Travelling around Australia in a motorhome. A story of our travels starting from NSW then through Queensland, across to Northern Territory and Western Australia, then to South Australia, Victoria and finally across the seas to Tasmania. We have enjoyed everywhere we have visited and look forward to setting off again in our motorhome.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Broken Hill 26 -1 May 2006

Woke up to Peter’s birthday. Breakfast in bed for Peter, looking out at the amazing array of birds, especially the colourful Ringed Mallee Parrot. While the road to Broken Hill continues to be mostly flat and straight, the landscape is constantly changing from semi-desert to thick mulga scrubs. The small hills offer supreme views of the desolate countryside. We had been warned by everyone we spoke, that although it has spectacular examples of heritage buildings, not to stop at Wilcannia. We drove around the town, and it was distressing to see what had been a thriving and vibrant community, was now reduced to a ghost town. All but one of the shops were shut and barricaded. The homes too were all shut up, some surrounded by high fences and barbed wire – it was all very sad. A large number of locals were already sitting on the gutters at 10am passing the time. A couple of friendly attempts to wave were matched by one woman only. What a vicious circle of going nowhere.

Drove onto Broken Hill which was a genuine change from the other country towns, as it was founded on the mines, rather than agriculture. The town has an impressive catalogue of public buildings that reflect the bygone wealth from the mines. The skies are really blue and even had the streaks of bright white cloud that you see in so many paintings. The sky is very much a part of the scenery. Pro Harts paintings are iconic visions of Broken Hill that we had not realised were so obvious. Particularly the trees and the colours of the soil and sky. There are obviously many other artists here who also have captured what is Broken Hill. Heather recently bought a painting from a friend of the Pinnacles at Broken Hill. It really does capture the colours we see everywhere.
As it was Peter’s birthday we drove up to the lookout to see the end of the sunset which was very pretty but determined that we will go back earlier on another evening. We searched around and found a nice meal in the Musicians Club and as time went Peter realised he was getting a cold and was ready to retire early.

Peter woke on Thursday with a very bad cold and really did not feel like doing very much. We had a quiet time just walking around the main buildings in the city centre and being very impressed the beautiful stone buildings. Peter thinks he can see the connection to the buildings in Adelaide. We were surprised how so much relates back to Adelaide but it is obvious when you think that it is 500 k to Adelaide and about 1100 k to Sydney. Wow! We are away from Sydney now!

Light rain overnight was lovely music to our ears. As the morning progressed it came down a lot more and actually made puddles. We are sure the locals love it as Heather reminisces about enjoying the rain in Walgett as a child. Peter is feeling a lot better and Heather is hoping she is fighting off the traces of a cold.
On Saturday, Peter was still not feeling well, so we had a quiet day. We purchased an internet mobile connection, as we have had a lot of trouble in finding internet cafes. In the afternoon, we had a look at the Pro Hart Gallery. It was an amazing display, with works from Picasso, Nolan, Constable, Monet, Drysdale, Dickerson, Chagall, Boyd, as well as Hart. We then went up to the lookout for a twilight view of the town.

Got up early and headed off to Silverton – an old mining town about 25km north of Broken Hill. Even though it was originally larger than Broken Hill, only the stone buildings are left. This gives it an eerie feeling as there are profound spaces between them. It surprised us that the town is used for so many movies and advertisement with the pub has a great array of memorabilia. Mad Max movies were the main claim to fame. In the late afternoon, we went to see the rock sculptures set on top of a large rocky hill with a genuine 360o view. We watched the sun set, giving the rocks pink and mauve hues. The distances you can see are amazing and the contrasting types of landscape are a special feature. Pinnacles and plains, town and mining with lights and industry, broad unending plains, rocky hills with green trees and distant agricultural plains

Monday included washing and other mundane things. Enjoyed the Broken Hill Art Gallery. Peter still not better but improving and Heather is not game to say out loud that she does not have a cold. Surprisingly cold and windy with increasing cloud today - some contrast to the start of our visit here!

Cobar Mine

Emmdale 25 April 2006

Got up early to visit the Weather Station. While we were a bit dubious about the tour, it turned out to be a fascinating visit and we had a greater insight in how the Met Bureau collects information. The highlight of the tour was the release of the helium weather balloon at 0915 that is simultaneously discharged around the world. The guy said the clouds we were looking at were about 23,000 metres and the balloon would go past that.
We attended the Cobar Anzac Day March. It was a real country town event with lots attended considering the size of the place. The main street was cut across by a rush of orange water from a burst water main early in the morning. While it was a small ceremony, it was quite moving. Set off for Emmdale Roadhouse, however it was not very exciting, so we ended up at a campsite further down the road.

Cobar campsite

Cobar 24 April 2006

Had a leisurely start and headed west along the Barrier Hwy. Stopped at Hermidale for fuel. This is a small town of about 30 people with a combined general store, pub, service station and post office. They have a one teacher school that really surprised us. Peter asked about free camping and they were very happy to offer this to any campers. The road to Cobar was long and straight, with an occasional bend to keep you awake. The country-side is getting drier the further west we go and the soil is getting redder. Finally got to Cobar, a town that is kept alive by the gold and copper mines. The landscape is interesting with the old open cut mine right in town as a back drop. Had a look at an open-cut gold mine from a viewing platform looking right down to the bottom where the miners now go underground and have now reached over 1 km below. Watched a truck work its way down the winding sides of the open cut and felt a bit phobic as he disappeared in the tunnel entrance. Eerily, the tragedy in Tasmania’s mine happened that night. Camped on the outskirts of Cobar at the site of an old mining area. Had a great time, exploring the area and collecting interesting artefacts. It was extremely quiet out there and the colours of the evening sky wonderful.

Bogan River, Nygan

Nyngan 22 -23 April 2006

Drove through Trangie, which was a very small town with a few shops, a pub and a garage. We have been pleasantly surprised that a lot of the towns try to make their main street (usually very wide from times gone) look attractive with greenery and trees.
The landscape is very flat and the roads very straight, which makes the drive very boring! After Trangie, the landscape changed dramatically, becoming drier and we started to see emus not far from the road.
Stopped at Nyngan for lunch. This is a small town that seems to be struggling to survive – lots of vacant shops, some with broken windows. Settled at Riverside Caravan Park on the Bogan River (our first caravan park on this trip). Next day we decided to go out in our boat, as we have just purchased a new outboard motor. It took a while to put it together, so we didn’t get out til after lunch. We got about 3 km up the Bogan, when we hit a snag and sheered the prop pin, so we had to row back to the camp site! We surprised ourselves by our rowing effort and actually really enjoyed the interesting birds, homes and other activities at a slower pace. Peter reflected on all his dads’ troubles with boat motors and the adventures they got him into. Again the problem is only minor and fixed in a flash when you HAVE a replacement pin. Heather told Peter to buy 6 pins if he wants her to go out on the boat again.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Checking out the accommodation at Narromine

Trangie 21 April 2006

Had a walk around Narromine again and waited for a gas fitter to fix our gas heater that has been playing up for a day. Turned out to be very minor problem of soot on the burner and the nice guy just said no charge. Funny. That was the third very nice person we met in Narromine. Bought some very nice home made goodies in the local craft shop.
In the afternoon had a look at Swane’s Rose Nursery and even though it was late in the season, there was still a profusion of colour and perfumes that we found overwhelming! Then headed onto Trangie and camped for the night. Lovely site with lots of birds and kangaroos.

Campsite at Narromine

Narromine 20 April 2006

Woke up to the raucous sound of the birds greeting a new day. It poured overnight, but by lunchtime, the soil was back to dust. Set off for Narromine in the afternoon. Had a look at the lovely house that Steve and Wendy bought. This was a surprisingly pretty town, with a delightful main street, but with many vacant shops. Camped by the side of the road and had a peaceful night.

The Birds!

Terramungamine 19 April 2006

Another mucking around day! Got the rack fitted, did some shopping, got the computer looked at and headed off for our favourite camp spot. Found the same campsite we had earlier and in a few minutes, Peter had a roaring fire on. Spent the evening listening to the cockatoos settling for the night and watching the lightning strikes on the horizion.

Dubbo 18 April 2006

Spent the day mucking around and fixing up the motorhome. We got a quote to add a rack for the 4wd stone guard and then got a leak fixed at the back of Jimmy. The Onan generator wasn’t working, so Peter spent most of the day trying to get it fixed; however there wasn’t any one in Dubbo who knew what was wrong. Eventually he got onto the Sydney distributor, who diagnosed a new microprocessor costing $400!! Had dinner in Dubbo and camped near Agraweld, who were doing some work for us in the morning.

On the wallaby

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Terramungamine 16-17 April 2006

As we had the luxury of no water restrictions, we washed Jimmy, then said goodbye to Steve and Wendy and continued on our trip. Stopped for lunch at Dubbo and Peter showed Heather some of the worst places hit by the Dubbo wind storms. We then headed up to Terramungamine Reserve and camped by the Macquarie River. This is an enormous reserve with tranquil views to the river. As it was such a pretty spot, we decided to stay a few days. Scrounged up some wood and had a warming campfire both nights. Practiced cooking both evening meals on the open fire with great success ready for more bush camping off-road in the future. The stars were bright but soon dampened by a wonderful full moon rise each night. All the wildlife night noises were interesting and intriguing. We thought of feral pigs, wombats and possums as a minimum. Wonderful flocks of white cockatoos flying up and down the river in the morning that could not be photographed due to the sheer volume and speed. A very interesting aboriginal rock area on the river bank with many ancient grinding grooves was a special find. It made you reflect of life in a previous time with a gentle feeling due to the pureness of the task. Stone on stone.

Geurie 14 -15 April 2005

Drove to Wellington for lunch. Wellington is a historic town on the banks of the Bell River. We enjoyed our walk around town and marvelled at the many large federation homes that retained their original appearances. However, we were disturbed to see that all the shops had bars and shutters across their windows and friends later confirmed it has a high crime rate. It has a large medium security jail there and a bit of fall out from that maybe. Though we were told the coming of the jail pushed real estate right up. Then headed off to Geurie, just south of Dubbo, to visit Steve and Wendy; old friends from Walgett. They have just sold their farm and bought an old house in Geurie. They made us very welcome and we enjoyed catching up on what they have been doing. Their son Brett and his partner Angie were just leaving on a big trip in their renovated camper. Steve and Brett stripped the camper to bare-bones and turned it into very comfortable camper accommodation.

Molong 13 April 2006

Stopped for the night near Molong. Molong is still recovering from a bad flood in 2005 and while the council is encouraging people to return to the town, many of the shops are vacant.

Orange 12 April 2006

In the morning, we said goodbye to Bev and set off for Orange. While the countryside is getting drier, there is still plenty of grass in the paddocks. As we drove closer to Orange, we began to see more of the characteristic golden yellow poplars. Orange was ablaze with autumn colours – reds, oranges, yellows and browns. Stopped in Orange to visit Lillian and Keith who put on a great afternoon tea in the warm glow of the afternoon sun. Caught up about fun times in the past, admired the old house and all the collections so like my favourites.
We then headed out of town to visit Peter’s cousins – Brian and Margaret. It was great catching up with the family history They have built their house overlooking a fantastic and beautiful vista. They had a roaring fire for us, though it wasn’t as cold as it had been. Brian and Margaret explained that snow was a certainty and they received heavy snowfalls at least 4 times during winter. They have grown beautiful deciduous trees in the short time they have been there and the whole feel is very refreshing and special.

The long, windy and dusty track home

Portland 11 April 2006

Up early in the morning to be picked up in the car park at 8am. We headed off into the Newnes State Forest to do a 4wd training course. Heather was a bit apprehensive before we started, however she was soon hurtling across sand traps and charging up rutted tracks with relaxed aplomb. The instructor then prevailed on Peter to negotiate a rugged trail that wound up and down steep inclines in the forest. We were surprised how easily the Suzuki manoeuvred over the boulders and gaping chasms and passed the test with flying colours. We then headed for Portland to visit Bev – a good friend we meet in England. Bev and Clive have a cute farm with Alpacas, chickens, sheep and dogs. The back hills are covered with pines that remind Bev of home in Canada. The drought still overshadows the landscape and with winter coming on, shows no sign of breaking!

Zig Zag Railway 10 April 2006

Took a while to attach the Suzuki to Jimmy; however we started off at last. It was a bit strange towing a 4WD and it certainly slowed us down. Drove through the Mountains stopping briefly at Katoomba. Finally stopped at the Zig Zag Railway. We hopped on the train and had an interesting trip down the bottom of the Mountains. The Zig Zag is an amazing engineering feat and we enjoyed the comments from the volunteers. Stayed very happily in the big bush car park at Zig Zag overnight.

Quick thinking Heather averts another train crash!

Glenbrook 9 April 2006

Set off from home after an exhausting interlude of house cleaning. On the way Peter had to pick up Laura and her worldly possessions and transport them to her new flat in St. Peters. We stayed out the front at Jude and Bill’s. It was great having a family get-together in the Mountains to have a final goodbye as it will be a long time before we get together again. We connected the car for towing for the first time on Monday (took forever to connect) and we finally felt that we were really on holidays.