This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2003 Travels April 24


Another early start. These sorts of days were not our ideal of travel!

We left Kidmans Camp at 7.30am, and turned north again. About an hour and a half later, crossed the border into Qld. No fanfare or fuss there – just a cattle grid over a small ditch and a low fence stretching away on both sides of the road. A sign lets the traveller know they are entering Queensland – just in case they didn’t yet know. And the flat road stretched on into the distance.

Refuelled at the servo on the southern side of Cunnamulla, where the highway we were following turned away from that town. 94cpl.

Stopped beside the road on the outskirts of Charleville to eat the sandwiches I’d packed this morning.

On these long driving days, I took some turns driving the rig, while John napped in the passenger seat.

Refuelled and had a coffee break at Tambo. I’d thought we might overnight here – had stayed before – but John felt able to keep going. Fuel was 94cpl.

We got into Blackall just on dusk – 5.45pm.

At the Blackall Caravan Park we were able to stay hitched up – $16 for the night.

Quick and basic set up again, then tea. It was too late to go for a walk at all.

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2003 Travels April 23


We were up at 6am, and away at 7.45. Made no effort at all to be quiet. That would teach the moron next door to park so close!

It was foggy to begin with, then changed to there just being fog in the valleys, with the hilltops clear. This made it a really pretty and attractive drive to Dubbo, after which we were out onto the western plains. The trade off had been that the pretty section was also slower than the plains, with the flat, straight roads of the latter.

Refuelled at Nyngan – $1.06cpl. Took a break there to eat the lunch sandwiches I had packed this morning.

Reached Kidmans Camp at North Bourke about 5.30pm. Our site cost $18. We were able to stay hitched up. Did a quick and basic camp set up.

We’d stayed at this very pleasant, developing, caravan park before. It was interesting to go for a walk and look at what had altered since our last stay. Last year, there were new cabins being built – they had turned out to be very nice looking indeed. Continued our walk, past the cabins, to the Darling River and back.

The lady owner of the park was busy planting lambs ears that she’d bought. And here was I, not long back, throwing out heaps of such plants that had spread themselves too far in my garden.

The night sky was beautiful and clear, with a myriad of stars. We rejoiced at being back in the outback.

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2003 Travels April 22


With the shops open again after Easter, we did some shopping for supplies.

Came across a gallery that featured photographs as art. Spent some time talking with the owner – a former teacher. Actually, I reckon some of my photos were as good as some he had on display.

We had a series of phone calls about Truck. Some of the parts needed, that had been damaged when the brake came apart,  were not available on such short notice. They knew we were on a deadline, so they made temporary repairs that they promised should see us through until we get home again.

Truck was ready at 3pm. We had to pay $460 for the temporary repair, but hope to get that refunded later, from the clowns in Melbourne. The mechanic also found “recycled” split pins in a front brake that would also have broken shortly. He replaced those with new ones and gave those to us, as evidence. What sort of operation reuses such things – I mean, how expensive are they? They also gave us a very frank letter, detailing what they had found, and their opinion of such work! They had no qualms about putting it in writing, which said a lot!

We returned the hire car, with me driving Truck while John delivered it. Was quite a relief to be back in our normal transport.

Refuelled Truck at a Woolworths fuel centre – 97cpl.

Back at the caravan park, found that some twit had parked his caravan in our car parking space. He had, of course, gone off somewhere. So that made our packing up somewhat less convenient. His van was very close to ours. When he got back, he must have realized, but there was no apology.

John had another upsetting phone call with the wayward daughter.

We now had five days to get to Adels Grove – 2600kms away…….Would therefore have to average over 500kms a day. We were definitely going to have to find a better service centre for Truck, once home again – after they had remedied the problems they caused! If only we could find a dealership that was as good as the one in Bathurst!

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2003 Travels April 21


Daughter’s birthday today. I phoned her mobile and caught up with her at Bonnie Doon, where they were spending Easter. She said she’d been horse riding this morning, for the first time in ages, and really enjoyed it. I suspected that tomorrow’s after effects may not be quite so enjoyable!

We walked in the park in the morning.

John played bowls again, after lunch.

I worked on the cot blanket, and read.

After tea, John had a distressing phone call with daughter two, who seems determined to mess up her life. He did not sleep well as a result of her revelations, and felt quite ill through the night.

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2003 Travels April 20


John decided we should go for a drive and see some of the Blue Mountains, to the east of us.  I think we are both feeling rather frustrated, at having to hang about here.

When we set out, it was a reasonably pleasant day, but half way between Bathurst and Lithgow, rain and fog set in. It was then no day for being able to see the scenery!

Abandoned thoughts of going on further, to the Katoomba area, and maybe walking.

John was not really at ease, driving the Commodore, either.

Went to the Tourist Information Centre in Lithgow, collected some material, then headed back towards Bathurst. When we got back there, it was still fine and sunny!

Went for a walk in the river park again.

I spent the rest of the day working on the afghan style cot blanket that I am making for grandson, at daughter’s request. John spent time on the computer.

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2003 Travels April 19


I bought the Weekend Australian, but decided to save it up and then have something to read when we got to Adels Grove. Read some of my novel instead.

John played bowls again after lunch.

S phoned to say that the cot and change table had arrived and that she loved them. It was good for John to get positive feedback.

The nights were really chilly.

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2003 Travels April 18


Good Friday today.

After breakfast, drove into town and went walking in the gardens alongside the Macquarie River – really pleasant.

John played bowls in the afternoon.

I walked a couple of kms from the caravan park, towards town, for something to do. Enjoyed the exercise.

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2003 Travels April 17


John had bowls yesterday, so today it was my turn to decide the agenda.

We set out to drive the Bridle Track, which extends from north of Bathurst, to the old gold mining township of Hill End, some 55kms from Bathurst. This was a well known 4WD track.

Initially the road passed through farmland, until it reached the Macquarie River. The track then hugged this and its tributary Turon River, all the way to Hill End. But we did not get that far.

Once we reached the Macquarie River, the country became more rugged and there were increasing signs of the mining past of the region. It was, of course, in the Bathurst area that gold was officially discovered in 1851; the Hill End gold rush dated from that year.

The track became unsealed and quite narrow, clinging to the hillsides, with no guard rails. I was not sure this had been a great idea of mine, as the drops were on my side!

At the commencement of the Track, proper, where there were a number of warning signs about what was ahead, we encountered a 4WD, towing an offroad Bushtracker caravan – this despite all the warning signs that the road was not suitable for caravans. I was just glad we’d met him at this point, and not further along where the track was less wide, and someone would probably have had to back up. No prizes for guessing who that would have been.

We had a look around at the Turon River, where there was a ford and the first set of campgrounds – very pleasant area. Continued on to the next set of campgrounds, where John found we had no brakes! These came back after some pumping, but made a nasty grinding noise when he tried to use them.

This was far from an ideal track to be driving with no brakes! It was obvious that the smart move was to go back the way we’d come. We were closer to Hill End than Bathurst, but thought the remaining part of the Bridle Track could get really nasty, whereas the way back was not too bad. Also, we would obviously need a Land Rover mechanic, which there would not be in Hill End.

Once we got back into mobile phone range – a considerable distance back – rang Land Rover Assist, and they arranged for us to take Truck to the Bathurst dealer. Luckily there was one in Bathurst.

The grinding noise was quite bad by the time we got back to town. We were relieved to have managed to get all the way back under our own auspices.

We went for a walk while they assessed Truck.

Came across the local Art Gallery and found it was featuring Merrick Fry’s orchard series. Not really “my” sort of work. I had hoped to view their Lloyd Rees collection, whilst in town, but they only had five of his monotypes on display – disappointing. Lloyd Rees was an Australian artist whose works I’d long liked, and who my brother had known.

Back at the Service Centre, the news on Truck was not good. It seemed that the service centre in Melbourne had not correctly put back the pins that held the right rear brake together, and it had fallen apart and done damage. The repairs were going to cost about $1200! They could not be done until next Tuesday or Wednesday, as parts had to be ordered in, and Easter was looming. We had no choice but to tell them to go ahead.

This was unbelievable incompetence on the part of our Land Rover service centre. On top of the clutch issue we’d had fixed in Canberra. John was steaming. There would be some very heated phone calls to Melbourne!

Land Rover Assist arranged for an Avis hire car for us. A man from the dealership drove us out to the airport to collect it. The car was a V6 Commodore. All computerized – the operating manual was huge! John did not find it an easy car to learn to drive. There was a considerable excess payable by us, on the insurance, should we damage it, so I didn’t think we would be using it much.

We went to the Bathurst Library, where I was able to borrow heaps of novels to read, after telling them our sad saga. Lovely of them and I was happy about that.

We booked five more nights at the caravan park. Had been booked only until tomorrow morning, and had planned to spend Easter heading slowly north west. Were lucky they even had a space available and could juggle things around so we could stay on our site. The five nights over Easter went up to $22.50 a night, after discount.

We were feeling extremely annoyed. This break down was due to sheer carelessness on the part of an official dealer, and was most unfair to us as customers. The vehicle had been taken to them with instructions for a thorough check over and service, because we were going remote – and they then forgot to put back a vital part! It was just lucky that this malfunction did not happen at speed, with the van on the back – or in a busy metropolitan area.

The Land Rover man had told us that there might not be any more Defenders imported after this year, as there are issues about them meeting Australian design rules standards. Something to do with needing to have air bags. We would need to keep an eye on that – and if we were going to buy a new one, as we’d discussed doing – do so while we still could.

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2003 Travels April 16


After breakfast, set out to have a quick look around Bathurst.

This involved, firstly, finding the bowls club, so John could check out games. He booked himself in for one this afternoon, so that limited sightseeing to the rest of the morning.

I picked up some material from the Information Centre.

Then we drove to the Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit. This well known track is on public roads, so we were able to drive around it, a couple of times. Truck is no speed machine, but, hey, it could dream for a little while!

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Our Truck on the Mt Panorama racing circuit

There were some  vantage points along the way that gave good outlooks over Bathurst and the surrounding country.

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Country around Bathurst

After early lunch at the van, John went off to bowls. He won, which really pleased him, as his opponent was one of the club’s  champions.

I walked around the park a couple of times, for some exercise.

There were lots of people with motor bikes in the park. Seemed like some sort of big get together, of mostly older riders. Some of them were members of the Vintage Club. They were obviously enjoying the contact and camaraderie and going out on assorted rides, each day.

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2003 Travels April 15


Got up at a reasonable time. Packing up did not take long, as we had not set up a full camp here.

Retraced our route as far as Yass, then took the road through Boorowa and Cowra. Stopped for a coffee break at Cowra and near there to buy some produce from a roadside farm stall – zucchini, squash and some very nice looking spinach.

It was a pleasant drive on a fine day that was not too cool, with some cloud in the sky.

Refuelled at the little township of Mandurama – $1.02cpl. John had been on the lookout for a servo in Cowra, but didn’t see one that was easy to pull into with the van on.

Just beyond Carcoar, took the side road to the Carcoar Dam, which turned out to be a pleasant spot to stop for lunch. From our vantage point could see a wind farm – towers on a nearby hill, about sixteen of them. It was pleasing to see clean energy generation happening.

As we travelled this way, were noting several interesting places for future visits. At this stage, with the current rig, we planned to concentrate on exploring the remote and northern parts of the country. When we can no longer cope with those areas, or need to do shorter trips, will explore closer to home, in areas such as we passed through today. So, we were “saving” those up!

That said, our present intention was a spend a few days at Bathurst, looking around that area, and at some of the Blue Mountains.

Booked into Easts Holiday Park, on the eastern edge of town – $19.80 a night, after Big 4 discount. It was a very nice park – large and clean. But there were some funny sites, with a tree in the middle of the site – this layout caused much confusion for new arrivals while we were there. We initially put the van on the wrong half of the site, and had to re-position it, with considerable difficulty, around a tree.

After setting up, with awning up and gear out, went for a short walk, mainly for the exercise. This took us up into a nearby housing estate. Then we went to Harvey Norman, which was across the road from the park, and browsed about in there for a while.

The later afternoon and evening turned really quite cold.

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