Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Outback - A Dream Comes True Part 1

This adventure took place in 2007, our then Terracan  4x4 was stock standard (due for replacement in August that year)and we were as 'green' as when it came to 4WD in AUS., we had no equipment at all but had great fun kitting out, most has survived and is still used today when we go out. We did not have Camps (a comprehensive travel guide to the best free camping and low cost camping spots, rest areas, station stays, national and state parks, country and remote caravan parks throughout Australia.) or Memory Map (navigation software which is easy to use on a PC, Pocket PC or WM Smartphone. With a GPS connected it will show your position on a full colour detailed map and help you navigate your way) back then so all planning was done using maps and the internet. Kathleen kept a diary and on our return she wrote the story, which with her kind permission is going to appear in chapters over the next few weeks - enjoy.


Dingo’s dream started about 3 years ago after reading the book on Burke and Wills’ life (BURKE'S SOLDIER By Alan Attwood) which is part of the history of Australia so the desire to visit the outback began with travelling around the outback with his 4x4 and his mate Kangrookath. Well, after many maps and searching the web for different places to visit and placing it all together on his PC along came the date for June 2007.

The saving part we will leave out of it but the list for things to take with became extremely long
realizing that most of the things were a necessity like the porta potty which of cause was a laugh by all even the wee house to surround the cutie was tested and all was all right in that area. So in the shopping trolley was a tent with extra poles which had to be purchased the porta potty and 4x4 mattress, sleeping bags and thermal blanket so the sleeping place was sorted then the brain triggered off with the tummy and what was needed for the trip in the cooking utensils

 and car fridge etc. and not knowing the exact places and what was there we had to have all especially been told by the various places when travelling the outback to have at least 10 days of food and water just in case you get bogged in. Chairs were necessary and table for gas cookers and the most important was lighting. Whew! What an expense to lay out but all was fun with the shopping trolley.

Our daughter Maryleen and her hubby Nathan decided to do the trip with us so it was a togetherness of decisions and planning which worked out wonderfully.

With Dennis having to go up to Adelaide the last week of May for work we decided to leave on the 27th May staying in Adelaide until the 29th then leaving early the 30th May for a trip of a life time and memories that are just indescribable.

6am on Sunday morning the 27th May The house was bursting at the seams with life and excitement Maryleen and Nathan arrived then Derek came over with his camera and took shots of us by our cars all packed and ready for Adelaide the excitement was just so over whelming and Prayers were said for safe journeys right throughout this trip and believe you me God’s hand was on us throughout this trip as you will later find out how prayers get answered.

Maryleen and Nathan travelling behind the Dingo
We stopped about a hour into the trip for breakfast at our favourite eating place just outside Ballarat leaving there with tummies full and ready for our trip to half way mark of Border Town where we had a cuppa and walk to get the bones moving etc. Leaving there and then stopping at Coolepyn truck stop for lunch. Back on the road and next stop was Adelaide. It was Maryleen's first trip to Adelaide with the 2 days of showing her different places there and then doing the last bit of shopping for the trip at the supermarket of fresh meat and different food stuffs which was needed. 

Back to the apartment where we were staying in Adelaide sorting out the meats into meals and placing them into the freezer which Nathan had. We had the fridge in our car so it all worked out just right with the food stuffs. We packed up the night before with most of our luggage and it was a case of putting the clothes etc into car and leaving. Which we did on the Wednesday morning all excited about the trip but stopping off at Maco’s for our favourite egg and bacon mac muffin yummmmmmmmy. Then it was off to a garage to fill the tanks.

We finally on our way to the outback!
30th May 2007

Our first stop was Hawker it is well known for their art work, the Muriel’s are just amazing on walls and it was wonderful to find out that the shops with the art stuffs were all Christians also selling different biblical goods etc it was such a warm feeling just walking around, this is also where we put petrol in. It was good just walking around there.

Our next stop was to the Wilpena Pound only to find out one has to take a flight to actually see the pond so we gave that one a miss. So the decision was made to drive through the Flinders ranges and what breath taking sights it was so beautiful that the photo’s that we did take do not do it justice.

Wilpena Pound
Driving through river beds and seeing the different rock formation and how it changes from different colour sand stones to quartz’s. We also had a good laugh having communications between cars and Maryleen chatting away on her hand held radio saying she needs to go to the toilet but of cause in more direct language and all was quite when suddenly a man came onto air saying “that’s nice to know” well that brought the house down he was even so kind as to direct us over the air to get to the toilets. I think one could just have a holiday in the Flinders Ranges without going anywhere else. 

Flinders Rangers
Leaving the ranges we travelled through Leigh Creek then decided to travel on to Farina where we set up camp at dusk and made a camp fire. It was quite chilly there for our first night in the outback and did creatures great and small make themselves known.

The wine glass
This wee box Dennis made for me as a surprise gift to open when we arrived at our first camp. It had a lock and key which I had to use to open it and in so doing I pulled out my wine glass, it was broken! This wee box was made as a preventative measure from glasses breaking so when Dennis saw the breakage his expression on his face was priceless!  So with Dennis and Nathan’s expertise in repairing it with duct tape, the glass remained like that till the end of the trip. 

The art of repairing the stem of a wine glass

End of Part 1 ...........................Turn your dreams into reality

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Some trip planning

Some trip planning has been done, very little I might add as I'm waiting on information from Camps. So far we have decided that we will go to Mildura for the first night 534 KM then on to Port Augusta for the second night 550 Km. The next stop will be Coober Pedy a distance of 540 Km, we intend to stop at Lake Hart, probably for morning tea then at Glenbumbo and anything else that may interest us.

                                                     We are only going to night stop at Coober Pedy as we visited
 there in May/June 2007,we camped underground at Riba's Caravan Park, different experience and very difficult to get pegs into the rock, the great thing is that the temperature underground hardly moves from  23°C day, night, winter or summer. We did the mine tour and found it fascinating, anyone planning to visit should in my opinion spend at least one night here if not camping then in one of  their underground cabins.

Coober Pedy comes from the local Aboriginal term kupa-piti, which means "white man's hole", probably because of the miners holes. The below-ground homes and shops, called "dugouts", are built to escape the high daytime temperatures. Opal was found in Coober Pedy on 1 February 1915; since then it  has been supplying most of the world's gem-quality opal and is known as the "opal capital of the world", it is reputed to be the largest opal mining area in the world! A must see is the Old Timers Mine and Museum, a great way to learn the fascinating history of opal mining, the self-guided tour shows how the miners lived and worked, seams of opal, and opalised seashells have been left in the walls and can be viewed. There is also the demonstration of mining machinery and one can 'feed' the blower.

    'Feeding the Blower"                                  Inside the Mine                                 Underground Church

Our next stop will be at the NT border about 395 Km stopping at Marla and Agnes Creek along the way. From there it is a 'short' 288 Km to Alice Springs, we will be making a stop at Stuart Well to see the singing Dingo, lets hope Dinky is still there next year as I believe the owner is looking to sell the road house and retire to Alice.

Until next time................Life is short, live it

Trip Planning

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Our second trip ....

Our second trip was end September 2001 to the Gold Coast as I had to attend the  Metrology Society of Australia conference. We set out early Saturday morning stopped for breakfast on the Hume highway, continuing on I expected to see a sign indicating the turnoff to Brisbane, no such luck and after some two hours decided we had miss it so stopped at the Chiltern turn off and had a look at the map.
We did not have a GPS back then and having only been in AUS for a few months it seemed that the best way was through Chiltern , Urana and on to Gilgandra our intended night stop. Little did we realize that we would be taking narrow country roads, but it was very interesting passing through small tows and seeing the old historic buildings. It had been quite a drive (over 1,000 Km) so after dinner it was early to bed. The next morning we left at 6 AM and on our way to Bellbowrie Brisbane to spend the night with my cousin, to get there we had to cross a river on a ferry which cost $2.20. We spent a wonderful time with my cousin and her hubby chatting and catching up with family news.
The next morning it was up early and to the airport to meet Jack a colleague from the USA, then to the Grand Mecure Hotel on the Gold Coast, our room was on the 12th floor overlooking Broadbeach, a fantastic view of the golden beach, clear bright blue sea, cloudless sky - fantastic! While Jack and I attended the conference for four days Kathleen was able to explore and thoroughly enjoyed herself visiting Surfers Paradise, taking the mono-rail etc.

The next day 5th October we were once again on the road early in the morning on the first leg of our journey home, we decided to take the coastal road as far as Newcastle then head for Dubbo and home. As usual there were road works and we were often on long gravel detours, some going slightly inland, it was no real problem and we saw the most amazing bird life. We saw a field of White Cockatoos (Sulphur-crested Cockatoo - Cacatua galerita), that was just breath taking, also a lot of Grey Cockatiels (subfamily Nymphicinae) and Major Mitchell's Cockatoos (Lophochroa leadbeateri). After some 981 Km we reached Dunedoo where we spent the night in a very nice motel, next morning back on the road, breakfast at Dubbo then 931 Km later we arrived safe and sound at home. A most enjoyable trip having traveled 3,566 Km.

I was going to do some serious trip planning this week but due to various factors(one being work) have not been able to, but I was looking at the map and thought that for a change we should take a different route to Port Augusta. We have been to Adelaide at least 3 times a year since our first trip in 2001, stoppes at every town along the way, spent a weekend at Nhill  and Horsham, spent a night at Tailem Bend  and Murray Bridge, had lunch at many truck stops and been to Port Augusta more than once, so we may just go via Mildura this trip, it's only 42 Km further but could take a little longer due to the 'back' roads, this is not a problem as we should have the time.

1040 KM                                                                                      1082 Km

Until next time ................. Enjoy the little things in life

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Our weekend in Horsham

Three of our children and their families (ten of our grand children) arrived
early Saturday morning and we left around 8 AM for our
Ready to leave
traditional breakfast at the "BIG M" this time it was at Rockbank some 14 Km away, it was then on our way to Wimmera Lakes Camp Ground non stop, or so we thought! Not long into the journey a voice came over the CB "if we see a morning market we need to stop" and would you know there was one at Beaufort so we stopped. There were quite a few stalls with the normal nick knacks, and across the road in an old church they were selling Christmas decorations which were quite spectacular. Turned out to be a pleasant stop.

Our Camp
It was then back in the 'saddle' next stop the camp ground, we arrived after 276 Km and 3:03 hours (moving time), set up camp and went into town to get a few things, then to the pool for a swim and a play with the grand kids, so much for a solar heated pool!!!! The water was cold as, I estimate about 18°C, still we had heaps of fun and granny show us that she could still ride a bike! We had a BBQ in the new camp kitchen which was great, then it was time for bed, by
this time the wind had picked up with strong gusts, we should have lowered the awning as even with anti-flap kit it was quite noisy at times, around 3 AM we were woken with a loud bang when a large branch fell on the roof of the van, not much sleep that night.
Sunday morning we were up early, after a quick breakfast twelve of us left just after 7 AM for the Big Desert. We decided to enter from the Nhill - Netherby Road, Nhill is a quaint town approximately at the half-way point between Melbourne and Adelaide on the Western Highway. It is situated within the wheat growing and sheep grazing district, and is surrounded by a number of state and national parks.

After about 108 Km we were on the edge of the desert and it was time to air down the tyres and on to the Pella Track, then right onto Chinaman Flat Track, we stopped at Chinamans Well for a cuppa. At the T junction we turned right to The Spring for lunch, not much further and we turned right on the Milmed Rock Track heading for Milmed Rock, a quick stop to sign the visitors book then on to the Lookout, this was a short steep track and good fun. From there it was on to Lake Albacutya. The lake normaly fills and empties on a 20 year cycle, I'm lead to believe that the longest dry period on record was 27 years. The lake was dry, it's hard to believe that it was a place to water-ski in the 1970's, we drove a little way on it's bed before returning and heading for Rainbow as it was late afternoon. We aired up and headed for camp some 109 Km away arriving at 6:30 PM just in time for dinner. We did a total of 407 Km of which 190 Km was off road, all in all a fun day of 4x4ing.

Monday after a late breakfast we set off to explore Halls Gap which is situated in the Grampians National Park. The park has many attractions including rock formations, waterfalls, scenic lookouts, 4 x 4 tracks and many lakes, reservoirs and waterways available for fishing and canoeing. Just after entering the Grampians National Park we decided to visit the Beehive Falls, one takes the road to Roses Gap car park (about 17 Km) then its a gradual moderate uphill 1.4 Km walking track which follows Mud Hut Creek upstream, after crossing the bridge it's a series of rock steps to the base of the falls, this scenic waterfall drops 25 meters into sheltered rock pools that are surrounded by ferns.
We then continued on the spectacular scenic drive to Halls Gap which is set in the Fyans Valley at the foot of the of Wonderland and Mount William ranges. This tourist town is the place to unwind and relax in the picture perfect surrounds, which one shares with kangaroos, wallabies, emus, possums and a wealth of bird life.

After lunch of tasty pies and chips purchased from a local, the grand children had a great time playing in the park, while we relaxed and enjoyed the sun. All to soon it was time to leave for the journey back to our camp via Stawell, the suggestion was made to return next year Cup weekend to Halls Gap and it seems that all agree that this is where we will be.

Back at the camp the ladies decided to visit Horsham one more time while the men looked after the children, swimming, playing chess on the giant outdoor board, playing mini golf, jumping on the big pillow and bicycle riding, all the games are free to campers. When the ladies returned  It was then time for dinner and bed.

Tuesday morning after breakfast we packed up and with heavy harts and left late morning for home. We stopped for lunch at a park in Ararat. This attractive old gold mining town of less than 8000 people is at the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains, about 200 Km from Melbourne. After lunch we were once again on the road, next stop home. We all arrived safe and sound after a most enjoyable weekend.

I use Memory Map  GPS mapping software on an iPad to track our journey's, we traveled a total of 1,168 Km, used 175.41 liters of diesel at a cost of $263.19 which works out to 15 L/100 Km.

Until next time ...........Monday’s are fun enjoy them.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Just a short

We are packed and ready to leave tomorrow morning so just a short post as its Melbourne Cup weekend so we have a four day weekend and we plus three of the children with their families are off to Horsham which is only 280 Km  for the weekend.


 We will camp/caravan at the Wimmera Lakes Caravan Resort; spend a day in the Big Desert 4x4ing, time permitting we will spend sometime in the Grampians NationalPark.

It will be a good test for the new fridge and the awning ‘tent’,  it will also be the first time out for my son to test his 'new' 2003 Pajero as well as a good test for the new three core radiator which I had custom made and  fitted  by Campbellfield Radiator Service last week and should be a relaxing, fun time with the grand children. With some luck and depending on the internet connection I will do a daily post otherwise it will be next week.

Camel ride at Uluru
As for the trip, apart from doing a lot of research on places to see and making a list, we have decided that we will just do one night stops up to Alice Springs, the reason being that we have previously visited Adelaide (many times), Port AugustaCoober Pedy, Uluru, Kings Canyon and Alice, so the plan is as follows:

Day 1   Tailem Bend      580 Km
Day 2    Port Augusta     400 Km
Day 3    Coober Pedy     540 Km (may have a rest day)
Day 4    NT Border          395 Km
Day 5    Alice Springs      290 Km

That's 2,205 Km in five days so we will definitely spend a day or two in Alice, if only to do the washing and veg.

Until next time…………………….. Live don’t exist
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