Leaving Barrington Tops I head off towards Warrumbungle National Park via Scone, the Golden Highway, then Warrumbungles Way, stopping a night at Binnaway Pumphouse Reserve. The landscape changed dramatically with the lush green forests and grasslands now becoming vast plains of dry brown grass with the occasional tree. The Binnaway Pumphouse Reserve was an awesome free campsite provided by the local council. They had pay per use power and $2 five minute showers with toilets. Such a great set up for the weary traveller. I was so glad I discovered this place on Wikicamps using my smartphone. Otherwise it would have been another 50km drive to Coonaburrabran and I was already feeling buggered.
Next morning I continued on to Coonabarabran, the astronomy capital of Australia. Plenty of giant telescopes aimed towards the skies out here due to the great atmospheric conditions and low light pollution. Siding Springs observatory was on the same road out to the Warrumbungles so I stopped in for a look. Unfortunately for me the telescope was closed for repairs for a week so I paid the $5.50 entrance fee to their astronomy museum instead. The exhibits were a little lame and basic such as “push a button and see little balls stuck on wire spin around” to represent our solar system. Educational enough though with a good history of the telescopes used in Australia and the local area.
I continued on into the Warrumbungles, pulling up at the White Gum lookout giving a panoramic view of the volcanic remnants that compose the Warrumbungle’s peaks and mountains. A major bush fire devastated the area in 2013 destroying some historic sites and infrastructure as well as decimating the forest. As far as the eye can see are dead tree trucks, with new budding growth at the base. It must have been one hell of a crown fire (a fire that spreads across the canopy of a forest). In time the forest will recover and the animals repopulate the area.
I stayed at Camp Blackman for 3 nights. It had hot showers with flushing toilets, a Communal cooking area with Gas BBQ’s which never really worked, and both unpowered and powered sites for camping. It also included a large group of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos which scrawk loudly every afternoon. Spent a couple days in camp relaxing and on the third felt good enough to tackle a hike up Belougery Split Rock circuit. This was a 4.6km return track which included some minor rock climbing to reach the summit. The view from the top was impressive. Spent some time just sitting up there enjoying the peace. On the way down on the other side of the mountain were dozens of caves. These would of once been home to the Brush Tailed Rock Wallaby which is now unfortunately endangered in the Warrumbungles.