Travels with the Winnie: Day 73

Bourke to Cobar

We woke to a red dawn, with rain by the time we were packing up to leave. This is only about the 5th or 6th time we have had rain in all our days of travelling. The night was fairly warm, 11 or 12 degrees.

Our only task was to refuel, which also happened in rain. As we drove down the highway towards Cobar, we had one or two rainy periods. All the rain was fairly light. I was pleased for the folk living in Bourke, our hostess told us that rain often skirts Bourke and lands elsewhere.

The landscape changed dramatically too. From being an overall grey green in Bourke, within about 30 kms the earth changed to red and the bush became a pleasant woodlands with some taller trees and bright green leaves. It wasn’t uniform, some of the bushes which looked a bit like pine leaves were grey-green. When we arrived in Cobar to a town with attractive town like buildings and normal trees, it was like being in a different world. Cobar doesn’t have a river which can be used for transport, as the river in Bourke was in the early days, but I know where I would prefer to live. Visiting Bourke was very interesting indeed, of course.

We had done our research and headed for our free camping spot on the edge of town. RVs are allowed to park along a road on the side of the lake. We had morning tea on the way here and were able to wait until our arrival at about 2.00 p.m. to have our lunch. After afternoon tea we took a walk around the lake. The featured image shows a little stream we had to cross as part of the walk.

pelicans, etc. (1 of 1)
the lake is popular with locals, including many different types of water birds
painted rock (1 of 1)
this rocks looks like it has been painted
vans hidden along the shore (1 of 1)
there are vans all along the edge here, but largely hidden by the willows
view from our front door (1 of 1)
view from our front door
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view from our walk
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another view
the walk (1 of 1)
most of the walk was very easy
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after sunset





Travels with the Winnie: Days 71 and 72

Staying in Bourke Saturday 29/7- Sunday 30/7/2017

Yesterday was, of course, Stephen’s birthday. We planned to go to the Exhibition Centre in the morning and a cruise in a paddle steamer on the Darling River in the afternoon. A fitting way of celebrating Stephen’s birthday. Our plan was to leave the Winnie at the caravan park and walk to the Exhibition Centre about 2 kms away, but we would then have needed a bus to get out to where we could catch the Jandra. When Stephen rang up, they said there was no bus, so we would need to drive ourselves, but that Sunday was a good day for the cruise as it was 2 hours long instead of 1.

Winnie at the Mitchell Caravan Park in Bourke (1 of 1)
Winnie at Mitchel Caravan Park 

We decided to stay an extra day here and do the Sunday cruise. We still walked to the Back O’Bourke Exhibition Centre, which is really a museum, but with an attractive layout. Going through the history of this area, we could better understand why such a dry area was considered to be such a find by Major Mitchell. It was thought that Bourke would become a big town. In the end, only some of the dreams were realised. We were able to read the stories of individuals who had come to the land in the early days to settle and make a living. Drought and floods came. People had to survive or give up.

arriving at the Back 'O Bourke centre (1 of 1)
Back O’Bourke

Yesterday evening we joined some of the other people in our park for stew, damper, and a singer/songwriter providing live entertainment. There were a variety of stews to choose from, cooked in pots on the large campfire. It was a very enjoyable way to end the day.

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around the camp fire

This morning we made another slow start to the day, then went and did some shopping. Stephen had rung up a newsagency to reserve the Saturday paper, and was able to pick it up as the shop was nearby. We went down to the town wharf, and were pleased to see a rather nice cafe and gift shop there. Although we didn’t stay for morning tea, it was good to see something like it just in the right location. As well, they have on display the Crossley Engine, one of the first to run on diesel. It is fired up at a certain time each day during the tourist season, just to prove that an engine from 1923 is still quite capable of working well.

the Crossley Engine (1 of 1)
the Crossley engine

We then drove to the wharf where we would catch the Jandra, a replica paddle boat. We had lunch and a rest. We were the first to arrive at around midday, but the place certainly filled up by 2.30 p.m. when we left. Our skipper gave a good commentary. There was lots of wonderful birdlife, including lots of pelicans. We could better understand why the banks were a bit messy – with floods happening quite regularly over the years it doesn’t make sense to have too much infrastructure near the river. The trees appear to survive the flooding quite well, perhaps party because the land is flat and even a full flood the water doesn’t move really fast, as it would in a mountainous region.

pelicans and other birds (1 of 1)
pelicans on the river
bird on branch (1 of 1)
my perch
exposed roots (1 of 1)
exposed roots due to floods
reflections (1 of 1)
original bridge with section that can be raised (1 of 1)
the orginal bridge brought out in kit form from Scotland
twins (1 of 1)
more exposed roots
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Roos on the bank

We’ve come home, attached hoses/electrical cord and put on a meal of stir fry steak and lots of vegetables in the pressure cooker.


Travels with the Winnie: Day 70

Walgett to Bourke 28/7/17

We woke to a partially cloudy morning, which resulted in quite a red sunrise.

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Walgett sunrise

We had a fairly ordinary day of travel to Bourke, stopping at Brewarrina for lunch at the Muddy Waters Cafe. What is interesting in Brewarrina is the First People’s Fishtrap on the Barwon River. We went to see it after lunch. I’ve used one of the photos taken there as the featured image for this post.

Brewarrina sineage (1 of 1)
Brewarrina fishtraps (1 of 1)
The beautiful rushes in this part of the river really make it very scenic
Brewarrina fishtraps3 (1 of 1)
the fish trap
Brewarrina fishtraps4 (1 of 1)
Pelican in the outback
Brewarrina fishtraps5 (1 of 1)
a wider view
Brewarrina park fishtrap (1 of 1)
parkland overlooking the river

We arrived at Bourke at about 4.00 p.m. and went straight to the caravan park and settled in for the night. We have quite a wide site, with a view to the central oval. 6 nights a week the hosts do a simple meal for about $7.00 and invite everyone to bring their own chairs, bowls, spoons and tables to enjoy a sort of meal and happy hour. We had our own meal for last night, but plan on joining in tonight.

Today we will be going to the Back O Bourke Exhibition Centre, followed by a cruise on the Darling River.

Travels with the Winnie: Day 69

Moree to Walgett

I had an excellent night’s sleep last night and was feeling relaxed and ready to go travelling again. The only attractive landscapeon our way was in a little section with red soil, the bush became very green. We are still going through the cotton growing region, with little white tufts along both sides of the road as the trucks take bales of cotton to the gins.

We saw this little cafe in a village so small it was the cafe, a house and a school. The cafe has very long opening hours (until 9.00 p.m.) to cater for trucks, but also provides a place for mothers to come after dropping their older kids off at school. There is also a school bus service for children coming from further away. It appears to cater for the children as well with little bags of lollies and unhealthy fried food.

The cafe is quite nicely decorated inside as well. Instant coffee and tea bags and SaraLee cake and short drop toilets of dubious cleanliness, but you can’t have everything.

We arrived in Walgett at about 3.00 p.m. Not much to set up when we free camp, just the mat and our chairs, plus the clothes airer for wet towells.

The Winnie in Walgett (1 of 1)
This free campsite is provided by the Walgett council. There are BBQs, flushing toilets, picnic tables and a tap labelled ‘Filtered Water’ which we think means it’s safe to drink. However, we are using it for washing dishes and ourselves only. We do have a water tank, but like to conserve it when we can, just in case…
another grey nomal village scene (1 of 1)
We were fortunate to get one of the four bays with bitumen. But, as the grey nomads gathered making up the usual ‘village’, many people chose dusty spots near the pond.
pond (1 of 1)
The pond with fountain.
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The fountain. Looks like a rusty old tub for the base.

Choir rehearsal for our friends is just starting, whilst for us it is 8.40 p.m.

Travels with the Winnie: Day 68

Stuck in Moree, for real this time

We were packing up this morning when I noticed some water on the floor beside the sink and stairs. At first I thought it came from drips from washing up, but as we investigated we realised that we had a problem with water coming from the piping under the sink. It was only happening when the water was switched on, either outside supply or the water pump. We emptied the cupboard, wiped up the water, and put the heater in front to dry things out. We thought we would need an RV repairer, but as we started phoning around we realised that what we really wanted was a plumber.

We went to one place and were sold a couple of bits to repair the connectors, and referred to the place Stephen had rung first, which was nearby. A plumber had come back to base, and probably wished he hadn’t. It took him about an hour to fix the problem after first working out what it was. He replaced the pipes going to the mixer tap. By then it was about 11.30 a.m. and we still had to get fuel and have our gas bottle filled. We were able to do both of those things and got a senior’s discount at Mitre 10 for the refill.

By then were were hungry, and there was a small diner nearby. The food was good and cheap, so we shared a steak sandwich and pecan slice. We then went and did some food shopping. At lunch we debated whether to head off or stay another night in Moree. With the shopping done we were ready to go, but feeling tired and it was nearly 3.00 p.m.

So, back to the showgrounds for another night. The repair cost $106, thank goodness not too much for all the fiddling the plumber had to do working in a confined space. If we had tried to book him we wouldn’t have been able to, but going on spec as we did he was a person who obviously finds it hard to say no. He said he is booked up for about eight months ahead.

We are feeling tired and have been resting this afternoon, sitting outside until it got cold, then making ourselves comfortable inside.

No photos were taken today, so the featured image is from yesterday, a lovely old building now a Harvey Norman Store.

Travels with the Winnie: Day 67

Stuck in Moree

We’ve had a very nice day, getting up late and fiddling around here for the morning. We did some washing. A large number of Army trucks and personel have arrived and are camped on the oval. Apparently this is one of the places they come to regularly. Stephen asked one of the men what they had been doing and was told they were part of the recent defence force games. On the whole they are pretty quiet. A large building has been set up as their mess, but they are using the same showers and toilets as us.

We went for a walk back into the town centre. It was possibly not quite as attractive in normal lighting as in the twilight last night. The Art Gallery didn’t have much on display. Lunch at a small Indian restaurant was a success however. We had wraps for $5.00 vegetarian for me and $6.00 chicken for Stephen, much cheaper than across the road at the cafe, and freshly made, hot and delicious. We also had mango lassi drinks for $3.00 each. We found it so filling we had to sit for a while afterwards.

We came back to the van for a rest, then went to the Aquatic Centre for the hot springs experience. We mostly spent time in the slightly cooler pool, the other one was a bit of a challenge after a little while, I felt like I was cooking. It was recommended to only stay in the hot one for 10 minutes, but some people spent at least half an hour. We had been told that people can feel very tired afterwards, which is partly why we went at about 4.30 p.m. We enjoyed watching the sunset whilst there. We are feeling a bit tired, but not overly so. We are hoping that our visit to the hot springs leads to getting a really good night’s sleep.

The showgrounds has become very filled up tonight with a lot more vans than last night. However, it is still quiet, and having a van close to us will hopefully block a bit of the light from a nearby lamp post. I expect having lots of light here is a safety measure, but a little bit less would be nicer.

Just a few photos from today.

colourful tree (1 of 1)
A  colourful tree that we have noticed around this area. Note the cloudless sky. Overnight was 2 degrees, but the day was very pleasant with about a 21 degree maximum.
Indian restaurant (1 of 1)
Stephen looking for something to read while we waited for our meal. We had a late breakfast, then morning tea at 12.00, so 2.30 was just right for lunch.
old cottage (1 of 1)
A shabby cottage near the showgrounds. I wonder if someone lives here.
the river (1 of 1)-2
The river in daylight.

We are well located here within a fairly short walk of the shops and the Aquatic Centre.

There has been fall out from the ABC 4 Corners program on water theft. We are still 1,000 kms from Broken Hill. It will be interesting to talk with people there and see how things are progressing. They had thought they would have to build a pipeline to supply water to the town, but if this report stimulates and enquiry that leads to more water flowing downstream the town may not have to go to the expense of a pipeline. We are following the story with interest as we are visiting some of the towns mentioned in the ABC report.

Travels with the Winnie: Day 66

Goondiwindi to Moree 24/7/17

I didn’t get around to the blog last night, so catching up this morning. On Monday night at Goondiwindi Stephen had a bad episode of gastric reflux. He was able to get a pain relief puffer (Penthrox) from paramedics. He had ECG at the hospital emergency department. There was a long wait to see a doctor, and as the pain had receded he decided to call it quits at about 11.30 p.m., so we went home to sleep. We took the Winnie to the hospital in case we were going to be there overnight.

We were able to slot into our spot at the park, turned off the alarm clock, and slept until about 8.30 a.m. We took it easy in the morning and then went into town to the bakery for some fresh bread before heading to Moree. Last night we were at the showgrounds in Moree, $22 per night with water and power. There are toilets with hot showers and a laundry. As good as a caravan park, with lots of space, and much cheaper. Plus there is no 10.00 a.m. deadline for getting out. Stephen was told we could stay until mid afternoon if we wanted to.

showgrounds Moree (1 of 1)
We set up camp with awning out and washing.

Mind you, we were told about meals at the Moree Services Club nearby, and after a walk into the town centre we went there for a meal. We signed on for temporary membership and, for once, had individual meals rather than sharing. Afterwards, we were invited to take the Courtensy Bus home. The driver showed us the Aquatic Centre which has public hot springs available very cheaply at the concession rate of $6.00, or normal for $8.00. Many of the caravan parks and hotels also have hot spring pools available.

I was all for staying another night to explore the town, which has attractive buildings, both older style and Art Deco, which we couldn’t see clearly in the dark. Going to the Aquatic Centre was also on my mind. This morning Stephen said he didn’t feel up to driving, so what did I want to do! I, of course, chose to stay another night to have a rest and get ready for the next two days of driving to Bourke.

Art Gallery Moree (1 of 1)
I will take another photo in daylight. This building now houses the Art Gallery.

We were watching the 4 Corners report on theft of water from the Murray Darling by cotton growers and other businesses. It makes a difference to hear about these things when we are in the area and on our way to Broken Hill, the town that almost ran out of water because of the theft. I hope the report sparks outrage and something is done about it. Many people do care about the environmental damage of so much water being taken out of the river illegally. I suspect that the cotton growing and other businesses will do very well indeed on the amount of water they are legally entitled to, it’s just that they get greedy and want more and more.

Travels with the Winnie: Day 65

Karara Recreation Grounds to Goondiwindi

This is a photo of the Winnie at our campsite this morning. It was a frosty night, and there were sparkles of ice on the outside of the van.

Karara Recreation Grounds (1 of 1)
Karara Recreation Grounds

sparkles of ice (1 of 1)
sparkles of ice
We took our time getting up this morning. We had breakfast before our showers which gave time for the sun to begin to warm things up outside.

We had two stops on the way, the first to get fuel and the second to have lunch in a rest area at a small town on the way. I was using Google Maps to navigate and it gave us a choice of two ways of getting to our destination. We took the Tourist Drive, not that wonderful, but it got us away from the main traffic. At one point we went over a river, then onto a very poorly graded gravel road. We realised we had taken a wrong turn, fortunately we were able to turn around and get back on track.

Our campsite tonight is free camping at a local park in Goondiwindi. It’s a council experiement to see if offering free camping will result in travellers spending money in the community. There are caravan parks in the town and there is also fairly cheap camping ($25.00 per night with power and water) at the show grounds. Vans here are supposed to be self contained and ranged around a U shape. However, there are some odd things like people in station wagons and someone with a roof tent. A caravan is also parked on the verge.

Goondiwindi (1 of 1)
Our spot before the place filled up

Goondiwindi Park (1 of 1)
the park
We went for a walk into the town before tea. It was just as well we had a pre cooked meal in the van as it was tempting to have something at one of the Asian restaurants in town.

Our van was still warm when we got back from our walk. We deliberately chose a spot in the sun for the solar power, and that helped in keeping warm. It should also be a benefit in the morning.

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Town Hall, Goondiwindi

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Palms in the main street
We have a good TV signal and excellent internet.


Travels with the Winnie: Day 64

Warick to Karara Recreation Grounds

We are paying $12.00 for tonight. We have access to flushing toilets and even showers (but rather gungy), plus power. No water to the van, but we could have had non-potable water – it just depends where you want to be. There is only one other couple camping here and it seemed courteous to be well away from them, except when we joined them for a chat at their fireside, of course. They invited us, and it was a lovely thing to do for a while.

We woke up to a frosty morning again in Warwick.

frosty morning (1 of 1).jpg
Across the fields

We got up reluctantly. At about 9.00 a.m. Graeme came over to say goodbye. We were feeling reluctant to go, but mindful that we need to get started on the journey home. After finishing our packing up we were ready to leave by 10.00 a.m.

We went into town and walked around looking at some of the exhibits (decorated trees, there were prizes for the best in several categories), then had morning tea whilst listening to a little jazz band outside the cafe. We told them we wanted to share a muffin and had the unusual experience of having two plates, two sets of knives and forks, and a warmed muffin and salad each. We couldn’t quite get over it, after all, it didn’t cost very much.

We then did our shopping and packed it away in the van. The advantage of going shopping with the Winnie is that the food can go straight into the fridge, then you can go off and do other things. In this case, we went to the Art Gallery where there was a jazz concert. The bands were good, and we also saw the prizes being awarded. We had three hours in our parking zone, so were able to enjoy a sausage sizzle before having to leave at 1.00 p.m.

Then we drove about 45 kms to this spot, arriving at about 2.00 p.m.  It was lovely to arrive and get settled so early in the day.

We have a phone signal, but the internet is very slow, so I won’t post any more photos from today.

We have booked our tickets for Nanga (Thursday morning I think), but I haven’t rung up to book the caravan park yet. Must get on to it, although they don’t usually fill up. At lot of people going to the festival stay at Nanga, and there are only about 200 people going all up. I was able to book for Marie, Glenn and Geoff at the same time.