This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2015 Travels July 23


The rain continued, off and on, through the night.

Before John got going, I was able to walk Couey around the park and across the grass area at the back, without getting my feet too wet.

Left the park just before 10am and immediately went to refuel at the servo on the opposite corner. It was a major truck stop and refuelling area – we had heard truck noises from here, throughout last night. Diesel cost $1.439 cpl.

It was a grey, misty, damp day.

There had been a big exodus from the park this morning. I think it is much more an overnight destination than a longer stay place.

We had first travelled the Kidman Way some fifteen years ago, not long after it was made into a sealed route. Then, there were not many trucks on it. Now there are heaps.

Trucks on the Kidman Way

At one point, we had occasional glimpses of patches of blue sky, but mostly it was just ominous looking grey clouds.

A cheerful note was seeing a small group of greeny coloured parrots having a bath in a big roadside puddle. Rain is great for wildlife in these usually dry parts.

Ephemeral bird bath

We passed a broken down rig. A 4WD was parked behind a van, with hazard lights going. There appeared to be a problem with the van – there was something strange under its front – maybe holding it up? No one was visible, or waving us down, so we kept going. They were parked on a rare area of hard shoulder at the road’s edge – lucky they were able to find a firm area as these would be rather rare today.

We had a brief stop at a large rest area and gave Couey a walk and a drink.

Rest area with hard surface

This was obviously a normally popular free camp area, with lots of tracks and parking spots off in the mulga. But there was no one here now – too muddy and wet. There were little piles of hay on the sealed surface of the rest area – must have been a stock transport stopped there recently.

Free camping areas in dry weather

Arrived at Bourke at 12,30. Drove out the highway to the north for a short way and topped up the fuel. $1.459 cpl. Then drove to the IGA supermarket, where John parked Bus in the street, and I went in to get milk and bread. The place was very busy, so I suspected it was pension day. There was a security person on duty. This is a supermarket where, in the alcohol section, all the stock is on shelves that are behind heavy wire mesh walls. You can see what they have but can’t touch. Customers have to ask for what they want at a small window in the wire.

Went to the Mitchell Caravan Park. Our en-suite site cost $35 for the night. The bathroom was a good one and very clean.

Bourke site

There seemed to be new, young owners/managers, from when we were last here a couple of years ago. They were very pleasant people who seemed much more dog empathetic than the previous ones. They said we could walk Couey, on her lead, along the back area of the park – a notable change from last time, where the only place we were welcome to walk was out of the establishment.

Very little set up was needed. In a break in the weather, we walked dog around the park. There was a very nice central grass and garden area, with a row of bottle trees across its end. One of these had a tap in it!

Don’t know if it works…

I was pleased I’d made an advance booking. This park was effectively full also, apart from a couple of sites that were partly under water.

Place for happy hour in better weather

We chatted travel for a while with a man from a Trakmaster van, fairly similar to the one we’d had, but newer.

Bottle trees

Tea was steak, potato fries and egg.

Watched MasterChef – now down to three finalists. Then had an early night.

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2015 Travels July 22


Rain set in through last night, but there were only a couple of light showers when we were packing up.

Couey didn’t get a morning walk because the tracks were muddy and I didn’t want her tracking that into Bus.

The rain made it easier, after all yesterday’s angst, to leave here today.

Realized, as we were almost ready to leave, that scones, jam and cream were being served at the camp kitchen, so we joined some of the remaining campers there, and partook. Very nice they were too.

Left Warrawong at 10.20am. Had to drive back into Wilcannia to get fuel, at the cheaper outlet down a side street. As John got out and went to do the fuelling, Couey did her usual jumping around and barking, inside Bus, thinking she might be going to be let out. The servo man asked what breed she was – and then said he was about to go to Qld and get himself a stumpy, because he thinks they are great dogs. We know!

Old buildings in Wilcannia dating from its glory days as a river port

Fuel was $1.435cpl.

Some Wilcannia buildings are in a sorry state

The rain showers continued as we drove east, through the McCullogh Range and mulga country. The rain made the colour contrasts greater – blackened the mulga trunks and turned the red dirt darker. I found it really pretty.

Red, green and black contrasts

Saw many little groups of goats.

About half way to Cobar, the rain became steady.

Bleak outlook

Stopped at Emadale Roadhouse, where the forecourt was mostly under water. The stop was for a short rest for John and he went in and bought some mints. We did not let dog out. She would have had a lovely time wallowing in all the water.

There seemed to be so many trucks on this highway today.

As we drove along again, spotted a kangaroo beside the road ahead. It began to cross, then turned and bounded off the other way, whilst we were still quite some distance away. We wondered if it was the effect of the Shu-Roo gadgets that John put on the front of Bus. We had these same things on the front of the Landrover too, and they did seem to warn animals of our approach.

Birds of prey circling

Drove past the usually popular Meadow Glen Rest Area – a free camping place – and there was no one there. The country around there appeared very green, but the many more secluded parking areas off in the bush would have been red mud.

There were sheets of water on the sheep paddocks and some very miserable looking sheep.

The unsealed road to the Mt Grenfell Historic Area had a road closed sign up.

There had, clearly, already been substantial rain around Cobar.

We went into the Cobar Caravan Park. I hadn’t thought it necessary to pre-book for this large park, but now thought we were lucky to get in. They put us onto a cemented bus bay area, between the camp kitchen and the amenity block. Actually, a good location! Because it was meant for tour buses, it was a drive through site, so easy for us to park on without having to unhitch the car. The powered site cost $32.50.

Cobar site

The park was, by late afternoon, full – at least on all the formal, hard surfaced sites – and there are a lot of those. They were not using the grassy unpowered area, due to the wetness of the ground. We had stayed here before, and never seen the place this full. I suspected that some people who would usually be bush camping had abandoned the muddy bush and come to firmer ground.

Because of the full state of Cobar, I decided to play it safe and phoned the caravan park in Bourke to book us in for tomorrow night.

In between showers, walked Couey around the park.

Tea was baked beans on toast – John’s choice.

The night was foggy and damp, with a really heavy dew. The cloud stopped it from being really cold.

Damp camps are not fun!


2013 Travels July 14

SUNDAY 14 JULY     COBAR TO BOURKE     172kms.

We were away at 9am.

Couey was back to being reluctant to get into Bus at moving time. She actually snapped at John when he lifted her in.

We had to get fuel before leaving Cobar. Had intended to do so on the way in the other day, but our way into Cobar brought us to the caravan park first. Today, we joined the rush of travellers  fuelling up before leaving town, and had to queue. Hint to travellers – refuel when you arrive in town, not departure morning, when everyone else has the same idea!

Diesel was $1.569 cpl.

We’d driven the Kidman Way a number of times before. The way north from Cobar was the usual flat, not very interesting country. There were more trucks using this route than we had seen before. Not as many as on the Newell Highway, but still too many. The lack of truck traffic used to be one of the great attractions of going this way.

John needed to make five stops along the way. I estimated one stop for every thirty kms of travel! We could sort of joke about it – what else can one do?

This time, fuelled up as we arrived in Bourke, at the BP servo, where we paid $1.639 cpl. This morning, back in Cobar, also at a BP outlet, and not that far away, it had been 7 cents a litre cheaper – quite a price differential over a short distance.

In the past, we’d always stayed at Kidmans Camp at North Bourke. But they did not take dogs, so this time we went into the Mitchell Caravan Park, in the town. Our en-suite site cost $35. The gravelled site was small, with no real space to put out our awning, had we wished to, and not much space between us and the next van. Our little bathroom was clean and well fitted out.

Bourke site

Although the park accepted dogs, it could not be described as dog-friendly! The manageress was insistent that dogs be taken out of the park to do their business. Try explaining that, after the long night, to a dog with a full bladder…… But I got the impression that they’d had too many guests who didn’t abide by the normal common rules, as – unfortunately for the rest of us – is too often the case.

I thought that next time we came this way we should take an ordinary powered site – those were nicely grassed and would give us more room and a better spot for dog.

After basic set up, drove Terios to the Back O’Bourke Exhibition Centre, a very impressive new building on the northern edge of town, with really helpful staff in their information section.

Having just done a part day’s travel, we were not in the mood to do the full exhibition experience on offer, featuring aspects like history, aboriginal culture, outback lifestyle, so just had a short browse around there. Another item for the next-time list.

Drove back to town, to the Old Wharf area, where there was an interesting display of old machinery and a viewing platform on what was actually a replica of the original wharf, back in the days when Bourke was an important inland port. As the Darling River level fluctuated greatly between seasons, platforms at different levels allowed for the loading and unloading of the paddle steamers, regardless of river height.

Darling River ……again

Took Couey for a walk from there, on a path along the river levee, on the lead. This short walk tired John out, not so the dog.

Drove around the streets, looking at some of the substantial old buildings of the town – some interesting architectural styles that seemed unique to the town. I would like to spend time wandering slowly about the place, photographing some of these relics from the glory days. But not today….I would need to be driving myself, and alone!

The town did not seem to be as rowdy or threatening as it had on previous visits.

There wasn’t much of the day left by the time we got back to Bus.

Tea was ham steaks, potato and pineapple.

Spent the evening as usual: watching some TV, reading. John played his World of Warcraft computer game. I had an early night.

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2013 Travels July 13


A quiet day.

We really hadn’t needed this fourth day here. Couldn’t spend any time with our friends, as they had a local function to go to. There were no bowls today available to casual visitors like John.

I broached the possibility of the Heritage Walk, but John didn’t feel up to it.

So I did the  other available option – the washing.

Interesting phenomenon: it cost $5 to use the front loading washing machine, but only $3 for the conventional top loader. I couldn’t work out the rationale for that. Maybe the front loader took more in a load? Maybe it washed better? I did know my rationale for using the front loader – it was the only available machine at the time.

We drove down the street to get the Saturday papers. John bought a multi-outlet plug for the bus cigarette lighter, so he could run multiple items at once from it: the GPS, my ipod, and he was talking of getting a dash mounted camera. Going to be gadgets on wheels.

Sign at entry to town, utilizing old mine workings

I spent much of the rest of the day reading the papers and exercising Couey up the back and dodging the friendly goat.

The nights have been warmer here, the days too, but I was still in winter clothes.

I made home-made meat patties for tea, with fries and salad.

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2013 Travels July 12


I was determined to do some sightseeing today. We were not going to leave Cobar, this time, without seeing its main attractions.

Went to the Information and Heritage Centre, housed in a superb old two-storey stone house that was built in 1910 to be the administrative centre for the Great Cobar Mine – a copper and gold mine. Copper mining started here in 1870 and the mine became one of the largest world copper mines. Since then, several other mines had operated, following a line of lode that stretches from the NW to the SE of Cobar. In recent times, with fluctuating demand and prices, local mining has been somewhat up and down, with local employment following suit. The town’s fortunes are very mining dependent.

I bought an attractive polo short at the Centre. I would have liked to do the Heritage Walk here, which was supposed to take about an hour, but John didn’t feel up to it.

We drove out to Fort Bourke, a hill just out of town, that was the site of Cobar’s first gold mine.

Cobar open cut mine, with the town beyond

Today, there is a lookout at the top, with views across the surrounding flat plains, and down into a big open cut mine, where one can see entrances to underground workings too.

In the shadow is the entrance to underground workings

Cobar’s water supply comes from some 400kms away to the east and is piped/pumped up into storage tanks on top of Fort Bourke.

From the lookout, the line of lode was made obvious by the line of mine poppet heads we could see.

Whilst John and I walked up to the Lookout, which was all of about 50 metres away from the parked car, Couey must have had one of her anxiety attacks at seeing us walking away. When we got back, she had managed to wriggle right out of her car harness and was loose in the car. Houdini dog!

Flat plains surrounding Cobar

Back down the hill, at the entrance to town, there was an unusual “welcome” feature, made from part of the smelter remains of the early Great Cobar Copper Mine workings. It looks kind of “industrial” and could not be called pretty, but seemed an appropriate way to use this long existing dump area. But incongruous green boxes house the lights that illuminate the Cobar lettering at night.

I wanted to look at the Old Reservoir area, a free camping spot that I’d read some good things about. Now that we had the self-contained Bus, I was hoping to convince John to do more of this informal, often “bush” camping and lessen our use of caravan parks. But suspected I would have my work cut out…. The Old Reservoir area was nothing spectacular, so we didn’t linger.

John had faded fast and had enough of sightseeing, so it was back to Bus.

Mid-afternoon, friend V and her sister came round to the park and we had a pleasant get together for a couple of hours. She and husband F were hoping to leave for parts north in another week or so, aiming to get to Cooktown, So were we. They would keep in touch, so we might meet up again, further along.

V excelled herself and bought me four casks of port! That would keep us supplied for a good time to come.

There was no fish and chip shop in Cobar, so we got take away Chinese from the Bowls Club. V had said the RSL’s Chinese place was better, but she wasn’t sure if they did take away. The food cost us $40 and was really disappointing. John’s sweet and sour fish was like leather. I couldn’t find any traces of prawns in the oily pieces of sesame seeded bread that passed as prawn toasts. There was a lesson there for us, about take away meals in small country towns!


2013 Travels July 11


We had to make sure to get up and going in time for John to be at his bowls by 9.30am.

I dropped him off there and kept the car, intending to do a bit of sightseeing and maybe take dog for a long walk.

Unfortunately, it was raining lightly. John hoped the bowls people would wait and see if the rain lessened, then start the bowls later. If not, he would phone me to go back for him.

So, I couldn’t really go out and about and get involved in doing something, being uncertain whether I’d have to go at short notice to collect him. The rain was a disincentive, too.

In the end, the bowls was played and he was happy because he’d won and collected $10. The players were also fed Chinese type snacks after the game, so that was his lunch. The phone call to pick him up came at 1pm.

John was very tired, after the bowls. He had a nap.

We did little for the rest of the afternoon, except give Couey a ball chasing session up the back. I read and spent time on the computer, while John slept.

Cobar site

Tea was an impulse buy of mine, yesterday – pre-made rissoles from the supermarket. There were four different flavours of rissoles in the pack. They were not as fatty as I had feared they might be, being sausage mince, but were not all that nice. That was not an experiment that would be done again!

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2013 Travels July 10


Got up at 8am, after another chilly night. The pleasant days more than compensated for the night time cold – except maybe during that late-night trip to the loo!

Pack up was unhurried and then we took Couey for a last “freedom” walk, part-way around the lagoon. Suspected it might be a while before she got lots of free-ranging off-lead exercise again.

The drive to Cobar was enjoyable.

This was not a section of road that we had travelled before; it’s good to go somewhere new. There would be a new bit of black line on the map of our travels, that hangs on a wall at home.

There were a few mildly bouncy sections.

I noted there was a roadhouse at Emmerdale – just a roadhouse – for future reference. Lonely spot.

The road followed low ridges for a while, so there were interesting outlooks across the flat plains, and some variety.

Between Wilcannia and Cobar

There were also lots and lots of goats, which are at significantly feral levels in these parts. Some of them had such beautifully multi-coloured coats. I commented to John that, although we’d seen road kill kangaroos and the occasional sheep, we’d never seen a dead goat. Discussed whether they had greater road sense than other animals.

There were several stops for John’s needs, then we stopped for coffee and to give dog a walk, at Meadow Glen Rest Area, This would be an alright place to free camp overnight – a number of spots tucked in amongst the native pines, with toilets and some tables. But we were aiming for Cobar and greater creature comforts.

Booked into the Cobar Caravan Park, for two nights, at $33.50 a night for a powered site. The site was drive through style, which made things easy. The wide grassed separation sections between the sites made for good dog resting places. Very pleasant.

Although we’d passed through Cobar several times, had never stayed there, or explored it. So I wanted to do that, plus our Griffith friends often visit family here, so I thought we might catch up with them. I texted V, saying we were here and asking where they might be. The answer came back – still in Griffith, but she was coming up on Friday to spend the weekend with her sister. So – we would catch up then, staying an extra couple of nights to do so. Great – we hadn’t met up in person since 2005.

After setting up, drove into town, firstly to the bowls club. John was determined that the extra time here would be put to his definition of good use! He booked himself in for a game tomorrow morning.

Then to the supermarket and a much-needed stock up of fresh foods. Potatoes again!

John was amazed that I agreed to his suggestion that we buy a cooked chicken from the deli section, for tea. Normally, I do not eat chook that I haven’t cooked myself, but this was obviously freshly cooked and looked really nice. I bought a tub of coleslaw to go with it. Cook’s night off…..

I wanted to get a couple of casks of port to take on into Qld, being unsure that we would be able to buy same where we were intending to go. I had not really kept up with the alcohol restrictions imposed in the last few years, but had an idea they had really tightened up, especially for things like fortified wines. However, the shop did not have any. They had run down their stocks for stocktaking and would not be getting supplies until next week. Of course, as soon as port was unavailable, I could envisage a prolonged drought of our nightcap…..So I texted V, asking if she could bring some up from Griffith, where she could source casks from the winery there. She replied she would. Nightcaps would be assured for some time – I could relax!

The caravan park was large, and busy, Cobar being at a cross roads of both east-west and north-south routes. There was a big grassed area right up the back, behind the unpowered camp sites, where we were able to throw a ball for dog and give her some running exercise.

Unfortunately, there was also a stray young goat wandering about the park, that seemed to think it was a dog, or would like a canine new best friend to follow around. Couey didn’t agree, so we had to take evasive action whenever goat appeared in the distance. Fortunately, it didn’t seem to wander down the front of the park, where our site was.

I thoroughly enjoyed our chicken dinner.

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2003 Travels September 28


Yet again, hot driving. The central drive shaft of the Defender seems to generate heat, and because there is not a great deal of leg room, it is a hot vehicle in which to travel. When it was really hot outside, the Truck battled to tow the van and run the air con, so we tended to rely on just having the windows down to generate a bit of passing breeze.

Refuelled at Cunnamulla -91cpl. Once in NSW, fuel would become more expensive, without the Qld State Government subsidy on diesel.

When we reached Bourke, John was wanting to continue on, so the stage became a really long one.

Went into the Cobar Caravan Park – $18.

We were pleasantly surprised at how attractive the caravan park was, and noted it for future travels.

After the long day, all we did was set up a minimal camp, leaving the rig hitched up. Tea, a bit of TV, and to bed.

resize of 09-28-2003 to cobar