Burke and Wills Campground – T, B, OR, F, M, D, DW. 18 km NE of Menindee. Turn onto Main Weir Road 8 km N of Menindee. We loved this whole Menindee area, it gets very busy on holidays. Very large area, dusty, trees, next to an arm of the darling River. Has plenty of taps with drinkable water. There are bins but they were overflowing when we were there due to the crowds from Easter the week before. Lots of flies, 9 km of dirt road with lots of corrugations. Might not be accessible in wet weather. Rating – 4
We were up at 6am again for a sunrise but we found it hard to find a good spot with reflections of the dead looking trees over Lake Wetherill, we will keep our eyes open for a more suitable spot. I did get one quick shot before the sunrise went as did Chris.
After brekkie we put the Kayak on the Darling River and went for a paddle. It’s hard getting into it as the water is down so the banks are a bit high. Half way on our journey we swapped spots as I was in the back in the Kayak and we weren’t going in a straight line very well, I was taking the scenic route. It was better with Chris in the back as he had more control and could put more power into it. Better for me in the front too as it’s not as hard work and I can just get paddled along, hee hee, I get to see more too. We are not doing to bad for only our 2nd time in it. It was very nice, we got to paddle past people’s camp sites and have a chat to some. We wore our rock wet suit shoes and they were fantastic, nothing seems to stick to them and no dusty or muddy feet either.
The area we are camped in is huge, with plenty of gum trees for shade. The ground is just dirt and is very dusty and turns to mud if it gets wet. There are quite a few water taps spread around the camp area, one not far from us that we think the hoses will reach. The water is crystal clear so we assume drinkable as there are no signs saying otherwise. We plan to fill the tanks before we leave and do some washing while we are here. There is Telstra coverage here too. It’s a beaut spot and it would be lovely to sit out under the awning or under a gum tree in the shade but the flies drive you NUTS and all this for free.
We can manage quite well without the extra power we have this trip but it is so nice to have it and the genie to top everything up and run the micro and washer later. We have the fan running, fridge is running on power and the batteries are being topped up, very cool and the yoghurt maker running off the inverter.
After lunch we went into the town of Menindee, along the other dirt road. It was slightly better than where we came in but not much and over all is a longer way back to the Hill. Menindee is a small and appears to be a dying town especially when there is no water around. We called in at the local info centre and had a chat. Lake Pamamaroo had water in 5 months ago but they let it out to run it out down into the Murray. Lake Menindee hasn’t had water in it for 10 yrs and if it did they would release it into the Murray, a small amount of water is release from Lake Wetherill everyday to head down stream.
We had an early tea to see if we could get a sunset over Lake Menindee, there is an area on the map called Sunset Strip so we thought sunset. Well it’s actually an estate right on the edge of Lake Menindee, all those houses would of had prime views of this massive lake and now it’s like an open flat plain with dead trees and some bushes with prickles as the under growth. Would have been an awesome site had the lake had water in it. We raced back to the lookout area but the sunset was a fizzer. We came back to Lake Pamamaroo and found the spot for tomorrow night.
We get to have a sleep in tomorrow, yeah.
Main Weir Campground – T, B, OR, F, W, D. 19 km NE of Menindee. Turn onto Main Weir Road 8 km N of Menindee. 9 km of dirt road with lots of corrugations. This area is on the edge of the Darling River and Lake Wetherill. It’s split into 2 areas one on the Darling River the other next to Lake Wetherill, this was the most crowded area when we were there as it’s popular spot for boaties. Lake Wetherill is a great and fascinating spot to canoe around with all the dead trees sticking out of the water. The river is also a great place to canoe down with lots of birdlife in both areas. Might not be accessible in wet weather. Rating – 4
We had a bit of a sleep in and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before heading down to Lake Wetherill for a paddle. It was really fun, relaxing and interesting paddling amongst all the dead gnarly trees. The trees are quite fascinating up close. There were heaps of little birds, Kites, galahs living in the trees, Cormorants and egrets also make their home on the lake. It’s great to have the point and shoot but also very frustrating as it doesn’t have the lens reach and is way too slow to catch the birds. A few muscles are a wee bit sore.
We came back and put the washing on and filled the tanks. It’s a bit breezy today so great drying weather.
We went for another paddle on the Darling River this time on another arm of the river. There were lots of birds but they obviously aren’t used to people as they didn’t let us get anywhere near them. It was very pleasant and cool. The flies here are enough to make people go crazy.Later in the arvo we moved camp spots about 1km up the road on the edge of Lake Wetherill, change of scenery, more birds and closer to the sunrise tomorrow morning.
We attempted another sunset but it’s not doing its bit and was a bit of a fizzer again.
Gee nature is not doing her part, the sunrise was terrible, there was heavy cloud right on the horizon. It was getting later and later and we were wondering where the sun was when it finally appeared above the clouds but there was no colour as it was too far up.
We arrived in at the Hill just before lunch; we went for a walk down the main street of BH. It is said in the tourist info that BH is like a living museum. You can see why with so many old buildings, there is a lot of history in the place. As you walk around there are the signs that show pictures and some historic information about that particular spot.
We called into the Silver City Mint and Art Centre; it was much bigger inside that in looked at the front. The reason Chris was drawn to the place was it had a sigh out the front about a chocolate factory, which was only a very small part of the place. It had lots of art work from the local artist; some were good some were not. There was also a display of floral work from apparently the best floral painter in Australia. There was also animals, like possums, emus, kangaroos, lizards, frogs etc all made out of a sheet of tin that looked like they have been cut out with an oxy welder or small gas cutter, there was also one that had a farm house, emu and windmill in it, I like this one the best. This place is also the home of “The Big Picture” the world’s largest acrylic painting on canvas, 12m x 100m. You had to pay to get in to see that so we didn’t see it. There was more than enough other art to satisfy the arty people. It is well worth dropping in for a look.
All the streets in BH hill are mining type of names. The gutters are very big; it seems when it rains it really rains.
We called into the info centre to get a key for the Sculptures, we got the last one, we think they hand out 15. We checked with them that there was room to turn the van around at the top, which there was but they were wondering about parking, so we have come up here early to make sure we get a park, of which there is plenty of. We have seen cars come and go so we aren’t really sure how many will be here for the sunset, they also do bus tours up here for sunset. It’s all very interesting but a bit too in depth with the meanings they are trying to display for me. I like some better than others.
Boy every tourist in BH was up at the sculptures for the sunset, they had heard it was a good place to have a picnic and watch the sun set. Not only the people that drove but there were also many who had walked up. There were people everywhere and it was impossible to get shots without people in them. And forget trying to get the sun behind a sculpture everyone was on the other side of the watching the sun go down. But it was still an amazing experience and one that was a pleasure to share with other travellers. We had lovely chats with many of them.
Where are we camped? Umm don’t know, well I sort of do, somewhere between the sculpture turn off and BH more towards the sculptures. It’s not a designated camp area; it’s just well off the road in the desert somewhere. We did spy a spot on our way this arvo and we tried to find it in the pitch black. I was holding the big spot light out the window as we were driving along trying to find it. We ended up stopping nearly opposite the sculpture turn off in an area the bike riders use but we will be gone well before anyone else turns up. It is quite cold outside and as mentioned pitch black.
Our night spot was very quiet, no cars went by at all, we were up at 5.45am and it was freezing. I grabbed my jacket, beanie and gloves as I knew up at the sculptures it would be colder and I was right.
We have notice down here people are a bit slow in getting moving in the mornings; other travellers have said the same. Well the sun is the same, it takes forever to rise, didn’t rise today until 7am, we were waiting in the cold for an hour. Only a so so sunrise, but we were the only ones mad enough to be there at that time.
At Yunta we took a little detour to some ruins I had found on the internet about 33km up a dirt rd. They are called Waukaringa Ruins, they were very fascinating, we think one was the old pub; all that is left is the stone work. You can wonder around inside and walked around what would have been the cellars. We spent a couple of hours taking photos from every angle, only calling it quits when we couldn’t handle any more flies or the heat.
When we dropped the key into the info centre I asked if we have brought fruit in the fruit fly free zone of BH can we take it into SA, no. So we had to eat as much fruit and vegies as we could, which fortunately wasn’t much, Chris did have 3 apples and 2 tomatoes but he wouldn’t eat the other 6 tomatoes we had to throw out. At Yunta we were talking to some other motorhome people who were also saying how crazy it is. They were told at a check point coming in from Vic, that they did have a sign at BH saying you can’t bring fruit and vegies into SA but the BH people took it down cause they want to sell them to travellers, we think it’s just a scam to get us to buy fruit and veg in their part of the world. We were checked in SA, he came into the van, crazy thing is the check point is over 200kms into SA.
We have stopped at Peterborough for the night.
You see some crazy things on the road, we have seen a bottle tree, with bottles stuck all over it. Days later and many km’s later we saw a tree with tin foil all over it, another decorated with tinsel, we saw some huge dice in the middle of nowhere but the weirdest so far was today. We passed what looked like a garage sale but in the middle of nowhere, no houses around, no driveways or towns and they even had a bathtub painted orange and red.
One of the nice things about travelling is being able to have a chat to fellow travellers; we had some people from Melbourne and a guy from another country at the camp spot with us last night. It was nice chatting and hearing about their travels until the wind and the cold got to us all, it was an extremely windy night.
This morning the sky was clear and blue but very windy. We left the van at the camp site and drove the 10km up to the Painted Desert, which are these hills that are different colours and patterns. They cover quite a big area and an awesome site to see. You can drive about 1km up a turn off and then from there do a short walk up some steep hills. But the view that greats you is worth it, takes your breath away, I mean literally from the climb, nah the view too. You can be there at different times of the day and they look different, even in the time we were there they changed. One side of them were lit up from the sun where as the other side was in shade. In the arvo it’s the other way around.
The road coming out of camp was a bit rough and some corrugations, the main road wasn’t too bad, and then back onto the road between CP and Oodnadatta was even better. Chris found travelling above 80kms gave a smoother ride. The van tows behind like a faithful dog.We went back to camp, had a quick shower in their hot showers that were quite good, hooked up and set off towards Oodnadatta. This took us back past the Painted Desert that now had some nice fluffy white clouds so we took a few more shots. Up at bit further is another look out where you are greeted again with a wow. The only downside was it was really blowing a gale and it was freezing, it was hard to hold the camera’s still, I am having a serious bad hair day.
I saw this hat in Broken Hill which I didn’t get at the time; I saw it in the Pink Roadhouse and decided to get it this time. It has little embroidered flies all over it, writing that says wot flies and an attached soft fly net. The flies were even a pain inside the store eating lunch, not the store’s fault.We stopped at the Pink Roadhouse, Chris had the famous Oodnadatta burger and I had steak, chips and salad after checking they didn’t put anything on the steak, due to my food restrictions. Chris said the burger was nice but not awesome or anything. My steak wasn’t cooked enough for me and was too think and tough, but I like my steak well cooked and thin. Chips and Salad where good only I don’t think it has agreed with my tum, we did think the prices were a wee bit expensive but what has to be kept in mind is freight costs are very expensive in the outback so one would expect to pay more for fuel and food. In the Roadhouse they have a bit of everything, from hardware, car parts, fruit and vegies, mini supermarket, post office, souvenirs and of course petrol. But you do get 4 cents off a litre if you spend over $30 in store.
The Pink Roadhouse is an Icon of the Outback, they provide a lot of useful information to travellers and the signs posted on the track are wonderful information for travellers. It’s a must see stop.
At the time we were there we did think the town was a little junking, old car parts and rubbish everywhere, this might have changed. While we were stopped for lunch a foreign lady was taking a picture of our car with the Kayak on the roof. She asked us where we were going to use it out here. She thought it was funny to have a kayak in the desert. We did a quick tour of the place and moved on. We are stopped at North Creek, next to an old bridge from the Ghan railway.
The road is mostly gravel and is throwing stones up underneath the van, the cable ties that Chris used to tie the van brakes wires up have been sliced off by the stones. They have also managed to cut through the wires, so Chris is now soldering them back together with his fly net on as the flies are so bad here. Obviously the brake wires need some better protection. Chris said it was broken it 2 places, we may have a water leak and between the tanks and the stone shields there is a couple of buckets worth of gravel. Chris has checked out off road vans underneath at the shows and has said they are no better than ours, yet it is obvious they all need a bit more shielding underneath.
I am playing a new game called swat the flies and then see how many you can sweep up. (I won’t be sweeping up until late) At CP a lady at the servo was swatting flies with a fly swat (we saw quite a few of them on store counters), she missed one and said to Chris nah that’s a freshie, she said when they have been inside for a while they are slower and easier to swat, the freshies are quicker and harder to swat. I have to agree, I can now tell the difference between one that has just come in and one that has been in here for a while. The freshies are more sport to hit and worth more points but any blood and guts are minus points. Got to watch how hard you hit your head though, Chris let me hit one on his head, hee hee that was fun. There are so many on your back when you are outside that even after wildly flapping your arms behind your back like some sort of abnormal person before you come into the van you are still bound to bring several in and of course they lay in wait at the door ready to zoom in the moment the door opens a crack. So we have a regular fresh supply for our game. I’m cooking mince so have a pile of flies on the sunroof flyscreen pushing down trying to get in, oh goodie more to swat, I am so over these flies, why do they always have to go for you face , nose, mouth and in your ears. Chris has just come back in and he is wild with fly madness and he has the fly swat and he is out for revenge. Chris wants to know if he gets more points for left handed. We get bonus points if you get them between your hands, have to watch you get your nose caught it between though.
We just had a chat to a couple of other travellers who are travelling together, one lot full time for the last 17 yrs another lot are away 7 months of the year. They travel around gold prospecting with the latest gold detectors; they said for the most part it pays for their travels. One of them also had a broken back window happened on the first 100km of the track. They do tell you to put cardboard on your back window, Chris has decided to do it now; we have used some ginger beer boxes.
Peterborough Rest Area – F, OR, M, BR, D. 2 km E of Peterborough, large area, trucks did pull in for the night but it was very quiet. Rating – 3
We arrived in Port Augusta today. On the way we passed through little country towns like Peterborough, Orroroo and Wilmington, all very nice towns. Peterborough is a train buffs town. All this area has had more hills and mountains that most of the area we have been through. When we got through a Pass I can’t remember the name of, we were greeted with amazing views of Spencer’s Gulf which bought a wow from both our lips, and was very refreshing to see after all the dry landscape we had seen. Not that Port Augusta is green, a few of the parks have some green grass but that’s about it.
PA are particularly proud of their new foreshore area they have done up and a Big W. Which is small compared to what we are used to and only has a concrete floor. We went for a brief walk on the foreshore when we went shopping and it is very nice. PA gets a real icy wind, even the owners of the park we are staying in said PA is known for it. The day was beautiful but in the arvo it turned quiet chilly.
We have splurged and are staying at the Big 4 caravan park for 2 nights. One it had a dump point and 2 we thought we would treated ourselves to an ensuite site, which is lovely. The whole bathroom is bigger than the vans of course but the shower is actually smaller than the van’s but it is nice to have the water runny while we have a shower. Also it has a concrete slab which is way more than the other sites. They actually advertise power sites with compacted dirt as if it is a feature.
All batteries are getting a full charge up and we got all the dust out from every nook and cranny. We found some more areas of poor sealing where dust was coming in so Chris used his silicone again. We also did all the washing, and topped up the freezer etc. We expect Cooper Pedy to be dearer and once we leave Cooper Pedy it will be a while before we come back to some descent size shops.
We had a nice sleep in before heading to the local flea markets. Most of the stuff was very old, even in the antique category, but still fun to have a look. We bought some bloke soap from a very friendly chatty fellow from Whyalla and some nomad soap that is designed to soap up better with the hard water in places like Cooper Pedy. We had a bit more of a walk around town before returning back to the van for lunch. Did some more last min washing as we are not sure when we will have the chance to do it again.
After lunch we went looking for the Red Banks which are cliffs next to the Spencer Gulf, we tried many different roads, dirt, sand, tar. We went to the lookout area and saw some kids on the other side of a rail bridge where we wanted to go. They had walked up the train tracks which we didn’t do but it helped work out the best way to go to get the best position we could for sunrise shots which was a bit of a walk, the cliffs at the time were in total shade. One of the local kids had driven up a dirt road next to the track we eventually worked out how he got there, which is only a short walk to where we need to be, so up early tomorrow for the sunrise, where the cliffs should glow a nice orange red in the morning sun.
Some old cars arrived at the van park late arvo, too late for some photos but nice to look at. They are on a rally from Freemantle to Sydney.
Tomorrow we leave here and head towards Cooper Pedy.