Saturday, October 9, 2010

Is it camping season yet?

I'll have to admit that I am a bit of a 'fair weather' camper.  Especially if we are going for a weekend close to home.  I mean - if it's a campsite a couple of hours from here and the forecast is rain, extreme cold or high winds then we put it off until a weekend with a better forecast.

In this region over the past few months the forecasts have generally been cold, a bit wet and occasionally windy - sometimes all three.

We were hoping to get away last weekend as we both had a three day weekend.  The weather blew in and we decided a picnic was the way to go and we ended up helping out at one of the local driver reviver stops on the Hume Highway instead.

Daylight savings has started which usually means that the weather starts to warm up, the wind starts to drop we are looking forward to some camps away for weekends.

I'm keen to get the 4WD in to 4WD for a bit of an explore, try out the new navigator, and the gold pans that we bought in the off season.

So, over the next few months I should be back with some new photos, GPS coordinates and descriptions of some campsites we have spent a couple of nights in.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

4WD touring - what worked - what didn't

Well after being back from our trip for so long I have had a chance to consider what worked for us and what didn't.

A bit of background - the 4WD is a fairly standard 1994 Landrover Discovery.  No lift or lockers.  It had a snorkel, bullbar and dual battery set up when I bought it.  It has travelled 335000km or so.  The head was replaced after I bought it as it had been overheated and cracked.

The roof racks and basket are and add on that I did.  We found that we can up some stuff up there that is light and bulky, like a second spare tyre, the portaloo and other stuff we dont use every night.  I attached an old curtain rod along the basket with the intention of using it to set up our tarp - maybe for morning tea and lunch stops.  Didn't get used for that once!  We did use it to attach the 12V LED 'UFO' camping lights to a couple of times.

Before we set off I fitted a set of driving lights to the bullbar.  I wanted them on when we went down to the Snowys when we knew we would be travelling from Thredbo to Jindbyne at night.  They actually came in very handy when we found ourselves arriving late at Noccundra.  The extra light is actually very noticable when you don't know the road.

The winch didn't get used at all - and still hasn't been used in anger.  There are a lot of forum posts about 4WD winches and buying reputable brands.  I'm not getting into that debate here, but mine is a 'cheapy' and it works.  I do run it in and out to make sure all is well before I head off road.

Similarly the farily standard AT tyres that are on there worked well.  Admittedly we weren't travelling on any 'hardcore' 4WD tracks.  But they coped with the outback conditions and got a run on sand.  I bought a medium duty air compressor wheich worked to pump up a fellow travellers camper trailer tyre and reinflate mine after a driving on the corrugated outback roads and on the beach.  What I need to invest in is a deflator.  The old 'key and gauge' method is a bit tedious.

A valuable lesson was learned.  Have basic spares.  I had had the car serviced a couple of days before we left, but the fanbelt still frayed.  Worthwhile having the appropriate belts in the car - would have saved us about a day.  Had a fuel filter - didn't use it.  Also had oil and coolant - didn't use it. Seems the only thing we needed was what we didn't have.

I was told to take WD-40, cable ties and 'gaffa tape.'  I did and used all three.

I installed a UHF CB on day one from this 4WD's predecessor.  I found it to be worthwhile.  Nice to be able to hear about road hazards from fellow travellers.  Also nice to be able to give and get advice while on the road.

The dual battery setup run our trusty three way fridge and powered all of our other stuff while we were away.  I like it.  It was in the vehicle when I bought it and is becoming a bit old and unreliable.  Doesn't charge when the lights are on.  Having a look at that to see what the go is!

The navigator that we use is great.  It runs OziExplorer software and as a result we knew where we were right the way along the trip.  The only issue was when the plug vibrated out of the socket and I though we had killed it.  After I plugged it back in it worked like a treat!

Our dome tent was a treat.  If you read back through our Snowy Mountain Trip you will see how we came to acquire it.  In all honesty it has been a bit of a blessing really.  It is quicker and easier to set up that the old tent, and packs away a bit smaller.

All in all we tool a lot of stuff that we didn't use, but could have!  I would take it all again.

If you have tips or comments feel free to either post them on the blog using the comment button or send me an email to

Stay safe!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The journey home begins - Grafton to Tia Falls

Firstly, an apology to all who have called by hoping for something new and interesting to look at.  I would have to acknowledge that I have been both busy and slack.  Work has been a tad on the hectic side and I have been away from home a bit recently.  Work travel won't get a mention here.

What will is the last segment of our Easter adventure.  We set of from my family and headed with all good intentions to Waterfall Way.  We were to meet other relatives at Tia Falls in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.  What should have taken us about 4 hours or so turned into a bit of an adventure.

Our first stop was at a little town called Ebor.  Well actually we passed through the township and turned into the Ebor Falls parking lot for a look.  The upper falls are about 200m from the road.  They are spectacular and worth a stop.  There are also toilet facilities and a fairly informative information board.  The lower falls are a further short drive and then a walk away.

I started the 4WD and a funny noise came from under the bonnet!  We drove to the lower falls car park and switched off to have a look.  The 'serpentine' belt had come adrift, broken the air-con belt and made a general mess under the bonnet.  After some cutting and maneuvering I got the belt clear and the vehicle was driveable so we went back to Ebor town and rang for the NRMA service number.

The spare that I didn't think to pack was serpentine belt.  I wasn't sure that we could make it to Armidale, the nearest town with the facilities I was likely to need to we decided to sit and wait for the NRMA to rescue us.

When he arrived he didn't have a belt that could rescue us so we agreed that the best bet was to get us to Armidale, we could have the vehicle repaired and continue on the following day.  And that is pretty much how the day panned out for us.  The NRMA chap loaded us onto the tow truck, took us to a repairer, we dropped the car off, then he took us to the hotel, which the NRMA had arranged for us.  All part of the NRMA premium service, which we are glad we paid.

The next morning we collected the 4WD, checked out of the hotel, and headed off to the campsite where we planned to have a couple of nights before heading back to home.

I guess I should really say thanks to the Dorrigo NRMA, Armidale NRMA authorised repairer, and the local hotel.

Leaving Armidale we headed for Walcha and turned off and headed for the campsite.  As we were travelling we took a call from our rellies, assured them we would be there in a short while, and in a short while we were.

We spent a couple of days exploring this area.   As it is a part of the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park it isn't pet friendly.  There are drop toilets in the camping are but there is no water.  As you can see fires are permitted and there is firewood provided.  Not bad for the princely sum of zero.

And there are lots of things to do and sights to see.  The Tia Falls are worth a look.

Tia Falls

As are the other local falls...
And the gorge...

We settled in for our first night, to wake to a nice morning the next morning.  We took the newly repaired 4WD for a bit of a drive through some well maintained fire trails in the area.
We came across this interesting bridge, all constructed from logs, with earth over the top:
Interesting bridge

We even cleared some timber off the trail...
We settled down back at the campsite, lit the fire and had a camp oven roast and a watched the fire burn down.

The final campfire - always a sad thing

So that is my final installment in the Outback 2010 series.  Next week I will do a post on lessons learned from the trip, and the statistics - fuel, costs, what we would do again, what we wouldn't - that sort of thing.

My final pic in this series is a classic.  We followed a walking track at Tia and after walking around the rim of the gorge we came across this...

See ya...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Grafton and Surrounds

A bit of a change of style this week...

We had arrived at Moree and had a good soak and a sleep in a proper bed after more than a few nights in the tent.  With the gear clean we were about to go down toward the coast at Grafton and spend some time with family.  We didn't really have much of a plan other than doing some roof rack repairs.

On the way down we did find a campground called Cranky Rock that we called into for a look.  Located between Warialda and Inverell, legend has it that a cranky Chinese man, having murdered a woman in Warialda was being chased by police and jumped from the rock.  Later the area was to become a picnic spot popular with the Warialda locals, and then a campground.

 Cranky Rock

Further down the road we passed through Inverell and we arrived late in the day to stay with family.

I won't be boring with the details, but we pulled the roof basket and the racks off the Discovery and replaced them all.  As I re-installed the racks I used a thread locking glue so the nuts wouldn't come loose.   I didn't on the basket as it makes an awful hum when empty...  We also took the opportunity to catch up on email and make a few phone calls.

Then we decided - time to take the 4WD back off road.  We had heard that it is possible to drive from Wooli to Brooms Head, through National Park and State Forest - so we were off.

We found a beach!

And had some fun in the sand...
After dropping the air pressure
What we actually did was drive along the beach from Minnie Water to Sandon Village.  For the campers there is low cost camping virtually on the beach at Minnie Water.  It's National Park so it's their rules...  There was no real reason for us to go to the Village other than to have a quick (10km or so) drive on the beach.  It is a pretty little village with no public facilities nor a shop.  Interestingly we were quite close to Brooms Head, but there is no way for the vehicle to get across the river so we turned back for Minnie Water.

We aired the tyres up a bit and headed into the coastal forests for the drive across to Booms Head for some lunch and a swim...  It's an amazing drive and we didn't take enough photos.  There are a few water crossings that were all shallow.

Water crossing between Minnie Water and Brooms Head

So after some fairly easy 4WD-ing we arrived back on to a good dirt road, which joined up with the main road into Brooms Head.

Dirt road to the Pacific Ocean

After lunch, and a swim we drove into Maclean and bought some prawns for dinner.  We then returned to home base and planned the next outing.
A family trip up into the mountains was our next mission.  We visited Dorrigo and the famous Dangar Falls.  Why famous?  Mainly because they are often confused with the other Dangar Falls near Armidale...

Dangar Falls, Dorrigo NSW

After settling back into a normal bed for the last night we were ready to head back out onto the road.  The roof rack gear was set up properly, the car had been checked for water and oil, and we had contacted the folks we were to camp with and arranged to meet the at Tia Falls in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day 6 - Bollon to Moree

The campsite in Bollon was such a treat we decided that we shouldn't leave too early.

We had a few things we wanted to do - cleaning of some gear, repacking the back of the 4WD, sorting out the fridge all sprung to mind.

Does camping get any better

Once we had had breakfast and had a tidy up we packed up our campsite and set off for Moree...
The plan was to travel across to St George, have a break there, head for a border crossing into NSW at Mungindi which would see us about 120km or so from the next stop.  The plan was to overnight in Moree before heading to stay with family near Grafton the following day.  We picked Moree mainly because on another adventure we stayed in town and spent some time soaking in the thermal pools.  It sounded pretty appealing.

After another go in the free showers in Bollon we were on the road again.  About an hour or so later we came into St George.  With about 2500 residents St George had recently been flooded.  We stopped and had a quick look around.  While some of the damage had been repaired there was still evidence that there was more work to be done.

Flood damage and debris at a playground in St George

I wandered past the debris on the riverbank park to the vantage point on the Balonne River where there is a sign explaining how the town got it's name...

The story of how St George got it's name

Then was the uniquely Australian sight; a road train rumbling through town.

Road train in St George

And for those who were wondering Major Thomas Mitchell, aside from being a famous explorer, is the fellow who has the famous cockatoo named for him, along with the Mitchell Highway as is a town and even an electorate! 

After a very enjoyable break we set out for Mungindi.  Again we were on the road for an hour or so when we reached town in time for lunch.     Mungindi is interesting, if only for the fact that it is the only border town in the Southern Hemisphere that has the same name on both sides of the border!  The do a pretty good pie and a fair cup of coffee in the cafe on the NSW side of the border.

Back on the road we drove through cotton fields and rainstorms to Moree, arriving in the mid afternoon.  We settled into a cabin at the caravan park in town.  We wanted to keep the tent dry.  And spend some quality time in the thermal pools before the drop down to Grafton the next day.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day 5 - Noccundra to Bollen

We woke at Noccundra and were able to have a look around at the place where we camped -  it had been dark when we arrived and we had set up the tent using what looked like a big car park light.

The pub is Noccundra

We weren't in a real hurry to get away, but by the same token there wasn't going to be a lot for us to do.  And the flies were terrible.  For the first (and last) time during the trip I put a fly net thingy on my hat.  With that on I toddled around and took some photos, including some of a brolga in the distance.
Brolga on my camera's maximum zoom

Back at the mostly packed up campsite it was time for a shower, which meant showering in front of an audience!
Shower buddy in the female facilities

And in the males!
There are a couple of options for camping in Noccundra - you can set up at the pub as we did and for $10 a night you can have a hot shower and a flushing toilet.  Across the road from the pub there is a free unserviced camp spot.  You can camp there free and make a gold coin donation for the use of the pubs shower and toilet block.  

I had a couple of vehicle issues bothering me.  Neither all that problematic but while we were in civilization I thought we should seek some advice.  The corrugations and general roughness of the days driving to get to Noccundra had vibrated a 'leg' of my roof rack off the gutter mount point.  I had refitted new nut and spring washers but I wanted to do the entire set.  A thumb-wheel had also vibrated off one of the roof basket retainers and I needed to replace the complete nut and bolt set.  Finally, the drivers side door had stopped opening.  I had to climb from the passenger side and fiddle with the handle for a bit and it finally released.  I wasn't sure whether to pull the door apart or not but I did give it a good long squirt with WD-40, which washed the red dust out, and the door started working again!

So a couple of 4WD-ing tips about vehicle preparation:
  • Fit spring washers and consider thread locking glue on aftermarket parts;
  • Carry WD-40
  • Carry some spare nuts, bolts, spring washers, gaffa tape and cable ties.
With the 'damage' made good, for the time being we set forth, and planned to have a brekky stop at Thargomindah and try for some nuts and bolts there.  It's about 120km from Noccundra to Thargomindah and it's all sealed road.  We hit the town fairly early and settled for a coffee and breakfast at the roadhouse.  The roadhouse is a great place for all sorts of supplies for travelers in the area.  Thargomindah is one of the first countries in the world to use hydro power generation.  There is a museum in town which illustrates the way it is/was done. After breakfast I bought some nuts and bolts, and replaced the questionable ones on the roof rack and we set off for Cunnamulla.

Cunnamulla is about 200km further along so we planned to stop, have lunch and find somewhere to camp for the night.  With a population of over 1000 it is one of the bigger centres that we had been through during the week.  We traveled past the Lake Bindegolly National Park on the way in.  The rains had 'filled' the lake system and the signs were worth the stop!


Anyways - after about 2 hours we reached Cunnamulla, refuelled and had lunch in the park alongside the tourist information centre.

Ok - by now most of the regular readers will know that I am a country music fan.  Every country music artist and fan in Australia has been influenced in some way by the late Slim Dusty, and one of his close friends and fellow songwriter and performer Stan Coster.  One Coster's biggest hits as a songwriter was his tribute to the ringers on the stations in the outback - Cunnamulla Fella.  It was recorded by Slim Dusty, and later a variety of artists including Lee Kernaghan and even the Screaming Jets!!  The statue in town is a double size version of a ringer with his swag.

Now you know who he is!!

After seeking advice from the visitor information centre we set off for a campsite we had been told about at a town called Bollon.  After a couple of more hours on the road we located the little town and after a quick stop in the town we were directed to the campsite.

Kudos is due here - firstly to the folks at Cunnamulla for putting us on to it.  I was a bit surprised that they encouraged us to leave town.  Secondly kudos to the township or council or whoever is responsible for the campground.  Located on the river, it is free, pet friendly, there are fire places and plenty of shady sites.  In town, in a park opposite the local pub there are public flush toilets and free hot showers.

We found ourselves a site, set up for the night and then drove back into town for a very nice hot shower.

Back at the campsite we had some dinner and settled in to work out our next few days.  We decided to make a late start, clean our gear, and head a bit further across Queensland then head south into NSW.  All up I was happy enough to watch the fire burn down and the stars shine down from above.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Day 4 - Tibooburra, Cameron Corner and Noccundra

Having made it up to Tibooburra we were really about to start the adventure.  We had planned on camping in Sturt National Park but being off tourist season things didn't go our way.  Deadhorse Gully had a rather large resident snake, so we decided quite quickly not to camp there. The recent rains had closed a number of the roads in Sturt so we visited the other campsite that we could access.  It was overgrown with weeds so we decided that the caravan park was the quickest easiest way to go.

The people of Tibooburra are also worth a mention.  The were all friendly and helpful.  We had a burger and a chat in the Corner Country Store and got some good advice about the local road conditions and were told that our plans needed revising.  The folks at the pub also hold the key to public showers and the laundry facilities at the motel across the road so we decided to was some clothes.  While that was happening we walked through town to the Sturt memorial park, complete with a replica of the whaler that his exploration team carried in case the found the inland sea they were looking for.  It is definitely worth a visit.

Moving the other direction through town we came across the Tibooburra Outback School of the Air.  Given some of the vast distances between, well... things, in the NSW Outback some of the children don't travel to school, they receive interactive lessons over the 'airwaves'.  It was actually a Sunday, so we were unable to see a lesson in progress.  According to their website there are the only dual mode school where students from the township attend the school and the folks on the surrounding properties attend via the satellite communication setup, which replaced the HF radio in 2004.

If you visit corner country it is worth a look.  If you can't make it there the website is fascinating.

Anyway we broke camp at a fairly leisurely pace, had a shower in the caravan parks shower block and were ready to set off.  I mention it because of the frogs.  I have never seen that many of the little critters in one place at one time.  Apparently leaving the light on after sundown attracts insects, which in turn attracts frogs.  We also took the opportunity to again check the car before we left and top off our water and fuel.

We were really heading into the remote outback!

The drive to Cameron Corner is about 120km.  Turning off the Silver City Highway you get the feeling that the adventure is about to begin.

A typical outback road condition sign

Heading toward Cameron Corner the road was in fairly good condition.  My initial thought was that a grader had been through and smoothed the road somewhat.

After a short while we came across water again.  Interestingly there were a number of tracks past this 'lake' which is indicative of the water not always being as high as it was.  It probably also indicates that there was more water not that long before we passed through.

Roadside lake between Tibooburra and Cameron Corner

 The lakes were to become a little more important to us as the day went by.

It wasn't long before we arrived at the Corner...

Border crossing into the Queensland.

OK - what first.  To explain for those who have never been there - this is the point where the borders of Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia meet.  It is named for the NSW Surveyor John Brewer Cameron who surveyed the NSW/Qld border, and marked the corner with a post in 1880.

The corner marker - not the original

There is a shop at the corner that does food, friendly chat and advice on local conditions.  You can also camp either at the store or across the road from it.  If you camp at the store there is a nominal that covers the use of the facilities.  If you are in the store look up - on the ceiling you will find cash - donations to a charity - usually the Royal Flying Doctor's Service.  We had a bit of a chat and sought some advice about the best way to continue our travels.
The other thing here is the famous dingo (native dog) fence.  Work started in 1880 and finished in 1885, it runs from about Dalby, Queensland to Nundroo, South Australia.  It is the worlds longest fence, running for 5614km.  The intent of the fence is to keep the dingo clear of the fertile sheep growing regions.  There are a limited number of gates where you can get through the fence.  The fence is maintained and if you are near it you are asked to shut the gates and not to climb on the fence.

The fence and a don't climb sign

With the obligatory photos taken and the advice from the folks in the Corner Store ringing in our ears we set off.  We had intended originally to have a bit of a look around and then head for Bourke from Tibooburra,  We know that the road was closed so the advice was head into Queensland for a bit, and then cross in to NSW above Moree.  We were happy to take the advice.

The first piece was that there would be some puddles to drive around.  The second was always use the track around the puddle - don't try and drive through.
An outback puddle blocks the road
The track around to the left.
We thought that we had the Outback travel thing under control - using the tracks around was not too bad until...

We actually considered turning around because we couldn't find a track.  As we drove back towards Cameron Corner we did spot some flattened grass.  We could continue.  For the first time in the trip we were in four wheel drive and doing some, literally, off road driving.  After about 20 minutes of driving through long grass with on loose sand we found our way back on to the road.

The track around - easy to see how we missed it

We were feeling pretty good at this stage, cruising along the track towards Noccundra when we came across the next challenge of the day...
The road had pretty much been washed away

I had been bogged - mainly as a result of not being in true 4WD, and losing momentum in the soft bulldust.  We engaged 4WD backed out, picked a different line...

I wasn't the only one through here

On the 'other side' we met another couple who had intended to travel to Cameron Corner but didn't fancy their chances after we had a bit of a chat about the road conditions they had ahead.  We continued on, feeling pretty good about ourselves.  We passed through more bulldust, around more puddles, through some boggy mud until we finally hit a well formed graded road, where there was a fairly big sign showing us our options.

In the background it's pretty easy to see the stormclouds were forming, so we continued on.  We decided against a bush camp.  We had been told of a nice free riverside spot, but the chance of being unable to move after the rain inspired us to push on to Noccundra.

We arrived there to find a campgound beside the pub with hot and cold running water.  We set up camp and cooked dinner, and were in bed fairly early.  Although we travelled less than 400km for the day we were exhausted - mainly from the fun we had had!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 3 - White Cliffs to Tibooburra

After breakfast, loading the car and some goodbyes to the folks who had also stayed at the underground accommodation we decided to have a drive through the opal mines and head north west for Tibooburra.

We drove through discussing what life must have been like when opal was first discovered, before electricity was reliably generated, before the roads were good enough to ensure regular supplies were available...  We decided that it must have been a tough life.  Heading out onto the main road we had our first experience of driving in the outback proper.

 Typical red dirt outback road

The locals in White Cliffs told us that some of the roads had been closed as a result of flood waters coming through but the roads to Tibooburra were open and in fairly good condition.  All the way through they were.  However there was evidence at the side of the road that the waters had been through.  We stopped to have a look.  Fortunately no other vehicles were about.

The creek bed makes it easy to see the power of the water that had flowed through.  Interestingly we saw no water for miles and miles, until we reached the Silver City Highway.

 The locals told us that what is now green is usually red dust, but for the rains and the flooding.

The other thing that we had to adapt to was the vastness and remoteness of where we were.

The Discovery looks tiny in the Australian Outback

After a while we reached the Silver City Highway junction, where we found, intriguingly, what we called the tool tree.

Anyone have any idea why it's there?

 The Silver City highway runs from Buronga on the NSW/Vic border to the Warri Gate north of Tibooburra.  Departing from Buronga on the New South Wales Victoria border it snakes it's way north, through Wentworth to Broken Hill.  Apparently it is sealed south of Broken Hill, and there are sealed parts between Broken Hill and the Warri Gate, but not many...

It didn't take us long before we came across the roadside Patterson Lake and Salt Lake.  These were almost literally roadside lakes and after a couple of hours on red dirt roads were not expecting to see so much water.

Outback roadside lake

We returned to the highway and decided to head to Tibooburra, have some lunch, organise accommodation for the night and check out the road conditions to Cameron Corner.  The Silver City Highway changed from sealed bitumen to good dirt to quite corrugated sections.

Corrugations of the Silver City Highway
The black 'spots' are locust
Our next stop was the 'ghost town' of Milparinka.  When gold was discovered in the region in the 1870's there was a 'rush' to Milparinka, but gold wasn't found there but nevertheless the town developed as an administrative centre with banks, shops, pubs, a newspaper, police station and even a court house.  As the township was progressively abandoned a local community group has restored the historical buildings, which were open and 'manned' when we arrived.

Milparinka Visitor Information Centre
Note the chair and cup of the volunteer
We enjoyed our stop and look through the buildings and in particular the friendly chap at the visitor information centre, and with some regret we left.

It didn't take long before we arrived in Tibooburra.

Advice in town was to head into Sturt National Park to camp but we eventually took a drive through the open part of the park and settled in for the night at a caravan park.

It hadn't been a long day but we had seen some amazing territory, and we were as ready as we could be for the adventure across to Cameron Corner.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Outback Day 2 - Nyngan to White Cliffs

I guess these posts will be as much about the journey as about 4WD-ing and camping.  Especially last week's post and this week's post.

Our intention was to leave Nyngan fairly early and make haste along the Barrier Highway to about Wilcannia.  Mostly not a long drive (about 400km) and on a sealed highway we thought that we would set off fairly early, arrive and set up camp fairly early and explore the area.

It didn't take much driving down the highway before we definitely got the feeling that we were heading in to the outback.  The Barrier Highway has a number of little roadside rest stops and we pulled up at one for a look.

The red dirt and the trees are typical of this part of the outback, and the facilities were well maintained.

After an hour or so we arrived at Cobar.  A town built on mining (copper was discovered in 1870) the it is worth stopping and having a look at the visitor centre, which houses a museum.  It is also worth a drive to have a look at the new mine.  Doesn't matter what you think of mining, the scale of the operations is always somehow impressive.  One of the other things that Cobar is 'known' for is being the home of the pub with the longest iron lace veranda in NSW.

After a bit of a look through town we continued toward Wilcannia and stopped for lunch at another roadside rest area.  As planned we arrived in Wilcannia after a couple of hours on the road. Being on the Darling River Wilcannia was once a thriving inland port, complete with riverboats.  Apparently paddlesteamers were preferred due to their draft and the variable, but usually shallow depth of the river.

When we arrived it was still fairly early so we decided to 'turn right' and head north to the former opal mining settlement of White Cliffs.

We had checked earlier, and at the junction of the road there was no indication that the road was closed, so we set off to look for accommodation in the locality.  Ultimately we chose to stay at underground accommodation in White Cliffs.  There are two places you can stay at, the Underground Motel and the Underground B&B.  It is a unique experience and although unplanned I enjoyed it a great deal.  There are only a couple of places in Australia where you can spend the night underground so we enjoyed the stay greatly.
 The entry to our accommodation

Particularly the view from the roof at sunset.

Outback sunset 1 - White Cliffs

Outback sunset 2 - White Cliffs

We didn't camp at White Cliffs as such but we did learn two important things - bring the 240V cord for the fridge...

Note the fridge on gas in the car park

We had also driven through a locust plague.  It is worthwhile checking your vehicle's airbox, particularly if you have a snorkel fitted.  I emptied the locusts from mine in Nyngan and again in White Cliffs.  I think the snorkel was acting like a bit of a vacuum cleaner when driving through the swarms.

Depending on how I feel tomorrow, I shall try and get another post up, from White Cliffs to Tibooburra...