This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2013 Travels July 9

TUESDAY 9 JULY     WILCANNIA

Upon waking, we decided to have another lazy day here, since it was such a pleasant place.

Went up to the office to pay for another night, then showed manager lady the forum location and Badger’s site.

I read for a while, then tried to download some more e-books to my reader. Couldn’t quite remember how I did that, the first time, at home. Did not manage it well, this time. I did get some transferred to the reader, but not all that I tried for.

It was too nice a day to spend for long in Bus, playing with technology.

Warrawong on Darling. Camp kitchen just visible behind car.

We walked Couey around the lagoon. She’d had such a great time here. She had some good wallows in the shallows, then actually ventured into deeper water, after thrown sticks. She almost – but not quite – got to swimming depth. This was followed by much rolling in the dust – and, much later, by a big brushing session, before she was allowed in Bus again.

I inspected the Terios front bumper closely. It was more stone pocked than I’d realized, on Sunday. I thought there were a couple of small marks on the windscreen too. It really would have been much better to drive the two vehicles separately.

I showered and washed my hair. The bathrooms here are so great – I doubted we’d be using any others as good for some time.

In the late afternoon, John lit the fire in the communal pit and we sat round it talking with other campers. One couple came from Clunes and were neighbours to an artist who was a good friend of my brother. The old small world thing again…..

Options for tonight’s tea were a bit limited by lack of fresh produce, but we enjoyed macaroni cheese with tuna. Yummy.

Daughter texted to say she’d forwarded mail today, to Charleville.

Watched the ABC’s Kitchen Cabinet again. Not as good as last week’s episode, because the two politicians featured were not really very inspiring or interesting ones.


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2013 Travels July 8

MONDAY 8 JULY     WILCANNIA

Woke up to blue skies – and frost on the car!

Decided to stay another day, because it was so peaceful and relaxing here.

I took the opportunity to do a load of washing in the brand new laundry.

John filled our water tank, trusting that the treatment of the Wilcannia town water was trustworthy! It took ages to fill. NOW he believed me that we were really low on water – previously he’d been sceptical, of both me and the gauge. We did not have such things in the van and he seemed slow to trust the levels that they showed for fresh and grey water tanks.

Drove back into Wilcannia and cruised around, looking at the beautiful old stone buildings. In the late 1800’s, Wilcannia was the third largest inland port in Australia. Unfortunately, too many of the buildings were damaged or decaying. Two of the best remaining ones were the Police Headquarters (which originally had another purpose), and the Courthouse. I guessed that both were well-used these days! There were people milling about in front of the latter, and more people out and about in town, in general, being a week day.

I went to the supermarket. Their loose potatoes were a brilliant shade of green. I wasn’t prepared to buy a packaged bag of same, where there was no way of seeing in to check the colour of the contents. So we were still spud-less. I felt quite angry that the shop manager obviously thought it was alright to try to sell produce like that – an insult to the locals.

I did buy a bottle of pasta sauce, having to hunt a bit to find a variety that wasn’t past its use-by date. Disgraceful.

Posted cards I’d written at Copi Hollow, to assorted family and friends.

After lunch back at camp, walked Couey – and Bidgee – round the lagoon circuit. Bidgee actually managed to tempt Couey into the shallows of the lagoon, and they had a great frisk and wallow. Bidgee startled a kangaroo and then chased it off into the scrub; we didn’t see her again, but she was back home by the time we finished our walk. Couey was quite mystified by the kangaroo and not inclined at all to join the chase – good!

This morning, we were the only campers left in the place, but in the afternoon four more lots came in.

I went online and put a review of this place on the Badgers site, where travellers review parks, and also made a comment on a travellers forum I frequented. Told the lady manager I’d done this. She hadn’t heard of either – I got the impression she was feeling her way a bit with technology – and wanted me to show her those two sites, which I will do tomorrow.

The manager lit the campfire and we joined a really enjoyable happy hour gathering.

Pasta with sauce from jar for tea.


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2013 Travels July 7

SUNDAY 7 JULY     COPI HOLLOW TO WILCANNIA     155kms

We took our time packing up and hitching up, leaving the park at 10.30am.

John really wanted to go direct to Wilcannia, not back through Broken Hill.

People at the Menindee Visitor Centre had told us that the road up the west side was marginally better at the moment, than the east. I suggested that I drive Terios separately, rather than tow it on the unsealed road, but John vetoed that idea.

West bank route from Menindee to Wilcannia

The west bank road was rough in places, where it had been driven on when wet. As a passenger, it felt like the Coaster “caught” in some of the wheel ruts. I worried about the following Terios, with its much narrower wheel base. An ok path for the Coaster was not necessarily so for the car.

It took us a bit over two hours to do the unsealed 138kms to Wilcannia, but John did need to make about five comfort stops along the way!

The country we traversed was flat and scrubby and not very appealing. Not the scenic route!

Yet another roadside stop!

In the quiet, run-down looking Wilcannia, we refuelled at the Liberty servo. $1.73cpl. This time, we’d managed 6kms per litre. Later, found out that the other servo, down a back street, off the highway, was considerably cheaper.

Parked by Bourke Park, in the town, and gave Couey a ball chase for a while,

Wilcannia has some lovely old buildings, dating from its era as an important Darling River port town, but it was sad to see the deterioration and neglect of some of this heritage – and the prevalence of bars on windows of those businesses that were not closed and boarded up. A very sad town.

The prevailing views we’d heard from other travellers were that camping in what passed for the caravan park in town, by the river, was not always secure feeling. We had no intention of doing so. On a Cartoscope free map that I’d picked up in Menindee, I’d seen an advertisement for a caravan park 3kms east of town – Warrawong on the Darling – and had Googled it. Looked both new and fine. We drove out there, thinking we would check this out, stay if it looked alright, otherwise drive on east and find somewhere to stop along the way.

I had some moments of doubt about this place, as we turned off the highway onto the approach road, to be confronted by a paddock full of old cars and scrap metal. But that was the neighbour’s place; the caravan park was well away from that.

Liked what we saw and booked in for a night, at $35 for a powered site. We could choose our site – most were unoccupied – and we picked a large grassy site on the bank overlooking a billabong of the Darling River.  This was really picturesque and lovely, ringed by trees and bush and with a mix of dead and live trees in the water. Lots of bird life.

Camp by the billabong at Warrawong

The place had only been open since Easter, so was still being developed. The new amenities were very spacious and clean, still with some finishing off work to be done. Each large shower cubicle also had its own handbasin.

There was a row of roomy, powered sites along the billabong bank, and the makings of more back from the bank. Already, there was a camp kitchen established, and a campfire area for happy hours.

There was town water – that solved our water shortage issue!

Set up didn’t take long, then we relaxed with our lunch, outside, taking in the view.

The billabong

Took Couey for a walk. The temporary caretaker who’d checked us in told us there was a track that went to the Darling River and on in a circuit right around the billabong. Once we were away from the formal camp area, Couey could range off the lead. The heeler dog that belonged to the managers saw us walking off and joined us – Bidgee. The two dogs romped a bit together, on the walk. I wouldn’t say they were the greatest of friends, but they tolerated each other. Bidgee was in and out of the billabong, frolicking in the water, but couldn’t tempt Couey to join her.

Looking back to the camp area from the track to the river

We walked across and looked at the Darling River. Its level was noticeably lower than that of the billabong, so we thought there must be some means of closing the latter off.

Zoom image of the camp area, billabong and Darling River

It was a good length walk – maybe 3kms in all – and very enjoyable.

Terios seemed OK after the tow, although small gravel being thrown up had roughened the plastic coating of the front bumper. There were also some small stone chips in the paint of the hitch. We now realized there were no mud flaps on the back wheels of Bus, though the overhang was such that I wouldn’t have thought thrown-up stones would be an issue. We would have to have some sort of protection for Terios if we were going to be travelling unsealed roads, in the future.

Late in the afternoon, the managers got back from a week off. Bidgee stopped hanging round our camp.

By evening, there were several other lots of campers in place.

I texted my offspring, and M, of our whereabouts. Asked my daughter to bundle up and forward our mail – which I’d had readdressed to her place – to Charleville. John texted his daughter of our new whereabouts. He was still hoping for contact from her.

Tea was sausages and eggs.

The night was cold, but we were snug.