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Day 2 Queensland to Western Australia

Whalan Creek to Brewarrina

We woke to a fine and sunny day after a good nights sleep at our Whalan Creek free camp.

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Time to hit the road again and travel 100kms across the Moree plains to the Spa town of Moree. This area has some of the world's richest black alluvial soils where sunflowers, safflowers, canola, mungbeans, olives, oats, barley, sorghum, wheat and cotton is grown. July, and the farmers in their huge tractors were busy ploughing the paddocks ready for the next crop.

Wheat is usually sown in late May or June, then harvested from November through to December. The wheat is then delivered by truck to local grain terminals for transportation to various mills for domestic use or seaports if being exported.
The Moree plains is the largest cotton producing region in Australia. Cotton season was over, but still balls of cotton lined the roadside. To see Cotton growing, September/October is when its planted, then picking takes place between March, April & May of the following year. Even in July it was interesting seeing the hundreds of 227kg cotton bales at the Gins waiting to be taken by Semi-Trailer to a Port where they are sent overseas for spinning. I find what ever time I come to this area, there is always something of interest to see.SAM_5962.jpgcotton bales

The road from Moree to Collarenebri was another littered with dead Kangaroos. At least we didn't see any dead Emu's, only plenty of live ones! We passed by a couple of Cotton Gins on this road and a Semi-Trailer loaded with Cotton bales. The road is wide and had more grass on the side than in the paddocks. We saw "Cattle on road" signs, meaning that some-time we would be coming across Cattle drovers. Sure enough, we passed three on this road.

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We hadn't been to Collarenebri before and were rather disappointed with the town. It's a small mainly Aboriginal town with not a lot to offer, we couldn't even find anywhere to buy lunch! Luckily I had some food in the Caravan, at least we didn't starve!

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Out this part of Australia, a lot of the towns have a large majority of Aboriginals living there. Walgett is one such town. As we had been here before, we didn't stop, just took the turn-off that would lead us to Brewarrina.
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Fish traps

Brewarrina was quite a surprise. Located on the Barwon River, it is thought to have the oldest man made structure on earth. The Brewarrina Aboriginal fish traps are estimated to be 40,000 years old. Unfortunately, many were washed away when the weir was built, so new ones were built at the weir. Obviously the Pelicans know there is fish to be found here!

On the roadside wall where the fish traps and weir are, children have told the dreamtime story by the way of descriptive Aboriginal paintings!

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There was other artwork in town, like the fish near the Tourist Information centre.

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If your after a Kangaroo hide, then head here for all sizes at pretty good prices.

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Well, time to look for somewhere to stay! The Brewarrina Caravan Park had plenty of powered sites, so this is where we stayed the night. A very pleasant Aboriginal caretaker greeted us and told us the ropes. Even though the Amenities block was old, it was clean, the showers were hot, there was a Laundry with coin operated machines and a free bbq!
All for the bargain price of $20 night for 2 people!

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Posted by balhannahrise 00:47 Archived in Australia Tagged parks park landscape new south road trip wales caravan aboriginal Comments (0)

Day 3 Queensland to Western Australia

Brewarrina to Wilcannia in New South Wales

We had a good night at the Brewarrina Caravan Park. First thing, I rode my pushbike around the town, easy riding as it was all flat going! It had rained a little overnight, so when we reached Bourke in Outback Australia, we had to ask at the information centre if the Darling River road was "open" or "closed."

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Bourke Information centre

Roads in this area are made from red soil, so when only a few mills of rain falls, they can become so slippery and dangerous that they are closed to all traffic. As it happened, the road was open.

Bourke is located on a bend in the Darling River and is the traditional country of the Ngemba people. Alongside the River is lovely lawned picnic areas, a wharf and trees where about 100 Parrot's squawked their way to a perch!

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Darling river @ Bourke

First we had a look around Bourke and were quite impressed with what we saw. There were lots of historic buildings in the busy main street.

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Then we took a drive to the historic cemetery where there are many old graves, but a more recent one is of great importance. This is the grave of Fred Hollows, the famous eye surgeon who spent his life helping those who couldn't afford basic eye care. He gave sight to these people and Indigenous Australians and to those living in the poorest communities in the world. In 1990, he was honoured with the title " Australian of the Year" for all the work he had done.

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Fred Hollows grave

Leaving Bourke behind, we began travelling south along the wide red dirt road known as the Darling River road tourist drive. This follows the Darling river and I imagine would be quite scenic if the river and backwaters were full of water, unfortunately, the river didn't have a lot of water.

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Darling river tourist road
We did see many goats, a blow of the car horn soon had them running off the road!

There are only a couple of very small towns along this route, so when we saw the notice advertising food at "Louth" we made this our lunch stop. The Louth Hotel is a one stop destination. It is Hotel, shop, runs a few powered sites for caravans and a couple of cabins for travellers. A few locals were in the Pub and were on for a chat, thankgoodness for that as it was a rather long wait for our two chiko rolls to be cooked!

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Louth Hotel

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Louth Church

Finally we reached our destination for the night - Wilcannia. The Caravan Park was located in a very pleasant situation amongst the red gums and alongside the Darling river. We booked in and settled down for the night.

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Wilcannia caravan park

Posted by balhannahrise 12:41 Archived in Australia Tagged landscape new south road trip wales fred bourke hollows Comments (0)

Day 4 Queensland to Western Australia

From Wilcannia in New South Wales to Peterborough in South Australia

Wilcannia Caravan Park needed its facilities upgraded to make it a really good park. It was nice and quiet here, so the noise from the Semi-trailers didn't bother us. First up, it was to fill the car with fuel in Wilcannia, not the cheapest place for sure. It is outback Australia so prices are very high. Unleaded Petrol was 185.9 litre and LPG 120.0 litre. Having travelled this route many times I knew today would be rather boring. Hundreds of miles of saltbush and low lying shrubs and some trees, every now and then a dry creek with some river gums before reaching the mining city of Broken Hill. We only stopped for food and fuel before moving on to find somewhere to spend the night. If you have never been to Broken Hill before, then a few days spent in the city is well worth doing.

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One of the many lovely buildings in Broken Hill

It is along the stretch of road to Yunta that we start seeing small Road Trains.

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Road Train

Before entering South Australia, there is a check-point where we must stop and surrender any fruit and vegetables we are carrying. This is done to stop the spread of Fruit Fly into South Australia.

We are noticing the countryside is getting a green touch the nearer we get to Peterborough. Just 2kms from Peterborough, we see a nice free camping spot and pull in there for the night.

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Peterborough free camp

Posted by balhannahrise 12:52 Archived in Australia Tagged landscape outback new south camp wales free Comments (0)

Day 21 Queensland to Western Australia

Mount Magnet August 2nd

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Mt. Magnet

We are in the outback, miles away from everything, just us in our caravan and the wildlife outside. This is the place to see the stars at their best! In the morning we found an inquisitive Kangaroo had checked our car during the night, how do we know - We found his paw prints and the mark he made in the sand with his tail.

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Mt. Magnet

From Sandstone, Mount Magnet was next, a town based around the mining and pastoral industries.
Gold was discovered here in July 1891, including the legendary Poverty Flats mining site, marking the beginning of the region's gold rush history. The town happens to be the longest surviving gold mining settlement in Western Australia, still people come here and try their luck gold prospecting and fossicking.

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Mt. Magnet

In 1854, Explorer "Robert Austin" found and named a hill West Mount Magnet due to the magnetic qualities of the rocks. The hill is made up of a lot of metamorphic rock and is capped by a flat top of desert sandstone. In 1972, the name was changed to Mount Warramboo, meaning camping place. Not to be missed is taking the drive approx. two thirds of the way up the hill to where there is plenty of space to park the car and turn around. From here, we had fabulous views over Mount Magnet and the mining area, it's actually the best vantage point to see the open cut mines.

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Mt. Magnet

Mount Magnet is a good place to buy supplies as it has two supermarkets, two roadhouses, three hotels, cafe, butcher, nursing post, post office, plus mechanical and engineering services. I must admit I was very surprised to see the median strip planted with roses, golly they looked healthy and were flowering well!

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Mt. Magnet

There is a town heritage walk to follow, this doesn't take long to do as the town is small. What shouldn't be missed, is the The Mount Magnet Heritage trail, a 37kms sign-posted tourist drive which takes you to see caves, spectacular rock formations, old towns and cemeteries and old mining settlements.

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Mt. Magnet

We always follow these, so off we went following the Brown tourist signposted drive along mainly dirt roads to our first stop, "The Granites."
Once again the colour of the escarpments or breakaways are a bright orange/red and incredibly beautiful!
The Granites are an escarpment about 15 metres high, formed by the erosion. Many caves have formed in the soft granite and have fantastic sculptured surfaces formed by the small curved quartz veins in the granite. For at least 20,000 years prior to settlement, the Badimia Aborigines have lived in this area and consider The Granites a place of strong cultural significance to the tribe. Their old carvings and paintings can be seen at several sites at The Granites.

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Near Mt. Magnet

There is also a “Gnamma” hole in this area known to a few local people, this being a traditional native well covered by a stone. Ceremonial and burial sites are also located within The Granites area, I didn't manage to find any of these.
Near Mt. Magnet

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Near Mt. Magnet

It's a beautiful place which I really enjoyed walking around, clambering over the rocks and finding the caves and enjoying the views. They say sunset is beautiful here, I can just imagine that! There is plenty of parking area and picnic tables so you can enjoy some time here.
The Granites is situated approx. 9km north of Mount Magnet, along the Great Northern Highway.

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Near Mt. Magnet

July - August is peak season to see wildflowers, although they flower through to October. In 2014 we were a little early, it all depends on the rainfall to what time they flower. The carpets of cream, yellow and pink had just begun covering the red earth. Everlastings, the protected Mulla Mulla, Eremophila shrubs with felted leaves and delicate flowers and many other species flower here.
At "The Granites," I was surprised to find so many wildflowers that looked to be growing out of the rocks, I guess they had found a little soil and after rain, water would have run into the crack in the rock and kept them alive. Clever plants!

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Near Mt. Magnet

Leaving the Granites behind, the tourist drive took us along a dirt road where one of the Breakaways looks like a Lions Head. Our final destination was Lennonville. All that has survived from a huge fire in 1909, is the old railway platform. Information boards told of a thriving town during the gold rush days when 3000 people lived here, during that time there were five Hotels.

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Our next stop was the historic Lennonville cemetery. I was rather disappointed with the cemetery as there was only one marked grave, I expected more.
A modern sign listed names of people buried here, many were young children or spouses at quite young ages.
Children - Alexander Campbell died of diphtheria aged 4years - Lillias, his sister died aged 8 years and his brother William aged 6 years. It is hard to imagine how the poor woman felt.
Others died at 15hours, 5 days, 12hours, 11 months, 4 months, 2 years, 5 months, 8months, all made me feel sad.
Some of the adults had accidents like Domenico Seghezzi from Italy, he fell down a 40ft shaft in the Long Reef Mine. Died aged 26 years
Others were only 39 years, 42 years and 33 years, all to young to die.

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Leaving Lennonville cemetery behind, we now are travelling along the Boogardie-Lennonville road past more brightly coloured rock formations to see a natural Amphitheatre, thought to be formed by an ancient waterfall to make this unique formation. There is a walk here that can be done, I didn't as by this time I was feeling rather tired.

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Near Mt. Magnet

Close to the Amphitheatre, is a Cave, formed through erosion during the Precambrian period, the time when the planet was created about 4.5 billion years ago and is the earliest of the geologic ages.

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Near Mt. Magnet.

Back in the car we get and follow the road past more brilliant scenery till we finally complete the tourist drive.

This completed our time spent in and around Mt. Magnet.

Posted by balhannahrise 01:31 Archived in Australia Tagged landscape australia outback road western trip Comments (0)

Day 22 Queensland to Western Australia

Mullewa 4th August

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We stayed at the council run Mullewa Caravan Park, located on Lovers Lane on the edge of town.. It's a very popular park as it's very cheap and well maintained, so you want to get here early, as if you come late there may not be a spare spot. Bookings are taken at Yarrumba Service Station & Deli, in Jose Street, so go there first otherwise you will have to come back.

large_SAM_8871.jpg Mullewa Information centre.

If your not sure, check at the Information centre located in the Town Hall across the road
Staff were helpful, supplying me with free tourist drive maps and marking on the maps where to find certain wildflowers. On the ceiling were dozens of wildflower bunches hanging upside down to dry.

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We decided we would follow the southern circuit tour map I had previously picked up at the Tourist Information centre. You can make the tour shorter or longer, it is up to you! The complete circuit is 145kms, which began in Mullewa and followed the sealed Mullewa-Mingenew road. Not all the roads are sealed, although we did find the gravel roads in very good condition. We allowed a full day for exploration.

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Wildflowers

The first marked stop was the Mullewa Cemetery, stop 2 was Devils Creek Hall, we didn't stop at either, instead we drove on, amazed at the sight of thousands of everlasting daisies creating fields of colour, in pinks, mauve, yellow, white and lemon. There were plenty of native shrubs in flower too! This was our first good sighting of wildflowers, I couldn't get over the incredible display.

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The sites are very easy to find, all you have to look for is the Brown tourist sign that shows you the way to the site, where I found a wonderful rusty steel cut-out of what the area is known for.

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Beside the rusted steel cut-out was an information plaque with the story.

It says..

"Hey - Stop that! Your cutting down my home!
Do you humans ever stop to think that you may not be the ones that have a use for a particular tree?
There are so few big Gum trees left out here, and these days we have to squeeze into hollow that are really too small for us. Or we have to fight with the budgies for them - or with those horrible smelly Bats...."

The cut-out is about the human population that has kept on cutting down trees for their fires to cook or to sit beside and keep warm without a worry about the consequences. The Aboriginals only took what they needed, but when the settlers came to this area, land was cleared for agriculture, impacting on the remaining natural environment.
It was good to see that Farmers these days, are re-planting quite large areas with all kinds of trees, making it much better for the environment and even the birds will be happy again!

The Reserve is home to 68 different bird species that rely on this native vegetation that has been saved from being cleared for growing wheat. The Eucalypts here provide nesting hollows for the Parrots and Cockatoos, they are even used by small Bats and Reptiles. I heard plenty of small twittering Birds in the denser scrub, just couldn't get a photo of them. Species who live here are Red -Throats, Thornbills, Babblers and Scrub Robins.

We are back on the road again and have to stop for a long Ore train at the railway crossing. Our next site was Tardun, all that remained here was a house and old Hall.

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Tardun Hall

The cut-out told the story of this town that was established in 1913. It contained a general store, post office, telephone exchange, bakery, church, town hall and a garage, nearly all of these have gone.

There was a school established outside of Tardun, run by the Catholic organisation called the Knights of the Southern Cross. Disadvantaged and Orphaned Boys aged 14 and over were brought here to learn farming for a period not supposed to be more than 2 years, some stayed longer

The town of Tardun was run by the Catholic Brothers as the administrators and the students as the general population. The bakery produced enough bread and rolls every Saturday morning to meet the school's need for the rest of the week.
The farm had orchards where they grew Oranges, Lemons, Limes and Mandarins, and a vegetable garden where all kinds of vegetables were grown, enough to feed the staff and students. Sheep were slaughtered in the schools killing shed, and every Saturday, the Chicken House with its hundred or so chooks produced enough eggs for daily requirements, a herd of Cows provided enough milk for the school.
The kitchen was equipped to feed an army and an industrial laundry was big enough to cope with all the washing . On site were fully equipped workshops and machinery storage sheds.

For recreation there was a great choice. A squash court, cricket nets, swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts and a full size football oval meant the boys were spoilt for choice. On the grounds was a chapel bigger than most rural churches.

A fun day was a Sunday afternoon when Brother Kelly would start the old Ferguson tractor and put a cart on the back, then load the kids and take them somewhere on the farm for afternoon tea. Ones that couldn't fit on the cart would be riding horses beside the cart. What an adventure it was!

In 2009, the school closed and all of this came to an end. So it turned out that even though there wasn't much to see here anymore, there was quite a bit of very interesting historical information to learn about the town and school of Tardun.

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Steel cut-out

Still at Tardun, I found a couple more steel cut-outs, these were about the railway.

The first plaque read....

"Come on Giuseppe - knock that last spike in and let's get out of the sun. Even this Beer is getting warm too quickly - we never had days like this back home.
But I'm not going to go play cards with the others and you'd be a fool if you did again, too! How are you ever going to save money to bring that girl out from Italy if you keep on gambling all the time?"

The cut-out was about the many migrants that came out here from southern or eastern Europe. Most of the Railway gangs were made up of these men. Some married local girls and others bought land and settled in the area. These people helped shape the land I was seeing today.

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Steel cut-out

The other cut-out was about illegal gambling that went on in these places.

It read
"Hey Fred - I'll raise ya' twenty bucks - I reckon ya' bluffin', ya' big boof head! And if ya' not, I might as well go down in a screamin' heap.
Anyway, who's got the next case of Beer? And who's keepin' and eye our for the coppers - Gazza reckons someone's dobbed on us, and they're jus' waiting to nail us all to the floor."

It is believed that when the Tavern closed, a group of local men would get together and play cards under the tree where this cut-out was located. It was a hot and thirsty life out here, one that brought on loneliness and depression - Gambling was an outlet.

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Steel cut-out

Whilst we were out this way, we decided to see if we could find the famous Wreath flower with the mud-map given to us at the Mullewa Visitor centre.
The Wreath flower is a native of south Western Australia, preferring climates with dry summers. On the Morowa - Yalgoo road is where we found the Wreath Flower, a piece of pink ribbon had been tied on a nearby post, evidently this is what the locals do when they find interesting wildflowers in bloom. It is quite easy to find as it likes to grow in the sandy gravel on the roadside. We were looking for something round, and sure enough we spotted some green circles, some were more advanced. It turned out we were a little early, they were just beginning to flower. The flower forms a complete circle, hence the name wreath flower. Flowering occurs in late winter and spring, better option is September to October when they will be at their best.

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Wreath flower

This concluded our day, it was time to return via a different road to Mullewa in search of more wildflowers.

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Watch out for wildlife, as even though it was the middle of the day, a big Red Kangaroo hopped in-front of us, eventually veering off the road and into the scrub. You don't want to hit one of them.

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Posted by balhannahrise 03:23 Archived in Australia Tagged landscape australia road camping western trip free wildflowers Comments (0)

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