4WD Adventures DVD

HITTRAX MIDIFILES

Hammond Organs

Archive

LINKS

 

4WD Oz DVD

 

CAMERON CORNER TRIP 2021

28.6.21
DAY ONE
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 way.
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 strip … 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 until now … it sat unsecured on the floor, wires hanging loose. I won't say I panicked and used a lot of bad language … just 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 room … 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 bring?

29.5.21
DAY TWO

Sometime 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.

30/5/21
DAY THREE

7.35am. 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.

10.06am. 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 here … you can wait. Onward.

4.53pm …. 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 ...

Meanwhile, 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.

I 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.

I 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.

By 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.

Two 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.

And a short while ago, it rained …. well, it dampened the ground. Who knows what is coming after Albany. (another 3mm in the last 50 minutes … I tell you, it's NOT my fault)

31/5/21
DAY FOUR

I'm 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.

I'm 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).

There 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.

There 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.

Later … much later
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.

I 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.

The 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.

Tomorrow is officially winter.

1/6/21
DAY FIVE

In 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 … and there 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.

Today 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 that.

I 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.

And 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 it.

And 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 noise.

Tonight, 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.

2/6/21
DAY SIX
I have nothing to report.

It 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 straight.

There 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 reply.

There 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 listening.

There 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 he left.

Caiguna 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.

Cocklebiddy 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.

Which 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 6 Kpl.

Not 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.

I 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.
Update:
Potatoes, washed or brushed and soil-free – ware, not for planting
  Call us

Vegetables, root – beetroot, turnip, parsnip, carrot, free of soil and tops removed
  Yes

Sweet potato
  Yes

So 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.

Flies – 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?

I told you I had nothing to report.

3/6/21
DAY SEVEN

It was a quiet day on the road compared to yesterday. A lot less truck traffic.
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.

I 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?

I 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.

I 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.

4/6/21
DAY EIGHT

I wonder if the guys at the Funny Farm have realised that I have managed to escape without their knowledge... AGAIN.

In 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 condition.

I 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 fruitless.

On 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 70”s.

It 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.

I 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.

I 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 spot.

And 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

Fortunately, I have a 20 litre container firmly attached to the caravan which came to the rescue.

What is that term of endearment my eldest son uses … Silly Old Bastard.

5/6/21
DAY NINE

Last 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.

I 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.

It's 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.

I 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.

Nullarbor 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.

Tonight 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 … football 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”.

6/6/21
DAY TEN

I 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.

I 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.

I 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 problem.

We 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.

Nundroo 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).

I 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 course.

Penong 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.

I 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.

I 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 go tomorrow.

I 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.

7/6/21
DAY ELEVEN

We 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 back up.

Meanwhile, 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 possibility … don't think I had much success.

And 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”.

The 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.

4pm, just had a snooze, and wow, the storm certainly came through. One gust at 76 kph. They predicted it.

However before that, I went looking for gas and a jerry can, so called into the local Dogalogue Store and I feel had a win … gas $24.95 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.

So now, I'm just chilling listening to Joe Cocker. Loved him live (3 times) and have a pretty sizeable collection of his recordings.

7.55pm, 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 can.

8/6/21
DAY TWELVE

9am. 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.

5.45pm
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.

Last 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.

Between 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.

9/6/21
DAY THIRTEEN

It's 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.

Wirrulla 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.

I 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.

Poochera 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.

Minnipa 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 … EXCEPT … you have to pay for it ONLINE … and there is no internet. I feel a rant coming on … Why do 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

10.6.21
DAY FOURTEEN

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.

Next 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.

It 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.

11.6.21
DAY FIFTEEN

I 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.

I 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 to me … 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 works.
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 good enough.

Another 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 access.

My 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.

The kangaroos were out in force as I returned to Wudinna. Grey, with a red neck and white front … is that what they really look like?

I 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

13.6.21
DAYS SIXTEEN & SEVENTEEN

Saturday 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 perfect.

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

Speaking 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 boarded up.

Last 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.

Sunday, 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 from it?

Originally, 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 …

15.6.21
DAYS EIGHTEEN AND NINETEEN

MONDAY: 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 England.

I 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.

I arrived at Lincoln Gap (where the Eyre Hwy meets the Lincoln Hwy) and settled into a rest area there for the night.

TUESDAY: 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.

I 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.

Tonight, 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.

I feel that it has been a successful day. If it rains tonight, we'll soon find out.

Ooh, thunder. Could be a fun night.

19/6/21
DAYS TWENTY TO TWENTY THREE

WEDNESDAY: 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.

THURSDAY: 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.

FRIDAY: 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.

I 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 a crosswind … brakes on all the way down.

A 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 floor … 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.

I 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?

SATURDAY: 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.

And 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).

20/5/21
DAY TWENTY FOUR

SUNDAY: 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 … no pool …. 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.

But, 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.

I 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.

I 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.

21/6/21
DAY TWENTY FIVE

MONDAY: 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.

A 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.

I 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.

I 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.

Then 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.

Tonight, 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.


22/6/21
DAY TWENTY SIX

TUESDAY: 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 the place … 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.

A 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 … remember I mentioned the long descent down an open road a couple of days ago.

Barmera 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.

Would 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.

I 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 … UNLESS … 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 … I hope.

As 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.

Immediately 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 ahead … easier to calculate when calling back home than 1 ½ hrs.

Tomorrow, 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.

What lies ahead? Stay tuned.

23/6/21
DAY TWENTY SEVEN

WEDNESDAY: 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.

I 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.

I 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.

I 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 … I don't 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.

Now 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.

Tanks 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.

I 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.

Time 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.

When 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?

24/6/21
DAY TWENTY EIGHT

THURSDAY: 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 Mildura.

Naturally, 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.

Back 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.

There 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.

I 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.

I 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.

25/6/21
DAY TWENTY NINE

FRIDAY: 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 it here …. or is it the other way around? Anyhow, you get the drift …. don't you?

I 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 … Hahaha … 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.

The 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 … I hasten 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.

I 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.

I 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 coverage tonight … 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.

26/6/21
DAY THIRTY

SATURDAY: 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 … nope … 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.

I 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.

I 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.

Compared 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.

So 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.

The 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 my boots.

This 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.

27/6/21
DAY THIRTY ONE

SUNDAY: 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.

It 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.

I 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.

I passed a gate with a big circular dish with something written on it. I looked. “Watch The Road” it said. LOL

I 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 van … 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.

There 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.

I 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.

The 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 ...

4.30pm, 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 … sort of.

5.50pm. My steps were just dropped off by a young couple who work in Tibooburra. Thank you packsaddle Roadhouse for organising that.

All IS good...


28/6/21
DAY THIRTY TWO

MONDAY: 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.

Tibooburra 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 … and was 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.

It 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.

I 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.

It 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.

I 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.

I 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.

It's 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.

And 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.

29/6/21
DAY THIRTY THREE.

TUESDAY: 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.

The 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 … the pole with the map of the three states emblazoned on top of it.

The 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.

The 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 period.

A 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.

I 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 tonight.

DAMAGE 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 ...

30/6/21
DAY THIRTY FOUR

WEDNESDAY: 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.

About 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.

By 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.

My 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.

But 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.

THURSDAY 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 noise … I stepped out this morning and there was another caravan parked nearby … where hell had he come from and when … oops. 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 ...

1/7/21
DAY THIRTY FIVE

THURSDAY: 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 … just have to get somewhere that will allow me to do it.

I 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.

And what is real pleasing is how my handiwork is holding up. The microwave hasn't budged since I screwed it down … let's hope I have the same result when I actually move on from here …

2/7/21
DAY THIRTY SEVEN

FRIDAY: 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 over them … 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 hills … well, I was approaching the hills, they were just sitting there with the cloud in front of them … just for the Grammar nazis … 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 …. for 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.

Last 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?

Eromanga 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.

I 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 … nope, 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.

In 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.

With 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 …

What a day ...


3/7/21
DAY THIRTY EIGHT

SATURDAY: That does it. Finally the straw that broke the camels back. I am not coming home via the Outback Way and Great Central Road.

I 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 be stupidity … but I have been stupid before, and no doubt, will be again. And so, understandably, I was having second thoughts.

And then, the last straw …

I 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.

I 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 … whingers LOL.

Nite.

4/7/21
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 a project.
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 ….

5/7/21
DAY FORTY

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 heating system.
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 fair, that's what the dogalogue store at Ceduna did... “how much” I asked … “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” …” It's the lot” … “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 …

6/7/21
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 up.
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 … success … 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 … in 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 with unleaded … 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 … wow, 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 … but to 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 larger screws … 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.

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY: 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.


7/7/21
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 goodness.

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 … Bugger. 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 next one.

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 of town.

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?

8/7/21
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 now.

Meanwhile, while 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 … don't you … 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 long.

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 anywhere else … 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.

9/7/21
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 bullet dodged.

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 gentle hum …

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 day.

10/7/21, 11/7/21
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.

12/7/21
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 … it 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 was shocking … 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 spot.

13/7/21
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.


14/7/21
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 could later.

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 blackout.

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.

15/7/21
DAY FIFTY

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 man’s 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.

Monuments Australia 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.

16/7/21
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 … well, 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.

17/7/21
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.

20/7/21
DAY 55

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 … well, 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 jab now … 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.



If you would like to contact me or email your thoughts or comments, please feel free to do so. I would love to hear from you


To view video clips taken on our current and previous trips, click here.  We upload
our footage onto YouTube

Like us on Facebook,Subscribe to us on YouTube

                                             

 

 

 

 

 

Updated 12-7-2021

©2021 lauriekibblewhite.com