This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2005 Travels September 22


We were away fairly early, again.

Took the unsealed Martins Well track, to the east, then continued on to intersect the Yunta-Balcanoona track, north of Curnamona Station. Then turned south for Yunta.

This route had us on unsealed tracks for over 200kms. We saw very little other traffic. Signs of habitation were few  and far between. Signposts were far enough apart to have us wondering at times if we were on the tracks  intended! However, the road surface was reasonable, and the spare fuel in the jerry can a reassurance. For once, my navigation, from just the Road Atlas, was accurate.

Stopped for a break and had a wander around the Waukaringa ruins, not far from Yunta. This was the site of a gold find and resultant mine and small township, from the 1870’s.

Resize of 09-22-2005 01 Waukaringa ruins

The road south – Waukaringa

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Hotel ruins Waukaringa

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Refuelled at Yunta – $1.31cpl. Had travelled 421kms, since last fuel at Leigh Creek.

Now we were back on a sealed highway, with only 200kms to go to Broken Hill. Lost half an hour of time just crossing the border!

Booked into the Broken Hill Caravan Park – $19.80 a night, after discount. Initially booked in for two nights. Thought that would give John a bit of a break from driving, and allow us a day of sight seeing. This was not our first visit to Broken Hill.

After setting up, paid a quick visit to the shops to stock up on a few items.

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2005 Travels September 21


Managed a fairly early start, while the morning was still cool.

Resize of 09-20-2005 23 at Coopers Ck Birdsville Tk

Early morning, Cooper Creek

I would have liked to detour off to the east, to see where the ferry operated from, in years when the creek was in flood. But the driver was not interested.

We passed Clayton Station. They had recently set up a campground by a wetland area – another place I would have liked to explore and stay!

Saw a mob of emus, not too far from the road, when we had stopped for a morning tea break. John decided to try out something he had seen on a TV program, and stood, waving his hat in the air.The theory was that emus are very curious creatures, and would approach closer to investigate. But these emus didn’t know that theory – or maybe they were short sighted – and ignored his efforts.

Resize of 09-21-2005 01 John trying to attract emus

Once we reached Marree, we were back on a route travelled before. We did not stop in that settlement, but turned and headed south.

Eventually reached the sealed road again. Stopped at Leigh Creek to refuel, having done 333kms by then. $1.45cpl.

Continued on, eventually running alongside the western flank of the Flinders Ranges – always a beautiful drive. Turned east on to the unsealed Moralana Scenic Drive, which was a short cut between the main road we had been on and that north from Hawker into the Flinders Ranges. We had driven this before. As before, it was really pretty in the late afternoon light – but there was little stopping for photos.

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Flinders Ranges from the Moralana Scenic Drive

Decided to book into the camp ground at Rawnsley Park Station, rather than going a bit further on to Wilpena, which had originally been John’s intention. The stay would only be for one night, it seemed, as John wanted to press on to Broken Hill and then take a break from driving days, there.

The unpowered site cost $16.20 after discount. The place was surprisingly busy and there were no powered sites to be had. We set up away from the more formal area, though it meant a bit of a hike to the ablutions block.

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Camp at Rawnsley Park Station

We were in a pleasant grove of cypress pines.

Although it was quite late in the afternoon, managed a short walk out along a station track, before settling in for the night.

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2005 Travels September 20


The morning saw a quick pack up, then we headed out of town, across the Diamantina River channel.

Finally, we were on the Birdsville Track – a long held goal of mine. This was the last of the three desert tracks in this region, and the only one we had not previously driven.

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I was hoping that we could take our time going south to Marree, camp at least a couple of nights along the way, sidetrack out to Kalamurina on the Warburton channel – but John was not so inclined. Once he became fixated on an end goal, he was not to be moved, and in this case the goal was getting south fast!

Left to my own devices, I would have camped at least a night at each of Kalamurina (probably two or three nights!), Mungerannie, Cooper Creek, Clayton Station – and taken a week to do the track.,

It did not take long before we were seeing sand dunes running parallel to the track.

Much of the way was flat and dry, as one would expect, but not without its own beauty.

Every so often we would cross a dry, shallow water course, marked by a line of low trees – variety in the landscape.

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It was getting late in the tourist season for people to be travelling the Birdsville Track. We only encountered one lot of traffic for the day.

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The dust of other travellers on the Birdsville Track

The track was in much better condition than I had anticipated – but with some areas of corrugation, and – surprisingly – a short, wet section. The water was not very deep, and the base of the track was still firm though.

Resize of 09-20-2005 08 Water over Birdsville Tk

We had a couple of short stops, to look at the country, stretch our legs a bit.

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Corella tree

One of the stops was to look at some budgerigars that appeared to be nesting in a tree hollow. There were not that many trees along the northern part of the track, so that was a novelty.

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Had a slightly more extended break at Mungerannie Roadhouse. The little camp area there was quite pleasant, beside a wetland created by the bore outflow.

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We walked around and took photos.

Resize of 09-20-2005 13 Mugerannie RH wetlands

Bought cold drinks at the roadhouse and refuelled – we had done 326kms. Fuel was $1.70 cpl.

Resize of 09-20-2005 12 Mugerannie RH wetlands

There were some relics here of the time of the Birdsville Mailman, who plied this track, keeping the really isolated station people in touch with the outside world. They were the days before mail planes!

Resize of 09-20-2005 10 Birdsville Mailman relics Mugerannie

It was getting to late afternoon, by the time we came to the Cooper Creek crossing.

This was quite prominent, in that a belt of low trees and scrub extended for some distance  – the result of the occasional big floods of the creek. There were a number of shallow channels. But now it was totally dry.

Resize of 09-20-2005 19 Camp in Coopers Creek crossing

Cooper Creek

It was time to stop for the night, so we pulled slightly off the track, in amongst some trees.

Resize of 09-20-2005 20 Camp in Coopers Creek crossing

Good place for a camp

After the minimal set up for overnight, I had a walk around the area. The profusion of little bush flies were really annoying.

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Wendy – with passengers!

The colours of the sky and the bush, as the day faded, were beautiful.

Resize of 09-20-2005 24 Dusk at Coopers Creek

The night was quiet and still – like being back at Pungalina.

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2005 Travels September 19


Another hot day of driving, and a rather tedious one at that.

The country was flat, dry, arid, dusty. Again, it was not new – we had been this way before.

The road was mostly unsealed, firm gravel in quite good condition.

We took a short break at Bedourie, where there is very little to see. It was really just to stretch the legs.

Later, stopped at the Carcoory ruins for another break, and to take photos. This stark remnant of a homestead of the late 1800’s is testament to the hardships of trying to live in such a bleak region. Its pastoral run was acquired by Sir Sidney Kidman around 1900, but even he found it uneconomic.

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Carcoory ruins

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There was a small picnic shelter there, where we ate our packed sandwich lunch. The shade was much appreciated. The bush flies were not.

Resize of 09-19-2005 02 shelter at Cacoory ruins

Birdsville was a welcome sight. We refuelled at the servo which was opposite the caravan park. $1.39cpl. 398kms.

We took a powered site at the Birdsville Caravan Park – $18. The park was rather dry and dusty, at this end of the season. We were able to stay hitched up, with a little shade from adjacent trees.

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Birdsville Caravan Park

As the afternoon cooled off, went for a walk around the town. It hadn’t changed much!

Last night and tonight were both much quieter than our nights in Mt Isa – more what we were used to.

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2005 Travels September 18


This was another hot day for driving. We took the Diamantina Development Road out of town.

At least, the first part was scenic, through the range country. We had travelled this road before, but coming north, so this time we got to look the other way!

The road was, mostly, a narrow, single, sealed strip, with reasonably wide gravelled shoulders. In places, the edges of the sealed strip were crumbling and jagged. The Driver hoped to be able to pick the places to move to one side for approaching traffic. Fortunately, this was rare. We crossed a number of cemented dry floodways, notable mostly for the scenic variety provided by the lines of trees that signalled their approach.

Once south of the rather forlorn little settlement of Dajarra, the country became flat and even more arid looking. In that flat country, the towers and buildings of distant Boulia stood out on the horizon, as we approached.

The main street of Boulia, with its central islands of green grass and trees, signalled a town that was trying hard to make the best of itself.

We had reached there in good time.

Refuelled Truck on the way through town – $1.40cpl. We had done 325kms.

Took a powered site in the caravan park and were able to pick a site with a cement slab, that backed onto the Burke River. This still had water in it, though it was fairly low. $15 for the night.

Resize of 09-19-2005 01 caravan park Boulia

Had a quick late lunch, then walked across the road bridge over the river, and up along the main street, just looking around. Went into the Information Centre/Min Min Centre, named for the mysterious lights that have sometimes appeared to travellers in these parts. We browsed about the “free” part of the centre, which was well set up and interesting, but did not pay to visit the specialized section on the lights. We had seen our own Min Min lights, in the remote Kimberley Mitchell Plateau, in 1993!

Just relaxed at camp for the rest of the day.

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2005 Travels September 17


Drove to the shops again.

I bought the Saturday papers to read.

John refuelled Truck. Had done 350kms. $1.17 cpl.

Shopped at Woolworths. It felt really strange to be in a supermarket again – almost overwhelming. There was just too much choice and too many decisions to make.

I had not anticipated quite how hard it would be to return to civilization!

Lazed around at our van for the rest of the day. I read. John watched the football – it was preliminary final time.

Resize of 09-18-2005 caravan park Mt Isa

Toto, we are not in the bush anymore!

Again, the urban night noises were too obvious.

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2005 Travels September 16


We didn’t hurry to get going in the morning.

Hitched up, said our goodbyes – yet again! Told the boss we would be open to working at least part of the tourist season here, next year, if they wanted us. She said they do! We did not make a firm commitment yet, but I quite liked the idea, of course. John discussed with them the possibility of doing the Riversleigh tours. He would need to get his driving licence upgraded to Light Rigid, to drive the Coaster, though. Food for thought…..

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South of Adels Gtove

We took the route south, past Riversleigh. Had no problems fording the Gregory – first time we had done it with the van, as we usually came and went via Burke and Wills. The fords were very shallow, at this time of year. But still, I recited to John the mantra that I’d stated hundreds of times, when working on Reception at Adels: “Keep to the middle or even slightly the downstream side of the fords. Do not drive close to the upstream edge, even though that is what you are tempted to do, because that it where it is most slippery!”

Resize of 06-16-2002 13 Gregory River second ford Riversleigh

Gregory River ford, south of Riversleigh

Turned south, down past Thorntonia, to the highway, and then east into Mt Isa.

It was a hot day of driving.

Went into the Argylla Caravan Park in Mt Isa. $19.80 a night, after discount.

The park was pretty empty. We would stay here for two nights, in order to get some supplies for the run home.

After setting up, we ventured to the shops. There were far too many people around and it was too busy for comfort.

At Woolworths, I was hoping to see the lady who was the Country Orders person, to thank her in person for the great work she did with my Pungalina orders, but she was away. Pity.

We bought fish and chips for tea. It had been so long! But the anticipation was far better than the reality.

Phoned the family to let them know we were out of the wilds.

The night seemed really noisy, with town sounds. It was hard to sleep. We were no longer used to this.

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