Tag Archives: Birdsville

South Oz to Outback Queensland!!!

Well, what a trip! As with most travels on the road there are ups and downs…we did have a number of ‘downs’ pre-trip (not worth going into) but one thing that did cause concern was our batteries.

Day 2 – Peterborough Rest Area, SA – woke up to low voltage throughout van – and it was freezing!! Turned on diesel heater – no go, lights dim, loo wouldn’t flush!! Bugger! So it was a mad dash on a Saturday morning to nearest battery shop (Port Pirie) for 4 new batteries. B installed Sat arvo and then we were off again! Big thanks to Neville Coe of Coe’s Autoelectrical!

Then on to the Flinders Ranges…we thought! Held up for 4 hours just outside of Port Augusta due to Bike Race. Eventually we made it to our favourite stop: Willow Springs Station.  We did a 3 month work stint here many years ago and when we return we are always made to feel like family.

Sunset views @ Willows Springs Station

Check out their website (above) to see what’s on offer: from bush camp sites to 4×4 tracks to hiking trails to doing absolutely nothing! I took Jeda’s photo @ 8wks at the woolshed, so tried to replicate the photo again 4 1/2 yrs later, but not with much success!

Jeda @ 8weeks and recently 4 1/2 years

After a few days there it was onwards to Blinman, Parachilna, Farina, Lyndhurst (for fuel) & Marree. Had read a bit about the restoration of Farina and the underground bakery so stopped over a couple of nights to check out the ruins and of course the bakery! Absolutely beautiful fresh baked bread daily (only a few months a year so check website) – highly recommended!!!

Farina’s freshly baked bread

Stopped a night in carpark of Marree Hotel. Shouted ourselves dinner in the pub. By around 5pm the carpark was full of travellers! And by 8am the next day most had gone! From here we headed up the Birdsville Track. Smoko at Clayton Station – they have a lovely spa tub that is worth a stopover, stopped a night at Cooper Creek (no creek!), onwards past Mungeranie as we had stopped here before. Only took us 2 days and we arrived in Birdsville late afternoon.

We did have a mishap on the track though. Scored a broken rear window from a Road Train. It happens (1st time for us). B taped it up best he could till we could get it repaired.  Only a few days before the road had been closed due to rain. Graders were working frantically making sure traffic could get through due to Big Red Bash starting soon.

Smashed rear window

We parked up on the Birdsville Common with thousands of others! Did some long needed washing and minor repairs. Then it was time to sign in to the Big Red Bash Volunteers Hall in town. B signed in and I volunteered at the time as they had a number of people unable to attend or fulfill their roles. I was allotted Road Marshall for one shift and two shifts on Toilet Duties (Loo Angels).

Then too soon it was time to head out to the Big Red Bash site for B’s first setup shift. I will post a separate blog about the bash when I get time to edit my thousands of photos!! Let’s just say it was BRILLIANT!!! The concerts were great, the performers were terrific, but the event as a whole was a wonderful experience. We met some lovely volunteers and had a great time, made even better because we were able to take Jeda. I even hung out in the ‘mosh pit’ for a few performances (took me back to 25 long years ago!!)

After the Bash, we went back to Birdsville common for a day or so then we headed up to Boulia for the Camel Races. Free camping included with your ticket. By the time we arrived there were hundreds of campers there. We spent 6 days and loved it. They had entertainers for 2 nights but it was so cold we bailed early for a warm caravan!

Relaxing before the race meet begins

From Boulia we headed to Middleton, Winton (Hotel), Barcaldine, Anakie, Duaringa (Hotel), Lake Victoria, Mt Perry to Hervey Bay. Recommend Winton Hotel carpark for free camping and a great pub meal (find info on Wikicamps).

To sum up – yes outback Queensland is dry, dusty and remote – and beautiful. It is DEFINITELY a  must do for all Travellers. Don’t be put off by distance, dirt or cost. Support the people of the Outback by visiting their ‘backyard’.

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Big Red Bash – Birdsville July 2018

In my last post I mentioned we were heading to Birdsville end of June for the Big Red Bash in mid July 10-12th.  I thought I’d do another ‘promo‘ for anyone who might be interested in attending but haven’t yet bought a ticket.

There is a Facebook site called Travelling to the Big Red Bash that has lots of information for Bash newbies (like us) and people show how they’re decking out their rigs for the trip. It’s a long way for most people and it’s a highlight holiday for families too (it’s in school holidays).  The Diamantina Region www.thediamantina.com.au has so much to offer whilst you are there, just see the Info Centre for brochures. In 2014 we spent 3-4 weeks there on the Common and volunteered at the Race Club before the races and loved it.

The main website has most information too along with the Oztix ticketing. www.bigredbash.com.au I have bought my ticket (B is volunteering) and some merchandise (car decal, sticker & cloth badge). B will be TERRIBLY impressed when I declare a sticker is going on the truck!!!

Starting to organise meals so I can cook in advance and cryovac (saving me precious time when there). So any Grey Nomad mates (or not so grey) who want to join us & thousands of others for the concert in the desert (fantastic lineup) get to it and order those tickets!!

…Autumn on Da Block

From a hot & sweaty summertime we have graduated to a cooler and a bit windier autumn. The trees are turning bronze & gold letting us know the cool weather will be on it’s way! Exactly what I love! The vineyards look beautiful now vintage has finished, autumn colours abound.

Excavations on Da Block went well: the new septic is in, heaps of plumbing trenches, installed two cattle grids, digging some tree holes, solar panels installed and much more. We were able to setup a rock garden on a long bank with beautiful huge Bluestones and the Yuccas & Agaves I’ve been nursing and cuttings from friends. Unfortunately the pumpkins & rock melons I grew from seed didn’t survive – I’ll have to watch more ‘Gardening Australia’!!

I’d like to give a plug (for any local’s reading this) to Terra-Firma Earthworks & Contracting based in Clare, SA – brilliant job and attention to detail.

B painted up the inside of a container to be his ‘tool shed’. It’s taken time but we are seeing progress week to week. We moved the van for the 3rd time to the container pad (better for when the rain comes). We’ve just had a couple of dust storms when it was really hot which was a new experience.

Today I have the heater on!

Looking forward to a break. Heading north to the Big Red Bash (www.bigredbash.com.au) in July as B volunteering setup/pack up. We are able to take Jeda to the concert in the desert as dogs are allowed. John Farnham is headlining with Hoodoo Gurus, The Angels, Daryl Braithwaite, Jon Stevens, Kate Ceberano, Russell Morris, The Black Sorrows and more…..

Western Queensland here we come!!!

Da Block!

Christmas and New Year came and went in a blink of an eye. We are now settled on our block in the Clare Valley of SA! Yes, we have our own block!

It’s been a long process but some land we first saw in June last year finally became available….so now it’s ours!! After 12 1/2 years on the road we now can use this as a base….that’s all, as we still wish to travel Australia as much as we can…before we can’t!!

We moved the van onto the ‘house site’ area next to the shed. The rest of the block is pasture for sheep. B feels right at home, but I’m having more trouble….keep thinking we’re doing another house sit for someone!! Jeda loves it. She’s used to sheep, but these big dogs called Alpacas that make a weird noise when she comes too close are crazy!

Over the next few months we hope to do some improvements: a septic, solar and some plantings. So travel is on hold for just a short while, but we have big plans for winter this year…..hint: BRB & Races….Birdsville, Qld…….wanna come???!!!

Eyre Peninsula….again!

I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last blog! Time just flies when you’re enjoying the road. Haven’t been doing a lot of photography this year (must be having a block) just ‘happy snapping’ our travels.

I left off when we were in Whyalla SA getting repairs done after doing ‘the tracks’ and Birdsville. We then went to Arno Bay on the Eyre Peninsula for a week of fishing. Met up with some friends and enjoyed a week of squiding and fishing off the jetty. Then on to a free camp we’ve been to before, Cowley’s Beach with our friends. Only October but it got so cold, happy hour started early and finished late in front of a warming fire. Enjoyed Calamari in panko crumbs for lunch a few days (life can be tough!) and too soon it was time for us to return to Whyalla as ‘B’ was to have an op at the local hospital. I must say South Australia has brilliant medical services compared to Queensland. Within 2 weeks of fronting up to Whyalla Hospital ‘B’ had seen a specialist and was booked in for a non-major operation. In Queensland he’s still on the waiting list!!

After two weeks of recovery in Whyalla we were chomping at the bit to head off. We decided to meet same friends for a week at Haslam, on the west coast of Eyre Peninsula. We had already agreed to return to Clare Valley for ‘B’ to work Harvest for the same farm as he did seeding, so we had time to fill in. Only took 5 hours drive straight across and we arrived, set up and ready for Happy Hour!

We enjoyed big seafood cook ups in that week. Our friends had some Redclaw they shared, then we had calamari in garlic butter then flathead crumbed.  Whilst at Haslam we heard from a lead for a house sitting job near Ceduna and because we weren’t that far away we decided to drive up to meet the prospective home owners. They live at Laura Bay, 20klms south of Ceduna. We met and loved the place as soon as we drove up the dirt track. It is in a Conservation Park, which was my only hesitation. But this will test our training with our Bluey, to keep her from wandering or eating baits.

Melbourne Cup fell whilst we were in Haslam and we had a BIG day. We invited surrounding caravanner’s for a BYO beverage and snacks lunch whilst watching the big race. The days got hot so we found the best place to cool off was under the jetty with a bev and good friends! Too soon it was time to head east back to the Clare Valley for that four letter word…. ‘work’!

Birdsville Races, the tracks and Coober Pedy

Last post we were on our way to Birdsville….all done and dusted now along with the Birdsville Track, Oodnadatta Track and Coober Pedy.

We had a great time in Birdsville, got there a couple of weeks early and volunteered to help the Race Club with preparations. Met some great locals and new visitors and had a once off experience we recommend everyone do before they turn their toes up!  You don’t have to be big drinkers or punters to have fun, there are lots of things to do and see that will keep you entertained. We do recommend you arrive the week before though as there are pre-race things to see, such as the talk and short movie on history of the races held at the Community Centre. Also this year Fred Brophy (Boxing Troupe) had his book launch & signing, it’s a great read and seeing his spruiking in action is a once off you’ll not see anywhere else in Australia.

The races were like a large country race meet, only with 6000+ people!  The ladies dressed up for Fashions on the Field, the blokes made attempts at some interesting apparel and all in all the two days were a hit. At night the Birdsville Hotel, Fred Brophy’s Boxing Troupe, and the sideshow stalls and food stalls took over the town. Lots of fun.

We stayed on and headed up to Bedourie the next weekend for their race meeting. A lot smaller but just as great. They put on a Rodeo on the Friday night, a Ute Muster & Travellers Muster on Saturday as well as the races. You can camp in the showgrounds or at caravan parks.

From there we headed back to Birdsville to collect mail, then down the Birdsville Track to Marree then the Oodnadatta Track to Oodnadatta. We spent 2-3 nights on each track. The roads were good, in places very rough but manageable. We did have a slow leak on a tyre on the van but that was a screw we picked up in a campground we think. We came across some people with tyres shreaded from the gibbers.

There are heaps of things to see along the way. On the Oodnadatta track there are lots of rail siding ruins, rail bridges, a sculpture park called ‘Plane Henge’ created at Alberrie Creek along with plains of open gibbers, not a lot of wildlife except cattle but beautiful sunsets.

We headed from Oodnadatta down to Coober Pedy via Arkaringa Station and the Painted Desert. Another must see area. Beautiful hills that seem to just pop up in the middle of nowhere. We stopped at Arkaringa Station overnight – a short drive away. Bush camping available and welcoming hot showers. Once we it Coober Pedy we decided to stop in a caravan park in town so we could walk to most places. We absolutely loved this town. We’re not into mining but the idea of living underground at 21-25 degrees all year round does appeal. They cater to tourists well and explain about their way of life at the Umoona Mine Tour, and we also loved Faye’s Underground Mine & Home, the current owners let you see their home for a small fee, how Faye Naylor and 2 female friends dug her home back in the 70’s. She was a driving force in the tourism industry in Coober Pedy and we recommend you put it on your to see list.

After Coober Pedy we headed to the ‘big smoke’ Whyalla to get some minor repairs done. We are here now, being battered by 50klm/hr winds so it’s a bit boring for our fur-kid and ourselves really being cooped up inside the van. Will continue our SA journey this week….somewhere down the road…..

 

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On the road to the Birdsville Races!

Once again we are ‘on the road’! We are doing the scenic route directly west from Brisbane to Birdsville – nearly 1600klms. We have been on all the major roads out this way so have taken a couple of detours to spice it up! One road was a mistake – it was a mining road so full of wide loads and not much to see really.
We stopped at Mitchell once the ‘Liquid Gold’ poured last weekend. Much needed and beautiful rain. I must recommend a caravan park at Mitchell that we stayed in many years ago when it first opened and it is just as good if not better now. Major Mitchell Caravan Park – it is well laid out, has clean amenities and friendly owners. Oh and it won’t break the bank.
We are currently in a small town called Morven, halfway between Mitchell and Charleville. We are continuing on tomorrow so we can be in Birdsville early hopefully before too many of the 6000 plus people arrive. Morven Recreation Grounds is another gem. Not many powered sites but everything you want for only $5 per night! Try it for an overnighter.
Will post some photos of our trip once we get to Birdsville.