Thursday, 29 November 2012

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Charleville - 14/11/12 to 17/11/12

In Charleville we stayed about 2 k's out of town at The Charleville Bush Caravan Park. We were lucky to get in there as the owner was closing it down until next Easter, when the tourist season gets back into full swing. However, as he was still on site, he let us stay and it turned out we were the only van there for the first night. Well set up park with good facilities, which we had all to ourselves. For nights two and three the relieving caretakers turned up in their van, so we had to share. In hindsight we also had to share the park with the huge number of kangaroos that turned up at dusk and dawn.

Again it's very hot with temperature once more in the high 30's and pushing 40 degrees. We went into town the first afternoon and, once again like other older country towns, the streets are extremely wide. For Charleville this was so they could turn the bullock teams around. We looked at a few old buildings and checked out the Hotel Corones. This must be one of the biggest timber pubs I have ever seen. It is so big it took five years to complete, starting in 1924 and finishing in 1929. A very grand old hotel and in fairly good condition. The public bar is huge with more room behind the bar than in front. We also headed out to the Cosmos Centre and checked out their set up. A lot of interactive displays around the planets and stars. We all got to hold a piece of shooting star - which is actually a piece of meteorite that fell to earth many years ago. A video was also included which showed how the earth was formed and its place in the solar system. Very good and kept the boys interested through the whole display. Back home and turned on the air con in the van and, despite it being quite noisy, ran it well into the night before we dared turn it off.

We headed out to the Charleville Weather Station the next morning to learn about weather recording and watch the release of the weather balloon. A balloon is released every day at 9.15am with equipment attached for sending back info to the station. Apparently, weather balloons are released all over the world simultaneously to record this information and get a picture of the conditions to enable forecasting. From there we decided to head to the local pool for a swim. Due to the heat, and the fact that the artesian water is used in the pool, you have to stay down under the covered end if you want to cool down. Otherwise, you might as well be having a bath. After lunch we did a drive around town, listening to a CD on the town history which we had picked up from the tourist centre. A good way to get a down load on the town when the weather is touching 40 degrees. When we finished that we decided to stop in at the RSL for a drink and take advantage of their air con for a while.

The boys hadn't had a skate park fix for a while so on our last day I took them out to the local skate park early in the morning, before it got too hot. The park was OK with some fairly "tame" ramps but the guys had a pretty good time there. Back home to set the air con going then we headed down to the local river, the Ward, for a swim and muck around. We took some lunch, our blow up surf mat and the sub skates and stayed down there for a couple of hours. Back home to spend most of the afternoon around the van. We had booked and paid for a night viewing at the Cosmos Centre. However, the cloud rolled in and it had to be cancelled. We had to go out to the centre around 7.30pm to collect our refund. So, after doing this we went to the roadhouse and bought some ice blocks and wandered around town eating them. Have to say not much happening in town for a Friday night.

Jakie waiting for the next train
At the Cosmos Centre

Boys holding a piece of shooting star (meteorite)

Corones Hotel

Looking back at the other side of Corones Hotel. This gives a better idea how big it is

Early morning visitors in our van park

Master chefs at work

Matching outfits. Ain't that cute

Getting the run through on weather forecasting at the Charleville Bureau of Meteorology

And watching the weather balloon being released

At the local pool trying to cool off

In and around town

Out at the Ward River

Friday, 16 November 2012

Cunnamulla - 12/11/12 to 14/11/12

From Bourke we headed north towards Cunnamulla and, therefore, back into our home state of Queensland. We worked out that we had been out of our home state for 240 days, having crossed the border from Queensland into NSW on 17/03/12. Not much to see along the way but sheep, emus, goats and the occasional road train. We had a very close “near miss” with an emu and had the brakes on the caravan locked up as we were trying to pull our rig up to avoid a collision. Both we and the emu were very lucky to come out unscathed.

We set up camp in a very nice caravan park down by the Warrego River. The park was fairly new, having opened for business on the 1st May this year. The amenities block was probably the best we have encountered. Due to the warming weather there are not many travellers now and only two other vans in besides us. Talking about the weather, it is certainly getting warm. The days are constantly in the high 30’s and the nights are also quite warm. We are now running the air conditioning constantly trying to keep us and the interior of the van cool.

We had a quick look around the town but not much happening there. It’s pretty much a two street town centre. Also, we were in town at around 1.30pm and most shops seem to shut between 1.00pm and 2.00pm for lunch. Closing for lunch – now that’s a bit of a blast from the past. We spent the remainder of the day down by the river at the caravan park. The manager lent the boys her yabby trap and the boys baited it up and dropped it in the river. They also had a bit of a fish from the shore with their hand lines. No luck on the fishing and constant checks of the yabby trap produced no return for day one. Hopeful that next day would be better. Otherwise, it was very relaxing sitting down by the river, especially as it got later in the day and the shade increased and the temperature started to drop.

The boys were up early to check the pot but, again, no luck. We headed off into town later to the museum and Artesian Time Tunnel. This was a simulated time tunnel where you were taken back 100 million years to learn about the Great Australian Artesian Basin. This is the inland underground water table that starts off when water enters the underground system at around the Great Dividing Range and runs inland (underground) to Central Australia. It is the only source of water for much of the inland. Some statistics are that it covers one fifth of Australian and the age of the water that is extracted is said to be 2 million years old. It also comes out of the ground at a temperature of somewhere between 30 and 50 degrees and, in some places, can be as hot as 100 degrees.

We got out our inflatable boat for the first time on this trip and dropped it in the river back at the park. The boys had a great time paddling about and jumping out of it into the river. Vicki also got in for a paddle and swim. The boys did some more fishing as well – they are now quite expert at setting up their lines with hooks, sinkers etc. We stayed down there for most of the afternoon. Once again, very relaxing. Only disappointment was that the yabby pot failed to give us a return. But they will have one last chance tomorrow morning as they check it before we leave.

Next morning – no yabbies.

We stopped at the NSW/Qld border for a photo and comfort break. However, boys did not feel right doing the business in Qld so they walked across the cattle grid back into NSW

Last in Qld on 17/03/12 and have now returned on 12/11/12 - nearly 8 months later

Mural on wall in main street of Cunnamulla

Boys and the "Cunnamulla Fella"

Preparing the yabby trap

And the boys about to drop it in 

Fishing and playing in the Warrego River

In the town park

In the Artesian Time Machine at the local museum

Little corner store in Cunnamulla supplying all your needs - groceries, small goods, guns and ammo.

Off to do some canoeing in the river

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Bourke - 10/11/12 to 12/11/12

After the longest drive of our trip (616 km) we finally reached Bourke at 3.30pm NSW time, once again having changed time zones. We were in the car for eight hours and the boys again showed themselves to be excellent car travellers. They read most of it and sometimes watch videos, but they are quite used to the travel and know sometimes we have to do some long days to get to our next stop.

Driving into Bourke was like driving into a ghost town, with all the shops closed and not a pane of glass to be seen. These were covered up with pull down shutters. There was nobody about, then I realised it was the weekend. Like most small country towns, Bourke’s shops close after 12 noon on Saturdays. Also lots of tumble weed/spinifex been blown across the road to add to the ghost town look.

The caravan park we are staying at has the most beautiful green grass, something we haven’t seen for a while so we put to good use playing cricket the days we were there. We took it pretty easy here as we’re all feeling a little tired and Jacob was a little unwell. So we didn’t get the real Bourke experience; for this you need to get out and about in the surrounding countryside to explore the national parks and other natural features. Also, we are now reaching maximum temperatures in the high 30’s and that is slowing us down a little. There seems to be a mini heat wave going through outback NSW and Queensland just now and there are some predictions of temperatures approaching 40 degrees coming up.   

When not relaxing at the park we spent our time checking out the old buildings in town and the nearby surrounding area. Most of the buildings in town date back to 1880’s. Bourke was settled along the Darling River as an important inland port in the days when paddle steamers travelled the Murray and Darling Rivers. We drove along the Darling River, on both sides, and checked out the old wharf and where they used to ferry stock across. There was also the remains of a paddle steamer, the P S Wave, which was stranded when the Darling River receded. Not much left now but the rusted metal paddles. We walked across the old North Bourke Bridge which was one of the few vertical lift bridges ever built. A whole section of the bridge was able to be lifted up in one piece to allow the paddle steamers to pass underneath. Amazing technology for its time. There was also a lock and weir further down the river to, first, control the flow of the river and then, to allow the boats to move upstream to the changing level. Once again, quite an engineering feat for its time.

Finally, we checked out Fred Hollows grave at the Bourke cemetery. Fred Hollows was not born in Bourke, nor did he live there at any stage of his life. However, he did a lot of work there and apparently felt a great affinity with the area and the people and his request was to be buried there. There was a bit of a story about his life and his work. A very impressive man.

Not much more to say here
Tumble weeds / spinifex blowing across the highway

Some of the beautiful old buildings in Bourke

Oldest standing building in Bourke. Western Herald Newspaper 

Darling River

North Bourke Bridge

Replica of old wharf

The lock and weir

A spectator in the stands at the locl showgrounds

Doug's collection of stubbie coolers, so far ....

At the caravan park

Jacob getting some coaching from a has been who never was

Is this what they mean by "throwing the bat"

Good action. Maybe we'll have a cricketer in the family yet