Mornington to Port Wakefield
Day 1 – Up nice and early and on the road from home at 5.00 am heading for north of Adelaide. No rain and little traffic was a nice run through. We swapped drivers with Kathy taking over control south of Ballarat so I thought I’d take the time for a 30 min kip. Well the eye lids just closed when all of a sound I hear what I though was the F word. I looked up half startled only to see the whites of the eye from a duck before it clipped the bullbar, slamming into windscreen. I now new it was DUCK that was exclaimed and I could clearly see from all the duck matter that it was all over for Donald. I certainly hop that is all the excitement for the day. We stopped in Bordertown for some lunch and of course I bee lined for the bakery with my gut saying “don’t eat the pastry, my brain saying don’t eat pastry but my taste buds screaming “Pastie and Sausage Roll”. So I gave in to the taste buds knowing full well that I would be internally punished for the next two days but it was yum! Bordertown to Port Wakefield was the afternoon drive before we pulled into the little caravan park. The guy running the park couldn’t smile to save himself and looked like John Jarrat from Wolfe Creek so I tried my hardest to avoid eye contact. A fresh night but not super cold. I found that the HF radio wasn’t auto tuning because the panel beaters who replaced my back door were to lazy to reconnect and just cut the wires. Arghh!
Port Wakefield to Coober Pedy
Day 2 – Great nights sleep with the electric heater blowing warm air through the Tvan. I must be getting soft in old age. We hit the road heading for Coober Pedy despite having been there twice and saying both times never again. Very easy drive through to Port Augusta where fuel and food were done and onto the long drive. We stopped at Woomera and checked out the missiles and displays. I couldn’t help but to notice how over them past 10 years civilization has almost caught up with the outback. There were now brick houses, school, new church and a museum built but the flies were the same. A very interesting place in Australian history and it is quite obvious that the military and federal police are back using Woomera which is no suprise given the detention centre for illegal immigrants. Still we pushed on driving to dusk where we made it to Coober Pedy. We check into the Big 4 van park where the young lady behind the desk asked if I was after a powered site. I advised that would be nice so she took my money and said just drive around the back and see if I can find one. I enquired about site numbers only to be told no and people having been parking wrong. “So what is the management doing about it? I asked, ” oh there running the Pizza Shop and busy cooking pizza’s”. I knew there was something about Coober Pedy that annoys me. Anyway we found the camp kitchen had some satay chicken fillets and rice for dinner. I thought I might sneak over to the amenities block for five minutes of relax time. I sat there pondering before my neighboring ponderers decided that it was time to repeat the famous Blazing Saddles scene. It was almost in tune. It was a fresh but the trusty heater was up and running.
Coober Pedy to Stuart Well NT
Day 3 – Up early and on the road at 8.15 a.m, into town to get some fuel and quick site seeing for Kathy as this was her first experience of Coober Pedy (I hope she doesn’t want to go back). We looked across the Breakaways and I was surprised at how green it was. Considering this is the main location of where Mad Max was filmed and it looked the same when I was there 10 years ago. Up to the Big Winch before heading north, NT bound. Lunch was done and dusted at Marla where they were selling fuel for 1.97 cpl – no thanks I’ll pass on that price. The rest of the drive was relatively easy going with no problems as we crossed into the NT at 2.19 pm which was Kathy’s first time. A short stop at the Kulgera Pub got me thinking whether the next trip to Ullaru (Ayres Rock) in September should be done via the Finke Desert as opposed to the bitumen. Research here I come. A couple of hundred K’s up the road we stopped at Stuarts Well for the night, we opted to stay here as opposed to Rainbow Valley as I needed to light to pull the back door apart and trace the wiring for the HF Radio. The night was fresh but the camping was fine and no I wasn’t able to fix the HF.
Stuarts Well to Alice Springs
Day 4 – We were awake really early and on the road by 8 am for a relaxing one hour drive into Alice Springs. We drove straight to a TJM outlet to source out a bloke who knows how to fix HF radio’s. No joy there so around to an auto electricians to clean some dodgy wiring up left from the panel beaters when I had my back door replaced. After 3 hours there, phone calls to Western Australia talking with Barrett HF I was no closer to fixing the problem. We booked in for an unscheduled stop over in the Alice whilst I continued to source an expert in the field. I had previously rung a HF radio place in Alice only to be told they couldn’t see me for 2 weeks due to their workload. We set up camp and I decided that I would cold call on the business and hopefully sweet talk them into helping me. Well after being abused for turning up having been told they were to busy, I remained graceful and shut my mouth for that extra 15 seconds as I could feel the blood pressure rising rapidly. The guru (Richard) says, “I’ll give you 10 minutes and if I can’t fix it then you are out of luck.” Breath, one two three, thanks I say. So I park the car at the garage and into it he goes. 40 minutes later having suffered more exclamations of his dissatisfaction he found the blown circuit board and replaced it. Working again! Now came the cost…..$50 bucks in the beer tin. Oh yeah, so glad I didn’t let go what I was thinking at the start. So back to camp and a couple of cold beers to relax after a bloody long day sorting this damn problem out. At least if we need to contact or be contacted we have comms again.
Alice Springs to Devils Marbles
Day 5 – Bye bye Alice Springs as we continue the journey north heading for the Devils Marbles as the proposed camp for the night. An easy day driving saw us arrive at 1.00 pm where a quick set and lunch were done. Then off to explore the rocks and look for a location to take some low light photos at sunset. Met a really nice couple Jenny and Barry from QLD. Jenny is an amateur photographer so really good for me talk to whilst Barry was a good old fashioned country bloke who had been there done that with life experience. Lots of photos were taken, some not so good, but fun all round.
Devils Marbles to Daly Waters
Day 6 – We drove off at 9.00 a.m. doing our last day of driving on bitumen for the next two weeks heading for Daly Waters Pub where we plan to camp behind and have the Steak, Barra And salad for dinner with lots of cold amber hydraters to wash it down. The weather is getting warmer now and as I sit here typing whilst Kathy drives it is 33 degrees outside. This is our climate for the next three weeks as we explore the Limmen National Park, Lorella Springs before we move east toward Cairns. We arrived at the Daly Waters Pub, grabbed a camp spot, had a few beers and nuts before heading over for the dinner and entertainment. We camped next to Paddy and Sandy who were fantastic to talk to and be around and we all went off for dinner and listening the the live entertainment for the night. The girls got up and danced whilst I enjoyed sitting with other travellers talking about adventures.
Daly Waters to Lorella Springs
Day 7 – An easy morning taking our time packing up camp, a few phone calls and then away we go. Bitumen all the way to Cape Crawford for lunch and a top up of the fuel tanks before driving north up a small winding track onto the Savannah Way, west bound and pulled into Lorella Springs for the night. After driving for most of the day a refreshing swim in the hot spring river at the homestead soaked away the niggling aches that creep up on you.
Day 8 – A beautiful morning with blue skies and off we went up the property track to explore the gorges and river swimming spots. We drove through to the crocodile swamp, up many rivers along the Tawallah Track and explored the mountain tops of the old reefs. We stopped at the Tawallah Falls (which were really only a trickle) for lunch, took some photos before continuing along to some more swimming spots. The sun was beaming and Kathy decided that a swim was in order at Inkspot water hole. The look on her face as she hit the water told me straight away that I will enjoy my swim at the hot springs later as a better option. As we drove along we saw a sign post that indicated “Nudie Springs” so down the track we went. On reaching the hot springs the water was about 32 degrees running. When in Rome we must do as the Romans do, so off with the kit and a refreshing nudie swim, soak, bath and unwind set amongst Pandanus Palms with a rocky outcrop as the backdrop. Truly a magnificent setting. All clean we headed back to camp for afternoon tea into dinner. We headed over to the homestead for happy hour and on the way back Kathy went down like a cold beer in a dust storm. Her ankle went left as her body went right. A rolled ankle with excruciating paid that was rightfully expressed forthwith. I didn’t her any snap so nothing but none the less swelling and was to follow.
Day 9 – Lorella Springs is only a million acres so plenty more exploring to be had so we headed off along the Little Rosie Track for an explore. We stopped at a magnificent billabong called Snappy Handbag which looked like the perfect environment for our predatory friends. They provided a row boat if you were game but for us there are risks and then there are unnecessary risks. There was no way I was dangling my arm over board to paddle a boat in these waters. We drove on and on and on along the track crossing numerous dry rivers before driving up the mountain on the other side of the river. A long slow climb to the top we found ourselves stepped back in time where the ocean once lapped at the shore line high above the now gorge. The rocks still showed the signs of time past with the ripple of the waves imbedded for millions of years. I found a rock with a fossil remain and some that once had sea shells in them. It was damn hot at the top of the escarpment and a long drive out but we were close to the Nudie Hot Springs so another afternoon soak and swim was in order. On the both occasions we had the place to ourselves so I must remember to tell the Swedish backpackers about this oasis for next time we visit. A full day of adventures and exploring with lots of photos.
Day 10 – We have decided to pack up camp and travel up to the “Secret Fishing Spot” which is situated right on the beach in the Gulf of Carpinteria, on the Limmen Bight, for a couple of nights. The track and camp location was sold to us a magical spot right at the water edge with the track having just been cut through to the camp only three weeks earlier. So off we went towing through soft sand, across rocky tracks, through rivers, over clay pans and along a magnificent looking river. The only thing they forgot to tell us was that although the track was new it hadn’t been cleared properly so plenty of branches dragging along the side of the camper and car were to be experienced and oh watch out for the all the fallen tree branches laying in wait to rip the sidewall out of your tyre. They were right though because the beach was pristine and undisturbed in its natural state. We camped near another family, Alec and Amanda with their two girls and Amanda’s parents. Later that night I woke at 1 am swarmed by sand flies in my sleep. The bloody things were everywhere and attacking us. I turned the fans on in the camper to blow them away, closed the roof vents and covered up as best as I could. It was to late they – got me. I didn’t remember ready that in the brochure either! As for Alec he didn’t survive the drive, staking a sidewall of a brand new $370 tyre which is now good for nothing.
Day 11 – Not wanting to complain our sound like a wimp I didn’t mention the sand flies to the other family but Col couldn’t resist as he detailed to me how they were also attacked during the night. Their bites were far worse than mine and Kathy had survived unscathed. Enough was enough and I wasn’t going to endure another night like that one so we packed up and headed back to the homestead for the night. A four hour drive back from where we had came in low range going really slow so as not to succumb tyre damage from the stakes pointing right at the tyres. Suffice to say I was tired, cranky and fairly ****** off at the management. Cut a new tack my **** – pushed trees over more like it. We set up camp near Brett and Faye, went and soaked my wounds it the hot spring before having a nice hot shower before dinner. The State of Origin was on so we ventured over to the homestead sitting with Brett and Faye watching the blues defeat the maroons. As I was still annoyed I decided that was our last night at Lorella Springs and no more money was to be paid to stay.
Lorella Springs to Limmen National Park
Day 12 – We check out of Lorella Springs was interesting. I had decided not to vent about their Secret Fishing Spot until I was asked for their survey, “what was the best thing about your stay?” I replied, “let me tell you why we are going early and not giving you any extra money”. I was then informed I shouldn’t have been briefed on the location except by the owner Rhett as it still has a lot of work to do. Hmmm, I shan’t bore you with the rest of conversation that was had but I did make her right as I vented. Anyway off we went further up the Savannah to the ranger station to arrange a key for the next day so we could go into the Western Lost City. An easy drive and we arrived at lunch time to find no rangers anywhere. We hung around looking through the homestead and property and after an hour I noticed a ranger driver out of his residence and down a dusty track. So I walked along the track and found him maintaining the land balance water supply from his own body. He turned a glared at me with his broad brimmed hat and sunglasses and immediately thought the first words out of his his mouth were either going to be “chicken @#&$er” or “meow” just like the movie Supertroopers. Well want an arrogant ranger he was. Maybe because I caught him off guard or maybe because he feels like the sheriff of the county. All I could get was yep and nup out of him but I remained composed yet again and arranged a key for the gate at 8 am the following morning. We headed down to Butterfly Springs for the night and swam in the lagoon at the base of a waterfall watching the water monitors sun bake on the rock wall. A great location to camp with one of the few safe swimming holes in the area.
Day 13 – Up early, fed and packed and back up to the Rangers station for round two with key collection. I’ve had a good sleep so I am ready for the intellectual conversation about to be encountered. We arrived, unhitched the Tvan and headed inside and to my disappointment, Ranger Billy Bob was not there and Ranger Stacey was there to greet us, welcome us and encourage us to have a great day inside the Western Lost City. So key collected and off we went to explore the 1500 million year old reef area of the Savannah. As we drove following a mud map which highlighted significant things of the area like the fossilised remains of the 3 billion year old stromatolites in the river beds, the lagoons, bird life and then the reef itself. A full four hours in the baking sun with not a breeze made it exceptionally hot for exploring rocks. I found some Aboriginal art painted on the rocks which has not been dated as yet. It was absolutely amazing to wander around these magnificent formations. It was only 24 km into the lost city that took about 2 hours to drive each way but so worth it. On leaving we drove down to the Southern Lost City camp area for the night where much smaller reef rocks made the perfect backdrop for camp. We were the only ones camped in here and after sweltering in the heat an open shower was a welcome relief, followed by numerous cold beers by an open fire.
Southern Lost City to King Ash Bay
Day 14 – East bound we go heading for a fuel stop at Borroloola before heading into King Ash Bay for the night. This was an unplanned stop having seen it sign posted twice before but never really giving it any thought. I had heard from a neighbour down the road that the bloke and his wife opposite who had lived there for seven years go to King Ash Bay every winter. We decided to try and locate them, not knowing there names and meet our neighbors for the first time. On arriving and setting up we were amazed that this fishing club had Telstra mobile coverage, pub meals, $5 stubbies, hot showers, the friendliest campers and an awesome vibe about it. After a few conversations we ascertained that our neighbors were John and Helen and that they were camped up the road in the long grass area. I was able to ring Emily and have a great talk on the phone but Sam was not home because he was at his first sleep over. We had dinner at the fishing club which served a good sized meal and provided 2 hours of live entertainment from Norm Smith playing and singing Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash songs. This was a great place so a phone call to Harold (my dad) advising him of a possible camp location as he is also on the road traveling for the next four months or so.
Day 15 – A beautiful morning heated up very quickly and after a great first day an easy decision was made to stay another night. A lazy morning around camp doing a couple of small fix it repairs to a solar panel, some needed washing before one of campers Brian and his wife Barb (from Frankston) approached us to follow up to the long grass and he will show us where John and Helen are camped. A few K’s up the road and I recognized the 4wd and caravan straight away. We introduced ourselves, sat around drinking coffee having baked bickies getting acquainted and then an amazing offer of a river cruise in there boat the next morning was welcomed. Kathy was on such a high as the chances of seeing salt water crocs up close was going to be a reality. 7 am was the set time the next morning. We went back to camp and started to relax for the afternoon before Mick (another camper) approached me about his solar panels not working / charging batteries. I spent the 2 1/2 hours out helping him try and get things charging considering he still had 2 months of camping to go. I had been racking my brain trying to think what this place reminded me of with all the friendliest retirees I had ever met. Cocoon the movie. It is where they all go to enjoy their lives for eternity. We couldn’t help ourselves for dinner as roast of the day was on the menu so up to the fishing club we went again. Roast chicken, roast potatoes, cauliflower with cheese sauce, peas, corn and bread for $16 each with more live music. We like this place and will definitely be staying again but for a bit longer next time.
King Ash Bay to Savannah Camp
Day 16 – Woke before the sunrise and off to John and Helens for our river cruise. We arrived right on time and up river we cruised. John took Kathy and I 35 kilometers up the river to the mouth of the Gulf of Carpinteria where we saw so much bird life, a few salt water crocodiles and awesome river views. It was fair to say it was bloody cold in the boat at that time of the morning but so worth it. A great way to start the day and see more of this amazing country that we live in. After 3 hours of cruising we got back to their camp were we had hot coffee, home baked cheese and bacon scones and fruit cake. After 4 hours it was time to head back to camp to pack up and continue the journey east toward Queensland. I had planned to make it over the border and camp around Hells Gate but this proved to be a bit ambitious resulting in us scanning our eyes everywhere along the Savannah Way for a clearing to camp in the for the night. About 20 kilometers from the border we spotted one with another camper set up behind some bushes. I turned around and headed back to it and on pulling in we see another Tvan set up. They seemed happy to have another camp with them in the isolated part of the world. Paul and Cath from the Blue Mountains were 7 weeks into there adventure around Australia. After dinner we shared a fire and I was able to give some camp site suggestions of places across the top and down into WA. They were a wonderful couple who we are hoping set up a blog so we can travel with them over the next 12 months.
Adels Grove Lawn Hill QLD
Day 17 – We crossed into Queensland at 9.30 am as we dodged numerous cows and kangaroos that wanted to share the road way with a couple of close calls. We reached Hells Gate with no problems and after a morning tea stop we ventured onto Doomadgee before turn south off the Savannah Way across public access routes through cattle grazing properties and arrived at Adels Grove in Lawn Hill for the next four nights. We found a nice camp spot opposite the river with some afternoon sun. A quick set up and a late lunch before heading down to the National Park to make some phone calls. I got to speak to Emily and Sam who are looking forward to flying into Cairns in 10 days time whilst Kathy caught up with her family. We have learnt that massive storms and winds have struck down south with beaches washed away. A check of Facebook and looking at some photos it was WOW! Such a bad day for weather.
Day 18 – Another great morning with sun filtering down through the trees. It was a good opportunity to do some washing, clean up the camper and car a bit. I spent the morning greasing door hinges that were starting to sound like metal on metal as we open them and wipe out some dust throughout the car. We hadn’t closed a back door properly for a short bit yesterday morning so the back of the car was full of red tinted dust. A very easy morning and with Kathy grabbing some sun by the river whilst a little fresh water croc also had the same idea a few meters away. We drove down to Lawn Hill where I rang Cairns and booked into a caravan park for the 1st July for mum and the kids to fly in on the 4th. I also booked a site for one of my best mates, Pav, a camp site for the last night as he is doing a few days in Port Douglas before joining us on our south bound trip home via The Big Red Bash in Birdsville. The car was booked in for an oil change also in Cairns and it is fair to say we are organised. We returned to camp where we decided not to cook tonight but get take away fish n chips from the camp ground. We gathered some firewood to make a fire and feasted (excessively) on dinner. Oh are we going to pay for eating greasy food after having good fat free meals for nearly three weeks. A very relaxing day was had unwinding and pottering around.
Day 19 – We pottered around this morning not in a rush for anything in particular with Kathy going down to the pontoon in the river and having a lay in the sun. I decided to get the blog up to date as I had slipped a bit and needed to catch up. I decided to cook French Toast for lunch which tasted sensational. At 1.00 pm we decided to head down to Lawn Hill National Park for a canoe up the two gorges. Nth sun was shining without a cloud in the sky. As we were leaving dad and dale arrived to spend the next two nights with us so after a brief chat we left them to set up camp. Kathy and I canoed for the next 2 hrs up and back from the two gorges which is so relaxing a magnificent to look up at. We found a healthy looking fresh water croc soaking up the last of the afternoon sun and watching the fish swim around us. We headed back to camp and had a drink with dad and Dale before dinner and then more around the fire later in the night. This is what holidays is all about.
Day 20 – Not much on the agenda for today but a lazy day relaxing around camp. Kathy went and caught some early morning rays on the pontoon whilst I plotted our next few days driving across to Cairns working out where we might stay each night. It’s amazing chow quick the day disappears when you are doing absolutely nothing. I took the camera and grabbed a few photos and before you knew it lunch time had arrived. A walk along the river, some more relaxing and fiddling with solar panels keeping everything charged and running, So far so good the fridges have been working nicely. I started the fire early so I could get some coals so I could have a crack at making Damper. Dale is going to show me the easy recipe and put together. We decided that as the food stocks are running low we would all just have fish n chips again for dinner. Come night time I had a lesson in Damper preparation and into the fire it went. Magnificent! All it really needed was fresh strawberry jam and a large dollop of cream. Can’t have everything so a thick layer of margarine melted in and some marmalade had to suffice.
Adels Grove to Normanton
Day 21 – Time to move on again so a relaxing pack up was done, showers and then on the road by 9 am. We said goodbye to Dad and Dale who I won’t see for the next few months as they head for the west coast and we head for the east coast. The drive out of Adels was real easy with the road in good condition. It was very loose dust, no wind to blow it off the road but the corrugations were minimal. After filling up with fuel at Gregory Downs we headed north to Burketown still following the Savannah Way. I had anticipated dirt roads as the map showed me but it was all bitumen and smooth cruising. It feels good to drive on bitumen again and have a break from all the bumps and dust for a short time. We arrived in Burketown at lunch time and due to lack of knowledge we weren’t aware of the famous pie bakery in town. Whilst we ate tuna on crackers for lunch another traveller stopped behind us chewed down a Barrumundi pie. Much to my disgust he told me it was “bloody beautiful”. We continued on after lunch with no desire to reach Normanton however the two camps they we were looking at stopping in had lots of fresh cow patties by the river. I didn’t particularly want to share dinner time with a herd of cattle so on we went arriving in Normanton. As we drove in to town with no idea where to camp we crossed the Norman River and noticed a number of campers down by the river. I quick left turn and we were there amongst them. A free camp by a river on the outskirts of town – perfect.
Normanton to Georgetown
Day 22 – Not much to see or do here first thing in the morning so we were cruising just after 8 am. As we had gone further the day before than we anticipated we decided to drive the 80 km up to Karumba to have a look at this sea side location. We arrived for market day down by the point so a stroll was in order before each of us feasting on three hot fresh cinnamon donuts and coffee for morning tea. Yum yum yum. I was surprised at how nice Karumba was and would recommend to any keen fisherman for a stop and stay. We drove back the 80 km from where we had come, across the Norman River and back into the Main Street where the Purple Pub is situated. A look at Krys the salt water croc shot in 1957 which is still the largest ever captured in the world and of such a size that you wouldn’t want it floating up next to your boat whilst fishing. A easy day driving along saw us stop at the Chimney Stack 20 km from Georgetown. We drove down the back of the stack and found a good camp at the back away from most of the other travellers. There was an old bloke camped near us in a bus towing a little Suzuki 4wd. He was friendly enough as he told us his life story of failed relationships, traveling with his dog only, selling 200 acres and then being imprisoned due to an ex wife. Hmmm I might have to assume the identity of an accountant I think. After 40 minutes he finally left us alone for the night. The lagoon at the back of camp was full of ducks from all waddles in life and made a nice back drop.
Georgetown to Atherton
Day 23 – An early start to the day and further east we progress. As the days count down I feel more excited about mum (Dawn) and the kids (Emily and Sam) flying into Cairns to join us on the road to home. We pulled in to Georgetown and phone beeped, it was Pav. He had left Hughenden and was heading north toward our location. A quick phone call from Mt Surprise soon worked out that we would coming to the same intersection within an hour of each other so Kathy and I arranged to sit, have a coffee and await Pavs arrival. We only had to wait 45 minutes before we had met up which was the third time he has joined me on the tail end of a trip. Must arrange a full trip some day although I think detox would be I order by the end of it. The sun was beaming down but a cool wind was blowing so the day was mixed bag. We arranged to hit the road quickly and move up 70 km to Innot Hot Springs which would be a good place for a chat and catch up on what has been happening. On arrival we went down to the river and your could see the water flowing out of the rocks into the stream. I stepped in the water and found it quite warm so I moved a little further up where a quick step was tried – Hot! To hot to stand in. A read of the board indicated that the water seeps down through the rocks to the magna only 600 meters below before pressurizing and returning to the surface at 71.5 degrees Celsius. No wonder I couldn’t stand in it. We went inside the caravan park, paid $10 each to use any of there six hot spring pools for a much needed soak followed by hot showers. It was worth every cent too. After some lunch we continued on through the wind farm up into the Atherton Tableland where we stopped a donation camp within a war memorial. The wind was now blowing SSE which dropped the temperature by 5 degrees making it bitterly cold for camping. Still we managed to drink beer, cook a hot dinner and smash down a large bag of Smiths Crisps. Oh how I’d been longing for such a fine supper.
Atherton to Cairns
Day 24 – Damn that wind was still blowing and as I tried to block it out of my mind I couldn’t. I ended up putting a pair of jeans on as it was to bloody cold. Kathy and I drove up to Kurranda whilst Pav continued on to Port Douglas where he plans to stay for three nights before joining us in Cairns. Not a bad gig that and we may just joining him by the resort pool in Port Douglas ourselves. We strolled around the market, drank and great French Latte and scoffed down a German hot dog with mustard, sauce and sauerkraut. For the record it was awesome. We headed down the mountain and arrived at the Sunland Leisure Park (caravan park) for the next four days. The afternoon was spent assembling the stretcher beds, bunks and preparing for the arrival of three extra passengers. Yep it’s close now with the ES of RKES blog joining us. I talked to Emily and Sam on the phone and excitement has definitely kicked. They will love this place on their arrival with a Pirate ship in the pool area with water cannons and slides down in the pool. A simple dinner and bed was in order.
Day 25 – Woke up at 6.30 am with day light breaking. I needed to be up as the car was booked in for an oil change at 8 am. So after the mandatory two coffees and some orgainising I was off to cape York Auto in a small suburb of Cairns. I arrived at 7.45 am booked the car in, walked down the road and got a coffee and returned to the mechanics where I sit now typing and catching up on the blog. They seem professional so I am not expecting any surprises. One hour and 15 minutes has passed and no news yet which I suppose is a good thing so I wait patiently. 9.30 am and the truck is ready and all done. Bathe oil transfusion was a success and everything looks good. Back to camp I went and picked Kathy up and we headed into Cairns city for a look around before heading back to the van park. We gave the car a wipe down to remove most of the dust again from the inside so mum and kids can start off clean. A lazy afternoon was then had sitting with Eddie and Marg (fellow Tvaners) talking about travels before Kathy and I headed back into Cairns for Italian dinner. The Gnocchi was magnificent and so full of flavor.
Day 26 – Today we went grocery shopping in the morning for the next 9 days, filled the water tanks, has bottle and sorted through some of the excess clothing on board. We then headed for Port Douglas where we spent the afternoon with Chris walking the shops and seeing the sites before having an early dinner no one of the pubs. A very relaxing and cruisey day which was a good thing because decided to have scattered showers (read down ours) throughout the day. We went back to the resort where Chris was staying and OMG it was awesome. The pool was huge and the surrounds manicured as one would expect. A drive back to camp at night and another day is gone.
Cairns to The Oasis Roadhouse – Ensliegh
Oasis Roadhouse to Corfield – six degrees of seperation
Corfield to Hamilton Hotel (Just out of Boulia) QLD
Brrr it certainly is fresh now in the mornings. The days are starting with temperatures hovering around the 2 degree mark before the blue sky and sun take the chill out. Today was a big day as we left Cornfield and drove down in Winton QLD. We stopped at the Age of Dinosaur Museum which had been relocated since my last visit to on top of the mountain plateau. A great new informative tour was had that I personally found inspiring as the Dinosaurs at Winton out had only been found 10 years earlier and now another 5 years has passed and they have a much better idea as to how they came to be here. From Winton we tracked further south to Lark Quarry where we arrived just in time for another tour of our prehistoric past. This time it was the footprints of a stampede preserved within the rock. You cannot help but to appreciate the Australia and how old our continent is considering these have been preserved in time for an estimated 190 million years.
After we completed this tour it was decided that we need to set off for camp and hopefully arrive before dusk and the kangaroos. Our path took us on a dirt road straight across channel country through Old Cork. The road itself wasn’t to bad as long as you stayed about 3 kilometres back from the vehicle in front which allowed just enough time for the dust to settle. Driving across the multitude of river systems heading due west it was again a time to reflect on the past as this landscape is undeveloped. Mountains in the distance with scattered volcano peaks dotted the landscape with the black magna rock, red sands and barren plains setting the path. You really can imagine a time when dinosaurs would have roamed this exact area. It was a long drive across and the sun was setting when we finally made bitumen. I knew it was to late and we had just started roo watch to avoid a collision. We drove along the road taking sunset photos from mountain peaks. There were quite a numbered of very neat missus with big red kangaroos that would just appear from the middle of the roadway and our speed was reduced to between 40 and 50 kph just to avoid the inevitable collision. We made it to the Hamilton Hotel ruins on the side of the Kennedy Hwy which was to be our camp for the night. As we got in late a decision to have toasted steak sandwiches after a snapping campo set up under lights was had. We managed to have a small fire to keep warm and eat by as we sat around talking to other travellers and reflecting on our daily adventure.
Up at sunrise for the final days drive until we are camped in the Simpson Desert at the base of Big Red (sand dune) for the Big Red Bash music concert. We watch as the thermometer tickled minus -1 degree whilst preparing breakfast. It was cold but with no wind it wasn’t unbearable. By 8 0’clock as usual the layers of clothes were coming off as the sun heated and thawed the skin. We drove down into Boulia where the fuel tanks were filled before heading due south to Bedourie for lunch. We made it to the council camp ground where we took it in turns of catching up on a quick shower, shave and freshen up. Mr4x4 himself (Pat Callinan) and his family pulled in for a quick break before they too headed for Birdsville. After lunch we drove the next 164 km down to the Birdsville Pub where we met up with Jeff (from SCS4WD) and his daughter Emma whom we were to spend the next week with camped and travelling to home. Pulling into Birdsville, the gathering of like minded music loving, four wheel driving enthusiasts was exciting. We collected our tickets and convoyed out into the Simpson Desert to meet and camp with all the other Tvan and Track Trailer owners. It was truly a site to see with all the white lids lifted and canvas deployed out the rear. Big Red looked amazing as always and very dominating as a back drop to camp.
The line up of artists over the next two days of music consisted of Daryl Braithwaite, Joe Camilleri, James Reyne, Ross Wilson, John Williamson, Kasey Chambers, Bill Chambers, Harry Hookey, Ashleigh Dallas, Victoria Edwards and Saxanova.
The next morning we were advised that the concert was no longer going to be held on top of the sand dune but at the base due to a sand storm that was approaching. Well approach it did and struck us with gusts of red sand. We took refuge behind the tent just so we could have a break from the relentless blasting that our skin, eyes, camp, kitchens and anything else not covered up. The sand storm lasted from 10 am until about 3 pm and they had to delay the concert start time due to the amount of sand blown and delay in setting up. Still this gave us good time to climb to the top of Big Red and look out across the Simpson Desert. Mum seemed to be really enjoying the outback travels and experience and was determined to climbed to the top of Big Red. The kids played non stop up and down the dune, run, jumping, rolling and even try to set up cardboard slides. This was a great atmosphere and experience. At 3.30 p.m., the music started for the next six hours to entertain us. We sat in camp chairs on picnic blankets eventually underneath beanies, blankets and gloves as the temperature retreated into the night for its below zero resting as watched the performance. Awesome experience.
Day three out in the Simpson Desert saw us drive out of the desert into Birdsville to take a tour of the town, see the sites and experience the history of this iconic outback destination. We paid for showers at the camp ground and visited the old cemetery before heading back out into the desert for the next afternoon of music entertainment. No sand storm this time – just blue skies and red dunes. The next night of music was every bit as good as the first and saw a very similar set up of the night before with everyone taking warm refuge under the fleecy clothes and blankets as the concert went into the night.
Up nice and early for some breakfast before breaking camp and heading south for home. The temperature was .6 degrees so we shivered and gripped the hot coffees waiting for the sun to rise. The camp site was very busy with people packing their campers up, saying their goodbyes to new and old friends before heading off in all different directions. For us sadly it was home. We got away fairly early and drove into Birdsville to fill the fuel tanks before heading off down the Birdsville Track to South Australia. We weren’t sure where camp would be for the night as we have a lot of distance to cover with Kathy needing to be back at work for night shift on Sunday night. The dive was in full sun, blue skies and heaps of dust being kicked up from the tyres. We took our time stopping as required for the necessary breaks and feeds and made it to Copley Caravan Park in the South Australia. We grabbed a powered site and turned the heater on straight away as is was cold as soon as the sun went down. Everyone was fairly tired from the drive today so we decided to support the local pub and have counter meals. What a great historic pub with a damn good feed to boot. After this it was bed time as there was no point sitting around freezing.
Renmark – final destination before home
This morning Emily and Sam went over to Nanna Dawn’s cabin for hot showers and something to eat. The luxuries of watching TV with the heater on whilst dad packs up camp – LOL. We decided that some extra money could be spent at the caravan park seeing how come the host was so nice to us that we had her cook us all breakfast. Toasted egg and bacon sandwiches with nice fresh hot coffee. It was a good breakfast before hitting the road. We drove the bitument all the way down to Hawker as opposed of through the Flinders Ranges. The fuel tanks were empty so it was time to top them up again before pushing on to Peterborough for lunch in the Rotary Park. The skies were threatening with rain, the wind was cold and the heat of QLD was now only a memory. We drove the day in convoy, like the other days, passing the time joking and talking over the radios with each with a good dose of banter thrown in to boot. The night closed in quick on us and we made it to Renmark where we decided to get a 10 berth cabin and split the bill. Finally slept in a bed with heating on and cooked inside where there were no flies. The view from the cabin across the Murray River was magnificient and a walk through the caravan park showed how big this place was. Massive and the largest caravan park that I have ever stayed at. I checked out the huge camp kitchens, kids playground and amentities. I must say this place was impressive.
Renmark to Home
What a great sleep we all had in beds and warmth. A quick breafast and everyone through showers with no camps to pack up saw us on the road by 8 am. We continued across to Mildura where a short stop was had before an easy drive south toward home. The drive home was uneventful with an every threatening sky of rain as we edged closer and closer to city. The last three days have all been long driving times in the cars but this is what was required if we were to attend the Big Red Bash and we all agreed that it was worth it. We arrived home to a very excited dog (Harvey) and no major damage to vehicles or bodies. Another great holiday travelling and touring this great land downunder.
Hmmm – where to go next?