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.