Red Centre Tour 2019

About this holiday

In 2018 Kathy and I did a three week trip through Central Australia visiting places that I hadn’t been to for 17 years.  There is something about the red sand between your toes that keeps calling you back time and again.  On climbing Uluru I was locked in thought that Emily and Sam need to do this but with the impending closure of the climb the chances were diminishing.  Then along comes Josh and Kimi, two close friends, asking if I was doing another trip this winter and if so would I consider taking them outback.  Well I didn’t need convincing!  So here I am again heading away and back to Central Australia.  Emily and Sam and scheduled to fly into Alice Springs where will travel and camp with Josh and Kimi.  Emily will fly home from Uluru and Sam will join us on the road trip home.

Day 1

Tuesday 18th June 2019, at 10.30 a.m., I set off from home in the drizzling rain headed for Alice Springs. I have a number of days to reach Renmark where Josh and Kimi will be meeting me for the drive north. I am in no hurry as I have no definitive plans, nothing booked and just a mind set to see where I end up over the next couple of days. The drizzle turned to rain then to pouring back to showers and this set the tone for the most part of the day. In fact it didn’t stop until about 2.30 p.m., when I decided to pull into the town of Lexton for some lunch.

I was surprised to see a Lone Pine tree planted in the park which was from a seed of the tree at Gallipoli. I look forward to visiting this tree over the many years to come to see how much it grows. A beautiful fitting memory of our Diggers.

It was so cold that lunch was quick and I kept driving north hoping to get to the other side of the rain and clouds. By the time I reached St Arnaud the rain had stopped and I could see blue in the sky ahead. I drove to Donald where I set camp in the Apex park which is a free location on the side of the road. Clean amenities and camp area. The cold got the better of me so I retreated to the Tvan by 7.30 p.m., where reading a book was a better alternative than sitting outside.

Day 2

No rain and clear skies that had a temperature of 1.0 degree still at 8 am. Ice had formed all over the camper and the car and with no breeze it wasn’t in a hurry to melt.

I decided that I would do the silo art trail today so headed off to explore and photograph. The skies were blue and sun was shining in through the glass making the car nice and warm. In order of reach the silo’s I drove firstly to Sheep Hills, down to Rupanyup and then back up to Brim where I had lunch at the caravan camp ground by the lake. This looks like a great spot to stop if you are traveling and need a hot shower. $10 to camp the night and amenities were perfect. Rosebery was after lunch then over to Patchewollock. Fascinating how these are done by true artists in their own right.

Camp is at Lake Walpeup which has a clean amenity block and plenty of space to camp. One other vehicle has come in for the night. The birds at starting to call out as they prepare to roost. Should be a peaceful sleep tonight.

Day 3

Peaceful it was and warm too. I heated two hot water bottles before bed which saw me have a toasty sleep. I had the morning rituals completed and was on the road by 8.45 a.m., heading for South Australia. I needed fuel and as I reach the township of Walpeup on the Mallee Hwy there caravaners all camped up at the intersection. Some appeared to have power. I looked left I tot the township and couldn’t see any service station so I turned right and headed for Ouyen to fill the tanks. 27 km into town, a walk through the Main Street which has so many shops empty and closed before heading 27 km back up the road. A quick check of the camp set up showed it was $10 per night for power and $3 for a traveller to pass and have a shower. Error # 1 – as drove through the town I saw in a lane between two shop was a fueling depot. 90 minutes and 58 kms wasn’t needed. Glad I’m not in a hurry. I drove west to the township of Pinaroo. The sun is shining, the tunes are playing and black top is disappearing under the car. I had never been to Pinaroo which is why I traveled this path and what a pleasant town. The amenity for travelers was faultless and spotless. I bought some fresh produce from the IGA to support the town, had some lunch and headed for Renmark via Berri.

Camp was reached at Plush’s Bend in Renmark on the Murray River. This is to be base camp for the next four nights awaiting the arrival of Josh and Kimi on Sunday night.

Day 4

The hot water bottles are in full swing now as the nights are – 3 for the next 5 nights. The morning s are fogging and brisk. There is no wind thankfully but it is bitterly cold. I decided to open the curtain to Tvan last night and woke to the sun rising through the window over looking the river. There is definitely something about camping that retunes the brain. With camp sorted I decided to seek out a high pressure hot shower as opposed to the camp shower. I went to a little independent caravan park in Paringa where the owner welcomed me to utilise his facilities for $5. I was offered to bring my washing on the next visit and utilise the laundry machine and dryer too. I good business manager restored my faith in humanity. So a fresh shave, hot shower and feeling a million bucks I went into Renmark and scoped out the town. Bought a fresh cooked chook from Woolworths for lunch and dinner and headed back to camp. A relaxing afternoon spent having a walk along the river with camera in hand.

Day 5

Can you aclimatise to the cold? Despite the frost and fog I was up and outside watching the sunrise this morning. It seems the evenings are harder on me than the mornings. The fog was thick over the river which gave an amazing sunrise. Today I went exploring for the border post of Victoria and South Australia. I headed out through Paringa following my map and came across the Muthro State Forrest. On driving into to have a look there was an observation tower obviously over looking the Murray River and not being one for heights I decided to stop and have a look.

Wow! My eyes were shown what I can best describe as one of the most aesthetically pleasant views I have experienced in my travels. My love of the Murray is deep but my appreciation is now immense. The sheer beauty of seeing red cliffs tower over the most calming water. My inner peace was reached as I admired this magnificent river. The importance of us to protect this river has never been more felt. I took a few pictures but they will never give justice to what I felt and so the thoughts of another ‘holidaysagain’ experience is in development. I must experience this view from the water and cruise this part of the Murray. I drove down to the waters edge and checked out future potential camp sites whilst day dreaming of kayaking to experience this moment more. Experiences like these don’t come very often but when they do you know it. Today was that day!

I continued on my journey north to find the border and came to the rivers edge yet again at the former Customs House (now heritage listed). The premise is now occupied by the owners of custom river house boats. Having experienced what I just had I spent an hour with the owner being shown over the house boats, discussing costings and facilities. This experience is to be continued ……

I couldn’t get access to border post from where I was and access was via the river so another time. I returned to camp for the afternoon, enjoying the sun before the night cold returns.