The day we left the station it was supposed to rain, so we headed into a caravan park in Bourke. Camped beside the grumpiest of grey nomads encountered so far. "Oh they've got children" pretty much confirmed them amongst the 80 percenters. Don't know what it is about the travelling retirees, but they fall into two distinct groups. About 20% are very friendly, great with the kids etc, and the rest seem to be full time whingers. Like a bloke at Bourke said, maybe they didn't make it as National Parks Rangers, were either too grumpy or not grumpy enough.
End of rant:
Brewarrina. Another town with a fairly high indiginous population. We camped about 10km out of town beside the river. Then it rained and we nearly didn't get out.
On to Walgett, similar in most ways but slightly more appealing, then North to Lightening Ridge.
One of the "residents" at the caravan park had built this contraption. He seemed to pretty typical of the locals:
The town of Lightining Ridge is pretty well serviced and quite well developed. Population is about 7000 so a fair way ahead of places like Whitecliffs and Andamooka. The outskirts of the town is all holes and mullock heaps. Had a bit of a scratch around but didn't find much.
The video at the end of the mine tour was quite well done. I think the success rate was something like 10% of miners find something, 10% of those make a living, and 10% of those strike it rich. Definitely a game for the "passionate". Equipment has all levels of ingenuity:
And the hot springs
Which were very hot. About 43 degrees so we had to get out every 10 minutes to cool off.
From Lightning Ridge south through Walgett again then East through Burren Junction. Hot springs here too but it was blowing a gale and pretty awful so we continued on to Wee Waa and camped in the bush:
Heard some strange noises in the night that we couldn't work out until the next day when we stumbled across the Radio Telescope Array outside Narrabri. Being a still night we could hear the telescopes re positioning.
Very interesting and well presented visitor centre.
Camped at Yarrie Lake which was a bit windy during the day but very pleasant at night.
Spent a couple of nights in Narrabri at the showgrounds. Spent a day out at Mt Kaputar National Park:
The country changes around Narrabri fairly dramatically from flat plains to the western edge of the Dividing range.
The following day we drove up some hills to Sawn Rocks:
Camped beside a river between Narrabri and Inverell. When we arrived it was a beautiful sunny day. That night it rained, all night, and all the next day. We had no phone service so couldn't check the weather. I walked about 3km up the road where a local pulled up and told me the rain was supposed to stop. Eventually it did and the following afternoon we were able to get out.
Next stop was going to be Inverell Showgrounds, but the local council had closed it to campers the day before. Weve since seen this in a few places where the caravan parks put pressure on the councils to stop camping at the showgrounds.
So we said stick Inverell then, and moved on to Glen Innes, where the showgrounds had better sites than any of the caravan parks for about half the price:
Glen Innes has a pretty strong Celtic heritage. Probably something to do with the bitter cold weather. There is a modern Stonehenge arrangement on to pof the hill.
Kids had a go at becoming King Arthur:
From Glen Innes to Tenterfield, and up to Boonoo Boonoo Falls. Bit quiet at the moment:
But evidence of some pretty serious water recently:
Made it into Queensland for the second time (first time was Camerons Corner). This is between Tenterfield and Stanthorpe:
Stanthorpe was a bit fresh and windy. Quite elevated there though.
Next town North is Warwick. Being Sunday the markets were on at Glengallan Homestead. Lots of animals for the kids to play with:
Kids ended up in the local paper:
Very spectacular house:
Into Toowoomba. Bit of culture shock after being out in the scrub for months.
The local Ag Show was on, so we found our biggest hats and boots and headed in. Lot of farming equipment as you would expect, but plenty of other stuff as well:
Very steep decent out of Toowwomba toward Ipswitch. Went through Grantham in the Lockyer valley which was severely flooded last summer. Still a lot of empty houses, and a couple that had been washed downstream.
Made it into the Gold Coast which was particularly awful. Traffic was very heavy all the way from Ipswitch. Weather had warmed up though. Saw the sea for the first time in 5 months.
So why did we go there?
Had a day out in the Feme Park. Kids were probably a bit young as most of the rides were aimed at 8 to 10 year olds and older. But we had some fun and saw a few animals:
From there we went to Brisbane and saw Simones Aunty Sue and David. You will have to assume they looked glamorous as we forgot to take a picture of them.
Then up to the Sunshine Coast where we caught up with Dean and Nina Eldridge formerly of Portland who have Koby the same age as Beth, and Riley who was born a few hours before the twins:
Then we saw Grant Hicks, formerly of Burnie who I played in a band with breifly, and used to drink beer with extensively.
Big blog this one! must have been a while since the last one, or we take too many photos. Anyway, bare with us:
So then it got interesting. After leaving the Station at Bourke two things happened:
1. A former Engineering manager from Pivot in Portland rang me and asked if I wanted a job. So after some telephony with a raft of recruiting people asking identical questions, we all flew up to Moranbah (200km West of Mackay) to have a job interview and look around the town. Dyno Nobel are an American company owned by Incitec Pivot (Australian fertiliser manufacturer) who are building an Ammonium Nitrate (explosives) plant to service the mines.
The big carrot is that they supply houses. So we are here for 6 months.
2. We decided to change caravans. The Roadstar has served us well and is brilliant when stopped. But is big, heavy, and a general pain in the bum once it needs to be moved. So we looked at wind up camper trailers and ended up buying one on the Gold Coast.
So we based ourselves in Caboolture (Showgrounds), went and collected the new caravan, cleaned out the old one, packed an enormous amount of stuff into storage with a local removalist, and sold the old van. All in a week:
The bathrooom in the new van is a bit smaller:
This is it packed up:
Which means we can camp in places like this now:
So we will probably get stuck in campsites about the same amount, but they will be even harder to get out of.
From Caboolture we headed west back into the hills, through Blackbutt and Yarraman. There is an old railway tunnel with bat colony included:
Fell out the other side of the GDR (great dividing range) on the Western Downs at Dalby. The country flattens out again here. Agriculture takes over from traffic:
Dropped in to Jimbour Mansion just north of Dalby:
The place is lived in but the gardens and outbuildings are open to the public.
Kids in their new bed
From Dalby we headed west on the worst sealed road in Australia, through Chinchilla toward Roma. Lot of new houses in these towns and mines everywhere.
Roma's main attraction is its oil and gas drilling history. Ran into the Mornabah school principal on holiday.
Had a ride on the Roma Express:
North from Roma through Injune to Conarvon Gorge. Being school holidays all the campgrounds were booked out so we camped over the road and headed into Conarvon for the day. Lot of fires around the are and smoke everywhere.
Absorbed some indigenous culture:
and went for a swim:
Rolleston to the north was also booked out so we camped on the side of the road, which was a lot nicer than the caravan park anyway.
Then onto Emerald. Had a couple of days there as I had to do a medical for the job:
Monorail at the botanic gardens:
Emerald had a few other attractions such as an Irish pub with Guinness on tap. Had a very nice meal and sampled a few.
Then it was just another 200km up to Moranbah. Got here Thursday and moved into the house.
We have a "duplex", which is a 3 bedroom house attached to another one. 2 car garage, big living area, air conditioned, partly furnished with the essential bits like fridge, washing machine and an enormous telly which the kids are still a bit dazzled by.
Presume we are in the right place!
So I start work and the kids start school at the local primary on Monday (3rd Oct). Beth in Grade 1 and the Twins in Prep.
Could be a bit warm up here. Since Caboolture the weather has really warmed up. Don't think weve had a day under 28 for the last 2 weeks.
The 20th of September marked one year on the road for us. Few statistics if you haven't dozed off yet:
- 7 months straight since we've lived in a house
- Total working weeks: 30 for me and 6 for Simone. So we've worked 60% of the time, which is about what we planned.
- Total km: about 18000. Probably about 14000 towing the van
- Average fuel economy, 25 l/100, or just under 12mpg. Worst economy was about 9mpg (31 l/100) from Bairnsdale to Omeo. The new van has this down to 17 l/100 and 20kmh quicker.
- Average price of Diesel has been between $1.40 and $1.60, so we’ve used about 4500 litres of diesel, which cost $6750.
- Camped in caravan parks about probably half the time. Tended to stay in Showgrounds the last month or two as they offer the same facilities (power, water, toilets and hot showers) for $20 a night, whereas caravan parks have averaged about $45. Most expensive caravan park was Moruya over last Christmas ($460 a week/ $65/night), so we moved into a house. Quite a few around Brisbane/Goldcoast/Sunshine coast were $80 and one I think was $98 - for a power point and a tap. And you need to provide your own building!
Next update in March.