Cobar

Thursday 31st March 2005, (Cobar).

Now at Cobar 450k from Broken Hill and the trip yesterday was one of the longest we have had in our entire travels. We had originally thought of stopping at Wilcannia, about half way, but we had heard so many negative stories about it in the near past that we had decided to plan on going all the way to Cobar but see what Wilcannia holds when we get there. All the stories seem to be justified and we certainly decided that it would not be the place to stay. The town is almost 100% inhabited by aboriginals, so is there any need to say more? Most of the shop windows were security framed and the town was not the cleanest we have ever seen. The caravan park, not listed in any of our books, was a little out of town, but we decided that it would be a waste of time checking it out.

After our long trip yesterday I didn’t feel like putting any words down, hence I have left it for today.

Cobar seems to be a nice little town, and if one wanted to do several lengthy day trips there would be plenty to do and see in the area. As we won’t be doing the long day trips I can envisage that our 5-day stay here will be a nice relaxing one. The caravan park is close to town so there shouldn’t be much of a need to use the car at all with all our visits to town within walking distance.

One thing that I did notice again is the big hike in the price of gas in the outback. The first service station I looked at had gas at 76c per litre, 20c more than Broken Hill, and petrol is roughly the same price. The second servo that I checked out will be the one getting my business as it had gas at 68c. This is still expensive, but a lot cheaper than the other.

Broken Hill

Saturday 26th March. (Broken Hill).

A small town of Silverton 30k west was the order of visits today. This is now a ghost town after thriving for about 20 years back in the late 1800’s. There are very few houses left in the town, as most were transported to Broken Hill. What buildings are left do hold a fair bit of character and tell a story of what was, and a very interesting place it is to visit.

The road to Silverton has gotten us rethinking about going to Menindee with the van, as it was a little rough with many sharp dips. If the road to Menindee is similar then I will not take the van down it, so we have decided to just have a day trip tomorrow. This will save us 4-5 days so we can get north a little earlier to the warm weather.

Sunday 27th March. (Broken Hill).

Today saw us take that trip to Menindee, about 110k SE, and what a worthwhile trip. It is just as well we made it a day trip as the road was a bit rough and the camp areas were a bit too dirty and dusty for the van.

Menindee boasts that it is the first town on the Darling River. The area consists of several very large lakes, Menindee Lakes, and is a water storage system for the district. It is the main water supply for Broken Hill and considered an endless supply for the city due the enormous size of the system. Even though the river is low, as are the lakes, there is no apparent need to consider water restrictions for the area. If you have a look at a map the largest of the lakes is Menindee Lake, which is an overflow lake for the rest, and is at present actually empty. The one thing I would have thought of this area would be the possible lack of water: Not so.

This area offered many scenic aspects of the typical outback, such as very low river levels with black muddy banks, overall very arid landscape, very large old twisted and knotty eucalyptus trees around water holes (Billabongs) and dusty dry camping areas close by the river. This scenery made the trip a very worthwhile day, Linda was heard to say “This is the sort of scenery that makes one appreciate what the outback is all about” and I would definitely agree.

We haven’t had much of a restful period as we thought we would while here as we have spent all our time so far sightseeing, maybe we might get a days rest on Tuesday.

Broken Hill

Wednesday 23rd March 2005, (Broken Hill).

It was just as well we didn’t decide to come straight up to Broken Hill instead of stopping at Mildura, as it would have been just too long. It was an interesting trip today with the terrain different again. The land was not quite as flat as the Hay Plains, dry and Barren, and long straight roads.

We saw what would have to be the best and largest mirage on the way here, and I am now not surprised that people in times gone by have mistaken them for large expanses of water, and being extremely disappointed to find nothing.

I am at the moment feeling a sense of achievement, of sorts, as I have had my eye on Broken Hill for a long time now and we are finally there. I guess I had the idea that this was probably as far outback, without going off bitumen, that one could go. After going up the centre a couple of years ago that idea has probably changed, but it is obviously just as far out anyway. I think we are going to enjoy our stay here, but we have only just arrived.

The caravan park we are in has different ideas than most we have been in, as they will not allow any mats at all on the grass sites so they have a vast area that is covered in wood-chips for placing tents and awnings with mats. I guess this is another way of reducing maintenance.

Friday 25th March, Good Friday. (Broken Hill).

We did our usual thing and walked around town taking photos today, and 155 pics later? Some towns, cities, just seem to have heaps to take pictures of and this was obviously one of them. It is a town with a difference, all streets are laid out in rectangles and parrallels, and the mines are right in the centre of it all, also parrallel to the main street. In fact one info sign in town stated that the main street was planned to run parrallel to the main ore load in the mine.

Linda was heard to comment on how many houses are constructed out of corrogated iron, I guess it was a cheap building material years ago.

Mildura

Tuesday 22nd March. (Mildura).

We have moved to Mildura. We are only staying here overnight as we can’t get in anywhere in this area over Easter, so it is on to Broken Hill tomorrow. It was too far to go there today, and we had a little shopping to do before heading to there.

Berri

Monday 21st March. (Berri).

A fair bit of car racing on telly over the weekend filled in a bit of my time, but we did get to see some of the area, with a walk around town taking photos on Saturday, and Sunday being a usual rest day. We went to Renmark, and that district, for a tour today and the scenery is just as breathtaking all around that district as well. We also went to a small township of Monash that boasts an amusement park, and the boasting is well justified. The park is actually free entry, and offers what would be magnificent facilities for kids to keep them well occupied for ages. There are all sorts of play gear, a maze being the first that we have tried and it was easy, and there was even a flying fox that I am sure would keep some people well and truly occupied.

We are at present beginning talks of upgrading the caravan to something that would be more suited to our needs. Not that there is anything dramatically wrong with this baby, but things like dual axle, a real oven and something a little smaller would be handy, so we are going to have a look around on our travels from here on.

We have found that there are heaps of free camping areas in this area, like around Lake Bonney at Barmera has free camping all around the lake. The unfortunate part though is most places are sandy and unsuitable for taking the caravan. A lot of free camping areas are also similar, hence another reason for thinking of a dual axle van that would be more suited for gravel and dirt roads.

Berri

Thursday 17th March 2005, (Berri).

A short trip today, about 60k, took us to Berri. All trips should be this short, but we can’t win them all.

We chose this location because it is central to several places in a triangle between Kingston-on the Murray, Renmark and Loxton.

The area looks as though it would have a lot to offer for the typical tourist, as are we, with National parks, bush walks and several scenic drives around several towns. It is a pity we are only to be here for a few days as I reckon we could spend some time in this district. We both had that feeling that we have both felt before about liking the town as soon as we settle in, and I really believe it is very true with this town.

Friday 18th March. (Berri).

We had a trip to the Murray River National Park today that provides a self drive tour with a booklet of explanation of what to see, well done. The section we went to was Katarapko section. The scenery was so different in the dry flood plains of the area. Two walks were on offer that showed different growth types and scenery again. This would be a must for nature lovers, but for us the whole day was spoiled by the abundant March or Marsh flies or whatever they are actually called. They were everywhere and ate me alive.

The day was then filled with a trip to Loxton, 20k south of Berri, for a look. This would be a nice town for a short stay one day, but there is not a great deal to do there.

Getting tobacco in this area has once again proved a problem, and with Easter coming on I may have left a Launceston order too late to arrive before Easter. I have also placed an order at Broken Hill and hopefully it will arrive before we reach there, but I will still have to buy some in Mildura just in case so I will have enough to last. I should then have enough to last till the Sunshine coast, but it is becoming a real pain chasing it up.

Waikerie

Chapter 30

Murray River and Inland.

Sunday 13th March 2005, (Waikerie).

Yesterday saw us leave Adelaide on our way to the Sunshine Coast via another section of the great Murray River, and outback NSW. We travelled about 150k to Waikerie on the highway to Mildura and it is the first of our stops on the Murray.

The temperatures in this area soared yesterday, as the thermometer on the wall at the caravan park showed 40deg in the shade. We reckon it got hotter than that as the day went on, and Piper, the bird, was letting us know how hot it was by the way he was puffing and panting. So after setting up the van we did as little as possible, even meaning it was too hot to put any words down in this report. It is a little cooler (not quite as hot) today at about 37deg.

We have now had a little look around town, and a pretty looking one it is, had a look at what is to offer in the area, and have now planned out the next few days. There is a walk along the river edge that is a must do, as the river edge consists of large cliff faces that will make some good photos I’m sure.

The rest of today is relaxation though and take in this hot weather.

Tuesday 15th March. (Waikerie).

Still at Waikerie and after the heatwave we now have a bit cooler weather that is more conducive to sightseeing. We went for a drive to the East yesterday to a town called Morgan and back the other side of the river. One thing we notice is different in this area is the lack of bridges over the river; Ferries are used instead, and surprisingly they are free 24 hours daily. They run whenever there is traffic waiting, and one usually does not have to wait any longer than just a few minutes. Perhaps SA has decided that it would cheaper to run the ferries instead of build bridges.

A cliff top walk was the order for today. This is the thing we notice is different with scenery on this section of the Murray River, that one of the riverbanks is generally a cliff. A walk along the cliffs provides scenery that is quite spectacular. Linda made the comment today ” The scenery reminds me of the comic strips of Saltbush Bill”, and I totally agree with that comment.

Adelaide

Thursday 10th March. (Adelaide).

A trip to the Botanic Gardens emphasised the point that when doing things in Adelaide one should allow at least double the time one would think to see things. An hour and a half at the gardens was nowhere near enough time, as we could have spent ages there, or at least Linda would have. We only had that short amount of time because we had an appointment at Haighs chocolate factory. I did my usual thing and took heaps of pics, as it just was not hard to do in such a scenic place like that.

Linda wanted to visit Haighs to purchase some chocolate to take to England with her for Narrelle and Matt, and purchase us some. This factory is in stark contrast to Cadbury’s, as it is so small in comparison. Haighs chockies are all hand made and wrapped, so the output is so much smaller, but then they only service their own retail outlets, 11 in total, and do not export at all.

Sunday 13th March.

A relaxing day was had on Friday, doing a little shopping, and getting ready for our trip inland. We are going to have a look at another section of the Murray River before heading outback NSW on our way to the Sunshine Coast.

Adelaide

Monday 7th March. (Adelaide).

We had another trip up the Adelaide Hills today, but to Mount lofty this time. I found a lookout that eluded me on our first trip here because it is not shown as such on my Adelaide map book. We were in the area to look at the Botanic Gardens and noticed on the map an area that consisted of a car park and a Kiosk, and decided that there must be something there to see. Low and behold, there was one of the best lookouts of the Adelaide area in the district. It was a little unfortunate that the scenery was a little hazy, but the scenery was still good though.

The Botanic Gardens were worth a visit as well. They are different to the usual due to them being on a hillside and having mountainous scenery in the background. There are walking tracks everywhere in and around the hills, so we must revisit one day and look a little deeper.

Tuesday 8th March. (Adelaide).

Seeing that we decided to stay extra time in Adelaide instead of going to Victor Harbour, we thought we had better have a day trip to the area for a look. I have been there before, but Linda hasn’t so it was worth it. We actually visited Goolwa, which is the area where the Murray River meets the Southern Ocean. I wasn’t really aware of this actual location so even for me there were new things to see. This whole area is another very picturesque region. We will return one day with more time to spare and visit, with a stay, to this region.

The Goolwa visit now has put us at one extreme end of the Murray River, almost at the other, where it meets the Murrumbidgee, and at a fair bit of it in between.

We experienced the horse drawn tram ride across the causeway to Basalt Island, which was a novelty, and enjoyed the reasonably long walk around the island and then back across the causeway. The day was one that gave a little exercise as well.

Adelaide

Thursday 3rd March. (Adelaide).

I have to take extra measures with the new internet kit as using it inside the caravan leaves the signal level a little low, the same problem I had when using the mobile. An outside aerial overcame the problem with the mobile, but this device does not have that option so mounting it in the roof by the four seasons vent seems to be the only option.

We had a trip to Hahndorf on Tuesday, about 30k east along the highway into Adelaide. This town is one with a difference with the old buildings and tree-lined streets. The trees are so prolific along the main street that it is like driving along an extremely long archway. Linda suggested that it would be a bad idea to stay there, as there are so many shops with all sorts of different meats, salami and such, that she would be tempted to spend too much while there. She spent enough while there anyway.

Yesterday saw us visit a couple that we met in Maroochydore last year, Diane and Gifford Harper. They live about ten minutes away from where we are staying, so not only was it a must to go and visit, it was easy and also a pleasure. We will be parked next to them in Maroochy this year.

We have extended our stay in Adelaide for an additional week, as Linda would prefer to, and do a few day trips to Victor Harbour area instead of a trip. We also have to keep a track on where we are going to be in a few weeks as it will be Easter and a lot of areas where we intend to be overtaken with holidaymakers. We figure if we are past Mildura we should be ok.

Sunday 6th March. (Adelaide).

The weather hasn’t been too kind the last few days, so not much sightseeing done, but it has given me a chance to watch a fair bit of the F1 racing from Melbourne.