Friday, October 22, 2010

Menindee Lakes

 From  Bourke and lots of rain we headed further south to Cobar where it was not only wet but freezing cold. We stocked up again  on food and grog and then headed off to Meadow Glen a camping area about half way to Broken Hill where we planned to meet up with Nick and Chris again.  They arrived there about 5 mins after us. So we both proceeded to find a level patch of ground that wasn't likely to get too muddy as it was still showering.  Chris hunted around for some wood and lit a very pathetic fire which we managed to keep going most of the afternoon until it just got too cold and we ran out of dry wood.

Mining display at park opposite Information centre

 We had planned to stop at a rest area before getting to Broken hill but didn't find anything suitable so continued on and stopped at the first  caravan park we saw. As it was dog friendly I looked for Chris and Nick and sure enough they were a few rows across from us.

 After a few nights in Broken Hill and getting more fuel etc we headed off to Menindee in the pouring rain and wind. It was easing to showers by the time we got there but still very windy so we opted not to camp by the lake but camped at the Bourke and Wills camping area along side the river. We camped in an open spot away from the old river gums as we didn't trust them.

 On our first excursion back into Menindee we came across Pat who we knew from Lake Dunn.  She was out walking her dogs and doing some bird spotting. On our trip into Menindee we just got the paper and a few groceries. 
Since we had arrived ar the lakes the weather had slowly improved and after a couple of days it was really quite nice and we explored the area , checking out all the lakes and weir and went up to Cosy hollow where a local guy told us some of the history of the area. We also did more exploring around Menindee township and found an old rail/ road bridge over the Darling  and the old pub.
  Where we were camped was just down from Burke and Wills base camp so we often had people driving into the area to check out this piece of history.
 Lake Pamamaroo sunset

    The whole area was full of pretty wildflowers and lots of birds both big and little. Pat, is a keen bird watcher and was pleased to find some different birds where we were when she came to visit one day. Her knowledge was very useful and helped me to identify more birds.
 Mallee ringneck parrot

 As the weather had settled down Lynn decided that perhaps we should move to be lakeside like most of the other campers in the area. We found a lovely spot with almost a beach in front of us and again we got lovely sunsets across the water just like at Lake Dunn.  There was also different birds and flowers around us.
 Cosy Hollow

  We stayed at Menindee lakes for about a week and explored the area fairly thorughly. We had a day out at Kinchega National park and visited the old homestead and Woolshed which were quite interesting. Our only problem that day was that the loop road was closed after rains and we had to double back quite a long way to get from the lake back to the homestead.

 Lynn with a different steam tractor that had been "walked" from Melbourne

 The woolshed was quite interesting and seemed to be in better condittion than the Yanga one ( see relavant blog). but although the equipment was in better condition the story boards weren't as good.
 Timber jinker  note the wooden wheels

Kinchega woolshed

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Surat August 2010

 From Roma we went to  Surat fishing club campground.  This lovely little area is beside the river.  Just outside Surat. Where fro a donation there is water and toilets available and it is an easy walk into the centre of town.  There is also another area on the other side of the road at the boat ramp where there is a fishing platform and people are able to launch canoes etc.
 One side of the storyboard at the campground.

 This board gives a good idea of what services and what attractions are in the town
The walking track into town culminates in an exercise track with stations provided for various physical activities.

 One of the things that is rather interesting in  Surat is the old Cobb & Co changing station which has been turned into a museum.  It was more than just a changing station as it was also a store and was run a one for many years after the coaches stopped running in the district.
 Model of 1/12th scale of a Cobb& co coach

 Store section of the museum

  There seems to be a dispute as to which was the last coach to make a run in the district but not only is there the model of a coach and horses but there is one of the last coaches there too.Lynn admiring the coach.

  A short walk up the street from the museum takes you to the old shire hall. This building has recently been repainted so that it looks quite smart. The council office is now in a new modern building .

 From  Surat we drove to Cunumulla and although we planed to stay at the showgrounds there we found that they had been closed and the only place to stay was at the caravan park. It was quite a nice park and we were very pleased to be given a site next to Chris and Nick from  Tassie who we had met earlier in our travels. we had 2 days cacthing up on washing and other chores.  Chris and I both did some baking in our turbo ovens . I made a pie and Chris made biscuits.

 Heading south from there we had to be very careful where we stopped as there had been so much rain . even morning tea stops were had beside the road as in lots of places it was too wet to get off any further.

  We eventually arrived at Bourke and made enquiries about camping along the river but were advised that at Mays Bend where we wanted to go there was black soil and it wasn't recommended. Instead we camped at Kidsons Camp caravan park which is just north of the town and had lots of drive through sites. It  started to rain just after we set up and pured all night.
 Although we hadn't talked to Chris and Nick prior to finding a park we were very glad that we stayed there as when we caught up with them next they said  that a vehicle from a van had been stolen from the Caravan park in town next to them. They had to stay there as it was the only park that took dogs. they were travelling with their border collie Buddy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Travelling South August 2010 part 2

 While we were at Anakie enquiries about the best places to stop on the way south were readily forthcoming with several options.
 So after a few  lovely days on the Gemfields and reminiscing about the times we were working on our sapphire mine and the finds we made and the general wild frontier atmosphere of  the area we found it time to move on.
 Virgin Mary rock
 As we headed south our first stop was  just north of Springsure for a morning cuppa ,here we had a view of the Carnarvon Range and Mt Zamia in particular.   As you can see over the years this particular rock doesn't look like the Virgin Mary as bits of it have broken away over the years.

 It was a nice place to sit in the sun and contemplate the view as Lynn did.

 I think he was reliving his childhood.

 We heard stories that this old tractor would have been very useful to some later travellers who became bogged at the camping spot just behind the tractor.  several people had to go into 4wd to get out and one person who didn't have 4wd opted to stay for a few days until it dried out.

 After passing through Springsure  we continued on to the top of the Carnarvon Ranges where there was a huge area for trucks etc to stop and for travellers to camp. Approx 32 acres all up.  We tucked ourselves away in a spot that wasn't easily seen from the road and the vegetation also helped to reduce the noise of the trucks as they made the steep climb up the ranges.

 On our first night there we were visited  by the landowners who regularly check out who is camping there and have a chat.  They were a very interesting couple who had a property just about 10 mins drive  away and they ran an education centre there with people and children coming to learn about station life and the environment.

 We were invited to Morning tea and a look around so a couple of days later we drove down the range which was  on quite a historic road which was part of the original road from Injune to Springsure.

 After a few days which allowed us to catch up on some washing and have lovely meals cooked on the fire again we headed even further south.

 For several months I had been seeing men wearing shirts with the " Big Rig " on them and  it was apparently at Roma so when we got there I felt it was a good place to check out, especially as Lynn is familiar with a lot of the machinery etc that the oil and gas exploration people use. We were unsure whereabouts in Roma it was but a quick check of the skyline revealed it position.

 part of museum outside the complex

 this drilling platform is easy to see from a distance

  This truck does all the acoustic or seismological  measuring  as they look for oil and gas. as you can see it is a German invention. We have seen newer versions of this doing road checks in outback Qld last year.

 Lynn always seems to find these old steam engines , I suppose it's because he used to work in that field at one stage  of his working life.
  I'm sure this is the image we all have of oil wells.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Travelling South August 2010 Part 1

 After we left Cairns we headed south and went through Babinda and the small towns along the way to Rollingstone. We hadn't been on that stretch of road since we went to Cairns in the early 80's, so it was good to see what has happened to the towns. They all seemed to be prospering but the sugar mill at Babinda is sure in need of a rebuild.

  On our way we deviated to Taylor's beach for lunch. It was a lovely place and the river was very wide where it meets the sea , but it was low tide and all we saw  was sand and just a narrow stretch of water .

 Taylor's Beach

 We got quite a shock when we got to Rollingstone about 3pm as it was full. We just managed to find about the last spot for us just inside the fence line.  There was even a 28ft van there.We spent a lovely afternoon chatting with neighbours from Tassie and Brisbane.

 The next morning  we continued our journey.  We went up and over the Harvey Range . It had some nice views back over Townsville  and was a good road with only a short steep  section up and over the range. On our way  we came across a road side exhibit  which displayed the history of the road and had a nice  picnic shelter attached wiht a little walk down to the river as it was just over a bridge.

 Harvey Range Historic Exhibit

Close up of one of the pylons

 Back  at Fletcher Creek we found that our old spot was taken so we went down the otther side of the creek for a couple of nights.

Our aim was to get to Anakie for the Gemfest and Lynn wanted to be there a few days early  so we could get a camping spot. As it was too far for a single trip we broke our journey at Theresa Creek Dam. Here we met some more nice people from Tassie and had our first rain since we left Cairns . We had planned to take the back road from the dam to Rubyvale which would have cut quite a bit off the trip but as there was quite a bit of unsealed section and it was raining even more in morning we went via Capella.

 We were really surprise at how much this little town has grown as in the early 80's we were working at Oakey Creek Mine when it was being biult and Capella was our nearest bigger town , but it was too small for shopping so we had to go to Emerald.

 By the time we got to Emerald it was pouring and although we had planned to stop at the Information Centre we couldn't find any parking nearby so it would have meant getting soaked to reach the centre. 

 Betweeen Emerald and Anakie the rain got even heavier to the extent that Lynn was seriolsly thinking of pulling off the road, but couldn't find a firm spot so we continued slowly as it was difficult to see the road.

 At Anakie we were surprised to find an unpowered site was available. It was nice and grassy and backed onto a little dam. As the festival didn't start for 2c more days we had time to catch up on some wahsing etc.  Because of all the rain and we had more after we arrived in Anakie, about 70 mm all up, the exhibiters were unable to set up as a truck had driven into the area and left huge ruts from when it had been bogged, so the organisers were very reluctant to left more vehicles into the area until it had dried out. 
 After such a wet day when we arrived we were very surpirsed to find clear blue skies the next day.

 We spent some time wandering around the festival once it opened and then went for a drive to visit Rubyvale and Sapphire .  The family had a homestead lease and a mine there in the late 70's and early 80's and prior to going to Oakey Creek we had spent some time there and found  few sapphires. It is another area that has changed a lot since we were there. The road  to Miner's Heritage mine that belonged to our neighbour used to go past our place but there is now a new road down on the flat below.  The homestead lease is now owned by someone else of course but part of the besser brick  building is still standing. It was mainly used for storage as we used to take vans etc there for accommodation.

Cairns and Green Island

 Although we are now in Adelaide I have been slack in keeping our blog up to date so I thought it was about time to put some notes and pickies on line.

 While we were at Fletcher Creek my sister Andrea rang to say she was going to Cairns at the end of July for a week and then taking about a week to drive back down the coast before flying back to Hobart. As we had already made the decision to go to the Rodeo at Mareeba  it meant that we just had to fill a week or so before she and her husband Ron arrived in Cairns. Living in Hobart we don't normally see much of them but we had already caught up with each other at Cowes / Phillip Island earlier this year ( see earlier Blog).

 Most of the time they were in Cairns the weather was okay but not terrific. We had rain most days in the few days before they arrived.  As we were unable to get out to the reef last year when we were in Cairns I was really looking forward to going out on the water. However the weather wasn't the best and Andrea is not much of a swimmer  we opted for a day trip to Green Island.

 Departing Cairns
 We departed from the ferry terminal where all the boats going out to the island and all the other reef destinations leave from. We went out on the " Flyer " and by the time we got there the weather was picking up a bit with some of the cloud lifting but there was still a cool breeze around .  As we arrived about lunchtime our first port of call was the  buffet lunch on board the bigger ferry that was already out at the island.

 After lunch we went for a walk to the other side of the island . It is a self- guided walk through a national park with lots of story boards that  give lots of insight into the island ecology etc. at the end of the boardwalk we were able to see Fitzroy Island and Ron decided to continue along the back of the beach and meet up with us back at the main swimming area near the jetty.

 Story board on boardwalk

                                                  Looking towards Fitzroy Island

 Back at the beach Lynn took a break and Andrea went beach combing wile I decided to be brave and go for a swim as the breeze had dropped and it was a little warmer. It took me a long time to get completely wet as it was quite cold in the water compared to swimming in Darwin.

 Buff Banded Rail
 There were lots of  these birds wandering around between the tourists and picking up left overs.

 After our excursions on the beach  we wandered back along the jetty to participate in the reef viewing trip in a glass bottom boat followed by a trip in a semi submersible  which gave us a closer look at the reef. The coral was fantastic and the colours of both the coral and the fish were really something. Both trips had a spot where they fed the fish so we could get a good look at them.  We also saw turtles and sharks as well as lots of different types of coral including some very large clams. However because of the weather the water was not 100% clear and the glass also needed a clean so we didn't much in the way of photos.