I was awake at 6am, and decided to get up and start getting
the van ready. I was in no hurry, and finally hooked up and
headed out through the gate at 10.20am. I was finally on my
The plan was to head up to Lake Grace, then across through Newdegate
and Lake King and down to Ravensthorpe. I stopped and took a
couple of photos of the Stirlings, before rolling into Borden.
Just a cursory look, and then onwards. There was a rest area
and lookout promised just up the road, just after the Gnowangerup
turnoff. What eventuated, was just a standard narrow gravel
and nothing else.
The turn off to Pingrup and Lake Grace came, and after some
deliberation, I changed my mind. I continued on towards Jerramungup,
calling into Ongerup, stopping for lunch.
I had checked the van a couple of times up until now, and all
had been well. But the road had changed, and altho sealed, definitely
needed grading. I had overfilled the tank this morning, and
had found a little stream working its way across the floor.
I had pulled the pot drawer out to ensure that there wasn't
a flood under it, and had obviously not replaced it properly.
It now sat skew whiff hanging out of the bench. The new satellite
dish controller, instead of being a sensible design, is now
a plastic artwork, and was difficult to sit where you could
get at it to operate the controls, and so it just sat on the
shelf secured by the cables
well that was where it was up
it sat unsecured on the floor, wires hanging loose.
I won't say I panicked and used a lot of bad language
a little bit. I re=attached the wires, hit the buttons, and
the dish went into action. Whew. However, had anything else
come loose. Inverter activated, TV on, and Foxtel burst into
life. All good.
And so I had lunch, worked some magic with velcro and a storage
box, and we were back in business.
Onward, a quick pit stop in Jerry to check if my repairs were
holding, and back on the road. It was now approaching 3pm, and
it had been a long day. Another Rest Area was promised and this
time, it materialised. It was larger than expected, tons of
and on the side of a bloody hill. Why do they do that?
Surely the people who design or create these facilities understand
that travellers and even truck drivers, like to sleep on level
ground. In fact RV vehicles require level ground for a fridge
to operate properly for example. Of course they don't. I'm sure
they look at a map and stick a pin in, and place the order with
the Main Roads Dept. Regardless, I was first in, got the flattest
bit, got a satellite signal (essential to receive the Indy 500
final practice in the morning), and hit the sack for a snooze.
The weather was gorgeous this morning, started getting cloudy
this arvo, and rain is promised for tonight. What will tomorrow
last night it rained. But I awoke to a clear sky and subsequently,
the day although becoming cloudy was fine.
There was no signal, not even a hint of one. But somehow, my
phone had a number of messages waiting for me when I woke up.
My son asked me later in the day, what time I had sent a series
of messages last night. I had sent them between 1.30 and 3pm
yesterday. It seems Telstra picked them up at 3.08am this morning.
There was phone signal at both Ongerup and Jerramungup, but
no internet access. They can't get 4G right, but they press
on with 5G. End of rant.
I watched my Indycar recording, and finally got away around
9.20am. I was 80 kms from Ravensthorpe, and just took my time
reaching the mining town. I found a caravan parking spot and
using the available signal, uploaded my blog and photos. I had
run the sub tank dry, and so I dropped into the local Shell
dealer to top up. I had passed the BP on the way into town in
the west, the Shell is on the eastern extremity of the town.
I grabbed the fuel app, and discovered that Shell was a couple
of cents cheaper. I remembered back to the few times I have
travelled through Miles in Queensland, where the servo on the
Western edge of town was 15c dearer than the one in the middle
of town. Meanwhile, I had no intention of purchasing anything
but fuel, but the home made sausage rolls looked appetising,
and yep, it was time for a food review. Nice.
As I was about to leave town, I received a phone call advising
me that a family friend had passed away. Lorraine Clifton was
Western Australia's leading Yamaha Electone Music Teacher in
the 70's and 80's, and she had been a friend for over 40 years.
She had hired her grand piano to the Billy Joel organisation
for a Perth concert. She received it back scarred with the groove
of a belt buckle, where Mr Joel had reportedly done a belly
slide across the lid. She was not amused.
I was now passing through the area where the mines are located,
and being stopped at road works. I was sitting at one stop,
when I noticed a very colourful mural displayed on the walls
of a conveyor belt crossing above the road. Interesting.
Just short of Munglinup, there is a 24hr rest area. It has toilets
that are closed for repairs, is paved, and not really attractive
to overnight stoppers. Tonight, I have it to myself. I found
it at 1.15pm, and so I parked up, and settled to watch my Indycar
replay on Fox.
Time for a snooze, and now, at 5.26pm, am awaiting the commencement
of the Eagles game.
According to the BOM site, there are storms approaching. It
didn't look like that half an hour ago, but as soon as I get
complacent, you can guarantee it will piss down.
The storm did eventually roll in. It got a tad windy, and there
was just a touch of rain. One thing I did learn last night,
is don't watch the footy. The Eagles got hit by a different
kind of storm. LOL. It's looking gorgeous out there as I munch
on my brekky, but Fox weather is forecasting a different picture.
It is also forecasting rain in Far Western NSW, which is where
I am heading. That is a few weeks away, but I really don't want
to be thwarted by wet and flooded dirt roads. It will be what
it will be.
We strolled through Munglinup, and continued on towards Esperance.
I found a rest area with excellent signal, and so stopped and
uploaded yesterdays tome of BS. Finding signal along the road
looks as though it's going to be a tad difficult. No different
to 2019 I guess, especially after I head north from Broken Hill.
Yes, I could upload today's so far, but nope, nothing to report
you can wait. Onward.
. Is THIS my fault as well? Speaking to my sister in Albany,
and it seems that Albany has been drenched. A quick look at
the BOM site, and they have recorded 78.4mm of rain since 7.30pm
last night up until 4.05pm today. When I left Albany to commence
my last trip in August last year, I saw no rain travelling to
Perth, but they had 93mm in Albany. Not only do I film places
that burn down, it seems that I leave Albany just before it
floods everytime ...
back on the road, I had decided to bypass Esperance, and cut
across the Gibson-Dalyup Road. Up until now, on the South Coast
Hwy, I had encountered very little traffic. I turned on to the
GD Road, and immediately caravans, cars, trucks and farm machinery.
I guess not everyone wants to go to Esperance. The drive itself
is only 20kms, but the country is gorgeous. There are avenues
of trees, and grassy strips 150m wide behind the trees on the
roadside, bounded by more trees behind them
it's like parkland.
And at this time of the year, it's green although looking
at some paddocks which now have that green sheen, the ground
has been thirsty for a long time.
pulled in over the road from the Gibson Soak Pub
I don't drink,
so I had no cause to call in, but I took a wander over the road
to investigate just what was there. The carpark was empty when
I pulled up and made myself some lunch, and was chokkas when
I stepped out to have a look half an hour later. There was some
machinery chattering away up the road, courtesy I found as I
drove past of the Gibson Soak Water Company. And that was Gibson.
cruised into Scadden, took a drive up past the Primary School
and the Bushfire Brigade, and that was that. Grass Patch was
a little more populated, and then it was Salmon Gums. It being
a Sunday, it is a little difficult to gauge whether the place
is a goer or not, but I would suggest that it is teetering and
hanging on. There is the pub of course, and an Ag Company who
handles the large gas bottles and emergency farm requirements
of the local farming population.
now, I was figuring it was time to look for somewhere to stop,
and after checking out a few basic rest areas, came across the
spacious Kumarl Siding rest Area, which where I am domiciled
for the night.
big motor racing events happening overnight, and so the generator
is busily pumping up the batteries (is that what you do to a
flat battery?), so that I have enough power to record these
events that for some unknown reason, the US insists on running
in the middle of the night.
a short while ago, it rained
. well, it dampened the ground.
Who knows what is coming after Albany. (another 3mm in the last
I tell you, it's NOT my fault)
too old for this stuff. I set the Fox Box to record the Indy
500. I jumped into bed at 7.40pm, figuring that I might watch
the first hour of the race, which would get underway at 12.30am,
the coverage starting at 11pm. So set the alarm, and would you
believe, woke up just over an hour later. Well, I tried to be
(sort of) sensible. Of course the race started, and finished
at 3.45am, and I texted my son (we had been commenting during
the race, and yes, I sat up for the entire race) that I was
off to bed. I was in no hurry, and was quite happy to sleep
until what ever time of the day I woke up
.. which was 7.30am.
There was no getting back to sleep, and so up, breakfast, started
the genny to recharge the batteries, general housework, another
15 min nap, and it's still only 9.45 am. Did I mention that
I was also recording the NASCAR race which isn't scheduled to
finish until 10.30. Oh well, let's bore the reader for half
an hour and then we should be ready to go LOL.
only 73km from Norseman, and although I have phone reception
and limited data signal, there was no way I was going to get
yesterdays photos uploaded. It took nearly an hour to get the
two up that were successful. And so Norseman is where all that
will happen (I hope).
were a few trains went through last night. I don't mind being
parked next to a railway line, even when the passing trains
appear to rumble through the caravan. I'm old enough to remember
the old steam trains, and even though it's not kosher to recall
and sometimes wish for old times, I do miss the whistle, the
puffing engine, and the aroma of the smoke as they trundled
by. A diesel with a hooter, although having a magic of it's
own, just doesn't quite exude the same romance by comparison.
is a smattering of rain on the roof as I write this, and a quick
check that shows me Albany had 104mm over the past 36 hours,
so I'm not going to complain about what I have to deal with
here. Norseman, here I come, ready or not.
Well, the rain caught up with me
well it stayed with me right
into Norseman. Another check of the Fuel App showed me that
the BP was 1 cent cheaper, and with over 100 litres to go into
the tank, that's a dollar. But there is a trap, and I have been
caught a couple of times. The app said $1.52, and so you pull
into the pump outside the front door (of both roadhouses) and
that pump is Premium Diesel
at some 3c dearer. To get the
standard diesel, you go to the truck pumps. At least BP had
the good grace to have a placard attached which advised you
that this pump dispenses Premium.
pulled up in the main street to upload the photos from yesterday,
check my emails and social media, and left town. The rain had
stopped at this point and the next few kms were dry-ish travelling.
I was taking my time, was overtaken by a couple of caravans,
and a house
. well I think it was actually a donga on the back
of a truck, but houses and the like seem to travel pretty quickly
in my experience, especially out here.
rain came in again, so when I reached the 10 Mile Rocks Rest
Area, I decided that it would do me for the night ... I haven't
stayed in this one before. Watched the news, my Nascar replay,
cooked up a heap of veges and a chicken breast kiev, and it
being a tad chilly, turned in early for the night.
is officially winter.
motor rally terminology, the act of moving the whole circus
from one racing stage to another, is called a transport stage.That
was what today was for me. Moving from my overnight camp spot
to the next one down the road. Over the years, I have travelled
the Eyre Highway many times, and have documented it on film
covering much of what there is to see and explore
is a lot to see and explore. There is absolutely nothing boring
about the Eyre Hwy. Don't believe me? Take a look at my You
Tube Channel where my documentary is sitting just waiting for
you to have a look. But I digress.
was a transport stage, the only roadhouse encountered was at
Balladonia, where I didn't even leave the vehicle/van, but instead
availed myself of the Telstra signal to upload my diatribe to
the masses, send some emails, and make a few phone calls. The
first time I encountered Balladonia was back in 1976, or was
it '77? My wife Shirley and I were driving to Sydney to attend
a Yamaha Music Convention, and then on down to Melbourne to
visit her sister, who was an Air Hostess with the then TAA.
I had been planning the trip, and happened to mention that we
would probably be sitting around the 120 kph mark at times,
a comfortable rate of knots for our new XC Falcon. If you're
going to be doing 120 Shirl said, I'm staying home. Fortunately,
the speedo was on my side of the car, and Shirl had probably
forgotten the conversation. We slept overnight at Norseman,
and were leaving in the early hours of the next morning in the
dark heading for Balladonia. Shirley is an excellent driver,
but being used to doing long stints at night time, I said I
would do the first run, negotiate the wild life, and we would
change drivers at Balladonia. The driver change was made, and
in the next two hours, we covered 264 kms
there was no further
mention of driving speeds. I hasten to add, I never got near
did it again, got diverted from today's story. The girls had
given me a book a number of years ago, called My Dad, His Stories,
His Words. I was told that I had to fill it in. It contains
a thousand (well it seems like a thousand) questions ranging
from where I lived as a kid, the neighbourhood I grew up in,
family, pets, influences, achievements
. and tons more I haven't
got to yet. Now in recent years, my son Brett sat down with
his maternal grandparents and interviewed them about their lives,
and I did the same with my Mum. They have all since passed,
but we at least have a snapshot of their history and where we
came from. I met a guy in Birdsville in 2010, who was a photographer,
and he was documenting his life pictorially and turning the
photos into books for his kids. He knew very little about his
own father's life and he wanted them to know what he did when
he was gone
if they were interested. Regrettably, my own Dad
passed away 28 years ago, he was an only child, and there was
no-one to tell us about his early life, and many of the stories
we did hear when he was in full song, really couldn't be classified
as reliable, and I never sat down to quiz him about his past.
so, being as I spend most of my life on the road talking to
the camera in the car, and having no real need to continue filming
this iconic piece of road, and having an excellent microphone
system for recording clear voice, I decided that today, I would
start at the front of the book, and answer the questions not
with a pen, but by voice. Wow, what an experience? The questions
were like Ahn Do, they forced me to dig into the deepest recesses
of the filing cabinet, and believe me, it's in a mess these
days, and drag out memories that I hadn't visited in many years...
it's over an hour and a half at this stage, and I'm only just
about half way through. Do it gals and fellas, see if you can
find this little book, or at least sit with a tape recorder
and get the kids to ask the questions. They will love you for
of course, there has to be a twist to the story
when I jumped
in the car this morning, I set the camera on it's mount, I turned
on the Wireless Mic system
.. and forgot to plug the cable
into the camera. So instead of a crystal clear recording, it's
all there, competing with car, engine, road and all the other
I am at Woorlba Rest Area, about halfway to Caiguna. I'm just
chugging along, getting around 700km out of my tanks of juice,
and being a general nuisance to the truckies and other caravan
tuggers. It's very wet and very boggy along the road verges.
Hopefully we've seen the last of the rain for a few days.
I have nothing to report.
was a a quiet day on the road inside the car, but quite busy
outside. Yesterday, there were just a few trucks, today was
a different story. When I was working at Park Pianos/Music Park,
stock from the Melbourne warehouses tended to arrive on Tuesday
and Thursday/Friday, meaning trucks probably picked up their
trailers Friday and Monday. Thus the plethora of big rigs mid
week on the Eyre Hwy. That incidentally is my interpretation
of the way it is. I'm sure a truckie will soon put the story
was one truck who overtook me on a long straight stretch of
road I was doing about 77kph (I am driving to a fuel number
motor racing terminology), so there was no reason why he didn't
have enough grunt to overtake me, and sitting high in the cab,
he could certainly see a lot further along the road than I could.
There was a slight rise, and therefore hump on the straight,
and he certainly got the attention of the oncoming car who appeared
suddenly over the rise. Overtake having been made successfully,
a foreign voice broke the airwaves talking obviously to vehicle
accompanying him I think am alive. I couldn't understand the
was a bit of agro from time to time on the UHF, but my interaction
with the truck drivers was pleasant enough. It makes entertaining
was a 4G tower (new I believe I haven't seen it before) and
not long afterwards a lay-by where I took advantage of the signal
to upload yesterdays blog and photos.As I was about to leave,
a Hired camper pulled in, and a guy who didn't speak much English
hopped out and asked if I knew how far it was to the next fuel
stop. I grabbed my tablet, pulled up the My Maps App, and quickly
found out that we were 107kms from Balladonia, which was the
direction he was travelling, and and 81 back to Caiguna. He
asked if I had spare diesel (I think that was what he was asking
as I said he didn't speak English), but unfortunately, I couldn't
help him. He needed to adopt a fuel number policy I felt as
arrived and I stopped and had lunch. Caiguna completes (or commences
depending on the direction of travel) the 90 mile straight.
And so now I had to endure a winding road the corners are
few and far between for all that LOL.
loomed, and I figured it was time to top the tanks to ensure
that I would make the border. I have for years contended that
fuel must stops are Norseman, Balladonia, Eucla, Border Village
(usually a touch dearer than Eucla) and Nundroo. The fuel prices
are high out here there is no competition and these places
are the cheapest. Nullarbor Roadhouse has been the dearest fuel
on the Nullarbor for years, and it is the closest to Adelaide.
For the record, I paid $1.85 at Cocklebiddy.
brings me to my fuel number. I have been steadily overtaken
by a plethora of caravanners. The road is fast and open out
here. But the fact remains that whether on a budget or not,
speed does consume fuel, especially in older design diesel and
petrol engines. I have a 1999 diesel engine (the design of which
had been around for decades before that), which is turbo assisted.
The car weighs around 3 tonne, and I am towing the hotel which
is a 23'6 monster which hits the scales at around 3.4 tonne.
Factor in wind resistance, wind speed and direction, and we
are chewing through a fair bit of juice. My desired fuel number
with this lot, is around 5 Kpl (20 ltrs/100kms). If I can achieve
that figure, I can travel further on a tank than if I was only
getting 4 Kpl (25 ltrs/100kms). Theoretically, 145 litres (my
tank size) would allow 580 kms at 4 kpl, whereas I should get
around 725 kms at 5 kpl. You do the maths on how much you are
saving at $1.85 ltr. My economy at Cocklebiddy was approaching
far from Cocklebiddy is the Eyre Bird Sanctuary turn off, and
just past that is a 24hr rest area, which is where I am tonight.
I have phone signal, but no data. Bugger.
purchased a 4kg bag of spuds before I left Albany, not really
knowing mow many I was going to need/use. There are tons left,
and so I set about peeling and cooking and preparing to freeze.
I'm not too sure about what they will let me take through the
border, but I seem to remember that peeled and cooked is OK.
I guess I will find out.
Potatoes, washed or brushed and soil-free ware, not for planting
root beetroot, turnip, parsnip, carrot, free of soil and tops
it seems that I have to chop the tops off the carrots. It looks
like they wan't to be sure that you are not going to plant them.
they have all of Australia to move about in. So why do they
all want to migrate into the caravan as soon as you open the
door? I guess that God created flies to ensure that we had a
healthy chemicals market. What other reason would there be?
told you I had nothing to report.
was a quiet day on the road compared to yesterday. A lot less
The Madura Pass was our first point of interest, where the road
descends onto the lower plateau. In the very early years, well
before the road was even a consideration, travellers used to
have to pick their way down the scarp with horses and buggys,
before making their way across the plain toward Eucla. I took
advantage of the available signal to upload my daily tableau,
took the obligatory photo of the view before me, and then descended
to where the road runs alongside the Hampton Tableland. This
section of road offers a different scenic viewpoint, with the
apparent hill running along the northern side of the road. I
say apparent hill, because it is in fact a fault line, and as
flat as a table on top.
had driven along a couple of pieces of highway that had been
marked out as an airstrip, and was about encounter a couple
more along this stretch of the road. These air strips are used
to land the Royal Flying Doctor Service planes in the case of
emergency. One high profile patient was the singer Jon English
many years ago. It got me wondering (I do have plenty of time
on my hands after all)
when we visited Maralinga, we were
told that the Maralinga Airstrip had been re-inforced to cope
with the landing of the Space Shuttle, should it have been necessary
to land it in the Southern Hemisphere. So keeping that in mind,
are the stretches of highway that are marked and utilised for
landing aircraft also reinforced for the purpose, keeping in
mind that the road is carrying heavy truck loads on a daily
basis, and is subject to grooving where the tyres constantly
use the same section of road?
pulled into Mundrabilla Roadhouse. I wasn't about to fill up
(it was $1.76 ltr for diesel), purely stretch my legs and have
a look at their cake selection, and maybe grab an ice cream.
I have been denying myself on both accounts, and I remember
having purchased a delicious cake or something a couple of years
ago, so it was time I thought. First thing I noticed was a hand
written sign advertising accomodation in Norseman. Years ago,
there was a Shell outlet in Norseman that cross promoted the
Mundrabilla Roadhouse, and it got me wondering whether the tie
up was still there. The Ice Cream fridge was turned off. It
seems that their generator caught fire recently and not everything
was back up and working. The drinks fridge was, and the bar
next door was entertaining customers. I grabbed a jam dough
nut, and walked back to the car via the bowsers to check the
pricing. I was surprised to find notices that Unleaded fuel
was unavailable, and the nearest fuel points were Eucla and
Madura. Too bad if you missed a fill, or were relying on the
usually cheaper prices at Mundrabilla. Diesel was available.
had checked out a couple of rest areas, but wasn't impressed
enough to stop, and then a metal dump appeared and is the perfect
stop for this boy. No prizes for guessing where I am tonight.
wonder if the guys at the Funny Farm have realised that I have
managed to escape without their knowledge... AGAIN.
my video covering the Eyre Hwy on You Tube, I seem to recall
having been critical of the road into the Eucla complex. It
was horrible, pot holes that had been there for as long as I
could remember, and that despite it being sealed. Maybe Covid
has had a positive effect on some of these places, and allowed
maintenance to be performed. The road in is now in excellent
pulled into Eucla, had the place pretty much to myself, and
filled the Cruiser tanks to chokka. There are two areas for
fuel at Eucla, one is diesel, and the petrol pumps are by the
office. Ignoring the sign that said pay for your fuel before
moving the vehicle, because it is an awkward entry to the diesel
pump, I shifted the car for someone waiting behind me. I grabbed
the 10ltr can than I use for unleaded for the generator, filled
it, and paid the amount owing. I was hoping that I might be
able to get some Panadol, having run out and with a narky tooth
that needed some relief, but a quick look in the store proved
to Border Village. There is a quarantine facility and checkpoint
here for all vehicles entering Western Australia. The transporting
of certain plants, fruits and vegetables and honey for example,
across the border is not on, and if you haven't consumed it,
they confiscate it. Travelling east, the checkpoint is at Ceduna,
which puzzles me. There is a lot of country and tourist spots
between the border and Ceduna. I recall the WA facility was
once upon a time stationed just outside Norseman. That was back
in the 70s.
was at the border that the good road ended. The South Australian
side is in need of tidying up. The relative smoothness was gone,
and the effect of heavy transport is clearly evident.
parked the van, did my upload, made a couple of phone calls,
and then prepared to leave. As I drove around the car park,
a lady alerted me to the fact that I had left the step behind.
That's not the first time THAT had happened. I went back, grabbed
the step, and found that I had also NOT shut the door.
stopped for lunch at the same spot I had a couple of years ago.
It was really the first view you get of the Ocean travelling
east, and looks back along the Eucla coast. It was too early
to think about camping, but a bit further on, I found a rest
area with a track leading down toward the ocean. Rather than
risk it (I have been caught unable to turn the van in the past)
and many of the tracks in the area having been decommissioned,
I took a stroll down to the edge. There was room, and there
was a drop straight into the ocean, but having seen images of
expanding sink holes on the news, I figured that it would be
just my luck, and abandoned the plan to set up camp at that
so I reached what looked like an ideal spot to pull in for the
night, plenty of camping sites, well spaced in amongst the small
trees, chose my patch of dirt, and dragged the genny out to
charge the batteries. I opened the boot of the caravan to grab
the 10 litre container of unleaded, WHICH WAS STILL SITTING
OUTSIDE THE DOOR OF THE OFFICE AT EUCLA. Enuff said
I have a 20 litre container firmly attached to the caravan which
came to the rescue.
is that term of endearment my eldest son uses
Silly Old Bastard.
night, I had the rest area to myself. There are plenty along
the Eyre Hwy to choose from. They seem to crop up on a regular
basis. I was initially surprised, but when I think about it,
there is not a lot of caravan traffic, certainly when you compare
it to what you would expect to see in the Northern Territory
and the North West. But then, I wonder what the numbers are
up there at the moment as well. Tonight, I've got myself a spot
in a rest area about halfway between Yalata and Nundroo, and
at 5.10pm, I'm on my own. When I stepped outside the van this
morning, it appeared that we had had a smattering of rain. Today,
the skies were clear, and it was a gorgeous day for travelling.
had given thought to whether it was worth trying to recover
the jerry can. It had about $16 fuel in it, it was metal (and
therefore not cheap to replace), but I was 90 kms down the road,
and had run out of signal some time ago. Was it worth heading
back along the road to where I could phone back and see whether
it was still there, and if it was, was it worth the 200km round
journey and the $60-70 fuel it would cost to do the pickup.
I chose to take the loss and give myself a good talking to.
been a quiet day on the road, I've managed to get through it
without a major stuff up
so far at least. But, it being so
quiet, there was an occurrence that has puzzled me somewhat.
There is a hundred kms in front of me, and the same behind me,
and there are no other major roads in the area. Because it's
so flat, the UHF signal carries uninterrupted for long distances.
So when as clear as a bell, the discourse between a New Age
Caravanner and a truck driver broke the silence, I immediately
started looking for the truck and the van. Were they behind
me or approaching me? I'm only travelling at 75-79 kph, so they
were going to catch me fairly quickly if bringing up the rear,
and of course they would be on me in no time if approaching.
Never saw either of them ... Of course, they could have been
travelling in the same direction and ahead of me, which would
be the obvious answer.
had been contemplating whether to go into Koonalda. I was last
there in 2010, and my video covering that visit is on my You
Tube channel. I doubted that much had changed since then and
in my experience, you are often disappointed when you visit
somewhere or attend a concert for the second time, because the
element of surprise is no longer there. Also, now that I had
10 litres less generator power, that suggested that I give it
a miss as well.
came and went. I checked the fuel price
$1.92 diesel... yep
still the dearest. I stopped long enough to use the available
mobile signal to upload my daily report and photos, and make
a couple of phone calls. The turnoff to the Head Of The Bight
had traffic flowing in and out. They used to have a tally on
the gate advising how many whales were currently taking harbour
that no longer happens from what I can see. I feel that I
would be getting first hand reports before going in if observing
whales is your desire. There is an Indigenous Culture Centre
that I believe is worth having a look at, but an entry fee is
required, and I for one would like to know that the big mammals
were home if I came calling. It is 11 kms from the main road
to the Bight.
I was lucky to spend some time observing the whales with my
Mum back in 2007. Fond memories.
at 6.30pm, I notice that an RV has parked up on the large bitumen
area at the front of this rest area. A busy night ahead
and F1 qualifying. I have been questioned on occasion by people
as to why I don't leave the media and home comforts behind when
I'm on holiday. The difference is, that they leave home to
go on holiday, I take my home with me. It doesn't matter where
I am in Australia, I am always at home.
did a quick clean up of the van when I got up, even attacked
the dishes. Because it's been over a week since I left Albany,
I was running low on water, so rather than do the dishes after
every meal, it was stack them in the sink whilst travelling,
and do them once a day. I was due to pass through the Ceduna
quarantine point today, and so figured that I would look at
least a bit domesticated.
got away from my camp spot at 10am. There had been some fairly
consistent truck traffic passing by during the night, and I
think a couple even pulled in for a rest. Didn't worry me, I
was parked back a bit, but the RV sitting on the sealed piece
of the rest area would have had a few passing close by his door.
had about 190kms to get to Ceduna, where the plan was to hit
the Airport Caravan Park, and get some jobs done and reset for
the next part of the trip. There are three caravan parks in
Ceduna as I recall. The one in town is right beside the water,
and it is usually packed like a sardine can. The Airport is
the least popular. It is a basic park, basic facilities (all
that you need amenities block, laundry) and costs just $25
per night. I have stayed here a number of times, and although
it is a large area, there are only about half a dozen vans parked
up. Brett and I hired a cabin back in 2015, and that was $70,
just supply your own bedding. We were camping, so that was no
had left the flat featureless Nullarbor section behind, and
was now travelling in wooded undulating country. There appeared
to be more caravans today, and even a number of trucks. Thinking
about it, the vehicle population was fairly even caravans, trucks,
and a smaller percentage of solo cars, and has been for much
of this section of the trip.
loomed, and the fuel price was 144.9, compared to $1.92 back
at Nullarbor, which was a mere 142km behind us. There is absolutely
no excuse why it should be (and has been historically) the dearest
fuel on the highway. (Fuel was 144.9 in Ceduna as well, a further
155 km along the track - even more reason to condemn Nullarbor
for it's pricing).
noticed (a little late) an old building ruins in the distance,
so I pulled over, grabbed the camera, zoomed up and took a shot.
The property is called Pintumba. As you get into the farming
lands in SA, it's difficult not to notice that there appears
to a general lack of trees it's as though they have been completely
cleared over the past couple of hundred years. Because of a
lack of suitable building timber in the state, many of it's
buildings were constructed of stone and rock. With the push
towards improving our carbon figure (whatever that means), one
wonders why the Government or concerned conservation groups,
don't push to legislate that every hectare has to have a percentage
of coverage. The authorities could even help the cause by supplying
the trees for the farmers to plant. It will never happen of
is known for the number of windmills that populate the paddocks
to the south as you leave town. But over the years, they have
dwindled in number as they either broke down or were replaced
by solar powered units. The town, not to lose this heritage,
decided to set up a windmill museum. I filmed it back in 2019.
It even features a giant Comet windmill that was found near
Kingaroy in Queensland, and was brought back for restoration.
rolled into the Ceduna check point, and was relieved of the
few potatoes that had survived my cooking spree. I was allowed
to keep the carrots I'd taken the tops off this morning
it appears they don't want anything that can be planted.
pulled into the caravan park just as the Eagles game was starting.
I was looking forward to trying out the SA App, but should have
done my homework before I got here. I've downloaded all the
apps for all the states that I need to, but wasn't prepared
for the heap of paperwork that presented itself when I opened
the app. I turned to the visitor list on the desk instead. It
turns out that I made an incorrect selection when I had time
to sit down and study the app in solitude. We'll have another
had hoped when I committed to replacing the steering box, that
the $900 cost would be justified. In fact, add to that the $1000
spent replacing an alternator and Air Con Condenser. I have
to report that after completing the first 1930 kms of the trip,
that the Cruiser has been very comfortable and stable compared
to before the work was completed. Now, I have a leak to chase
up in the roof of the van. I just hope I can find someone who
can have a look at it for me.
are apparently expecting high winds and rain later today, and
so I decided to put out my awning, set up my clothes line, and
do my washing before it all happens. It's a beautiful sunny
day as I write this at 1.15pm, but the wind has been steadily
picking up, and the radar shows rain coming across the bight.
So I'm glad I got that all out of the way. Awning safely rolled
I rang a couple of plumbers and left messages, and as I expected,
nothing back at the moment. Probably (maybe) get a call tonight
when reviewing their days messages. I rang a third one, but
when he said leave a message, or if urgent, ring his satellite
phone, I figured that I was not going to get far with that one.
I jumped onto YouTube to see if I could find a way to prime
the water pump in the van. I spent an hour or so chasing every
don't think I had much success.
so, I did what every girl does when she's frustrated, I went
shopping LOL. Food shopping. Ceduna has a Foodland store you
may remember we had them in WA once upon a time. It was time
to test what I had learned about using the SA App, and on first
presentation, of course I had to put in name and phone number.
And so I guess that it's easy from here on in. I don't shop
IGA very often, and I am familiar with my Woolies pricing back
in Albany, so when you see the pricing of familiar items in
IGA or in this case Foodland stores, you immediately decide
to just get what is absolutely necessary, although back-up stock
is deemed as necessary of course. I quite often buy packet soups,
and one of my favourites is Creamy Potato and Bacon with Croutons,
but I haven't seen that on the shelves for yonks back home,
and so assumed that it had been withdrawn from the catalogue.
So imagine my delight in finding a shelf full of them here
necessary stock and backup for sure. Despite the above, I still
got through the checkout for $80. That's well under budget.
According to the docket, by buying the specials, I saved $11.99
on our already low prices.
van is picking up rocking pace. Now need to get a gas refill,
see if I can get a jerry can replacement cheapish, and apart
from that leak worry, I am about ready to rock'n'roll.
just had a snooze, and wow, the storm certainly came through.
One gust at 76 kph. They predicted it.
before that, I went looking for gas and a jerry can, so called
into the local Dogalogue Store and I feel had a win
refill, JC $24.95 not a metal one, but back in business for
all that. I asked about whether they could put me on to anyone
else who could possibly help re the leak, and the answer was
just a plumber if you could get one. There is a caravan repair
place at Port Lincoln, but I'm not planning on going that way.
I want to have a look at the Gawler Ranges. And I have sussed
out fuel at $1.34 at the local Auto Pro
10c saving is a good
reason to consider it.
now, I'm just chilling listening to Joe Cocker. Loved him live
(3 times) and have a pretty sizeable collection of his recordings.
and still the van is rocking and the showers keep coming. It's
nice and cosy in here
I'm making good use of the A/C while
I ain't going anywhere. It's been a wild night, with more to
come it seems. They are predicting up to 100 kph gusts, and
even it it stays around the 70-80 kph already recorded, I don't
think I want to try and keep a 3.2 tonne house on wheels on
the road with those side winds. And so, book in for another
night ... at least.
Things have settled here as the day has gone on. The Severe
Weather warning has been lifted, and the Strong Wind Warning
for the Far West Coast has also been lifted for tomorrow. So
all being well, I shall be back on the road tomorrow.
night, as I was about to get into bed, the dreaded Plop plop
plop in the shower recess was back. An investigation and easing
the surround of the roof hatch resulted in me getting a heap
of water pouring down my arm. I figured that the water was obviously
getting in somewhere, and then pooling in the roof ... not good.
So I grabbed something to lever it open with to ensure that
any water that did get in, would then run straight through,
thus hopefully minimising the problem. There is a repair facility
at Port Augusta, where hopefully I can get the problem rectified.
But that is still a few days away.
here and there, it is on the bucket list to have a look at the
Gawler Range. The plan is to camp up at Minnipa for a couple
of days and do a day trip. We'll see what happens.
a glorious day compered to the last couple, and it was business
from the start. A shower, breakfast, dishes, get the van ready
to roll, and then down to the servo to get my cheap fuel. It
sits outside an Auto Pro store, but they only host the site.
It is a 24 hour card operated site, and for once, is enticing
the motorist with a genuine discount of 11c cheaper than the
full on company fuel outlets. Too often, these 24hr sites are
not much cheaper. Normally, I would fill the diesel tanks, grab
the unleaded I wanted and pay at the register, but today, you
pay up front for the diesel pump, and then again separately
for the petrol pump. Safe to say, rather than dragging it in
and out of wallet, I just shoved the card in my pocket as I
dealt with topping up my containers. (you can see where this
going, can't you?)
Back to the caravan park, hooked up, and it was time to go.
REX flew in overhead as I dealt with the dump point (we are
right next door to the airport, hence the caravan park name)
and then we were on our way.
was my first port of call. I first saw Wirrulla in 2003 when
doing a bus tour I was invited on with a school. We had come
down through Lake Gairdner, via Kingoonya, and what I recalled
that tickled my fancy, was that there was a dunny called the
Thunda Box (the name has now been removed, but the dunny remains),
and there was a Jetty, that doubled as the first tee of the
golf course. The sign telling the story and reason for the jetty
remains, but the writing looks as though it has been whitened
out. Essentially, in promoting the town many years ago, the
locals reckoned that the only difference between Wirrulla and
Streaky Bay was, that the latter had a jetty. And so, the locals
built one. It doesn't appear to be the golf tee any longer.
called into the deli, just to have a sneaky look, and spied
in the pie warmer, a Cornish Pastie. Now I have a weakness for
these things, but I had to ask where it came from. There is
a place on the Yorke Peninsula, and I think it is Moonta, and
it is called Little Cornwall, and they are known for their
Cornish Pasties. But this came from the Wudinna Bakery. I tossed
up about whether or not I should have it as an early lunch,
and figured that it probably wasn't a good idea. Damn, it tasted
soooo good LOL. I dragged my wallet out to pay for it, and
no credit card. Bugger, I had another card to cover, and I wandered
back to the car, opened the drivers door, and there it was sitting
beside the door
it had worked its way out of my pocket. Another
bullet dodged. I wandered the street, took photos, and once
again, time to hit the road.
is where I joined the highway in 2019, when I took the wrong
road from Streaky Bay. That day, the wind was blowing across
the road and the resulting dust storms made driving hazardous.
Today, no such problem. However, the road house that was busy
the day I went through back then, is now boarded up. The town
itself was in a sorry state back then, and is no better today.
was my destination, and I rolled into town looking for the caravan
park. There isn't one. I felt sure that there was one mentioned
when checking this stuff online, but as there is no internet
at all through this part of the trip, I was unable to go back
and check. The idea was to park up for a couple of nights, and
go and tour through the Gawler Range. There are a couple of
freecamp areas in the town, but as I use a generator, I was
reluctant to camp near other people. And so I took a run back
along the road and found a spot that will suit me for the night.
I had picked up a tourist brochure from the deli in Minnipa,
and on reading it, you have to pay a fee to get into the Gawler
Range National Park. I knew that was on the cards, and so I
have my money ready
you have to pay for it ONLINE
and there is no internet. I feel a rant coming on
Government Depts insist that we have to do all this stuff online,
when half the bloody country doesn't have the infrastructure
to support it. Settle down there boy-o. And so, I will have
a look at the local rocks around Minnipa tomorrow, and then
move on to Wudinna, where I can get the net (apparently) and
they have a caravan park, and I will do the Gawler Range thing
from there. I will I tell you
wouldn't bloody believe it. This morning I woke up to a phone
full of messages. And in town I had internet. The locals told
me it was dodgy out here. They weren't wrong.
I had decided that I would tackle the Gawler Range from Wudinna.
And so that meant doing some exploring around Minnipa first.
They have a little tourist drive that highlights two features.
The first was Tcharkuldu Hill, which in reality is a rock, something
like you find plenty of along the Holland Track or at Burra
Rock in WA. There is an old stone hut that was built for the
surveyors and workers who built the stone retaining walls around
the base of the rock and the dam or tank that it fed. It was
also home to a well loved Aboriginal couple called Tom and Milly
at one point in time. There is a campground, table and shelter
and a toilet.
was Pildappa Rock. When someone tells you that something is
better than sliced bread, or easily as good, they need to back
it up. So the tourism blurb on this rock immediately makes you
say oh yeah?. Pildappa is a spectacular sight - a rock with
the highest and longest wave formations on the Eyre Peninsula,
rivalling those of Western Australia's famous Wave Rock. Well,
I guess it works, because we all naturally troop out to agree
or disagree, but at least get you talking about it, which in
itself drags more tourists to the town, which it needs. These
towns are struggling. I'll let you decide from the photos.
was now on to Wudinna pronounced Wood-nah we are told. I eventually
found the Tourist Information Centre which was placed ideally
on the Eyre Hwy, NOT in town where this clown was looking for
it, bought my pass to the Gawler Range National Park, and got
some tips on where to leave the van for the day. Nothing much
else to do, but have a gander at the Wudinna Tourist Trail.
Polda Dam is another of those Burra Dam type structures, so
that didn't interest me too much, but what I was here for was
to take in the second largest Monolith in Australia yep, second
only to Uluru the blurb said. Sadly, Mount Augustus is a a Monocline,
so WA can't claim it, but it out monsters these two. But was
the reference to Uluru in this case, stating a geological fact,
or sucking you into going out and having a look at what is really
just another hill (IMHO .. maybe not so humble)? It's a bloody
big piece of rock, I'll grant you that, but to the unaware driving
past, just another hill. Again, I'll let you judge from the
pictures. The blurb did it's job, it sucked me in, I went and
had a look, and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon's drive. But I
was here to see the Gawler Ranges, that happens tomorrow.
Tonight I found a spot 4kms out of town to make as much noise
with my genny as I wanted.
was up early, made sandwiches, packed up, and headed into town
to drop the van off. I wasn't sure how many kms I would cover
today, so topped up the main fuel tank and headed for the hills.
I hit the border of the Gawler Range National Park, and the
good road which is maintained by Wudinna ended, and the rough
corrugated road started, and then straight into a wet, slushy,
muddy road that suggested that I should put the hubs in just
in case. The Park have only just re-opened some of their roads
a couple of days ago after heavy rains.
passed Mount Allalone, (so named because it stands All Alone
apparently), and the road improved. As you enter the business
part of the park, the road runs around past the administrative
and accommodation buildings for the staff, before you arrive
at the Shearing Shed and Shearers Quarters. The shed last saw
service in 2000. It was a 6 stand shed in it's day. I managed
to wander through the kitchen, quarters and mess room doing
a bit of filming, before hitting the road again. I had chosen
to do the outer loop. This was a 4WD only designated road, and
so I was expecting a roughish track... It wasn't, it was a good
road for what was described.
The Kolay Hut and campground came and went, before I arrived
at the Pondanna Outstation. I found my way into the house, hit
a light switch and was surprised when a light came on. That
was handy, lighting up the rooms for photography in my case.
There must be a portable light source of some sort out there.
It was an ideal place to sit quietly (outside) and eat my lunch.
The Ranges are predominately flat grasslands surrounded by the
hills, and to sit and enjoy the view and silence was lovely.
I had spoken to a couple who had told me that they had enjoyed
driving over the top of the hill and were enamoured by the views.
For the first time, the road was starting to climb, and become
more of what I had been expecting track wise. And then I was
on top of Conical Hill, and the view was as promised. The descent
was a real rocky track, stopping only to photograph a couple
of kangaroos, who after scampering across the road and up the
hill stopped and continued to graze, whilst keeping an eye on
what I was doing.
I had been urged to go and see the Organ Pipes. And so a 10km
drive in over a really rough road was endured. A thought came
the road while just a dirt base wasn't bad, but they
had decided to put a layer of road metal on top, and it was
this that formed the corrugations where there was no metal,
far less corrugation. They really need to drag a couple of old
tractor tubes over the road to smooth things out a bit. It apparently
The car park was reached, and a walking track stretched into
the distance through the bush to these Organ Pipes.
Let's reflect for a minute on the quality of the park and its
presentation. The roads were great, well above the expectation
considering many were labelled 4wd only. The signage was excellent,
and the presentation of the points of interest could not be
faulted. However, when you reach a car park, and are then expected
to walk to the desired site, it wouldn't be too much to ask,
to include on the direction sign, the distance to be walked/climbed/stumbled
to the attraction. Not once was there a walking distance included
on any of the hiking/walking signs. Now, I am bloody unfit,
and have only just started this walking thing on this trip,
so am nowhere near match fit as yet, and I had been walking
all over the place today, and I know my limitations. If I had
known how far it was to get to the Organ Pipes, I would probably
have decided not to attempt the walk. I stupidly left my hiking
stick behind, and so was in danger of stumbling or falling (my
fault), but it was the end of the day, and I was the last one
in there, and the track in just didn't seem to end. Finally,
I think I got the photo (I need to check it against someone
elses), because I'm not sure whether I actually got there, and
then I had to return to the car. Now, I made it, but it could
have been someone else, and it could have ended in tears, all
because there was no distance provided for the hiker to make
a decision. You start and you keep going, and it seems to keep
getting further away, and then you have to return. It's not
thought on National Parks, and I have been going on about this
for years. Why should these attractions only be available for
the able bodied, relatively fit members of the community, and
denied to those who are not able bodied and confined to wheelchairs
for example. In this particular Park, there was only one path
to a lookout that would accommodate a wheelchair. I believe
that ALL National Parks should have pathways suitable for wheelchair
overall thoughts on Gawler Range National Park. The day wasn't
long enough. I ran out of time. It is a beautiful park, beautifully
presented, the roads are well maintained. I had a wonderful
time. Just stick some distances on those walking tracks.
kangaroos were out in force as I returned to Wudinna. Grey,
with a red neck and white front
is that what they really look
picked the van up from the RV park, fuelled up, and am tonight
back where I was last night. Last night, no signal, nothing,
again waking up to a phone full of messages. Tonight, I've made
a number of phone calls and uploaded some stuff to FB. It is
what it is I guess. So these reports will come through, eventually,
maybe, if we are lucky
or unlucky LOL
DAYS SIXTEEN & SEVENTEEN
was a travel day. I have been contemplating how do I work it
so that I arrive in Port Augusta on Tuesday, hoping to get this
leak in the roof fixed. I had tons of time to get there yesterday,
but it being a long weekend over here, and being ahead of schedule,
means that I am also getting a bit ahead of my bank account.
And so it was get close-ish, and camp up for two or three nights,
preferably with signal. I found a rest area right behind the
Iron Knob mine, with full phone and internet, which has proved
Kimba was the only major centre to pass through, and for the
first time ever, I stopped at the big Parrot, which doubles
as the bakery, and I grabbed (yet another) cornish pastie (from
the Tumby Bay Bakery) and I could not resist the carrot cake.
It has nothing to do with diet, and everything to do with supporting
local business... yeah, right LOL
of local business, these towns have been dying for years, and
much of it I believe has to do with the main highway bypassing
the town centres, and the pandemic certainly hasn't helped,
but I was surprised when the roadhouse at Poochera, which was
operating two years ago, and is on the highway, was closed and
night I set up the desktop computer, and caught up with my social
media stuff. Thank you to everyone for reading, commenting and
supporting my efforts.
today, I woke up to find that I had successfully recorded my
Indycar race, so watched that, before settling down to do some
serious editing putting my Gawler Range National Park video
footage together. I run the camera in the car almost full time,
but most of it is my audio/visual diary, which I break into
when I feel I have something interesting to share.
Eagles Richmond, what a heart stopper. But why oh why, when
we have won four premierships singing the old version of the
song, do we feel that we have to have a new version, which has
none of the gusto of the old song, but sounds like an insipid
apology for winning. Can you imagine any of the old traditional
clubs allowing their songs to be mangled like this. Traditions
have to start somewhere, and when you have been fortunate enough
to establish a tradition, why in God's name would you walk away
I was going to move closer to Port Augusta tomorrow and sneak
into town on Tuesday morning. But I just might hang around until
Tuesday morning and ring first and make an appointment with
the caravan repair mob
then again, I might not
DAYS EIGHTEEN AND NINETEEN
I had started editing the Gawler Range video yesterday, so after
having a look at the second Indycar race I completed the basic
edit and colour correction, and decided to move closer to Port
Augusta. I wanted to get to the Caravan Repair place as soon
as I could on Tuesday, and so I packed up, did a quick tour
around Iron Knob (again). Nothing has changed in a thousand
years there. BHP Pegged the first mining lease there in 1897.
The iron ore from here proved to be of such a high quality,
that it led to the development of the Australian Steel Industry.
21% of the steel required for the construction of the Sydney
Harbour Bridge was quarried at Iron Knob and smelted at Port
Kembla, New South Wales. The remaining 79% was imported from
moved on. I passed a gateway with a red flag on it. This normally
indicates a gun club is in residence and firing is taking place.
But I passed another three such gates and flags after that,
and I am no wiser. I did find that where work is being carried
out on some railway infrastructure, a red flag needs to be installed
until the work is complete. So, is there work being done on
a Railway link between Iron Knob and Whyalla? But that link
runs in different direction
Curiosity killed the cat, and
I ain't that curious LOL.
arrived at Lincoln Gap (where the Eyre Hwy meets the Lincoln
Hwy) and settled into a rest area there for the night.
I was awake at 6.45am, and after sussing out where the caravan
repair facility was in relation to me (30kms away) last night,
I had decided to leave for town at about 8.15am. I made a coffee,
decided that instead, I would leave just after 7am, grab a bite
to eat at Macca's for breakfast for a change, and finally rolled
into the repair shop at 8.50am. Their opening time was 9 o'clock,
but I was attended to immediately. It didn't take long to establish
that rust was involved. Rob was the operator, and as he scraped
at the rust, it became a hole, and then a bigger hole. We could
patch it, but replacement was the obvious answer eventually.
Why not now? He disappeared, and came back with a hatch earmarked
for an insurance customer, who is still waiting, because I've
got his firmly attached to the roof of the van. A look at the
water pump, and 5 minutes later, the best pressure I've ever
had from the pump system. This pump has been like this since
it was put in at Katherine two years ago. It was supposed to
have been looked at last year when the van was last checked
for seal upkeep and other maintenance, but wasn't. Thanks Rob
and Port Augusta Caravan and Trailer Repairs. Great service.
did my food shopping, and rang my friends in Angaston, and arranged
to do a 600km detour to catch up with them. People who have
watched my 2007 Great Central Road video on You Tube will remember
that we found a cross in the bush near the road. I followed
up and found that Kevin's Mum had passed away with a heart attack
at that spot a number of years ago. I sent him the footage I
had taken, and a friendship ensued. Mum and I stayed with them
in 2008, and I again visited subsequently a few years later.
Kevin had an amazing collection of old fuel company signs, oil
bottles and other memorabilia, which he subsequently had to
sell when he sold up and moved into town. They have had the
tragedy of losing both of their sons in unfortunate circumstances.
These days, he is suffering from Alzheimers, and I feel that
I need to catch up with them again.
I am sitting in rest area south of Crystal Brook, there is train
line right beside me, wires overhead, the wind has sprung up,
it's trying to rain, and the wires are singing with the breeze
running through them, and the van is rocking. I pulled up, initially
unaware that the railway was right there, when a train ran past.
It wasn't more than a few minutes later when another went past
the other way
it's only one track. Obviously, there is a loop
line not far away.
feel that it has been a successful day. If it rains tonight,
we'll soon find out.
thunder. Could be a fun night.
DAYS TWENTY TO TWENTY THREE
I'm losing track of time. It wasn't a fun night as it turns
out. After that initial weather attack, the night went all calm
and boring. I was heading for Angaston, and I wasn't in a hurry,
but with only 197 kms to go, I took alternative routes to see
what I could see. I wasn't expected until tomorrow, so I rang
ahead and said that I would arrive somewhere between 2 and 3
today. There are many older and decaying old buildings littering
South Australia, and I went into photgrapher mode to capture
what I could. Often, you were on them before you saw them, and
so exercise was thrust upon me as I trudged back up the road
to take the shots.
I arrived at the Linke residence not long after 2 o'clock. Liz
and I sat and spent a few hours recounting trips we had done
and in what parts of the country. Many of her experiences were
in the 60's to 90's, and the country and access has changed
markedly in that time.
We plan to go to the nursing home tomorrow to catch up with
Kevin. It had been a good day.
The weather was quite ordinary. I spent a bit of time wandering
the Angaston main street, before the nasty weather set in and
made visiting Kevin a non event. Again, a day talking and watching
some of our videos. I'm due to leave earlyish tomorrow, but
visiting Kevin is a priority. Hopefully the weather will be
kind to us.
We had over an inch (25mm) of rain last night, but this morning
was kinder to us. It was great to see Kevin again it's been
about 8 years but I think he had a struggle remembering who
I was. This is an insidious disease, people can look really
well, but they look at you, or it may be through you, and even
if you speak to them, all you get back is a blank look. Or alternatively,
they may be standing at the door, eager to get out to rejoin
their partner, but then unless chaperoned closely, are more
than likely to wander off and find themselves in trouble.
eventually left the Linke residence around 12.30, fueled up,
and asked Google to take me to Broken Hill. She came up with
three alternatives, and I had a good look before choosing a
route I knew I hadn't done before. Straight away, we are on
a dirt road
now that wasn't on the agenda, but it turns out
that it was only a connecting road across country to Truro on
the main highway, which I have to contend with until near Renmark.
Trucks, trucks and more bloody trucks. What ever happened to
railways? A rest area, and it was on top of a huge hill I
could see for miles, then it was the descent, totally open and
brakes on all the way down.
notice telling me that fruit and veges are definitely NOT to
be carried into the Riverland. The collection bins are situated
in a 24 hr rest area, and although signal is dodgy, it was the
perfect place for me to set up camp for the weekend and save
some money while the Supercars, F1 and Indycar will cover the
entertainment aspect of things.
A walk back to the bedroom, and there is water all over the
and the bed is wet in places. Where on earth has that
come from? I stripped the bed, dried the floor as best I could,
turned on the air con to get the heat happening in an attempt
to dry things out. The storm that came through Angaston had
been a beauty, the roof hatches were closed, but had it found
a way to infiltrate the van? Another pool had formed on the
floor. Overnight, I kept mopping up this pool of water, trying
to work out just where it is coming in. This is a worry.
turned the mattress around (been going to do that for months),
and remade the bed the a/c treatment had worked. What will
I find in the morning?
Bugger, that pool of water is back. All I could do was keep
mopping up surplus water until it subsided. Is this water that
has accumulated in the roof from the previous Shower hatch leakage,
is there another leak up there that has now developed, or did
that storm do the damage? We had been through much worse than
that in Albany before I left. It looks like there is seepage
through the wall at floor level, is there a stream running down
the inside of the wall? All I can do is keep a close watch on
what happens from now on. There is certainly going to be more
wet weather before I return home. Finally, midday, and the floor
appears to be dry no more pool developing. I'm here for another
couple of nights, let's see what happens when we start moving
again on Monday and stir things up again.
What? 6pm, and the water is back. I heated the hot water system?
Is it that? The hot water system is under the bed, so I pulled
a couple of boxes out (I've had the system spring a leak twice
in the past, and so everything is kept in plastic boxes these
days in an effort to keep everything dry) and I can see no leaks
from the system. There has been no rain at all today. This has
me stumped at this stage. And there is no signal where I am
camped, so Mr Google is of no use to me.
then, as if by magic, good strong internet at 9pm, (not strong
enough to upload my Gawler Ranges NP video though you'll have
to wait for that).
DAY TWENTY FOUR
I think I've nailed it. I've tried all different combinations
of taps and settings, all good. And then I turned on the gas
heater switch, and within a couple of minutes, a pool of water.
I dried that up, and then had a shower
. so it looks
like I have sprung a leak in the HWS heater unit. The van is
12 years old, has done a lot of miles, but has also spent some
time sitting idle, even though I have been living in it. I had
the water pump looked at in Port Augusta, and I have never had
so much pressure, so maybe that has tested the system somewhat.
another worry. When we replaced the engine, we also replaced
the clutch, and that was only 27,000 kms ago. I have had a couple
of occasions over the past couple of days, where it has started
to slip, and that is a worry. I can deal with the smaller (albeit
annoying) hassles, the bigger, potentially more expensive ones
I can do without.
checked out the map, and found that the route that I had planned
into NSW was a dirt road. Plan B was to go through Mildura,
which is in Victoria. And so, a search for a permit to enter
was searched for, applied for, and granted. That was easy. Now,
I had to do the NSW one. I already had the OK from SA, but Victoria
was a different matter. It won't accept an application outside
of a 24 hr intended entry, obviously because of the changing
situation in Victoria), and not being too sure when the border
cross will be made will be made, that means re-apply much closer
to the time.
have a camper near me. I explained to them that I had been here
a couple of nights already, and was running a generator, and
that as I was watching motor racing would be running it into
the night. He was cool with that, and from my point of view,
I had given him an opportunity to move further away. As it was,
it ran dry about 8.45pm, and rather than start it up again,
I set the inverter to run the 240v system so that I could record
the racing (which started at 11.30pm over here) and decided
on a early night.
DAY TWENTY FIVE
11.20am ...That proved to be a chilly night. I jumped out of
bed (eventually), refuelled the genny and turned on the air
con it read 1°. Well, if I'm going to sit in a fridge
and watch last nights Indycar race, I'm going to do it in some
sort of comfort. I also needed to pump the batteries back up.
Now I haven't watched the F1 race yet, but it needs to be good
if it is going to match the racing and entertainment provided
by the Indycar circus. Maybe I'll watch that tonight.
check on Facebook, and it looks like Albany has been blown away
again. I can't leave the town for 5 minutes and you all get
up to mischief. Now I'm no scientist, but these wild weather
patterns make you wonder. You get a great season in some areas
that have been in drought, and they say that this is the way
it used to be back in the fifties and beyond. Now if the wet
weather is due to climate change, does that mean that when
it was like this all the time, was climate change at fault then.
I did the Birdsville Track in 2010, and we were inundated, and
it hadn't been like that for forever. It was supposedly a 1
in 100 year event, but Lake Eyre has been flooded on numerous
occasions since then. Or has there been a pattern over the centuries
of the weather running through cycles that are beyond our ability
to detail, because it is so far outside our date line. I guess
if I put in the time to read and study these things I would
be far better informed. But then I would have nothing to wonder
about, and thus write about. I told you I write rubbish, but
you keep coming back for more it seems LOL. I obviously have
too much time on my hands.
did some paperwork stuff, had a bite to eat, and decided that
it was time to hit the road again. I was not far from a place
called Blanchetown, which is actually off the main road another
bloody bypass. I missed the turn off, but no far down the road
there was a another, which took me into a lookout on the old
road bridge. It was an ideal place to turn around and head back
into the town. A quick look, and I was back on the road, heading
for Waikerie. Again, the town is situated in off the main road,
but I successfully negotiated that turn off. Another cruise
around town including a full 360 around a roundabout until I
found the correct exit fortunately not much traffic. I found
time to stop and take some photos of silo art and a bit later,
some looks up and down the river.
watched the F1 race, hmm, different race to the Indycar race,
but intriguing in a different way. It was a strategy race
who knows what was happening down the back of the field, they
don't show us much of that whilst the Indycar race was an
outright dogfight, with the cameras trying to follow the scraps
taking place all around the track.
the news from home. Wow, Albany certainly took a hammering.
It's not the first time this year, there have been high winds
and lots of rain in the past three months. Is it these previous
batterings, which left the trees and sodden ground unable to
resist this storm.
I have found a spot beside the road near Kingston on Murray,
where I can sleep to the dulcet tones of triples and doubles
belting past a mere 15m away. Nothing like it.
DAY TWENTY SIX
Kingston on Murray is a quiet little village, nestled on the
edge of the river, and surrounded by vineyards. You can hire
a houseboat if you want to do something different. The town
is serviced by a General store/post office with fuel pumps.
I could see myself basing myself out of this place. It's delightful.
However, I was thankful for the GPS/map on my dashboard, because
there was absolutely no signage to tell you how to get out of
maybe a ploy to increase the population by capture
by stealth. I also had the thought that this town is probably
one that is happy that the main highway bypasses them.
photo point appeared, another bridge over the Murray River from
which to capture the surrounding waterscape and environs. There
was an air sock on the bridge, but unlike the road on the Nullarbor,
where you could land a plane on the RFDS emergency strips, this
was to indicate cross winds as you crossed the bridge. There
are a thousand trucks a minute using this road, and they are
high and long, and it would be like towing a tall brick wall
through a stiff cross breeze. That's what it feels like towing
a van across these bridges and open plain spaces
I mentioned the long descent down an open road a couple of days
sits on the shore of Lake Bonney. The esplanade along the lake
is grassed, you can drive, walk or ride along the shore, there
is a yacht club, The Barmera Club looks over the water, it's
just delightful. And there are some classic architectural examples
in the main street as well. An aged persons complex, Medical
Centre (which was very busy judging by the number of cars looking
for parking), schools, and further along the lake edge, some
dwellings that remind you a bit of the holiday shacks in Mandurah
(for those of you who can think back that far). What the value
of those places must be when you think of their location.
I or would I not have a look at Monash? It looked like just
a couple of streets beside the Highway, and that was basically
what it was. A corner store, a small shop which looked like
a hair salon, a church, a primary/pre school, The Monash Club,
a small chocolate factory (Chocolates and More), a hall, and
surrounded by vineyards, and that was basically it. As you probably
guessed, I had a quick look.
was approaching Renmark, and decided to stop and have a cuppa
before I got there. I had been on the road for a couple of hours,
and it was time. When I left my camp spot from last night, I
noticed that the ground under the HWS was wet. I had been checking
a few things out, but touching nothing - don't fool with what
you don't understand or know so I decided to release the pressure
valve and see what happened. It emptied the contents. Interesting
I thought. I drove on. Now, at the rest area, I walked back
to the car, and noticed a stream of water running from under
the HWS. Again, I hit the release valve, and figured that maybe
I had a bit more of an answer to my leakage problem. I pulled
into Renmark, and took advantage of a fuel station and relieved
him of some of his unleaded supplies, for my generator stock
was now depleted. I wasn't interested in running around Renmark
I had done that in 2018 when bringing my sisters car back from
Melbourne. I was heading for Mildura, and my eye caught the
Renmark Caravan Centre sign as I flashed past. A turn around,
and a request for them to have a look and see if they could
diagnose the problem. The Pressure release valve is stuffed,
and need replacing. As it turns out, they had replaced one last
week, and the replacement stock hadn't arrived. It seems that
there is a large Jayco dealer in Mildura, and so the plan is
to see if I can get it replaced there. The guy then checked
all of the HWS fittings in the van as we fiddled with taps and
gas heater, with the result that there are no leaks. It seems
that the water involved with the pressure release valve can't
escape into the van
when we replace it, and re-pressure
it, it blows back through a faulty seal, which can't be tested
until it is replaced. So still not a definitive answer, but
the puzzle is slowly being resolved
you approach and leave the Riverland district, you are required
to dump any fruit and veg that you have on board. There is a
fancy Dunlop Tyre thingo over the road, to signify that you
have reached the quarantine point, and there is a check point
as you enter South Australia. The border itself is still a few
kilometres down the road, and altho I had the map in front of
me, I must have gone to sleep, because I passed the sign saying
Welcome To Victoria just as I saw it
it was big enough, but
I was probably looking for trucks in my rear view mirror or
something. I did manage to hit the button on the video camera
in time to catch a couple of frames for a capture.
after crossing the border, the signage started, encouraging
you to take a powernap if feeling drowsy, and these signs were
relentless. All good, BUT, no rest areas provided to take advantage
of a few zzz. Instead, you get the odd scrape alongside the
road with absolutely no signage to tell you what they are, or
indeed that they are coming up. It got to the point that when
you saw the sign, you started looking for a piece of gravel,
hardly wide enough to get off the road. The truckies probably
know where they are due to the frequency of their journeys,
but the tourist is kept guessing. Victoria, so far, your rest
areas are a joke. I found one, pulled as far off the road as
I could, and hit the sack. When I woke up, I realised that I
had lost another ½ hour at the border. I was now 2 hrs
easier to calculate when calling back home than 1 ½
I hit Mildura and hopefully can get the HWS sorted. I have a
phone call scheduled from a specialist on Thursday, so need
to hang around whilst I have signal. And then the plan is to
head north to Broken Hill. The first thing I did when I climbed
out of bed this afternoon, was tune into Fox Weather, and the
news is not encouraging. I am hoping to get to Thargomindah
after hitting Cameron Corner. The road between Tibooburra and
Thargomindah passes through channel country and is predominately
dirt. Rain is not what I need, and the outlook is, that is expected.
These roads turn to a bottomless slush when soaked, and pulling
a 3.2 tonne behemoth in those conditions is not part of the
plan. If they get wet before you get there, they close them.
It's when you are in the middle and it rains that you could
be in trouble.
lies ahead? Stay tuned.
DAY TWENTY SEVEN
How things change. This morning I applied for entry into NSW,
tonight my G2G pass back to WA has been cancelled and needs
to be re-applied for when I'm ready to return.
climbed out of bed, having had probably the best nights sleep
I've had for a while, despite the trucks whizzing by just a
few feet away. I had taken a couple of Panadol as I climbed
into bed, and they had obviously done the job. Not bad for a
product described recently as little more than a placebo.
I had also resumed my normal bedtime of around midnight, which
is still only 10pm in the West.
skipped breakfast, and headed for Mildura. The sign said Food
and Fuel, but the building approaching looked like nothing more
than a roadside stall with a couple of pumps. There were three
or four trucks parked outside, and truckies don't stop at these
places for fuel. It was getting on for 10am, and so I set up
my Victorian Covid Pass, entered the shop and departed with
the best burger I have tasted in a long time. The bun, although
locally made, as with nearly all bread products these days was
crap. The coffee washed it all down beautifully. No need to
eat for the rest of the day.
rolled into Hall's Jayco Dealership in Mildura, and was informed
that not only were they fully booked for the next fifteen years,
they didn't have the part in stock. They did look around, and
found one which was secondhand supposedly... it looked pretty
new to me. It seems that a customer had decided that instead
of a gas HWS, he wanted an instantaneous system. And so the
valve was seconded and offered to me for $100, or they could
me a new one for $275. I now needed someone to fit it for me,
and they gave me Tony's phone number (0417 047 957). Remembering
the two plumbers I haven't heard from since I left messages
on their phones in Ceduna, I left a message. With 30 minutes,
he rang back, and an hour later, job done... cash only
carry cash. So whilst he was doing the job, I ducked over the
road to the convenient Aldi, bought a couple of required products,
and cashed out the necessary $90.
I needed water, and I headed for a dump point that would hopefully
have potable water available. I was told that I had reached
my destination on the left, and so I turned into what was the
Sunraysia Institute, and did a tour of the car parks and a complete
circumnavigation of the grounds before emerging back onto the
main road. In fact, the DP was hidden over the road.
filled, it was now time to fuel up and head for the hills, or
Broken Hill in this case. It was then that I remembered that
I needed to be in signal area, which meant close to town, to
have my telephone appointment tomorrow. I headed out along the
Silver City Highway when the sign indicated that the Mildura
Holden Museum was just around the corner. I'm not a Holden nut,
but a lover of cars, especially cars that you can line up along
side each other and recognise the difference. Remember that?
It was $12 to get in, and unlike many of the museums around
the country where the cars are rotated from one to the other,
this is a private museum, with just a few cars on loan. I believe
the FJ convertible coupe is a fixture.
went looking for somewhere to pull up for the night, and decided
to get off of the highway, and double back toward town by touring
around the vineyards, eventually finding a spot where I figure
(hope) I wont get rumbled.
to do a weather check, and the prognosis is not good. Rain (and
a fair bit of it) is expected through the Cameron Corner precinct
and to the north toward Thargomindah. It's looking more and
more that that town and I are never going to meet. The only
saving grace at the moment, is that I have never travelled the
Silver City Highway from Mildura to BH, let alone on to Tibooburra.
And so that could well be the plan and see what transpires.
If the roads are closed further north, then it's back to travel
over old ground covered in 2019. There is a backup plan to meet
up with my Friend Lesley and her grandson, and maybe travel
in convoy with them for a while.
I woke up this morning, the world was good-ish. Tonight I am
covid stateless it seems. One cannot predict with any certainty
what is in store for tomorrow. Isn't it exciting?
DAY TWENTY EIGHT
I had checked out how much a 10 litre metal jerrycan would cost
at Bunnings. Remember, I had left mine outside the office at
Eucla full of fuel earlier in the month. I replaced it with
a plastic version at Ceduna, and I am not getting on with it,
and so the decision to go metal again was made. I also needed
to be in a signal area to receive a phone call from my specialist
at around 11.45 local time. And so, I made my way back into
although showing on their website, Bunnings didn't have 10 litre
metal jerrycans in stock, however, they helpfully pointed me
over the road to Anaconda. Wow, $54.95, was I a member, I was
sure that I was, but I had lost my card, that's ok, we'll check
our system, nope, do you want to join our list, yes please,
$34.95 thank you
. that's the way these places work, just so
they can send you heaps of catalogue material. I don't mind
that, you can always unsubscribe, and no trees killed.
to the NSW side of the border. Oops, a police car checking on
the border bridge. I was waved past, but thought the copper
was walking behind me, so I stopped and waited, and waited
nope, wasn't interested in me it seems, so I crept off, and
so far haven't been arrested. It took nearly 4 hours for my
phone call to come through, and then, finally, I was on my way.
were a couple of little towns to pass through, were they suburbs
of Mildura, or their own little entities? It turns out that
they are part of the Wentworth Shire. I drove through Dareton
and entered Wentworth. I found a convenient parking spot outside
the local IGA, so jumped in and topped up with bread, spuds,
carrots and sweet potato (I'd had to dump anything I had passing
through quarantine zones), and finally on my way.
saw a pile of metal coming up on the side of the road, and decided
that was a good spot to park up for the night. It was about
2.45pm, but had been a long day in it's own right. I hit the
sack and slept for near on and hour and a half.
had checked out the road situation north of Tibooburra, and
around Thargomindah, and the news is not good. They are currently
flooded, with a warning not to drive through flood waters. The
obvious potential disaster, not to mention the danger of burying
the vehicle in slushy mud. It appears that more rain is coming.
DAY TWENTY NINE
I was totally confused. When we had crossed into Victoria, I
had set the clock to EST, I was in NSW (still), and my times
had been coordinating with my phone, and I had found somewhere
to pull in on the edge of Pine Creek, about 50kms from Broken
Hill. I thought 1.55pm, I might stop for the day, 175 clicks
under the belt in about 4 hrs with a couple of stops along the
way, checked the phone, and it said 1.25pm. What? So I checked
the corrected car clock, and sure enough, it said 1.55. The
it dawned on me. Broken Hill might be in NSW, but it runs on
SA time, AND they play proper oval shaped football here. So
although I had lost time somewhere back there, I had regained
. or is it the other way around? Anyhow, you get the
. don't you?
slept in until 8 this morning. I had again gone to bed about
11.30, taken a couple of Panadol, and with this road being hardly
used after dark, I slept like a baby, yelling and screaming
every half an hour
no, out like a light. I decided
that I deserved a cooked breakfast for a change, and that done,
it was time to roll out about 9.45. I was 215 kms away from
Broken Hill, and not really fussed whether I got there today
or not. And so I set the cruise on around the 70 mark, being
mindful of not running at higher revs and maybe exacerbating
the slip that I was occasionally experiencing in the clutch.
Plus the slower I went, the less fuel I used, and the more I
could look around and actually see stuff. The fact that the
traffic was minimal helped, and I wasn't being monstered by
Road Trains and B Doubles every few minutes.
rest areas were well marked, and each contained a toilet of
some sort. The Bunnerungee Rest area was set up by a creek and
road bridge. A bit of a worry if a sudden storm up creek happened
and you didn't vacate in time. I've seen a trickle grow to a
200m wide fast flowing stream and be back to a trickle inside
twelve hours at one place I was caught at up north
to add that I wasn't in the danger zone. But the road was closed
for a couple of days. This rest area is 200kms from Broken Hill.
15 kms further on is the curiously named Seven Tree Rest Area,
there is but one tree. !37 kms to go, and Lake Popiltah Rest
Area is equipped with a later model loo, is close to the road,
and encourages travellers to stop and use the shelters and tables
provided. These rest areas are more in line with what you come
to expect in Queensland. We won't mention that other state
to be fair, that was just one highway, but then again, so is
this one, and far less populated.
was now starting to get some signal
just a bit. A pilot vehicle
went around me, I enquired as to what he had following him,
4.5 was the answer, and that means 4.5 metres wide. I decided
to pull off and let it past there was plenty of room, but
I was in no hurry. Then the phone rang, and it was CML insurance
checking on the latest repair work, was it ok, up to standard,
they were paying the contractor, all good, and I figured if
I had signal, get some phone calls out of the way while I had
it. I then realised that I was stopped just over the road from
a decent set of cattle yards. They hadn't been used in a while
from the look of things, and some one must have stopped by and
had a party judging by the three bras and the lone thong hanging
from the rails. These yards are probably used when they muster
and yard the cattle by the road side, much easier than muddy
or dusty tracks for the trucks to get into.
had thought that I would stop at Pine Creek, but after a cuppa,
I thought that I'd push on a little closer, and found a rest
area on top of a hill, surrounded (in the distance) by mine
sites, and the phone looked like it would support some internet
it almost did
it was so slow, but I was
now 21km out of town, and I cried enough, slept for an hour,
and tested the hot water system for the first time since it
was worked on a couple of days ago, had a shower, and so far,
it seems that all of the water is outside of the caravan...hopefully
THAT problem is solved.
Brrr, that was a bit chilly, and it's going to continue I feel.
And it was very misty. An omelette got me moving, and I was
heading into Broken Hill. I had sat down once the internet kicked
in late last night, to check out the caravan park situation
in BH. It seemed that they were all booked out. I decided to
head out to the racecourse and see if I could get in there
been full for the last three to four months. OK, rethink
needed. What was I in BH for? I had spent near on a week here
in 2019, so it was really only to re-supply for the real reason
we were here, and that was to hopefully go to Cameron Corner.
The trip really starts now. I visited the dump point, filled
with water, fuelled up, and did a quick shop at the local IGA.
I was ready to go.
mentioned about the fact that BH operates on SA time, although
it is definitely in NSW. But it seems that if I am confused,
how do they feel? I fuelled up, flashing my NSW Covid app, but
IGA wanted the SA App.
left BH, and drove out the Silver City Hwy heading north. A
derelict building hove into view on the banks of Stephens Creek.
Stephens Creek Art Gallery and Owl Barn the sign on the wall
said. It had been a grand building in it's day I feel, the stone
laid on 26th Jan, 1935. It seems that the art was produced by
a guy called Mitch Powell, and I couldn't decipher whether the
owl collection was crafted or real owls. The creek is wide,
and when running, I would suspect that you could have rowed
a boat through the building.
to yesterdays travel through largely flat ground between 30
and 80m above sea level, today it was through undulating country
with the road rolling past the hills at altitudes between 230
and 330m. It was gorgeous. But it was to get better. The turnoff
to Mutawintji NP came and went. I had momentarily forgotten
that I had taken that road in 2007, when driving my Mum and
Aunty on a tour of their ancestral beginnings.
now, I was on new ground. It was supposed to be fine today with
a 10% chance of rain. I was waiting for the 90% chance of fine
weather. The dips and creek crossings gave evidence that much
water had passed this way, as we slowly climbed into a new range
of hills. Suddenly, a lookout, the hills to the west, and plains
to the east, and three information signs, upon which the writing
was completely obliterated. Why do they not inspect these things
and replace them
we the traveller, do stop and (attempt to)
read them. We are interested. I was 70km out of Broken Hill,
and I had signal. I took the opportunity to ring my mate, who
hadn't answered my first call in BH. Sorry, was doing caravan
repairs. Do you know what they are? Funny bugger.
sun was out, the showers threatened, and the view was an absolute
picture. I was not expecting this country. I spied a metal dump
high on the hill along side me, and I figured that would be
a good place to stop. There had been a number of potential stops
so far, but when this ground gets wet, it could get nasty if
you drive out onto it. My mind had flashed back to 2007, when
we did that drive through Mutawintji to White Cliffs, and the
sky was blue 360° around us, but directly above us was a
big black cloud, and it dumped on us. It got very slippery,
and so I hopped out to put the hubs in, and when I climbed back
into the car, I was 2 taller with the clay on the soles of
trip just keeps giving. I was not expecting this country when
I left Broken Hill, and although I have a picture in my mind
as to what I will see tomorrow, the chances are that it will
be nothing like what I am expecting.
DAY THIRTY ONE
It had to happen, and it finally did. I opened the door of the
van to grab the steps, and they weren't there. I gave the Packsaddle
Roadhouse a call, and yep, that's where they were. It seems
there is a traveller or someone who can bring them on to me.
Let's see what happens.
was even colder last night, but for some reason, I didn't feel
it. Was it because yesterday I was camped in a wide open space
with no wind protection, and last night I had a hill behind
me and there were small hills opposite.
got away about 9.47am, it was a beautiful morning, and a perfect
day for travelling. It was again a mixture of wide open spaces,
and rolling hills, and lots of what can only be described as
potential marsh land. When it's dry, the ground is as hard as
rock, but when it gets wet, you just don't go near it. I was
on flat open ground, and a range of hills came into view. The
road wound through them and past the Fowlers Gap Research Station.
I guess it was named because of where it was situated, which
was a gap in the hills, that opened out onto an open plain.
After driving from Ceduna through to Mildura, and then north
to Broken Hill without seeing any evidence of dead animals on
the road, the story had changed, and there was now plenty of
roadkill providing the crows and hawks their daily nourishment.
The properties were no longer fenced, so did that make the roads
more accessible to invading stock and animals.
passed a gate with a big circular dish with something written
on it. I looked. Watch The Road it said. LOL
rolled into Packsaddle Roadhouse. I am always curious how some
of these places got their name. I never did find out why Hell's
Gate in Queensland is so named
forgot I guess, but usually,
the origins date back to the early explorers. The explanation
I got here was, that Burke and Wills passed nearby, and left
the pack saddle from one of their camels on the side of a hill.
The station owner consequently named his plot of country Packsaddle,
and that became the name of the area. Sounds feasible. I took
photos, walked into the store, and was greeted by a pack of
people who looked like Jesse James' gang, and was promptly told
that I had to wear a mask. Apparently, since last night's shenanigans
in Sydney, the police have been patrolling the road enforcing
the rules. I busted out the pack of masks that I had purchased
before I left home, and promptly left the steps outside the
as I said, it had to happen eventually. There has to be
a positive for wearing masks in the outback, well away from
the hotspots (yes I know, infected travellers), and that is,
they stop the flies doing a kamikaze down your throat. The barramundi
Burger I had for lunch was first class. I'll make no mention
of the excellent carrot cake.
was some new roadwork under way, and it was the weekend, and
to suddenly find a small tractor in the middle of the road in
the middle of a corner sweeping the new surface coming toward
me certainly got my attention. A bit further on, and there was
a full road crew working on a new section of the highway. The
dirt sections of this highway have been sealed over the past
couple of years, and I guess they are using their Sunday to
apply the finishing touches.
was looking at the clock, it was just after 1pm, early, but
the weather was beautiful, cool, slight breeze, but good enough
to throw some undies and t-shirts in the washing machine and
get them dry if I could find somewhere safe to stop.
highlight for me of this section of road, was Peak Hill. There
is a station there, but the terrain was again superb. It was
about 2.15pm, and I saw piles of blue metal off to the left,
and the track looked as though it was dry enough, and so that
was it. 10 minutes later, I had discovered I had left my steps
at Packsaddle, the genny was running, and after solving an electrical
problem (I had the genny running, but hadn't plugged in the
cable), had the washing machine doing it's thing. Ah, such efficiency
and I received a phone call saying that my steps were on the
way. My washing was dry, and apart from the Eagles getting a
lesson from the Dogs, all was good
My steps were just dropped off by a young couple who work in
Tibooburra. Thank you packsaddle Roadhouse for organising that.
DAY THIRTY TWO
Today achieved what I set out to do five and a half weeks ago,
and I didn't expect to do that until tomorrow.
I left my campsite at 8.50, and first stop was the historic
town of Milparinka. You pay your $5 to have access to the town,
and you start in the old courthouse. There is a room dedicated
to the Aboriginal forebears, and another dedicated to the women
who braved and endured the hard early years of this old goldfield.
There is a building featuring the mining heritage, and a pub
which declared itself open for booze, food and all that stuff
that pubs do
except it was closed.
was my target for the day. It is from here that the road to
Cameron Corner winds it's way through the Sturt National Park
to the corner post that signifies the point that South Australia,
New South Wales and Queensland meet. One of the pubs was under
renovation, the famous Corner Country Store was just that, a
shop that sold food, had a dining room, sold fuel
nothing extraordinary. The pub over the road looked interesting,
but not being a person who feels comfortable in pubs (despite
having earned a good percentage of my music earnings in pubs),
I somehow never got inside to have a look. Dumb, I know. I checked
out the information centre, and was advised that the road to
Cameron Corner was open, you could take your caravan, and despite
running through the National Park, it being an RTA road, you
didn't have to pay an entrance fee
but you obviously couldn't
camp. Speaking to the guy at the store, he said that the majority
of travellers through the town were trying to get to Queensland,
and were running through to Thargomindah. They weren't all that
interested in Cameron Corner.
was approaching Midday, and I decided that I would make a run
for the Corner. But first, I had to look at the boat. The boat?
Those history students will remember that Sturt was looking
for the Inland Sea, and so his expedition carried a boat with
them for when they found their target. Of course, they failed,
and the boat now resides in a little park in Tibooburra.
also had to make an application for an entry into Queensland.
And there was a chook wandering around the street naturally
when I didn't have the camera ready to shoot it strangely
absent when I did.
was time to go. The road was immediately dirt, and the channels
were immediately there to be negotiated. They are generally
pretty sharp dips in the road, and need to be taken with caution.
I misjudged the first one
there was a second dip inside the
main one, and even though I was travelling relatively slowly,
I'm sure the van actually left the road. Corrugations were happening,
and I remembered a busted fridge back 2019, and so I reduced
the tyre pressures on the van. I made a decision to leave the
car at highway pressures (naughty, I know) but figured the harsher
ride in the car would encourage me to drive with more sympathy
for the ride in the van. Road conditions varied from rough to
fair to bloody rough to just awful. I stopped for a cuppa, opened
the van door, and surveyed the carnage. Fortunately, it was
just extraneous loose stuff that was spread all over the floor.
I picked up, boiled the kettle, and soldiered on. I was suddenly
faced with a lake dry fortunately, and a choice of a track
leading left, or the track across the middle. There was a car
parked out in the middle with someone wandering around, obviously
not in trouble, and so I had a quick look through the binoculars,
all looked good, and I drove straight. It was the smoothest
part of the whole road.
finally decided to stop and reduce the car tyre pressures, and
that made things a little more comfortable. There was a corner
giving me an option to go straight and that was 37kms, or the
Dunes Scenic Route which was 22kms. I was tired, the glare was
getting to me, and the concentration looking for a way through
the corrugations was taking it's toll. I had been on the road
for nearly 5 hours to cover 150 kms. So I took the shorter route
and the road was wonderful
by comparison. A gate which I
had to open. This gate is to remain closed at all times. It
is the 5000 km dog fence that stretches from down near Fowlers
Bay in SA all the way up through into Queensland. Through that
gate, and I'm suddenly in South Australia. 100 metres, and the
road bears right, and the policeman stops me at the gate into
Queensland. He checked my pass, waved me through, and I was
at Cameron Corner .. a day earlier than expected, and with my
van in tow I had thought initially that I would leave it at
Tibooburra, and come back for it. But the road to Thargomindah
can also be accessed from CC via the extension of the Cameron
Corner Road. A quick enquiry as to the condition of the road
to the copper, (who is based at Charleville some 800kms away)
received a smile, and a nod back to the road I had just arrived
on. That bad, huh? At least, it will be dry, and I should be
able to get through before the possibility of rain on Thursday.
walked into the store, and was told I was free to camp anywhere,
and I was free to use my generator. I chose a spot well away
from everyone, opened the door
oh dear, not again. I downloaded
the days videos, cleaned myself up a bit, and walked back to
the store. I had decided to reward myself by dining in at Cameron
Corner Store, chose Bangers and Mash with vegetables, and I
was not disappointed. It was superb. Thick gravy just the way
I like it. Wonderful. I had a chat with my policeman mate, who
patrols an area about the size of Victoria on his own. He is
the only traffic patrolman in a station of 24 officers at Charleville.
going to be a chilly night I feel, and I have had enough for
one day. Tomorrow, I'll have a look at the corner post, and
that completes the quartet
Surveyor General's Corner, Poeppel
Corner, Haddon Corner, and Cameron Corner. Just the Victorian
- South Australian one to complete the set. It was basically
inaccessible when I drove past a week or so ago, but somehow
doesn't hold the same appeal to me as the others. There is a
story to all of them. Some other time.
then, we start phase two of this trip, which because of weather,
Covid and other factors, changes direction from day to day.
As I mentioned once before, Isn't it exciting. Good night.
DAY THIRTY THREE.
It was going to be a long day, but nowhere as bad as I was preparing
for. My aim was to reach the bitumen before dark if the road
conditions would allow it.
first thing was to reduce the caravan tyre pressures further.
The next was to top the fuel tank, and then actually go and
look at and photograph the reason I was out here
with the map of the three states emblazoned on top of it.
road ran north west, and it was in pretty good nick, compared
to what I had to deal with yesterday. I ran for about an hour
before stopping and checking the van, and was relieved that
the changes I had put in place to restrain sensitive gear appeared
to be working. The pace was hectic
20-40 kph, and with a target
of 220-250 kms in front of me based on yesterdays 169km on dirt,
a long day was looming.
countryside changed as we ran from open plains to channel type
country, not that I had much opportunity to look, because one
needed to concentrate on the dips and swerves, as well as try
and navigate around occasional patches of heavier corrugations
and detour around water hazards. But nothing like yesterday.
At one point I was able to maintain a steady 43-48 kph pace,
and when the road was really good, 50-55 was possible. (these
are all speeds that I was comfortable running keeping in mind
maintaining the hotel in one piece). And then I noted that I
was sitting around the 65-70 mark, but that was only for a shortish
turn off, and the Dig Tree to my left, some 160 odd kms away.
Tempting, but rain is forecast, and I'm towing a hotel, and
so I turned right. Bitumen, and about 10 minutes later I rolled
into Noccundra. It's basically a pub, there is a huge freecamp
area over the road along the river, and there was already a
fairly sizable population set up on their chosen spots. I chose
to roll on. I hit the Bundeena Road and turned toward Thargomindah.
There was a lot of evidence of water along the road edge, but
again, an old metal dump came to my rescue, and I decided that
this is where I would spend the night, according to my calculations,
just 101 km from my next target, Thargomindah. I have had two
attempts in the past to get there, both times thwarted by roads
being closed due to flooding. Maybe, it is time.
pulled off the road at 4.21pm, I had left Cameron Corner at
9.48am. I had stopped for probably a total of just over an hour
I would think, and had covered 290 kms. I remembered that I
had to air the tyres up, had a fridge to clean, and assorted
crap to pick up off the floor. I think I might sleep well again
ASSESSMENT .. so far:
You may remember that I dined in at the Cameron Corner Store
last night. I don't recall needing to use the microwave while
I was at CC, but I did tonight. I was shocked to find the newly
installed oven sliding freely on it's shelf when I went to open
the door. Now this thing is sitting in a space that is not terribly
easy for a great lump like me to access, but I dragged in my
steps, and climbed up to have a closer look. A couple of brackets
had been attached to the oven when it was being installed, and
they were still intact. But the screws to the shelf floor had
totally ripped out. It doesn't look as though it will be a big
job, even for for me, but it got me thinking, where did this
happen? I remembered the first dip that caught me out as I left
Tibooburra .. could it have been then. Or was it the drain I
that caught me out today, despite my every caution and effort
to avoid such things. You see them, you know they are there,
and you try and slow down, but this one was a nasty one, and
had that extra bit of kick. There was a thump as the front suspension
took the full brunt, and I can remember thinking straight away,
did I manage to pull it up enough before the van hit it. Fortunately,
there is a lip across in front of the microwave that stopped
it sliding off the shelf, and I'm sure it had to be that one
action which caused the problem, because it didn't seem to budge
after it had broken away. At least I'm on the sealed stuff now,
at least until I decide whether to do the Outback Way on the
way home... if they ever let me back in ...
DAY THIRTY FOUR
Time to head into Thargomindah. I had attempted to get there
twice before in 2010 and 2019, thwarted both times by roads
being flooded, and both times from the Eulo end. This morning,
I was coming in from the western end. Apart from 30mm on the
3rd June, there had only been 9mm about a week ago. The country
still looked damp, and more rain was expected on Thursday, but
to all intents and purposes, it was dry travelling. I had achieved
what I set out to do, visit Cameron Corner, and get to Thargo
before it rained again. I was rather chuffed with myself. Ok,
there was the small matter of damage gathered along the way,
but I was good, I had bought a drill
back in 2009, and I had
charged up the battery, and so I was ready to take on the world.
All I needed now were some screws that would do the job.
30km out of Thargomindah, it started to drizzle. Hey, it's only
Wednesday, what's going on here? I arrived in town, did a lap
or two, caught up on uploading my blog, but the net was too
slow for the 80 odd photos I had, so just the evidence that
I actually reached CC and a map of my travels so far would suffice
for now. I found a food store that sold hardware, or was it
a hardware store that sold food
they are nothing if not versatile
out here. I found the screws and some washers, grabbed the tucker
that was required to top up the pantry, topped up the fuel tank
and grabbed some unleaded for Genny, and having crossed this
town off my bucket list, I headed back out of town the way I
had come in.
now, the drizzle was a steady pour. I had arrived a whisker
after 10am, it was now 11.30am, and wow, had things changed.
What had been drying paddocks with patches of water, were now
lakes encroaching onto the road. I was driving through floodways
that were bone dry a couple of hours ago, and were now rivers
running across the road. To make matters even more dodgy, this
was a development road, gravel with a single bitumen strip down
the middle, which means approaching and overtaking traffic as
well as yourself, all need to head to the verge, which by now
is becoming a soggy, slippery quagmire, and has the ability
to grab the trailer (in my case) and throw you off the road.
Needless to say, supersonic speeds were not being attempted.
Remember, this was not supposed to happen until tomorrow, and
then I don't think they were expecting the 17.4mm that fell
in those few hours.
plan was to reach high ground where it would comparatively dry
. excuse me for a minute as I laugh hysterically at my own
sense of humour
and camp up up until the storm .. no, not
a storm, it was rain, persistent steady rain
the rain had
passed. I also was due to take a few days off and let the credit
card catch up. 60 kms out of town a rest area loomed, and it
was on high ground, and it was not as wet as the surroundings
like Swan River vs Sydney Harbour
nowhere near the same
amount of water. I was in like flint. I would set up the desktop
computer and spend the next couple of days editing the footage
I had taken from Broken Hill to Cameron Corner to Thargomindah.
First though, I hit the sack for an hour to get the strength
to tackle my next task.
I had a meal to prepare, and a microwave that was floating in
space. It was time to practice my skills with THE DRILL. Now
the problem here, is that the Microwave sits on a shelf up near
the roof, and in a corner and on an angle, which meant that
I needed to get out my step. Those of you who know me, know
that I am not a dainty little lady, rather quite the opposite.
And so I launched my 188 cm 160kg frame up onto the stool, and
started to attack the job at hand. Really, all I had to do was
drill a couple of holes into the shelf, through the holes already
in the frame attached to the microwave, and then screw it all
down. Why not use the holes already there? The original screws
had ripped themselves out of the holes when the MW had launched
into air when we hit one of those spoon drain things on the
track the day before. Long story short, I learned to bend my
wrist and arm into impossible angles never before attempted,
and tonight I have a secure microwave oven
for now at least.
MORNING: The rain eventually ceased, and I settled down to revue
and start editing my CC footage. I turned off the genny at 11.30.
I was alone, and no-one else had been inconvenienced by the
I stepped out this morning and there was another caravan
where hell had he come from and when
But I was already here, and the genny would have been running
when he arrived. Bet he didn't think he'd be lulled off to sleep
by the gentle Yamaha hum ...
DAY THIRTY FIVE
I had decided that I would lay low for another day, half expecting
some follow up rain, but it didn't happen, rather, it turned
out that as the day progressed, the sun decided to come out
to play. I had made the decision to continue editing the Cameron
Corner footage, and was pleased with the progress made. I also
started a side project, and I tackled the footage of the last
40kms into Thargomindah yesterday, and the same distance covered
as it started to rain. That video is ready to upload
have to get somewhere that will allow me to do it.
slacked off and had an hours nap I find I keep waking up early
and the nap helps me through the day. And so, that was my day
was spent. I have decided that I will move on tomorrow, and
Eromanga is my target, and possibly, the rest area at the junction
of the Cooper Development Road and the Diamantina Development
Road, where I spent three nights back in 2019.
what is real pleasing is how my handiwork is holding up. The
microwave hasn't budged since I screwed it down
I have the same result when I actually move on from here
DAY THIRTY SEVEN
Wow, I didn't see that coming. After the hosing down we had
on Wednesday, and a beautiful day yesterday, I woke to a car
and caravan that looked as though they had had a bucket tipped
but it hadn't rained. I got moving in glorious sunshine,
but then wondered what I was heading into as I saw this dark
looking cloud low down on the horizon. It shortly became apparent,
that this cloud was sitting down low in front of the approaching
well, I was approaching the hills, they were just sitting
there with the cloud in front of them
just for the Grammar
13 kms from my start point, I entered into a dense-ish
fog. This very rapidly became a very dense fog, and for the
next 20kms my eyeballs were trying to see beyond the 60-100m
area of visibility. It's amazing what you imagine you are seeing
in front of you .. was that a tree, a truck, a dinosaur (this
is dinosaur country not including the ageing population travelling
through it) and then, a set of headlights suddenly appear a
few metres in front of you, probably just as startled by your
appearance as you are by theirs. Then, it cleared up
a short while, and then back into it. It was of course, the
huge amounts of water being evaporated by the warmish weather.
Eventually, at the Innamincka turnoff, I was through it. They
call this road the Adventure Way
you're telling me it is.
night, just as the football was in the last couple of minutes,
I lost satellite signal. I had already had the VAST box quit
because of a weak signal, and finally, the Fox Box caved in
as well. I was puzzled. I had a look outside, the sky was clear,
I could see stars
it must be severe weather further over to
the NE I thought. This morning, as I was blindly stumbling through
the pea souper, I had nothing to do with myself but think
I do that
if the satellite signal can be thwarted by bad weather,
heavy cloud and heavy rain, is it possible that it was the fog
and heavy dew that was affecting the signal. Fog is just a cloud
on the ground, isn't it? Remember, I had woken up to find the
car and van drenched with no rain
it made sense to me at least
is that a tree or a dinosaur I can see in front of me?
was my proposed destination, and I rolled in about 1pm. I did
an extensive tour of the town, and at 1.03pm visited the dump
point. It was time for lunch. There was signal, and so I uploaded
today's report and the Thargomindah rain episode video. I had
a look in the Eromango Living History exhibition, and it was
time to move on.
disturbed my first eagle of the trip, who was dining out on
the finest roadkill. He flew to the side of the road to watch
what I was up to. I stopped down the road and waited for him/her
to go back to their delicacy so I could get a few photos
they will NEVER do that. I drove off. Later, I saw what looked
like a fat lamb running around the edge of the road with no
family in sight. 100m down the road was another eagle and I
wondered as to the potential plight for the hapless animal.
2019, I stopped for three days at a rest area on the corner
of the Cooper and Diamantina Development Roads, and I had it
totally to myself, with just the odd van stopping for a break
or to use the toilets. Tonight, the area was chocka, and so
I headed for an area off to the side where I could run the genny
with little disruption and annoyance to others.
my main reason for doing this trip now done with, I am now being
forced to sit down and think about what I am going to do from
now. I might just sit for the next couple of days it is a
weekend, and I have plenty of stuff to catch up on, and plenty
of video to work with, and the signal here is excellent. Yep
I might just sit
a day ...
DAY THIRTY EIGHT
That does it. Finally the straw that broke the camels back.
I am not coming home via the Outback Way and Great Central Road.
arrived here at my rest stop for the next couple of days, and
started to set up the van. I have an office chair, which when
I'm travelling, sits conveniently in a little pocket between
the bedroom door, cupboard and fridge. The back of the seat
edges out to create the fourth corner. As I eased the chair
out of it's travelling station, I noticed that the fridge had
moved slightly out of it's frame. I've had this happen before,
back 2010 I believe it was, where the weight of the fridge was
greater than the ability of the screws to hold it in place by
pulling out of the wooden surrounds. Back then, my repairer
reinforced the support, and all was good. It seems to me that
although the fridge was replaced a couple of years ago after
receiving another belting on the Top Road between Burketown
and Borroloola, it may not have been fitted with the same idea
of re-enforcement in mind. And so, I did a bit of manipulation
(read pushing, shoving, thumping, groaning and swearing) and
it seems to be sitting back in place
at the moment. My thoughts
are to go to Charleville, and see if I can get someone who knows
about these things to do a bit of re-enforcement. I am also
due for my second jab in the next week, and so it makes sense
to travel via a larger town where I might have an opportunity
to complete that task. My doc also sent me with instructions
to have some blood tests done at about this time. And so Charleville
is the target. I was also starting to have second thoughts about
the Outback Way. I mean, I had pummelled the caravan worse than
a hotel full of wildly protesting quarantined Covid positive
testees could do rampaging in their enforced confinement. Surely
to continue with my plan could just bring undone and destroy
my home, in which I plan to see out my days, and that would
but I have been stupid before, and no doubt,
will be again. And so, understandably, I was having second thoughts.
then, the last straw
have a Breville sandwich maker. A few of weeks ago, I had dragged
it out, and one of the hinges had come apart. I sat with it
and the parts (fortunately I keep it where it is confined and
the parts were all together not floating around the van like
the odd screw which you find rolling around the floor with absolutely
no idea where it came from) and sussed out how it all fitted,
and put it back together. I used a pair of pliers to tighten
the little bolt, because one needed an Allen key to do the job
properly, and mine were buried in the bowels of the tool box
in the car
and I didn't retrieve them to do the job. (well,
if I had, I probably wouldn't have this tale to tell .. now,
would I?). All good, my sandwich maker worked a treat. Today,
I decided to drag the implement out to make a toastie for lunch
and it was in a thousand pieces. Every bolt, every fitting,
the whole lot was in total disarray. And so I sat surrounded
by a thousand parts and started to re-assemble the machine,
because I was going to starve to death if I didn't. Then I remembered
that I needed the Allen key to tighten everything properly.
I knew where they were, and so I retrieved them from the toolbox
and one was missing. Yep you guessed it, the one key that
I wanted, needed, desired more than anything else in the world
(apart from a toasted sandwich) at that moment, was missing.
Out came the long nosed pliers, and after much fiddling and
tweaking and huffing and puffing and the odd blasphemy, I had
it back together, and I was ready for lunch. And THAT is what
finally convinced me, that maybe attempting the Outback Way
and the Great Central Road might NOT be such a great idea.
had set up my office, and so I recommenced work on the video
depicting my journey from Broken Hill to Cameron Corner. I had
gone to bed early last night, and I usually wake up after about
5-6 hours, and then drift in and out of sleep from then on.
I don't think I did the latter too well, because midway through
the day, I was tired (probably from the exertion of rebuilding
the sandwich maker) and had my now usual nap for an hour or
so. Queensland is supposed to be hot and sweaty
or so they
tell us, but I don't recall it being this cold at night on past
trips. We would joke when the locals were starting to freeze
at around 24°, but this is getting down to 5° and 6°
with clear air, and that is getting a tad chilly.
The video, football and F1 kept me entertained in between times
and at 10.30, I'm thinking I just might tuck myself into bed
again. Bad idea I know, 'cos sure as eggs I'll be awake early
in the morning again. But it's starting to feel like I'm sitting
in a fridge, and I have these inconsiderate travellers who have
camped within my vicinity who would go apeshit If I ran the
genny past 8pm (7pm even
or just go apeshit because that's
the way they are) to run the air con to try and keep warm. And
yet, if they camp at a farm stay or remote hosted camping area,
they would have to deal with a big generator running all night
long ala Cameron Corner
DAY THIRTY NINE
SUNDAY: Today was
a designated another day. Another days are those days where
I just sit, and basically do nothing, watch football, motor
racing, and generally scratch my ear. So, the same as every
other day I hear you say. But today, I was in the middle of
When I camped up pre-fog, I started editing the footage collected
since I left Broken Hill, and organised it into a rough copy
of the video which would become known as the Road To Cameron
Corner. I then shifted camp to a spot 40kms from Quilpie, where
I decided to stay for three nights.
Initially, there was about 5 hours footage of a journey that
took two and a half days. So, the first task was to get rid
of much of that footage which could be deemed as surperfluous.
Much pruning reduced it to about 1 hours 55 mins. Then it was
time to colour correct it. Now it doesn't matter how good you
think your video camera is, if the white balance for example
is out just a whisker, it affects the colour of your video.
So each shot looks a slightly different colour. Then it's a
matter of adjusting things like light balance, contrast and
exposure. If you are shooting in the morning, the light is best
for getting a great picture, providing the source of light is
beside or behind you. Middle of the day, the light source is
above tends to be flat there is no shadow to highlight the
contrast, and if the light is in front of you, blasting through
the windscreen (in my case) and directly into the lens, it's
just horrible. And so the trick is to try and balance all of
these little challenges. And I have to be honest, I have never
been trained in this, and although I think I know a tiny bit
about what I am doing, in truth, I really know bugger all.
So by late this afternoon, I had done all of the above. And
then it was time to actually watch the whole thing, and prune
more unnecessary stuff out. This isn't easy when it's your baby.
You have to be ruthless. Tell the story without boring the audience,
even if it means ditching some of your favourite work... and
there's no guarantee that you haven't failed in at least a part
of the exercise.
I had the football on in the background, and the wrong side
was distracting me by the number of goals they were kicking,
and not playing fair, and letting our boys have at least a couple
of kicks at the big posts. I turned off the footy.
By 10.30pm, I had it finished, and then realised that the finale
of the trip the post with the three state marker had somehow
been left out. I mean
duh. A few minutes later, corrections
made, it was getting bloody cold, it was bed time.
Just another day
MONDAY: This morning
I woke up a year older than yesterday
and it was bloody cold.
I went to bed last night at 10.45, and hoped for a good long
night's sleep. I woke at 2.30am. Despite a blanket, a doona,
a throw, and wearing a track suit, I was cold. I drifted in
and out for the next couple of hours, and woke again around
4.30 freezing. I had gone to bed with the inverter switched
on, so that I could record the F1 and Indycar races. The throw
is one of those furry things that you can wrap around yourself
or put on top of a bed, and has a heat control ala electric
blanket. I had never used the heater controller. I figured that
the recordings would be completed, and that as long as the c-pap
machine kept working on the 12v system, I would take a punt
and turn the throw heater control on. It had immediate effect,
warming up the bed. Not knowing how much power draw this thing
had, I turned it off again about 15mins later. About an hour
and a half later, it was back on again. I think I'm going to
be using this thing a bit for the rest of the trip. I take a
blood thinning tablet, and that doesn't help the body's internal
I finally jumped out of bed, watched the Indycar replay, a quick
breakfast, packed away the desktop computer system, and it was
time to up stumps and move in toward Quilpie, just 40kms away.
I have decided that with my second Covid jab due this week,
and some blood tests requested by my doctor to be obtained,
that I would head to the nearest largest town and see if I can
get them done there before continuing the trip. That town in
this area is Charleville, which is 210kms beyond Quilpie. I
arrived in Quilpie, visited the local dump point, the information
centre who told me where I could fill up with potable water,
fueled up, and visited a hardware store. The required Allen
Key was purchased, as was a new tyre gauge after my existing
one fell apart when I was re-pressuring my tyres a few days
ago. I needed gas, but they had run out and were waiting on
new supplies. I inquired as to how much a bottle exchange was
we don't do exchange, we fill the bottles
that's what the dogalogue store at Ceduna did... how much
the price of gas has just risen, it's now $6.50 kg
whoa, a quick calclation puts a 9kg bottle refill at about
$58.50. Now one expects to pay a premium when living a thousand
miles from anywhere. My recent swaps/refills by comparison were
$38.50 (swap Renmark) and $24.95 (refill Ceduna). Hmmm.
I hit the road, and arrived at a roadhouse (no fuel) called
Cooladdi Roadhouse. I could recall calling in here 11 years
ago, and nothing had changed. Laurel still sat behind the counter,
and her daughter Roxanne who owns the place, was also a familiar
face. They have been there for 14 years. This store sits in
the middle of nowhere, and is probably one of the best presented
roadhouses/eateries in rural Australia. It was about 2.30pm,
I was hungry, it was my birthday, and so I thought I will treat
myself to a burger... what is the Cooladdi King
stuff it, I'll try one .
About 15 minutes later, I was presented with a burger that stood
about 3 feet tall, I took a deep breath, and I proceeded to
demolish it. It was as good a burger I have ever committed to.
And the excellent Mocha-cino helped wash it down.
I eventually dragged myself out of the chair in the dining room,
dragged the hotel to the huge free camping area behind the roadhouse,
set up, tightened the sandwich machine with the newly aquired
Allen Key, climbed into bed, and had a snooze for about 40 minutes.
It was time to watch the F1 recording, news, and soon, bed.
It's been a big day, and I'm 12 months older
DAY FORTY ONE
TUESDAY: First and
foremost, thank you to every one for the birthday wishes, and
the phone calls from those who were able to get through before
we ran out of signal again last night. We had signal in the
roadhouse, but here, a couple of hundred metres away, nothing.
I am seriously thinking of treating myself and purchasing one
of those Telstra Cel-fi Go signal booster thingies. They are
hideously expensive, but when you are battling even in a place
like Albany, to get a decent fast signal, and requiring such
to get a reasonably quick upload of your videos which are sizeable
when they leave the computer (before You Tube compresses the
shit out of them), and you are living on the very edge of signal
on the road, it seems like a sensible investment in my case.
I went to bed early, about 10pm, and slept until 6am. Must have
been that burger. However, I don't think that I will make a
habit of eating humungous burgers in the middle of the afternoon.
It felt like a warmer night, but I wonder whether that was because
the area I'm camping in is protected by trees, whereas the site
at Quilpie was wide open and the wind had nothing to break it
I took a side road to a popular fishing and camping spot just
out of Charleville, grabbed the other camera, and got a blank
screen. Odd, so I rebooted it, and same result. Don't Panic
I screamed in my best Corporal Jones impersonation (Dad's Army
for those of you haven't a clue what I am talking about) as
I delved into the menu and did a factory reset. This completely
obliterates all of your settings, that have been modified over
a period of years, and so when it finally fired up again
I wonder whether I had hit a setting the other night and opened
the iris right up or something similar. Main thing, no damage.
I did miss my shots though. I'll just have to go back to the
photos I took back in 2010.
I cruised into Charleville, and slowly got my bearings. I started
looking at Vaccination posibilities, and found that the clinic
for over 60's happened yesterday morning, and under 60's is
tomorrow afternoon. I rang the hospital, and the next astravenica
clinic is the 16th. I now knew what to look for and how to find
out when the clinics were in the area I was travelling through.
It looks like it may be when I get back home in about October.
I then got a reminder that I'm due in a clinic tomorrow
Albany. I remember they booked it just in case I was still home.
I have a feeling that I'm not going to make it.
Bloody caravanners have been buying up all the gas supplies,
but I did find a service station who did swap'n'go, and I was
happy to pay the $32. I topped up with fuel, and filled my jerrycans
but a small worry, it is E10. Hopefully the
genny won't know the difference and will keep running as smoothly
as it has so far.
I found the IGA and did the necessary food top up, and headed
for the nearest checkout. Maxwell was the checkout chick
what a sad sack. He never cracked a smile, didn't even groan
at my attempted humour, never said a word and just stood poh
faced as I suggested (twice) that he smile, that it wasn't that
bad. I have no idea what his problem was, but that kid needs
a huge kick up the khyber pass.
I was fueled, gassed and fooded, it was time to go
where? I did my blog update, and checked out the map, and decided
that I would head for Augathella. It's due to rain here toward
the end of the week, and the figures being quoted are big numbers,
and so having experienced the rain event in Thargomindah last
week, I decided I was better off being somewhere else. Any one
who remembers the movie Smiley from the fifties, would probably
not be aware that the story is based on a local Augathella personality.
More about that later.
I spied a bare piece of ground, and figured that it could be
the ideal spot to get off the road to spend the night. I had
a crack at securing the fridge, but even though it's only six
screws needed, I don't feel confident enough to really tackle
it more than trying to replacing the screws that have obviously
fallen out of their fixings, and need to be replaced by slightly
which of course I don't have. I have the ones
that fell out, and they don't hold. But I now know what needs
to be done.
Just thinking about it, there are just six screws holding the
fridge in - it's a big fridge, and yes I know you are not expected
to take it where I have taken it, but the roads I have been
travelling on this morning are sealed, main roads, and they
are as violent as anything I've driven on off road. This is
not the fault of the caravan manufacturer, it is the lack of
foresight by Dometic, who make these fridges. All of the manufacturers
are stuck with the same product ranges.
DAY FORTY TWO
WEDNESDAY: Bloody hell, what have I done, whose cat did I kick?
I stopped outside
Blackall. I needed to make a decision. Do I travel via Isisford?
It's due to dump on us tomorrow, and if it does, when is it
going to happen? Fox Weather to the rescue. But NO, the satellite
dish was dead. Wouldn't even turn on. I grabbed the multimeter
and checked the voltage nowt. I grabbed a spare cable, plugged
it into the 12v outlet, measured it nowt. I switched on the
lamp above the stove nothing. This was crazy. The lights work,
my sleep machine works. It seems like one side of the van's
12v has gone to sleep on me. I got into Blackall, found a tech,
who traced as much as he could, and discovered that the earth
wire to that side had gone AWOL. But it was getting late, and
this could take some time he told me, and we decided that I
should make a run for Barcaldine and the guy there was a better
proposition. All good we decided as I hit the road (after he
replaced the caravan tyre with a chunk of metal the size of
Skylab sticking out of it), It was a tyre service/auto guy thank
I found my camp spot,
and was in dire need of a coffee or a double whisky or both
I grabbed the kettle to fill it up
no pump 12v
Fortunately I had a 20 ltr container of water in the car. I
grabbed that, filled the kettle, hit the starter on the stove
no starter 12v
the fridge is AC/gas/DC 12v dead, gas
won't light because of 12v starter - I was starting to lose
my sense of humour. Thank God for the genny and 240v and the
electric kettle. Meanwhile, I shoved the fridge back into place
for the umpteenth time today these roads look the goods until
you select first gear and start to move. The road to Cameron
Corner had nothing on the violence imparted by these roads based
on Black soil up here in Qld. They are vicious.
Deep breath. The
day started out well. First stop was Augathella.
There is a Smiley monument which was revealed in 2008 to mark
the 50th anniversary of the movie Smiley. The stories were
written about a boy who growing up in Augathella. Author Neville
Raymond Son of the local teacher, wrote the stories about his
childhood friend Didy Smiley Creevy. (Dcd 1972).
The town was rocking.
I've never seen so many caravans in such a small town all at
once. They were camped in the council parklands (pay by coin
donation), cruising around town, parked in the streets surely
a convention or similar
No, just travellers going or coming.
I wonder if the powers that be (read government) have any idea
just how many people are out here. Granted it is school holidays,
but most of these people are travelling without kids, and more
likely to be grand parents. I like Augathella, it's a pretty
little town. However, it does sit on the banks of the Warrego
River, and the levee bank would be pushed to hold back the wrath
of the storm if they got a big one.
Cattle trucks rule the roads up here. Today, mainly empty, presumably
having just dropped their load, or on their way to pick up the
Tambo, last visited
in 2010. Again, a neat pretty little town. I didn't see the
Tambo Dam last time, it looks great on the brochure. But like
when I filmed the Great Southern Hwy in 2017 back home, it had
been a bumper season, and the lakes were full, when they are
usually salt pans. Sadly, the dam was pretty much dry.
I called into the
information centre, and was greeted by Bruce Dawson (remember
the name, questions will be asked at the end of the exercise).
I asked how long he had lived here 11 years so how did you
get this gig, you're not even classified as a local? - I knew
someone where were you before that born in Tasmania, eventually
moved to Victoria, then NSW, and finally a couple of places
in Queensland, winding up here.
He pointed to the old bus parked outside, and said that was
his escape when he could get away. He then imparted (remember
his name) that he had camped on the corner of the Bruce Hwy
and the Dawson Hwy. When he voted for the first time, he was
in the Bruce Electorate, and when he voted the second time,
yep, he was in the Dawson Electorate. The old boy made my day.
The caravans were lined up outside the caravan parks as though
it was a new release from Apple as I cruised past them and out
Next target was Blackall,
the home of the legendary Black Stump. Then all of the above
drama unfolded. However, before I left town, I did visit the
stump, or the replica of the same. The original was burnt
in a fire. The story is shown on one of the photos.
So, what started out as a glorious and enjoyable day, had a
sour finish, and left me as not a happy camper. Tomorrow's just
got to be better, doesn't it?
DAY FORTY THREE
THURSDAY: I had done
some thinking (yes, I know), and I had come to the conclusion
that the fridge and the fuse failures were somehow connected.
The fridge had broken loose from it's mountings, and with the
rock'n'roll nature of the roads up here, I was now checking
it every 40-50 kms, and shoving it back into place. Was it touching
something back there that was shorting out that channel?
I needed to get to
Barcaldine to the Tyre and Auto guy before it got too busy,
and hope that he could help me. He was busy, but would try and
fit me in this afternoon. Finally, he was able to get to it,
found the problem, and did a heap of other diagnostics, and
could find nothing. It was simply a fuse. The 10a fuse was replaced
with a 15a fuse, everything worked, and all was good... for
I was waiting for his call, I did laps of the town, found a
parking spot (eventually there were around a thousand caravans
all looking for parking as well), and took a wander up the main
street. Barcaldine is where the Australian Labor Party was formed.
In 1891, it was one of the focal points of the 1891 Australian
shearers' strike, with the Eureka Flag flying over the strike
camp. The landmark Tree of Knowledge, under which the strikers
met, stood outside the railway station. In 2006, persons unknown
poisoned the tree with the herbicide Roundup, which led to its
demise. (Wikipedia). A replica of the tree was constructed
and stands in the main street under cover of a large open roof.
The town had a population of 1422 in the 2016 census.
The town boasts two
bakeries, and of course you have to sample their wares
I visited just ONE of them. There are a number of pubs
surviving, the Artesian Hotel being the only one that was never
destroyed by fire.
One of the servos
was advertising no Diesel, which was hardly surprising considering
the number of vehicles visiting the town. I later noticed that
the diesel pump was being serviced, so probably a mechanical
problem. The other servo looked like an Apple store with a new
release, with the line back down the street several vehicles
Finally, I was done
and released, and I hit the road toward Longreach. I came to
a rest area where the prime spot had already been snaffled,
a road-train was also parked up, and having had previous experience
over the years of how the truckies used these facilities to
take their enforced breaks, I chose a spot that I felt looked
potentially dodgy, should the promised rain happen, but I parked
the car as close as I could to a straight drive back onto the
sealed part without getting in the way of traffic using the
stopover. I stepped into the van, shoved the fridge back into
place, and there was no 12v power
I grabbed a couple of fuses,
and both blew as I installed them. Bugger. Now, I was certain
the fridge/fuse relationship was the problem.
Then, it rained.
Now it was only a shower, but drops of rain down south, are
bucketfulls up here, and half a dozen drops is an hours rain
well that's the way the black soil reacts to
it. There were about four rain events in all, including the
promised thunder storm (I heard it rumble), but nothing substantial.
Time to put the genny away, and I found myself slipping and
sliding on a thick, sticky, gooey slop that was mud. It caked
itself onto my shoes, and I found myself a couple of inches
taller. What a mess.
During all of this,
I looked out and witnessed something I hadn't seen before
a rainbow, but not just any old rainbow. This was a full 180°
rainbow, it was light on the inside of the curve, and almost
black on the outside. I couldn't fit the full image in my camera,
and I'm not sure if the pic does the phenomenon justice.
I decided that first
thing in the morning, I am getting out of here, and making tracks
for Longreach and hopefully getting to a repairer who can solve
all of my fridge/fuse hassles early in the day, before they
fill their worksheets.
I feel that despite
everything, I had made progress today. I felt more confident
than I had for a few days that I was close to a solution.
DAY FORTY FOUR
FRIDAY: It rained
last night, I was surrounded by sludge, and I needed to extricate
myself from where I had parked last night. I put the hubs in,
selected Low Second (I've seen plenty of evidence where people
have struggled to get out of this sort of situation over the
past week) and crawled out of the spot. Done, no problem as
it turned out. I had been concentrating so hard on how I was
going to approach the day, and planned meticulously how to do
it by having only one exit from the caravan, negotiating a way
to the drivers seat and getting out of here, that I was surprised
when a passing truck driver advised me that I had left a window
open in the back of the van. The blind was down, and I had forgotten
that I had opened last night. I stopped, and must have looked
like a right dickhead shuffling around in the puddles trying
to get the crap off the bottom of my shoes. Next stop, I found
that I had been so focused this morning, that I also hadn't
packed the 240v cable away, and it was still sitting attached
to the van. The majority of the cable was rolled and hooked
over the towbar, and so wasn't dragging on the ground. Another
I found the repairer
as soon as I reached town, and again, his book was full. I accepted
the 9am appointment for Monday morning, and figured that I would
be happy spending the weekend watching Supercars, albeit on
Foxtel Go on my computer. We got talking about Cel-Fi Go, he
uses it, and had one in stock. $1100 poorer, I headed out along
the Jundah Road to see if I could find somewhere close to town
to park up
nope, but I did find a spot on the side of the
road where I could instal my new gadget. It works, or it seems
to at first look. Back into town and out to the Thompson River
freecamp area. I found a spot well away from everyone else,
where I could run the genny with no complaints. Just for the
hell of it, I replaced my blown fuse
and it worked. I had
12v power. Up with the satellite dish, and Supercars was my
focus for the rest of the day.
Then came the stink
of a fire, and the smoke that goes with it. I have an aversion
to such things, probably from my days as a kid, where my dad
would find any excuse to light a fire. Yep, two vans had moved
in near me, set up, lit up, but so far no complaints about the
I found that having
the Cel-0fi set up in the car was no good in the van, because
the phone communicates via bluetooth, and that was just too
far away. I quickly re-installed the unit in the van, and I
have lightning fast internet. Although so far, the upload speed
seems a lot slower than the Speed Test upload figures suggested.
All in all, a good
DAYS FORTY FIVE and FORTY SIX
SATURDAY and SUNDAY
Nothing to report.
I just sat and watched the motor racing, set up the desktop
and did some editing, Everything worked flawlessly over the
weekend, and I am looking forward to seeing what happens with
the fridge/12v situation.
DAY FORTY SEVEN
MONDAY: I checked
the temperature at about 4am, and it was 6°. I was looking
to get up and get moving about 7am, because the caravan was
booked in for 9am. At 7am, it felt a tad chilly, yep, 3°
feels like 0°. But I was brave, climbed out of bed, transferred
all of the stuff from the fridge to the car fridge, and couldn't
feel my fingers for a few moments when I climbed back into the
van. I put the genny away, made sure that I had packed the cable,
closed the window, all that sort of stuff, and crawled out of
my camp of the last three days at 8.25. I needed to drop some
money in the honesty box, and found that a couple of things
seemed to have changed. You are supposed to register at the
Information Centre (oops), and it was $5 per night ($3 2019).
I filled out the necessary, dropped my money in the tin, and
went looking for the dump point. I know I'm blind, but I eventually
found it, and passed up on taking on water at the moment, because
it was 8.53am, and I had 7 minutes to get to my appointment.
The auto Elec guy
spent a lot of time doing his damndest to blow the fuse
wasn't co-operating. I figured that I had shoved the fridge
back, the 12v was working, and that I would take a punt on bolting
the fridge in and see what happens. I drove away from there
at 11am, $88 poorer, and headed for the dump point to replenish
the water supply. The main street of Longreach was teeming with
people, cars, vans, everything. The dump point was worse. There
were two water points, and it was taking forever to fill the
vans. And so I decided that I would do my top up at Winton.
The weather today
clear blue skies, 25°, breeze from the east
keeping everything pleasant. It was a gorgeous day for travelling,
but the light is so bright, and the glare makes things a little
bit uncomfortable ha, what a whinger LOL. My belief is that
the safest vehicles on the road are white (or light coloured)
but the downside can be the reflection off the bonnet. If you
don't believe me, try shielding the bonnet from your sight with
your free hand and see the difference.
There are a number
of rest areas between Longreach and Winton, and I was keen to
stop at each one and find out whether this new Cel-fi gadget
was worth the money I paid for it. Did it work? So far, the
answer is a resounding yes. Firstly, I had full bars at every
stop. Away from the unit that is not so. I made phone calls,
and where I usually have to hold my mouth in a grimace, while
standing on one leg and holding the phone on a weird angle,
to try and keep a constant signal, today, none of that whilst
maintaining a strong signal. As I write this, I am 47 kms from
Winton, and 132 kms from Longreach, and I have fast internet.
Usually, I am complaining about lack of signal (as regular readers
will recall). This is just the first day, it will be interesting
to see how it performs as I go on.
I am camped tonight
a few hundred metres from a designated rest area. The authorities
kindly set up a metal dump in close proximity, but far eneough
away that I can run the genny without annoying the other patrons.
Hopefully there will be no fires killing the atmosphere in my
DAY FORTY EIGHT
TUESDAY: I was washing the dishes, when a train rumbled past.
There was no warning, it was suddenly just there. What is so
special about a train. Just the fact that they still exist in
some parts of the country. Sadly, the railway system in Western
Australia has been sold off, and rather than preserve and service
the infrastructure, much of it has been shut down. I can't for
the life of me see why rail and road transport can't co-exist.
Yes it costs to maintain rail structure, but our roads aren't
too flash either.
I arrived in Winton, and made a beeline for the Dump Point at
the recreation ground to fill up with water. There are two dump
points in Winton, the other one being closer to the more populous
part of town, and I figured that most would be lining up at
that one ... I was not wrong. There were just two in line at
my DP, and they were travelling together. It helps sometimes
to have prior knowledge.
I took a drive down the main street, and as with Barcaldine
and Longreach, it was teeming, with nary a parking spot to be
found. There were lines of traffic waiting at the fuel stations
and caravan parks, and I decided to head for the Long Waterhole.
It's a freecamp area about 3 or 4 kms out of town, and everybody
tries to get their spot by the water, (providing there is water
in it at the time), but I didn't bother. I found a spot well
before the waterhole, where I figured that I would be left alone
and could run my genny without worrying about annoying neighbours.
I did my washing (I had water now, and can top up again before
I leave town) had a snooze, and woke up .... to find myself
surrounded by caravans. Damn, I just can't win. Well, bugger
it, I got here first
Tomorrow, I've got to get some food, and I have a waterhole
about 50 kms out of town that we found in 2010, and I wouldn't
mind dropping the van and going for a leisurely drive to find
it again. I checked back on 2010 footage, checked the map, and
yep, I know where it is. Let's see how smart I really am.
DAY FORTY NINE
WEDNESDAY: I had
a big day planned. I grabbed fuel, gas, and some food supplies.
There are more needed, but that particular store was light on
what I wanted, and so figured that I would get the rest if I
I then headed out
the Boulia Road toward the waterhole I wanted to re-visit. I
had figured out exactly where I thought it was on the map, but
when I got there, someone had moved it. The track in was not
the road marked on the map, but on the ground, tracks don't
care about maps, and it took me right in to the spot. When we
visited on 2010, there were some brolgas strolling around the
bush. Today, nothing. There were also campers at the waterhole,
again, nothing. Out of curiosity I followed a track that became
very obvious very quickly, this was not somewhere you would
go in your Toyota Corolla, (or any of a thousand different makes
that look exactly the same but have a different name plate)
but I digress. This track was a gnarly 4x4 track and led to
more spots along the waterhole, that the authorities never intended
to be used for camping. In fact, if it rained, and the river
rose, you would be well and truly part of it. I back tracked,
and having satisfied my desire to revisit, started the trek
back to Winton.
Aha, the Diamantina
River Road, there's a sign over there further in the bush, I
wonder where that goes. Gotta have a look. The road joined up
with the Cork Mail Road some 104 kms away, but curiously led
to a place called Collingwood, some 4kms down the road. It now
ran through the river system and if it was up and happening,
there is no way you would get through. No water today, and by
the look of the surrounding countryside, there hadn't been for
a long time.
What's this? Collingwood
Cemetery. Gotta check this out. A monument, with a plaque, telling
of the history of the town that held so much promise in the
late 1800's only to be abandoned with the rise of Winton. The
few people who were buried there, were named on the plaque.
The track led down to yet another waterhole which looked as
though it had hosted many campers over the years.
It was time to head
back into town, and a sign I had noticed on the way out directed
me to a waypoint of the Outback Way (of which the Winton to
Boulia road is a part of), which was a culvert and part of a
long gone railway line that had been preserved.
Back to town, an
effort to do the balance of my shopping, only find that the
town had shut down for the rest of the day, because of a power
Back to base for
a nap. That'll do me. All in all, a great day. This is really
the first time (other than the Gawler Ranges where I have really
stopped to smell the roses
and there weren't any.
THURSDAY: I decided
to re-create a trip we did in 2010.
The Winton Shire
Council promotes Opalton thus:
Opalton is situated 123km from Winton. It is one of the largest
opal fields in Queensland and is known for the quality of opal
mined. It is believed that opal was first discovered by George
Cragg, a stockman from Warrnambool Station, in 1888, and the
first mine was worked in 1894. At one time, Opalton was a bustling
township and there were more than 600 men working the opal field,
around the turn of the 20th century. Since that time, the population
has dwindled to approximately 25 today. In 1899, the largest
piece of pipe opal ever recorded was discovered at Opalton
it was over 10 feet (3m) long and rumoured to be as thick as
a mans leg!
The majority of the journey is on an unsealed road. No food,
drinks or fuel are available in Opalton.
A couple of corrections,
basic food and drinks are available at the van park. I was told
that there are only three people who live in the area fulltime
more on that later.
In 2011, we towed
our van through the Bladensburg National Park, travelled down
to Opalton, onto Mayneside, and then back to the Winton-Jundah
Road, where we stopped at Lark Quarry Stampede, before travelling
on to Winton. I wasn't going to stop at Lark Quarry today
it was a long enough trip as it was.
I started in Bladensburg,
calling into the Shearers Strike Memorial, Skull Hole, Engine
Hole, and Bough Shed Hole.
The "Skull Hole"
or Mistake Creek massacre at Bladensburg Station near Winton
in the late 1800s is reported to have claimed the lives of around
200 Aboriginal people. According to reports, the massacre occurred
after Winton Police Station's Sergeant Moran set out to
find those responsible for murdering a European. After he was
attacked, black troopers undertook mass killings of the Koa
people of the area.
report that at the Shearers Strike Memorial, the Cairn commemorates
the site where striking shearers camped for four months during
the 1891 strike and is dedicated to the memory of those shearers.
In early 1891, central Queensland shearers went on strike.
From February through until May, central Queensland was on the
brink of civil war. Striking shearers formed armed camps outside
of towns. Thousands of armed soldiers protected non-union labour
and arrested strike leaders. The unionists retaliated by raiding
shearing sheds, harassing non-union labour and committing acts
of sabotage. But the shearers were unable to hold out. By May
the union camps were full of hungry penniless shearers. The
strike had been broken. The squatters had won this time. But
the squatters realised that the industry could not afford to
win such costly battles. They knew they would have to work more
closely with the Shearers' Union. The outcome is credited
as being one of the factors for the formation of the Australian
Labour Party and the rise to power of a pro-Labor Party
faction in the Australian Socialist League.
The Engine Hole and
Bough Shed Hole are favourite camping areas next to the creek.
From there, onto the road south, but a quick call into Logan
Falls. It was dry, but one can imagine what it would look like
after a decent rainfall.
A pedestrian emu
took me by surprise, before I finally reached Opalton.
I drove into what is a miners camp. It had been a store 11 years
ago. I had a chat with one miner who had been there for twenty
years, but prefers the fields at Andamooka. He told me that
most of the local diggings were now about 90 kms away.
I moved on to the Opalton Bush Park. There are a number of solid
canopies which campers are free to use as their camp site. Hot
water showers are available, there is a low powered wi-fi available,
and all this costs just $2.50 per night. The Opalton Progress
Association built a store in a donga donated by a few miners.
There is one problem, but only if it rains. It sits in the channels
system, and a storm which dropped 12 in a few hours a few years
ago, left the entire area about 700mm under water. Opal products
are available at the store, but the deal is cash only no EFTPOS
system out here. However there is a way around it. A purchaser,
after looking as though she would not be able to make her purchase,
connected her mobile phone into the wifi system, and was able
to make a bank transfer via the internet. Deal done.
Initially, I was
going to return via the way I came in, but then decided that
unencumbered by the van (left at Winton), I would continue on
and refresh my memories. I can't believe I dragged the van over
this road 11 years ago. I passed through a couple of new diggings,
re-visited the grave at Mayneside of twelve year old Alice Ellen
Dakey, who passed away in July 1920. I have been here twice
in 11 years, and both times, the grave looked fresh as a daisy.
From here, the road
took me back to the Winton- Jundah Road, past the Lark Quarry
turn off, and to a cross road that I recalled had a spectacular
Jump Up a few kms away. I had to have another look. Finally,
just after 4pm, I arrived back at my Long Waterhole camp site.
I had been on the road since 9am, and had covered 350 kms. It
had been a long day.
Then a surprise,
my companion on that 2011 trip knocked on my door. I wasn't
expecting Lesley for another couple of days. It was wonderful
to see her and grandson Daniel again. I had last seen them 2
years ago on my 2019 trip.
Meanwhile, I had
left a couple of the windows open, to ease the heat in the van
it was a 30°+ day and of course I will need to get a
front end loader to remove the dust. It had been a good day.
DAY FIFTY ONE
FRIDAY: I needed
to get the Cruiser serviced. It was now way overdue. I was concerned
about running the new engine over 10,000 kms without an oil
change. And of course, that means a new filter as well. I usually
get it done every 5-7000 clicks, but trying to get service whilst
travelling, especially in this Covid era where there are at
least twice as many travellers on the road is nigh on impossible,
unless you are prepared to sit for a couple of weeks, and then,
maybe. And so, early I found where the other mechanic in town
was. I knew the answer before I asked the question, and Wednesday
next week was the earliest. I rang Lesley to find out when she
was free of her commitments, and when was she hitting Longreach.
She was free from next Wednesday, and would be in Longreach.
And so, I rang Longreach Motors (who are in fact the Tyrepower
dealer), and they could fit me in on Monday morning at 8am.
Well, I had planned to sit and watch the motor racing from my
spot in Winton over the weekend, but it would be too late to
drive to Longreach when that finished on Sunday night, so I
had a conversation with myself, and decided that I could watch
it just as comfortably from Longreach, couldn't I? And so, long
story short (too late, you've already read the long version),
I decided to pack up, and head back down the road to my camp
spot from last week at Thompson River.
I have a fan belt
that has been squealing for longer and longer periods, and there
is something making weird noises underneath the vehicle, and
so this is the perfect opportunity to get the little gremlins
sorted before I start the next phase of my journey to
who knows where. WA have decided that Qld is a Medium Risk area,
and so nope, you can't come home, and with the new cases reported
here over the past couple of days, that ain't gonna help matters
any. But then, I'm not ready to head home just yet, so things
might change over the next couple of months.
Interestingly, it appears that I could travel to the NT, and
then after a couple of weeks apply for a pass home and possibly
get it, depending on South Australia's status. I never was any
good at chess.
I am a couple of
weeks overdue for my second Covid shot. I have been chasing
around the net trying to find a place that can do the deed.
It's not that easy. Clinics are set up for one morning or afternoon,
but not on a weekly basis, dealing in one or other of the vaccines,
but not both, for over 60's or under 60's, but not both. I find
this ridiculous. We have a government pushing for us to get
vaccinated, but it seems that once you are outside the generally
well populated areas, it's a matter of we'll get to you when
we can or when we choose. So tonight, I rang the hotline, and
asked where I can get the jab. Apparently there is currently
nothing within about 200km. And Longreach is an extremely rural
town. Yes it is. Supposedly, there should be a GP who has stock
who can administer it, and so, I guess a ring around of GP's
should happen on Monday. I doubt they'll be open tomorrow, although
I will try.
I find it ludicrous
that testing lines should be so long, and vaccination centres
the same. To me the solution is simple
set up more (many more)
testing and vaccination stations. As for the rural areas, get
the vaccines out here so that the locals and the thousands (I
am not exaggerating for once) of domestic travellers can have
their shot. It's like advertising a sale when you know damned
well you have no stock to sell.
Tomorrow is another
DAY FIFTY TWO
SATURDAY: I did what I intended to do, and that is just sit
and watch my Supercars. But, in between the action, I finished
editing the video of my day trip to Opalton. It started out
as near on 3 hours of footage, but I got ruthless, and cut it
back to about 33 minutes of highlights. It has been a big week
in that I have driven to Winton, relived a couple of trips that
we did back in 2010, and then returned to Longreach, so that
I could get the car serviced first thing on Monday morning.
And so, this is the video of my day trip on Thursday to Opalton.
18/7/21 and 19/7/21
DAYS 53 & 54
SUNDAY: Sunday was
spent watching Supercars what a surprise, and it was good
to see the Eagles show a return to some sort of form.
MONDAY: I feel that
I am now making some sort of progress. I was up early and into
town to get the old girl serviced. Before I went, I did quick
rummage through my files and \dug out the blood test request
forms that my doctor wanted me to have, without any idea whether
I could organise something or not.
Once I had dropped the car off, I rang the Longreach Medical
Centre to see if there was any chance at all of them helping
me with the Covid shot that I needed. The lady told me to drop
into the surgery and she would give me a number to ring. It
was the same number I had rung on Friday as it turns out, and
then she had a brainwave and gave me the number of the Barcaldine
Pharmacy, who it appears was cleared to administer the doses.
While I was there, I asked about the blood tests, and yes, right
next door and 20 minutes later, it was done. One task completed.
I then rang the Barcaldine Pharmacy, and YES, 11.30 Wednesday
morning, I am booked in. It's just 107 clicks down the road
and where we were going anyway.
It was just a matter
now of picking up the car, and it seemed to be taking forever.
It appears they had some jobs left over from the weekend, and
so my 8.30 appointment became a 10.30 start (or thereabouts).
Finally, after sampling the wares of the bakery for lunch, I
got the car back, along with a list of things that needed to
be done when I get back home. It seems the shocks are pretty
shot, as are some of the bushes, (all expected sometime in the
near future as it turns out), and a bolt missing from the recently
replaced steering box, as well as some other bits and pieces.
We'll be giving her an easier time I feel between now and when
Sir Mark eventually let's us return home.
TUESDAY: Does anybody
remember the tune 55 Days At Peking by Rob EG? I typed Day 55
and immediately thought of it
yeah, I know
Just an easy day today. I decided that I would wait until the
rush was (hopefully) over, and then wander into town, fuel up,
top up with water, and start the long trek to Barcaldine
it's only 107 kms really, but get closer, anyway.
I got to Ilfracombe,
and figured that I would support the pub and have lunch there.
I've been here and looked at all the machinery and WW2 memorabilia
along the road back in 2010, but had never driven off the main
drag. And so I did just that. In 2003, Ilfracombe won the Tidy
Towns Competition for it's division. I think that it is safe
to say that it wouldn't be in the hunt these days. The caravan
park was chokkas, as is every caravan park everywhere up here.
I had spotted a freecamp area a few kms out of town a couple
of weeks ago while travelling to Longreach the first time, and
I thought I might just check it out. It is a sanctioned rest
area of a few hectares. The sign as you enter says it all. This
area is prone to flooding, and the ground can get very boggy
when wet. Fortunately, not a cloud in sight.
I picked my spot, and hit the sack for an hour. I received a
phone call at 4pm from the Barcaldine Chemist
he had had a
couple of no shows, and if I was in town, he would give me my
of course, I'm 70 odd kms away, and so tomorrow morning
stands. I realise that there are always valid reasons why people
can't make it, but equally, it appears that there are many who
make the appointment, and then just change their mind or don't
bother. Out here in the boondocks, you don't get the same opportunities
as the folk in the larger towns. I would have thought you grab
every opportunity offered with both hands.