as well it was cool, in fact it was freezing, 2 °C in the caravan when I woke at 6.30, so the diesel heater was immediately turned on. Fortunately there are power sites in the National Park so the fan heater will be out plus the electric blanket. I have everything, power, mobile, TV, Toilets, Electric BBQs, rubbish bins, mat stay for a while except I am meeting friends who live at Dubbo on Friday. xx

  6. Russ says:

    No, just my standard Holeproof Explorer socks, no sunburn either, I move too quickly to get burnt! The artwork is 3,000 years old, not so old compared to other sites I have visited. I am moving slowly south and it is getting colder, tthe van was 2 °C when I got up so the diesel heater was very welcome. I am now in the Warrumbungles where nights are usually very cold, but it is a great National Park and they have power so I will be warm overnight. Love Russ xx

  7. Rhonda says:

    Hi Russ. You certainly have had a huge range of temperatures. 2 degrees sounds painful! Just as well you installed that diesel heater. Can’t believe you had long service leave 35 years ago! Amazing. Weather is getting slowly warmer here. 16 degrees yesterday and quite mild here today as well. Sounds incredibly dry and wonder what it would be like if it rained? looking forward to catching up when you get home. Love Rhon x

  8. Russ says:

    Hi Rhon Time does go by so quickly. It is interesting that when you have no central heating you get used to the cold, but it is still nice to have the diesel heater for the mornings. I do sleep with a doona, a doubled up wool blanket and a cotton blanket and you would just be able to see the top of my head. It is incredibly dry and it would be a truely wonderful country if it rained but where I am now is just beautiful. It will be good to catch up when I get home, I am meeting Deen on the way back and camping with her for 4 days on the Murray. Love Russ xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *