Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Kidman Way, NSW.

Crossing the Queensland / New South Wales Border we entered The Kidman Way. This Tourist Route crosses NSW, in a North/South direction and terminating at Tocumwal, a Murray River town. By using The Kidman Way, caravaners can avoid the majority of freight trucks. Most of these trucks use The Newell Highway further to the East.

Our first stop-over was at South Enngonia Rest Area. This is a large flat area with no amenities but about 12 vehicles stayed the night. Alongside the Picnic Shelter was a Memorial Cairn commemorating the lives of Brother and Lenny Gleeson. The brothers were the first to create and use the principle of "The Road Train" form of freight haul. Brother was the first driver to have his licence endorsed to operate a Road Train.

Via 'the travellers' grapevine', we had heard great reports of The Mitchell CP at Bourke, NSW. We decided to stay a night and check it out. Steph and Dan, a young couple managing the park are doing a fantastic job, welcoming and entertaining all visitors. That there was almost 100% roll-up at the Happy Hour is testimony to Steph and Dan's enthusiasm for their caravan park.

Further on we arrived at Cobar and found Newey Reservoir. What a delightful Free Camp this is! The reservoir was once the town water supply but is now utilised soley as a recreational park. There are toilets for 'day use and camping patrons. The town of Cobar is most welcoming and contains most of the services a traveller would need. We stayed three nights here but could easily have stayed longer.

We moved on to Hillston, only a small town but easily accessible by foot from the Free Camp on The Lachlan River. We stayed two nights beside The Lachlan.

We then moved onto the City of Griffith. Once again we were able to access a Free Camp, this time at Wyangan Lake, about 9 km from the City Centre. We stayed five nights at this camp but still did not take in all the Tourist Highlights of the District. Griffith is located in The Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, (MIA). Among many other crops this is a major wine producing centre, with producers of the calibre of McWilliams, De Bortoli, Casella Wines, producers of the Yellow Tail Label, Wauburn Estate, producers of Gossips and Rumours Labels. It is our intention to return to the fabulous City of Griffith on a later trip.

Eventually, we moved onto Finley, staying at The Finley Lake CP. At $50 for three nights, what more could you ask for! We welcomed the 240v power as we encountered one of those notorious 'Southern State' Cold Fronts. Bitterly cold Southerly winds and 1 deg mornings. We could exercise, after the sun come up, by walking the 2 km circuit around Finley Lake, or we could walk a similar distance into town. Due to the prevailing weather conditions we stayed in Finley for 4 nights before taking the final leg of the journey to Geelong.

This will be the final Blog Post for this exciting tour of Australia. We have seen many places of interest and met some wonderful people along the way. Some of these people we hope to maintain lasting friendships with. We have already been asked, "What or where is your favourite place that you have visited?" We cannot honestly answer that question as all places are different and have their own appeal for different reasons. We didn't dislike any place we visited! Up to this point of our travel, we have covered about 28,000 km over 13 months and enjoyed every day of it. By the time we arrive home we will have covered about 31,000 km over 15 months.

We are making a deviation to Victoria to visit with family living in the East and West of the state. We will then leave Victoria early November and make a relatively quick trip home to Hervey Bay. We anticipate arriving home "around" mid to late November.

WOW, what an experience!!!

Tune in again around mid 2016.

Arriving in Bourke from the North this imposing structure strikes the eye.

It is the Bourke Information Centre.

An imposing entry to Cobar.

A haul truck winding it's way down into the pit of this gold mine on the outskirts of Cobar.

The haul truck is just about to enter underground section of the mine.

Looking over the open cut to the town of Cobar.

Some old mining relics from a bygone era.

There is an informative Mining Heritage Park in Cobar depicting many aspects of the Gold Mining Enterprise.

More of the extensive park at Cobar.

An underground bucket loader.

The Loader above is powered by this massive electric motor.

The Information Centre at Cobar.

Some of the 'string' of caravans camped along Newer Reservoir.

The reservoir level is quite low at the moment. The caravans above are along the tree line on the right of this photo.

Our view of the reservoir from the caravan.

Camped on the bank of The Lachlan River.

Lake Wyangan, out of Griffith.

Lake Wyangan at the Boat Ramp.

There is a large Day Use area at Lake Wyangan including a small zoo.

Another inmate of the zoo.

Finley Lake, looking towards the town.

Finley Lake, looking towards the Caravan Park. Hope the levee holds as there will be several very wet caravans if it lets go!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Birdsville to Cunnamulla, Qld. - Part 2

As we drove into Quilpie, a town with a population of about 650, we had a plan to free camp on the banks of the Bulloo River. However, as our plans are always flexible and because the area was very dusty and highly populated with large red kangaroos, we opted to book into the Caravan Park. The weather forecast was for several very cool mornings so we chose the '3 nights on a powered site for $75' deal. Also in the deal was free use of the Natural Artesian Spas. We took advantage of those spas each day of our stay except for one night when the park was packed to capacity with travellers stopping over on their way to Birdsville. Taking full advantage of this annual influx of people Quilpie conducts their annual Street Party, "The Kangarangadoo". This consists of Food Stalls, Bath Tub Races, Wool Bale Rolling and another event titled "Get Your Rocks Off", this event consists of teams of four persons with two of them moving 250 rocks from one bin to another and then the other two moving the rocks back again in the shortest time. The winning team completed this task in around 2 minutes. We had dinner of junk food and watched these events and we were back in the 'van soon after 10:30 PM.

Quilpie appealed to us, so we booked in for a further three nights, we really wanted to continue with those artesian spas each day. The Foodworks Supermarket and the local Butcher provided very friendly service and great products at competitive prices.

Finally, we moved onto the Toompine Hotel. There is no town at Toompine, only the Hotel. We had heard that the Pub was going to be invaded by several hundred 'Bikers'. Undaunted, we stayed the night with about ten other caravanners. We had a meal, many drinks while listening to Bill Davey, a Country and Western Performer. By 9 PM the caravanners out numbered the Bikers. What a bunch of 'pussies' they turned out to be. We were very tempted to stay for a repeat session the next night, but, instead we moved onto Yowah.

What a let down Yowah was. No action there whatsoever. Yowah is totally orientated to Opals and Opal Mining, believe us, nothing else matters there.

From Windorah on, the road has been fairly good, it is only single lane most of the way and the surface is fairly smooth too. We could comfortably drive at 75 to 80 kmh for much of the distance. What we did notice though, was the dry and arid conditions as we passed through each Shire. They have not had any appreciable rain for three seasons now. We also noticed the number of 'roo carcasses along the road. Big Reds and Big Greys, we were passing about 10 to the km.

We camped for a night on the banks of The Pardoo River at Eulo. We then drove onto Cunnamulla to refuel before meeting up with The Matilda Way and heading South to NSW where this Highway becomes The Kidman Way. You can read about Eulo and Cunnamulla on an earlier Blog Posts from May 2014. We will be following The Kidman Way through NSW until we arrive at Tocumwal on The Murray River.

As we will be mostly driving and doing over-nighters en route to Tocumwal we will only compile a Blog of significant events once we reach a camp along 'The Murray'.

It is not difficult to find rocks around Quilpie.

Metal cutouts depicting Industry in the Shire line the Main Street.

There once was a Wool Industry here in Quilpie until the arrival of packs of wild dogs decimated flocks. They even managed to breed square sheep so that the fleece fitted into a wool bale better!

Quilpie generated its own power until 1987. This is one of the earlier generators used in the town.

At one time Quilpie was the end of the rail line.

Bulloo River at Quilpie with the rail bridge in the background.

About 6 km out of town is the large permanent Lake Houdraman.

A 'rustic' picnic table at Lake Houdraman.

The Servicemens Memorial at Toompine. Some of the 'Biker' camps can be seen in the background.

The Toompine Hotel.

Luxury cabin accommodation at Toompine Hotel.

Simon in the Toompine Hotel Bar restocking the 'fridge with my beer ready for night two!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Birdsville to Cunnamulla, Qld. - Part 1.

The gravel road towards Windorah is in good condition, with only isolated rough patches. We could easily travel at a steady 70 kph and still dodge the odd large rock. The first night's camp was opposite the abandoned Betoota Hotel on level ground that was once a cricket oval, the concrete pitch is still there! We had a great Happy Hour with some fellow travellers, I might add, I am wearing jeans, wind cheater, socks and shoes for the first time since our washed out stay at Karijini NP.

Early, on our first morning at Betoota a rain front came in and looked as though it was going to stay with us for a while. At Birdsville we had seen a forecast and rain was a high possibility. We waited for Westbound traffic to come through and sure enough, they were completely covered in mud. From then on it was an easy decision for us to make, we would sit out the rain at Betoota! The following morning the sun was shining and a steady breeze would help dry out the road surface. We headed on towards Windorah with all manner of oncoming traffic, horse floats, fast food vendor trucks and vans, caravans, motorhomes and camper trailers by the dozens. The road surface had largely dried out, except for the low areas, floodways etc.

We had noted several camp areas along the way to Windorah but when we reached them the previous day's inclement weather made them impossible to enter. We continued on into Windorah and found a camp site in the Caravan Park Overflow area. Windorah made all travellers welcome with Caravan Park Rates very low at $15 for powered and $10 for unpowered. Our overflow Rates were $5 per night with access to the CP amenities. Later we wandered down to the local Pub for dinner. when we got there the Pub patrons had overflowed out onto the footpath. It was a carnival atmosphere. After an excellent meal at the Pub we strolled back to the 'van and watched the Broncos demolish the Rabbitohs.

After a late start the next morning, we left Windorah and drove the 12 km to Cooper's Creek RA. This is a large area accessible on both sides of the river in dry weather only. We heard that on a recent night 105 vans camped here! Tonight probably about 25 vans stayed for the night. 10 of those were vans from the Brisbane Roustabouts Chapter of the Australian Caravan Club enroute to Birdsville. We have been having a fantastic run with the winds and our fuel consumption has been favourably low. Some legs of the journey down to 13 l/100 km. We are only travelling at about 75/80 kmh, that helps too. We had several camps selected from here on, but as before, most were unsatisfactory, until we came to Thylungra Station RA on the banks of the Kyabra Creek. This Station was one of the original property selections made by the Duracks. This RA is a large area but only 3 vans made camp here tonight. Only 118 km into Quilpie from here. I think we can manage that in one day!

The Dreamtime Serpent, made from coloured rock accessed in the local area, on the side of a small rise about 7 km West of Betoota.

Only flat Gibber Plains between Birdsville and Betoota with a few large red sand dunes here and there.

The abandoned Betoota Hotel.

Superman wasn't seen in the area of this Phone Booth.

Only 1 unserviceable fuel bowser remains.

Rudimentary power lines from the generator up to the Hotel and the fuel pumps.

The generator still looks serviceable.

The Male "thunder box" Toilet is still standing.

Ziggy, the Pub owner is buried here.

A previous traveller has passed by again and left Ziggy a can of baked beans and a can of beer!

Windorah Outback Store.

The sign says it all. Last night the crowd was out the back and out the front onto the footpath.

The Windorah Main Street. Still many caravans in town.

Cars and Vans are queuing to buy fuel at the only fuel outlet in town.

Looking East to West over the bridge crossing Cooper's Creek.

Still a large amount of water in Cooper's Creek, but very muddy.

The road bridge crossing Cooper's Creek.

Will this river gum survive another big wet season?

There are many Cattle Road Trains moving cattle around the area.

Our camp site at Thylungra Station RA beside Kyabra Creek.

That low level crossing is the main road over Kyabra Creek. That stone wall in the foreground is a weir but the water doesn't reach it at this time.

However! Look the other direction and there is plenty of water in the Creek.

We caught the rising Full Moon in the sky and as a reflection in Kyabra Creek.