Travel News – Multiple States

Armidale – Scarborough (New South Wales – Queensland)

29/05/19  Our homeward journey continued, north from Gulgong on the Black Stump Way to Gunnedah, then on through Tamworth to Armidale – another big day of travelling that took well over five hours to cover 400kms. By the time we arrived at our friend Warren’s property near Armidale, we were more than ready to get out of the car. Over a nice pasta and a bottle of shiraz, we spent the evening catching up on all we’d been up to since last seeing each other in October on our way through to Tassie. 

The next morning, we continued on, overnighting at a rather worn out caravan park in Tenterfield where dusty cobwebs in the amenities block were deserving of heritage listing, and then headed east the following day over the Great Dividing Range towards the coast. At one stage, while driving through the mountains, we heard above the music a sound very much like the squeal off a dry wheel bearing, and with a feeling of dread, I turned off the music and lowered the window to better hear what might be causing it. The repetitious high-pitched bell-like sound was in fact the calls of Crested Bellbirds, coming from the forest around us. There must have been lots of them, all having a morning sing-song, as their distinctive calls accompanied us for several kilometres through the hills. 

Beyond Lismore and its many annoying roundabouts, we pulled in to a caravan park in South Ballina, had a bit of a rest, and visited our friends, Ros and Dean, for a great evening at their lovely home beside the Richmond River. We’d last seen them over in Perth in 2016 so it was great to catch up again and share an enjoyable meal together. In Ballina for a couple of days, we also visited Janet at her home at Ocean Shores and for lunch at The Middle Pub in Mullumbimby, and later in the day met up with another friend, Anna, for dinner. Lots of socialising with friends and eating out in Ballina, and also a visit to the re-opened Kimberley Kampers headquarters and factory to touch base with James, Brett and Adam. Wonderful to see KK back up and running again and carrying on the production of great recreational vehicles.

There should be sympathy cards for getting to the end of a trip. After 203 days away and 12,800kms, Di and I are now back home in Scarborough, busily cleaning out the van and car, contemplating ways to shed the few extra Tassie kilos collected along the way (I refer to my kilos, of course; I would not risk commenting on Others’), and settling back into apartment living. It took two days to breathe life back into the dishwasher (who knew it had a Smart hose from the water tap!) and track down why all our free-to-air TV channels had gone dark during our absence (someone had unplugged our cable in the Comms Cabinet. Nice one). So, we’re back to static living…and contemplating the next trip. Where to? Don’t quite know for sure yet. Somewhere.

I’m a travel addict on the road to recovery. Nah, just kidding. I’m really on the road to __________ (fill in the blank)

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Queensland | Tags: ,

Hamilton – Gulgong (Victoria – New South Wales)

25/04/19  Leaving Winchelsea, Di and I took a couple of backroads north to meet up with the Hamilton Highway and  follow it west, past dry, sweeping paddocks scattered with sheep, to the town of Hamilton. It was a pleasant drive until a light smattering of raindrops on the windscreen soon developed into a heavy downpour that buffeted the car and van with strong side winds. Once again, the weather had come along with us, and we were discussing going into business as Rainmakers. We set up at Hamilton in a caravan park by the lake, and headed around to catch up with our old friends, Ian and Lesley. 

We’d last called in on them in Hamilton in May 2016 on our way through to SA and WA, and it was great to again catch up at their place over drinks and dinner. Ian’s like me, he loves to cook with wine, and sometimes even adds it to the food. Needless to say, a few corks were pulled (doesn’t that sound better than ‘screw caps were unscrewed’; a little of the romance has been lost with the introduction of the wine bottle screw cap) and we settled in to nine enjoyable days of picnicking and being shown around the district, and evenings of good hospitality and conversation in the warmth of their fireplace.

Hamilton had a nice, comfortable feel about it, with its gardens and autumn-toned trees very reminiscent of Toowoomba where we used to live. And despite a reluctance to leave, inevitably our stay came to an end and we headed off to begin making our way back home to Queensland. 

We spent a very cold night in a pleasant recreation reserve on the outskirts of the small town of Glenlyon, near Daylesford, in a large area bordered by old oaks and river gums. The next morning, we continued north through bone-dry sheep country, through Shepparton, and crossed over the Murray River into New South Wale at Tocumwal. From the bridge over the river, hundreds of vans and motorhomes could be seen parked up on the Victorian side for the Easter long weekend. The riverside camping area looked more like an RV sales yard, and I reckoned I could have stepped from one van roof to the next for the whole length of the campground; they were so close together. Not my idea of getting away from it all to commune with nature. We were hoping to soon stay again at our favourite camp spot on the Murrumbidgee River, but guessed that it would be just as popular over the school holidays as the Murray was, so best to be avoided.

80kms north of the Murray, at Jerilderie, we camped at a quiet spot beside Billabong Creek, and had the place almost to ourselves apart from a family camping in a 4WD and tent. It had been a big drive that day, 330kms, massive by Tasmanian standards, but a good drive on mostly long, flat roads, non-existent by Tasmanian standards. Our travelling mojo was back and we were once again enjoying the road. At Jerilderie, we were deep in Kelly Country. Ned and his gang held up the bank and post office in 1879, burning all the mortgage documents held by the bank and shouting the bar at the Travellers Rest Hotel to the cheers of all in the room, before making a getaway with their ill-gotten booty on stolen police mounts. Our camp spot was only a 5-minute stroll along the creek to town where these shenanigans occurred 140 years ago, and it was easy to picture it as we looked at the buildings that still stand in the small town’s main street.

The Landy clocked up 200,000kms, of which 90,200 have been done on our travels since June 2014. We’d started to think the return trip back to Queensland was going to be fairly quick. Only two days out from Hamilton, we’d done some big distances, each day longer than the previous. We both weren’t feeling like doing much touristy stuff, just finding nice camps and taking it easy. Our focus was pretty much on getting back home to see everyone and having a break from travelling. Anyway, we decided we were coming back to the Daylesford area again for a longer visit at some stage, so will catch up with everything around there when we do. 

The small town of Canowindra was our next stop after an overnighter at The Rock, and we headed there through some very pleasant country that steadily became greener, paddock dams began to have water in them and paddocks carried healthy-looking sheep with tiny, white new-born lambs at their sides. We were fortunate to arrive at Canowindra during the Balloon Challenge held in the town each year. We woke in the morning to the roar of balloon burners and the visual spectacle of 30 or so hot air balloons taking flight from the paddocks nearby. Several floated slowly over our camp spot just above the tree tops, calling “Hello” down to us. What a great way to start the day. This time around, the free camp was much busier than last October when we came through on the way south to Tassie, but was still a good little overnighter located beside a flowing stream.

From Canowindra, we took the Molong Road to bypass Orange and connect with the Mitchell Highway that took us north to Wellington, where a turn east took us through the hills to Gulgong. We camped at the grassy showgrounds for three days in the shade of pepperina trees. The further north we travelled through New South Wales the warmer the days were becoming. Overnight temperatures were still pleasantly cool, but the days were regularly reaching the high 20s and sometimes into the 30s. So we took advantage of the available power at Gulgong to enjoy some relief from the midday heat, courtesy of the van’s air-con. It was also an opportunity to catch up with the laundry and take long hot showers. Let me tell you, a little glamping every now and then goes a long way.

There is nothing better than scrubbing the road off your skin and changing into a fresh, wrinkled set of clothes.

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - South Australia, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Canberra (ACT) – Doolans Bend (Victoria)

23/10/18  We were fortunate to get a caravan site in Canberra. Schools in ACT and NSW were back from holidays, Canberra’s Floriade festival had finished, and there were no big events on in town, so there should have been sites aplenty. I wasn’t going to ring ahead and book but the Chair of the Board insisted. And we learned that, for some inexplicable reason, all caravan parks were chockers. Charm won the day and we scraped in a spot at the showground, Exhibition Park. We were in Canberra for an impromptu catch up with our niece, Heather, and Andrew and their two boys, Nicholas and Alexander. We had a lovely time with them. It was just a shame that Andrew was away on business. So we drank his wine.

This was our second visit to the national capital and, as before, I could not get my head around the layout and the annoying number of roundabouts. Canberrans used to be called ‘Roundabout-abouters’ for good reason. As also noted on our previous visit, the lack of attention to grass cutting in Canberra. Puzzling. Just about every lawn, footpath and nature strip looked neglected and overgrown. Certainly a shaggy look that our capital is presenting to visitors. I didn’t think it could due to the current drought – it was the same when we were there four years ago. It must a Canberra thing.

Leaving Canberra after a couple of days, we headed to Yass where we had a leg stretch down the main street, picked up some local wine and a couple of really nice looking rib eye fillets that went on the Weber a couple of nights later…mmm. At Yass, we got onto the Hume Highway that runs inland, carrying loads of traffic between Sydney to Melbourne. It probably serves a good purpose but I reckon it has to be the dead set most boring bit of road ever, without a doubt. The highway manages to not only bypass just about every town but absolutely everything of interest worth looking at. It’s like a committee got together and mapped out all the interesting spots, then made the highway go everywhere else. So you just motor along it in a sort of lobotomised stupor.

Further west of Yass, I roused myself from the road trance in time to turn off to the small town of Jugiong, and our overnight camp in the showground. The field is bordered on one side by the Murrumbidgee River and we pulled the van in along the edge of the high riverbank, giving us a great view out over the water.

Back on the Hume Highway the next morning, we’d been tootling along for a little while – starting to feel like a long, long while – so it was good to turn off at Gundagai onto a pleasant backroad that took us through rolling pasture country to Sandy Beach Reserve, again on the banks of the Murrumbidgee. What a magic spot – alongside the clear river, in amongst ancient river red gums. Di braved the cold waters for a very invigorating dip. I wimped out, preferring warm and smelly. We stayed for a couple of days before continuing on our way south.

Back on the Hume Highway again (sigh), at Albury, NSW, we crossed the Murray River to Wodonga, VIC, on the other side and exited onto a backroad to Doolans Bend, one of the many bush camps dotted along the Murray. Camp was set up on a nice open grassy patch not three metres from the water’s edge, with a few very fat Hereford cattle for company. What a spot. I got out the rod, but the Murray Cod obviously hadn’t gotten the memo. There’s a fine line between fishing and standing on the bank looking like an idiot, so the rod went away and I settled into a book instead. Di went for a quick dip in the river, coaxing me in as well this time. Man, was it cold. Quite literally, numbing – and yet, refreshing in a somewhat sadomasochistic kind of way.

The days have been pleasant and the nights cold. It’s lovely in the chilly mornings to see a mist hanging low over the water. All we need is the paddle steamer, PS Philadelphia, to come chuffing around the bend with Sigrid Thornton up in the wheelhouse pashing John Waters and we’d have a scene straight out of All the Rivers Run.

And in closing, the family haven’t had a Dad Joke from me for a while, so…

Did you hear about the camper who broke his left arm and left leg? He’s all right now.

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Australian Capital Territory, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Scarborough (Queensland) – Armidale (New South Wales)

11/10/18  Following a spell at home, it takes time to get back into the swing of towing a van. When you give the Landy a spurt, it usually reacts like a determined sperm but with the addition of a 3 tonne cottage attached to the rear, what immediately becomes apparent is the corresponding lack of oomph. Both acceleration and braking require a little more deliberation, and climbing hills has all the get-up-and-go of Jabba the Hut. Still, the old girl does her best. Even the champion racehorse Winx would be handicapped pulling a horsefloat carrying Black Caviar.

Nonetheless, we’re very happy to be back on the road, and grinning like kids at McDonalds. Nothing comes close to this…nothing.

Things get dialled back on the road,. In a rig weighing around 6.0 tonnes, you cannot, nor should not, go swiftly. The driver behind you will always want to go five kilometres per hour faster no matter what speed you are doing, so I find it’s best to ignore what’s behind, pop on some tunes, settle back, keep it down to a respectable and safe speed and let the train through when it’s safe to do so.

The Vibe is Back…

Cunninghams Gap (Qld)

From Scarborough, we headed up and over Cunningham’s Gap on the Great Dividing Range to our overnight camp at the old Maryvale Hotel. Great food – give it a go. The freshly-baked Godmother pie and mash is a food group all its own. Next overnight camp was south at the border town of Wallangarra where I lived up to the age of starting primary school. Each time we go back, the town seems smaller, with unfortunately fewer services.

Up to now in our travels around the country, the shortest hop between camp spots had been 22kms from the very small community of Alford to the even smaller Wallaroo on the west coast of the Yorke Peninsula. That’s now been smashed by our hop from Wallangarra on the QLD border to Tenterfield in NSW, a distance of 20kms. In just that short distance, though, the scenery and vegetation changed markedly, becoming a hillier and much greener. Tenterfield is a very pleasant little town, with many examples of early architecture to be seen. Still no monument in my honour outside the maternity wing of the local hospital, though. I thought it would be up by now.

A couple of hours south on the New England Highway at Armidale, we called in on Warren, a fellow Kimberley owner we’d met up at West Leichhardt Station near Mt Isa back in 2015. We got on well then and seeing him again the gap was just like yesterday. We camped the night at his property just out of town, and had a great time catching up and rekindling our friendship. Sometimes lasting friendships come from a brief crossing of paths. Travel is a unifying bond that turns strangers into lifelong friends.

Armidale – Hail Storm (NSW)

Each day since setting off from home, we’ve played tag with thunderstorms and hail. The process starts with a warning text alert, followed by an anxious check of the weather radar, and a tense watchful eye on the advancing storm clouds. So far, and mostly due to luck, we’ve managed to dodge the worst of the storms.

“Thunderbolt and lightning very very frightening me” – Galileo

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Queensland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Bushman’s Rest, Lake Cullulleraine – Weethalle Showground – Narrabri – Scarborough (South Australia – Queensland)

23/12/16  Saying goodbye to our camping buddies Charles and Joy at World’s End Reserve, we followed the Goyder Highway east through rolling hills, golden fields of wheat and endless sheep pastures. The Murray River soon appeared on our right, and from the top of the Golden Limestone Cliffs, we looked out on the swollen river. Flood waters had breached the banks and spread out through the river red gums on the broad floodplain to the far cliffs. It was wonderful to see the mighty Murray so full and replenished by recent rains. There was a downside to the flooding, though. The many scenic bush camps dotted along the river were under all that floodwater.

Consequently we motored on, following the meandering river east and crossing it just beyond Renmark via the Paringa Bridge. This heritage listed bridge has a single railway line in the centre (now disused), with a narrow road lane on each side of it. A lift span allows river traffic to pass underneath. The road lane felt very tight for the Kruiser and we were glad it wasn’t any wider.

A little way down the road, we crossed into Victoria, intending to stay at a bush camp on the border. The Landy, though, was showing an outside temperature of 38C and rising, and we opted instead for a powered site. We spent the night beside Lake Cullulleraine at the Bushman’s Rest Caravan Park with the aircon keeping us cool and comfortable. The next morning was overcast with a forecast of rain. It was our wedding anniversary and we stayed on a second day beside the lake to celebrate.

img_3089Between the small towns of Goolgowi and Rankins Springs on the Mid Western Highway, we were happy to sit a long way back from a caravan that was travelling along at our pace. Suddenly, the van tilted and pulled over to the roadside, having lost a wheel. We stopped and gave them a hand to find the wandering wheel, got their details and went ahead to Rankins Springs to arrange a tow vehicle to get them into nearby Griffith where the broken wheel studs could be replaced. We were the first on hand to help them, and two other caravans pulled up to offer help as well. Aussies are a great bunch, quick to pitch in and do what they can when someone’s in trouble, especially for travellers on the side of the road.

That night, we camped in the showgrounds of the small town of Weethalle, among a group of rustic buildings facing a white-fenced trotting track sitting idle between infrequent race meetings. A local contact person was very helpful in opening up the facilities and making sure we were comfortable for the night.

From Lake Cullulleraine in upper Victoria, we had three big motoring days that took us home by Christmas Day, firstly 547kms to Weethalle in New South Wales, then 578kms to Narrabri where we stayed the night with Deb and Stu, and the final leg of 611kms to home. North of Narrabri, broad sheets of water lying in the paddocks and across the road at one point was evidence of recent rains. We’d crossed three State borders in four days to spend the festive day with family.

Since commencing in 2014, we’ve travelled 65,740kms with the van. Here are some facts about our overlanding to WA this year:


“Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me. I want people to know why I look this way. I’ve travelled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.” – The Landy 

The Landy

The Landy and Kruiser

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Northern Territory, Travel News - Queensland, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mundrabilla Roadhouse – Nullarbor Bush Camp (Western Australia)

8/12/16  Di and I left the bush camp at Woorlba East heading for our next overnight stop at Mundrabilla Roadhouse, about 90kms short of the South Australian border. We’d arranged to meet up again with Charles and Joy there.

There was just a barely noticeable lightness to the rig on the drive which I put down to a breeze that was blowing the grass around outside, but we didn’t realise just how windy it had become until pulling in at Cocklebiddy Roadhouse for fuel. A strong westerly tail wind had come up during the morning, giving us a push along. It was that kind of wind you had to lean into to walk against, and opening the car door was a feat of strength and determination.

img_2480While fuelling, we could see just ahead an immense column of smoke from a bushfire ignited by lightning strikes the day before. It looked to be a monster, fed by the strong wind conditions. And, strangely, sitting on top of the high column of heat and smoke was an immense cumulus cloud that boiled in on itself, looking very angry. Whether it was the cause of the bushfire or the effect of it was hard to tell. We finished fuelling and headed on, learning later at Mundrabilla that shortly after we’d gone through, the fire had changed direction causing the closure of the Eyre Highway for the rest of the day and night.

img_9821 It was certainly a day for avoiding Nature’s wrath. Firstly the bushfire and then, at Mundrabilla Roadhouse, we waited out a widespread warning of severe thunderstorm and damaging hail. The rig was still hitched up and the plan was to head under the servo awning if the hail hit. But, fortunately, the storm didn’t eventuate in our area – just the strong winds that rocked and shook the van all afternoon. Charles and Joy went further on to Eucla while we stayed the night at the Mundrabilla Roadhouse.

On the way into WA in July, I’d played all the holes on the Nullarbor Links Golf Course, the world’s longest course, apart from two and had also missed getting my card stamped at a third hole. Now that we were going back again, I dusted off the versatile 5-iron, played the remaining holes at Eucla and Border Village at my usual level of golfing excellence, and had the missing stamp inserted at Mundrabilla. My scorecard was full and I’ll be collecting my certificate at Ceduna.

Unfortunately, the rain that prevented us from doing the Old Eyre Highway between Nullarbor Roadhouse and Border Village in June, again put paid to doing the stretch on the way back. Bummer! It’ll have to keep until next time.

We stopped for lunch at the 52km marker on the Nullarbor and decided to stay the night, tucked away beside a gravel heap a couple of hundred metres from the highway and near the ocean cliff. SA National Parks are serious about keeping vehicles away from the cliff edge. They not only install bollards to block vehicle access, but scarify rocks up on the tracks as well.

Crossing the WA/SA border took us into different time zones, and clocks were reset to SA time.

Don’t forget to turn your clock back. I’m going to turn mine back to when I was twenty.

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - South Australia, Travel News - Western Australia | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mt Gambier (South Australia)

17/05/16  From Hamilton, we headed 134 kilometres west across the South Australian border to Mt Gambier and set up the van in the showgrounds. Two days extended to three to allow us to see the local attractions. We liked the town, its gardens and autumn leaves reminding us of Toowoomba, back in Queensland.

The Blue Lake and Valley Lake on the edge of town are quite spectacular crater remnants of volcanic activity believed to have occurred only 5,000 years ago. They are among the youngest volcanoes in Australia. It would have been an impressive sight for the locals when they blew their top. Both lakes are filled with ground water to the level of the surrounding water table, and Blue Lake supplies the town with very good quality drinking water.

Leaving the Kruiser at the showgrounds, we took a drive the second day to Nelson on the coast just across the border in Victoria, and looked around the Discovery Bay Coastal Park where Di had fun spotting lots of bird life. Following the coastline back into South Australia, we stopped off at Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park and Ewens Ponds Conservation Park, both considered to be wetlands of international importance. The crystal clear waters of both ponds have been slowly filtering through the limestone over thousands of years, forming the ponds’ features and creating spectacular and deep underwater environments for diving and snorkelling. It was way too cold for us to consider getting in, but we could still appreciate the scenery from dry land.

Still following the coast road west, we went through the tiny coastal villages of Brown Beach and Riddoch Bay to picturesque Port MacDonnell where we had a great meal at Periwinkles Café on the foreshore. Highly recommended if you’re ever in the area. The remainder of the afternoon’s sightseeing was cut short by a sudden thunderstorm that came across during lunch, and we headed back to Mt Gambier and the van.

The third day included a visit to the Umpherston Sinkhole, also known as the Sunken Garden, a short distance from our showgrounds camp. It was once an underground cave formed through dissolution of the limestone by rain and ground water, and the top of the chamber later collapsed downwards creating the sinkhole. The build-up of soil over time created a perfect environment for a garden at the bottom. A similar sinkhole is in the centre of town right beside the town hall, called the Cave Garden, and features a light show at night.

“A volcano may be considered as a cannon of immense size.” — Oliver Goldsmith, Goldsmith’s Miscellaneous Works (1841)

Categories: Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - South Australia, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hay To Hamilton – Mallee Country (New South Wales – Victoria)

10/05/16  Heading west from Hay in NSW, we crossed the Murray River into Victoria at Tooleybuc via the quaint historic bridge that was designed to rise up to let paddle steamers through. Regrettably, none was to be seen, of course, but it wasn’t hard to picture one churning down the river, bellowing smoke from its stack and steam from the whistle.

With the scenery mostly unchanging and monotonous, podcasts and albums had copped a flogging on the drive. Before leaving home, I’d stocked up on a lot more “Conversations with Richard Fidler” podcasts from ABC Radio which we’d found great for passing the time while we tootle down the road.

Further south on the Sunraysia Highway (sounds like the road is sponsored by a dried fruit company, doesn’t it), we overnighted at a camping ground in the small Mallee country town of Lascelles. It was a pleasant spot, and very conveniently located beside the old Minapre Hotel. We were both knackered after the long drive and, up for a meal cooked by someone else, we tucked into a delicious home-made steak and roasted veg dinner, washed down with cold beer and good conversation from Wally, the publican. The population of the town was 44, Wally could name each one, and he wouldn’t want to live anywhere else because it’s a great lifestyle. Good on him.

South of Lascelles the following day, the country changed and we were soon passing through very picturesque sheep and cattle grazing country with the Grampian Mountains in the background. From dead flat and dry to green mountains, it’s amazing how the country quickly changes.

There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want – Calvin, Calvin and Hobbes

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Homeward Bound (Multiple States)

15/12/15  We’d intended returning home to Redcliffe in March for a month or so to catch up with everyone, but decided instead recently to be back for Christmas after almost eight months travelling.

From McLaren Vale, we drove north to Peterborough via the M2 Expressway that took us through the heart of Adelaide. It seemed to be the most direct route and I expected it to be like Brisbane where expressways from south, north or west take you quickly across the city. But the M2 soon changed IMG_0818from a fast multi-lane expressway to a clogged dual lane urban road with lots of traffic lights and lots of city traffic that slowed us to a stop-start crawl. I’d commented previously on the poor state of the country roads in South Australia, and we now found that the ones in Adelaide are very ordinary as well. I came to call them “Hallelujah Roads” because I kept saying “Jesus Christ!!” as I drove along. I’ve come to really appreciate the good roads we have in Queensland after spending time in South Australia.

From the overnight stop at Peterborough, we travelled the next morning 300kms north-east on the Barrier Highway to Silverton, just out from Broken Hill. I wanted to see the Mad Max Museum but, as things go, it was closed the afternoon we arrived. We had lunch at the rustic Silverton Pub and looked around the ruins and standing buildings of the old mining town before setting up for the night at Penrose Park on the edge of town. We’d driven all that day through light drizzly rain and the rig was mucky brown where the diesel exhaust had stuck to the wet van and car. So, after setting up camp, we got stuck in to washing them down to a squeaky clean result.

Another early start the following day had us heading to Broken Hill for fuel and then east, still on the Barrier Highway, through Wilcannia to a free camp at Meadow Glen Rest Area, 50kms west of Cobar. It was a large bush area set back from the highway with a shady cover of pine trees. We were the only ones there apart from a few goats and a young forlorn looking black mickey bull in need of company, who stayed nearby all night.

The country we’d come through in the last two days was low and flat, with very sparse vegetation and, apart from lots and lots of feral goats on the side of the road or family groups of emus crossing from one side to the other, there wasn’t much of interest, so we had the music and podcasts cranked up.

On the plus side, the roads in north-west New South Wales were now so much better than those we came across in South Australia, and travelling became much more relaxed and a little quicker.

Feral Goats (NSW)

Feral Goats (NSW)

Native Australian fauna doesn’t mix well with moving motor vehicles. Lots of kangaroo and emu roadkill needed to be avoided as we travelled along, but interestingly we didn’t see one instance of a run-in between a goat and a vehicle. Goats seem to have enough smarts to move a little away from the roadside as you approach and don’t try to cross in front of you, unlike those crazy suicidal emus and kangaroos that have no road sense at all. In fact, goats seemed quite indifferent to our presence in their domain.

At one stage, we pulled in to a rest area for a cuppa and were greeted by a group of wild goats that had taken over the shade shelter and were standing up on the seats and tables. They’d made themselves quite at home and had even worked out how to operate the push tap on the side of the water tank to get a drink for themselves. While not at all bothered by our presence, they showed great interest in the biscuits we were eating.

From Meadow Glen Rest Area, we turned north at the nearby town of Cobar and went on through Bourke to overnight at Barringun near the Queensland border and south of Cunnamulla. To describe Barringun as a town would be much too generous. It comprises a small pub on one side of the road and on the other side, the Bush Tucker Inn roadhouse that we camped beside for the night. While setting up, we were greeted by the local welcoming committee – a Shetland pony that followed us around nibbling at our clothes, a couple of sheep that came over to check out the van before wandering off looking for grass, the biggest feral pig I’ve ever seen, and a couple of ravenous emus that just freaked us out. There’s something evil about an emu. Power was available at the Bush Tucker Inn, which was the reason we pulled in there. It was very hot and humid and, while we set up, the air-con was cranked up to the max. We then beat a hasty path across the road to the pub which offered a limited range of drinks from an esky in the room out back. All that mattered was that they were nice and cold. We had a couple of drinks and a chat with the bloke behind the bar who was the brother of the licensee and helping out there on weekends. In response to our question, he advised that the population of Barringun was seven, after counting through the residents of his side of the road and the other. It’s great how in country towns they know everyone by name.

Cunnamulla - "The Cunnamulla Fella"

Cunnamulla – “The Cunnamulla Fella”

The following morning, just north of Barringun on the Mitchell Highway, we crossed back into the Land of the Proper Coloured Rego Plates and went on to Cunnamulla, made a right-hand turn east on the Balonne Highway and on through Bollon to St George. That night was spent at the Pelican Rest Tourist Park. It had become way too hot to consider free camping, and we were more than happy to genuflect once again to the God of Air-conditioning and to also cool off in the park’s swimming pool. It can be a tough life pioneering around the West and you’ve got to get it when you can.

From St George, we followed the Moonie Highway through to Dalby, then the Warrego Highway east to Jondaryan where we’d intended overnighting at the Woolshed complex. But now being so close to home, we decided to push on all the way.

Crossing The Toowoomba Range - Nearly Home!

Crossing The Toowoomba Range – Nearly Home!

During our spur-of-the-moment return trip home, we had travelled through three States (South Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland) in four days, and through three time zones (6:00pm in SA is 6:30pm in NSW and 5:30pm in QLD). Which I guess means we got back the extra half hour that we aged when entering Northern Territory from Queensland back in July.…I don’t know, I’m starting to confuse myself now with the Maths but, still, would like to believe I’m feeling just that little bit younger. Anyway, the clocks have been reset, the jerry cans on the roof of the Land Rover are back to fading at their normal rate, and we’re home again…

“Travel does not exist without home….If we never return to the place we started, we would just be wandering, lost. Home is a reflecting surface, a place to measure our growth and enrich us after being infused with the outside world.” ― Josh Gates, Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Colac Colac – Bright (Victoria) – Wagga Wagga (New South Wales)

1/02/2015  Australia Day was celebrated at Colac Colac with the caravan park managers, Melissa and Paul, putting on a BBQ, the proceeds of which would go to the local Rural Fire SIMG_5306ervice. The park was very crowded for the Australia Day long weekend, with many family groups arriving in vans and camper trailers on the Friday. The BBQ was followed later in the afternoon by a kids Boat Race along Corryong Creek at the back of the park using small toy sailboats provided by Paul. After many elimination heats, the winner was decided and earned a bag of lollies as the prize. Those eliminated also got a lolly bag. Everyone had a very enjoyable Australia Day.

Weeping WillowsCamping note: Don’t camp under a Weeping Willow tree. They do actually weep, small drops of sap from the leaves which is sticky and gets over absolutely everything. Fortunately, though, it is easy to wash off as I found when I washed both the Land Rover and the Kimberley Kruiser. We moved camp away from the willow for the final few days there.

On 29/01/2015, we headed back to Bright to see Ian, Leslie and Sue again, putting the van up once more behind the derelict cottage across from their house. It was great to spend time with them again and to share a couple of lovely meals, especially the very excellent local pizzas that we had on the last night. Pizza is good anytime but it’s especially great when cooked properly.

After two days in Bright, we were on our way again.

When planning our trip around Australia, Di and I had always intended to fly back home to Scarborough every few months or so from wherever we were so that we could catch up with family and friends. We had been looking into flights during February but airfares were so expensive that we decided it would be cheaper and far more enjoyable to take our time and drive back instead.

So, we put the morning sun on the driver’s side and headed northwards, in contrast to what so far had been a southerly journey. We took the Hume Highway to Wodonga and Albury, and then turned left onto the Olympic Highway to Wagga Wagga.

My trusty Aldi-brand computer table that I’ve had since 2013 as an in-car navigator using Hema 4WD maps in the Memory Maps app finally gave up the ghost, and unfortunately corrupting some of our log of the route travelled to date. In its place, I loaded the app and maps onto a Samsung Tab 4 that Rupert Murdoch kindly sent me recently in return for my annual subscription to his online “The Australian” newspaper. Very decent of him, I thought, particularly as the Samsung was worth more than the annual subscription. The timing was just right as well.

The short journey north from Bright to Wagga Wagga took us through quickly changing countryside, with the land becoming drier and flatter as the southern highlands receded in our mirrors. Wagga Wagga surprised us with its size, and it sported most of the stores that can be found inIMG_5348 just about every other reasonably large city. We spent two nights next to the Murrumbidgee River, flowing swiftly due to a release of water from storage in nearby Lake Burrinjuck. The river flats were very wide and we could only imagine how immense the river might be in flood. Enormous old river gums lining the banks would surely predate the arrival of the First Fleet many times over.

Categories: Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , ,

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