Monday 1st November
It was cool last night and I slept all the way through until about 6am then went back to bed until about 7.15.
We left the Kidman Camp at Northy (North Bourke) before 10am. Into town to fuel up and empty the grey water tank and we were on our way. Brewarrina was just as tired and over the top security conscious as the first time we drove through. We drove through again. About 55klm west of Walgett we were tired and in need of a break and food. We found a pull off, three quarters flooded but which would be a nice picnic area at other times. We had lunch, washed up and moved on. We again passed through Walgett and continued east via north south turns on our way to Burren Junction. Along the way we noticed the long flat featureless plains drifting to the horizon. Mostly it was wheat fields patiently waiting to be harvested. At one point where there were fields of golden wheat stretching into the impossible flatness we spied a lone emu in the wheatfields. He must have thought he was in a giant smorgasbord of his favourite food. For some reason his demeanour reminded me of Ozzie Ostrich. (for those readers, particularly those from overseas, Ozzie Ostrich is a puppet character from an extremely long running television show in Australia, called Hey Hey It’s Saturday hosted by Darryl Sommers. The show was taken off the air a few years ago but has been revised again this year. Same cast and crew. Have a look for Hey Hey It’s Saturday in your Google search engine)
Occassionally there were cotton fields on the other side of the road. Once we could see clouds of dust on the horizon, harvesters already at work. We could see angry storms clouds darkening the sky in the general direction of our destination. It felt as though we were pushing the storm ahead of us. As the roads grew damp and puddles appeared we knew the storm was not far ahead. Arriving in Burren Junction
the locals commented the storm had finished only 15 minutes before as it continued east.
We will stay here a couple of nights. Tomorrow we will wash the car ready to photograph – we are looking at trading it in. There are free hot spa baths where we are camped but we did not try them tonight. We considered going to a historical property about 60 klms away in a place called Rowena for a Melbourne Cup event but at $25 per head feel it is a bit out of our price range. We are in a paddock about three klms out of the village and have all the digital tv stations. The first time since we left the coast. Usually there is only analogue tv out here. We will watch the Melbourne Cup on our own tv and have chicken loaf on rye toast for lunch.
Tuesday 2nd November – Melbourne Cup Day.
It was cold overnight and we had put a 2nd blanket on the bed before we retired. It was needed. I woke at 4am and had trouble getting back to sleep. Lots of thoughts were crowding my mind. I could only snuggle under the blankets to keep warm and eventually fell back to sleep. I woke at 6.45am to 10° and rugged up to take a brisk walk along a nearby dirt road.
The wind blew from the south most of the day. It was a cold wind and strong. It was shaking our awning pretty badly so we took the awning down. Due to the action of the wind the awning could not roll up straight as it normally does. I took three attempts including Donnis having to climb on the roof to help the process.
We washed the car, emptied all the gear and we took photographs then sent them by email to the dealer.
A man camped next to us is towing an old caravan with the same vehicle as us, namely a 2003 Iveco Daily. The van part is filled with his electrical stuff as he has a huge solar panel array on the roof. He also carries a Canadian Canoe and a couple of mountain bikes. When he came over to introduce himself he brought a notepad on which he had written his introduction. Part of his introduction said he can hear perfectly but he cannot talk as he has MND. Paul, then wrote another note to explain MND is Motor Neurone Disease. I knew a work colleague who had MND and he died within 18 months of diagnosis. Paul, has had 18 months and he still rides his bikes, paddles a canoe and bushwalks, all by himself. He also travels by himself. He is fighting the disease. He can only communicate by a series of grunts, signs and handwritten notes. He has a sort of laugh. He can still laugh. He dribbles a lot and that is a sign of the advanced MND but he still has other muscle control. We wish him well.
We watched the Melbourne Cup in glorious HD Digital TV and had our chicken loaf on toasted rye sandwiches washed down with a shared beer.
Later in the early afternoon we took the plunge in the hot spa. Ummm. Perhaps that should read warm in places spa. The water coming out of the pipe is hot but quickly cools down. The wind chill was considerable so we stayed chin deep. Afterwards we showered in lukewarm water and hid from the wind the rest of the day. The spa water must be good though. I fell asleep afterwards.
Wednesday 3rd November.
This settlement started out as a railway siding for the wheat and wool shipments. The community was a series of tents beside the track but now has about 50 homes, an RSL, a pub, a Post Office and a General Store Garage. There was once a craft shop but goodness knows who in the 200 person community could buy enough craft stuff to keep the business open.
I woke at 6am to an 11° morning, thankfully brilliant sunshine and no wind. I went for a half hour walk along some dirt tracks nearby. At one stage I was near the railway line and could hear a car coming in the distance. The land is so flat sound travels without interruption. It took minutes for the car, on the highway, to reach my position then there was a different sound as it passed and continued travelling away from me.
We are camped beside a large man made pond. It has lots of birdlife in and around it.
During the day we decided to travel 38klms to the town of Pilliga and checkout their hot artesian spa.
It also has camping allowed and boasts very clean stainless steel unisex toilets and a unisex cold shower. The spa is around 38° and is only about 50cm deep. It has a shade cloth covering. What was a bit concerting was the gritty sand on the bottom but even more so was the weed growing to around 15cm and the bottom is very slippery despite the sand. However we managed to stay in for a good half hour before deciding to drive to the town of Wee Waa (pronounced Wee WAR) and then head off to the Australian Telescope. Somehow we missed the turnoff and realised we needed fuel so continued on to Narrabri, fuelled up and got directions to the telescopes. Wow! These babies are big! There are 6 radio telescopes. (They all look like the telescope in the Australian movie The Dish) They are on railway tracks and move along the tracks and can be directed towards any direction in space. The visitor centre is unmanned and when the telescopes start tracking the noise is a bit eerie as there seems to be nobody around (there are operators tucked away in their special rooms)
We finally arrived back at our campsite just on dark. A fabulous sunset followed;
We have decided to head out to Bingarra via Wee Waa and Narrabri tomorrow, stopping at Narrabri for a big shop at Woolies.
Thursday 4th November
Up early this morning and we were ready to leave Burren Junction by 9am. I needed to empty the grey and black water tanks. We finally found the local dump point. I now have a new worst dump point. Yep. Burren Junction. The dump point is a choice of two septic tanks which have a hole in the top. Because the tanks stand a metre above ground level they are no good for grey water. After dumping the black water I attached our own hose and fittings to the tap on the other side of a fence and turned it on. What the??? No water! I went into the toilets and turned on a basin tap. No water. I ended up using water from our own tank into a bucket and washed down the cassette and septic opening.
We travelled to Wee Waa and stopped at a park for coffee and discovered we had stopped, by accident at a park with a modern dump point. Although I did not need to dump I took on water to fill the fresh water tanks.
We then travelled to Narrabri to take on a big grocery shop and top up with fuel. This seems like quite a nice town and we would like to explore it some more one day. We also are not that far from Coonabarrabran where cousin Bobby & his wife Dianne live. Regrettably we will have to leave a visit to them until another time as we need to be ready to put Donnis on a flight to Sydney, preferably from Moree. Errol is arranging a flight. So we planned to spend our time heading to Bingarra and looking at that area until a flight is ready. I will book into a caravan park in Moree for a week while Donnis is in Sydney. First we planned to stop at Sawn Rock before stopping to camp for the night at Rocky Creek.
A few klms from Sawn Rock I had a blowout ( well not really a blowout more a shredout and boy did it make a lot of noise) in WWWGO where the passenger side inner rear tire shredded. Amazingly the tire was still inflated. The tread was peeling off. I called RACQ in Qld who arranged for a local tyre service to come to our aid. We were parked half in a spoon drain and on a slope. The tyre man arrived and proceeded to jack up WWWGO with an air jack, a hydraulic jack and a safety jack. After removing the outer rim he discovered the inner rim was stuck on the axle studs and the jacks were ever so slowly sliding sideways. UhOh! He called his main shop and a second vehicle came out. By now we had two air jacks two hydraulic jacks, one safety jack, about a dozen wood blocks, a thick steel sheet and wheel chocks in place just to get WWWGO stabilised and the offending wheel off and replaced.
Oh, by the way, we could not get the spare off. Sometime in the distant past the nut and bracket mechanism holding the spare in place had been bent over. It will need a panel beater to remove the bent bracket. They finished about 6.30 and we found our way to a caravan park in Narrabri. We will stay here tonight and go to their depot tomorrow to have the spare sorted out, another new tyre put on and extension valves put on all rims. If luck is with us we will be on our way again tomorrow afternoon.
Oh dear me. Some days can be so trying.
Today was one of them.
Friday 5th November
Today dawned cold, windy, overcast and a foreboding that my wallet was in for a difficult time.
We dropped WWWGO off at the tyre service and took the Subaru off for a drive around town. We picked up a few items which were still on our shopping list then went for a walk around the main business centre. We like Narrabri. It is a good size town with good clean public spaces and amenities. There are wide streets. We could not see one shop with shutters. Only a few shops were empty but by and large there were lots of people out shopping and the town felt vibrant, alive and confident. It seems the town is on the new route from Melbourne to Brisbane and there are lots of trucks coming through town. In that respect I would think a by-pass would be in order, sooner, rather than later.
We were walking through the main street at midday when we got a call from the tyre service. WWWGO was ready. By 1.30pm we were on our way to Sawn Rock and beyond. We passed the point where the shred out occurred yesterday and arrived at Sawn Rock with some serious storm clouds brewing around Mount Kaputar and nearby ranges. We were on Mount Kaputar! We hiked the 750m to Sawn Rock,
a geological feature from the age of volcanoes around 18 to 21 million years ago. Here is some information from the Narrabri Information Service.
Keen to experience an almighty wall of organ pipes without stepping foot inside a church? Then Sawn Rocks, with its towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the place to go. Undoubtedly the most iconic reminder of Kaputar’s volcanic past, this rock formation is located in the northern section of Mt Kaputar National Park. This unusual phenomenon is the result of slow and even cooling of molten rock, enabling individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other.
When we arrived back at WWWGO the first big drops of rain began to fall. We still had a twisting and steep range to climb and I was a bit concerned about the rain. Once we were over the other side the rain eased off although there were a number of places with creek crossings, thankfully no more than 30cm deep. Somehow we missed the Rocky Creek campsite however there were several crossings of Rocky Creek and none had signs of other campers. We travelled into Bingara and finally found Keera Road on the way to Copeton Dam and found a delightful campsite on the banks of the Gwydir River.
We immediately threw out an anchor and will stay here at least three nights. The river is teeming with bird life and tomorrow we can have a look around.
Saturday 6th November.
After a somewhat cool two blanket night a delightful sunny day followed. In fact sunny enough to prompt me, yep that’s right, me, to volunteer to go for a swim in the river. After the swim we took a cake of soap and had a bit of a bath. I did a Tandoori Chicken in the Weber barbecue for our lunch. (the plan is to eat our main meal at midday and a lighter meal in the evening) We also did a walk along the river bank and took a call from the car dealer. We are moving closer to a deal and we will change our plans once again. Current plan is to leave here on Monday morning and head as far towards Brisbane as we can comfortably drive with the intention of arriving Tuesday evening and seeing the dealer on Wednesday morning. Once the deal is done (fingers crossed) Donnis will catch a flight out of Coolangatta. I will stay in a caravan park for a week.
Sunday 7th November
Today was a long lazy day.
I drove into Bingara to find a dump point. On the way home I swerved to avoid a large brown snake but I could not see it in the rear view mirror. Hmmm.
Donnis stayed home and did craft work.
After lunch I fell asleep. Donnis went for a swim. We made a pizza for dinner.
The river here is like a super highway where all manner of birds swim and fly along and across it.
This evening just as we were taking the pizza outside to eat a parent duck and 7 ducklings swam passed. This is such a lovely spot but we have to move tomorrow.
I am getting cold feet about trading the car but Donnis will feel more comfortable so we are going for it.
Look forward to next weeks post when the deed will or will not be done.