This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2013 Travels July 5

FRIDAY 5 JULY     COPI HOLLOW

The nights in these parts had been chilly, but the days fine, with lots of blue skies.

The solar screens had made a big difference inside Bus on the cold nights. The fan heater did not have to run as much, to keep us cosy.

Today was not as windy.

After our usual slow morning start, we bundled dog into Terios and set off to do some exploring.

Followed the dirt road round from Copi Hollow to the much larger Lake Pamamaroo, then skirted round that.

Lake Pamameroo

There were, at intervals, rough tracks going off towards the lake edge, which we assumed led to bush camping spots by the water. We took one of those and came upon a caravan parked in a clearing, right beside the lake.

Standing room only

A man came out of the van, in a hurry, looked at us and demanded quite aggressively that we not let the dog out of the car. We hadn’t been about to, but I didn’t think anyone free camping had any right to behave as if he owned the clearing and we were trespassing. The message was quite clear, that he didn’t want company in “his” clearing. Just to annoy him, I took my time wandering around and taking photos, while he stood with hands on hips and glared. I hoped that, with the weekend coming, his patch was invaded by noisy campers with a heap of children!

We continued on, looking at another couple of the lakeside camp spots. There certainly were some attractive camp places, for people who were self contained and didn’t need any facilities.

So, around to the Main Weir, part of the system that diverts water from the Darling River for storage in the Menindee Lakes.

Main Weir

Had a wander around a fairly extensive free camping area near the Weir. There were several lots of campers set up; some looked like they’d been there for a while.

Picnic and camping area near Main Weir

The camping area did have toilets, unlike the lake side clearings that we’d visited earlier, but seemed rather bare and dusty.

Pamamaroo Creek near the weir

According to display signs, the ill-fated Burke and Wills Expedition, in its early stages, had set up a base camp here, for three months, over summer.

Obviously, this was before the Weir and irrigation system were set up, but presumably the original Pamamaroo Creek must have been a pleasant enough place.

Ate our packed lunch there. Gave dog a good run where there were no people to be upset by her.

After a couple of hours at the Weir area, drove towards Menindee, stopping to look at the Menindee Caravan Park. By the shore of Menindee Lake, we did not think it nearly as attractive as Copi Hollow.

In the dry, dusty, not very attractive Menindee township, I collected some material from the Information Centre. Had a discussion with a couple of people there about the conditions of the two routes from here to Wilcannia – one each side of the Darling River.

Darling River at Menindee

Bought some supplies at the supermarket, cruised around looking at the town.

Drove to look at the railway bridge over the Darling. Built in 1927, it was part of the railway connecting Sydney and Broken Hill, now the main east-west line. The bridge had a sort of hinged opening section in the centre, that could be lifted up by a type of crane arrangement, now dismantled. This allowed the passage of paddle steamers up the Darling to Wilcannia and beyond. That river traffic no longer exists, of course. For about fifty years, this bridge was also the road crossing of the river, trains and vehicles sharing it. Now, the road bridge is some distance downstream, at the other end of town.

Railway bridge across the Darling at Menindee, showing part of old lifting mechanism

Left the town and followed the road around the curve of Menindee Lake, some 20kms to the little settlement called Sunset Strip.

As the name suggests, this is a narrow section of houses by the lake. It was a mix of pretty basic, not very attractive holiday houses, through to some quite pleasant ones, possibly the homes of the permanent dwellers. When the Lake had water in it, I could see the attraction as a holiday place for people of the area, or even as a permanent home for retirees and the like.  But, when the Lake dried up – not so nice, just dry sand and dust.

Menindee Lake at Sunset Strip

Like at Copi Hollow, sunsets across the Lake could be spectacular – hence the name.

We parked and wandered about on the little “beach” and dog had a run and explore. The breeze was making little wavelets at the water’s edge that she was none too sure about. This was one very cautious dog.

Oops – they are chasing me…..

Back at camp, John got under Bus and reconnected the drain system.

We decanted a ten litre cask of water into our fresh water tank. The gauge indicated it was getting low-ish. Did not want to risk not having enough water and damaging the hot water service or pump. If it was up to me, I’d have used lake water boiled on stove to do the dishes, and left the hot water turned off, but John didn’t want to do it that way.

The caravan park was getting much busier as people arrived for the weekend – mostly into the permanent structures.

I made tea of frozen battered fish, with French fries.


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2013 Travels July 4

THURSDAY 4 JULY     COPI HOLLOW

It was so quiet out here. I slept really well and, despite the previous early night, didn’t wake up until 8am.

During the morning, the wind got up and it was quite gusty through the day.

We spent the morning relaxing, reading, computing.

Lawned lakefront reserve at Copi Hollow

After an early lunch, John tackled the grey water problem. He’d packed a small heat gun, in case of needing to work on the hot water service again, so he used this to soften, then remove without damaging it, a section of the drain hose under the bus. He then poked a piece of small diameter pipe up the opening – and liquid began pouring out! He had been smart enough not to be directly under the pipe he was working on……..

It drained for ages and was a bit smelly, but nowhere near as bad as I’d anticipated. There must have been over fifty litres in there.

The pipe was left open, and draining, to be repaired tomorrow.

It was all not as hard, nor as nasty, as John had feared. Now he knew what to do, this was something else that could  be fixed if it happened again.

He thought the problem might be related to the fact that there were a number of right-angled joins in the drain system, rather than one smooth curve. I would try to lessen fats and larger food particles from going down the sink hole. To that end, I made up three small, square flat strainers, from my wire mesh. One can be slapped over the sink outlet as soon as the plug is pulled out, so wash up water will filter through it. The actual plug hole was really small and I couldn’t find, back in the hardware store, a ready made strainer small enough to fit inside it, hence my home grown solution.

After that success, took Couey for a walk along the levee, again.

Welcome to Redfern???

On the way, we noticed a back section of the park dwellings that seemed a bit divided from the rest. I wasn’t sure if it was an exclusive little enclave, or what, but there was a sign in front of it saying “Welcome to Redfern”. Hmmm……A joke in poor taste?

The wind had dropped a bit by evening and there was another great sunset.

Tea was steak, mushrooms, potatoes, beans.


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2013 Travels July 3

WEDNESDAY 3 JULY     BROKEN HILL TO COPI HOLLOW     110kms

We got up earlier than usual, to pack up. That went smoothly, and we were out of the park by 9.30am.

Started off driving the two vehicles separately, because John was going to the local caravan repair place to see if they could fix the grey water drainage.

This business had not been open for the last two days (I wonder how the guy with the damaged wheel fared?). Today, they said they couldn’t do anything to help us until next Friday week! John booked a slot for then, in case, but we really did not want to still be hanging around these parts by then.

Fuelled up both vehicles. Diesel was $1.499 cpl.

Went to Home Hardware, where a very helpful young man got John some hose fittings and pipe lengths, suitable for the Bus drainage system, including a very small diameter piece that could be used to poke into hoses to try to unblock same. I bought a small piece of flyscreen mesh, so I could make a basic sink strainer, to try to reduce food particles heading for the grey water tank.

In the hardware shop car park, hitched up Terios to Bus. Great service at that shop – a very big contrast to the caravan place.

Bought a pull apart loaf for lunch, at the Woolworths centre.

At midday we left Broken Hill. It was a pleasant drive SE towards Menindee, through slightly hilly country initially.

We drove straight to the Copi Hollow Caravan Park, which was rather like entering a time warp. It resembled  what I remembered of coastal caravan parks  of about the 1960’s, with streets of old vans with attached solid annexe structures.

Lots of permanent structures at Copi Hollow; amenities block centre right.

But there was also a very nice, grassy, lakefront camping area. with power, if wanted, but only untreated lake water available. Knowing how much farming, cotton growing and hence chemical use occurred further upstream on the Darling, I wouldn’t be using this water supply for anything other than washing dishes.

We found a great spot, railed off on one side, so unlikely to have anyone else park close by. There were only three other rigs, spaced around the water front area. Our powered choice cost $25 per night. It was some distance from the amenities block, but the lakefront position more than made up for that inconvenience.

Prime waterfront camp at Copi Hollow….

There seemed to be few other people occupying the park, which belonged to the Broken Hill Speedboat Club. In summer, I don’t think it would be a great place for the casual tourist, because there would be much boat activity on the lake, but at this time of year it was very quiet.

The lake – Copi Hollow – was quite extensive, and full. Not always the case – in times of drought and with the way the man made water storages are managed, the lakes system can dry up. That would impact heavily on the way the Menindee Lakes are used as a playground for Broken Hill residents.

Some of the Menindee Lakes system. Copi Hollow the small lake, centre left. (Zoom)

After setting up, and a late lunch, we sat for a while enjoying the view across the water and the sound of little waves lapping the banks in front of us. Really serene and peaceful.

Took Couey for a walk along the channel that linked Copi Hollow to the main Menindee Lake. The banks were raised up, levee style, so there was a clear walk route in the scrubby area. Dog could free range and had a great time following all the new scents, though she never ventures very far from us. We walked about 3kms.

Back at camp, I took photos of the dusk and sunset across the lake – absolutely beautiful, and alone worth coming here for.

After our late lunch, tea was tomato soup, bread and cheese rolls, and yoghurt.

John discovered he could only get one channel on the TV, but it was the ABC, so could be worse.

Since there is only lake water available here, we would have to be careful with our water usage from the Bus tank.

I was ready for bed by 8.30pm! My internal time clock certainly changes when we travel. I think it relates to spending much more time in the open air, and in natural light.