Friday 1st August
Distance travelled 290km
While we packed up camp Vince went into Birdsville to fill up with water ( he had filled up yesterday only to discover a couple of pinhole leaks in his water bladder, so he had had to drain it and glue patches over the leaks, and leave it overnight to be sure it was glued tightly). When we were all packed up, we set out. Considering the trips into Birdsville and the fact that we had tents to pack up this time, we did well as we were on the road by 8.30am. The road was totally different to what we had been driving…stony and rough. We stopped to look at a truck wreck off the side of the road. It turned out to be a Thames Trader, obviously used as a fencing truck as there were still rolls of barbed wire, star pickets and gidgee fencing posts on the back. It had been there for years.
We stopped at Cadelga Ruins for a look. The waterhole there is reasonably big and it looks to be a pretty popular camping spot. We were both sure we had been there before.
We continued on down to Cordillo Downs and stopped at the old shearing shed for a look. It’s a fantastic building, but it’s a shame it does not have any of the old original gear still in it.
We were battling a pretty strong headwind all day so were looking for a sheltered camping spot. We found a perfect spot on Marianna Creek, on a small waterhole. The area flat and sandy with lots of greenery, and a big red sand dune behind the creek that we climbed up – the sand was whipping off the top of the dune in the strong wind. We walked up and across the dune and back along the creek. There was a terrific sunset. The cloud had come over late in the afternoon and the sunset was bright red. By bedtime the cloud had cleared and the stars were brilliant.Day 29
Saturday 2nd August
Distance travelled 319km
We woke during the night to a road train coming along the road. Its lights were brilliant and lit up the entire campsite. We could hardly hear the truck but we could certainly see it!! We had camped not far from a drilling rig and all evening there were trucks coming and going from the rig, and after dark the glow from the rig site was quite bright. It wasn’t noisy at all though so it was no real problem. We stopped at the Queensland border (the Arrabury Crossing) to take photos.
Not far past the border Martyn stopped to check a possible leak from under his LR, so Shorty and us, who were ahead, stopped to wait. We had stopped near about 8 emus so we sat watching them until the others were on their way again. Along the Nappamerrie road we came across a flock of 40 or more bustards. They took off from the gibber plain and flew alongside us, and over us, as we drove along. What an awesome sight. We had some small difficulty finding the road we wanted just out of Arrabury, but finally found it just off the road to the airstrip. It was a lovely run on a nice sandy track along 2 wheelruts through the sandhills. The road headed out to Cooks Well and Durham Downs. We stopped for morning tea near an old windmill and bore. The windmill no longer in operation and the bore solar powered. The water went into a tank and overflowed into a ground tank. There were lots of birds and shrubs and it was quite a pretty area.
Not long after we got on the way again, we were out front, and some emus ran over the road in front of us, and one of them decided to run along in front…he was doing about 40kph.
We drove past a crane and some earthmoving gear. We were in the gas & oil fields so it was no surprise when we came to an oilfield (Cooks Field) a bit further on. Martyn and Shorty had stopped to investigate what they thought was an old shed, but which turned out to be a burnt out house, so we and Vince pulled over near the oil fields to wait. After the Cook Field the track got much wider. Just after Durham Downs homestead we stopped for lunch on the Cooper Creek channels. We left the sand again and the area became very stony, with “jump ups” and heavy gidgee growth. It was very pretty and impressive.
We hit the bitumen near Noccundra. Just before the bitumen a stone came up and hit Martyn’s rear side window and smashed it, so we stopped and taped a tarp over it. We stopped to camp that night on Wilson’s waterhole, just across the road from the Noccundra pub. We set up camp, collected some firewood, and then headed to the pub for a beer and showers. Jan and Vince stayed at the pub with Shorty to watch the Rugby Union (Bledisloe Cup) in which NZ were playing Aust. NZ won and Jan, who is a Kiwi, was ribbing Vince about it all evening. They had had a BBQ dinner at the pub, while we had dinner in camp, then we sat around the fire until bedtime.Day 30
Sunday 3rd August
Before heading out for the day we went back up to the pub and while Shorty had a shower, we stood outside chatting to a bloke named Greg, who had heard us on HF radio yesterday. We had planned to go out to look at the cemetery, so we set off, but just as we were arriving Martyn radioed us to say that he had stopped dead, and suspected it was his lift pump (it had been leaking all trip). He was thinking of changing the pump as he had a spare but we decided he had probably just run out of fuel (his fuel gauge not working due to electrical problems in the wiring loom in the steering column which meant no blinkers or fuel gauge), so he put a jerrycan of fuel in the tank and we continued on. The cemetery turned out to be a gibber plain with 2 headstones, so not really worth looking at as cemeteries generally go. We headed back to the pub to buy fuel, and then we had a discussion on what to do next as we had an extra day in hand. We decided to head out to Currawinya National Park for a lay day. We stopped for lunch at Lake Bindegolly National Park. The wind was quite strong and cold and while we were eating a willy willy came right through and covered us with dust. We knew there was no firewood collecting in Currawinya NP, so we loaded up with fire wood on the road in. We stopped to camp at Pump Hole, our favourite spot in the park on the Paroo River. I made a loaf of bread but it flopped and was a failure so I threw it in the fire. Vince caught some carp some of which went into the yabby traps and the rest were thrown into the fire. We went for a walk along the river to a spot where there had at one time been another steam engine driven pump. There has been a lot of water through the area since the last time we were here last year.
Monday 4th August
A leisurely morning with no-one moving too fast. We saw some emus up on the plain. When I got there the 3 emus first seen had become about 20 emus and they were kneeling down drinking from a puddle. They were quite inquisitive and kept coming close to take a look at us. It was great to see. We all just stood there watching them. The blokes then did some maintainence…checking oils etc and Shorty repaired a flat tyre. I cooked a successful loaf of bread and Amanda cooked a cake. One of Vince’s yabby traps was snagged and after unsuccessfully trying to dislodge it and get it in he had to strip off and get into the very cold water to get it. Luckily it wasn’t in too deep. After lunch we went out for a look around. We poked around the Cairwarro Ruins for a bit then went out to Corni Paroo to the old windmill and to look around the old cars that are just rotting in the scrub near there. Jan saw a big pig out near the windmill in the old veggie garden. We then went out to the old shearing shed and shearer’s quarters and poked around in the bottle tip. We found some old bottles and some more green glass bottle stoppers. We had a BBQ dinner and opened a bottle of bubbly for Amanda’s birthday and spent a very pleasant evening around the fire listening to music.Day 32
Tuesday 5th August
We went and paid our camping fees and then drove out and down to Currawinya. We stopped on the road at the entry into the park to look at the sculptures (they were new since our first visit a few years ago). We then drove down to the woolshed to look around…the Currawinya woolshed still has the stands and shearing gear in it. We looked around the old shearer’s quarters. Unfortunately these are locked and you cannot go inside, but there was some interesting stuff laying around, like an old dunny and the old steam engine. We then drove down to Oumperrie Waterhole for morning tea, and poked around the old rubbish dump where I found a 2c piece.
Then it was on to Hungerford and lunch at the pub. We were inside reading the stuff plastered all over the walls when a woman walked in and said she had heard they made the best steak sandwiches in Australia. The answer was that they did but couldn’t do them as they had no eggs!! Shorty piped up and offered a trade of 6 eggs for a couple of pies which was accepted, so the other travellers and us, got steak sandwiches with egg!! We had a drink and while we were waiting for our lunch to be made, stood outside and chatted to the young police constable stationed at Hungerford. He had the most beautiful kelpie pup. The steak sandwich when it came was like the good old fashioned stuff you used to be able to buy at the corner store with real steak, egg, beetroot, pineapple, lettuce, tomato, onion.
After lunch we headed towards Bourke. Parts of the road were very corrugated but not too bad so we reached our planned spot to camp at Ford’s Bridge. Shorty had warned us that it was not much of a place to camp and it seems he was right but we found a reasonable quite protected spot on the river and set up for the night. The river was pretty low and the banks black soil with lignum growth. The others all went up to the pub for a beer and I stayed back at camp…I was a bit cheesed off that the trip seemed to be degenerating into a pub crawl and I also just wanted some time alone after having non-stop company for the last 4 weeks or so. It was very quiet sat by the river reading my book. The others came back just after dark and we had dinner. Again it was quite cool with a cold wind. It had been overcast all day but the locals at Hungerford said it would not rain as their bad weather comes from the northwest and this was not, which is good.
Wednesday 6th - Monday 11th August
We headed into Bourke and the first stop was the local IGA to stock up on beer and food. We all bought BBQ chooks as well for lunch/dinner. Nice to have some fresh fruit and veg for a couple of days again. We stopped in at the Gecko Café for a coffee and raisin toast, before fuelling up at the Fuel Depot on the Sydney Rd, before heading on our way into Louth. We arrived in Louth at lunchtime.
This year was the 50th anniversary of the Louth Races which were first run in 1959. Knowing it was going to be a “big” event (the crowd on race day was estimated to be about 6,000) we had planned to arrive on the Wednesday before the races so that we could get a good camping spot. When we arrived we were amazed at the number of people already there, and a little disappointed that the spot we had hoped to get was already taken.
After setting up camp (which meant putting the tents up for the 3PrdP time only on the trip) and hoisting the Land Rover and Australian Flags to mark our spot, we all hit the showers.
While relaxing around the campfire later, we ran a book on whether Wash would turn up. Wash had originally planned the Madigan Trip and had dropped out the day we all met at Kulgera, and the starting point for the trip. He had opted instead to take his new girlfriend around some of the sights in Central Australia. Shorty won by picking his time of arrival pretty well spot on.
Thursday dawned crisp and cool and the incomers continued, with estimates putting 400 campers onsite on Thursday afternoon.
This year the organizers decided to hit the campers with a “one off” fee of $10 per head for Thursday night only, to help pay for the hiring of extra showers for the weekend. Phil and Robyn arrived on Thursday afternoon and the erection of their new camper trailer kept us entertained for some time. We then all went down to the river…Vince and Perry fished and the rest of us read and sat around watching. There was a cold wind blowing so it was not long before some of us left to have showers and sit around the fire. After dinner Phil fell asleep by the fire and despite all of us trying to wake him and telling him to go to bed, he wouldn’t shift, so we left him there. He finally ended up going to bed about 1am.
On Friday we decided to spend the day out in Gunderbooka National Park. The others spent the day at Tilpa. We drove out to the park and headed firstly to the Aboriginal Art area at Mulgowan. The walk out to the art site was really nice. The area is rocky but also red sand, so was really pretty. The parks have made a good job of the walkway with stone flagging and steps. The art area is in creek bed under a rock overhang. There are hand stencils and stick figures as well as animals. On the way back out we stopped at and old shearer’s quarters, before heading to dry tank for lunch and the walk out to Little Mountain. The view from the lookout is across the range and very nice. There were lots of wildflowers and on the way back we saw a small herd of feral goats.
When we got back to Louth at about 3pm, Shep, Luke and Joshua were waiting for us. They had arrived just a few minutes before us and were not quite sure if it was our camp, although the Land Rover flag that we had flying was a good hint. We showered and had a cuppa while they set up camp by which time the others had arrived back. The police came round with sniffer dogs looking for explosives (fireworks). It was then time to head down to the pub for the live entertainment and steak sandwiches and a few beers for dinner. The band (3 aboriginal blokes from Cobar) had bought their own groupies, a group of very drunk aboriginal girls who were very skimpily dressed, and one of who was quite chubby, and who were the only ones dancing…it was quite amusing. There were a lot of very drunk blokes around and the walk back to the camp had us very amused especially when one bloke said “I’m pissed” and then just laid down in someone’s driveway and wouldn’t get back up. It was back to the fire for us.
Race Day started very slowly with us basically sitting around drinking tea and coffee until lunchtime. Just before midday we changed into our black jackets and this year most of us wore shorts. It was a warm day but not too hot so the jackets were quite comfortable. Robyn had bought some 50 balloons and some spangly hanging things. The blokes tied the balloons to their hats and I put some of the spangly hanging things on my earrings and wore those. We got quite a few comments about the 50PthP stuff…most people asked if it was our birthday or something. We had a glass of champagne or beer before setting off across to the hill to watch the races. We did our usual $5 per race betting money, and I backed a couple of winners so in the end we were about even and came out ahead by about $27 after paying for our lunch and a couple of beers…we were happy with that. None of the blokes were happy with the beer that was for sale though…it was all mid strength stuff that none of them would normally even look at. After the races we went back to camp and had nibblies and drinks. The camel vindaloo that Vince had put on the coals before the races was looking good and we threw in the veg and stuff and let it bubble away. Amanda made some bread to go with it and Wash cooked some rice as well so it was a real feast when we ate it. Robyn had bought a white chocolate cake and she put some sparklers on it and we sang happy birthday to Phil who turned 50 just a few days before. After dinner we were all totally done in and despite wanting to stay up late, we were all in bed reasonably early. Vince, Jan and I got our photo in "The Land" (a NSW rural newspaper).
The campsite was humming although not as noisy as it has been in previous years. There seemed to be less of the young drunken blokes and more grey nomads around. We think because the young blokes had maybe all camped over the road in an area that wasn’t used a few years ago. Whatever the reason it was certainly less noisy and we actually got a reasonable nights sleep.
There was one group of young blokes who totally trashed a VN Commodore. It started at lunch time when the young bloke, presumably the owner, couldn’t close the boot so he kicked the car. The other joined in and then started smashing it with highlift jacks and star pickets and anything they could get their hands on. By the end of the day there were no lights, all the windows smashed, all the panels badly dented and with holes in them, and at least one door ripped off. The police read them the riot act as it was pretty obvious they were intending to set fire to it. On Sunday morning they were burning everything else, like their eskys and chairs. They did tow the car away though. It’s amazing how quickly the place clears out on Sunday. Almost everyone leaves and the organisers and volunteers get in and pick up all the rubbish…and there is tons of rubbish…so that by the end of the day you would hardly know the event had been on. The semis of toilet and shower blocks drove off, the horses were trucked out and all that was left were the hangers on, like us, that leave on Monday.
Sunday is always a quiet day for us and generally in the morning we have a big cooked breakfast. Phil did the honours as usual and cooked the bacon and eggs. We took lunch down to the river and went fishing. I fished this year and caught 7 carp (the rule was – no fish and you have to walk to the pub with your pants off!! So everyone was determined to catch at least one fish), so we left the river bank littered with about 30 dead carp, although the pelican did have a few. We then went to the pub for a few beers before going up to look at the setting sun shining of the Mary Mathews monument before heading back to camp for the evening and the fire.
Monday was departure day. We packed up and were ready to travel by 9am despite having to totally repack the roofracks to fit some S1 doors and bonnet on top of all our gear. Shep was the first away. Vince, Phil and us travelled together until just after Brewarrina. We stopped first though for a coffee at the bakery in Bourke. We followed Vince from there out to Goodooga and the property named Gnomery which belongs to his friend Bob. We pulled in at the shearer’s quarters and set up our swags before having a cuppa. Vince put all the bore pipes into the tank so that the water would be nice and hot for a dip later. We lit the fire in the old cast iron stove, because we had decided to cook a roast for dinner. We then drove down to the homestead to say g’day to Bob, Tim and Dennis. We hung out in the shed drinking a few beers, and playing with 4 lovely little puppies, before heading back to put dinner on and light the open fire. While dinner was cooking the blokes went out for a quick tour of the property, so Jan and I sat and talked over nibblies and a glass of wine. When the blokes got back we stripped off and soaked in the bore tank…it was lovely but after a while Jan and I were getting too hot, so we got out and got dressed and sat in front of the fire until the blokes came in and waited till dinner was cooked. It was a lovely roast lamb with veggies…yum. We had a cuppa and a piece of chocolate after and by 8.30 we were all yawning so it wasn’t long before we drifted off to bed
We had originally planned to leave after a lazy start and go through to a friends at Goondiwindi, on the way home, but decided to set out early and drive all the way home so that we had a full day at home to clean up before I had to go to work. We left Goodooga at 8am and drove through to somewhere between St George and Dalby before stopping for lunch. We stopped on the side of the road in a pretty untidy spot but we didn’t care. We took turns with the driving and stopped again for a cuppa in the Benarkin State Forest, so we arrived home at 6.15pm. We took only a few things inside, leaving the bulk of the unpacking until the next day.
A few trip stats....
Total Km 6988
Total fuel used 854 litres
so thats 8 kpl or 12.5l/100k...you can't complain about that
Most expensive fuel was at Kulgera at $2.24 per litre
Distance 920 Km's (Finke to Birdsville)
Fuel used 168 litres
so that's 5.5kpl or 18l/100k...that would be due to being in 2nd/3rd low for the majority of those 920km's
Dune count 696
Average days travel: from Camp 1A to Camp 16 - 50km per day
2 staked tyres
TC and ABS light faults ( fixed by LR tech at Birdsville )