Posts Tagged With: Free Camp

Kooma View Farmhouse – Nuttbush Retreat – Jamestown – World’s End Reserve (South Australia)

18/12/16  After Ceduna, we met up again with Charles and Joy at Kooma View Farmhouse, 60kms or so west of the town of Kimba, the halfway point across Australia from east to west. That brought home to us that we were halfway back on our return leg to Queensland. Kooma View is a disused farmhouse that the property owners make available to travellers to camp at no charge, although donations are welcomed to help with the upkeep of the basic facilities (the dump point and flushing outdoor toilet). The house was open and visitors were welcome to look through, which was interesting but clothes hanging in cupboards and crockery set out on the kitchen table were a little eerie. Some furnishings and contents were very familiar, dating back to our childhood. It felt like someone should be living there – like those movies where everyone vanishes suddenly leaving everything undisturbed. We spent the night camped in the grounds near to the house. No ghosts or green alien abductors bothered us.

The following morning, we headed on east through Kimba and Iron Knob to spend two nights at Nuttbush Retreat on Pandurra Station, near Port Augusta. We’d previously stayed there when travelling across to WA in June. I replaced a broken brake pad sensor in the Landy, finally extinguishing a dashboard warning light that had been in my face for more than a week.

Our next leg took us around the top of Spencer Gulf through Port Augusta and over the high South Flinders Ranges to quaint, historic Jamestown, with its lovely stone residential and commercial buildings. Charles and Joy pulled in shortly after us, having taken a separate route, and we joined them for lunch and a leisurely walk around the town from our semi-bush campsite at Robinson Park Reserve on the northern edge of town.

In the morning, we took the Hallett Road to one of our favourite towns, Burra, which we’d spent a couple of days exploring last year. We were just passing through this time, and had lunch and refuelled before heading 30kms south to our bush camp at World’s End Reserve on Burra Creek. In spite of the creek being dry, it was still a very pleasant camp with just our two vans in amongst old river gums near the creek. This was our last night with our travel buddies, who were heading on to the vineyards of Clare while we continued east towards home. We generally don’t travel with others, preferring the flexibility of doing our own thing, but have done so now with a few couples who we’ve enjoyed camping with. We’d thoroughly enjoyed Charles’ and Joy’s company and had great fun together, sharing seven camp sites since first meeting them at Esperance in WA, and we’re looking forward to getting together again and doing more free camping when they’re travelling around Queensland next year.

“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer Abroad

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - South Australia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Deralinya Homestead – Woorlba East Bush Camp (Western Australia)

6/12/16  Duke of Orleans Bay is located east of Esperance, halfway to Cape Arid National Park where the road ends. From there, to connect with the Eyre Highway to cross the Nullarbor, we’d have to backtrack 85kms west to Esperance and then head 200kms north to Norseman, the start of the Eyre Highway east. It’s a long way around, and mostly in the wrong direction. So, after discussing road conditions with a couple of blokes at The Duke, we decided to take a short cut.

The 200km-long Parmango Road heads north-east to connect with the Eyre Highway at the Balladonia Roadhouse, saving about 170kms. It’s not your usual run-of-the-mill backroad though. After the first 40kms of bitumen, the road changed to a wide, well-maintained gravel surface. But, the further north we went, the road narrowed and got rougher. The tyres were aired-down by 10psi, and we loped along pretty steadily at 60-70kph. We weren’t in any hurry and were enjoying the track as it was scenic and interesting.

As far as being a short cut, though, it took us two days to do the 200kms. We’d planned it that way. We camped overnight halfway along the track at the old Deralinya Homestead. Built in the 1890s as a sheep station and abandoned in 1926, the small stone homestead and couple of outbuildings fell into disrepair. These days, they are in good condition, restored by the absentee owner, stonemason Roger, who happened to be camped there doing some work when we arrived.

Roger and his mate have been doing the restoration work since 1990, guided by a painting of the homestead done in 1906. He showed us around the old buildings, pointing out the restored stone and timber work which was very much in keeping with the look and texture of the original structure. It was fascinating to get a glimpse of how different life must have been for the early settlers. Roger was chuffed with the eccentricities of the original construction of the buildings that weren’t even close to being square. Lime cement (not concrete) had been used throughout the walls and floor, made on the property using lime kilns that were still evident. A working brick oven was located in the front yard, built by the original settler who apparently loved bread so much that he constructed ovens throughout the property wherever he was likely to camp for a period of time.

In the scrub a short walk from the homestead, an extensive area of flat granite forms a natural catchment for rainwater. Taking a walk, we came across a few gnamma holes, deep natural holes in the rock that collect and store rainwater for a good period of time following rain. One hole was still covered by three rock slab “lids” to prevent evaporation of the contents, and another contained what I reckoned had to be several hundred litres of water. How useful would these holes have been to the first peoples and the early settlers in this dry country! In the books that I’ve read recently about early explorers in WA and SA – “Eyre: The Forgotten Explorer”, Ivan Rudolph; “Sturt’s Desert Drama”, Ivan Rudolph – gnamma holes and native wells regularly sustained the explorers when they were on their last legs.

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The usually unoccupied homestead was fascinating in its own right, and with the owner there, we were very fortunate to be able to learn a bit of the history of the property and its earlier inhabitants, along with his efforts to maintain the historic integrity of the homestead to which he intends to retire in a few years. It’s wonderful that he kindly allows travellers to visit and camp at the old homestead on their way through.

In as much as the 109km drive in to Deralinya Homestead from the south was pretty good, the 83km drive out the next morning to the Eyre Highway was just the opposite. North from the homestead, the track became a slow, rough slog. If it wasn’t corrugated, it was stoney, and if it wasn’t stoney, it was corrugated. And often as not, it was both. A quick but spectacular thunderstorm that passed overhead as we arrived at Deralinya the day before had dropped some rain on our next stretch of track. For the first 30kms, we sloshed through section after section of water lying across the track. It was no problem for the Landy and Kruiser to negotiate, though. Then we came to sections where it wasn’t water but mud across the track. This was followed by dry sections of bull dust. The van and Landy were firstly wet down, then covered with a layer of mud and then a layer of fine bull dust that turned the rig and tyres white, along with us if we happened to touch it. At best, we managed 40kph and at worst, 20kph. With occasional stops to cool down the shocks and heat up a cuppa, it took us most of the morning to get up to the bitumen.

img_2444aOur little shortcut had been a big adventure that we really enjoyed. Even so, it was a relief to at last reach the Eyre Highway and Balladonia Roadhouse. Pulling in to refuel and air up, we spotted Charles and Joy, who we’d first met at Esperance and then again at Duke of Orleans Bay. They were heading east in their van and we camped together that night in a shady spot off one of the many tracks into the scrub behind Woorlba East Rest Area, at the start of the 90 Mile Stretch. We were the only ones there and, although a little windy and dusty, the campsite was a pleasant one. We finished the day wrapped around a nice drink or two.

“Not many cars on the road, hey!” Pete, speaking loudly over the corrugations ahead of a cloud of bull dust.

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Western Australia | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Tom Price – Bore Camp, Mulga Downs Station – Bush Camp, Mandora Station (Western Australia)

7/08/16

From Karijini National Park, we arrived at Tom Price running on fumes. Tom Price is 50kms west of the Karijini boundary and a further 50kms from our camp inside the park at Dales. The Landy had been fuelled in Newman before heading to Karijini, but with getting there and all the running around to gorges and so forth, the tide was fast receding in the fuel tank. What was left in the diesel jerry can on the Kruiser was transferred to the Landy, just enough to see us into Tom Price.

Tom Price - Mount Nameless (WA)

Tom Price – Mount Nameless (WA)

We’d been on solar for the previous six days, battery power was at 100% every day, but our water and fuel had been steadily running down. Being the nearest town for quite some distance around, we headed to Tom Price to refuel, rewater, restock, and have a good long shower or two. It is the highest town in WA at 747 metres above sea level, and is primarily a mining town centred on the Mount Tom Price iron ore mine operated by Rio Tinto. Di had a sore back so we stayed two days to rest it.

Leaving Tom Price, we skirted around Karijini National Park back to the Great Northern Highway in the east, via the unsealed Nanutarra Road along the western boundary of the park and then along the northern boundary on the unsealed Munjina Wittenoom Road, that took us through to the Auski Roadhouse. Along the way, we detoured into Hamersley Gorge for a look, down a steep road to the parking area next to the gorge itself. There was a turnaround at the bottom but nowhere to park the van except on a rather sloping section of gravel off the road. Wouldn’t hurt for a sign at the top warning “No caravans beyond this point”. Anyway, I chocked the van, we had a quick look at the gorge and the rig was still there when we got back.

Just a little further along Nanutarra Road, the road narrows to a single lane that winds down through Tom Price Gorge. You have to call ahead on the CB to ensure the road is clear of oncoming traffic before heading in. As luck would have it, on the narrow gorge section we came across a semitrailer lowloader hauling a 60 tonne mining truck, blocking the road while two flat tyres were being changed. We pulled up and chatted to the drivers and managed to squeeze the van through between it and the gorge wall. It pays to have a narrow van.

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Our intended camp site was Indee Station, 200kms north of Auski Roadhouse. For a lunch stop, we pulled off the highway about 40kms north of the roadhouse and followed a track for a couple of kilometres to a bore, water trough and small dam on Mulga Downs Station. Di had a scout around for birds and was pleased to see some Painted Finches and Zebra Finches, and a hundred or so white Corellas were adorning the small trees beside the dam. There were signs of previous campsites around the bore and being such a pleasant spot in among the spinifex with the low Chichester Ranges in the distance, we stayed the night, just us and a small mob of Droughtmaster cattle around the dam. From dog tracks around the van the next morning, a dingo must have checked us out during the night.

This was our first free-camp in WA that didn’t have litter spread around everywhere, because I guess it wasn’t a designated rest area and didn’t have any bins. Might sound strange – no litter because no bins. Bins at WA rest areas are steel drums with hinged open-mesh tops, presumably designed to contain the rubbish from the wind. However, they aren’t emptied often enough so the contents build up, enabling crows to pull plastic bags and paper up through the mesh and drop it around the base of the bin to be blown everywhere. Good design on the drawing board but effective only as Crow Feeders if not serviced regularly.

The next day, we travelled about 500kms, north for a quick stop on the coast at Port Hedland for fuel and then further along the Great Northern Highway north-east to a small bush camp on Mandora Station south of the Sandfire Roadhouse. A track from the highway took us about 500 metres into the scrub and, like the night before, we had the place to ourselves with just the occasional big Droughtmaster wandering around. We stayed there two days, the second day overcast and very hot until the temperature eased off after sunset. There were very few birds for Di due to the lack of water, but we did come across recent camel tracks in the red sand.

“Half the fun of the travel is the aesthetic of lostness.” – Ray Bradbury

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Western Australia | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Cue – Karalundi – Gascoyne River – Newman (Western Australia)

27/07/16  There’s something about these Western Australians that makes them want to chop the top off every hill and ship it to China. What they don’t ship, they stack and make a new hill next door. Almost every hill out this way is terraced, squared off, and on its way to somewhere in a dump truck or train.

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Thankfully, the service of the Landy’s transmission seems to have fixed the shudder. I wasn’t looking forward to having the transmission worked on.

After four nights at Boogardie Station, we headed north and spent the night back at Cue. The water tanks were filled the next morning and we continued north. Having a break and a cuppa in Meekatharra, a young bloke wandered over and asked how the Kruiser was going. It turned out he was a gold prospector who also owned a Kruiser, and we had a yarn about our vans and his gold mining operation out of town. Small world. A prospector living in a Kruiser on his gold mining lease was not something we’d expected.

About 60kms north of Meeka, we pulled in to the Karalundi Aboriginal Education Community and were lucky to get a spot as we hadn’t pre-booked. We ended up on the last available campsite and I must admit, we reckoned it was the best of the lot anyway. Karalundi is a boarding school for Aboriginal boys and girls, and a green oasis surrounded by the mulga scrub. We set up and relaxed to the sounds of school children singing and playing – not your average campsite backdrop.

Karalundi Aboriginal Education Community (WA)

Karalundi Aboriginal Education Community (WA)

After a night at Karalundi, we continued north on the Great Northern Highway, or Bottle Way as it should be called for the continuous line of discarded plastic and glass drink containers along both sides of the roadway. In the middle of the WA Outback, countless beer bottles and plastic drink bottles lie only metres apart. Who does that with careless disregard for the land or their fellow persons? Stubbies consumed while driving, energy drinks downed to maintain the pace, drink containers of pee to avoid pulling over – all are thrown out the window to join those already dotting the roadside. This outback way is the litter trail of Western Australia.

We free-camped at Gascoyne River South Branch, set up a little way back into the scrub and shared our camp fire with Peter and Fleur from Perth. The outback night sky was glorious with the Milky Way and shooting stars. On the way from Gascoyne River to Newman the next morning, a mob of donkeys were just in off the edge of the road, checking us out as we went by. Another tick for Di’s Animals in the Wild List. The further north we go, Wedgetail Eagles and Whistling Kites are becoming more prevalent and we have to keep an eye out for the eagles on roadkill as they are very slow to fly off when on the ground.

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A short distance south of Newman, we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, 23.5 degrees south latitude, and, just as we’d noticed in western Queensland last year, the day immediately felt warmer. Off came the pullover and at camp in Newman the van windows were all opened up for the first time in ages. In winter and travelling north, that latitude seems to be the demarcation between “Jeez, it’s bloody cold” and “I think it’s getting warmer”.

“The days are getting warmer now. The nights are getting shorter now.” – America, Children, America album

Categories: Animals In The Wild List (AITW), Travel News, Travel News - Western Australia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Brinkworth – Port Augusta – Whyalla Area – Kimba (South Australia)

7/06/16  We survived the anxious transit through Adelaide’s road system, from where the A13 highway entered from the south through to the A1 on the north side. In between, these wide highways become narrow roads, often twisty and choked with dodgem cars and big trucks. I swore this was my last visit to Adelaide pulling a van. Life’s too short for all that stress. We were now on our way north to loop around the top of Spencer Gulf at Port Augusta and down onto the Eyre Peninsula before heading into Western Australia.

Past Adelaide, we overnighted at the small town of Brinkworth, located a little north of Clare. The local Progress Association maintains a nice little rest area to attract travellers to the town, and the community obviously cares about welcoming visitors because just after we arrived a couple of locals pulled in to make sure we were all settled in OK. On a walk around town we met a lady who was hand-rearing a young magpie that didn’t have any tail feathers yet and looked more like a penguin than a magpie. It had grown up with them, so, instead of having a normal bird call, it alternated between sounding like their young son crying out for attention and their cat meowing.

From Brinkworth the next day, we went through Snowtown, notorious for the murders committed back in the 1990s, and on through Port Pirie to Port Augusta at the tip of Spencer Gulf. Compared with many roads we’d recently been on, the Princes Highway north of Adelaide was a good stretch. All the dips and bumps had been laid down elsewhere. For most of the way, we were Tail-end Charlie to a convoy of army vehicles travelling at 80-90kph, a good speed for fuel consumption so we stuck with them. There’s a large Defence Reserve on the western side of the Gulf just beyond Port Augusta, and they were probably headed there.

We camped at Pandurra Station – Nuttbush Retreat, 40kms west of Port Augusta at the start of the Eyre Highway that goes west to Perth. The property’s been owned by the Nutt family since 1895, and is still a working sheep and cattle grazing enterprise carrying 20,000 sheep and 150 cattle. These days it offers guest accommodation as well.

The next morning was spent at the Australian Arid Lands Botanical Gardens, back on the northern outskirts of Port Augusta, which maintains a collection of arid zone habitats in a very picturesque setting of 250 hectares. It was very interesting and well laid out, and we were glad we had a look.

Back at the homestead after lunch, six vans had set up around us while we’d been away. We’d gone from being the only ones there to being one of a bunch. Despite there being heaps of room available, one van had parked up so close to us we couldn’t have put our awning out if we’d wanted to…… OK, Di, I’ll control myself. I won’t go to the Dark Side. They’ll be moving on in the morning and all will be well again.

After seeing off our intimate neighbours the next morning, we took a drive to Whyalla, firstly 4WDing in to Wild Dog Hill in Whyalla Conservation Reserve and then to the lighthouse at Point Lowly, both just out of town to the north, before going in to Whyalla and its foreshore area to have a look around.

We stayed three nights at Pandurra Station. It was a good camp with a great happy hour in the bar area from 5:00 each afternoon. Kevin and Susan, fellow caravanners temporarily managing the accommodation side of the place, were very friendly and welcoming and good company over a beer or two. Our planned early departure was delayed when I found a broken wheel stud while prepping the van. I fitted a new one from the spares box, and we were off.

Iron Knob - Iron Monarch Mine - Stopover On our Way To Kimba (SA)

Iron Knob – Iron Monarch Mine – Stopover On Our Way To Kimba (SA)

A little further west on the Eyre Highway, we free-camped at the recreation reserve at Kimba. This was another RV-friendly small town with the foresight to encourage travellers to pull in and stay for a while by providing an open space and clean amenities at a recreation reserve. More towns should wake up to the fact that not all travellers desire caravan park facilities, and that some (like us) will often bypass a town with a caravan park in lieu of one that provides alternatives such as a secure free camp or a showground camp area.

Kimba’s claim to fame is that it is located halfway across Australia, so I guess as we approach Western Australia, we are now officially into the “other half” of the continent. We unhitched and went for a drive on a very chilly day to Refuge Rocks. This is a large granite rock formation where, in 1840, a very parched Edward Eyre and his party found water and camped for a day or two during his exploration of an overland route from Adelaide to Perth. Back in Kimba, we fuelled up and restocked the groceries – a financial benefit to the town derived directly from their provision of free-camp facilities.

Before hitching up and leaving Kimba, we drove out to the lookout on White Knob, just out of town. We arrived in heavy fog which cleared enough to give us a good view of the surrounding countryside.

“Retirement is wonderful. It’s doing nothing without worrying about getting caught at it.” – Gene Perret

Categories: Pete's Extreme Points Of Mainland Australia List (PEPOMA), Travel News, Travel News - South Australia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Robe – Narrung – Strathalbyn (South Australia)

26/05/16  From Millicent, we headed north on the Princes Highway to the town of Robe on Guichen Bay. We were told it’s a popular tourist spot for South Australians and Victorians, with a population of 1,500 that grows in the summer holiday season to 15,000. We were there at the bottom of the tourist season and the town was very quiet. What draws the tourists is the combination of many historic stone buildings around the town centre, scenic cliff shoreline and bushland surrounding the town. Many parts of Robe are straight out of the 1800s. We were fortunate to have a cloudless sky while looking around the town, but the breeze continued to come off the Southern Ocean direct from the polar ice shelf and our coats and beanies stayed well and truly on. Robe is a base for a large fishing and lobster fleet; the budget couldn’t stretch to a lobster meal unfortunately.

Next morning, we were woken to the sound of rain on the roof and the rocking of the van in the wind. The water tanks were topped up and we travelled north through the Coorong National Park to a free camp at Narrung on Lake Alexandrina. The campground is located next to the landing for the vehicle ferry that operates across the narrow waters of Albert Passage joining Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert. It’s one of eleven vehicle ferry services operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Murray River crossings, provided free of charge by the South Australian government. Different from the “You want it, you pay for it” attitude of the government back home in Queensland.

Already in camp when we arrived was Dave Jacka and his support team. Dave is a quadriplegic adventurer and motivational speaker who is currently 88 days into a solo kayak paddle of the Murray River. We didn’t get to meet him, unfortunately, as he was resting up but we did meet Paul and Peter, two members of the support team accompanying him. We missed them in the morning as they were up before dawn and off to finish the circumnavigation of Lake Alexandrina. Check out his story on the link above.

We had an early night which translated into an early morning. The van is dark inside with the window blinds drawn down, and I usually tell that it’s after sunrise by the light coming through the ceiling hatch at the end of the van. Light was coming in so we got up. It was only 3:45am and the light was from a floodlight on the nearby pole. Needless to say, we had an early start that day to the next camp at Strathalbyn.

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Looping north around Lake Alexandrina and across the Murray River, we stopped in at Bleasdale Vineyards at Langhorne Creek, looked through their original National Trust listed buildings dating back to 1880 and I did a tasting of their lovely reds.

A little further on, we set up in the town of Strathalbyn, had lunch at The Victoria pub and spent the rest of the day browsing through the many antique shops for which the town is renowned and dodging intermittent showers and flocks of corellas in the Soldiers Memorial Gardens.

In a blog entry when we were on the Yorke Peninsula last year, I wrote “This place must be miserable in winter if it’s like this in November.” Prophetically, I was right! The day at Narrung hit the Miserable Mark on my personal weather gauge. Have a look at the rain radar image below. In the whole continent of Australia, the worst weather is where?! Right where we Queenslanders are. The locals are lapping it up, sploshing around in shorts and moaning that it needs to rain a bit more to make it worthwhile. I’m starting to grow mould because of the damp.

Guess Where We Are?

Guess Where We Are?

“You know it’s cold outside when you go outside and it’s cold.” – Me

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - South Australia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bourke – Cobar (NSW)

4/05/16  Travelling south from Cunnamulla, we crossed into New South Wales and spent two days in Bourke. The grey rain clouds cleared on the second day leaving sunny blue skies, and we dried the canvas awnings after the previous few days’ rain. Di took the opportunity to do a cook-up, producing a large curried stew that’ll give us a few meals, and a yummy roast in the Weber. That used most of our vegies which would otherwise have to be thrown out when we get to the quarantine area a little further south.

Packing up camp for the next move was a particularly slow process, largely from a general lack of motivation aided by lots of coffees, and it wasn’t until 10:00am that we were on the Kidman Way again heading south to Cobar, a short hop of 160kms.

Many caravans and motorhomes were on the road at this time of year, migrating from Victoria to flock in their warmer northern nesting grounds. My index finger was wearing out from offering up the obligatory “single digit wave” to oncoming travellers. I also like to intersperse this with the “four digit wave” to those who appear more worthy. Motorhomes can be quite responsive to “the wave”, particularly where the female passenger gives back an enthusiastic two-handed wave. It’s like “Hey, caravaners hardly ever wave at us in our motorhome, and that guy just gave us the “four digit wave”, and I’m going to let him know I really appreciate it!”

Against the trend, we were among the crazy few heading south, enjoying the pleasant days and cool nights after a run of very high temperatures starting in September last year in NT through to when we left home ten days ago. The wet weather brought a drop in temperatures, and welcomed relief from the very hot days. We’d been looking forward to a cool change and wintering in the van.

On the outskirts of Cobar, we free-camped on the bank of Newey Reservoir, among the shady pepperina trees. The waterfront view from inside the van was priceless. We watched ducks feeding in the shallows, a majestic white egret patiently stalking fish and a rather regal pelican cruising lazily past our camp.

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“Tourists went on holidays, while travellers did something else. They travelled.” – Alex Garland, The Beach

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - New South Wales | Tags: , , , , , , ,

On the Road Again – Bowenville Reserve (Queensland)

25/04/16  We’d been home at Scarborough since mid-December and, with one thing and another, the intended short stay blew out to four months.

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Much of the time was spent fixing things that have gone wrong at home while we’d been away. The battery in the other car had died and had to be replaced. Because it had sat unused since June 2014, the tyres developed flat spots that drove like the wheels were square. Have to admit I hadn’t thought of that problem in our pre-trip preparations. I fixed the seized garbage disposal, and a wonky shower tap. Outdoor furniture was re-oiled, the landline phone had gone on strike – the list went on and on. Things atropfy quickly through underuse.

It was great to catch up with family and friends again, but we quickly became restless for travel. Travelling offers challenges and freedom. Living in the Kruiser and seeing new places every day is addictive and has become the norm. Apartment life no longer completely satisfies us and we’ve been looking forward to once again being on the road.

Pondering what we’ve been doing for the past two years, I’ve come to realise that we haven’t just been “travelling” as we’ve always called it; we’ve been “overlanding”. We’ve travelled almost 40,000 kilometres across half the Australian continent and aim to cover as much of the remainder as possible. So I reckon the term “overlanding” better suits what we do. Overlanding is described as self-reliant adventure travel to remote destinations where the journey is the primary goal. I reckon that’s about right.

The Kruiser has been serviced, and we journeyed off again this morning on our fourth travel leg. The plan now is to first head to Cameron Corner, the point where the borders of Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia all meet. From there, we’ll journey down to Victoria and South Australia and then across to Western Australia. That’s about the extent of the planning so far, and you know what they say about plans…

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Queensland | 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Barossa Valley (South Australia)

27/11/15  Roads in SA are very ordinary, built, I reckon, by ex-maritime engineers whose longing for the high seas led to the designing in of swells and troughs that would shame the North Atlantic. Potholes have been patched and repatched many, many times over to all join up in a continuous cobbly quilted road surface. It was bad enough in a car, but with a van added behind, it was like riding over chops in a dinghy.

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In contrast to the previous two short hops, we travelled 213kms from Port Rickaby on the Yorke Peninsula to Greenock, in the Barossa Valley north-east of Adelaide, and set up camp alongside the lovely cricket oval in the grounds of Centenary Park, with a wheat field on the hillside to our back.

Murray Street Vineyards was first port of call where we picked up a couple of bottles of their very nice 2012 Black Label Shiraz. Always a white wine drinker, Di has taken a liking to some of the SA reds and enjoyed a glass of 2015 T.S.S. Tempranillo Sangiovese Shiraz with a Shearer’s Platter at the Pindarie cellar door, while I tucked into a 2014 ‘Schoffs Hill’ Cabernet Sauvignon. Needless to say, we left with some of each in hand.

Di was keen to see Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop at nearby Nuriootpa where we had coffee and cake. Lots of interesting produce was available, but we refrained from adding any more chutneys to the already sizable collection.

Seppeltsfield looked more like a resort than a historic wine estate. The Jam Factory, a contemporary craft and design studio, gallery and shop housed in an historic 1850s stables building was definitely worth a visit. We met knife maker Barry Gardner in his workshop and saw the blade that Camilla wielded at Charles in their recent royal visit to the vineyard.

In the afternoon of our second day at Greenock, after a full day of visiting more local wineries, the local Country Fire Service instructed us to evacuate as a large out-of-control fire was approaching, threatening many of the nearby Barossa towns. With wind gusts up to 90kph pushing the fire over a 200km front, a catastrophic fire alert had been issued for the area. An enormous smoke column darkened most of the sky and ash had started falling around us, so we’d hitched up and were ready to move in the event of an evacuation order. When it was given, we headed 50kms south out of the fire area to Mt Pleasant. Strong winds buffeted the rig all the way, and we could appreciate that conditions for anyone near the fire front would be extremely life-threatening. Those Firey’s are worth bottling!

We spent a couple of relaxing days at Mt Pleasant.

Everything in a van has to have at least two functions or it doesn’t get a look in. Somethings though have specialised functions; like us. I do the driving, the outside stuff, look after the vehicle, wash down the rig, and generally plan the camp sites. Di is the culinary engineer, the internal spatial engineer (“Please don’t you go through that. I know exactly where it is!”), does the inside stuff, and provides running tourist commentary as we travel along. In the wine country, she’s also taken on the tour guide role and reads all the local tourist info to determine our daily agenda for places we’ll visit, which is great because I hate wading through all that stuff. Copious notes are written onto a local tourist map, with arrows for direction and circles highlighting various locations. As we were travelling yesterday, disaster struck! She opened the by then very well-worn map and it tore right down the middle into two pieces…

“No human on Earth can refold a road map, but some excellent origami and paper airplanes have resulted from the effort.” – Addis’s Collected Wisdom.

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - South Australia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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