Some places we've been and some places we're going.

Archive for August, 2015

Adelaide – Saturday

It was very relaxing having space to stretch out, a little lounge, a table and chairs already set up in their special spot, ensuite etc. No rain fell overnight and it promised to be a nice sunny day. We took our time packing our things back into the car then went to check out the junction of the River Darling and the River Murray. Over the years more and more water has been taken out of the Darling for irrigation so it’s nothing like the big old river and is quite muddy looking. The Murray too loses a lot of its flow for the same reason but South Australia has lobbied for years to get what it considers to be a fairer allocation of water coming down. Many water licenses have been sold back to the government so the condition of the river has improved. Standing on the tower today it wasn’t possible to pick out the mixing of the different coloured waters but a large river cruise boat came down the Darling just as we arrived so maybe that stirred the waters up.

There was plenty of bird life along the river. After we’d watched the birds for a while we went back to have breakfast at the Artback Cafe, we sat out on the upstairs balcony and enjoyed the scenery. We hadn’t made up our minds where our next stop would be though it had to be south and west. Leaving Wentworth we headed towards Mildura but when a sign came up pointing towards Renmark we took it instead and then knew we were going home today.

The rainforest of Far North Queensland was behind us and so were the drought affected areas of Central and Southern Queensland we were now in the irrigated areas. Acres of Almond, Citrus, Avocado and Olive Trees were around us as well as all the Grape Vines. At the Fruit Fly Checkpoint the people in front of us had to surrender their lettuce and other fresh foods but all we had were a couple of sprigs from a Pepper Tree. I didn’t expect it but I had to hand them over! After our required stop at the Bakers Shop in Renmark we continued until I saw a well stocked farm gate stall. We bought a big bag of Blood Oranges, and another of Mandarins then I had to buy half a kilo of dried Apricots, they looked just too good to pass up and they were much cheaper than I can buy in Adelaide.

Between Wentworth and Renmark we’d started seeing Gazanias beside the road, they’re a South African plant with lovely bright colours but they’ve escaped from home gardens and are now considered a pest plant in bush areas. I can’t help but admire them.

We arrived home about 4 o’clock and as usual it’s lovely to be back to the comforts of home and exciting to see the fruit trees blossoming etc but also disappointing that our jaunt is over. It’ll be another year before we can go off on a trek again.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. 🙂

Wentworth – Friday


Last night I suffered from other people’s negative stories about camping in Wilcannia, every time the chair creaked I imagined it was someone reaching into the camper. Eventually I realized it was just the wind blowing the canvas against the chair but I’ve been tired all day! Wilcannia seems to me to be a town struggling to rebuild itself after its loss of identity as a flourishing river port. Other towns seem to have found a way to promote themselves which results in increased tourism and prosperity. There are lovely old buildings in Wilcannia but also a lot boarded up, I hope the efforts the town is making pay off for them.

Despite our disappointment with the River Run we continued on that way. Some sections of the road had ruts and holes or stretches of greyish soft sand but there were also good hard packed sections. The car is covered in dust but we haven’t been worried by it getting inside.

We stopped to view the “Menindie Lakes” which are now stretches of dry ground and then the grave of Dost Mahomet. He was a cameleer with the expedition to cross Australia from south to north in about 1860. He survived because he was one of the four left behind at Coopers Creek when Burke, Wills, King and Grey continued north. The party of four came back to Menindie and he stayed there, his grave is on the site he chose to say his prayers every day.

Pooncarie was our next stop where we checked out the old wharf which doesn’t exist anymore but there was an interesting sight. Across the river was a boat suspended from a tree, it showed the river level during the flood following Cyclone Yasi which devastated Mission Beach and other parts of FNQ. We were astonished when we went to buy a drink to see about 20 motorbikes at the shop and even more amazed when we realized they were a group of mostly BMW riders some of whom had been on the BMW trip to Tasmania in November. Here we were in Pooncarie a town with a population of 80, in the middle of nowhere and we ran into people we’d been on a ferry with last November!

With very dark clouds covering the sky we headed straight for Wentworth having decided to hire a cabin for the night. The views at Willow Bend Caravan Park are lovely despite the fact all the Willows have been removed for environmental reason. It’s by far the nicest river setting we’ve stayed at.

In New South Wales almost back into South Australia

In New South Wales almost back into South Australia

Wilcannia – Thursday

Today we set off on our first stage of the “Darling River Run” which was from Bourke to Tilpa via Louth. It was a dirt road but had been recently graded because the races were on at Louth and they knew lots of people would be using the road. A few caravans were using the road but they wouldn’t have had any problems.

Louth was a lovely surprise for me, Shindy’s Inn had a wonderful display of bush memorabilia including a fantastic bike. I loved it. The publicans were away fishing “at the Top End”, (Northern Territory for those unfamiliar with Australia) and the person working in their place wasn’t able to tell me the story of the bike other than it belonged to a shearer. I love it because there is so much evidence of the owner on the bike, like the hessian used in different ways, his stitching of it, the wooden stick used as a support for his cup, his billy, toolbag, cigarette tin and axe. In the hessian bag are tins, maybe they held food and most importantly his shears. There are boxing gloves on the back and I know that in the 1920s it was common for men to try to earn money in boxing matches.

On the walls were displays of rabbit traps, mincing machines, saws, horse bits and pieces etc. It was a great place.

After Louth we headed towards Tilpa where we intended to stay. The road was dirt but in good condition. There were lots of cattle some just wandering carefree across the road. Although we were on the River Run we hadn’t seen the river which was a bit disappointing so when we did glimpse it as we passed Alex reversed back down the road until we could get a pull off. There was no need to worry about other traffic we hadn’t seen any and none appeared then. In about 2010 we watched a TV programme about two men going down the Darling in a tinnie, they came to the conclusion it was less of a river and more of a muddy creek and we agree. Most of the time you can’t tell it’s water until the sun glints off it or there are ripples because it’s the same colour as the banks.

There were great swathes of little flowers, yellow, mauve, purple and white.

To say Tilpa was disappointing is putting it mildly. We’d read that they had the world’s best hamburger at the “Trading Post” but we could only find the pub and the school opposite. There were hordes of kids playing in the school so I asked a woman who came out of there but she said she didn’t know the place at all. She was part of a two day get-together for children and their parents who live on remote stations and learn in isolation, they were all camping behind the school. I asked another man and he said there was no Trading Post but you could get anything you wanted at the pub. We gave up and had a hamburger at the pub which was nothing like the Shindy’s Inn at Louth. We decided not to stay in Tilpa.

The road from Tilpa to Wilcannia was the roughest section with clear damage caused by vehicles using it when it was wet. Lots of deep gouges, run offs at the edges and also other rocky sections. The cattle grids also needed care because the road base didn’t meet the grid on the level. We arrived in Wilcannia about 4:00, found the camping ground and discovered we just had time to collect the key to the toilets & showers from the Council Offices. The time it took I did think Alex must have been filling out an application to erect a temporary residence on Council Property!

As we sit in the camper surrounded by big Gum Trees we can hear water falling over the weir, a very nice setting.