A detour from the beaten track

Australia has its share of curious and bizarre place names. You can visit Merrywinebone, Humpty Doo, and Tharbogang. Closer to home, there is Mullumbimby, a town that everybody is familiar with. I decided to be contrary and go to Bingeebeebra instead.

Bingeebeebra is a locality to the north of Mummulgum, a village located 27 kilometres west of Casino on the Bruxner Highway. With its general store having recently closed down, Mummulgum is a quieter place these days.

As a district, Bingeebeebra appears on the 1985 Casino State Forests map of the North Coast, which is no longer available new but can occasionally be picked up in op shops.

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If you use Google Maps, it is just named as a creek.

I chose a fine day, with some cloud. As the road begins, there is a good view to the north-west looking in the direction of Cambridge Plateau and the Richmond Range.

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A few hundred metres down the road, a bridge looks down on Shannon Brook, a creek that flows into the Richmond River between Casino and Coraki, somewhere around eighty kilometres downstream.

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A storm that came through the day before has blown down some branches that are lying along the roadside, strewn the road with twigs and leaves, and filled up the potholes to the brim with rain.

The road settles down into a 1½ lane-wide sealed stretch with semi-overgrown green paddocks on either side, and an occasional shed. Common weeds are fleabane, Scotch thistle, and cotton bush. Cattle graze. A small field of corn passes on the right. Three bar-shouldered doves fly up from the road, and a willie wagtail calls unseen.

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After 3 kilometres, I pass a driveway, which turns out to be the last between here and the end of the line, 7 kilometres away. Soon the road turns to dirt, fences disappear, and a sign indicates that this stretch is shared with cattle. Bingeebeebra Creek, which had been off to the right, switches sides and flows to the left, while on the right the land rises up to small hills.

On the left appears a decrepit farmhouse with a large Moreton Bay Fig tree nearby. The road passes another three of these figs.

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I cross a rickety bridge, and the stream is now to the right. The sun comes out, and the immediate area has grown back enough to feel like bushland. Bell miners sound their distinctive ‘ping’ calls from a slope on the right, and on the left cicidas make their distinctive racket.

A left turn signpost indicates the final stretch of Bingeebeebra Road, which has a thick central grass strip and is dominated by Rhodes grass on both sides. For night-time drivers, reflector posts indicate the way. The road starts rollercoastering up and down, but unfortunately the potential for this type of experience is negated by the need for first gear.

At this point, the road is heading west towards the steep slopes of the Richmond Range not far ahead.

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To the left, a tall lone tree rises on a hillside, conspicuous against the nearby small trees and bushes.

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A small grasshopper jumps on the windscreen, a coucal emerges from the roadside vegetation and flies off, perching on a nearby bullrush. A ladybird flies through the wide-open window, climbs up the passenger seat, and then leaves just as suddenly.

Without strictly reaching the end of the road, I have gone as far as I can. By the roadside is a steel cattle pen, and a metal gate blocks the way. Cattle watch me closely.

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Bingeebeebra is more of an idea than a place. It could signify every locality where there is minimal human activity, but where things are going on, if you pay attention.

As with the outgoing trip, no vehicle passes me on the return journey along Bingeebeebra Creek Road.

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