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Savannah Way 2013 Trip Diary - Part Seven - The Return Home

Emerald - Sydney

DAY 129 19.10.13 Well, I didn't expect my experiences today.

I was up and happening early, the weather was much better than yesterday, and I was on the road by 8 am. I decided to do the back road to Lake Maraboon. When there in 2010, we were inundated by Rainbow Lorikeets - not a sign of them this year - mind you it was June-ish when we were there last time.

Back on the road to Springsure, and I had forgotten what a picturesque sight the Minerva Hills are. I had already passed the turnoff to the Old Rainworth Fort, when I thought that as I had missed this last time, I should have a look this time. So I turned around, and drove the 10kms to the "fort". A drive into the property, and I was met by owner Colleen McLaughlin, who began to give me a rundown on the history of the property. It all dated back to a Massacre of 19 white people by local aborigines on 17th October, 1861, co-incidentally exactly 152 years ago.

Horatio Wills led a squatter party from the colony of Victoria. A temporary tent camp was set up on the newly established grazing property of Cullin-la-Ringo. Wills' party had set out from Brisbane eight months earlier to set up a farm at Cullin-La-Ringo, a property formed by amalgamating four blocks of land with a total area of 260 square kilometres (64,000 acres). The size of the group had attracted much attention from other settlers, as well as the indigenous people.

According to the account of one of the survivors, John Moore, Aborigines had been passing through the camp all day on 17 October 1861, building up numbers until there were at least 50. Then, without warning, they attacked, murdering all the men, women and children with nulla nullas. The settlers defended themselves with pistols and tent poles, but nineteen of the twenty-five defenders were killed.

One of the party managed to ride 25 miles (40 kms) to Rainworth Station to raise the alarm. One of the survivors was Tom Wills (Horatio's son), who returned to Victoria, and ironically led the first Aboriginal Cricket Team to England, and was responsible for the formation of Australian Rules Football.

The "fort" in fact was a stone building that was commissioned a year before the massacre, but wasn't completed until a year after. Popular conjecture was that the building was built as a fortress against potential attack by the local "blacks" where in fact, it was always designed and built as a storehouse.

And so, after filming the "fort", I took a drive out to the massacre site, where Wills was buried on his own, and the rest were buried in a mass grave. I am currently putting together a video which will make it's way to YouTube.

If you are passing through Springsure, it is well worth a run out to the Old Rainworth Fort for a look. It is a piece of local history preservation. Unfortunately, as we grow older, so do the people who grew with the history, and as they pass on, so we lose the storytellers who had first hand experience of the times.

Finally, back into Springsure, and another attempt to head towards Rolliston.

Tonight, I am in a metal dump about 40 kms from Rolliston, and I have used my new satellite finder for the first time ..... and it works. You can actually see the signal change as you twist the LNB for the strongest signal. It was all guess work before. But a few more set ups will tell the story.

DAY 130 20.10.13 All in all a rather straight forward day today. I made my way into Rolleston, and then headed for my intended rest stop for the next couple of days. As you travel South through the Carnarvon Range, there is one final steep climb as you ascend to the huge cleared area, that has a rest area, and tons of space to camp in.
As I encountered the workmen working at the bottom of the hill, and passed the huge numbers of items of machinery, and we climbed the hill in a line of traffic behind a struggling b-Double at 12 kph, it suddenly occurred to me, that this crew would have probably taken over MY camping area .... and so it proved, as the area was covered in piles of metal, gravel, associated road metals, and machinery. Now as you well know, my preferred places of camping are gravel pits and metal dumps, (and in fact, I stayed at one last night complete with all the road metal types and a couple of dongers), but NOT when they are occupied by workers and machinery ...., and let's face it, they would have sent me on my way very quickly, HAD I tried to claim a plot of ground.
As it turned out, I found a nice very flat open space about 15 kms short of Injune, and all being well, that might be my camp spot for the next couple of days. I watched the full moon pop it's head from behind the hills tonight, and it's slow ascent into the heavens. Very nice.
And yep, day two of using the new Satellite finder, and up and happening in no time...... excellent.
I think that I am ready to upload my video of the fascinating story of the Old Rainford Fort to YouTube. But I am in a dodgy area signal wise, and so may not be happy. We'll see.....

DAY 131 21.10.13 Well, you wouldnít believe it. I had phone signal last night, and strong internet. Tonight, no phone signal, and dodgy internet.

I spent the day doing voiceovers for the DVD, and found myself half watching what I was reading, and half listening for traffic, and under headphones, thatís not easy. The Carnarvon Hwy near Injune is now almost like the freeway. There is mining in the area, and the amount of 4wd and truck traffic is incredible. Anyhow, we persevered.

Where I am staying, is a large cleared area, and there are a heaps of gravel spread in lines on much of the surface, waiting I guess to be graded into a flat surface. It is also obvious, that trucks have pulled into the area to catch a rest. There's a pulloff just over on the road in front of where I am camped.

I was under the phones tonight, when I heard what I thought was a train rumbling by, looked out the door, and a b-double is rolling slowly past my door about 2m away, obviously in for the night. Weíll see if he is still there in the morning.

DAY 132 22.10.13  I woke up to the sound of a diesel engine and the familiar beep of reversing machinery. Took a look out the window, and there is a grader doing what I predicted last night - yep, levelling out my camp ground. The truck had gone, but bloody hell, 7.30 in the morning. Surely they could let a man sleep a bit longer.

I decided that with the dodgy phone and internet that I would make a move, and so packed up and headed for Injune. 3 Years ago, when we filmed the Carnarvon Gorge, we left the caravan at Injune whilst we went out to Mount Moffet. The caravan park was a wide open space, on a slightly sloping hill, with basic facilities, and cost us $10 per night. Out of curiosity, I decided to call around and have a look and see if the mining in the area had made a difference. Wow, was this the same place - the bottom half of the hill was dongers, and the top half was caravans, with a few spaces available for the travelling public. The area had been grassed with access roadways. Talking to a traveller who said that it had been free 5 years ago, it now costs $27.50 pn.

I canít see where the town is gaining a lot otherwise from the increased population, as it would seem that most of the workers are probably FIFO.

And so to Roma,......... did I mention roadworks? There are roadworks happening on just about every road that I travel on, and just about every potential roadside camp is covered in road metal and/or machinery. Well, we eventually reached Roma, and the reason that just about 6/10 vehicles you passed had flags and amber lights on became obvious. I couldnít figure out why all this traffic should be on main roads, when there is work to be done at the mines. Obviously also I suppose that a lot of them are probably road workers as well. As I approached the Roma Airport, there is a carpark just chokka with these mining vehicles - aha, I said to myself ..... FIFO.

I hadnít ďtreatedĒ myself to a good old fashioned fast food ďslimeĒ for such a long time, that I called into Macdonalds for an early lunch, before continuing on my way towards Surat. There is a nice camp spot beside the river, that I figured that I would stay at for a few days, and get some serious editing done......

DAY 133 23.10.13    I canít win. Last night in Surat, I had phone signal, and no internet. So as a result, couldnít do the research I wanted to do. I did however get a fair bit of editing done.

And so I figured that today, I would head to St George for a few days, and stay at the site just outside the Beardmore Dam. I needed the net and phone coverage, and this looked perfect. And so imagine my dismay, when I found a sign at the site telling me that there was no camping, and that free camp areas were available at Nindigully, and a couple of other sites - all well away from St George. My immediate reaction was that they donít want me here, and so bugger Ďem, Iíll go elsewhere.

Meanwhile, while I was there, I decided to have a look at the Beardmore Dam. And so pulled up in their carpark, and walked to the lookout. Now this lookout is a joke. You generally like to look at the captured water, as well as the lower side of the dam. And here I was looking at the Balonne River, and the spillway, and couldnít see the lake.Oh well, turned to go, and then heard a crash, and looked to find the car and caravan had rolled down a driveway, through a gate (thank goodness) and the front of the car sitting on top of a bollard. Fortunately, not a lot of damage, and was able to be reversed off the obstacle. If that hadnít been there, it could have wound up in the river. I have no idea whether I left the car in gear, handbrake on or what, but whatever, you can be sure it wonít happen again.

And so, back to the road, I travelled through St George, determined NOT to spend any money there, and headed for the Nindigully Pub, where I am sure they will be only too happy to relieve me of a dollar or two. I immediately wrote an email to the Balonne Shire Council, posted it to their Facebook site, and posted it here as well. I will wait on their reply before posting further.

It is thundery here at Nindigully, and it is hot. There are a number of caravans camping along the river here. I recommend that if you havenít already, like their Facebook Page. It is a fun pub in the Daly waters tradition.

Hey, itís raining - only the second bit of rain Iíve had since June .... gotta say they need it out here. Itís been threatening for an hour or so, and the Radar shows a band of it going across the state - but not too heavy. The forecast mentions a chance of a storm, but then clearing up again for the rest of the week. Not what the farmers are looking for I am sure.

And just like that, itís gone ....... thatís thundery weather for you..............

DAY 134 24.10.13 Now THAT was a productive day. A nice quiet locality, cool-ish weather, and an opportunity to work undisturbed. I have all but finished the Northern Territory DVD. Just balancing audio, fixing some of the colour issues .... about another months work LOL
Then I'll have another look at the WA disk, before tackling the Queensland material.
I am at Nindigully, and this time of the year is the time to be here if you don't want to be crowded out. Having said that, the river is down, as you would expect at this time of the year. The camping here is free, there are toilets and free showers. Marvellous.
The internet is still dodgy - has trouble finding Telstra, whilst the phone is having no problems. But it has worked often enough for me to get what I needed.
And so tonight, i put on my glad rags, and went to the pub for dinner. Now I know nothing about "fancy" foods, I'm a bangers and mash type person, and so I thought I'd try this chicken dish I'd never heard of. I read the ingredients, and still didn't picture what I was getting. It was a fettuccine, and presented in a bucket ..... well a bowl that I'm sure would hold 4 litres of water. It was gorgeous.

DAY 135 25.10.13 Another productive day on the editing desk. Got the audio finished, and then started sorting out the colour on the images - there are around 1300 different clips in a production that's 1hr 50secs long, and each individual clip needs to be checked ........ and something didn't seem right .... I found that I had been correcting clips that had already been corrected ....... don't ask, it happens sometimes...... and so now, I'm correcting the corrections ...... does that make sense?

DAYS 136-7 26TH-27TH. 10.13
Yeah, I know, lazy bugger. You know in the last post, I mentioned I was correcting the corrections - well I finished, and produced an mp4 of what Iíd done, to see what it looked like .......... That was this afternoon (Sunday). Uh oh, why is THAT happening?
I learnt something about applying white balance in post....... you donít do it ...... not automatic, anyway ..... and so itís back to correct the corrections to the corrections.

Meanwhile, I went back to the Nindigully Pub last night, to give them another opportunity to impress me. I was not disappointed. This time it was Chicken Parmiagana. Incredible. Incidentally, the dish I had on Thursday night was called Chicken Affaumato

Iím back on the road tomorrow. Am looking forward to that.

DAY 138 28.10.13
About 11am er... make that midday ....... I felt like Dr Who. You see, it was right on 11am .... or was it midday, that I reached Mungindi, and as I crossed the Barwon river, the time increased by 1 hour. Yep, Queensland doesnít have daylight saving, and NSW does.

I left Nindigully after spending 4 days and 5 nights at the iconic pubs free camping ground. The weekend was spent mainly watching the fun and games from the Gold Coast. I felt that I had pushed the friendship far enough, but was sorely tempted to stay and keep enjoying the product from their kitchen. Ya gotta stay there, and ya gotta have dinner there. Itís a great spot.

Thallon is a nice, quiet little spot. It has a camp ground where you can stay for a maximum of two nights, and a fee is payable.

Garah and a bit of a curiosity. I have a habit of doing bog laps when I hit any new town, and something suddenly occurred to me ...... just about ALL of the buildings, including the police station, are painted the same colour - a cream colour. It made me wonder, did the town do a deal on a bulk quantity of the paint.

Ashley came and went ....... one memorable sight was a house that was completely surrounded with junk .......

And finally Moree arrived. I found the showground, and booked in for a couple of nights. $19.80 pn or 7 nights for the cost of 5. I may stay here longer. But first it was shopping and trying to find a laundromat. Take no notice of your GPS or phones, I drove everywhere, before finding out that the boarded up place that looked abandoned WAS in fact the laundromat. Iíll check that out tomorrow.

Itís been a good day. Time to watch the NASCAR replay. Catch you tomorrow.

DAY 139 29.10.13 dateline: Moree ....
Spent the day cruising around town today, trying to get a feel for the place. It is a pretty town, the main street is beautifully landscaped, but so many shops are closed and empty.

Also took a run out to the Amaroo Tavern to have a look at the ďBig PlaneĒ.
ďBig Plane in Moree originated in 1975 when the Australian Government handed the DC3 over to the Papua New Guinea Defence force, in the name of foreign Aid.She was pensioned off in 1992, and was bought by tender from the Papua New Guinea Defence Force in 1993. The Aircraft was then flown to Moree and towed to the Amaroo Tavern, before officially opening as a tourist attraction in April 1994.Ē
And then, obviously the heat got to me, because I washed down the caravan and the car.
Just a couple of things to do tomorrow morning, and then I head for Narrabri .......

DAY 140 30.10.13 Trucks, I have never seen so many trucks. And they are all big buggers, and they are running almost nose to tail from farming properties onto the main road and then into the grain receival points. Yep, itís harvest time here in NSW

It was a challenge to cross the road in Moree, as there seemed to be an endless stream of them ...... then there would be a gap, and then more together. And that repeated itself much of the way down to Narrabri.

Moree has a population of around 9000, as opposed to Narrabri 6000, but the latter seems to be more alive - there seems to be a lot more going on, and they are only 100 kms apart.

I checked into the showgrounds down here, and because I am travelling on my own, they gave me a super discount which encourages me to stay here for a few more nights.

On the way down, there was a range of hills that contrasted with the flat country, and looked so similar to the Stirling Ranges in the SW of WA when travelling towards Borden. It turns out, this is Mount Kaputar National Park, and there are a couple of things that need to be seen. They are at opposite ends of the park, and so one needs to drive to one, and then return thru town to go to the other. That is on the radar for tomorrow.

This is storm season, and apparently Tamworth copped a beauty yesterday. All has to do with hot air and westerly winds and all that stuff. The forecast is for that NOT to happen in the next few days again at least. I hope they are right.

Also the CSIRO Australian Telescope is just out of town, and that is of interest. Thereís a bit to do here, and so I think that I might be here for a few days.

I am looking forward to tomorrow.

DAY 141 31.10.13 Well, I woke up with a sense of purpose today. Generally when I get somewhere that I have to walk some distance (anything over 10m is some distance ), I usually get there in the middle of the day or when the sun is at itís fiercest. And so today was going to be different. I was heading for the hills, and Sawn Rock was the first target. It is a 750m walk in from the carpark supposedly, and so I was on the road by 7.55 am.

You head out to the north of Narrabri for this little gem, and I made the carpark in good time, grabbed the camera and tripod, and headed down this paved path that is very wheelchair friendly. There are a couple of seats provided along the way with information plaques, but how I wish they would put a distance sign - you know, 100m gone, 600m to go type of thing. Mind you, it WAS a lot shorter coming back than it was getting there .... it always seems to be the way when you donít know how far the destination is away from you. Anyway, I reached the target, and it is unusual. It does look like someone has attacked the rock with a saw, and created the type of thing that I used to do at woodwork at school - not intentionally of course - I was crap at woodwork. The rock rises about 40m into the air, and geologists reckon that there is another 20m below the ground.

Then it was back into town, because the road to Mt Kaputar is to the south of Narrabri. When you get to the park entry, the road changes to gravel, and pretty soon you are travelling along a road that I swear is only 1 1/2 car widths wide, with a wall on one side, and a drop of 7-800m on the other. You just hope you donít encounter someone coming the other way. About 5 kms up the hill, the road changes to bitumen, and then the first camp appears, then the first lookout ..... and what a view. You really are getting on top of the world up here .... well OUR world, anyway. Itís not as high as Europe or Nepal, but itís itís still a long way to fall off.

Continue on, and now the drop off is not too bad, and so we get Armco fencing. Why isnít this further down the mountain? The Kaputar Rock lookout. They say this is the best place to watch the Raptors soaring on the thermals........ No raptors today.
Finally, Mount Kaputar carpark arrives, and the staircase to the lookout. Again, they say that on a clear day, you can see 10% of NSW from this point. The haze today I guess is drifting smoke from the south - well south I know, but smoke does that. You could still see for miles, and it was well worth the journey to have a look.

I had a squizzy at the Dawsonís Spring campsite - there are a couple of cabins for hire up there, but apart from a motorhome, no campers up there at the moment. And so, back down the mountain, and for some reason, not as daunting. I donít know why, but I always feel more comfortable coming down from these places than I do going up. As my eldest son would say, ďsilly old bastardĒ.

I was back by 2.30 pm, started downloading the video I had taken and started shaping it into some form, and decided a nana nap was in order, and 2 hrs later crawled out of bed, just in time to cook dinner.

Have to visit the local medico tomorrow morning early, and then hopefully, the CSIRO Australia Telescope, and a round trip to Wee Waa.

DAY 142 1.11.13 On the road bright and early this morning. Had to seethe local doctor to get a pathology request for a blood test, quick run down to the hospital for said test, and then on the road.

This morning,, it was the CSIRO Australia Telescope Compact Array. The facility is 24kms out of Narrabri, and is a self guided tour. The interpretive centre is very enlightening, with a fairly detailed ďgrassrootsĒ explanation of how it all works. It all has to do with radio energy, and there are six telescopes in all, one fixed, and five on a 3 km rail track that are moved according to what is being tracked at the time.

Then on to Yarrie Lake. This is a lovely picnic area another few kms on, and there is a camping area there. Powered and unpowered sites sites are available. There are a number of shelters with tables placed right around the lake. Lovely.

And finally, on to Wee Waa. There are two ways to get here, one out the main road, and the one that leads to the telescope. And so it made sense to do a loop trip. Wee Waa has a population of around 2000, and is the claimed ďCotton capital of AustraliaĒ. The town had itís beginnings in1837, and is protected from floods by a levee bank that runs the length of the town boundary along the Namoi River.

I saw some posters about a band called Daft Punk, who I must admit Iíd never heard of. This from Wikipedia ........ ďColumbia Records announced that French electronic music duo Daft Punk would hold the global launch party for their album Random Access Memories in Wee Waa on 17 May 2013 at the 79th Annual Wee Waa Show. This caused much excitement in the town. It is believed footage recorded from the event will be used for a music video.Ē

The Imperial Hotel claims to be the only three storied hotel in the North West, and was opened in 1912. There is also the Sepilin Estate winery near the town.

there are some lovely old buildings, but the pick for me had to be ďThe Little House On RoseĒ. It featured a beautifully maintained lawn and garden, and operates as a Nursery and Giftware Outlet. The garden would not look out of place in a botanical gardens setting. Just beautiful, and a real oasis in this dry countryside.

Then it was back to the Narrabri for a bit of peace and quiet. I have decided to stay here until Monday, and try and get back into the editing side of things over the weekend. Got to get that NT disk finished. Itís bugging me.

DAY 143 2.11.13 Getting a bit slack here. Getting behind in my reporting of of non interesting stuff that I am doing.
When I reached Narrabri last Wednesday, one of the attractions was the Old Gaol and Museum. It only opens on weds and Sat mornings, and so I figured I'd be gone by Saturday, and felt that I had missed it. As it turned out, I was still here, and so I decided to take a visit. The Place is now called The Narrabri Heritage Centre, and is staffed by volunteers. I have to say that you get to a point where a museum is a museum is a museum ..... but this one is well presented and well organised.
The front door leads you into what was the jailers quarters, and then you go through the adjoining door into the Gaol itself. Each room is themed, and the collections of gear have been well organised, and kept clean. It really was a couple of hours well spent. I haven't looked at the video yet, but hope that I can put something on YouTube in the next week or so.......
Why so long? Because I purchased the newest version of my video software, and decided to download rather than get the hard copy, simply because I won't be home for a few months yet, and I can be using it in the meantime ..... I should have known better. 2 gb and the download crashed - left me with very little for the rest of the month. And so, it will be about the 10th before anything is uploaded. Mount Kaputar is ready to go. THAT was a good day.

DAY 144 3.11.13 Bugger. It's been blowing a gale here today .... well gusts, and we had a ripper about 4.30 pm, and I looked out the window at my Satellite dish as it came to roost, and the LNB has snapped off. Well, that was bad enough, but a quick perusal of the local channel ONE, and they are taking a live football game or something in the morning, and replaying the NASCAR race on TUESDAY morning. Wee wee poo poo bum bum.
Today was just head down and bum up undoing all the corrections I told you about before - nothing interesting there. Tomorrow I had intended to hit the road, but I will try and get the dish sorted, and also get a wheel alignment done. It seems to be wanting to put me in the bush at the moment, and that is NOT what I am wanting to do. And while I'm about it, may as well replace the headlight globe I've just discovered has blown .........

DAY 145 4.11.13 I jumped out of bed early this morning, and hoped that I could get one or two things done before I hit the road. I drove into Beaurepaires to see if I could get a wheel alignment - yep, come back at 9.30 - and so then I found a place who couldnít supply me with the broken part from my Satellite Dish, but had a smaller, domestic dish that I could have s/h for $50. I grabbed it. Took the car back, and finally at 1pm, was hooked up and heading towards Gunnedah. Thatís only 100km from Narrabri, and I figured that I would get there and spend the night at a rest area just out of town.

Somehow, I kept going, and wound up at the rest area opposite the Tamworth Airport. So I was setting up, and a 4wd pulled up, and I half expected to be moved on, but instead, it was one of my ďlikersĒ who lives in Tamworth, and recognised the logo on the van. And so Lee Bellanger introduced himself, and actually admitted that he reads my rubbish. It was great to meet him and have a chat, and I was quietly thrilled that someone would take the time to come over to say gíday. Thanks Lee, it was greatly appreciated.

I mucked around with the ďNewĒ dish, and got it working, and settled down to watch the replay of the NASCAR race on FOX.

Now does anyone out there use a digital satellite finder. The guy who sold this to me said it was the ducks nuts (whatever that means), and it only makes a noise when it finds the satellite. He hated the screamer thing because of the noise it makes. Well try as I might, nothing, and so, out came the screamer (this is the third time I have done this), found what I thought was the satellite, and Foxtel worked. And so I put the digital finder back on - nothing - UNTIL I TWISTED the LNB around to improve the signal and THEN it started buzzing. - What is the good of these things if you have to have everything setup to even FIND the satellite? The old $25 analog screamer is still the winner I feel. Mind you, fine tuning with the digital finder certainly sharpens up the picture.

What I donít understand is, that I am only a few minutes out of town, and I either canít get an internet signal - or Iíve got one, but it wonít deliver ...........

DAY 146 5.11.13 Am I just getting old and grumpy, or do others find the same frustrations in life that I do, but donít air them for the fear of being called a whinger.

Telstra is the latest on my hit list. There are a number of telephone companies out there, and most people will tell you that they like their provider, because of price, bang for the buck, blah blah blah, but the simple fact is that if you live on the road, there is only one provider that covers most outback and distant areas, be it because of towns, mines, aboriginal communities what ever, and that is Telstra. And if you want internet, then you need wireless.

Your phone it appears, doesnít heed as much oomph as the internet does, because I can get a phone signal, I can get an internet signal, but it wonít connect to the net, and if it does, it takes forever, and then hangs up. It starts out telling you that you have a great 3G signal, but then drops to a DC (which is the old GSM signal I think). But I can still talk on the phone and use the internet features on the phone ......... WHY?

Telstra, instead of mucking around with the 4G technology, you havenít got the 3G technology performing yet. You have a million customers in the country who deserve better, and 250,000 of those spend much of their life on the road.

I camped opposite the Tamworth airport last night, about 5-6km out of town. Now with a town of some 46,000 people, you would think you would get a decent signal. I got a better signal at the Nindigully Pub, which is 50kms from anywhere. I dragged the antenna out, better signal - no bloody internet - WHY? Talking to a few people around Tamworth, it seems that is a common problem, but what can you do about it.

WHINGE for Godís sake ..........

I stopped at a little town called Quirindi, dragged out the computer, jumped on the net, read what was important, and hit the road again. About 6 kms out of town, rest area, great place to spend the night .......... yep you guessed it ........ no net ....... but I DO have phone signal.

I unhooked the van at my Tamworth rest area, went into town, managed to get a new head for the Satellite Dish - LNB holder thingy, had a look around, and was told I should have a look at the Equine Centre - what an auditorium. They take their Rodeos very seriously in NSW and Qld, and this ring is amazing. It seats 3360 people, And there is a smaller one backing onto it. They have stabling facilities for something like 478 horses, a covered stud selling area, and truck and camping facilities for around 190 vehicles ......

I took a run up to the lookout, and you get a great view of the Tamworth area from up there. Had a quick look in the Big Guitar Information Centre. This contains the Country Music Hall Of Fame and Waxworks Gallery, but I didnít hang around there too long, as Iíd had a comprehensive look in 2010, and my video of the place is on my YouTube site.

Tamworth is a Big Town, and I no longer enjoy big towns, and so I got out and headed south. Reading the brochure, there are one or two things I could have looked at, but I had other things to do .......... Funnily enough, driving through Quirindi, a small town, I felt quite at home and loved the place.

I must have got out of bed on the wrong side today. A car drove past me with the passenger pointing furiously at the ground. Had a look - the safety chain was dragging on the ground. Next town, managed to purchase a couple of shackles. Pulled into a rest area, and water pouring out of the drain pipe. Jumped into the van, and the blinds over the sink had hooked the tap and turned it on, which had in effect drained 150 litres or so from the tank. And there were one or two other lapses of concentration that I was forced to sit myself down and have a good talking to myself about.

And so, I ainít going any further today, Iím just going to share my misdaventures with you lot ..........

Oh Bugger ....... no bloody signal

DAY 147 6.11.13 Itís been a big day. There could be worse places to be camped than at the Wiseman Ferry Ski Club camp ground. I mean tables under shelters, surrounded by hills, the Hawkesbury River a few metres away, sun shining, birds tweeting......... But I had no intention of being here.

I left my camp at the Braefield Rest area about 9am this morning, and figured if I got to Singleton, I would be doing ok. Well, Singleton came and went, and I found myself at Broke. I always wanted to go for Broke ........ . Anyway, there is a campground there that you can stay at for maximum of 3 days, and itís a pleasant little place, but it was too early. And so I kept going. My plan was to avoid the traffic on the highways as much as possible, and head for Richmond in the west of Sydney. I had a choice of the Putty Road, or the Wollombi Road. Discussions with a couple of people who know the area, convinced me that the latter was a better choice considering the size van Iím towing. It is a lovely drive, and follows a creek through the hills, through orchard and farming country interspersed with forest. But it requires a lot of concentration, and having passed a few places that I could have stopped at, but it was too early in the day, I kept going to the point where nothing was making itself available as a level-ish camping spot. Looking at the clock, I figured that 4 oíclock was when I should start getting serious, then I realised that at 4 oíclock, it is in fact only 3 oíclock. And so I really had until 6 oíclock which is really 5 oíclock before I needed to be camped down. The problem was, if I got to somewhere like a van park which closes at 6 oíclock when itís really 5 oíclock, then I might not get in ........ Does this make sense? If someone can understand it, please let me know. I keep telling you I write rubbish, but you keep reading ..... LOL

Anyhow, I found myself at the ferry crossing, and here I am. And I must say, it is a delightful little spot.

The trip through the hills was interesting. From a herd of cattle being driven down the road, to the fuel tanker driver looking at a single lane wooden bridge at Paynes Crossing, and contemplating whether he should turn back, because there was no load limit on the bridge and ...... and as it turned out, there were another couple of bridges just like that further on. It turns out that he had been following the instructions on his GPS, and it had taken him from Muswellbrook to this point, with his destination in Sydney. I suggested to him that you NEVER believe what a GPS is telling you, and you use it in conjunction with a Paper Map. He then told me that he had only been in Australia a week and was from New Zealand. I tried to make him feel better by telling him ďthatís OK mate, we can teach you how to read a mapĒ. He either had a sense of humour or didnít understand me, and I left him to reverse up and make his way back to Singleton.

Tomorrow, Richmond, and a chance to hit the rat race of traffic chaos. Love it ............

DAY 148 7.11.13 Silly old bastard ......... my eldest boy says that to me fondly (iI think) on occasion, and I have no idea why, or whether I deserve the accolade.

Contrary to last nights almost idyllic setting at the Wiseman Ferry ski park whattsie, this morning I woke to a heavy haze, and the acrid smell of smoke. There had been a dew during the night, and I guess that collected all the smoke particles together and created this curtain ...... ok, so those of you who were whiz bangs at physics are going to put me straight - whatever, it wasn't pleasant. And so I grabbed my stuff that I don't leave in the car overnight, and still having had no success with the net, decided that I would take the computer and modem in the car with me for when I got into a signal friendly area, and it got shifted out along with cameras, glasses, notebooks, you know, all the crap you HAVE to have with you in the car. I threw the computer bag on the bonnet, found my keys, unlocked the car, and threw everything in.

From the caravan park road, you take a right turn up a cliff face, straight into a right hand u bend, and hope you can get up there without meeting some crazy doing a hundred clicks around the blind corner. It was a first gear drag for the old girl up the hill, that just didn't want to stop. Finally, we reached the summit, and then negotiated this twisting, bucking road - I said BUCKING - it was fairly rough from the amount of truck traffic it gets each day ....... I was every now and then pulling off to let quicker traffic past - well, everybody was quicker, let's face it - and so I didn't have a lot of time to think about other things. And then a straight bit - thinking time - I should set the white balance on the camera to the white car bonnet I thought, and looked over to the passenger side of the window, and wondered what was my computer bag DOING ON THE BONNET - WTF - I've just done 15-20kms over this rough bloody road and it's still there !!!!!!!

I can hear my sons words, ringing my ears.

I was heading for Richmond. The Richmond club have a rest area set up opposite the club premises. You have to join the club - $5 for a year - and you can camp for a maximum of 3 nights, twice a month. You only have to go elsewhere for one night, and then you can come back. And so, I joined, got my plastic membership card, booked in for 3 nights, will camp somewhere else on Sunday nigfht, and come back Monday. And that will round my Sydney stay out just nicely.

Now, whilst I'm in "civilisation", I figured that I would try and get the washing machine fixed. There is a repairer just down the corner, but no, they don't do the Dometic caravan washing machines ........ it seems not many people do, because not many people want to for some reason. They sent me to the only local repairer - some 23 kms away, who ..... yep, you guessed it, does the fridges and stuff, but NOT the washing machines.

They gave me another number. This time, i was smart - it's later in the day, and I am beginning to wake up .... I phoned it, and yep, bring it in Monday morning early "we are open at 6am". Geez, I've usually only just got to bed by then. And so, it's a matter of trying to find a caravan park with a drive-thru site for Sunday Night that is close-ish to our repair man.

The Richmond RAAF airbase is just down the road, and every now and then, one of their planes practices a touch and go on my caravan roof ....... How in God's name DO they stay up there?

Today I spent finding my way around the place, learning to deal with traffic again - I hate cities - remember, I couldn't wait to get out of Tamworth ...... And so tomorrow, I can try and do something useful, hopefully without the "Silly Old ....." stigma attached to it.

DAY 149 8.11.13

I had a problem last night with my inverter. I had taken a site with no power, and I had switched the Genny of at 7pm as per the rules of the Richmond Club, switched on the Inverter, watching TV, and phttt, shut down. I wandered outside, looked at flashing lights, the alarm system on the inverter - nothing made any sense. The batteries had been charged up the night before, there had been no drag, and the solar system had been charging everything up during the day, but put the inverter on, and watch the voltage drop like a stone. And so I either have an overheating system , a dodgy battery, or something else.

So I woke up this morning, and just for the heck of it, switched it all on, and it worked. Ah, must have been an anomoly. And so, I get home tonight, run the genny, hit the charger, everything comes up roses, turn off the genny at 7pm, switch on the inverter and whammo - itís back. It was hot and steamy in Sydney, but no worse than Queensland, and so I wondered whether the batteries had got a bit low. Weíll see what happens in the morning.

I needed to stock the larder, so looked for Woolworths on my HN6, and it took me to a dead end street in Windsor, with a couple of old buildings - no Woolworths. There was a Woolies Servo nearby, but no supermarket. And so I decided to take a run around the place, and found myself in the town centre, amid a heap of old buildings - classy type shop thingys. And then around the block and THERE was Woolies - right street, other end of town.

After lunch, I decided that I might go back to Windsor and have a look around. If you have wandered around Sydney ďburbs, you will notice that the streets are narrow, like they created them in the late 1700ís and as they expanded the city, never widened the streets. Well, get out to Richmond and Windsor and the like, and you could swear that you were in the centre of Sydney for a block or three. Except that you are Miles/Kilometres from Sydney, out in the sticks if you like, because get to the end of the street, and youíre back amongst the cows and sheep and stuff. Despite that, the buildings are amazing examples of the older architecture, and the main street of Windsor has been changed into a Mall, and it really was a pleasant little meander.

Time to go, so down the end of the street, turn left, across the river, and follow the crowd, with an ďI wonder where this road goesĒ mentality. The road took a swing left, and I for some unknown reason (as most of my reasons are) went straight on down what looked like a narrow country road - did I say that as soon as we crossed the bridge, we were back in cow country again - and I spent the next 10 minutes driving past endless numbers of Turf Farms , which were hugging the river, and presumably getting their water from same. About now, I decided to get ďWandaĒ to tell me how to get home. We were now in horse country, up a hill, into North Richmond, and left onto Bells Line Of Road. Now I have no idea WHY it was called that, but it played a significant role in last months bushfires. And finally back home.

And thatís when I discovered that I had no power, the battery had run down in the computer, and so it was onto the phone and annoy other people for the night.

DAY 150 9.11.13
I jumped out of bed and with an air of expectancy, turned on the inverter and was blinded by a red light. Yesterday mornings miracle wasnít going to repeat itself. And so I ducked over to the office, organised myself onto a powered site, and decided that it was time to do a little exploring.

Facebook friend Terry had suggested that I should take run out to Bell via Bilpin, across to Mount Victoria, and back home over the Blue Mountains. I only had today or Tuesday to do the trip, and with dodgy weather forcast for early next week, and it being a nice, relatively clear day today, the decision was made. And so it was onto the Bells Line Of Road, and into the hills. It was fun doing it without the van, the old girl seemed to appreciate being able to stretch itís legs just a little - despite 60-80 kph speed limits. The Blue Mountains Botanical Park loomed, and although itís not really my thing, I pulled in to have a look. It is very impressive, and lucky not to be affected by the fires.

And onwards - was that Bilpin - I think I saw something, and then after stopping and looking at some amazing mountain country a couple of times, I arrived at Bell - or did I? There was a Heavy Vehicle Checking Station, an intersection, and a railway station. And so instead of turning off, I continued straight on for a couple of kms, and came across a cafe on itís own. I called in, ordered lunch, and asked about Bell. There is no shop or roadhouse or anything - just what I saw. It is the junction of three localities, and in fact the cafe was the only commercial business in the area. Aha, so I wasnít imagining things - for once.

Back to the intersection, and a drive across to Mount Victoria, where again I jumped out, grabbed the camera, got a few shots of buildings from another era, before continuing down the hwy back towards Katoomba. I turned onto the Blue Mountains Drive, and followed around the lookouts before finally arriving at the Three Sisters. Now I last saw these girls when I was 13, and you know, they didnít look as though they had aged at all. Mind you, the structure of the place is now totally different. Now, I never take selfies - they just donít work with me, but this time I thought ďwhat the hell, letís do itĒ ......... and failed miserably. The proof will be uploaded later.

And then finally on the run down the hill, the sign pointing to the Norman Lindsay Gallery flashed into view, and I went for it. Iíve always wanted to go there, and after a plea in the media a week ago about how it had escaped the flames but had got some smoke damage or something, and the gallery was re-opening and please come and look ...... I went. I arrived, and a wedding party were taking photos, and so I wandered around the gardens, and headed down to the galleries only to be told that the place closed at 4pm, and it was now 4.25pm. The fact that I had come 17,000 kms to see this place didnít hold any weight, and will I still be around in the next day or so .......... bugger.

Oh well, got some shots around the garden, just didnít see the Etchings and Sketchings.

And finally back to Richmond, and a test on the now newly charged batteries and inverter ...... and I think itís working. But Iíve got power and Iíll worry about that later.

What I did notice today, apart from the very real evidence of recent fires, was the number of signs planted all over the place hand painted saying

ďthank you RFSĒ

Hear Hear


DAYS 151-152
10.11.13 And 11.11.13

Sunday, I had to leave Richmond for the night, and I had planned to take the caravan to an authorised Dometic washing machine repairer first thing on Monday morning. And so I relocated to Avina Van Village in Vineyard. It was a crappy (but much needed) day in Sydney, and so having set up, it was perfect weather to sit down and get some work done.

Monday morning, and on the road about 6am. A busy single lane highway in drizzling rain with a 30í long caravan is not my sort of fun ........ mind you itís not even in fine weather - but we did the 23km journey in good time and arrived just after 6.30. The guys got to work, couldnít get the diagnostics to tell them why it wouldnít dump water, and the scraping sound in the barrel was a mystery. If you pushed the barrel in, it didnít scrape, let it go and it did. Classic case of something being caught in there. The machine came out, and a short while later, I was presented with the remains of a bra strap and hooks. It had somehow torn in the wash, and disappeared into the drain hose. That solved the blockage problem. Not long afterwards, an undercup wire was presented to me - that had got caught up under the drum, hence the scraping sound. Problems solved, machine re-installed, and the credit card plundered.

I must remember to put my bras in a wash bag when I do them in future ........

Strangely, Annette wasnít interested in getting the pieces back when informed that I had saved them for her.

Now, while Iím on the road, I figured that I would drop into Parravans down the road in Windsor, and see if I could get a problem with my awning sorted, and also tackle the fact that I had discovered that the Breakaway Unit was not functional. The drizzle stopped long enough for the technician to discover that we had torn a piece of the support pole bolt hole out completely, and so a new one of those was fitted, along with new foot. There was voltage in the breakaway battery, but a bit below what it should be, and there was no guarantee that it would recover - no brainer, itís 5 years old, replace it ........ then I discovered that I had left my step at the Washing Machine repairers ........ honestly .......

We discovered that the 12 volt from the car wasnít working, and that we still had problems with the inverter - jobs for a specialist ..... and so into the office and plunder the credit card some more.

And so it was back to Richmond, to find some of the streets under water in the dips - we had received over 50mm rain overnight, and it was still drizzling.

Back into Richmond Clubs Travellers Rest for the next three nights, time to set up the dish for the NASCAR race - and bugger, where the hell is that compass? And so I had to guess where the sun was somewhere up above the cloud, and finally got a fix, and all was once again good in the world.

And what a cracking race ...........

And now the battery charger has died ...... OK, on the phone tomorrow to find a 12 volt place who can finally sort this mess out for once and for all.


DAY 153 13.11.13
It was raining again this morning, but there were patches of blue sky poking through the cloud cover as I headed across to Whalen to catch up with Terry Everson. I got sent on one detour as the road was closed due to flooding - there was no water near the road level at the time, but a couple of guys were down there inspecting the road - well just a bit more countryside to have a look at.

It was great sitting down with Terry and chewing the fat for a couple of hours. And then it was time to head back to Richmond, and so because I knew that the road was not covered by water, I ignored the road closed signs and headed down St marys Road, and yep ...... it WAS closed ....... Smart arse ....... mind you, a couple of locals were right behind me, so maybe theyíve been through this before.

I had spent the morning on the phone, organising to get the electrics sorted out in the caravan. There seems to be a different problem each night. I had intended to hit the road on Thursday, but Monday next week is the earliest I can get the van looked at, and so finding a caravan park that is close enough was the task at hand. I tried a couple of parks who told me that they only had permanents, or had converted to a cabin village...... and these are the sorts of people opposing free camping .... well maybe thatís a bit unfair in this case, because it IS in the metro area, and you donít really expect much in the way of free camps in the city ........ mind you, with the decline in caravan parks, maybe councils SHOULD look at making land available for low cost and budget camping. I did find a park, and I move there on Thursday.

Tomorrow, I catch up with my littlest girl Suzy. I am excited.

DAY 154 14.11.13
This was what I had come to Sydney for. To catch up with my daughter Suzy, who came over to Sydney for work experience about 14 years ago, and never came home. She is a lighting technician at The Opera House among other gigs. Iím very proud of her.

And so, it was my first experience at catching trains in this city. I arrived at Redfern just in time to watch my link train leaving the station. But the next train came in quickly, and about 10 minutes later I was at Newtown and getting a big hug from my little girl.

We had lunch, and then all too soon, it was time for her to head off to work, and I headed for the railway station. Now, one of the advantages of being an old bastard, is that we can get an excursion ticket, that lets us go anywhere on rail, buses and ferries for just $2.50. And so I thought what the heck, lets go to Circular Key, and then I made the snap decision to catch the ferry to Parramatta, and then jump on the train back to Richmond. I was advised that I should get off at Rydelmere, and so while waiting for the ferry, I searched for the details of the rail trip back home. What I found was, that there wouldnít be a train until the next morning. And so I abandoned the idea, and caught a couple of trains back home instead. And then when I checked on the computer to confirm what I had found at the wharf, I found the information on the phone was wrong, but I would have still had to catch buses and stuff......... maybe next time.

Itís been a great day.

DAY 155 14.11.13
Itís happened again. Iíve moved camp - the terms of arrangement for staying at the Travellers Rest at the Richmond Club are three nights only twice a month, and IĎve done that. And so, because I am getting the Electrics sorted out in the van next Monday in North Richmond, I needed to find somewhere close-ish. And so I found a spot at the Butterfly Farm Ski joint - itís not called that, but itíll do for now until I wander down to the gate and look at the sign. Any how, this afternoon, I managed to get a signal with an antenna on. And tonight ........ NUFFIN .............

So if this appears tonight, itís because it happened to work for a few nano seconds. Just changed the antenna to a stronger one - weíll see what happens.

I needed to get the car serviced, and I have tomorrow planned, and the weekend is no good, and Monday the car and van are tied up, so I headed up to Windsor, and there is a tyre place that also services motor vehicles, and they were doing nothing it appeared as I drove past, so i dropped in, and they took the keys off me, told me to rack off, and come back in a couple of hours ...... and so I did.

My regular readers ..... I canít believe I have regular readers apart from my family, and Iím not too sure about them ........ will recall that I took a walk thru Windsor a few of days ago, and so I headed down the street in the opposite direction, and found this oldish building that was a shopping mall ..... Inside, totally different, very modern, and had a chat with Dennis Lees, a guy who has put together a bundle of easy listening CDs, and who was demo-ing in the shopping centre.

Finally back to see if the tyre guys would let me have my car back, plundered the credit card again, and mission accomplished.

Before I went into town, I had loaded up my washing machine and hoped that when I came home, the washing would be hung out on the line and drying ......... well, the washing was done, it was in one piece, and there was no water in the machine, and the washing was damp ........ IT WORKED .......... thank goodness, that CC plundering was worth it. And so I put up my awning, and THAT worked as well - more worthwhile CC expense...... and put up my expensive nylon rope washing line, hung it all out ..... A mans work is never done .... and after all that, I was buggered, and so a nana nap was in order.

Tomorrow, Terry Everson and I are going driving for an hour or three. I am looking forward to that.

DAY 156 15/11/13
Wow, it is an angry sky at this moment above Wilberforce NSW. Thor is venting his spleen, and it is bucketing puppydogs and pussycats. Earlier this evening, I went to the office to pay my fees for my camp spot, and the lady was telling me how the rain tends to hit Windsor and Richmond, but generally leave this little area alone, and it rarely hails. Half an hour later ......... hail ...... minute I must admit. But the drops of rain at the moment are not encouraging me to dance outside. They sound BIG. And it is 10.12pm, so why would I anyway.

Today, Terry, his mate Bill and Brother Ken came and picked me up, and we went driving in the hills. The countryside around here is gorgeous. We followed the Colo River for the most part, and being way out west, we were in the mountain areas very quickly. The bush would suddenly break open to cleared patches where small farming properties are set up, and you can't help but fall in love with it. Then you wonder how they get on if the river floods - hasn't flooded in years you are told, which all means that today, you are one day closer to when it will flood again ......... hehehehe

We wound up back at the Butterfly Farm at 3pm, and it was then that I went to pay my fees. The Butterfly Farm used to once upon a time, be a live venture. But it appears that the place kept getting flooded - being right on the river, which is a comforting thought now that it's piss-istingly bucketing outside right now - and the butterfly enclosures kept getting washed away, and so nowadays, it is instead a museum featuring the butterfly story.

Tomorrow, lunch with my little girl.


DAY 157 17/11/13
I had cause to go to my daughters place today to attempt to download a video program I purchased about 3 weeks ago, and decided to get the download, rather than get it mailed and wait 'til I got home to use it. That was a wrong move in itself - there is over three gigabytes to download, and it takes a couple of years on a good broadband system to do that. We were mildly successful yesterday. We downloaded one file into my windows system (on my Macbook Pro), and one file onto Suzy's Macbook Pro, but on the Mac side. The problem at the end was, the HDD I brought with me was formatted for windows, and I was unable to extract it from her machine. I won't go into technicalities, but we have worked out a way to do that, and she will post it on to me.

I didn't get away from her place until about 7.30, and she had long gone to a wedding, and so I was starving, and I knew that there were fast "food" places on the way home - I had a 57 km drive ahead of me. And so I pulled into Hungry Jacks, not really being a fan of the American Embassy (sorry, MacDonalds), and I discovered something that I had suspected for a long time.

Have you seen the ads on TV, where the guys are making the effect with their hands that they need to hold a HJ Whopper in two hands, because it is so big. Well, last night, I discovered the truth. The fact is, that you need two hands to hold it, because one bite, and the bun DISINTEGRATES into a thousand pieces, with you getting yourself covered in meat pattie, egg, (I had an Aussie), and 3 1/2 tons of lettuce and a couple of gallons of mayonaise. The "Sesame Seed Buns" are crap.
Whatever happend to decent burger buns. Those of you who survived the fifties and sixties, when burgers WERE burgers, will remember that the buns were robust, we didn't need the added attraction of Sesame Seeds, because the ingredients which WERE fresh, were tasty enough in themselves. And we had real sauce, either tomato or barbecue added. They were made to order fresh, not pulled out of a fridge and whacked through a microwave oven - for you younger readers, that is a fairly recent invention.

And where are all the bakers who knew how to make bread. The poppy seed loaf, that we used to rip the end off, eat all the bread inside, and then pack the hollowed loaf with hot chips........ those were the days. And what's happened to the Horseshoe Roll, covered with Poppy seeds - and there's another thing you don't see much of these days - poppy seeds.

And when you ordered a milk shake, you got it in the tin they mixed it up in. Not today - they mix it in the tin, pour the half the contents into a "tall" glass, and then dispose of the rest. Why not give us the rest of it while you are about it?

Sorry folks, it wasn't a very exciting day today. I had too much time on my hands as I drove the 52 kms home to think about these thingsÖÖÖ


Sydney - Albany

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Updated 30.9.2013

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