Sun 30th April to Saturday 6th May
We are packed so head off in the afternoon for a short trip to Goomeri Bush Camp for an early stop and sit around the fire. We see two satellites – cool night and morning.
We stop and collect firewood on our way out – Ray does himself an injury with a branch sticking out – bit of blood to clean up as its sprayed with the chain saw motor. We head into Dalby to meet Gail and Jim and unknown to us we have had a nice photo of the car taken – 67 in a 60 zone (we have the ticket when we get home) – Coffee and quick catch up with Gail and Jim and do the usual fuel top up. We stop at Moonie for lunch – right on the junction – not much to see as we travel and set up at Westmar mid-afternoon. One other van there – trucks come and go all arvo – it has hot showers and is free. We cook our roast on the cobb and have a fire – don’t see any satellites as its cloudy. Don’t hear them but in the morning, we are surrounded by trucks. Cut more firewood as we head into the Murry Darling Basin. Stop at St George for smoko beside the river – Gail and Jim stop and buy a new thermos as their coffee has been cold. We take a road not travelled before – past cotton fields – see some emus and have a few spots of rain fall. Quick stop at Dirranbandi and read info on Cubbie Station. Hebel for lunch – only a pub and a shop – read the info in the Circle Walk – where there are some red rump parrots. Cross the border into NSW and arrive at Lightning Ridge. Book into Outback Resort Caravan Park and set up – walk across to the info centre and get maps and info for the Car Door Tours.
Day 4 – walk around Lightning Ridge after breakfast – there’s parrots in the trees behind us – permanent has bird feeders set up- Go with Gail and Jim and do the Red Door Tour – seeing the unique houses, mines of the mining town. Take the blue door tour and stop at David Babcock’s Art Gallery – in his house – We negotiate to buy some paintings and to come back later with the cash. Do the Yellow and Green tours – See Stanley the Emu on the highway – stop at PO for the cash – check out John Murray Art Gallery (it burnt down a few weeks later) – Back to get the paintings which takes a while which means we are late at Chambers of the Black Hand so only see the carvings – not the mine tour. Our painting is part of this area.
Day 5 – Through Walgett which is sheep country into outback NSW – Smoko at Brewarrina Fish Traps – seeing lots of Emus as we head to Bourke. Do back of Bourke Centre – check out the Wharf – and stop at Fred Hollows Grave and check out other areas of the cemetery.
Day 6 – Firewood – goats and smoko at Cobar – go to Fort Bourke Mine lookout – lots of others up there – just a lot of driving today (507 klms) with lunch at Bulla Park and coffee stop at Wilcannia. Night at Little Topar Rest Area where it’s an early night as we listen to Australia vs New Zealand on the radio – its 24 nil at half time so we turn it off
Day 7 – More Emus and goats in this part of the country – Gain 30 mins as we near Broken Hill and go into South Australia time Zone – even though still in NSW – Stop at Info centre then off to Miners Memorial and lookout – talk to Lynn (Garry to have radium on his tumours in brain) – stock up on groceries then we head out to Sculptures in the Desert and walk around them – after figuring out how to pay at the booth – as we drive out we realise we will be going through quarantine – oops – fuel up at Yulta – cheapest for a while – lose our apples and new bought tomatoes and bananas at the Quarantine stop – cool night at BlackRock South Rest area outside of Petersborough.
Sunday 7th to Saturday 13th
Day 8 – 5 degrees to start the day – through Orroroo and sheep country – very nice scenery here – Through Horrocks Pass – with lovely Gum Trees beside the road – wind around the road and see Spencer Gulf – into Port Augusta – info centre not open yet – find Coles and doing some shopping to restock our lost produce – very informative lady at the info centre. Past Woomera – the guys are bored so a game of Eye Spy keeps them awake – some amazing Power lines line the road. Arrive at Andamooka and set up in the camping spot $6 per night – hot showers and flushing toilets!!! We walk into Town – not much happening on a Sunday – see the Creek that runs through the town – take a drive and check out all it has to offer. Camp fire and sitting around under the stars.
Day 9 – Slow start – Bacon and Eggs for Breakfast and Ray and I do an exercise walk around the town. Check out the Noodle pile for some opals – no luck!!! Photos of the power lines as we head out – into Roxby Downs but not much here – fill up with water – off into Woomera – it’s almost a ghost town but clean and tidy – visit the Museum and look around all the rockets etc in the parks – smoko at a lovely green park with birds in aviaries – back on to highway – stop for photo opp of a Salt lake – past the Dingo fence – firewood and set up at Lake Hart – after setting up head down to Lake – under Railway line – interesting to see salted up twigs and remains of a jetty? Camp fire – Mitch calls from Townsville
Day 10 already – Beautiful reflections on the lake in the morning light – we stop early 91k from Coober Pedy – for early into it tomorrow – Jim goes walking and sees a Dingo – not much else to be seen – New Zealand lady chats to us they have just bought a new motor home – young couple wash up in Gordons van as their little stove is not working – German backpackers sit around our fire as we head off to bed – Ray has a chat to the young guy – they are quite so don’t disturb our sleep
Day 11 – Other campers still in bed in the morning when a car pulls up – running short of fuel – Ray gives them the small amount that we have for the chain saw –they insist on giving him $20- we didn’t find them on the road so they must have made it to Coober Pedy. Mullock heaps come into view and then we are at Coober Pedy – find a caravan park and book in – set up and do washing – head to info centre and then take a drive around seeing the sites – underground shops, houses, churches – and some shopping at IGA – Head out to the Breakaways in the arvo – see large part of the Dingo Fence and the Moon Scape
Day 12 is a big day – picked up at 9am and off on the mail run – Peter is very interesting and informative – smoko at Mt Barry Station with donation to McGraw foundation – we are travelling for 400 k on Williams Land – Lunch at the Pink Roadhouse at Oodnadatta – very large burgers!! We check out the Old Ghan Museum and off again stopping at other stations for deliveries – sun is setting so Peter stops to explain how to get the best photos – Dark as we head into Anna Creek Station so don’t see much – dinner at William Creek Hotel – kangaroo giros and goat curry – very nice – quite a few people in the hotel. Home late 10.00.
Day 13 – Load all the photos and get on net while we have cover – into the town again – check out some opal shops – I buy a Pandora Charm – more Mullock heaps as we head out of Coober Pedy – a unique and interesting place. Fuel up at Marla. Young father of three spends a lot of time cleaning up the camping spot – Ray and Jim take a walk down the dry creek bed, We cook up all our vegs into a stew which we all share around the fire – not sure about the quarantine as we head into Northern Territory
Day 14 – We cross the Territory border but no quarantine checks – fuel up at Kulgera Roadhouse – first and last pub in Territory – an aboriginal woman is asking for a lift (well I think she is) – quick stop and net cover at Erldunda – it is so busy with so many vans – we head west and lots of vans going in both directions. Mt Connor comes into view – early stop at Curtin Springs East Rest Area – another fire – using the dessert oak cones in the fire.
Sunday 14th to Monday 20th
Day 15 – Our first sighting of Major Mitchells – no photos but we are excited to have seen them. Then we see it ULURU – awesome sight – Brett calls – its Mothers Day- as we head into Caravan Park – no unpowered (us) or powered for Gail and Jim – but they put us in a large overflow area which is spacious and access to water and not far to amenities. Call Brett back – do washing – check out the Village – buy some souvenirs and have coffee as we discuss plans for the next few days. We head out to park – purchase our passes – drive around the rock – stop at Climbing spot – quite a few doing it – Jim thinks he might – head out to the sunset area – set ourselves up with drinks and snacks – talk to Mitchell –he is in Townsville – it’s a beautiful view as the sun sets – back to the park – early night as we are heading off to the sunrise in the morning.
Day 16 – Early start – Gordon’s still in bed as we head out – seems to take a while but finally we find the spot – already lots of people there as we follow the lights – it’s cold – and we realise it’s a different spot from our last visit – not great changes in the colour – we find Gordons and head to info centre – then off to the base walk – catch the Mala walk group gut it will take an extra two hours to do that so we head off by ourselves – 10.6 klms later – tired and blisters we arrive back at our cars – wasn’t the walk we expected as most is a long way out – but we did it!!! Jim forgoes the climb.
Day 17 – we head off toward Kata Tjuta –up the boardwalk to check out the lookout– do Walpa Gorge walk 2.6k – blisters not much fun – lots of cars at Valley of the Winds Car park but we eventually get a park and have smoko – then off on the walk – it’s fairly easy going along a rocky path – stop at Karu Lookout – another 2.2 k walk – and after some discussion start heading down – we don’t go all the way (have been there) – take last drive around Uluru and last photos before back at van – do some washing – r and r – and fill the water – ready for moving on tomorrow.
Day 18 – Bit cloudy this morning – haven’t had much cloud cover on the trip – Gordon’s alert us to Major Mitchells beside the road and Ray gets some good photos after following them as they fly off. Turn towards Kings Canyon – Smoko at Salt Creek Rest Area where we hope to see Major Mitchells – there are two on the ground as we come in and we enjoy that – but we get really excited as a large flock flies in and sits on the tank – at least 20!!! Amazing. Into Kings Canyon resort – dingo in the camp ground – head off after lunch and do the Kings Creek Walk – rock falls stop us before the end – no water in creek but lots of gum trees. Free WIFI at the info pergola – back at camp we are a bit late going up to the sunset – there are a lot of people and a small bar area. Dingo howling through the night.
Day 19 – Fuel up and off to Kings Canyon – the climb up is bit hard but after that its fairly flat ground – though rocky at times – up and down steps and across bridges – down to garden of Eden – cross to the other side – some people only do this part from car park – 6 klms and 3.5 hours later we are back – well worth the effort – some Wi-Fi and lunch and off we go – everyone is tired so more eye spy and we stop at Salt Creek Rest Area – only 3 Major Mitchells here but a lone dingo comes around – four German Backpackers need help getting started but that doesn’t last long – they set up camp and we will take them further in the morning. Dingo howling through the night and Ray has to go looking for one thong in the morning.
Day 20 – We take two of the girls to Ebenezer Road House – not sure how they fared from there – trying to contact another group they were travelling with. Great display of Aboriginal art here. Back in phone coverage at Erldunda – Ray calls his mum. Fuel – smoko and off toward Alice Springs. Past Citrus Orchards – the country side changes regularly – Find a park and into Info Centre at Alice – head out to Caravan Park – set up camp and then head back to town – through THE GAP – interesting when you realise what it is.
Day 21 – is a cool start – seems some confusion about vans access to West McDonald camp grounds – bit of confusion as I’m not watching the road – but eventually we are at Ellery Creek Big Hole campground – find two spots and set up – decide to pay for one night but will probably stay two. After smoko head off to check out Serpentine Gorge 1.1k – climb up to Lookout which is very nice. Plenty of flies add to our load – See Ochre Pits and back to camp which has filled up with a large group hiking the Larapinta Trail. We check out the Water hole – and take the 3-k Dolomite Walk – some nice views and lovely walk back along the creek. Some locals help themselves to the camping fees. Which is disappointing to see.
Sunday 21st – Saturday 27th
Day 22 – Slower start with bacon and eggs for Sunday breakfast. Hikers all gone quietly in the early hours – some left packing up – at Mt Sonder Lookout Jim tells the Ranger about last night’s activity – Walk and stumble into Red Bank Gorge – no swimming its cold – though we thought we might. I forgo the walk to Glen Helen Gorge as my feet are not going so well!! Lunch at Ormiston Gorge picnic area and walk to the water hole – lovely spot – sit and relax for a bit. Back to camp for R and R – Jim had a swim in the water hole and we talk to French Backpacker who is walking alone on the Larapinta Trail – he did 31 klms today – his fifth day.
Day 23 – Ray chats to the caretaker cleaning the toilets about what happened – he said best not to get involved. Stop at Simpsons Gap and see a Rock Wallaby – into Alice Springs for last look around – go to Telegraph station – smoko and restock after walking around the Mall. Few stops at Highest point of Telegraph Line – Tropic of Capricorn – and stop at Connor Well Rest Area –
Day 24 – Past some Stuart memorials – smoko at Barrow Creek Telegraph station – catching sight of small flocks of budgies – cheap fuel at Wycliffe Wells – lunch stop at Devils Marbles and then we turn east at Three Ways – stop after our biggest driving day of trip 509.5 klms at 41 Mile Bore – large area.
Day 25 – large flock of budgies flying in and out of area – Gail goes for a short walk and they seem to swoop on her – another highlight of the trip. Lots of road trains now – Smoko at Barkly Homestead – Signs telling us Lake Eye Basin – Georgina/Diamantina Catchment- makes aware of how large the area that feeds Lake Eyre is. Fuel, dump and water at Camooweal and head toward the Billabong – it’s got lots of campers – our spots not the greatest and not near the water but its only overnight – no fire as there is lots of dry undergrowth. We watch birds in the Billabong. R and R as it’s an early stop.
Day 26 – few free spots now – Heading out we stop for photo of Pelicans and then see four brolgas close by. Road works and road trains as we head into Mt. Isa. The usual daily fuel up – and into the shopping centre for coffee and donuts – last restock for the trip – catch up quickly with Julie outside the info centre. We head towards Boulia – forgetting that it would be a small road – and we get a stone chip early on the road which begins to crack higher over the next few days. Stop at The Dam where there are a few other campers – lots of birdlife to watch and cattle come to water late in the arvo – chat to a couple who are new to road trips but having a wonderful time.
Day 27 – Gail and Jim hare having issues with their radio so sometimes out of contact – through Dajarra – into Boulia – visit the Min Min Lights centre – stop with the flies for lunch – plenty of prickles – the countryside changes regularly – Past Cawnpore lookout which would have been a great view but bit of a walk – Stop at Middleton for a beer but decide not to stay at Hilton Hotel Camp – head on and stop at Poddy Creek Rest Area which has some nice views – use the last of the wood and Jim smokes us out with the last of the Desert Oak cones – early night for the Gordons so I do photos and travel costs.
Day 28 – awake early (suns up a bit earlier now) – lovely sunset out the window – crack has grown so we think we might see about repair in Winton. Early start sees lots of Kangaroos and their joeys beside the road – nothing for windscreen in Winton – maybe Longreach – Police from Alice have contacted Jim about his report of the money theft. We pass the Coopers Creek Lake Eyre Basin – stop at RBT – advised in Longreach to save our money as once cracked not much can do. Lunch at Longreach – Fuel up at Barcaldine and stop for fire wood – night stop at Jericho. Burnt the choc chip damper but it was eaten anyway.
Sunday 28th – Monday 29th
Day 29 – Cross over the Great divide at 444metres. Through Alpha – strange clouds as we cross the Drummond Ranges – Fuel up at Emerald through Blackwater where they are loading coal – stop at Duaringa for lunch – Jim calls his sister and they won’t need to stop at Bundaberg tomorrow so we decide to set up early and can watch the football – no fire wood so Ray tries a damper with heat beads but again it ends up burnt – maybe it’s the choc chips –
Day 30 – It’s a foggy start to the morning and traffic is heavy as we head towards the Bruce Highway – past Stanwell Power Station – fuel up at Gracemere – still foggy a bit as we hit the Bruce Highway –Jim took the scenic route – Roadworks and Traffic slow us down – Smoko at Mt Larcom – Lunch at Granite Creek – doing some Trivia Games about the trip as we head home.
So 30 days – 8402 klms at an approx. cost of $4700 – we are home for the big clean up!!
Highlights – the clear sunshiny days – Coober pedy and Mail Run – Emus – Major Mitchells – Uluru – West McDonalds – another adventure done and dusted.
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