Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Murray River Ramble Part 2

 After our time in Berri  we continued on to  Mildura and for a change thought we would stay at the Psyche Bend Pumps. We found a nice spot to camp but there was very little access to the river so the next day we went back to our favourite spot a Merbein.

 Psyche Bend Pumps

 We were very surprised to see so few vans there, only a couple of camper trailers that pulled out shortly after we arrived.  We stayed at Horseshoe Bend or Merbien Common and since we were there last a swimming cage had been set up to allow small children access to the river. As it turned quite hot we had lots of swims and when Bruce and Dianne arrived their dog Tricky would wander down and have a swim there any time he got too hot.

One day while Bruce was up the street he saw a poster for a trip on the PS Ruby from Wentworth so we made enquiries and booked for their Australia Day trip on the Murray for the afternoon. Diane and Bruce were moving on so they packed up their motorhome and drove over and we just took the Ute and went over a bit later but caught up with them for lunch before we boarded the boat.
The PS Ruby is a refurbished paddle steamer operating out of Wentworth and  I wrote a blog devoted to her in  2010. It was great to see her in use as last time we saw her she still needed all her certification to operate and take passengers.

 Lynn and Diane enjoying the scenery from PS Ruby
  Our trip was late getting away as it took quite a bit of organizing to get her away from her mooring, but we were eventually away for a lovely afternoon and were surprised that there weren't many others on board. We went up the Murray river for about 1.5 hours and then made our way back to the wharf at Wentworth but we were back late too so we were away for longer than the planned time.

 A Caravan on the water ????????
  When we got back to the van we were amazed at how many people were in our area, all day trippers and lots of people with boats as there is a boat ramp there and lots of the locals use it. It had been quite busy the previous weekend too.

 The next day we packed up and drove to Robinvale and camped at  Beggs Bend which was a huge area but the water access was again poor. The area looked like it had been badly affected by floods and the beach had been washed away leaving behind lots of mud.

 So the next day we moved on again and ended up at Nyah, at the riverside camp behind the Harness Club where we also caught up with Bruce and Diane again. It was quite a nice spot with toilets and water etc but the river was low and very muddy. While we were there we drove in to Swan Hill to do some shopping and look around . On our way back we took the long way as we had lunch at Murray Down Club and then drove back through NSW and came back to Nyah via the historic bridge .

Murray River Ramble starting Dec 2011

 We had a nice time in Adelaide with family, we had Xmas lunch with Lynn's sister and family and then tea at my daughter's and her husband's family ( about 40) . We bought new mobile phones for each other for Xmas ( Samsung Galaxy 11).
We left a couple of days after Xmas and headed to Mannun where we found a spot on the eastern side of the river at Haywood park. It was our first time of crossing on a river ferry and we fitted just nicely., When we planned to use a ferry about 2 years ago we were warned against it  as the river level was so low that trucks were getting caught on some of the steeper ramps.
Marion River Boat at Mannun

 Ferry at Mannum
We then continued up the eastern side of the river and stopped for M/T at Bow Hill and then again at the Big Bend just in time to see one of the River boats come around the corner. At Walker Flat we crossed the river again and after a few false starts eventually found a lovely free camp on a back water just north of Walker Flat . It was rather hot there as we had no shade and a spell of high 30s -40 days. We had a very quiet New Year's Eve there with just the 2 of us. Lynn went to bed but I stayed up till the new year.

 From Lookout above Walker Flat

 Continuing up the river we arrived at Swan Reach and again crossed over and set up camp in the park just next to the ferry. We were joined by a couple of other campers and even had a swim but the bottom was very muddy not nice at all. It was also very windy there so after only an overnight stop we continued on to Blanch town. Here we came across our first bridge across the Murray River.

Proud Mary and Murray River Queen at Swan Reach
When we were looking for a morning tea stop we found Lock 1 which had lovely gardens so we took the opportunity to have a good look around , however there were no boats going through at the time we were there.

Arriving in Waikerie we found the state speed boat championships in progress at Lake Bonney but we went on to Maize Island a few klms on towards Berri. We had a week there so by the time we left we were quite familiar with local shops. My new phone had been playing up so we were able to get it sorted out here.

True Blue at Martin's Bend

 Berri was our next stop on our Murray river sorjoun and we stayed a week at Martin's Bend which was quite a good handy spot close to town but not as peaceful as we would have liked as the local speed baots were  practising for an upcoming speedboat spectactular.
Proud Mary at the Big Bend

Monday, April 2, 2012

Crossing the Nullabor Dec 2011

 From Hyden and Wave Rock we set off to  travel the Woodland Trail to Norseman. We had been advised by our friends that this road was a short cut but with a good dirt surface and that a stop at the Breakaways was not to be missed as well as climbing  Mc Dermiad Rock .
Our friends were quite correct as we found the going easy and really enjoyed our time at the Breakaways to the extent that we stayed an extra night . The facilities were a bit basic but the setting was just lovely and the storyboards explaining the  creation of these formations were quite interesting.

The Breakaways

 Mc Deramid Rock was easy to climb and again very interesting . We reached it early in the morning  and it was nice and cool . The view from the top was wonderful.

Mc Dermiad Rock

 Rock pool on the rock

When we reached Norseman we filled up with water and fuel ready for the trip across the Nullabor which was the last major stretch of Australia's coastline that we hadn't done. Initially the going was easy and we camped the night near Balladonia.
As we continued we started to run into some head winds, and we were very grateful of the extra fuel we had taken on at Norseman. We were also advised that fuel prices were high until we got to Mundrabilla where the first cheaper roadhouse was. It was also  where we found a lovely sculpture of a humpback whale,as nearby the Whale watching Centre was located but unfortunately it was closed.

Late on the second day we crossed the state boundary and were back in South Australia. We had a look around Eucla before finding a camp spot for the night at the 10 mile peg mark where there were a few trees and lots of bigger shrubs that provided shelter from the wind.  The next morning we made a few stops along the way to see the Bunda cliffs , it was again quite windy.

Bunda Cliffs
Lunchtime found us at Fowlers Bay which we thought was a very pretty place  but the road in from the highway left a lot to be desired. We thought that  Cactus Beach was an ideal place to stay the night but again the road was diabolical and when we arrived found it was most unsuitable and very expensive so we continued on to Ceduna. After a night here we finally made it to Haslam where we planned to stay a few nights.

 Having recuperated at Haslam for a few days we moved onto Cleve and stayed a couple of days at the weir about 5 klms east of the town.

 Our next stop was at another of our favourite spots at Pt Lowly where there were quite a few other campers including friends we had seen there about 12 months ago. We again parked down the bottom on the slightly rocky area but not on the beach like some other vans.