Getting Ready

We have been very busy getting ourselves ready for a 2 week trip over Easter to corner country, heading off this Friday. Chris has been decking out the back of the Ute, with draws, water tank, generator, freezer, lights, places for all our bits and pieces, including recovery gear, tools, spare Ute parts, tables, chairs, etc. amazing how much we need/want to carry. We also have 3 x 120amp/hr AGM batteries in the back of the Ute as well as 1500watt inverter. It still needs some finishing touches but it’s all done enough for this trip. It’s been a massive job; Chris has done an excellent job. It should all make setup and pack up a lot quicker and be more self-sufficient. Once the setup is fully completed I will post some photos.

We have put a Metalink Canopy on the back of the Ute which is what is being decked out, ARB steel winch bulbar, Safari snorkel, side steps, 2 reversing cameras, one over the number plate for seeing little kids and for hooking up and another high on the back of the canopy overlooking the trailer and seeing everything behind. Driving lights, winch, CB still to be added. (Next trip)

This will be the longest trip so far in the Aussie Swag camping trailer, a good test run for our 8 week trip later in the year to the Red Centre. This trip we leave Brisbane and head west to Cameron Corner, Innamincka, Cordilla Downs, up to Hadden Corner, Birdsville, hopefully a quick run out to Big Red for a look. Then head back east with stops at Welford National Park, Salvator Rosa, Kaka Mundi and Mt Moffatt areas of Carnarvon Gorge National Park, Mitchell and then home. That’s the rough plan anyway, of course depending time and on the weather. Roads in some of these areas can be closed with only a slight bit of rain. In fact one road we will be travelling on has only just been opened after some recent rain closed the road for several weeks, another is still closed, hopeful it will be open by the time we need to travel on it. If we do hit bad weather we will just point our nose south, Chris is keen to hit the High Country again.

We have purchased a 12mth Desert Parks Pass as it’s needed for Innamincka Regional Reserve which covers most of the Innamincka area. We will also need this pass for our trip later in the year.

I’ve been busy doing all the odd jobs, sorted out a fly/mosquito net over a beach umbrella so we have a quick place to set up to get away from any flies to eat meals in piece. Getting excited for the trip, Chris has been too busy to get excited so I’m excited for the two of us. It should be an awesome trip; we were inspired to do this trip after watching a Mr 4×4 DVD.

Next G mobile internet is a bit limited in these areas so not sure how much posting will be done on the road but will certainly update the site when we get back.

The Adventure Begins

Last night we stopped at Cooyar at Swinging Bridge. Flipping the trailer up for a quick over night worked well. We were on the road by 7.45, heavy dew last night so the canvas was packed up wet, all nice and dry in the trailer though.

We had lunch at St George near the River. The temporary dirt level bank that was erected to save the town in this years flood was still in place.

We have stopped at a rest area just outside Eulo on the banks of the Paroo River, camping is permitted on both sides. Not quite as nice as it sounds. There is lots of long grass in most areas with the clearest areas close to the road. There is heaps of birdlife. There is a rapid over the old road where the birds like to go fishing. So far we have seen Herons, Egrets, Ibis, Cormorants, Spoon Bills and Kites it is a little stinky. Hopefully they will be there in the morning when we can take some photos.

Today was a big travel day, over 700kms. There was more road kill than we have ever seen. It’s not surprising with the amount of wildlife out here. Mostly unfenced so cattle can just roam all over the road. Heaps of kangaroos, one stopped in the middle of the road just looking at us. Goats, emus and plenty of Lizards sunning themselves on the road. We might slow down to avoid them but I doubt the 53m road trains do.

This is the furthest west in QLD we have been so far.

Down to the corner store

Sun – 1/4/12

Ah love the smell of stinky water in the morning, the smell was quite strong, but you get used to it.

Bit of a slower start this morning, we were on the road by 9.15am. We have lost count of how many lizards we have seen sunny themselves on the road.

We filled up at Thargomindah, fuel was a bit dearer $1.78. On the road out to Noccundra there is a park on the cnr with toilets and free showers, plenty of parking for big rigs. Temp was 31 with a max of 34 degrees.

Towns like Thargomindah, Cunnamulla have been made famous by songs. Eulo is known in QLD by floods that caused the evacuation of the town. So you kind of expect them to be bigger than they are. A pub, a shop if you are lucky often not much more.

The road was pretty bumpy in places there were several sections of road work, each time we had a ute with flashing lights escort us through. We stopped at the pub at Noccundra to ask if the road to Cameron Corner was open as the sign said it wasn’t. It was, the sign just hadn’t been changed. The lady warned us of wash outs and to pull over if we saw any road trains. Out the front were two guys with a can of areoguard and doing the Aussie salute. I have found areoguard doesn’t work very well with flies. We passed a motorhome coming the other way, would of been one rough trip in that.

The rear vision camera is providing a very good view of the trailer and road behind.

Mmm ARB strikes again, as they say if you want a job done properly do it yourself. Yesterday it was a hard plastic inner guard that they cut off had not been secured and was rubbing on the tyres and since the bullbar was slightly off centre it is rubbing slightly on the cnr of the ute, touch up paint will be needed. Today there was another rattle coming from the front, air dam had come loose, we had lost 2 bolts and 2 were loose. Chris will be giving them a ring when we get back. Update – ARB were very quick to fix the issue with the bull bar.

The turnoff to Cameron Corner off the Noccundra/Tibooburra road is not well market, so we had to check the GPS coordinates to confirm we were on the right road. This road is pretty rough in places with lots of deep ruts from water. We drove a bit further into the arvo than we normally would but it was cool inside and no flies. We found a spot to pull off about 80kms from Cameron Corner, about 430kms travelled today 158kms on dirt.

We have collected some small pebbles and lots or red dust. A rock has put a small hole in the stone guard, I guess it’s doing it job.

Mon – 2/4/12

Ahh attack of the killer ants. Little tiny ants, they would climb over your feet as soon as you stopped moving and the suckers would bite you, even through areoguard. It was a very warm night last night, we had the fan going, windows were open and the doona got kicked off, until it slowly cooled down.

Flies are getting worse, we have pulled the fly hats out. Warm start to the day, on the road by 8.30 am.

The road has deteriorate or as the iPad spelling correction said after I spelt it wrong, detonated. Some very very deep ruts that are hard to see, there are less trees but still plenty of vegetation. We assume it’s greener than normal after all the rain this season. Wow they are some serious ruts would not want to hit them as speed.

Yeah we just hit Cameron Corner where 3 states meet. Chris stood in each state and said in QLD it’s 10am, 11am in NSW and 9.30 in SA.

The dog fence is very well kept in this area.

We did another top up of fuel at the cnr store, expect fuel to be a bit dearer here it was $2.20 on our visit. The store/pub is a typical pub in these outback areas. Hats and other memorabilia adorn the walls and ceiling. As does $5 notes stuck to the ceiling. They don’t keep the $5 charge for camping they give it to the Royal Flying Doctors. You wrap a $5 note in a coin and thumb tact and throw it upwards. If you hit the light bulb you shout the bar. The guy at the store said he had done the road we had travelled on at night a few times and it was pretty hairy.

The road to Merty Merty is 4wd only and was closed a week ago due to rain in the area. Water still covers some parts. It has just been graded and is much smoother than the road we were just on. Lots of sand dunes to drive over, like big dippers. Chris thinks they are fun, some make your tummy go. Lots of vegetation here at present.

We stopped at the old wreck of the yellow double decker bus. Camps Australia says you can camp there but there was signs up saying no camping. We met a couple of other travelers there who said the land owner can change his mind. Was an interesting place, not sure how the bus came to be there. We exchanged road information with the other people and went on our way.

The Old Strezelecki Track is a bit of a mixed bag. Some parts are really good, wide in areas. Other areas had wash outs with deep ruts with flags marking the areas, so at least we had warning. This is the more maintained section of the track the gas trucks must use. After that is got rough, narrow, very soft at times, grass growing on the track, lots of water and more ruts.

Struth, there was a lots of water covering a large section of the track so we took the by pass track. Crikey talk about driving in scrub, maybe we should have got those scrub bars.

Oh what an eventful track this one has been. There was another section with water on it. We stopped to checkout our options, it happened to be very soft where we stopped and the rear left wheel of the ute sunk. First time the max tracks were used, out no worries. The by pass track was no picnic either with the entry back onto the track involving a steep descent on an angle so the ute was tipped sideways, bit freaky.

The track didn’t get any better, makes the main Strezelecki Track look like a high way. A high way with corrugations that is.

At Innamincka we headed to the campsites next to Cooper Creek. There are several to choose from Policeman, Ski Beach, Kings Site, Minke Waterhole, and the Town Common. All but the Town Common have camping fees of $16. Ours was covered by the Desert Parks Pass. We drove into Policeman, which only had a couple of sites and not level. Ski Beach had a few more but other campers where there. Kings Site has several coming off different sections of track. We had a high spot over looking the creek. Loads of bugs. The lady at the Trading Post said everyone was complaining how bad the bugs were at the moment. 325 Km’s travelled on dirt roads.

SA – Kings Site

Kings Site –  OR, F, W, D. Kings Site is one of the many campsites around Innamincka along the Cooper Creek. You need a Desert Parks Pass to visit and camp in the Innamincka Regional Reserve. This site was overlooking the Cooper Creek. There is a long access road with several tracks leading off that we assume lead to other campsites. The site we were on was very secluded and private. There were lots of bugs and flies, but assume that was due to the time of year. Rating – 3

Q – Burke and Wills Dig Tree

Burke & Wills Dig Tree – B, $, OR, D. 46 km E of Innamincka. There was a fairly deep creek crossing to cross, road is rough in places. At the time we were there, there was a $11 management fee per car into the place but that including camping and staying as long as you like. Camping along the Cooper Creek, plenty of room, can swim in the Cooper but the bottom was slimy so wear rocks shoes or the like. Lots of flies and mossies. Great place to relax, go a paddle and explore the area. Rating – 4

Dig-Tree

One of those slack days were I didn’t actually take any photos of the camp area.

Burke-and-WillsWhere-to-dig-for-supplies

Lot of history here.

Paddling-on-the-Cooper

We did enjoy a lovely paddle on the Cooper.

The Dig Tree

Tues –  3/4/12

Driving on the way out to the dig tree we saw literally hundreds of kites. Kite convention. The road to Arrabury literally only just opened, lucky for us. Once we crossed into QLD we found ourselves on the tar, have to say it was very pleasant after the rough roads we had been on. Its only to the dig tree turn off but it was nice while it lasted. The vegetation also changed, flat no tress but lots of green grass. Absolutely nothing out here.

There was a fairly deep creek crossing to cross, road is rough in places. There is a $11 management fee per car to the dig tree which we didn’t know about but is fair enough to keep the history of the place. The old chap collecting the money said they get a lot of people through here, 7000 last year. You can also camp here for as long as you like, rubbish bins are provided.

It is a lovely spot next to the Cooper, under the shade of the trees. Much better area to camp than along the creek at Innamincka. We have decided to camp here the night, maybe have a paddle down in the Kayak. We just went for a dip. Lovely to cool the core body temp down, very slimy and muddy on the bottom. You also feel a little nibble every now and then. We have seen fish jumping and turtles in the water. It felt like it was in the high 30’s when we arrived.

We have set up the beach umbrella with the fly/mossie net over it. So nice to sit and relax without the flies and watch the birds in the trees.

We put a lamb roast on the Webber and then went for a short paddle down the Cooper past the dig tree, awesome.

We ate our yummy tea under the fly umbrella, with all the flies on the outside looking in 🙂

We cleaned up the dishes before the swarm of mossie hit, after a short walk the mossie and the heat got to us so we retreated into the trailer with the chairs, cuppa, chocolate and the fan on. It cools down very slowly in this area. We have come to the conclusion we are still a bit early in the year, too hot so too many bugs.

Short travel day today 73kms on dirt roads.

Cordillo Downs

Wed – 4/4/12

We had windows open all night, it was a still warm night. We woke to a mass of mossie on the other side of the screen near our head trying to get in to bite us. Chris had heard them during the night and said it sounded like a swarm of blow flies trying to get in.

We got up early to pack up before the heat and lots of flies hit. Haddon Corner here we come.

The road to Arrabury is a reasonably wide red dirt road with small rocks, dips, very few corrugations but a bit rocky with water course dips. Mostly flat, scenery with a row of jump ups the most interesting feature. Still quite pretty with the red dirt road and the green grass, the only tress are along water courses. About half way along the scenery changes to lots of low trees and the road has patches of bull dust. We have to slow down to keep our distance from a road train ahead which is leaving a load of dust in its trail with little wind to blow it away. About 3/4 of the way to Arrabury there is a turnoff to some mining place which is where our road train turned off. From here the road changed and became much narrower.

Mmm we must have had a few mossie in with us last night as I have some new mossie bites on the tender part of the upper arms. I have more bites on me than I can count now, will have to wear the insect repellant at night too it seems. I reckon they have become immune to the stuff out here.

We had a quick morning tea at the turnoff to Cordillo Downs. Once we crossed back into SA the road got decidedly worse, rough, bumpy, deep ruts in places, holes, lots of rocks. At times it’s like you are driving on a rocky creek bed, recent rains might of washed away the top layer of dirt.

Cordillo Downs is a working cattle station but also has an old stone and mud woodshed built in 1883. It is the largest shed in Australia. Shearing 100,000 sheep a year. Timber was hard to find on the flat gibber plains so a method of construction to minimize the use of timber was sought. The solution was a domed, corrugated iron roof structure supported by stone walls half a meter thick. It was surprisingly cool in the shed. There are several old items of memorabilia in and around the shed.

We have decided to continue along this rocky bumpy road to Birdsville as its the shortest route and go into Haddon Corner on the way back. It seems a popular route despite the road as several 4×4 have gone in front of us.

Ok we hadn’t seen flies yet this trip. We stopped for lunch in the middle of a flat rocky plain, with no water around and we were just about carried away. We ate our lunch in the ute.

It’s hot, it’s dry, there is loads of flies but stopping at the Cadelga Ruins it brings home how harsh life was and can be out here. At least we have our air condition cars to escape the heat and the flies.

Ok us Queenslanders can’t complain about our roads any more. We have experienced this several times. When we come off a SA road into Qld there is a marked difference in the road condition.

410 Km’s travelled on dirt roads.

Haddon Corner

Thurs – 5/4/12

We had a few problems last night 5kms out of Birdsville that we won’t go into but we had the help of a very friendly local named Glenn who helped us out. It wasn’t until after 8pm that we were back on the road. Glenn told us we couldn’t camp near the river as it was closed off due to the river rising and to watch out for snakes as they were on the move due to the rising river.The lady at the info centre said its expected to rise enough to restrict access in and out to 4wd and be up until the end of April. Glen said to head down the Birdsville track a few km’s and make camp which is what we did, it was quite late by the time we hit the sack.

Away from water the flies are really bad, apparently they have only come out in the last few days. We woke to black spots on the outside of the canvas. Glenn gave us some local knowledge of a product you can by from the Mobile servo (also saw it at the Innamincka Trading Post) its a thick cream made with Rosemary and Cedarwood from Nature’s Botanical. He said it stinks but every one wears it so no one notices the smell. Certainly clears the nose.

We took a drive out to see big red, access to the Simpson was closed this way, due to water at the base of big red on the Birdsville side. We could get to the info area just before big red and see it and the water in the distance. An amazing site.

The Diamantina River is 500m at its narrowest and we were told over 60kms wide at its widest. Wow that’s impressive. They were excited at the info centre because the bakery opened again today, its been closed for the last 5 months.

It looked like the Birdsville pub was closed in the morning so we will have to check inside next trip. The hotel was built in 1884 and was the third and final hotel built in Birdsville. In 1905 a cyclone leveled some of out buildings. There have been several fires in the hotel. The Birdsville pub is one of the most famous outback pubs.

The Royal Hotel built in 1883 was the second hotel to be built in town. It ran as a pub for 40 yrs before being converted to a hospital in 1923. It ran as a hospital for 14 yrs. It is now listed for restoration and preservation by the National Trust.

Driving out of town there is another body of water that has come up since we past it late yesterday, nearly up to the road. It will be across very soon and maybe where the town gets cuts off, not sure.

It’s so flat and nothing to see really, few red sandhills with low green vegetation, but mostly flat, isolated, yet that is the beauty of the place. It seems like another country compared to the cities, the coast, hustle and bustle of the traffic and people. I think the dryness, dust, flies, harshness of the climate and the isolation would get to you after a while but it is an awesome place to visit, despite the flies.

We had a quick lunch in the ute of pan fried toasted cheese and tomato sandwhich yum.

24kms down the turnoff to Haddon Corner we had a flat tyre. Rotten day to have a flat it would be 40 degrees out there. The heat knocked poor Chris around. I bought him the cold water.

Yeah another corner done.

As you get close to Haddon Corner where SA and QLD borders meet you go over a couple of sand dunes. They’re narrow and you cannot see other cars coming, flags would be a good idea in here. You can camp at Haddon Corner, it’s flat, open and at 4pm was still very hot, too hot to set up.

So we took some pics, signed the visitors book and headed back out thinking we may as go until it gets a lot cooler to set up camp

In case any one is wondering why we choose to come out here when it was so hot, well it wasn’t when we left. We have been watching the temps for weeks and they weren’t this hot. Appears nature is having its last blast of hot weather before winter. Our eldest son asked why we had travelled 100’s of KM’s on dirt road to be pestered by 100’s of flies? Our answer, cause it’s fun 🙂

We saw a large group of emus coming out from the corner. They stopped to check us out so we were able to get a few shots.

We stopped for the night 75kms out of Windorah. Just a pull off the road but it was very quiet. We had pizza cooked in the webber for tea, yummo. 410 km’s travelled on mostly dirt roads.