2010 Trip Diary
to Sydney Brisbane
- 300km Radius Brisbane
to Bourke Bourke
to Cape York To Weipa Weipa
to Townsville Townsville
- Blrisbane Brisbane
1.9.10 Spring is with us, and nowhere is that portrayed more
brilliantly than in the Simpson Desert. We were packed and on
our way by 8.45am, and wondering just what lay ahead - Sandhills,
tons of sandhills, and altho the drive was slow, it was never
boring, as the flow of traffic coming towards us increased as
the day wore on, detours around lakes, birds, wildflowers and
just a desert in bloom. I remarked this evening how I felt both
privileged and cheated - privileged, because I have seen the Simpson
Desert alive, but cheated, because I hadn't seen it the way it
usually presents itself - But I said that earlier in the year
as well as we travelled areas recovering from floods, and again
lush with growth that was unusual. It just gives me an excuse
to come back - as if I needed an excuse. We only covered about
120kms today, but it took all day to do it, as we rolled into
Poeppel Corner at about 5pm Qld time, 4.30 NT and SA time - confused?
We did our photo shoot, and found ourselves a campsite about 5kms
from the corner. It has been a wonderful day.
Well, having driven all the way out there, it was time to drive
all the way back. Yesterday, we spied a Goanna sitting in the
top of a dead tree, and a heap of birds and the odd lizard. Today,
would be the turn of the dingo. This bloke must have thought he
was a camel, because we chased him about a km down the road before
he went bush. However he couldn't have strayed too far from the
road, as a voice on the 2-way told the world that they had found
the dingo. The wind was starting to pick up pace, and we had been
treated to a bit of a lightshow last night, and rain was the word
that kept running through my brain, altho you would never think
it from the sunny day we were experiencing. We arrived back at
Big Red, having measured some of the hills we had climbed over
during the day - the tallest we measured was 32m, or not far short
of 100 Feet. Big Red is supposedly the tallest sandhill climb
in Australia, and we sat at the bottom and watched a Winnebago
make a couple of attempts before he succumbed to the "chicken
track". We sat at the bottom, selected 2nd low, 16 psi in
the tyres, and with the rev needle sitting on 3400, we did a standing
start, and a few seconds later, crested the hill to the sight
of a lake full of water on the other side. We had done Big Red
in one take. That had been my ambition - achieved - back down
the hill, and back into Birdsville to fuel up, grab some basic
supplies, check emails, facebook and the weather, and with the
threat of rain in the area we were heading in, it was time to
go. We left Birdsville at about 4.30 EST, and drove onto the Birdsville
Track. We camped about 15kms out of town on a sandhill, as the
low lying areas were too much of a risk with the threat of rain.
We set up a basic camp (tent and beds) and hit the sack.
We awoke to rain, a thunderstorm, heavier rain, and then it stopped.
Time to get up and go. We were on the road early (7.15am CST),
and the wisdom of our choice of camp spot was realised. There
were sheets of water lyiing in the low areas between the sandhills,
and we would have been floating. However altho overcast, the day
didn't look too bad, and we had a fairly pleasant days drive,
stopping off to have a look at some Whistling Ducks in a floodway,
and then crossing numerous patches of water across the road, and
negotiating some fairly gluggy muddy patches as we moved further
south. All the while, I was keeping an eye on some ominous black
clouds building to the west, and we were delighted to be treated
to the sight of a duststorm on a lakebed with a black cloud backdrop
- superb - but not for long. The black cloud started to spit,
then became steady, and the road turned to grease. We were lucky
to survive without damage, an incident just 4 kms from our refuge
for the night, when the rear of the car desperately tried to swap
ends with the front. We did leave the road, but fortunately, all
fairly flat ground - and all this at less than 60kph. We arrived
at the Mungerannie Hotel a few minutes later, to join the 40-50
other people who had preceded us, and were now waiting for the
road south to re-open, it having been closed at 10pm last night.
A few minutes later, the news came through that the road we had
just been on was now also closed to traffic. We booked a room
for the night, the ground being clay about an inch deep minimum.
As we hadn't eaten much all day, a burger was demolished,and then
a couple of hours later, tea time, and the news that the Birdsville
races had been cancelled for only the third time in its history.
As I write this, it is bucketing down outside, and the forcast
is for a fine day on Sunday, which means we could be here until
Tuesday or Wednesday at the very least.
We awoke to a fine morning, a stiff breeze, and the water lying
on the ground rapidly drying out, which is amazing, considering
we had 43.2mm over night. Unfortunately, further south, the falls
were heavier, with Leigh Creek receiving 100mm. The road report
for the morning essentially said - South Australia - forget it,
it's closed. And so, to amuse ourselves - I set up office in the
bar of the pub, and attacked some overdue editing, whilst Lesley
locked herself in the room and got stuck into editing her photographs.
She reminded me that her camera will only register 9999 images,
before reurning to 0001. We had already crossed that hurdle since
leaving Brisbane 148 days ago. And now it seems, she is going
to have to cross it again. That's a lot of photos, and I've got
to tell you, they are fantastic. I recommend that you follow the
links above, and have a look at some of her work. Other than that,
a couple of disappointing footy results, with the Dockers sure
to be insufferable over the next week, and Collingwood having
no trouble with the doggies. And come on Geelong ........ Yep,
we do have SOME communication with the outside world. And our
thoughts are with the people of Christchurch - a magnitude 7 earthquake
is nasty in anyones language. Goodnight.
Yep, we are still here. and so I have spenbt the last two days
catching up on editing video, and lesley has been working on photos.
So that's 3 solid days of office work that I have got out of the
way.,,, The track is still closed, and will be reviewed tomorrow.
It looks like we will head back to Birdsville, as everything looks
to stay closed south of here. At least we will have some communication
Had resigned myself to another day in Mungerannie, when we got
word that the track to Birdsville had been opened, but was still
in a pretty bad way. We were packed and ready to go, and so decided
we would give it a crack.
Water - I have never seen so much water, and that was JUST on
the road. The only real experience I have had with water was on
the Old Telegraph Track, and so the first couple of stretches,
I tried to push thru too hard, and altho we got thru, it was obvious
it wasn't the right approach. And so started using 2nd low and
creeping thru, and low and behold - much better. I learnt a lot
about my car, it's capabilities, and my own today. Definitely
not a wasted experience.
We got back into Birdsville just before dark, whipped the tent
up, and dived into the pub for dinner. Drove back to the camp
down the main street of town on high beam with the spotlights
...... and still couldn't see a thing. The mud just obliterated
Slept well last night. Took a run into the information centre,
and found that the road to Bedourie was open, and from Bedourie
to Windorah was 4wd only and to use extreme caution - couldn't
be any worse than yesterday - then the weather turned, and we
got a bit of rain -and as suddenly as it came, it was gone.
We left town, wondering what was ahead of us, and to be truthful,
today has been almost a non-event. Some fabulous wetlands with
lots of birds, and the most glorious day - even got quite warm.
Tonight, parked about 100m from the road, with a million bugs
all wanting our light. If the Windorah road is supposed to be
a shocker, tomorrow will tell the tale - but a conversation with
a guy going the other way indicates that we are in for a reasonable
day - here's hoping.
We left our campsite, and negotiated the first hazard , which
was near our camp, and then continued on our merry way. This stretch
of road had been built p to describe a horror trip, but in reality,
a very pleasant drive with just a few hazards which, if negotiated
with carte, were no problem. We covered the 220 kms to Windourah,
had lunch, and then set out for Quilpie. The skys had looked rather
ominous to the south opf us, and we hadn't gone far, when the
heavens opened, and for the next hour and a bit, we drove in blinding
visibility, watching the water levels increasing on the road side,
and at 1.30, you would have sworn it was 4 hours later, it was
so dark - tyhen, we were out of it, and soon after, in Quilpie.
We checked the 3 pm weather at both Quilpie and Windorah, who
had recorded 1mm and 2mm respectively - which in no way reflected
what we had just been through.
We set up camp where we shouldn'y have in town (again), had a
hot shower (free and supplied by the council), had dinner at the
bowling club, and hit the sack. It had been a big day. 468kms,
and the storm had made it feel like a lot more than that.
It had rained a fair bit through the night, but our Oztent had
kept the elements at bay, and I have to say that I am rapt in
the product, and pleased that I made the investment. We packed
up, and got on the road early, and by 8am, were about 15kms out
Today was a straight run, we had about 490kms to get to Roma where
had stored the van, and with a few stops along the way, we arrived
at 4pm. The first thing was to check that the fridge was still
working. We were on an unpowered site (no point paying the extra
if we are not using it, we thought), and had left the fridge running
on gas, and I had switched it to the new bottle. Opened the freezer
door, and what a mess, and stink I might add. I checked the gas
bottle.... and it was turned off. I was sure I had turned it on.
A few enquiries, and it seems that a neighbour had smelt gas coming
from the bottle, and so had turned it off .......... Was not happy
Jan. We are now trying to freeze everything again, before we attempt
to clean up the mess.
We spent an hour or two updating photos and facebook before grabbing
some KFC for tea, watched the Dockers go down (I must admit I
lost interest after the first quarter, and bedtime.
Trip Photos - Road
to Birdsville Birdsville
Desert In Bloom Birdsville
We just chilled out - Lesley put 5352 loads thru the washing machine
- now that we got it fixed, let's wear it out - and it only holds
one pair of my undies at a time LOL - and I watched some of the
motor racing from Philip Island........ slack, I know ....…
13.9.10 Time to leave Roma, and as we left the caravan park, one
of the load levelling bars fell off - the one that fell off in
Bundaberg. This can be disastrous. And so we went to someone who
knows what they are talking about, and they found that it has
worn badly, and it really needs to be welded and reshaped and
....... and so, I checked the price of a new one, OUCH, and decided
to get to Toowoomba, and replace it. It's only fallen off once
so far - and only when we turn left .......
Tonight, we are at Wallumbilla.
After leaving Roma, we headed to Toowoomba, where I made arrangements
to replace the stuffed Reece Hitch. That done, we spent a couple
of days/nights at Federation Park, before heading down the hill
to Marberg, where we booked into the showground for a couple of
weeks. Marberg is a quaint little village, and I would be quite
comfortable living here. Yesterday, we took a run over to Rosedale,
which is a coal mining town, and then to Haigslea to sample their
famous Award winning pies ...... NOPE ..... didn't rate ........
Then washed the car., which was well deserved by the old girl.
This week, she will be given a service and a complete going over.
She's done close to 40,000kms over all sorts of terrain in the
past 9 months, and I still have to get back to WA.
TRIP VIDEOS 2010
Desert In Bloom
- North Queensland
Telegraph Track - Qld
Hwy - Qld
Gulflander - Normanton - Qld
War Memorial - NSW
O Bourke Hotel - before the fire
The Ant Ordeal - Bourke
Moffat - Top Shelter Shed - Carnarvon NP
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love to hear from you
more photos, visit Lesley's site. Queensland,