Alex had Friday off work so we decided to leave early and avoid the holiday traffic. It took us about an hour to reach Grand Junction Road, maybe next time we’ll remember to use the Port Road Expressway or whatever it’s called.
We stopped for lunch at the Bakery in Burra where our entertainment was the “bushie” also eating outside. He had fancy carved, cowboy boots, mittens, tatts, pony tail, the uniform sweaty rimmed hat and his mobile phone on which he was complaining loudly about the squad of Harley riders in town. We didn’t stop in Peterborough but went on to Orroroo where we filled up with fuel at “Mr Smiley’s Garage”.
Driving along the Johnburgh dirt road was a bit of a slalom with pairs of Sleepies, some Blue Tongues and some kind of Dragon on the road. Why do the Sleepies cross the road???
I was expecting a bright red mailbox after reading the online directions but was disappointed, it was just a russet red, the artistic sign at the entrance though made up for it.
Lots of other campers seemed to be here for the long weekend. When we finally reached the Rhagodia camp the Pappas & Macarthys were sitting comfortably around the firepit having their afternoon tea. We set up camp near the riverbed, a couple of minutes for the tent part and the usual half hour or more for the annexe. We made a good job of it though, Alex was delighted with the nice taut canvas. Bendleby Ranges is a lovely site but we didn’t see a single lizard after we entered the station…….. they must have been too busy criss-crossing roads somewhere else. I thought it was just going to be the 3 groups that night but then Steve and Paul arrived.
We joined the others for “Happy Hour” around the campfire. I’d come prepared for chilly nights but that didn’t happen, it became a bit fresh but the camper stayed warm all night.
Steve led the 4 cars in “F Troop” to Hidden Valley out GumCreek Drive, onto The Link track then along The North/South Ridge. After that we went out to Murphy’s Yards then to Dinner Time Springs. Alex drove over steps, rocky inclines and faster sandy tracks. An un-named ridge line took us from Dinner Springs down into Quarry Springs then we climbed to the Lookout before coming back down to have lunch at Quarry Springs. The climbs to Quarry Springs and Dinner Time Springs were quite taxing.
I drove out of Quarry Springs, a high difficulty Track, down the Kokoda Trail and back into camp.
Six cars arrived with “The Green Team” and they set up camp. While they were doing that F Troop headed out to the North Hills of the Hungry Range and then through the impressive Quartz Gorge which was medium high difficulty. The rocky hills have “streams” of quartz running almost vertically through them. We went back to the campsite via the North Fence Line.
F Troop left camp at 8:00 and headed to the Hungry Ranges. It was a good time to do some training on rocky slopes so Steve went in our Jeep with Alex & I went with Paul C in his because we had no passenger room. I was VERY glad Alex was the one driving, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it at all, far too difficult for me. We went over Ridge Top and then did the East Fence Track where our Jeep developed a knocking noise so we parked it at the bottom of Billy Goat Ridge Track and hitched a ride with Paul & Steve in Paul’s Grand Cherokee. It was the BEST way to “do” Billy Goat Ridge. No need to worry about having the necessary skills and no need to worry about damage to your vehicle. Those in the know said the track had deteriorated over the last couple of weeks.
We took “the scenic route” back to the car then another “scenic route” back to camp ie we drove for miles and miles trying to find our way. The paper maps, GPS, tablets etc DIDN’T make it easy. It would be very helpful if there was signage on the actual features shown on the maps eg Silver Tanks, Saltbush Dam, South Hills Bore. When you see a dam you have no way of knowing which one it is and if at the time you are “navigationally challenged” it’s very frustrating.
Back at camp it was time for a refreshing Cider while sitting in the shade. I wouldn’t have survived the weekend if not for car air conditioning, the last couple of days have been in the 30s, too hot for me to be out and about.
We were up early (Alex might dispute that) and at the showers just after 7:00, I think. (nearer 7.30 – Ed.) No one else was at the shower block, a neat corrugated iron structure which LOCKED and people couldn’t even see inside!
After a nice hot shower we went back to the campsite, feverish unpacking of camper trailers and repacking was going on. By about 10:00 everyone had left, we were second to last. Another couple had intended staying on a while and going for a bushwalk but the weather was horrible, too hot and the blustery winds stirred up the dirt. I was intending to find some geocaches at Orroroo until I discovered they hadn’t downloaded to my GPS as promised but with the horrible weather I didn’t really care.
After Orroroo we headed to Peterborough and stumbled on a great cafe, called something like 128 Main Road. It was in the old picture theatre and had heaps of memorabilia as well as a little old Willy’s Jeep and a Ford Prefect just like the one from “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”. The people working there all were very happy to serve us, such a difference from our last experience at “Take a Break”, the cafe we went to last time. From Peterborough we headed to Burra for fuel but the lineup was chaotic even after a trip around the block so we drove on to Morgan. Access to the diesel pump was much easier there because it was a bit away from the petrol pumps and despite the big line of people waiting to pay the lady was chatty and still in good humour.
We had planned to walk about the town but the foul weather made us change our minds and instead we drove to Cadell to try and find “Hogwash Campsite”. We didn’t manage it and when I asked the bearded ferry driver (a beard seems to be a part of the uniform for Ferry drivers) he said it was back over the other side where we’d just come from. We’d found the dry Wetlands that was all. I told him we’d tried to find it but couldn’t and he said people keep stealing the sign because of the name.
Back to the shelter of the cabin at the Morgan Caravan Park for a cup of tea and some biscuits. No TV reception for our $85 night, we also paid another $30 Top Tourist membership only to discover they don’t have parks in Tasmania. We thought that it would be handy to have when we go there next month. There were several other “campers” staying in cabins because they’d heard the weather forecast and didn’t want to be exposed to the wicked winds.
We had dinner at the Terminus Hotel, a nice, nice steak and salad. When orders quietened down the chef went upstairs to put the kids to bed, we could hear their feet thundering about, his wife was waiting on tables. He seemed to be having a hard time because daylight saving has just started. The pub was an amazing rabbit warren with the dining room near the back, the pub meal was a great way to end a good day.
Miraculously the TV decided to work when we went back, NOT miraculously there was cricket on! Our day ended with us watching “Pale Rider” on a TV screen that looked like an old photo negative.
Our drive back home was without incident however we did ignore “Karen”, our GPS cyborg, she couldn’t cope with us travelling on the dirt road between Swan Reach and Mannum. It was the same road we’d used to get to Swan Reach on the “Magical Mystery Tour” with the Jeep Club a couple of months ago. In Mannum there was an interesting old dry dock, the last one of those used for Paddlesteamers. There are heaps of interesting things to see so we’ll go back there again. We arrived back home just after midday, it was a good weekend away.