We got off to a late start on Wednesday 13th as we were waiting for a gentle person to come and have a look at the “For sale Kedron” at lunch time. Needless to say he did not turn up so we departed at about 2:30 for Perth wellll on the way to Perth at least, after mentally forming a description of the wood be purchaser. He was extremely ugly to say the least.
First day we managed a sedate 300kms and free camped at Inglewood and after a great warming dinner retired with a good book. We were expecting a big frost in the morning but it did not happen and the morning although crisp was superb.
How clean is that rig spit polished just before we left Brissie.
Mavis (the navigator) was tasked with finding the dustiest route possible taking us in the right direction (to test out the new van). She/we chose to travel to Goondawindi then Mungindi (do not tell anyone but this place has hot springs and a pool with camping beside same) taking us on about 70 kms of dirt then a further 100kms of dirt to Collarenabri.
Dirt he said ya wouldn’t believe that for the whole distance we glided over rain soaked mud and fresh road works, with about 1km of the poorest example of a dusty road that you have ever seen very disappointing. At least the stone guard kept the mud mostly off the front of the van. Think we need to do something about a mud flap in front of the step though.
The rest of the day’s run was uneventful and we stopped at Brewarrina on the banks of the Barwon/Darling River. This is where the Barwon turns into the Darling.
We woke to a beautiful crisp morning and broke camp heading for Bourke. It was another good run to Bourke where we filled the car thus financing the retirement of the garage owner at $1.51 cpl.
We decided to do the run down the West bank of the Darling to Tilpa for the next overnight. We managed to find about 100kms of dust finally and the van did us proud. Not one spec of dust entered the van and even better all of the external hatches also proved to be dust proof,how good is that.
On the way out of Bourke the wild life was unbelievably prolific, we guessed that it was the good wet summer making pickings abundant.
Kangaroo, Galahs, hawks, small birds and Emu by the thousands, yes thousands, have never seen the likes.
The Western route to Tilpa was a little remote from the River,next time we will stick to the other side as it is a lot more picturesque.
We stopped at Louth for a cleansing ale and a break before forging on to Tilpa. If you have not been to Louth before please spend some time absorbing the history of this village. We passed through two years ago and spent the afternoon exploring. It is a wonderful place,must do.
We popped back over the bridge at Louth to continue the sojourn on to Tilpa.
At Tilpa we made for the free camp at the Tilpa weir where we set up and then explored the area along the river bank.
A good feed and a few chapters of the latest book we hit the sack.
2am the rain was dropping on the roof of the van. We did notice that the road into the camp had been graded recently but was marked with some deep rutting from car wheels when we came in to set up.
A quick decision was made to abandon the camp and get into Tilpa. We managed to get out of the camp with much slipping and sliding on the road out. We stopped opposite the Tilpa Pub near the tennis courts and went back to bed for the short rest of the night.
Next morning we were joined by two other families plus one exchange student from Denmark and 5 all Aussie kids that had been camped on private property on the Darling River. They like us made the decision to get out of potentially boggy situations and stay almost clean with the option of getting out when the roads dried enough to reach a highway.
The van on the left was christened the “Bush Chook” It was in honour of Jayco vans that use bird names (swan,dove etc)
We bonded with our new friends and enjoyed their company for the next three nights. What a great mob. The kids managed to amuse themselves as country kids do and the exchange student joined them and enjoyed the whole thing. We Adults enjoyed the the hospitality of the Tilpa Pub with great food and very expensive drinks.
A good time was had by all but the decision was made by our friends to leave first thing on Monday. We thought that we would leave it until after lunch but at about 9:20am a great heap of cloud started to roll in from the West,sooooo we bolted out in the mud heading for Bourke.
What a mess at the end of the dirt. We hit the bitumen after about 90kms of very slippery mushy greasy dirt and as is the luck our tyre pump blew up and we had to limp off to Broken Hill with low pressures.
Fuelled up at Broken Hill and pumped up the tyres on both car and van and lit out for Cockburn where we camped for the night.
We stuck to the Barrier Highway lunched at Petersborough in SA and stayed the night in Port Augusta. This camp was our first in a caravan park so as to get some washing done on their water and fill the water tanks. It was most fortunate that they had a wash bay on site so we shed many kg’s of dried mud from the run out from Tilpa. A visit to Woolies topped off the larder and a trip to ARB next morning had us a new tyre pump then we were off again heading for the Nullabor.
The next camp site was 13kms West of Wirrulla (Old Perlubie School Site) a great camp with grass at the back if you are quick enough, needless to say we camped on the dirt grin.
Next morning we departed heading for Border Village which as the name implies is on the SA WA border. The sad part of this day was that we had to cook up heaps of fresh produce that was picked up in Port Augusta before crossing into WA ( who forgot about quarantine,we did) so sick of cooked pumpkin spuds and a massive vegy soup. (belch rumble and other vegy inspired bodily functions that Rod can be proud of). We camped about 50kms West of Border Village at Hearders Hill. We had picked up a dozen Pacific oysters at Ceduna to have Kipatricked on the BBQ. It was Mavis’s birthday Thursday 21st so a little celebration was had with a couple of wines some fresh avacado dip thanks to the quarantine checkpoint and the oysters done to perfection on the Webber. Life really is good!
Must say that the Nullabor is one beautiful road to travel and quite unique for those that do not know it. We passed over 5 Royal Flying Doctors emergency landing strips that were the actual road we were on. Even had the Piano keys at each end of the designated strips. We also got a great pic of our rig beside the Sign that stated that we were about to travel the longest straight road in Australia. 164.6 kms long,that is right for all our overseas friends a road without diversion 164.6kms long.
Friday was a big run of around 600kms. We stopped at a camp about 16kms from Norsman for the night and will hit the dirt tomorrow to save about 200kms on the trip to Freemantle from here.
We rose at the crack of noon and headed into Norseman and fuelled the tug and filled the water tanks at the BP roadhouse,then off to the information center for toilet dump and some info on accommodation at Freemantle. With toilet smelling like roses we hit the dirt to Lake King only to find that it was closed to the lake (200kms). We turned around and went back to the info center and asked about the closure. The sad story was that there is apparently a rise in the road about half way to Lake King. Some retired brain Surgeon grey nomad decided that they would stop just out of sight over said rise and were narrowly missed by a road train. Now the Shire in their wisdom decided to remove the hill thus shutting this road for some time. I personally would have preferred to see the Brain Surgeon strung up in a tree beside the hill thus warning all traffic,but hey my practical thinking some times does not conform.
There was an alternative about 55kms South on the Esperance/Norseman road,so we opted for that one. We turned off the main road and dropped all tyre pressures for the 200kms of dirt ahead.
The first 100kms gave the the new van and the car their ultimate test. the track (not road) varied from sharp gibber rock to corrugations that could only be taken at walking pace and flood damaged wash outs,most of which were full of water.
Mavis did make the comment that WA country road engineers do not know how to put cambers on corners. The reason for this comment was that there were just no corners on this road. It went dead straight for the first 80kms. After this 80kms we came upon our first corner at 90 mile tank so we decided to celebrate with a bite of lunch at the tank. After lunch we negotiated the un cambered left hander at the tank and headed off for our next camp at Kulin where we camped in town beside the rail line (as you do).
Next morning we packed up and headed for Shoalwater (Mavis’s nephew’s) arriving after a greasy lunch at Armadale chicken shop early afternoon.
We made it so the next chapter of the trip will be a new start.