24th October 2019–A Long Drive

Distance: 978 km
Fuel: 99 L

A lovely morning but time to go home. The original intention was to make two overnight stops on the way home at Benalla and Gundagai, then it was decided to make only one stop at Holbrook. The drive through Melbourne’s motorway network had proved uneventful, even the short stretch of normal roads to get onto the Hume Highway had been pretty easy (only took a couple of wrong turns).

We had stopped every couple of hours to stretch our legs so that when we got near Holbrook I felt quite alright to drive on to see how far we got and by the time we passed the Canberra turn offs it seemed silly not to continue on to Wollongong.

Arrived home at 8.30pm, in fact the worst bit of the journey was the night roadworks on the F6 near Northcliffe Drive. I haven’t driven that far in one day since I drove from Brisbane to Sydney in one day in the 1960s (no multilane roads then).

Bugs

Statistics

Distance Travelled: 3795 km
Fuel Used: 384 L
Average Fuel Price: $1.48/L
Accommodation Cost: $440

Not a bad holiday and we eventually saw everything that we set out to see. Some of the travelling was avoiding the cold weather which set in over SE Victoria hence the rather strange route.

18th October 2019–Mildura

Distance: 52 km

It was cool last night I woke up at one stage and thought my thermometer was reading 0’C (in fact it was 8’C). After my shower I got a load of washing done – That might last me until I get home.

There was no wind early on but that changed during the day. Drove to Mildura to do some shopping and visit the Tourist Information Office, the latter was in a terrific council facility which housed the library, cafe, tourist bureau and an aquatic centre.

Mildura Civic & Aquatic CentreMildura Civic & Aquatic Centre

Drove across the Murray river into NSW to visit a Holden Museum, it was probably smaller than the Motorlife Museum at Kembla Grange but the cars gleamed and they were Holdens. Not every model was represented, for example they didn’t have an HK or HJ Kingswood but they had an FB – those are the Holdens I have owned – but I did enjoy the museum and it was only $10 entry. Stayed for a coffee afterwards.

Mildura Holden Motor MuseumMildura Holden Motor MuseumMildura Holden Motor MuseumMildura Holden Motor MuseumMildura Holden Motor MuseumMildura Holden Motor Museum

Returned to the caravan park for a late lunch then went off to re explore the sights of Red Cliffs – found the lookout which looked out on virtually nothing unless you ignored the, ‘Unstable Cliffs” sign and climbed the fence. also found a dirt track which led to the cliff edge but the views from that were disappointing too.

Red CliffsRed CliffsRed CliffsRed CliffsRed CliffsRed Cliffs

Near the  Red Cliffs shopping centre found and walked along the Peace Walk which was not particularly exciting but it did have some interesting information about the town. The area was originally settled after WWI when the land was cleared to provide soldier/settler blocks for returned servicemen and the town only really got going by 1925 when the post office was built.

Red Cliffs Peace WalkRed Cliffs Post Office

Returned again to the caravan park about 3.30pm to find the wind gusting and brown dust clouds on the horizon. The dust arrived shortly after 4pm – not a thick dust storm, just enough to cover everything with a thin layer of red soil.

Red Cliffs Dust Storm

11th October 2019 – Heading South

Distance: 443 km

A Spring trip to south of the border. No precise plans other than a visit to Phillip Island and Ballarat.

After a couple of day spent in Canberra visiting family headed off on a fairly long drive to Myrtleford in Victoria mostly along the Hume Highway.

Camper Canberra

Stopped at Holbrook for lunch and the obligatory look at their submarine.

HolbrookHolbrook

Crossed the Murray into Victoria about four hours after leaving Canberra.

Victoria

Arrived in Myrtleford at about 3.30pm and discovered the caravan park was only a few hundred metres from the town centre. Also for the first (and probably last) time had an ensuite site with its own toilet and shower. It was actually a very nice quiet park.

Myrtleford Holiday Park

Went for a walk to look at the town followed signs to a memorial but only found a horse trough.

Myrtleford

It is definitely not warm, I think the maximum temperature today was about 19C. If this keeps up it will be a very short trip.

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