Another day, another free camping area, just us and about 50 other vans.
Nevertheless we manage to look like we are on our own here.
We’ve been here before, oddly. We dropped in and went to the cafe on our way home from the National Folk Festival in 2014.
The garden area outside the Sir George.
After settling in and doing our chores of emptying the cassette and filling up the water tank we sat outside and relaxed. Later we went for a walk around the local area and I bought some sour dough bread from the cafe part of the Sir George.
We have our dinner, listen to podcasts, and have showers and go to bed when we are tired.
Oura Beach Camping Area to Gundagai 11th April, 2019
My dear readers, my apolgies for not posting yesterday. I felt too relaxed! The featured photo shows the view behind our van.
We stayed at Oura until after morning tea, which means we left at about 12.00. During the morning we went for walks and enjoyed a small drama in the trees with a bird crying to another bird to be fed, and the other bird (Sulphur crested cockatoos) giving in occasionally in exasperation. When the feeding bird finally flew off we noted that the crying bird was able to feed itself. We can’t understand why the feeding bird was so patient for so long.
Shaky, unedited video. My apologies.
Our drive to Gundagai was on a back road through rolling hills and pastures, very scenic. We are staying at a free camping site near a small creek. We have flushing toilets about 500 metres away and not too much shade. We have a friendly neighbour with one of the Nikon very long lens cameras and he is able to get marvellous bird photos from a long distance away. He needed Stephen to get his book out and identify them for him.
We put out our awning for the first time on this trip and discovered that one of the runners is out of it’s groove on one side. Very annoying as we had this fixed. However, we were still able to use it and Stephen anchored it down for safety. It helped yesterday afternoon when the sun was fierce and we wanted it for our solar, but shade on the van was very nice.
The evening was mild. Stephen went for a walk to the Visitor Centre and bought we a local fridge magnet, as commisioned. We sat outside having cups of tea and admiring the view. Then we went for another short walk up the hill and around the streets. Stephen had wanted to go to the museum yesterday, but it was already shut.
This morning we are taking it easy, he is at the museum and I am taking the opportunity to blog at a very nice and extremely busy cafe. Our first choice was the art deco cafe next door with lovely booths, but it was cash only. Not only do I not have any cash, I haven’t brought a card with me to get cash from a machine. So, the Coffee Pedelar it is, and when I asked permission to plug in my laptop I was given a very gracious yes.
We stayed at a caravan park when we came here four years ago, which we remembered as being unique in having covered ensuite sites. We were delighted to see them still in operation on our way through to our campsite yesterday. They are well built, like a drive through motel. not just temporary structures. I probably have a photo somewhere.
Wagga Wagga to Oura Beach Reserve 10th April, 2019
We had a morning of sight seeing in WW. We went for a short walk in the wildlife reserve where we were camping, then drove to the Visitor Centre car park and walked around the block viewing churches. There was a Presbyterian, an Anglican, a Catholic and a Uniting Church. I bumped into a local man, a teacher at the Catholic School, and asked him why they were grouped together. He said it was an old part of town near the river, and this was a section of high ground above flood levels. Makes sense.
The Anglican Church and the Catholic Cathedral were both very fine buildings. We were fortunate that when we went into the Anglican church someone was practising on the organ, lovely peaceful music that suited the meditative aspect of the church. The Catholic church is a beautiful sandstone building.
After our walk and meditation in two of the churches we went to the local Botanic Gardens. That involved driving to the other side of WW, missing our entry, going up and over a steep hill and around the streets to try again.
I was more interested in morning tea than the gardens, the cafe was closed, but I had filled the new thermos I bought at Kmart yesterday and the water was hot enough to make our tea. We had some anzac biscuits and it was quite a lovely morning tea. Stephen looked around as much as he could – some things were closed.
At our free campsite in WW we noticed that the toilet rolls were padlocked, a sensible move, perhaps, given all the campers and homeless people using the camp. What surprised me was that the toilet rolls at the Botanic Gardens were also padlocked. What! Is there an illicit trade in toilet rolls in WW?
We decided to head out of town for our lunch and we looked up a place on Wikicamps that was available to camping. The comments section said it was lovely. It is also just 14 kms out of town, ideal. By the time we had finished our picnic lunch we had made up our minds to stay the night. There are many vans around, but the area is large enough that we are not particularly close to anyone else. A couple of people are running generators, but compared with the noise of the ouras (parrots) the constant burring noise is not annoying.
There is a sandy beach, possibly man made though we are at the bend in the river and the areas not covered by water are also sandy. There are picnic tables and fire pits as well. I could not find any mention of camping time limits. There is just one toilet, but it is a flushing toilet and clean. Most of the vans are self contained and where they are not, people have put up little toilet tents.
We have switched over to our winter doona, which is both lighter and warmer than our other doona. The winter PJs are also being taken out of storage. It was cold overnight in WW and we expect it will be pretty cold here as well.
The featured image at the top of this post shows Stephen relaxing on a bench as the sun is setting. We have a view of the river from our dining room window and the other windows look out onto green grass and huge trees.
A short day of travel today, just over 100 kms. We had a relaxed morning and our only chore was to refill the water tank and our bottles before leaving.
The countryside has changed again, being a bit like our southwest. Much less dry, although when Stephen spoke to the wife of a local farmer at the museum today she said rain is really needed here.
The big event of the day was going to the laundromat. Before we left I googled for a laundromat in WW, and found one called Splash, with wonderful washing machines. We spent about an hour there after getting to town washing two loads and then drying both loads in one dryer. It was expensive, about twice what it costs at a caravan park, but the large machines were very efficient and dispense their own detergent.
On the website it said they had a special pet bedding washing machine and dryer and I joked on Facebook that we would be able to wash our teddy’s bedding.
Stephen bought coffees at the nearby shopping mall and suggested we have lunch at the food hall when we were finished. So, we did.
We then went to the Visitor Centre where I bought a WW fridge magnet and Stephen found out about the Museum of the Riverina nearby. We spent about an hour there.
The museum was fo using on women of the Riverina past and present, the people whose names were rarely mentioned as being important in colonial history.
This is the free camping area which is across the river, but in the same area as the Visitor Centre. We drove past a block or two with about four beautiful churches, something to explore tomorrow morning.
We were amazed at the number of vans parked here. The only facilities are toilets. But, it is very central to the town, yet has wildlife.
The kangaroos are very close to our van. They didn’t mind when I got out of the van to take photos, I guess they are used to people being around. I didn’t have a long enough lens to get good photos, but can’t resist posting these.
We both had tummy disturbances in the night. Stephen’s was quite severe with really bad nausea. He improvised a double bag system just in case. In the morning we slept in for a while, then after our cups of tea went for a short walk to the canal. We have a river, a canal, a wetlands and a lake nearby.
After a leisurely breakfast and ablutions we went to the dump point at the Showgrounds, then to the town centre where we found a Coles. There were three cafes nearby, all very busy with queues for ordering. We chose on which had soup and roll special for our lunch.
We went to the nearby Visitor Information Centre where Stephen spent a long time reading in the small museum and I bought a fridge magnet. There was a training school for pilots during the time of the British Empire and the museum has a Tiger Moth, so it is actually very interesting. On the fridge magnet thing, I recently realised that our fridge has a metal door, very good for attaching magnets. I will take a photo when I have more of a collection.
Stephen at the Visitors Centre.
The Wetlands. There is a short walk around this little wetlands/lake, just right for an evening walk.
Daylight saving ended today in our part of the world. We had our alarm set for 6.30 a.m. and for the first time in ages it was light outside when we woke up. We made a good start, adjusting to the new time, and got away by 9.00 a.m. After getting fuel and water, we attempted to go to one or two of the places we had seen in the video at the Discovery Centre. One was closed and the other didn’t look all that inviting, so we headed down the road.
We didn’t initially plan on a 300 km driving day, but a combination of getting away quickly in the morning and wanting to make progress out of the very dry country we are travelling through helped to spur us on. Our stay in Balranald overnight was disturbed by a party at the recreation centre nearby, plus a some rowdy folk at 2.30 in the morning playing very loud music for about half an hour. Despite that, we felt well rested.
We are only about one day of driving away from Canberra now, which means we do have a few days up our sleeve to explore the surrounding areas if we wish. Once we arrive at the Festival site we can catch buses to travel around Canberra if we have a few days before the Festival begins on Good Friday. The gates don’t open until Monday 15th, so we have at least seven days.
Stephen says there are some places to explore in this area. We haven’t yet decided what to do tomorrow.
We came this way four years ago with our caravan. At that stage I wasn’t blogging very often and it’s frustrating that we can’t check back on that journey. We have our patchy memories and photos, but having a connecting narrative would be very interesting for us.
We haven’t travelled very far today, about 160 kms. We had a very hot night last night until early morning when the doona was needed. We woke to a much nicer day, with sunshine and clouds and a cool, fresh breeze. Driving was a pleasure.
We chose this town to stay in because of the facilities offered to travellers. We are in one of two free camping areas, basically a car park. This is the nicer one, though the flushing toilets are old. The other camping space is enclosed with buildings, whereas we have playing fields and tall trees. They have nicer toilets and hot showers, plus a cafe.
We arrived relatively early, at about 2.00 p.m., and after lunch and a rest we went to the Visitor Centre, which included a delightful small Discovery Centre, with lots of information about this area. We are close to the dry lake, Lake Mungo, where Mungo Man and Mungo Woman were found, and also to another nearby lake with birdlife and wetlands. We will be following the Murrumbidgee as we head east and after Hay there are better free camping options near towns on the river.
We are now just over 800 kms from Canberra, making good time despite driving short distances. Of course, we needed more time for this trip, 2.5 months is cutting it fine as we want to be back in time for the Denmark Festival of Voice at the beginning of June.
We haven’t booked anything in Sydney at this stage as we hope that we will have a clearer picture of Mum’s health by the end of our stay in Canberra. We can cut things short and head home if necessary.
The Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers are green and opaque. We are wondering if the Murrumbidgee will have clearer water by the time we are closer to the mountains. There appear to be an abundance of fish, which attract a lot of birds, including migratory flocks. This suggests the water is healthy. The featured image is a sort of abstract of the river with reflections.
After a wonderful camping experience came a very difficult day. On the drive we had a warm and gusty side wind, combined with dust storms that got worse as we got closer to Mildura. Although it wasn’t a really long drive we felt battered by the time we arrived.
We had our lunch parked in the shade under a bridge and the wind coming off the river helped to make it more comfortable than it would otherwise have been.
We needed some groceries and found our way to a supermarket thanks to Google Maps. We decided to stay at a caravan park for night as we felt we needed the comfort. That’s when the next thing happened, a tap in the bathroom was on when Stephen attached the hose and switched on the water. We only realised what had happened when water started coming out from under the slide out.
We mopped up and washed all the towels we had used on the floor.
It’s still over 30 at the moment, cooler weather is still a couple of days away. We are on track to reach Canberra by Sunday 14th. Hopefully.
We left the gas on this morning and drove quite a distance before realising. That is the third thing.
Burra to Plushs Bend near Renmark Thursday4th March, 2019
In the morning we parked the van in a parking area next to the caravan park and went to the local IGA for some small items and fresh fruit. We enjoyed walking in the attractive small town we remembered from four years ago.
After Burra we continued our drive through dry countryside.
It was warm in the van, so we set ourselves up outside and ended up having our dinner outside and staying to watch the stars come out. We had a little citronella candle between us, but it probably wouldn’t have worked against lots of mozzies, we can only assume there were none.
We sat outside to watch the sun come up this morning (dawn is quite late here) and only came in once the sun became too bright to be comfortable.
There is a range of birdlife here.
Our neighbours on the other side ran a generator for a couple of hours in the late afternoon. There are quite a few vans around the place, but no one got nasty and told them off, we all just accepted it. After sunset it was switched off and peace returned.
We’ve been fortunate in the weather here, warm enough to sit outside, no wind, and sunny. This is why we love road trips, enjoying scenery as we drive, sometimes having beautiful campsites, and a different experience every day. And sometimes friendly fellow travellers.
I’m inside writing this blog with a coffee made from hand ground beans, with bird calls and the occasional pelican swimming by. We have the river view on one side and attractive trees on the other.