28th May 2019–Back Home

Distance: 339km
Fuel: 49L

It was a cold night though I was warm enough in the camper but definitely the weather I went north to get away from.

This morning I woke to a cloudless sunny sky however it was not warm. I had a shower, some coffee and a very quick breakfast before preparing to leave. There was not much to do because I had not got out my chair or table nor put up the TV aerial yesterday evening. While I was getting ready a lady from a neighbouring teardrop camper came over to have a chat, her camper was parked opposite mine, apparently it came with the tent; she lives in it permanently and works during the day. I only have a picture taken from my dashcam.

Teardrop Camper, Orange

Once I set off I did not stop, I travelled through Bathurst and Lithgow, made my way across the Blue Mountains then straight onto the M7, I didn’t leave the expressways until I turned onto the Picton Rd at the Wollongong turn off.

The Picton Turnoff to Wollongong

It was a completely uneventful journey but always nice to see Wollongong as I descended Mount Ousley that’s when you know you are home.

Wollongong from Mount Ousley

Jobs for the next couple of days – lots of clothes need washing, equipment needs cleaning, that should keep me busy.

Statistics

Total Fuel: 482 litres
Total Distance: 4645 km
Total Park Cost: $368
Average Park Fee: $28

The Journey

27th May 2019–Orange

Distance 526km
Fuel: 38L

This morning was an early start, I had a shower  just as the sun was coming up followed by breakfast and coffee. Didn’t hang about and packed the camper up and was ready to leave by about 8am.

Stopped briefly at Girilambone for a bit of a break. The railway line and station has been abandoned, the platform and buildings slowly going back to nature.

GirilamboneGirilamboneGirilamboneGirilambone

The journey started off in bright sunshine but as I headed further south the wind picked up and caused dust storms in places so thick that I could hardly see past the bull bar.

Dust storms near NynganDust storms near Nyngan

The skies got darker and became showers of rain which laid the dust at least and by Dubbo it was raining quite frequently – I won’t say heavily except for very brief flurries.

Bourke to Dubbo

I had originally intended to stop at Wellington for the night but it was still raining when I arrived and the skies looked brighter further south. I ended up driving an extra 100km and checking in at a caravan park in Orange – probably a mistake because it was much colder here than in the Dubbo/Wellington area. As I was parking the camper there was hail, very small hail but nonetheless hail! In better weather the park would be very nice, it is run by the council and the facilities are very good, however it is a bit desolate in this cold. The big advantage is that it is 100km less driving tomorrow.

Rather than get in the camper, as the sun went down, I sat in the car and discovered the car internal light has stopped working – it was OK yesterday. The temperature in the camper was 7’C.

26th May 2019–Back to Bourke

Distance: 25km
Fuel: 30L

I was late getting up however it was still before 6.45am but I was lucky to find a free shower – there are only two, so you need to get there very early or very late.

Had breakfast and lazed about until 9am when I set off for the tourist information office, as usual the girl was very helpful and marked all the points of interest on a town map for me.

The tourist information office is part of the Back O’Bourke complex – anyway I paid my $21 (concession) to see the complex. It is right up there with the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Waltzing Matilda Centre as one of those places you definitely don’t need to visit twice.

Back O'BourkeBack O'BourkeBack O'BourkeBack O'BourkeBack O'BourkeBack O'BourkeBack O'BourkeBack O'BourkeBack O'BourkeBack O'Bourke - Drought in the billabongBack O'BourkeBack O'Bourke

After an hour wandering round the Back O’Bourke I headed for North Bourke to look at the first Lift Bridge in NSW. Now no longer used – it has been bypassed by modern bridges and it took a bit of off-roading to get to it.

North Bourke Lift BridgeNorth Bourke Lift BridgeNorth Bourke Lift BridgeNorth Bourke Lift Bridge.

As you can see it was a ‘pick a plank’ bridge.

Next I tried to find the paddle steamer wreck on the bank of the Darling River, didn’t find it at all but I didn’t really know what I was looking for even though with the river very low it should have been visible. Anyway after wandering up and down the river bank I gave up and drove to Bourke wharf and the ‘historic’ Crossley diesel engine.

Bourke Crossley EngineBourke Crossley EngineBourke WharfBourke WharfBourke WharfBourke WharfBourke WharfBourke Wharf

The wharf is a relic from the days of good water and the paddle steamers plying their trade up and down the Murray Darling river system. Today the area is on level five water restrictions and deep in drought with the Darling River very low and little or no flow.

After this I went to Bourke cemetery to visit the grave of Fred Hollows the eye surgeon – he was actually a Kiwi but loved Bourke and its people.

Bourke Fred Hollow's GraveBourke Fred Hollow's GraveBourke Fred Hollow's GraveBourke Fred Hollow's Grave

Finally I found the Western Herald building the newspaper that author/poet Henry Lawson worked on when the editor at The Bulletin sent him  to Bourke to sober up.

Bourke Western HeraldBourke Western Herald

Finally I drove around Bourke looking at some of the interesting buildings, visiting the supermarket and filling up with fuel ready for tomorrow’s departure.

BourkeBourkeBourkeBourke

The horse and carriage came round the caravan park in the late afternoon offering a tour of Bourke I would have gone but it was fully booked by the time it got to my site!

Not a bad day, the weather on this whole trip has been perfect, warm and sunny most days, not a drop of rain but tomorrow I am venturing into central NSW where it will be colder, probably not wet but cold at night. I should be home on Tuesday.

25th May 2019–Bourke

Distance: 262km

BTW yesterday I maligned the town of Cunnamulla by saying it was shut, in fact it was a Queensland public holiday so it had every right to be (though that is no excuse for shutting the tourist information office).

Definitely no need to rush today, only travelling 260km down the road to Bourke so everything was very leisurely and I didn’t leave the caravan park until nearly 10am (kicking out time).

Back in NSW

Nothing very exciting to report on the drive south except crossing back into NSW and stopping briefly in the tiny town of Enngonia for a short break. My only complaint about these back roads is that they are very short on rest stops.EnngoniaEnngonia

Found a nice caravan park close to town and was given a very wide grassy site so decided, because the weather forecast is good and it is the weekend, to set up my gazebo and stay for two nights. Didn’t go anywhere after setting up, read my book and had a thoroughly lazy day. Will get fuel and look around Bourke tomorrow but today is a rest day.

Bourke

24th May 2019–Cunnamulla

Distance: 407km
Fuel: 75L

Topped up with a few litres of fuel at one of these 24hours card only service stations.

Drove to Thargomindah supposedly the furthest town in Australia from the sea, apart from that fame it is just another small town where I stopped briefly.

ThargomindahThargomindah

About 40km of the road between Quilpie and Thargomindah was dirt and I kicked up a lot of dust. I wasn’t too worried about that at the time but it did have an effect as we shall see later. I found the top vent cracked open even though, before setting out,  I ensure it is firmly shut – I can only assume that the extra vibration from the dirt road bounced it loose.

Quilpie to Thargomindah

From Thargomindah it was all sealed road and the next stop was Eulo another small town though this one did have an historic Police Cell.

EuloEulo Police CellsEulo Police CellsEulo Police Cells

Finally arrived at Cunnamulla just after 2pm and checked into a caravan park. Immediately after unhitching the trailer I drove to get fuel and visit the tourist information office. No problem with the fuel but unbelievably the tourist office was closed. It was right next to the Cunnamulla Fella but there was no one about, indeed for a Friday afternoon the town seemed deserted with about two cars parked in the business centre.

CunnamullaCunnamullaCunnamullaCunnamulla

Back to the caravan park and opened up the camper. Dust had got in via the back (kitchen) door, my fault, I had been slackening off the screw latches to reduce the pressure on the rubber seal and it looks like I over did it. Oh well, spent 20 minutes wiping down the kitchen and its containers. Later I found that the open roof vent had sucked dust from the kitchen into the cabin, fortunately not much  but enough to need shaking off a small section of the bedding directly under my internal vents. Not a disaster but if I travel on dirt again with the camper I will stop and double check these things first.

Cunnamulla

Apart from that I spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening listening to the radio and reading. I will probably be back in NSW tomorrow and home on Monday or Tuesday.

23rd May 2019–More Quilpie

Distance: 20km

Just before 9am I walked into Quilpie – the caravan park is only a block from the highway and a block from the town centre. I was going to see all the attractions.

First stop – Mural Park. Yes, it has a Mural!

Quilpie Mural Park

Next door was the Railway Museum – once they had a railway.

Quilpie Railway MuseumQuilpie Railway MuseumQuilpie Railway MuseumQuilpie Railway Museum

A very short walk further on I came across the Quilpie Military History Museum.

Quilpie Military History MuseumQuilpie Military History Museum

Called into the Offshear’s Bakery for a fairly decent hot pie then it was down one of the wide side streets to find St Finbarr’s Church and its Opal Altar. Actually St Mathew’s on the other side of the road was a more interesting building, St Finbarr’s was a modern nondescript construction but it has the alter that is ‘famous’.

St Mathews QuilpieSt Finbarr's ChurchSt Finbarr's ChurchSt Finbarr's ChurchSt Finbarr's Church

The streets in a way show how old the town is, they are very wide – the usual reason given for these wide streets in Australian country towns is that they allow enough room for a bullock team to turn round without being unharnessed.

Quilpie Quilpie - Back Street

Further down the street and round the corner was the Powerhouse Museum with one remaining diesel engine.

Quilpie Powerhouse MuseumQuilpie Powerhouse MuseumQuilpie Powerhouse MuseumQuilpie Powerhouse Museum

Following these visits I strolled round town before walking back to the caravan park for a cup of tea, a sandwich and a rest before the afternoon’s adventures.

QuilpieQuilpieQuilpieQuilpieQuilpieQuilpieQuilpieQuilpieQuilpieQuilpie

Early afternoon I set off in the car back to Baldy Top lookout, where I parked and wandered up the path to the top. It wasn’t a long climb but it was definitely rough and very steep in places but I made it to the top safely and enjoyed the view.

Quilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top LookoutQuilpie Baldy Top Lookout

Back into town for a flat white coffee at one of the coffee bars the town offers then returned to the caravan park for a shower and a chance to read my book.

Just after 5pm decided to stroll up the road to the Quilpie Bowling Club for a meal, it was almost deserted when I arrived but the girl behind the bar told me that the bistro was open so I got a beer and looked at the menu. Ended up choosing a rump steak and chips (I always forgo the veggies or salad). Tuned out to be a nicely cooked meal the chips were excellent and the steak was cooked just how I like it so I celebrated with a couple more schooners before returning to the caravan park.

I enjoyed my day in Quilpie.

22nd May 2019–Quilpie

Distance: 436km
Fuel: 35L

Woke up just before dawn so I watched the sun come up before I had a shower. Today I intend a fairly long drive to Quilpie taking in Windorah on the way, there is a more direct route to Quilpie partly using an unsealed road but there was something in Windorah I wanted to see.

I am still surprised how much water there is, some of the countryside is very green.

Stonehenge to QuilpieStonehenge to QuilpieStonehenge to QuilpieStonehenge to Quilpie

The visit to Windorah was to see the Solar Plant which uses mirrors to concentrate the heat of the sun to produce power. I had intended to buy food but the local shop didn’t really have much. Windorah was, perhaps slightly bigger than Stonehenge but not by much.

Windorah Solar FarmWindorah Solar FarmWindorahWindorah

Then it was on to Quilpie. The road was mostly single lane with some wider sections for overtaking though personally I wasn’t stuck behind anything and only passed a few vehicles going the other way.

Stonehenge to Quilpie

A widened section of the road was an emergency airstrip. I have come across these before they are always a long way from town (which usually have their own airstrip) I presume they are to serve the local farms.

Airstrip Between Windorah and QuilpieAirstrip Between Windorah and Quilpie

After arriving at Quilpie and going through the usual business of finding a caravan park, (the girl in the information office told me that there are two) I drove a few kms out of town to Baldy Top Lookout, didn’t actually climb to the top might save that for tomorrow.

Baldy Top LookoutBaldy Top LookoutBaldy Top LookoutBaldy Top LookoutBaldy Top LookoutBaldy Top LookoutBaldy Top LookoutBaldy Top Lookout

At the local airstrip is a memorial to Amy Johnson who landed at Quilpie during her 1930 attempt to break Bert Hinkler’s record time flying from London to Australia. She didn’t beat his record but became the first solo female flyer to make the trip.

Amy Johnston Landed hereAmy Johnston Landed here

Bought 35 litres fuel as I was down to less than 100km worth in the tank but at $1.62 a litre I didn’t want to fill up.