Russ on 9 September 2017

After my time with Deen on the Murray I went to Maldon for 4 days before heading home on Friday.  It was very cold with temperatures down to 2 or 3 overnight, also the first rain since leaving home 9 weeks ago.  Not only out of shorts but a jumper as well.  Mt Tarrengower gave great views over Maldon and the surrounding country.

20170905-4338 View over Maldon from Mt Tarrengower

 

Also toured the old town and imagined what it was like in its heyday, and visited the Beehive Mine chimney and railway station.

20170905-4345 Beehive Chimney Maldon Med

20170905-4341 Maldon Station #1 Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next day I took a steam train to Castlemaine for the day, it was a relaxing trip and great to hear the toot of the steam engine.  The first class carriage was set up like a lounge with leather club chairs and a bar.

20170906-4347 Maldon to Castlemaine Steam Train Med20170906-0664 Pullman Carriage Maldon Train Med

 

The Castlemaine station was grander than the Maldon station but in the same style.

20170906-0661 Castlemaine Station Med

 

I walked around town, visited an antique market and visited the Burke and Wills monument built on the highest part of Castlemaine in 1862 less than a year after they died, such was their renown.

20170907-4353 Castlemaine Burke & Wills Monument Med

 

 

I enjoyed a very pleasant lunch with Marg’s brother Barry and his wife Cas in Kyneton on the penultimate day of my holiday, it was a good way to finish my travels.   Now I have to try and clean the red dirt off the caravan and car.

Russ on 5 September 2017

I had a great time with friends Bev and Richard at Dubbo, my brother Lynton boarded with Richard’s family for 2 years about 50 years ago and they became lifelong friends.  Bev and Richard have sold their sheep property near Walgett, which Marg and I visited in 2011, and built a new house just outside Dubbo.  I set the van up on their 10 acre block, which has MacQuarie River frontage.  Their hospitality was excellent and I didn’t have to do any cooking for the 3 days I was with them.  We did several tours around Dubbo and visited a pig farm run by their daughter Alex and her husband Michael.  I tasted their bacon which Bev cooked for breakfast on the last day I was with them.  I was so relaxed that the only photos I took were when I was demonstrating the drone to Richard.  Unfortunately it was very overcast at the time.  The photo is the view toward Dubbo that they see from their house.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0005.JPG

 

I left Dubbo and travelled through Lake Cargelligo (overnight stop) to Jerilderie where Ned Kelly held up the town in 1879.  When he got to town he went to the Post and Telegraph Office and made the postmaster dismantle the Morse key and got townsfolk to cut down 8 telegraph poles.  The tiny Post and Telegraph Office building still exists.

20170830-4333 Jerilderie Post & Telegraph Office Med

Ned and his gang also had their horses re-shod at the blacksmith’s shop that also still exists.  Apparently the blacksmith was also the undertaker as the sign attests, what a strange combination of jobs.

20170830-4337 Jerilderie Blacksmith Shop Med

20170830-4336 Jerilderie Blacksmith Sign Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While in Jerilderie, Ned and his gang held hostages in the Royal Mail Hotel, robbed the bank and had all the loan security documents held by the bank burned.  Another claim to fame for Jerilderie is that John Monash lived there from 1874 to 1877.  Finally the largest windmill in Australia is installed by the lake at Jerilderie.  It is 25 feet in diameter and is in working order able to pump 25 litres of water on each revolution of the sails.

20170830-4332 Jerilderie Windmill Med

 

It was great to catch up with Deen camping on the Murray River after I left Jerilderie.  We camped at Morning Glory Resort, a caravan park on the banks of the Murray.  It was good to sit around a campfire for a few nights and enjoy lots of good chats.  As usual Deen’s camper attracted interest in the camping area.

We drove around to Cape Horn Winery through a redgum forest for a wood fired pizza and wine tasting, the winery is part owned by the people who run Morning Glory.  We also drove to Echuca-Moama to get Deen’s gas bottle filled, we visited about 8 places who swapped bottles, but none filled them (Deen’s gas bottle is a special size).  We eventually got the bottle filled at a caravan repairers, who also did it for free, as he wasn’t sure how full it was.

Our other trip to Echuca-Moama was equally frustrating, we were going to Oscar W’s restaurant on the Murray for lunch, but it had closed permanently, and then we went to two wineries, one was unstaffed and the other turned out to be a cafe.  We did eventually enjoy excellent fish and chips at a pub on the wharf at Echuca.  We took a back road on return to camp, which was good, but involved a number of detours off the road through the forest to avoid flooded sections of the dirt road.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0002.JPG

 

Russ on 24 August 2017

The Warrumbungles ia a favourite place for me, ever since we first visited in 1981 at the start of 13 weeks long service leave.  The facilities for visitors and campers have improved significantly over the years with power sites, paved roads, gas BBQs, rubbish bins, dump point, picnic tables, etc., but, unlike Victoria, still at a reasonable price.  I have a NSWNPS pass that exempts me from the $8 daily vehicle fee so camping on a power site was only $12 per night.

However it is the rugged ranges of the Warrumbungles that remain the great attraction.  The volcano that formed the Warrumbungles started erupting 17 million years ago and continued on and off for the next 4 million years.  The volcanic dome was 50 Km in diameter and the rock formations that we see today are the remaining hard rock after millions of years of erosion.

The camping area was burnt out in the 2013 bushfire, the camping area was completely ash a ranger told me, melted power outlets, etc. but they managed to save the shower block.  The recovery is amazing as you can see from the photo of the camping area below.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0002.JPG

 

 

I arrived at the Warrumbungles on a cold overcast day, but after setting up I completed a 5 Km walk around Belougery Flats that starts and ends at the camping area.   It is a peaceful fairly flat walk that gives views of the grand High Tops, Mt Exmouth and Belougery Split Rock.  Every time you turn a corner you see a different view of these massive rock outcrops.

20170821-4295 Belougery Walk Views #5 Low

20170821-4293 Belougery Walk Views #1 Low

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wattle is coming into flower and that added some colour on what was a very overcast dull day.

20170821-4299 Belougery Walk Views #4 Low

20170821-4296 Belougery Walk Views #3 Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next day it was off to the Tara Cave walk, a 3.5 Km walk to a small cave used by aborigines for the last 4,500 years, until 150 years ago.  The walk had some steep sections and the last part was on a boardwalk.  Lots of fabulous views along the way, sadly opened up by the 2013 bushfire.

20170822-4305 View from Tara Cave Walk Warrumbungles NP #2 Low

20170822-4303 View from Tara Cave Walk Warrumbungles NP #1 Low

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was no artwork in the cave but some grooves in a couple of rocks made by aborigines sharpening stone axes.

20170822-4308 Tara Cave Tool Grinding Rock Warrumbungles NP Med

20170822-4312 View from Tara Cave Boardwalk Warrumbungles NP Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the walk to Tara Cave, I headed to Burbie Canyon Walk, which was a 2 Km fairly flat walk along a creek that lies within high rock walls.  It was an easy, enjoyable walk with lots of wattles in flower and the ever present buzz of bees on the wattles.  I was very happy to spot a pardalote on the walk, I haven’t seen one since we left Ferntree Gully.  They are such tiny beautiful birds.

20170822-4315 Burbie Canyon Walk Warrumbungles NP Med

20170822-4314 Burbie Canyon Warrumbungles NP Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My next walk was on the Grand High Tops Circuit.  I completed a 9 Km return part of the walk, which is 14.5 Km long.  It was a beautiful walk, but consistently uphill on the way out, some of it quite steep such that you had to take small steps on on the way down.  The park suffered a major bushfire in 2013, but the creek valley that the walk followed was lightly burnt, so the trees and bush have completely recovered in the valley.  Lots of wonderful views along the way.

20170823-4326 Belougery Spire Warrumbungles NP Med

20170823-4322 Spirey View Warrumbungles NP Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though it was very dry there was some maidenhair fern along the way together with Hardenbergia creeper and lots of grass trees.

20170823-0650 Hardenbergia Warrumbungles NP Med

20170823-4319 Grass Tree Warrumbungles NP Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am off to Dubbo tomorrow to stay with friends Bev and Richard who have  retired to a 40 Acre hobby farm from a sheep station near Walgett.

Russ on 21 August 2017

I left Coonamble for the Pilliga Forest via Baradine where there is the Pilliga Forest Discovery Centre, well worth a visit with lots of info on the forest, its history and lots of excellent taxidermy of native birds and mammals. The Timmallallie national Park has been reserved in the forest and is a wonderful new national park. I am camping at Top Crossing campground which has only 6 campsites and I got the last one, and that was at 10.30 in the morning, so you have to be lucky.

The campground has sites spaced out with trees and shrubs between each site. There is a nearby picnic area with very new tables, shelters and several gas BBQs with a couple of drop toilets. It is an excellent place.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0003.JPG

 

The Pilliga Forest is the largest forest west of the dividing range and it covers an area of around 6,000 square kilometres, it is massive. The forest is mixed with gumtrees and two types of native Cyprus, which is a durable timber that has many uses. Near the campground is Dandry Gorge with a 3 km loop walk along the top of the gorge and return along the base of the gorge. It is a wonderful walk through beautiful bush with lots of different plants, and some wildflowers just starting to open. I was lucky to spot one orchid, and then a bit further on there was an area of another 20 or so, Margie would have been delighted.

20170819-0632 Orchid Timmallallie NP Med

 

Scattered along the top of the gorge are some sculptures that take the walk to another level, they are placed so the gorge backdrops the sculptures. The sculptures are about 200 metres apart. The first is two men looking out over the gorge with a group of digging sticks nearby.

20170819-4247 Two People Sculpture Timmallallie NP Med

20170819-4248 Digging Sticks Sculpture Timmallallie NP Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next sculpture is an aborigine with a child on his shoulders and holding a spear. It is a bronze casting and when you get to the bottom of the gorge you can see him on the top of the gorge, it looks so real.

20170819-0634 Aborigine and Child from Below Med

20170819-4249 Aborigine and Child Sculpture Timmallallie NP Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there are two stone sculptures that represent stone axe heads, they are beautifully polished, one is marble.

20170819-4252 Stone Axe Sculptures Timmallallie NP Med

 

After this we get to a rainbow serpent sculpture, which has the serpent around the edge of the rock and on the front stars and an emu with eggs. The aborigine’s can tell when the emus will lay eggs by the position of the milky-way in the sky, this tells them when they can start gathering eggs to eat.

20170819-4257 Rainboq Serpent Sculpture Timmallallie NP #2 Med

The last sculptures are mosaic shapes representing flora and fauna.

20170819-4261 Mosaic Sculptues Timmallallie NP #3 Med

 

The return along the base of the gorge was again through beautiful bush, it was one of my most enjoyable walks.

On another day I went to the Sandstone Caves, which have been a gathering place for aborigines. The sandstone is very soft and most of the artwork and engravings have disappeared. The surrounding bush has been recently burnt but there is a lot of regrowth and lots of Hardenbergia creeper, which looked great winding around the black sticks of burnt Cyprus.

20170820-0640 Hardenbergia in Pilliga Med

Unlike many native plants Cyprus does not regrow after being burnt so the bush gets recolonised with other trees. The caves, or rather massive overhangs were in a sandstone outcrop that the path wound around.

20170820-4270 Sandstone Outcrop in Pilliga Med

It was an easy and enjoyable walk, and the first cave contained a large rock that had been used for grinding stone axes.

20170820-4273 Stone Axe Grinding Grooves in the Pilliga Med

Another had engravings of emu feet and kangaroo feet that were 12,000 years old. In this rock toward the centre is an axe-grinding groove (it has a bit of debris in it).

20170820-4285 Sandstone Engravings Pilliga Med

 

I thoroughly enjoyed may stay in the Pilliga but am off for a few days in the Warrumbungles.  I was freezing this morning so the diesel heater got a workout before I was on the road at 7.30.  The Warrumbungles are always cold overnight, and during the day at times like today, but fortunately the Warrumbungles have power sites so the electric blanket will be on, plus a fan heater.

Russ on 18 August 2017

An easy drive from Bourke to Cobar, 160 odd Km south of Bourke on the Kidman Way.  Cobar (“Copper City”) has been a major producer of copper, gold, zinc, lead and silver, second only to Broken Hill in NSW. It became best known as a copper-mining centre, and it is still most widely known in that connection.  Once set up, I went to Mt Grenfell Historic Site for a picnic and to see some aboriginal artwork.  Sadly the artwork was badly weathered, but it must have been magnificent when fresh.  Lots of different shapes rather than just hand silhouettes.  Sadly there are no aborigines alive who can interpret the paintings, or maybe they choose not to.

20170815-4226 Rock Art Mt Grenfell Med

20170815-4231 Rock Art Mt Grenfell #3 Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rock overhangs that house the artwork are surrounded by treed, rocky, undulating country, a great setting.  There was a waterhole that the aborigines used near the rock art, it was dry, but a lovely spot amongst the rocks.

20170815-4233 Waterhole Mt Grenfell Med

 

The picnic area at Mt Grenfell was attractive with scattered trees and plenty of tables, which I had to myself.  I haven’t taken one of my trademark picnic table photos this holiday, so here it is.

20170815-4235 Russ at Mt Grenfell Med

 

Near Cobar is the Fort Bourke Lookout, 300 metres high, that is above a massive gold mine.  You can just see the tunnel at the bottom that they are now mining, after mining the open cut.  It is a massive hole, I didn’t spend long at the edge.  Mining started here in 1871 and the mining then was via conventional shafts.

20170815-4237 Goldmine Cobar Med

 

The view from the lookout in the opposite direction is over extensive mulga plains.  You may notice the wattles at the left just starting to flower.

20170815-4240 View from Fort Bourke Cobar #2 Med

 

While I was at Cobar I met Terry and Jo, a couple from Cobram, who were camped near me, they are genuinely lovely people.  We had some good conversations and they invited me to have dinner with them on the day I drove to Mt Grenfell, so I didn’t have to worry about cooking tea.  Jo made a delicious mushroom fettuccini with chicken, cream, parmesan, seed mustard, and garlic.  They shared the leftovers with me so I have another meal ready to go, bonus.  They had had some tragedies in their life including losing a son killed in a hit run at 4-1/2.  So they were very understanding when I talked about Margie, and I was able to reciprocate about their losses.

The drive to Coonamble was just over 300 Km and a very easy drive with few towns.  The country around Coonamble is the flood plains of the Castlereagh and MacQuarie Rivers.  Very flat but with lots of trees of good size.

I came here to visit the MacQuarie Marshes that are the largest semi-permanent wetlands in south-eastern Australia covering 200,000 hectares.  About 10% is a nature reserve and the balance is in private ownership and is grazed.  The marshes are covered with reeds, grasses and red gums, but at the moment the marshes are fairly dry, and diversion of water for irrigation has depleted the health of the wetlands.  The road through the marsh was a dirt road some 25 Km long, which gives an idea of how extensive the marsh is.  The drive is an enjoyable one with lots of trees on both sides of the road.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0005.JPG

 

There are many floodways across the road and at one place I had to drive through water about 1/2 metre deep, this part of the road had reeds alongside over the height of the car.

20170817-0629 MacQuarie Marshes Road Med

 

The road also crossed the MacQuarie River, which was like a small creek, in fact some of the many creeks I crossed were bigger.  When you get out of the car to take a photo or look around, the bush is silent except for the sound of many birds.

20170817-0626 MacQuarie River Med

 

I haven’t used the drone for a while so I put it up to view the dry marshes.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0003.JPG

 

I did also indulge in a drone selfie.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0006.JPG

 

I am off now to the Pilliga Forest for a couple of nights.

Russ on 13 August 2017

The drive from Currawinya to Bourke was not very interesting and once you passed into NSW the road was much worse with some bad sections of corrugations.  My experience is that dirt roads in Qld are OK with some sections of tolerable corrugations but that in NSW the dirt roads are much worse with many sections of very bad corrugations.

I am staying at Kidman Camp, which is a caravan park in North Bourke, nice quiet park down the back. Tonight I enjoyed a bush poet and the vent included a rice and slow cooked beef casserole, followed by a small lemon curd tart. There was an audience of 80 people, which was a bit amazing in itself. The poet told stories, recited poems and sang songs, which he accompanied on his guitar and others with an auto-harp. He a true bush character and was excellent, we all enjoyed his performance. There was a big central fire, which I was at, and another 4 fires behind us at various places to keep the other rows of people warm. All very well done.

20170810-0598 Bush Poet Time at Bourke Med

 

I went out to Brewarrina about 100 Km north-east of Bourke to see the aboriginal fish traps that are reputed to be 40,000 years old and the oldest man-made structure.  In comparison Stonehenge is 5,000 years old and the Pyramids in Egypt 4,500 years old. Brewarrina was a meeting place for a number of tribes and, given the work involved in building the traps, it seems it was a cooperative effort. I think that over recent years there has been no maintenance of the traps and it is hard to pick the structures,  I was able to find a photo from 1900 that clearly shows the structure.

Brewarrina Aboriginal Fish Traps 1900

 

The rows of stones directed the fish moving upstream into ponds which were then closed off to trap the fish which were then speared at leisure.  Even though it is hard to see the structure the traps still clearly work as there were numbers of storks and pelicans in the water around the traps waiting to catch their lunch.  The structure was built to take advantage of existing rocks and to be effective at different places along the traps at different river water levels.  There is drawing of the traps below, which shows how they were constructed, but unfortunately doesn’t show how they worked.

20170812-4214 Fish Traps brewarrina #2 Med

20170812-4219 Fish Tap Brewarrina Map Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is now a weir just above the fish traps so the Barwon looks quite full.  Just below Brewarrina the Barwon joins the Culgoa and becomes the Darling River.  The Bogan River also runs into the darling in this area, but I didn’t see any.

20170812-4223 Barwon River Brewarrina Med

I also visited Byrock about 80 Km south-east of Bourke and had a counter lunch at the Byrock Pub.  A small country pub that has been rebuilt after a fire in the last few years.  The tables and seats are all made of Mulga with the legs cleverly made from natural logs with forks in them.  The bars are made from solid slabs of Beefwood that was originally a tropical tree, that I first mentioned seeing at Mutawintji National Park.

20170812-0602 Mulga Table at Byrock Pub Med

20170812-0601 Mulga Creek Pub at Byrock Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

After lunch I visited aboriginal rock water holes just out of Byrock, which is a sacred place for the local aborigines.  Even in this very dry season there is still water in the rock hole, which is in a low granite outcrop.  In the photo you can again see how flat the country is in this area, but there is a good coverage of small Mulga trees.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0003.JPG

 

I visited the “Back o’ Bourke centre that Bourke council have built which covers the history of Bourke, its development and the people who developed the area and Bourke or were significant Australians.  It comprises 4 corrugated iron buildings three of which cover various aspects of the story and the fourth is a cafe. The buildings are covered by massive shade sails as are some parts of the carpark.   The grounds are beautifully landscaped with plants of the area and the paths that link the four buildings wind through the landscape to the sounds of people talking about their lives.  There is even an historic pine log 3 room house that has been moved into the exhibition.  It is an ideal photo opportunity for the drone but unfortunately under the airport flight path so I could not fly it.

20170813-4224 Back of Bourke Centre Med

 

Several notables who made contribution to the area include Henry Lawson who was a leader in the shearers strike, Breaker Morant, and Fred Hollows who is buried in the Bourke cemetery, such was his connection to the area and the people, especially the aborigines.  One fact that really struck me that in 1894 Dunlop Station sheared 275,000 sheep and marked 94,000 rams, I find that amazing.  The station at the time occupied 4,000 square kilometres.  Imaging managing all that.  The home block and homestead are currently for sale and this photo comes from the real estate ad.

Dunlop Station

 

 

 

 

Russ on 10 August 2017

I had another enjoyable night around the campfire with the same delightful group plus another couple; Ron was a long time friend of Les’s who happened to be in the area so he called in with his partner. Les and Ron worked together in the RAAF so had a great interest in the drone, so on the morning I left I got the drone out and put it through its paces for Ron. Les, Ron, and I are closely studying the control unit in the photo.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0001.JPG

 

I forgot to mention that yesterday I was showing the group the return to home function and when I pushed to button, the drone went up to 30 metres and shot off away from me at a great rate, what a surprise. I had forgotten to reset the home point and it was heading for Alroy shearing shed 1/2 Km away, the last home point. Fortunately there is a cancel option, which I used, and bought it back myself.

I was sad to say goodbye to this group, who had welcomed me as if I was family, Barb even gave me the last of their port while we were around the fire, not sure Doug and Les agreed though, so she is a friend for life! So after a cuppa around the fire in the morning I was off to Currawinya National Park. I found a nice camping spot on the banks of the Paroo about 300 metres from the next camp, so plenty of privacy. There are cold bush showers and toilets, but the toilets are about 1 Km away, so no green apples.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0007.JPG

 

The former sheep station is on the Paroo River and had a 10 stand shearing shed. The bush in Currawinya looks in great shape even in such a dry season, it seems to have recovered over the last 25 years from sheep grazing. Currawinya is the largest National Park in Qld, some 1,500 square Km, and has just had a new section added which will be open in 2018. It would be a great place for a kayak or canoe, as the waterhole I am camped on is about 9 miles long and has yellow-belly to catch.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0006.JPG

20170807-4209 Inside Currawinya Shearing Shed Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I visited The Granites, which are a granite outcrop in the middle of otherwise flat Mulga country, quite a surprise. They are a sacred site so you are asked not to climb them, as if I would, given how I feel about heights.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0004.JPG

 

Today I went to the two big lakes, which are a RAMSAR wetland, and why Currawinya was made a National Park. They are a haven for migratory and other water birds but the fresh water lake, Numalla, is dry and the salt-water lake, Wyara has little water in it. It was a pity because when they are full they are a magnificent sight apparently. However the drive out and back was very enjoyable, a winding bush track through delightful treed country.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0001.JPG

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0008.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afterwards I went to Hungerford and had a steak sandwich in the Royal Mail Hotel established in 1873, and is still the original corrugated iron building. You lunch choice was a pie, or a sausage roll, or a steak sandwich.  It was a Cobb and Co staging post from 1875 and is a classic old country pub, well worth a visit.  Two sisters, who would both shade me for years, run the pub. I bought diesel and your tank is filled by gravity from a big tank on a stand. The pub is the only business operating in Hungerford, which is right on the border of NSW.  The dingo fence runs along the border next to the town so you have to open the gate to get into NSW.

20170808-4213 Hungerford Pub Med

20170808-0594 Hungerford Pub Bar Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are interested, Henry Lawson wrote a short story on Hungerford, which was included in his book “While the Billy Boils”.  It is an amusing tale, typical henry Lawson, you can read it at: https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/l/lawson/henry/while_the_billy_boils/book1.6.html

Currawinya is a very peaceful park with only the many and varied bird sounds breaking the silence.  The camping area is at least 1 Km long alongside the waterhole with numerous camping spots.  I went for a walk one day along the waterhole and found only one other couple camping there, Mike and Jan, right up the other end.  They invited me for a cup of tea and we had a very relaxing chat for a couple of hours.

I am now in Bourke and will stay here for 4 days, not sure what I will do, but tonight I am going to the bush poet in the caravan park for dinner and entertainment.  If he is half as good as the last bush poet we saw here, it should be very good

Russ on 6 August 2017

Alroy Station is a sheep and cattle station on the road from Eulo to Quilpie. Mac and Mary, the owners have set up a bush camping area with fireplaces (wood supplied), water taps, kitchen area, a couple of septic toilets and showers. They also have an artesian spa set up in a cut down fibreglass water tank. Plenty of space but unlikely to be crowded.  It was 3 °C inside the caravan this morning so I was glad to have the diesel heater, which I started and opened the shower door so I could have a comfortable shower when I got up.

20170805-4197 BBQ at Alroy Med

 

 

I have one other camper here and we had a good chat today, he lost is wife 4 years ago, so we had a lot in common. Her name was Margo, but commonly called Margie, so that was a coincidence. He was lovely, empathetic and was more composed than me in discussing our loss that we both feel deeply. He travels alone in a small car, which he sleeps in and is visiting places he has visited before with his wife.

20170806-4204 Bill at Alroy Med

20170804-4188 Camp at Alroy Station #1 Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I visited Yowah, an opal town nearby. A complete mess just like every other opal town I have ever visited. Discarded equipment all over the place, junk, rough built houses and lots of places to buy opals. I visited the Bluff, a rocky outcrop 4 Km from town about 50 metres above the plain. It was worth the visit and it provides extensive views over the surrounding country. Nearly hit a kangaroo on the way, just a small bump on his rear end sent him on his way, if I had been towing I definitely would have hit him.

20170805-4190 The Bluff Yowah Med

 

 

 

Met a lovely group also staying at Alroy Station, who have just completed a trip up the Canning Stock Route. Not sure I would like to do it with massive corrugations most of the way. Lots of discarded trailers and cars along the way lots with broken chassis from overloading. We had a great time around the fire last night and I was invited to breakfast which they cooked. A camp oven of sausages, bacon, tomato, onion and other vegetables plus 8 eggs. It tasted excellent I even didn’t notice the coriander. A goulash was also supplied, to be followed by pancakes, jam and whipped cream. What a breakfast. Then we sat around chatting.

20170806-4202 Breakfast Alroy Med

20170806-4206 Breakfast at Alroy Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took out the drone to the shearing shed, which was small compared to others I have visited on this trip, but interesting nevertheless.  The country around is so flat and vast just like most of his part of Australia.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0004.JPG

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0003.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I then showed the group the drone and they were fascinated so I took a photo of us all and of their camp, which I emailed to them.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0011.JPG

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0012.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow (Monday) I am off to Currawinya National Park for 3 days where I doubt I will have mobile, it is very weak here and I have to use the antenna on my WiFi modem to get enough signal to use the Internet.

Russ on 3 August 2017

An easy drive from Innamincka to Thargomindah for a couple of days on the Bulloo River.  Then off to Eulo. Called in to see Lake Bindegolly National Park on the way. It is a wetland in good seasons and clearly this is not a good season.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0001.JPG

 

I also passed a mud mound spring on journey to Eulo, which arises from the Great Artesian Basin. Unfortunately because of the amount of water taken from the basin over the years the spring is now dry.

20170731-4172 Mud Mound Spring near Eulo Med

 

I’m in Eulo enjoying the quietness of a tiny outback town; one fart and you have missed it, well, maybe two. Hang on, I have to take a break, it’s 24 °C with a breeze and I am cold, I have to get a jacket.  That’s better.

Eulo is on the Paroo River in Paroo Shire, a shire of close to 50,000 square kilometres and a population of only 1,800 people. But that’s massive compared to Bulloo Shire that I drove through on the way here; their population is only 387 people in an area of 74,000 square kilometres. The population of Eulo is 48 people, so it is a small place.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0007.JPG

 

The Paroo River is the last free flowing river in the northern part of the Murray Darling System. In wet years it flows into the Darling and in drier years it fills Paroo Overflow wetlands in northern NSW.

20170802-4180 Paroo River Eulo Med

 

I am reading Tim Winton’s Island Home and enjoying his descriptions of Australia and how it is different to every other nation.  Wonderful stuff, but then he says “…from the get-go”.  How can he write that? So American, so not Australian.  We used to say from the start, some of us still do. It’s the same as asking for a bathroom, when you really want a toilet, but don’t get me started, or should I say “get-going”.

There some wonderful things about being outback. The sky for one, at night, in the day, in the dawn, and in the dusk. Night brings endless stars, bright into the distance of space, the vastness, the number, the beauty are awe-inspiring. Day sees a sky of deep and vibrant blue, most days clouds do not interrupt. Then in the mornings and at dusk the orange of the sun as it rises or sets fills the horizon with orange across a vast expanse.  Silhouettes of trees sometimes provide a contrast of black against the orange. The outback sky is wonderful.

Another wonder is the horizons that stretch away from you in all directions. No buildings, bridges, train lines, power poles, just the endless horizon. Wonderful.  It’s not often you can see the curvature of the earth on land.

Then there is the quiet solitude of the outback. No sound except the occasional twitter of a bird or the rustle of the breeze in a tree. You can lose yourself in your thoughts; drift off to where ever your thoughts take you.

Finally there is the heat. At first you find it oppressive and wonder how you will cope. It is almost overwhelming. But after a few days you acclimatise and enjoy the warmth. It is so dry, no humidity, it feels so Australian, hot sun, blue sky, endless horizons, what a place to be. I love it, I feel at home.

But how could I forget the red dirt.  Stains everything and gets everywhere.  Iconic Australia.

I travelled to Cunnamulla for one day, it is a dreary place on the Warrego River. Could find nothing to photograph except the river.

20170801-4173 Warego River Cunnamulla Med

 

Eulo sports ground is red dirt.  Like the throat of the Man from Ironbark, the men are tough in Eulo, and it really is a sports ground.  The view west from the sports ground shows the extensive Mulga scrub that surrounds Eulo.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0003.JPGDCIM100MEDIADJI_0004.JPG

 

There was also a vegetation spring near the Paroo, but like the mud spring, it is now dry and the special vegetation that used to exist is no longer present.

20170802-4183 Eulo Vegetated Spring Med

 

It rained today and the red dirt turned to mud, started to pack up and left many tracks in the mud, not sure the photo shows them well.  But now in the afternoon, the sun is out again and the ground is quickly drying, by tomorrow you will not know it rained.  As the cold front passed there was a the end of the clouds in a line across the sky.

20170803-4187 Edge of Cold Front Eulo Med

20170803-4185 Eulo Mud Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow I am off the Alroy Station about 60 Km north of Eulo for a couple of days and then I will head south to Currawinya National Park for a few days.  Not sure about mobile coverage so I may be out of range for 5 days.

 

 

Russ on 29 July 2017

As I suspected the road to Innamincka was very rough in places, you feel like everything is going to shake apart, even your teeth. Heading west we crossed numerous sand dunes but the road was such that you had to slow at the top in case there were large potholes or bulldust or a turn in the road. In 1986 this road was smooth and it was great fun whizzing over the dunes. After the dunes you then head north on the Strzelecki Track, which was OK in places, but very corrugated in areas, and rough stones in other places. It seems like they gather gibber stones and spread them on the road embedded in clay. The clay wears away leaving the stones sticking out, it is a testament to the ruggedness of modern tyres that they can stand the pounding they get. You have to travel at least 70-80 Km/Hr and slip across the tops of the stones or corrugations or you get bounced all over the place. When the corrugations are very large there is nothing you can do when you are towing, any higher speed would be unsafe; you have to just wear it. You just have to shake all over.  I did see another sunrise on the way from Fort Grey, but, with very few clouds, it was not very spectacular.

20170726-4152 Sunrise Sturt NP

20170726-4153 Cameron Corner Sand Dune Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I crossed the dingo fence along the way, which follows the SA and Qld borders. The fence is not quite on the border, but the white post is Cameron Corner, where SA, Qld and NSW meet.

20170726-4156 Cameron Corner Med

20170726-4155 Dingo Fence Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along the way I decided to check the plug to the caravan and it was unplugged, dragging on the ground, must have been hit by a rock. Plugged it in but no connection. Unplugged it and found that all the inside was missing. Pressed on and luckily Innamincka Trading Post had a replacement so I set up camp and waited until the shade came over and rewired and tested the new one. Then I found the caravan’s reversing camera was not working so the next day found a broken wire and fixed that. I hope that’s all that’s broken.

I decided to camp at Cullyamurra Waterhole on the Cooper, which is 14 Km east of Innamincka. It is a beautiful spot, right on the Cooper, lots of trees, dirty and dusty, but that’s how it is out here. The waterhole is permanent and has been measured at 28 metres deep. There is a choke in the Cooper above the waterhole and the rushing water scoured out the waterhole to that depth. Howitt, on his mission to find what happened to Burke and Wills, camped at this water hole. My nephew, Rob, wanted a drone selfie so here it is. Not a very good one but the view of the campsite and waterhole is OK.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0018.JPG

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0009.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I visited the dig tree, which is an amazing old coolabah. This is where Burke and Wills set up their camp 65, depot camp, before the four set off for the gulf. On the way I crossed the Cooper over a new Burke and Wills bridge. The bridge is 70 Metres long and the scale of it is testament to the size of the cooper when it floods.  It is 70 metres long.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0005.JPG

 

As we all know they arrived back at depot camp on the day that the four men, who had stayed at the depot camp led by Brahe, left for Menindee. Burke and Wills had spent 1/2 a day burying Grey on the way to the depot camp and, had they not done this, they would have arrived at the depot camp before the others had left. Against Will’s wishes, Burke insisted they set off for Mt Hopeless about 250 Km away, but when it was clear that they wouldn’t make it they tried to return to depot camp. But died in the attempt. What made it worse was that Burkes camp caught fire and nearly all the supplies were lost. Before Burke and Wills left the depot camp they left a note in the camel box under the dig tree and smoothed everything out so the aborigines would not find the note.  The righthand photo is of the Dig Tree and the Cooper behind, it is an idyllic camping place

20170727-4161 The Dig Tree Med

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0002.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is very hard to decipher the blaze on the Dig Tree, but the blaze is still there.  In the 1920’s a likeness of burke was carved and a Coolibah next to the Dig Tree.

20170727-4159 1920s Blaze of Burke Med

20170727-4157 Dig Tree Blaze Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The party returning south to Menindee met by chance the Wrights relief party coming up from Menindee and the leaders Brahe and Wright rode back to the depot camp, looked around for 15 minutes and then left, as there were no signs of anyone having been there. On the way back to the depot Wills was the first to die about 15 Km west of Innamincka and I visited the place he died. Wills insisted that Burke and King leave him to die and that they should push on.  The road in is crossed a number of dunes some of which were covered by yellow daisies, the result of a local shower a few weeks prior. It was the same in 1986 when we crossed the Simpson Desert; the daisies then were yellow and white and covered the desert in places. Cam and Deen were disappointed because they wanted to see a desert.

20170727-4166 Desert Flowers Med

20170727-4165 Wills Grave Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burke then died about 6 Km east of Innamincka and Howitt buried his remains when he found them, which is shown in the painting which is in the State Library in Melbourne.

20170727-4168 Redgum near Burkes Grave Med

20170727-4170 Burkes Grave Coolibah Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a rest day yesterday I am off to Thargomingah, I have had enough of rough corrugated roads for this trip.  But, on second thoughts, Currawinya National Park looks inviting, who knows.  I have arrived safely at Thargomindah and will stay 2 nights.  No TV and no radio but we do have Telstra 4G so I can catch up on my emails etc.  The map below shows my journey so far.  Google maps will not allow me to make the direct route from Mutawintji to Tibooburra, but insists I return to Broken Hill, which I did not.

Screen Shot 2017-07-29 at 3.57.17 PM