This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2015 Travels July 15

WEDNESDAY JULY 15     HOME TO CHARLTON      380kms

Early start today, getting up around 7am. John was surprised that I willingly did so, and even beat him into the shower. Definitely keen to go…

Had a very calm final packing, and hitch up of car to Bus, out in the street. This was mainly because we left dog in the house until all was done. Then I went and collected her, and locked up. By now, Couey was so anxious not to be left behind that she bolted into the Bus. Score one to me!

So it was a 9.15am departure. Just about a record for us, in recent years at least. The day was grey, damp, cloudy, cold. Normal Melbourne in July. Later, we had occasional small patches of blue sky.

Had the customary stop in Yea at the old station rest area.

Rest area made around old railway station at Yea

It was too early for bakery food, so we did not need to park near there. Gave Couey a bit of a run on the open, grassy area of the old rail line area.

Great for a dog run

Just after we got going again, and turned onto the Seymour road, John realized his dash cam wasn’t working, so pulled into a parking space at the kerb to re-set it. We were all set to move on again, when a works truck pulled up beside us, blocking us from being able to drive away.

Blocked in…

Two men got out and began removing temporary signs from nearby poles. It was obvious we were about to move – the engine was going – but they took no notice. Eventually, after several minutes, one got in and moved their truck just far enough forward for us to be able to get out. John opened his window and said to the nearest man “Did you enjoy that?” He got a grin in return.

Why not park there in the first place?

A routine run, after that, to Heathcote, where we stopped for a toilet break – for all three of us! There is usually plenty of parking down the side street, next to the park and oval – good place for dogs!

Stopped at Heathcote for a break

I went to the well-known bakery and bought us both coffees, and a scroll for John, who’d asked for “a cake”. Don’t think the scroll was the sinful, cream-filled confection he’d had in mind, judging by the look on his face when he opened the bag.

Near Axedale, could see glimpses of the waters of Lake Eppalock, to the south. This was a novelty worthy of comment. The drought years were still so recent that we were not used to seeing water there.

Trusted the GPS to guide us through Bendigo on the truck route, to the Calder Highway. There was some traffic, and a few sets of lights on this route, but it was not too bad. I’d earlier had a text from daughter to be careful, as there had been black ice in town and several resulting traffic bingles, but the ice had melted by the time we were going through.

We were not stopping in Bendigo, as we’d just had grandson staying in the school holidays and had seen daughter then.

Once clear of Bendigo and able to see whether John was OK to continue, I phoned the hotel at Charlton to book us a place at the Travellers Rest there. Was told they no longer handled bookings as there was an on site manager and they gave me his number. I then played phone tag with Phil, and we were almost to Charlton before I managed to confirm a spot for us.

We reached there at 2.15pm and after minimal set up, ate the sandwiches I’d made this morning for our lunch.

Our en-suite, with power, at the Travellers Rest, cost $28. It was better than a lot of caravan parks we have stayed at.

Travellers Rest Camp Area Charlton

We had a patch of grass between Bus and the en-suite. There were two buildings with four of the parking bays and en-suites each. One lines up in marked spots on the asphalt. The bathroom was spotless. There was a large glass door on the shower. There were heaters as part of the light fitting. Even the toilet paper was good quality.

We could tether Couey to the Bus bull bar, with room for her to move about, and walk her across the nearby footbridge over the Avoca River, to an area where she could free range.

Footbridge over the Avoca River

All very good. The community was to be congratulated for the work they had done on establishing this facility.

Across the footbridge, there was a fairly basic caravan park and this and the Travellers Rest were now run together.

Much had been done to make the area attractive to travellers, with landscaping and a kitchen herb garden.

Kitchen herb garden

There was a free camping area at the back, and cheaper powered sites at the caravan park.

There were some lovely old river red gums lining the small river. We read on a signboard that there were plans to make a walking path along the river, to a weir. That would be an added attraction.

The manager was pleasant and helpful. He gave us a booklet – think he’d had a hand in its preparation – about things there were to do in the area. Obviously making the most of what there is. We decided that, next time coming through this way, we would stay a few days and explore the area. Having the manager in his office in the daytime would mean that the parked rig would be secure while we travelled out and about.

In between rain squalls, we gave dog a walk and run. She was obviously very tempted by the river and plotting a way to catch us off guard, but we headed that off.

Ventured to the main street and walked up and down it. Some interesting older buildings, including the theatre, which had an art deco air about it.

Old Charlton…

By nightfall, there were only four other rigs at the Travellers Rest – two caravans, two camper trailers.

Tea was the usual cold chicken marylands, that I’d cooked at home, and coleslaw.

We watched a little TV, then turned in.

The rain clouds cleared to make for a really cold night.


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2015 Travels July 14

TUESDAY JULY 14       BEFORE WE LEAVE…

Back in Lightning Ridge, in May, we’d seen the promo material for the annual Opal Fest, in late July, decided we’d return for this and stay a couple of weeks. Apart from the Fest, there was the draw of better weather than at home, and being in a place we really enjoy. I had managed to get us a booking into our preferred site at the caravan park.

Bus was serviced, cleaned and ready.

John made a type of box step, to make getting into Bus easier for us both. It was a big step up from the “landing” area to the main floor level. John’s creation was shaped so the bi-fold door would still close while it was in place.

Clever step creation…

Of course, medical matters required ongoing attention. The improved healing of the leg ulcers that really got happening on our last trip, had continued, so there was no issue with going away again. I hoped to come home completely healed! Doctor was still making adjustments to my blood pressure medications, and was not completely happy about the interval there would be between her checks, but I promised to take twice daily measurements myself. I had stocked up on all the dressing stuff needed for leg.

John did not get off so well. He was booked in again, in September, for surgery to remove some more skin cancers.

The dog went for her twice-yearly bath at the Animal Aid Centre, a couple of days ago. For a brief period, she will not smell so doggy! Of course, she resisted the process, which took two people to manage. If she liked baths, I wouldn’t have to pay to have it done….

Now, all except the last-minute stuff was packed and we were ready to go.


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2015 Travels June 30

JUNE 30     THE SAGA OF THE WHEEL NUTS

Not long after we returned from the last trip, Bus went off to Toyota for a little pampering. All the essential bits were checked, fluids changed and the like. The manual that came with Bus had a service history for its warranty period, but after that there was not history recorded. So I thought it was important that we try to always have work done at the same place, so they build up knowledge and history of the vehicle, Plus, to date, we had been satisfied with their work,

One thing that they picked up on, but could not “fix”, was that they were unable to loosen off the front wheel nuts, to remove those wheels for checking. The tools they had made no impact, and they were reluctant to try to exert too much force, in case they sheared off a stud.

When the mechanic told us this – and gave us a demonstration of no movement – John and I both had the same thought, involving what might have happened if we’d had a flat on the front, out on the road somewhere. If a full scale Toyota Sevice Centre didn’t have the tools that would work, what hope would a Roadside Assist person have?

On the way home from Toyota, John called in at a truck tyre place, and they were able to shift the nuts – undid them and then re-tightened them. Fine! Next day, John planned to undo them again, apply some WD40 (Basic Principle #1 – if it does not move, and it should, apply WD40). Then he would re-tighten same. But – the immovable objects were immovable again.

So, before this next trip, he would have to take Bus back to the truck tyre centre and get it all sorted.

One useful thing we did find out from the man at Toyota was that the front wheel nuts undo in different directions. One side of Bus is clockwise, the other is the other way. We planned to write this information on the back of the driver’s sun visor – along with the Bus height measurements and tyre pressures already written there. Handy reference point…

John replaced a broken cupboard door latch in Bus, and we tucked away a couple of spares.

Bus was washed. I used to regard John’s pressure washer as a “boy’s toy” but it sure came in handy when there was an acre of bus to wash! Grandson, visiting for the school holidays, also came in handy for helping to clean.

John using pressure washer to clean Bus roof

The inside was thoroughly vacced and washed. Beds were all made up with clean bedding. Even the dog’s bedding was washed.

John bought a couple of rubber floor mats for in front of the driver’s and passenger’s seats – to help protect the carpeted floors ,and also because they are easier to remove and clean. He also bought a mat that I can store in Terios which can be used as an outside doormat for Bus. We used to have a couple of these with the van, but must have included them in its sale. Most of the time, with a cement slab, or with our annexe matting, a doormat was not needed. But we had noticed, on this last trip, when we were overnighting in places where there was neither, we tracked a lot of dirt and leaves into Bus. Doormat needed…

I guess we will eventually get the rig exactly right?


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2015 Travels June 22

JUNE 22     WALKING WITH DINGOES

Before this recent trip, we had been in contact with A, the man who had been our employer for the six months in 2005 that we worked at Pungalina. It is now a decade since we were privileged to spend that time living at and roaming this beautiful wilderness.

To recap, Pungalina is a three quarter of a million acre property in the Gulf country of the NE corner of the NT, straddling or bordered by the Calvert River. Leichardt’s expedition of 1845 named and crossed that river here. It had sporadically been an open range pastoral property, but little worked as same, as it was too small in that country to be economic. So there really had been minimal impact on the natural environment by European activities.

The Calvert River

And what a superb natural environment it was, consisting of several different and special ecosystems, ranging from coastal, fringing the Gulf of Carpentaria, through riverine along the Calvert, to uplands, limestone outcrops, massive underground cave systems, thermal spring fed swamps, perched lakes, waterfalls…Rainforest and huge paperbarks along the rivers and creeks. Sandstone ridges and extensive swathes of savanna grass and scrublands. Really ancient stromatolite formations. The variety of habitats ensured  varied and prolific birdlife. Ditto wildlife. The scourge of northern environments – the feral pig – was not so much of a problem there, kept in check by the natural dingo populations.

Extensive underground cave systems formed in limestone

A Melbourne-based professional acquired the lease around 2000. Initially, he was interested in having the place as a hunting retreat and it was managed for him by the experienced bushman who had found it for him. The idea of running a small tourist operation grew and some foundations were laid for this venture, based on tented accommodation and guided activities.  We first visited in 2003, when this was in its early days, having met the bushman when he passed through Adels Grove and sounded us out about working there. It was a long day’s drive from Adels, with the last stage being a rough, 65km long “driveway”.

The “driveway”

But life happens, and the professional had to sell the place. The purchaser A, owned an aviation company, in Melbourne, that specialized in small group tours by air. Pungalina slotted well into his operations and he had visions of the place becoming a go-to remote experience, both for those who could fly in and those prepared to drive in there – an adventure in itself.

We arrived at this point, running the safari camp tourist operations for six months in 2005. Lived in our van, set up in a rough bush clearing, 5kms from the bushman’s home – a rather primitive  establishment. Our water came from the nearby creek, our power from the van’s solar panels. A Telstra satellite dish at the main home gave telephone and internet access from there – when the resident dingoes had not chewed up the cables. Weather permitting, a light plane brought the mail, once a week. The main source of supplies was by road train from Mt Isa, once or twice a month, as far as the Redbank Mine – someone from Pungalina would have to do the 200km round trip over the rough track to fetch these. Providing interesting and varied meals for our paying guests could sometimes be a challenge.

The bushman who originally “discovered” Pungalina, had become a part owner and was our boss on the ground for the time we were there. He had established a network of rough tracks – sometimes just wheel marks in the long grass – to various special features of the property. There was no shortage of places to explore on our days off.

Paperbark swamps…

It was remote – there were no other people for well over a hundred kms, and no easy access to anywhere, except by light plane.

We became part of the “pack” of the bushman’s three semi-wild dingoes. They spread their time between  his place and our camp and became our regular companions. Learning about their characteristics was fascinating. They would invariably chew up any accessible vehicle upholstery, electrical wiring, camp pillows. They practised payback, usually involving some destruction, on anyone who offended their dignity. They knew the often open kitchen tent at the safari camp was out of bounds and never once set paw upon the tarp that was its floor, but  would spend much time teetering right at the edge of the tarp, with head through the tent opening, sniffing away at delectable smells like roasting meat. We became firmly convinced of the value of wild dingo populations in controlling introduced problem species like cats and pigs.

Happy hour with a couple of “dings”

John guided guests fishing for barramundi in the waterholes and river. He still has never caught a barra in his life!

Again, plans did not work out as intended and in 2007 Pungalina was again sold, this time, fortunately, to the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. This organization acquires properties with great conservation  and research values and attempts to manage them in appropriate ways. Since acquisition, a number of rare and unique species has been discovered on Pungalina. The sale meant that independent tourist access was no longer possible. As at the AWC Mornington sanctuary in the Kimberley, the environmentally ethical Outback Spirit tour company has been able to include Pungalina on  its tour itineraries and set up a camp at our old safari camp site.

Where did those ten years go? Our time at the incredibly special  Pungalina remains the highlight of our travel times.

Natural springs

I think all of us associated with the property before 2007 have our regrets: the owners for selling it, us for not going back again while we could.

Anyway, A told us that our bushman friend had written a book about his experiences at Pungalina, from about 1999, until his departure nearly a decade later. We ordered this and now our copy had arrived. He had titled it “Walking with Dingoes”….what else could it have possibly been?

This story of a real pioneering venture, remote from the modern Australia most of us take for granted, made fascinating reading, particularly with our knowledge of the property – and even our little cameo roles in the saga.


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2015 Travels June 7

JUNE 7   WORKING OUT WHAT WAS BURNING…

Several times on this most recent trip we were alarmed by a strong smell of burning rubber entering the Terios, as we drove it. This had been particularly noticeable in Canberra, lightning ridge and Bendigo.

Each time, it seemed to disappear after a few drives, but still was very concerning, each time.

Terios had been serviced a little while before we left on this trip, and I had noticed there was  very little travel in the handbrake lever. Because it was John driving the car whilst we were away (him not being comfortable as my passenger!), I did wonder if he was leaving the handbrake slightly on, and tried to stealthily check it when “the smell” occurred. But it seemed alright, and when the wheels and tyres were checked for heat, when we stopped, they seemed quite normal.

The smell did not seem to occur when the car was trundling along being towed by the Bus, only when we drove it after a tow. I was in the habit of starting the engine and running it for a couple of minutes, when it was on tow and we were stopped, every 100-200kms. This was supposed to keep things like the oils circulating. I wondered if the towing was causing some damage that was then righting itself? But that didn’t seem very logical.

Our Terios on flat tow

One of my first tasks, back home this time, was to take the Terios to a local brake and clutch centre and get those parts checked out for the source of the smell. They could find nothing wrong, but did back off the handbrake a bit, for me. Of course, by this time, the smell had decided to disappear again, anyway, so they had to rely on my description.

I had, on a traveller’s forum, asked for ideas from those more mechanically expert than me. One of the replies was from someone else who flat towed a Terios, who’d had almost identical experiences, including getting mechanical checks. They had concluded that, over a period of unbroken flat towing, rubbery “gunk” from the road accumulated around the exhaust area – and was then burnt off in subsequent driving.

Eureka! Our worst smell experiences had been after two or three days of towing on major highways, where trucks in particular would have left a rubbery build up. Like the Hume to Yass and the Newell coming south. Whilst we had noticed the smell in Lightning Ridge, it had not been as bad – more minor roads travelled? Also, Bendigo had been the worst and we’d travelled wet roads getting there.

So, I think the cause of the problem has now been identified. Yet another proof, too, of the worth of forum membership, with the wealth of experiences shared via same.


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2015 Travels May 31

SUNDAY MAY 31     BENDIGO TO HOME     230kms

After the usual morning routine and pack up, we left the park at 9.55am. It had rained during the night and now the sky to the south looked quite threatening.

Leaving Bendigo in lousy weather

The GPS directed us onto the OD route through the outskirts of Bendigo to the Heathcote road. All very easy – a benefit of having a truck system. “She” wanted to keep us on the route to the Calder Highway, though, but eventually re-adjusted as we tootled off to Heathcote.

The way home from Bendigo, through Heathcote, Tooborac, Seymour and Yea was a very familiar one. Not boring, but routine. About the only unusual event was sighting a live, rather than the usual dead, wombat by the side of the road.

Again, the GPS had some difficulties with our route choices. After Heathcote, she wanted us to continue down the McIvor Highway towards Melbourne. Then, at Seymour, she thought we should take the Hume towards the city. I could almost hear her grumbling to herself after about the twentieth “do a U turn…”

Just beyond Seymour, came up behind a line of several vehicles following a fairly large caravan. The tail back built …and built. A few cars took some risks to pass him – this stretch of road is fairly hilly and winding. There were several places where he could have slowed down and pulled over to let followers through, but was not considerate enough to do so. Eventually, just before Yea, he turned off onto a side road to somewhere else.

We followed this rig…and followed…and followed

We stopped for lunch in Yea. That town has a very wide grassed area between the road lanes, with picnic tables on. It had become our practice for one of us to wait there with dog while the other goes and buys their food from the excellent bakery, then to swap over. I love their freshly made cheese and salad rolls! I bought a vanilla slice and a beesting, to be tonight’s dessert.A final trip indulgence…

Today’s lunch was somewhat livened up by a carriage pulled by two grey horses, going up and down the road. Dog was interested but happy to be so at a distance. Showed no signs of wanting to go and investigate those large critters any closer up. Wish I could have said the same thing about the fountain, near where we had parked Bus. She was so strong when there was a water goal in mind. I could see one of us, one day, actually ending up in the fountain pool with a very happy dog.

After Yea, the rain was steady, as we traversed the Great Dividing Range.

The hills of home…

Reached home at 1.30pm.

Unpacking these days was fairly easy, as so much was permanently left in Bus. By late afternoon all was done and the washing was happening. Couey was rediscovering her toys and spreading them out all over the house. John was back on his big-screen computer.

It had been good to be travelling again, and using Bus, rather than leaving it sit there.

Before we’d left, I had wondered how well I would cope with the two leg wounds. Changing the dressings every couple of days had been a chore, and was done in less than hygienic conditions – dog hair anyone? But it was very clear by the end of the trip that there had been really significant improvement and progress. I was surprised by this, but very pleased. The scales at home also showed that I had lost several kgs of weight…good stuff, this travel.

TRIP STATISTICS

Nights away: 33

Kms travelled: 3017 kms

Fuel cost: $635.28

Accommodation cost: $1320.60

Savings through discounts: $90.40

Dearest accommodation (after discounts): Eaglehawk Holiday Park Sutton $43 pn

Cheapest accommodation: Gilgandra Caravan Park $29.70


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2015 Travels May 30

SATURDAY MAY 30     BENDIGO

Couey and I did an early morning walk around the park. I tied her up outside the office and went in to collect the Saturday papers previously ordered. Pleased to have The Age again.

Tucked in amongst the cabins at Epsom

We had to be organized and out, in order to watch grandson play football – Under 12’s – at 10.30. Earlier than normal start for John!

Successfully negotiated the busy Saturday morning traffic and found the ground. Daughter had managed to “save” us a space to park the car nose in to the perimeter rail of the ground, so we could watch the match in comfort. On this really cold morning, that was appreciated.

It was only grandson’s sixth game of footy, but he seemed to do alright. At least, I knew more about this sport! He was also training to become a boundary umpire. Busy fellow and daughter had a hectic schedule getting him to various trainings, plus watching his games. What goes around….I reminded her of the demands on my time that her years of horse riding and Pony Club had made. Summer gives her some respite, to date anyway, though he is interested in cricket…

After the game, took ourselves back to Bus for lunch and to read the papers. I took Couey for a decent walk around the park and gave her some ball chasing out on the street.

Pleasant grassed caravan sites…

Mid-afternoon, went to daughter’s place and relaxed there with her and the two children – the younger one was three now.

Eventually, daughter’s partner came home from netball, and her mother came to visit with us too. Daughter served us all a lovely corned beef dinner.

Eventually made our way back to Bus. Couey had spent our visiting time tucked up snugly in the car, apart from a brief leg stretch and her dinner, which I’d taken with us.

The night was really cold. Luckily the silver window shields insulate Bus fairly well and it did not take long for the little fan heater to warm the inside up.

It was our last night – for a few weeks at least – of sleeping on the narrow, but comfortable enough, Bus beds. I confess to looking forward to my home bed where I could actually spread out a bit.


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2015 Travels May 29

FRIDAY MAY 29     SHEPPARTON TO BENDIGO     122kms

I was up before John and took dog walking around the park, on a sunny but cool morning. Some cloud about.

Our outlook at Victoria Lake Caravan Park

It was 10.30 before we left.

The reed-choked lake

Were somewhat delayed by talking with the neighbours in van parked behind our site. They had a red stumpy tail cattle dog travelling with them. It is so rare to find someone who even knows about the breed, let alone who has one with them. In fact, this was the first stumpy we had encountered whilst travelling. She was also timid about new things, like ours. She did not want to do a doggy meet and greet with Couey – growled at her – but was really sweet with us.

Our Lake Victoria site

Refuelled at the servo right by the park entrance – so easy. $1.309cpl.

We had a very routine trip, through the flat country of central Victoria, through Stanhope and Elmore, to Bendigo. No stops along the way.

Went into the Gold Nugget Tourist Park, at Epsom, on the northern side of the city. We had not stayed here before, but the two parks we had previously used were no longer taking dogs, so they had lost our custom. Yesterday, I had phoned the park at Ascot that we had really liked two years ago. The lady who answered the phone was most apologetic but said there had been a change of management and hence a change of attitude to dogs. By contrast, Gold Nugget was most welcoming.

Our en-suite site cost $40.50 a night, after discount. We had to unhitch before backing on to the site. The location of the en-suite sites had us rather isolated from the main part of the campground, in amongst cabins. The ordinary powered site part of the park was quite attractive. Our en-suite was adequate.

Our site at Golden Nugget Epsom

We were able to access an area of dead-end road, beside the park, to give Couey a bit of a run after the ball. Otherwise, I enjoyed walking with her on the internal roads of the park.

After setting up, drove to a nearby small shopping centre (Epsom?) where there was a Woolworths supermarket and other shops. Needed milk, bread, fruit. We bought an iced fruit loaf and had that back at the bus, for lunch. John collected a card from the fish and chip shop at the centre, so we could order tea tonight.

Grandson was playing hockey at 5.30pm. Set the GPS and I double-checked the navigation on a paper map, and we found our way to the hockey centre in the near dark.

There was a very strong smell of burning rubber in the car, as we’d previously noticed in Canberra. We were quite concerned. The wheels did not feel hot to the touch, though. I wondered whether the handbrake adjustment that was done in the last service was “catching” somehow?

Left Couey in the car while we watched the hockey – for obvious reasons. A ball is a ball, after all, and meant for serious chasing when sighted.

It was good to finally get to see the grandson play hockey. Another game I know little about, but apparently he did some good things. His team won. The boy was growing up so quickly – twelve years old now – getting taller and filing out. I think he was pleased that we finally got to see him perform. And, of course, we spent some time with daughter.

It was bloody cold, standing around watching the game!

After the hockey, went back to Bus. Phoned and ordered our fish and chips – there was a forty minute wait! Food must be good if shop is that busy? John drove to pick up our order. The fish was excellent, so were the ships, but serves were generous and we had ordered far too much.

Watched the football match that was on TV.


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2015 Travels May 28

THURSDAY MAY 28     GRIFFITH TO SHEPPARTON     295kms

When I got up in the morning, there were leaves all over Bus and car. Annoying. It took me quite a while to pick them out of the grille sections at the front of Terios.

Left Griffith at 10am on a day that was cool, but with blue sky and sunshine.

Not far out of town, we passed what appeared to be a very sizeable but apparently unused poultry farm. We wondered why it was this way and whether it was a casualty of the move to free range eggs? This area is a major one for egg and poultry production.

Just a bit south of Hanwood there was a large and fairly ornate new building. There were no signs to show what it was. The two sets of large gateposts were closed. Big house? Defunct winery?

We passed a truck waiting to turn onto the road with a load of round, yellow shrink-wrapped somethings… We were discussing what these might have been when a clue appeared in the form  of white blobs beside the road. Cotton! I hadn’t realized that this had become a cotton growing area. We soon started to see lots of the round, wrapped, bales of cotton stored in the paddocks, in long rows.

Roadside cotton blobs

There were more trucks transporting bales. They seemed to be converging on the Darlington Point township. (Later research revealed there was a cotton processing gin there).

Shrink wrapped cotton bales

We even saw some cotton plants growing, still with white blobs on the plants – maybe ready for harvesting? It hadn’t occurred to me before that there was much I didn’t know about this product and processes. Is there one harvest season for cotton, like for wheat? Or do the plants produce all year round?

Cotton growing…

We crossed the Murrumbidgee River at Darlington Point. Noted that there was quite a good looking caravan park on the banks of the river there. That could be a good place to relax for a few days, sometime.

Coleambally village had an old irrigation channel digger on display – large beastie.

Then we were back on the Newell again, after our friend visiting detour of yesterday.

We stopped at Jerilderie for a break, by a very attractive area of park land by a lake. Part of it was a War Memorial and contained military memorabilia, like a tank.

Military memorabilia at Jerilderie

There was a stylized windmill sort of structure in the distance. From the number of caravans moving in and out and pulled up there, it was obviously a well-known rest area.

Lake and rest area

This was a very handy area for a walk, toilet stop and dog ball throw – which we did on a grassed area over the road from the parklands.

I would really prefer just to lie here and look at it…

Not a great success – there were burrs or prickles in the grass, judging by a high-stepping dog. Really, all she wanted to do was head for, and probably get into, the lake. No way….

That’s as wet as dog is going to get…

Jerilderie appeared a very pleasant town. Next time we were on the Newell we should consider staying a night or two here.

Jerilderie lake

Continued on, with occasional clouds starting to appear in the sky ahead.

Do we need to be concerned?

In our travels on the Newell, over the past few days, had noticed a surprising number of trucks carrying new caravans northwards.

Drove through Finley without stopping, but noted there was a caravan park, by a lake, that could also be good for a stay.

South of Finley there was an ominous build up of dark cloud ahead. Guess we were heading for Victoria!

Victoria up ahead!

At 1pm, crossed back into our home State, at Tocumwal. As soon as we were across the Murray River, it started to rain – heavily.

As we approached Numurkah, the GPS directed us to turn right. That put us on to the road to Nathalia. Initially we thought this might be some sort of bypass route around Shepparton, but no, the lady definitely wanted us to go to Nathalia. We didn’t. Eventually were able to turn around and go back to the highway. The reason for that directing remains a mystery. We are not giving up on paper maps any time soon.

Drove through central Shepparton – there was no alternative – to the Lake Victoria Caravan Park. The way into this caravan park is not all that easy to find, tucked in as it is by a servo.

This area had obviously recently had some heavy rain – much heavier than we’d driven through – as there was water lying about everywhere.

Our en-suite site cost $37.80, after discount. After booking in at the office, I walked to the site, with John trundling Bus along behind me and the dog barking her head off in there, because I wasn’t inside. I had to dodge great pools of water. We would have to keep a tight lead on Couey if we didn’t want a wet dog to worry about.

We had to unhitch the car before backing into place.

There was a very attractive outlook over a large grassed area, towards the lake/river.

Back in 2001  we’d stayed a few days at this park, when we came up from Melbourne for a family wedding. I remembered the lake as being a fair-sized, open body of water, and was surprised to now find it more a series of ponds with large areas of reed banks. Wasn’t sure if my memory was faulty or if it really had changed that much.

It was fairly chilly and damp, but I managed to take Couey for a couple of walks around the park and along a good path by the lake. Of course, she spent a lot of time straining at the lead in an attempt to go get her feet – and more – wet.

It was a cold night. Yes – we were definitely back in Victoria.


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2015 Travels May 27

WEDNESDAY MAY 27     WEST WYALONG TO GRIFFITH     154kms

Despite quite a bit of noise from truck traffic through the night and in the morning (or maybe because of it) John slept in and it was 10.20 am before we departed. That was OK because today’s was not a long stage.

I managed to direct us the wrong way after we left the caravan park, over-riding the GPS which, on this occasion, was correct. John managed to find a place to turn around without having to reverse. I apologised.

The day was fairly cool, with high cloud, but quite pleasant.

Not long after leaving West Wyalong, passed a very mangled car that was in the scrub at the roadside – all wrapped up in blue and white police tape. We wondered what the story behind that was.

For a short while, we passed through cypress pine wooded country. I love cypress pines. But then emerged onto flat plains country, where we could see for a very long way.

Cypress pines beside the road

Some of the paddock dams had pelicans floating on them.

At Ardlethan, left the Newell, heading west towards Griffith.

The little township of Barellan had a giant tennis racquet “statue” – a tribute to local tennis champion Evonne Goolagong.  I am not really a fan of “big things”.

There were so many empty, sad old houses in these little declining villages, It is a pity we could not relocate some of our urban homeless to such places – they would be housed and could spend their welfare money boosting the local economy at the same time.

We moved into the agricultural area of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. Lots of grapes growing and some very large winery operations that we passed, including de Bortoli, source of the port we like.

Irrigation channel near Griffith. Winery storage tanks at rear.

Found our way to the Griffith Tourist Park, via a slightly roundabout route. Not the fault of the GPS this time – nor me.

Our en-suite site cost $40.

There were lots of big old deciduous trees in the park. No doubt wonderful shade in summer, but right now the source of heaps of fallen leaves. I had to sweep lots of leaves out of our en-suite, and wipe the dust off the surfaces in there. Most of the sites in this park were en-suites and this one had obviously not been used for a while. There was a gap under the door, and also an upper section of breeze block wall that allowed the leaves and dust in. I had phoned this morning and booked us in, so I did think that the en-suite could have been checked and cleaned for us, in advance. A bit poor.

Griffith site complete with leaf-shedding tree

Set up, unhitched, phoned our Griffith friends, who were expecting our visit today. V and F are friends made some thirteen years ago, on our travels, who we meet up with periodically.

We drove around to their place for a late lunch. Spent several pleasant hours chatting, sitting out on their lovely large, roofed deck. We had tied Couey to their clothes line so she could stiull see us, but she would not settle, wanting attention, games and to be loose – which the resident backyard cat would definitely not have appreciated. Eventually, she got put back in the car, where she couldn’t see us at all.

There was a State of Origin  match tonight, always a major event in that family. We reflected on one year when we were all working at Adels Grove, which did not then have any TV reception. However, the Ranger base at the nearby National Park did, and there was to be a gathering of local folk there to watch the game. John does not have a clue about that brand of football, but he went along to keep F company – the lone NSW supporter in North West Qld!

Not wanting to intrude on the family gathering planned for tonight’s event, we left early.

On the way back to camp, stopped in the centre of town and bought pizzas to take back to Bus for tea. In this town with such an Italian heritage, the pizzas were really good.