This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2006 Travels December 13

WEDNESDAY 13 DECEMBER   BENDIGO TO HOME   225kms

Another early morning visit from the grandson – it was a real game for him to come out and knock on the van door and call out to us. Another cuddle in bed. He was a wonderfully affectionate little kid.

I had been really dreading the task of hitching the van and Truck together, on the sloping driveway. John would be backing the truck downhill, in tiny increments – the idea was to get the poly plastic block on the van part of the hitch, exactly into the metal receiving arms on Truck. But not just that – to get the retaining bolt in place, the hole on the block had to line up precisely with the holes on the metal arms – and when they did, I would quickly shove the bolt in and down.  I had to direct John, not just in distance to back, but also about the precise central alignment – and at the same time, wind the height adjusting handle on the van to bring the block to the exact height where it could slide into the arms. When we were on flat ground, it was easier, because I could wiggle the van sideways a bit if needed. Here, with the van chocked at the back of the wheels, there was no wiggle room, literally, and John had to stop Truck at the precise moment – no rolling backwards!

We waited till the family had left, rather than put on a display for them! But it went better than I had dared hope. John did a pinpoint accurate job of inching Truck back down onto the Treg coupling, whilst I frantically adjusted the height of the van so the bits would fit. It was a great relief when I could push the locking pin down through its holes, and they actually aligned. Whew!

Refuelled on the way out of Bendigo – $1.21cpl.

It was the usual, standard run home, via Heathcote, Seymour and Yea.

We reached home before lunch time.

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It was great to see M again. She had our garden looking immaculate – much better than we do!

It was also great to see the old cat, battling on but thin and rather frail. Getting on for 17 years old now. He seemed happy to see us, too.

It was good to be home again. Now to unpack van, clean it thoroughly, and prepare for Xmas.

Virtually the first thing John did was to get on the phone to arrange for his African mahogany timber to be shipped south.

So, this year’s trip had turned out exceedingly different to what we had envisaged, back at the start of the year. We spent time in all mainland states and territories, except for the ACT. Sort of “around Australia”, but on a mostly inland circuit……..

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POSTSCRIPTS

On 14 December, the men at the South Point Fly Camp were able to move to occupy rooms at RV2, although there was still a considerable way to go to complete that camp.

On 15 December, we received an email from boss lady, asking us to go to RV2 in the new year – exact date to be determined. I replied that we would be available from about 3rd January.

On 20 December, a further email said that a new employee at HO would co-ordinate our travel arrangements, out of Melbourne, probably on January 4, if flights were available. She would liase with us. Head Office would be closed until January 2. They were hoping the project would be finished by the end of January.

So – more work! And a FIFO experience…..

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This was what it was all about – iron ore trains near RV2

In the last few weeks at RV1, I had been dreaming of green, cold, wet……..Be careful what you wish for………On Xmas Day, it snowed in our part of Melbourne! Real, genuine, cold and wet snow. Huey, you overdid it, a tad!

 

STATISTICS FOR 2006 TRIP:

*  Kms travelled:   18,468

*  Kms van towed:  12,991

*  Cost of diesel:  $3602.92

*  Average fuel consumption:  7.95kms per litre used

*  Dearest diesel:  $1.81cpl – Barkly Roadhouse NT

*  Cheapest diesel: $1.21cpl – Bendigo, Vic

*  Accommodation cost:  $2412.20

* Accommodation discounts gained:  $54.10

*  Dearest accommodation per night: Hidden Valley Caravan Park Darwin – $109 (cabin)

*  Dearest caravan site accommodation: Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park – $34.45

*  Cheapest accommodation per night: $16 – Hiway Inn Daly Waters

*  Number of different places stayed at: 30

*  Longest stay in one place:  Monsoon Cafe, Litchfield NT (employed)

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2003 Travels August 3

SUNDAY 3 AUGUST     MUSSELBROOK

We were actually getting away on a break!

Set off south down the Riversleigh road, to the grid that marked the Shire boundary. Then we took a track west. along the fence line. This soon took us into range country – very interesting.

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Truck heading into Mussellbrook country

We stopped to look – very carefully – at a great sinkhole in a section of limestone country, and at different plants and wild flowers. We saw a pair of bustards.

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Limestone rock outcrops – similar to those at Riversleigh

Crossed a patch of black clay country – no trees there, as these were cracking clays. The tracks on such ground are always rough and corrugated!

The very rough mud maps, drawn by J at the Ranger Base – and in which I did not have a great deal of faith – actually proved adequate to follow.

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We found the place where we had to turn north for Musselbrook. Ranger J’s description of a gate that points up into the air, because someone forgot to put in a strainer post, was accurate. It also proved impossible for me to close again on my own – I wondered how anyone did it. I had to get John out of Truck to help.

The tracks were not as bad as I’d feared, but it still took four hours to drive the 120kms from Adels. As the crow flies it was only about 40kms.

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A good part of the track

We found that Lawn Hill Creek, where we crossed it, was dry, so the springs and tributary stream springs that keep it flowing at a constant rate past Adels, must be downstream of where we crossed.

Ranger J had lent us his old topo map, based on 66 datum. This showed really rugged country, with lots of gorges and water holes. It also showed lots of tracks from the mining exploration days, which now bore little resemblance to present reality.

Already I wanted to explore this area more than we would have time for!

The Rangers had said that there was much out here that was “culturally sensitive”.

We had been told that the whole of this part of NW Qld was rich in minerals. The old timers mined silver, and tin. The current Century Mine was mostly lead and zinc. It seemed that, back when BHP was exploring the Musselbrook area thoroughly, they intended to turn it into a large iron ore mine. But, before work began, the extent of the Pilbara (WA) deposits became apparent, and these were much easier to develop, so planning for a Musselbrook mine was shelved. But the mining reserve still existed.

There was supposed to be gold and other minerals under the limestone capping that covered some of the region, but it was hard to find out how much.

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Country around the Mussellbrook camp

We were to camp at the old Musselbrook mining camp, which had become an outstation and research centre of the National Park – recently decommissioned as same by the new Head Ranger. We came to feel that this was a waste of some big resources that had gone into maintaining it, including putting in a solar power plant.

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Mussellbrook Camp down in the valley

Upon arrival, we found there was a man called KT staying at the camp. He was a Musselbrook expert who had been coming there for years, for collecting and surveying activities for the Royal Geographic Society and for the National Parks.

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Rugged terrain around the Mussellbrook Camp area (from Google sat view)

There were several buildings at the camp and a kind of central area with a campfire area and some seats.

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Our tent and camp set up at the Mussellbrook Camp

We set up our tent to the side of this central area. This was only the second time, in the two years that we’d had the tent, that we had set it up. There was much “discussion” – polite term – about which bit went where.

When tent was satisfactorily erected, we took a short drive out to look at the nearby Home Gorge. We walked along this for some distance – it was quite pretty. Then we heard a mob of feral pigs up ahead of us, and decided to retreat.

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Home Gorge water hole

After tea – cooked on the campfire – we sat round it, and K joined us. We learned a lot from him about the history of the place and the current politics affecting it, especially the recent Parks decision to phase down the place.

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Old cattle yards near the former homestead

I was horrified to find that, as soon as the direct sun went off our area, hordes of mosquitoes appeared! We were so used to not having these at Adels, that I hadn’t thought to pack repellent, fly spray or mosquito coils. K gave us some coils, and we covered up as much skin as possible, despite the warmth of the evening. This was one occasion when I was hoping that the campfire smoke might blow my way.

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Covered up well, despite the warmth of the early evening

Sitting round the fire and chatting with someone so knowledgeable, was really enjoyable. However, we’d had a long day and K would have one tomorrow, so it was early to bed.

Apart from the occasional call of a night bird, the silence was absolute.