Saturday, August 26, 2017

Purposeful Meandering across Oz - Week 7

Distance traveled = 2270 km

Week 7 dawned to our chilliest morning of our trip, our swags had a good coating of frost while the car temperature registered 1deg at 7am…. Thankfully the sun soon provided some warmth and we could slowly pack away our ice covered camping gear. After grabbing a few more pics of the Farina ruins we were soon on the road. It was a short drive into Lyndhurst where we fueled up and some phone reception minded us civilisation was looming before heading out along the Strzelecki track. We found the track to be in remarkably good condition which allowed us to chug along at a good pace. We made a few stops at various icons which included the “dog fence” and a “thermal bore” however the track offered little else to see and by early afternoon we were driving past our intended overnight spot so we pushed on towards Innamincka. The oil n gas fields of Moomba rose as an oasis on the horizon. We stopped for a brief look and were surprised to get full phone reception at such a remote location, continuing further north we finally arrived in Innamincka. We had a quick look around town before heading to the common area for a lovely night by the creek under the stars.
Innamincka Trading Post and pub

Montacollina thermal bore
Sunday dawned well before sunrise as the local feathered fauna providing us with a beautiful chorus of early morning squawks and chirps. With such an early start, we were packed up and over at the pub in time for breakfast... All too soon we were back on the road and retracing our trek back down the Strzelecki track. A few kilometres south of Moomba we turned off towards Cameron Corner (NSW/SA/QLD border). The track into the corner was windy and narrow with plenty of rolling sand dunes that made the trip feel like a ride at Luna Park. Getting out at the corner, the first notable change was the drop in temperature which ensured a frantic dash for warm clothes. After the obligatory photos with us in 3 states we had a warm corner meal before pushing east into Tibooburra for our first night back in NSW since leaving home. There was no respite to the chilly conditions which reminded us "it was still winter" even though we’d been living in t-shirt, shorts n thongs for the past 6 weeks….. With it being one our group’s last night before heading home we enjoyed a night filled with plenty of nostalgia and some bush cooked brownies.

Just after breakfast on Monday we bid farewell to Mike (captain Gyro) as he headed for home, for the remaining families we had a quick look around town before heading south towards Broken Hill. Strong winds buffeted our progress all day which made getting out of the car unpleasant but we stopped at the historic town of Milparinka and the Packsaddle Roadhouse, the latter being known in SES circles as one of NSW’s remotest SES Units…. By mid-afternoon we’d made it to Broken Hill where a quick stop for some much-needed supplies were obtained before we decided to head out to the historic town of Silverton for a few nights. Checking in at Penrose Park the kids fell in love with the place as they went off feeding the array of animals and playing on the yesteryear playground equipment while the oldies enjoyed another well-earned ‘happy hour’. Our night concluded with another campfire under cold skies.
Tool tree

Domestic chores and minor maintenance on the car filled our Tuesday morning, we’d developed an infrequent noise in the front of the car which couldn’t be pinpointed but after tightening and checking a few bolts/bearings etc we hoped had been fixed. Mid-morning we headed out to a few attractions around Broken Hill. Pro Hart’s home/gallery, the Line of Lode Miner memorial and the “big picture” to name a few. By mid-afternoon we were back at Silverton for a look around, the art galleries seemingly out-numbered the tourists so we didn’t stay for long. Another stop was the Mundi Mundi lookout, where it’s said you can see the curvature of the earth’s surface (clearly whoever said that has better eyes than us). Once back at our campsite R&R consumed the rest of our Tuesday.

Wednesday was moving day but little did we know that we wouldn’t get nearly as far as we’d planned. We fueled up in Broken Hill before heading towards Menindee Lakes, however by the time we arrived at the town of Menindee the noise in the front of √≥ur car had returned and was getting worse all the time. With too much distance and rough roads ahead we chose to return to Broken Hill where parts and support would/should have been more readily available. The trip back to B-Hill seemingly took forever as the noise had reduced our driving speed…. What could the noise/vibration be? my mind was in overload with various possibilities and Leonie frantically googled ideas that I’d throw her way. I finally narrowed the issue down to the independent live axle, dust and grime had chewed out an idler bearing..... Back in town my first port of call was the Holden dealer but they were as helpful as an umbrella in a cyclone so we tried a few other mechanics where an array of options were tossed our way. The least favoured being “our holiday could be over as parts could take a week to arrive from Melbourne”. Thankfully option 74 sounded the simplest temporary fix – install an aftermarket free-wheeling hub kit which thankfully one mechanic had on the shelf. Some 3 hours later we were on the road again and heading south towards Mildura. However, with light fading fast and the wildlife coming out to play we decided to just head out of town for a roadside rest area for the night, but not before we played “chicken” with the many kangaroos, goats, sheep, cows, rabbits and an echidna that wanted to walk the lonely road…. By 8.30pm on what was a very exhaustive day we were tucked in our swags hoping never to repeat the days’ events again.

Murray & Darling Rivers
Thursday started with another icy frost and temps hovering around zero. Our overnight roadside camp had been relatively quiet with minimal vehicles stopping throughout the night, we were soon packed up and on our way towards Mildura. The car hassles of yesterday seemed a distant memory with no apparent impact on our current driving. An hour down the road we’d arrived in the town of Wentworth, which is where the Murray and Darling rivers join. We took a bit of time to look around witnessing the art of “river locks” before continuing onto “Orange World”, this had been a favourite with us on our last trip so it was a lot of fun to return where we enjoyed a laugh with the host Mario and Maria. By mid-afternoon we’d crossed into Victoria completing a small feat of visiting every mainland state within 8 weeks. Taking time out we checked out the luxury houseboats which dock along the river, at one point we had a tour on one of the luxurious boats on the assumption we’d be making a booking down the track – yeah right!........ The remainder of our day / evening was spent relaxing around the van park, getting regular updates on the NRL as the Eels smashed the Broncos.

Friday saw us on the move once again but not before another chilly start to our day. Winter in a swag in Victoria was becoming a struggle, our warm nights of WA seemed so far ago…. Changing our driving plans, we continued further up the Murray River towards Swan Hill, the following 2-hour drive weaved its way along the side of the river offering picturesque views of the river and surrounding Mallee. Just after lunch we’d setup in Swan Hill, our campsite adjacent to the jumping pillow and playground was perfect for all the kids which in turn was perfect for us as we didn’t see the kids again for hours. Late in the day we headed out to do a bit of sightseeing of the area. Our night saw temperatures drop to chilly levels forcing us to spend the evening in the TV room watching Friday night footy….. dam shame!

Week 7 on the road had been somewhat of a challenge, car troubles and chilly nights.

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