This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2001 Travels September 25

TUESDAY 25 SEPTEMBER     CURRAWINYA NATIONAL PARK

It was during today that I realized about John’s birthday.

After a lazy morning in camp and lunch of roti breads cooked over the open fire, we drove back up to the Woolshed complex, to have a look at that.

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Enjoying the morning by the river

Currawinya was a sheep grazing property in its previous life, and the rather grand old woolshed is one remnant of this, as are some bores that still remain, and some sections of fencing.

The current National Park status came about because of the wetlands of the river, swamp sections, and the lakes – together important enough for it to have Ramsar listing. It is an important site for migratory birds.

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Powdery, fine silt flood plain by the Paroo

The old woolshed was really impressive. Made mostly of corrugated iron, it was surprisingly large. We were able to wander around inside and inspect the holding pens, shearing bays with their ramps to eject the shorn sheep outside; there were even old wool presses left in there. The building still smelt strongly of sheep. There were piles of old manure under the building. We hoped that this shed – relic of past times – would be preserved as part of the Park.

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Currawinya shearing shed – corrugated iron construction

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Inside the shearing shed – 6 shearing stands here, sheep pens and hatches for shorn sheep to be despatched down

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Sheep yards – more corrugated iron

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Wool press

Apparently, this area is used for accommodation for groups of volunteer workers and the like. Showers had been constructed nearby, consisting of hessian “walls” on metal frames around the perimeter, with shower heads coming off a pipe in a row inside. As there were few interior dividing walls, I guessed it would be group showers! The water was cold, of course. I couldn’t tell if there was any water heating facility when they had a group staying.

After a good wander around the Woolshed area, we drove about 15kms out the old Thargomindah road, to the rock formations known as The Granites.

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The Granites

As the name suggests, these were substantial outcrops of rock. It seemed unusual to find such an outcropping in the midst of this sandy country.

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Then it was back to camp to watch the late afternoon reflections display on the water, while we drank beers and reflected on the day.

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Late afternoon at the Paroo


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2001 Travels September 24

MONDAY 24 SEPTEMBER     CURRAWINYA NATIONAL PARK

The first night’s sleep in the new tent was fine. It was really quiet at night out here – we had started to forget the quiet of the bush at night.

The height of this dome tent is what we needed. It was much easier getting dressed when one could stand up!

We spent the day relaxing around camp. The day was fine but not hot.

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John spending his birthday by the Paroo River

I wandered about, taking photos of the camp area. I was rather fascinated by the expanses of river gum tree roots exposed by erosion during floods. The root systems extended over such a large area.

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Such an extensive root system

It was very pleasant by the waterhole and without crowds of people around.

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Ourimperee Waterhole on the Paroo

It was John’s birthday – a fact I managed to totally forget!

The Ranger came by during the afternoon, to collect our camping fees, and even when discussing dates with him, the 24th didn’t register as significant. It turned out, later, that John was quite pleased I forgot, because it “evened” us up for when he forgot mine a couple of years ago!

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Camp oven meal

The riverbank tree reflections in the waterhole in the late afternoon, and at dusk, were worth trying to photograph.

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2001 Travels September 23

SUNDAY 23 SEPTEMBER  BOURKE TO CURRAWINYA NATIONAL PARK 249kms

After a good breakfast, and minimal pack up (cabins are good in that regard!), we headed out of town.

At North Bourke, after crossing the Darling River, where the Kidman Way turns to the north, we kept going to the north west, on the Hungerford road. This soon became a good unsealed road that was very pleasant driving. The country was flat, but there was variety in the vegetation types – from open grazing country to different sorts of scrub land.

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Good gravel road out of Bourke

At one stage we drove through thick stands of mulga on each side of the road – almost felt like some sort of avenue!

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Avenue of mulga

There were a couple of hamlets, entrances to pastoral properties, the occasional river or creek.

We came to the tall fence and gate that is the dog-proof fence that extends along the NSW/Qld border. This fence extends from the Darling Downs of Qld to the Great Australian Bight in SA, Built in the 1880’s and intended to keep wild dogs out of the sheep grazing lands of the southern part of the continent, it is over 5000 kms long – the world’s longest fence.

I had to get out and open the gate for us to pass through.

At the gate, a strip of bitumen road began. This went through the centre of Hungerford, the tiny hamlet right on the border. From what we could see, it was essentially a hotel and a few houses. We stopped for fuel at the hotel – diesel variety!

The Royal Mail Hotel also dates from the 1800’s and was a single storey, mostly corrugated iron clad building, rather showing its age.

We continued on, trending north east, soon crossing the several channels of the Paroo River. The sealed strip of road had soon ended.

We entered the Currawinya National Park, our destination for the next few days, we hoped. This was a relatively new National Park, it only being ten years since the former pastoral property became Park. I had not been able to find a great deal of information about it, except that there had not been much in the way of park development. It was kind-of on our way to John’s target of the Yowah area, and so I’d been able to persuade him to come this way – and to stay a while if what we found was to our liking.

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Currawinya National Park (from Qld NP brochure)

About 20kms from Hungerford, we turned off the “main” dirt road and took a side track to the old Currawinya Woolshed and, beyond that, a couple of kms to the bush camping area at the Ourimperee Waterhole on the Paroo River.

We liked what we saw. No facilities – there were showers, of sorts,  and toilets back at the woolshed complex. One could set up camp amongst the trees that lined the river. Even better, we saw no other campers there!

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Our camp by the Ourimperee Waterhole

We set up the new dome tent, for only the second time. All I could say was that we will get better at it, with time! Set up the assorted camp gear where we wanted it, used the air compressor in Truck to blow up the lilo. Had lunch, went wandering and gathered some firewood, then relaxed by the river, for the rest of the day, feeling ourselves very fortunate.

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The new tent, set up

After tea, we sat by our campfire for a while before bedtime. Back in the bush again – wonderful!

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First night in the new tent……

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2001 Travels September 22

SATURDAY 22 SEPTEMBER   HAY TO BOURKE   590kms

Another day of travel.

Fine weather. Good roads. Not much traffic, despite it being school holidays in Victoria.

From Hay, we travelled to Goolgowi, then north up the Kidman Way that we’d travelled before, through Hillston and Cobar to Bourke.

We reached Bourke in the late afternoon. Accommodation was another caravan park cabin. We had decided we’d not be setting up the tent for single nights, when there were other options available! Besides, the nights were cold!

Tea was meant to be cold meat and salad, but John decided he wanted a bacon and egg toasted sandwich. That was alright – we had all the ingredients to hand.

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Overnight cabin accommodation

When we travel like this, the Chescold fridge gets unloaded from Truck and put onto 240v power in our accommodation. We don’t have a 12v connection for it in Truck. It stays cold all day without being turned on. Just have to make sure that when it is being moved out again, we turn it off 10 or 15 minutes before moving it, to allow the electrical element to cool down. A fridge mechanic somewhere once explained this makes the element last longer.

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2001 Travels September 21

FRIDAY 21 SEPTEMBER   HOME TO HAY   440kms

We completed the packing of Truck through the morning, and left home before midday.

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I presume that I am coming too?

I’d arranged for a neighbour to come in and feed the cats, and replenish the litter trays. The cats live inside most of the time, and it wouldn’t hurt them to be confined to quarters for the duration. One of them acted like he knew we were going off and leaving them – again – and he followed us closely all morning.

We travelled the McIvor Highway to Heathcote and then on to Echuca.

Ate our packed lunch as we went.

We had fine weather for the day, and it warmed up as we got further north.

From Echuca, struck north, through Deniliquin to Hay, which was the night’s destination. We did not stop in any of the towns to sightsee. The aim of the first two days was simply to get to the first place we planned to spend time at.

We spent the night in a cabin at the Hay Plains Caravan Park.

Tea was fish and chips – John went out again in Truck and bought these.

It was so good to be on the move again, albeit for a short time.

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2001 Travels September

SEPTEMBER 2001

During the year, we lashed out and bought a new dome tent, to be used when camping away from the van, at times when we were just overnighting and did not want to put up the big tent.

The small dome tent that had accompanied us until now was unsuitable on a few counts. It had been holed by an exploding bottle. It had proven too flimsy to make us feel secure in areas where there were dingoes or feral pigs. It was too low for John’s ease in getting in and out.

The new one was made by the same company as our big tent – which meant that it cost much more than we’d budgeted for – but it would last forever. It was of a size that we could actually use it for extended camping, at least in good weather when we didn’t have need of an inside living area.

We decided on a quick trip away, in the September school holidays, to try it out and to get an outback “fix” again. John could only get two weeks work free, and there was a question mark over whether the lady I’d filled in for would be fully fit to return to duty. So, a school holiday jaunt it was – shades of the old days.

For once, we applied brains before the event, rather than in hindsight – and practiced putting up the new tent in the back yard, before the trip. Good thing too. If only tent makers could write logical and clear instructions……….


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2001 Travels April

2001 – BACK AT WORK

As we drove the width of the continent, late last year, coming home, we had resolved to try to at least take the van away for some 4 or 5 day breaks, through this year. This would sustain us until we could, somehow, arrange matters to allow us longer travel again.

But life has a way of altering plans.

At the start of the year, John was offered work with a company making high end vehicle tracking devices. It combined his knowledge of computing and GPS technology – just too tempting. The work was part time, and erratic. Some weeks, five days. Sometimes just once or twice a month.

This made planning ahead rather hard.

The job also involved a hefty commute across the suburbs. In Melbourne peak time traffic, it meant at least an hour in traffic, each way.

The Great White Truck was definitely not the ideal city commuter vehicle!

In the middle of the year I was asked to return to teaching, for a term, to fill in for someone on sick leave. Senior Politics teachers were a somewhat scarce commodity.

It had been about three decades since I filled a solely classroom role in a school. I found it quite pleasant, not having any other responsibilities in the place, apart from delivering senior Politics, History and Literature.

However, the experience underlined the fact that I had no desire at all to resume my career – that travel was what I  liked best!

 

APRIL 2001

After four months of sitting in one place, the van was dragged out, at the end of April, and packed for only a few days away.

The occasion was a family wedding in Shepparton in north-central Victoria.

While packing the van, I discovered a zillion ants nesting in the freezebox of the fridge. Their close relatives had taken up residence in one of the van tail lights.

I couldn’t think of any way to extract the colony from the fridge, except to spray much Mortein in there, shut it all up overnight, then wipe out all the corpses I could find. The fridge needed a good air out after that.

We had to dismantle the tail light to clean them out of there.

Ants are the bane of a caravanner’s life! Ours had arrived, this time, we thought, via a shrub branch that was touching the van – in a corner of the parking area that was hard to see. I resolved to be ruthless in pruning the garden around the van, in future.

We drove north, via the usual Yea route. It was so good to be mobile again.

Stayed three nights at the Victoria Lake Caravan Park, which was quite pleasant. There was water in the lake and so some bird life to watch.

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Lake Victoria

Some walking tracks went round part of the lake and continued on to other areas.

The weather was very pleasant – lovely autumn days, nights just a bit cool.

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Early autumn colours by the lake

The nuptials and associated events occupied us for two full days.

That was all the time we had free, so the next day it was back the way we came.

Just a little taste of travel. Just enough to sustain the talk of “maybe next year”…..and all sorts of plans that were tossed around, some more feasible than others.