18/19th May 2018–Canberra & Home

18th May

Distance: 225 Km

Only a couple of hundred k’s to travel today to my daughter and son in law’s house in Canberra. My last chance to see them before they go to Europe for a six week holiday.

The scenery changed from the flat plains to rolling hills as I went south toward the Hume Highway. Didn’t stop in Boorowa because it was too early for coffee in the end I didn’t stop until I reached my destination.

19th May

Distance: 277 Km
Fuel: 51 L

Canberra is cold at night. There are a lot of nice things to be said about Canberra but its climate is not one of them.

Spent the morning with the kids then set off after lunch so they could continue their packing and travel preparations in peace.

Arrived home at about 5pm.

Statistics for Trip

Total Distance: 7905 Km
Total Fuel: 824 L
Length of Trip: 26 Days
Total Fuel Cost: $1205
Average Fuel Price: $1.46/L
Total Accommodation Cost: $723
Average Park Cost: $28.96

Summing up

Good trip – saw just about everything I expected or wanted to see and I enjoyed every minute of the trip. Love travelling inland Australia; there is nowhere in the world like it. Apart from the miserable weather near Ravenshoe on the way up the weather for the whole trip was near perfect; warm sunny days and, even in NSW, dry (cool) nights.

On occasions found towing a bit of a nuisance because it meant that in some towns or places of interest it was not possible to park or turn round. Would still use the camper for longer trips but for shorter trips am definitely thinking of going back to my tent with the option of the odd motel stay.

I don’t think I need a powered site because the solar panel on the car roof, together with the aux battery, seems to run the fridge easily with some power to spare. During the whole trip the fridge was never plugged into the mains power at all yet the battery remained fully charged or nearly so. We shall see, when spring comes I might give it a go again, I always liked camping.

17th May 2018–Cowra

Distance: 306 Km
Fuel: 32 L

Left this morning  just after 8.30am, easy pack up because there was no TV aerial to take down – according to my app the nearest transmitter was over 60 km away so I didn’t bother putting it up.

The sat nav took me to Dubbo on the main road but then decided that a country road was quicker than the main road to Cowra. Fine by me, usually less traffic but on the downside few rest areas. Looking at the map the difference must have been marginal. When you take into account that these back roads tend to wind more than main roads thus keeping to the speed limit is impossible so any time saving is probably an illusion but it was a nice drive.

180517 101 Road to Cowra180517 104 Road to Cowra

I stopped at a small town called Yeovil (one pub, one store) and bought a coffee – which was very good.

180517 001 Yeovil

Didn’t stop in Canowindra because I was there not that long ago (>>>Click Here<<<) but continued on to Cowra again a place I am familiar with.

180517 002 Road to Cowra180517 004 Road to Cowra

Chose a caravan park about 3km out of the centre of town and after setting up went for a drive for fuel and a look at some of the attractions.

First visit was to the WWII POW camp where the infamous Cowra Breakout occurred when Japanese prisoners attacked the guards and tried to escape or die in the process.

180517 007 POW Camp Site Guard Tower Cowra180517 008 POW Camp Site Cowra180517 009 POW Camp Site Cowra180517 011 POW Camp Site Cowra

Next stop the Peace Bell.

180517 026 Peace Bell Cowra180517 019 Peace Bell Cowra180517 023 Peace Bell Cowra180517 028 Peace Bell Cowra

Finally a trip to the Bellevue Hill lookout in the centre of town.

180517 031  Cowra180517 029  Cowra180517 032  Cowra180517 035  Cowra180517 036  Cowra180517 038  Cowra

16th May 2018–Gilgandra

Distance: 308 Km
Fuel: 35 L

Every night/morning is a little warmer than the previous (since the big chill).last night I had to throw off the summer doona and ditch the hot water bottle.

This morning was a very relaxed leaving, not that far to travel today so packing up was done in small bites, ie picked up and packed away mat, had some toast, put away TY aerial, had cup of tea etc – didn’t leave until 9am. Looked like being another perfect day.

180516 102 Toward Gilgandra180516 104 Toward Gilgandra

Coonamble was the only hold up – there must have been a very important person being buried because the town was at a standstill as the funeral procession went through, even the police were involved. I say a hold up but it was probably less than 15 minutes delay I have been held up longer for road works.

Gilgandra was reached just before 1pm after only one 20 minute stop to stretch my legs. The caravan park I had decided on was on the entry to town and only $25, small place but seems OK.

After setting up drove into town  for a look around and buy fuel. About the only thing that Gilgandra is well known for is the Coo-ee March of 1915 (that is probably a disservice to the town but that is all I know about the town).

At the beginning of the First World War about 20 local lads decided to walk to Sydney to enlist in the army. On the way they picked up recruits from the towns  they passed on the way. By the time they reached Sydney they were 300 strong – this is also known as the Gilgandra Snowball. Gilgandra has a statue in the main street commemorating this event.

180516 016 Co-ee March Memorial Gilgandra180516 011 Co-ee March Memorial Gilgandra180516 007 Gilgandra180516 004 Gilgandra180516 006 Gilgandra180516 009 Gilgandra180516 010 Gilgandra180516 014 Gilgandra180516 017 Gilgandra180516 029 Barneys Caravan Park Gilgandra180516 019 Castlereagh River Gilgandra180516 021 Castlereagh River Gilgandra

This trip is winding down, tomorrow is likely to be the last stop when I will be staying at Cowra.

15th May 2018–Lightning Ridge

Distance: 448 Km
Fuel: 49 L

Even as I left Roma I had not decided where I would stop for the night. I have previously stopped at Hebel (one pub, one store and about twenty houses) as well as Lightning Ridge (opal mining centre of NSW) so decide to just drive and see how felt when I arrived.

It was very dry country that I drove through, the grass was almost yellow but the weather was perfect, no need for air conditioning today. Didn’t stop at St George or Dirranbandi just kept going until I reached Hebel.

180515 102 On the Road to Lightning Ridge180515 103 On the Road to Lightning Ridge

When I was last in Hebel (click here) the General Store was up for sale with the threat of closure at Christmas if not sold but it was open when I arrived. I stopped in for a coffee and one of their home made pies (they are really good) and walked to their History Circle just to stretch my legs.

180515 001 Hebel180515 003 Hebel180515 005 Hebel180515 007 Hebel

It was only just after midday and the journey had been very easy so far; I decided to push on to Lightning Ridge which was only about 70km further on.

Goodbye Queensland:

180515 010 NSW Border

Arrived in Lightning Ridge at about 1pm and checked into the first caravan park I came to.

180515 012 Lightning Ridge180515 034 Lightning Ridge Outback Resort and Caravan Park180515 037 Lightning Ridge Outback Resort and Caravan Park180515 105 On the Road to Lightning Ridge180515 015 Lightning Ridge180515 017 Lightning Ridge180515 018 Lightning Ridge180515 019 Lightning Ridge180515 021 Lightning Ridge180515 027 Lightning Ridge180515 030 Lightning Ridge Artesian Bore Pool

Visited the Tourist Information Centre and paid $1 for a Car Door Tour guide. I don’t know if it is just an Aussie thing but a number of towns have these guides. An old car door is painted an appropriate colour and numbered indicating a point of interest, personally I quite enjoy them and so easy to find rather than the usual council signs which often peter out in the middle of nowhere.

180515 025 Lightning Ridge

The evening meal? Went to the pub, they had a bistro but all the meals were $28 then I noticed the bar sign for food served all day. Pizza – $15 – that’ll do me. It was quite good too, went down well with a couple of beers.

2018-05-15 18.20.53

 

14th May 2018–Roamin’ Roma

Distance: 11 Km
Fuel: 30 L

At about 8am wandered into town to find Woollies. I had left my toothbrush at the last stop, was completely out of plastic and paper plates, needed milk and some fruit. It is a big supermarket in Roma – Though I suppose Woolies wouldn’t bother if there wasn’t that sort of demand.

The Big Rig

That done I once again walked to The Big Rig to see their static display called Oil Patch. It is about the discovery of oil and gas in the area. Originally discovered by accident when drilling for water over 100 years ago the oil was never discovered in commercial quantities and the industry died but there was plenty of gas. Initially LPG now CSG which is largely exported through the port of Gladstone though any new licences are only granted to supply the domestic market.

180514 005 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 013 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 015 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 018 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 019 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 022 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 025 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 027 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 029 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 032 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 034 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 039 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 042 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma

Without the night show I can’t say it was an exciting exhibition but it was interesting enough, the films shown in the theatrette were all made by Santos (the gas giant) and really were just publicity films showing them as a good corporate citizen.

After the Rig Rig I returned to the caravan park for lunch then went to explore Roma. I had the Historic Walk guide but sadly, like so many of these small towns, most of the building described have long gone but there were a few interesting ones left.

180514 002 Roma180514 048 St Pauls Church Roma180514 049 Oldest Building Roma180514 050 Roma180514 052 Roma180514 056 Roma180514 054 Roma180514 066 Court House Roma180514 067 Largest Working Windmill Roma

Avenue of Heroes

The town has The Avenue of Heroes where a Bottle Tree represents a local person killed in action during WWI each with its own plaque.

180514 046 Avenue of Heros Roma180514 047 Avenue of Heros Roma

The 3D Mural

The one thing I had great difficulty finding was the 3D Mural which even has its own brochure. It turns out to be in the Council Offices though described as a Community Centre in all the literature but unless you actually looked inside you would never find it I didn’t see any signs. There was an audio visual presentation to go with it which explained the features on the mural. It was actually quite good and worth seeing.

180514 059 3 D Mural Roma

By now it was mid/late afternoon and I decided I had exhausted the delights of Roma so I bought a Subway to have for dinner (too early for a restaurant) and walked back to the caravan park.

This might be the last day in Queensland it all depends on which side of the border I decide to stop tomorrow.

13th May 2018–Roma

Distance: 283 Km

Not far to go today on an easy road with few towns. Still left at about 8.30am but didn’t stop at Morven or Mitchell largely because all the available parking seemed to be taken up with caravans however I did stop at  Muckadilla (well you would, wouldn’t you?). Smashing little rest area with toilets, chairs and tables by the community hall, it even had free camping on offer.

180513 003 Muckadilla180513 002 Muckadilla

I made some coffee and a sandwich before continuing on to Roma.

Booked in to a caravan park right next to the Big Rig, it was early; probably only midday so I had a cup of tea and washed yesterday’s clothes before walking over to the Big Rig to see what’s on.

Blow me I am on the right day for the night show (Sunday, Tuesday, Friday) but due to electrical problems neither it nor the little train are happening today.

180513 004 The Big Rig Roma180513 005 The Big Rig Roma180513 008 The Big Rig Roma180513 010 The Big Rig Roma180513 052 The Big Rig RomaSlab Hut180513 013 The Big Rig Roma180513 017 The Big Rig Roma180513 048 The Big Rig Roma180513 049 The Big Rig Roma

Got myself a map and a brochure, had a look at the slab hut, read about Roma’s disastrous floods – three floods between 2010 and 2012 – then decided to walk along the Adungadoo Pathway to the largest bottle tree in Roma (girth = 9.3 metres) and the Shady’s Lagoon before returning to the caravan park.

180513 031 The Biggest Bottle Tree Roma180513 033 The Biggest Bottle Tree Roma180513 038 Adungadoo Pathway Roma180513 040 Adungadoo Pathway Roma180513 044 Adungadoo Pathway Roma180513 055 Roma

Watched some of the new arrivals set up their rigs, including a young couple with a toddler who have a roof top tent, before I recovered my washing from the line, by then it was time for dinner. I heated up the second half of my “special fried rice with prawns” from the Happy Elephant Thai Restaurant in Charleville before the sun finally set and the temperature plummeted.

12th May 2018–Around Charleville

Distance: 77 km
Fuel: 10 L

Was up early for a shower – what a difference in temperature overnight – it was 5’C at 6am compared to the lowest temperature yesterday of 14’C. I slept under my winter doona last night so was quite warm but am thinking ‘hot water bottle’ for tonight. Anyway, being up early I took the opportunity to hand wash my dirty clothes (just a couple of T shirts and socks)

First visit today was to the airport and the Bureau of Meteorology Weather Station.  At 9.15am there is an automatic release of a weather balloon.

The Vortex Gun

I set off a little early so I was able to view the Vortex Gun in a park on the way. This was an experiment to break the drought after a farmer had seen these guns used to convert hailstorms into rain in Italy; it didn’t work.

180512 001 Vortex Gun Charleville180512 003 Vortex Gun Charleville

BOM Automatic Weather Balloon Launch

When I arrived at 9am the lights on the weather station were flashing indicating that things were happening and almost exactly on 9.15 the roof opened and a weather balloon emerged – it was so quick you could miss it. I was the only person there which surprised me as the daily event is mentioned in the tourist guide.

180512 006 Meteorological Balloon Release Charleville180512 010 Meteorological Balloon Release Charleville180512 011 Meteorological Balloon Release Charleville180512 012 Meteorological Balloon Release Charleville

The Angellala Creek Explosion

After the weather balloon launch I drove 26km out of Charleville to Angellala Creek to see the site of a massive explosion which destroyed the railway bridge and the road bridge. When I read about this I assumed it occurred last century and was surprised to find it happened in 2014 – I don’t remember it.

A truck carrying 53 tonnes of fertiliser caught fire and exploded (ammonium nitrate was a favourite of the IRA). It was  miracle no one was killed even though police and fire vehicles were destroyed as was a rail bridge that had stood since 1897.

>>>A news report of the incident is here<<<

180512 035 Angellala Creek Explosion Site Charleville180512 019 Angellala Creek Explosion Site Charleville180512 021 Angellala Creek Explosion Site Charleville180512 023 Angellala Creek Explosion Site Charleville180512 026 Angellala Creek Explosion Site Charleville180512 031 Angellala Creek Explosion Site Charleville

Historic House

Back to Charleville and a visit to the imaginatively named ‘Historic House” Museum. This building started off as a bank, became a residence, then guest house and now a museum. It is basically an old building full of random old stuff.

180512 079 Historic House Charleville180512 046 Historic House Charleville180512 048 Historic House Charleville180512 049 Historic House Charleville180512 051 Historic House Charleville180512 052 Historic House Charleville180512 055 Historic House Charleville180512 057 Historic House Charleville180512 059 Historic House Charleville180512 063 Historic House Charleville180512 073 Historic House Charleville180512 077 Historic House Charleville

Called in at the Railway Station to find out about the ‘Bilby Experience’ the next one was at 3pm so I booked myself in then went into town for a walk, lunch and a coffee.

180512 082 Charleville180512 084 Charleville180512 085 Charleville180512 088 Charleville180512 089 Charleville180512 091 Charleville

After eating I still had an hour to kill so returned to the caravan park which gave me a chance to get my washing in while I waited for 3pm.

The Bilby Experience

The ‘experience’ was a good talk by a wildlife officer then we went into a darkened room to see the Bilbies – they are a nocturnal animal. They dart about constantly hence photos are blurred or empty frames.

180512 094 Bilby Experience Charleville180512 095 Bilby Experience Charleville180512 099 Bilby Experience Charleville180512 116 Bilby Experience Charleville180512 133 Bilby Experience Charleville

Interesting facts about Bilbies

  • They used to inhabit 70% of the mainland but now only exist in tiny pockets in extreme conditions where their predators can’t survive.
  • They don’t need free water.
  • Their main predators are foxes, feral cats and rabbits (the latter don’t kill them but take their burrows).
  • A Bilby can have 8 offspring a year compared to a rabbit’s 72.

Dinner

By now the sun had almost gone and I was getting hungry. Earlier, when I left the Historic House Museum, I noticed a Thai Restaurant a few doors away so I drove there to see what food was available. I bought a Special Fried Rice and Prawns – it wasn’t bad – not very spicy but plenty of it, I have saved half for tomorrow.

A Quick Video

On the road to the airport this morning a couple of animals in a hurry crossed the road: