Escaping the cold 2016

 

Throughout life we are forever escaping from something. The older one gets the more susceptible our bodies become to the vagaries of the weather. Trying to find the best weather, however, is normally a journey of some thousands of kilometres in this vast island continent.

We lived in harmony with the weather in Darwin until we arrived to our mid 50’s and then the humidity started to wear us down. And so, being free spirits, we took to the road and after five years on the road, on a warm November day, we bought a house in a small rural village in South Australia. We blindly shut out the possibility of what colder weather might do us when the winter months arrived. Lying 540 metres above sea level and in a temperate zone in the Flinders Valley Complex, our winter temps hit a low minus 10 one year. So to escape these extremes we endeavoured to take off for the winter to warmer climes. Unfortunately around about the start of winter ‘Murphy’ makes his appearance in various forms but health issues. We are forever getting colds, rotten teeth or arthritic issues. Mechanical failures also loom into the picture and on 2015 we only escaped at the beginning of August. This year we have expedited troubles and have managed to escape mid June.

We planned to leave on the Monday but got so excited and wound up about taking off that we hit the road after lunch on Sunday. Our first camp at Mingary Siding was about 300 metres from the Barrier Highway in the rail corridor and in a spot which prickle free. It was thought and we were indoors before sunset. That night we managed to wear three layers of clothes under the doona with a warm Kelpie on top. The wind dropped, we slept well as the traffic died down after 9pm and woke at daylight with a layer of ice over the car and van

Heading north out of Broken Hill on the Silver City Highway the greenery was akin to that of Tasmania after some good rainfall recently. The Patchwork Road is being patched with more bitumen sections on the way to Tibooburra. By 3.30 we had  had enough of driving and found a pebbly campsite at the intersection with the Cobham Road to White Cliffs.

A short time after setting up camp we had a visitation by a family of Emu teenagers and their inquisitiveness and Blaise’s Camp Guard duties were quite funny. She is very obedient though as we called her back from potential hurt. We didn’t light a fire as there was a strong breeze about which increased intensity during the night. We were able to sleep by only wearing two layers of clothes.

Visitors

Visitors

 

 

 

We

 

 

 

Day 3. We were on the road by 9am the next morning. Saw Kangaroos and Emu’s early. Then Lake Bullieu. Could have camped there if we had driven just a few kilometres further. Just a short distance further north and we came across some bush artwork

 

 

Tool Tree

Tool Tree

Little Tool Tree

Little Tool Tree

We loved the Tool Tree and Little Tool Tree and an old satellite dish which stated Watch the Road!
At Tibooburra we refuelled @ $1.36l and went on our way again.
Tibooburra

Tibooburra

A slow trip today but we managed 350km. Silver City Hwy is sealed in places up to Tibooburra and then the
bulldust patches through Sturt NP have been sealed as well, making the drive more pleasant. Once through the Dog Fence at Warri Gate, we stopped for lunch and also had a quick ball game which resulted in a left leg limp.

Gate Opener

Gate Opener

The road was good overall but with some sneaky washouts. The roadside vegetation was very green with new growth, luxuriant in places. There was a bit of water lying about in gullies and some creeks. I managed to drive through some mud much to Jude’s horror. We got to Noccundra Waterhole in the late afternoon to find about 20 rigs parked there. We were lucky to find a good spot in no time and set up camp. It was definitely warmer here but the mossies were bad and chased us indoors as the sun set.

Noccundra Waterhole

Noccundra Waterhole

Day 4. Shorts and T shirt day. Fiddled with van brakes as there was a clunking noise. It went away. Then I used the Jockey Wheel to raise the car higher so that I could fit under to reposition and cable-tie the Diff Breather, which had come adrift. Sorted out the front of the van for wood storage and took wood box out of back of car for more space for Blaise. Jude cooked a great curry on the fire and we drank copious amounts of red wine on a late lunch day. Then we all had a sleep. The Yabbie Net caught three minute Yabbies which we threw back. When the mossies chased us inside we went to turn the radio on but it refused to co-operate. Then I stuck a CD in it and could not retrieve it. Decided radio is a waste of time and will buy a free standing one
Day 5. Light cloud about. Up at 6 for coffee and doggy outs. Then we got underway towards Eromanga.
Once there we bought pies at the hotel and then got the key for the museum and a bus load of tourists came in too. Diesel was $1.38 at the pump where they make it. Got in to Quilpie and the last site in the caravan park. Had a relax. Refuelled and bought fuel at $1.48. Bought an Anderson plug at a price and replaced the broken one on the van. Bubbled up in the spa in the park which was quite therapeutic.
Day 6. Jude drove some of the way getting experience. Stopped for a microwaved pie at Cooladdie Roadhouse and then 0n to Charleville for internet, food and grog supplies. We boiled the billy at Morven and later we found a good campsite at the Neil Turner Weir at Mitchell with many others. Jude cooked Kangaroo Stew on an open fire and we used up most of our meagre wood supplies. The dry Gidgea wood burned well.
Day 7. Rest day. Expecting rain later in the day. Lay about doing as little as possible. It became progressively cooler and bylate afternoon spots of rain made us pack up and go inside. The rain started with sproradic showers and then it rained heavily through the night
Day 8. Got out of the van this morning and the blacksoil squelched up through my toes
Jude carried Blaise to the car so as not to get mud everywhere. Then she walked up front with the handheld radio and tested the track for mud depth. We only had about 100metres to the bitumen
Low Range…….. and I try a gentle light footed approach. All 4 wheels spin and the van stays motionless and the MUX slews sideways. Then the right front wheel in Traction Control grabs a piece of grass and I manage to get the van moving. We get traction and then make it through a big puddle of water to safety. Phew!!!!!!!

We met a mob of cattle in the Long Paddock on the way to Roma

Cattle on the road

Cattle on the road

 

We camped at the Big Rig Park. Quite a squeezed reverse park-in but I did it with colours on a first attempt.
Drove around town doing shopping and fuel ups.

Day 9. MUX is having its 20,000km service at Harvey Black Isuzu. We are spending time reading and surfing the net

Day 10. And we are back on the road heading east to Chinchilla via Miles. The road is lumpy and bumpy and there are still road works going on 5 years after we found them whilst travelling home. After a spot of lunch in a park we took a minor backroad to Wondai. This road, was in place, the worse surface sealed road we had driven on in many years. It was built over black soil plains and the undersoil has subsided causing very large sunken sections. We got as far as Stuart River where there is a large free campsite with no facilities. The traffic stopped around 9pm and started again around 5am, giving us a good chance to sleep.

Day 11. Wondai, Ban Ban Springs, Biggenden, Childers and finally Bundaberg where we parked up in a friends yard next to a busy highway. The day time temperature is 24C and I soon discarded my winter clothes for shorts, a T-shirt and sandals. We will hang around here for about 2 weeks

Posted in 4x4 Travel Stories.