On the road again

Friday – 6/4/12

We were on the road just after 8am, it’s warming up quick. The nights are still pretty warm, glad we have the fan. It was 40 degrees in Birdsville the other day but we reckon yesterday was hotter, hottest day we have had so far. As we travel back east we are hoping it starts to cool down. We both got some extra water into us this morning, we were both feeling a bit dehydrated yesterday.

The fly net/hats are great for keeping the flies off your face, one thing we have been conscious off is to lift the net when you blow your nose, brush your teeth, have a drink etc. this morning Chris forgot hee hee 🙂

You see a lot of gibber rocks in the outback area, they have their own beauty and fascination. This trip I found an info sheet on them. They are generally considered to be formed as a result of mechanical weathering. Originally chalacedonised sandstone transformed overtime by the harsh environment. They become polished and rounded by the wind-blown sand grains, while a thin coating of oxide iron gives them a red-brown polished appearance. As the sand is gradually removed the polished stones form a layer spread over the flat surface of the plains. So now you know too.

We just saw 5 Bustards crossing the road in front of us. Got off a few shots before they flew away. Couple of hundred meters down the road some emus. The animals are all pretty flighty, not used to humans so fly off or run as soon as you get too close. With all the Kites we have seen we have very few shots as they fly off and high.

It’s so flat and green, interesting to see what it will be like when we are back out this way in July. We might be back on the black top but it’s a narrow bumpy road. Some dirt roads have been better than this but it’s nice not to have the dust.

Not happy Jan, another flat tyre. The tyres that came on the ute are obviously not suited to these conditions, and this was on the tar road. Least it’s not quiet as hot as yesterday still mid 30’s and we have some shade and of course it’s not quiet in the middle of nowhere. Chris was able to repair the flat from yesterday. We would of got it properly fixed at Quilpie but being Good Friday most places we’re closed. The plan is to get it fixed at Charleville tomorrow. Chris tried to repair the current flat but it’s a slit so he couldn’t. More suitable tyres were always on the agenda but when these ones wore out, might be sooner than we thought. Interestingly we had Pirelli Scorpions on the Jackaroo and it all the towing and miles we did we never had a flat and we took it on some pretty rough roads. Oh well stuff happens when you are getting out there enjoying life. All adds to the adventure.

We just saw a wild bore, first one ever. See all sorts out here. We are also seeing more Wedge Tail Eagles. Goats not sure if they are feral or not. Lots of silly cows that have this urge to run across in front of you for no reason. As Chris said you would think for something so large they would have a bigger brains.

We pulled into Ward River to check it out for a nightspot. There were several other campers obviously fishermen. Might be a good spot for fish but it really had a very strong odour from the river. Too much for us, might get used to it but being on the river we were also concerned with mossie. So we moved up the road a few km’s and spied a side road with a possible spot. It was 16kms out of Charleville up Bannermans Road on a gravel pit. Off the main road and hidden by some trees. Travelled 520kms

Charleville, Augathella, Tambo

Sat -7/4/12

Our make shift rest area proved to be one of the best stops so far, very little bugs, we were actually able to sit outside and enjoy the stars and full moon. It was also very quiet.

We stopped at the Charleville tyre place to get the tyre from yesterday fixed or replaced. (supposed to be closed over Easter) There was a big queue and 4wd’s were coming and going, a constant stream of people fronting up with flats. The technical term for our tyre was “it’s stuffed” great big tear inside the tyre. Great, new tyre did less than 500kms on it and its stuffed. They didn’t have the replacement tyre Chris would of like to of bought so he bought a second hand tyre for $60 to get us home. We still have the spare from the trailer that will fit the ute as well. A bit later we went back past the tyre place and it was closed so we were very lucky to strike them open.

Charleville feels like the big smoke, actually it looks to be quite a big town. We called into the info centre to find out where we could fill up with water. We were able to fill up there and they have a dump point close by. There is also a drinking water tap just up from the dump point. The man was very friendly and helpful. Several of the locals have commented to us it’s very hot today and it shouldn’t be this hot in April, it’s about 34 degrees. We replied it’s not hot compared to where we had come from, but yes it’s pretty warm.

We called into Augathella and stopped at a nice park for lunch. It had green frogs in the loo. The rodeo is on today.

Ok forget about not being able to complain about QLD roads, maybe the dirt ones are better than SA but the black top so far has been mostly rotten. Augathella to Tambo is so bouncy. We did see our first Brolgas crossing the road.

We tried to find out info on the roads out to Salvator Rosa only the tourist info place was closed as was the police station. We asked at the servo and the Wilderness Way is the preferred way rather than through Springsure at the moment. But there are rains around, so we have checked the radar and it seems clear out this way for the time being but we are going with extreme caution, especially with our tyres we no longer have a lot of faith in.

We had a few spits of rain which just served to turn out dust into red mud. The road so far has been pretty good a wide gravel road with one creek crossing. We are following the Wilderness Way signs which we hope are right as yet there are no signs to the National Park, we have come approx 45kms. We have stopped for the night at another gravel pit, well off the road. We seem to have a liking for these :). All to keep us company are the cows, kangaroos and the birds, awesome. Travelled 259kms

Salvator Rosa

Sun – 8/4/12

Another awesome gravel pit, very few bugs and no passing cars. Was also nice to have a bit of a cooler night and a bit of a sleep in. Leisurely morning sitting back relaxing a bit before we packed up, bit of a later start to the day, on the road by 9.30 am.

The road so far has been pretty good, but not advisable in the wet. 35kms further down the track we entered the Goodlife section of the National Park, where there was a road saying the road had minimal maintenance. The road did get worst from this point. It is quite a pretty drive in with tall grasses, shrubs and lots of trees.

A bit further down the road there is a well marked sign and clearly defined dirt road, saying 30kms to Salvator Rosa. Turnoff is approx 108kms from Tambo. There is a 2nd turnoff 14kms down this road, saying Salvator Rosa 16kms. The track become narrow with high grasses on either side. All up the campground is approx 138kms from Tambo.

As we got closer there were amazing sandstone cliffs with some fascinating formations. We saw a dingo disappear into the long grass. The track is rough and bumpy with some areas that had been muddy.

Nogoa campground has two areas close together one area larger than the other with several tables. Toilets are also in this area. There were 3 other people here when we arrived at lunch time. By the evening there were two other campers. The Nogoa Creek is 50m away, is has a nice sandy bottom and is fairly shallow but flowing fast. The water is beautiful, it was lovely to cool off in the hot afternoon. I did managed to find a couple of quick sand spots and sunk up to my upper thigh.

The creek was in flood earlier in the year and has taken out the bridge across the creek. Apparently you can normally cross the creek and go further into the park, to another camp ground where two rivers meet. We also heard the Ka Ka Mundi is closed due to flood damage and Mt Moffatt only has one campground open, due to the other areas being muddy.

For the first time this trip we have set up the awnings and the ensuite room I made. Can’t have showers under the stars tonight with neighbours close.

Short travel day 93kms.

Tues – 10/4/12

We had a windy pack up making it hard to keep the awning over the trailer roof as the wind kept blowing it back. We eventually got there and headed back down the bumpy narrow road. 30kms back out to Salvador Rosa Road. 24kms traveling on this road until we turned onto the Dawson Development Road. From there its 114kms to Springsure. The roads have corrugations, muddy washouts, sharp rocks, bull dust, loose rocks, dips, cattle grids, cattle and generally bumpy. So a bit of everything, never know what you are going to get on dirt roads as the conditions change all the time.

Damn these sucky Bridgestone Dueler AT Tyres, another flat, these are the Taiwan made ones. They have certainly been the weak point this trip. Coopers are sounding real good at the moment.

Even though we can use the trailer tyre if we get stuck its not exactly the same size. (something we were going to deal with in the change over of tyres down the track, so they all matched, fully interchangeable and also carry a 2nd spare for the ute) So we are going to reevaluate our situation at Springsure over lunch and decided where to from here, as we don’t think it’s wise to go on any more dirt roads with the few days we have left. With no real spare for the ute. Don’t really want to buy another second hand spare, rather put that money towards decent tyres.

We decided to go to Emerald, do a wee bit of shopping then head slowly towards the coast stopping at anything that interest us. First stop Bedford Weir, we were told about this place last time we were in this area. Supposed to be nice. Travelled 342kms

Nogoa campground

Mon – 9/4/12

Some of the other campers were a bit noisy early on but did quieten down. We were in bed early and up around 7.30am so a big sleep. Was nice to have a cooler night again.

Yeah everyone has cleared out and we have the place to ourselves. Have had one day looker so far. We are doing a big bake up, have the gennie on baking bread in the bread-maker, also charging batteries and hot water. And are cooking some jam drops in the webber.

After lunch we went for a long soak in the river to cool down, was so lovely, could actually do with being a tad cooler. When we came back up a man with a couple of kids and a camping trailer was setting up.

We spent the rest of the arvo sitting in the shade having cuppas chatting and reading magazines. We had some Apostle Birds come and pay us a visit, there was a young one that kept on squeaking making lots of noise. A Kookaburra also kept flying down seeing if we had any crumbs.

While we had our tea of fish and chips cooking we packed up a few things, had a few spits of rain. We will probably watch a DVD tonight after a shower.

Q – Salvator Rosa – Nogoa Creek

Salvator Rosa, Nogoa Creek Campground – T, W, OR, $. In the Salvador Rosa section of Carnarvon Gorge National Park. Bit of a rough road in, 4WD only, 138kms from Tambo. Very close to Nogoa Creek which is a lovely place to cool off on a hot day. 2 open grassy areas. Self registration for fees. See our post on Salvator Rosa for distances. Rating – 4

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Bedford Weir

Wed – 11/4/12

Bedford Weir is a pretty good spot. Large camping area, divided into 2 sort of sections. Some with shade, caretaker on site which everyone must report to when you arrived. Very friendly guy. Toilets with hot showers, was lovely to have a shower and not have to turn the water on and off. Big under cover shade area, weir with a big day area including a small playground. All for free. Ground was very hard to hammer pegs in. Happy Hour is every Wed at 5pm, BYO drink then a cost of $7 for food and a raffle ticket. Morning tea every Sunday morning at a cost of $5 they provide morning tea. The only downside is a quarry that is close by that makes noises all night, its not too bad, some sort of machinery so a bit like white noise. Generators can be used from 8am to 8pm. Coming from Emerald the turnoff was about 2kms outside of Blackwater then 26kms down the road, well signposted. The campground is fully funded by the council. There is a limit of 7 nights.

We arrived late last night and set up in the 2nd area that is a bit away from the loo but we have this whole section to ourselves at the moment. We will chill out here for the day and stay again tonight then move on. Was a little chilly last night and this morning. We had pancakes for breaky cooked on the Baby Webber with the breaky plate, worked really well.

Very windy today, plus is its blowing the sand flies away that the caretaker warned us about.

We had a relaxing arvo, reading some mags and going down for a walk to the weir. The road is closed due to recent rain that has the weir overflowing over the road. More like a dam overflow. You can see how high past floods have come up to. We were told in the Dec/Jan floods in 2009/2010 this whole campground was under water.

We went along to Happy Hour, I couldn’t eat any of the food but I wish I could have, they certainly put on an amazing spread. I had to keep reminding Chris he had a roast on back at our camp. Instead of the raffle Lyn and Alan, the caretakers gave each couple a jar of homemade relish. Was great to catch up with other campers. Also found out the quarry doesn’t run every night, last night was only the 4th time it has in the 3 years Lyn and Alan have been here. Well worth joining in on happy hour if in this area.

Like a lot of these mining towns rents are expensive so workers are flown in and out and like Blackwater become a mining camp not a community. Many small business are closing down. Country towns like this rely very much on the trade of travelers.

Wow the mossies are nasty suckers here, they bite you through your clothes, big ones.

Thur – 12/4/12

Well Bedford Weir was a really nice spot and would recommend it to others. We will certainly be back there. After we packed up we got to have a shower before we left, so we feel all nice and fresh to hit the big smoke of Rockhampton. Whoo hoo I’ve got my clean shaven hubby back, he was looking a bit like a fuzzy old fart.

We had lunch at Rocky, Red Rooster nice to have some roast chook.

This coast road sucks. So much road work it’s not funny. Just clear one lot and we get stopped at another. And all this traffic. We have gone all day without seeing another car when we were at west.

We pulled into the Calliope Rest Area, but the road across the river is closed, we assume due to flood damage, has been closed for a while though. The hwy side of the rest area is packed, some have driven the 4kms around and are camped on the other side. We considered that but feel we are kind of making time now, this close to home. So we are pushing on to Gin Gin tonight and will pop into Bundaberg tomorrow and take the rest from there.

It was Chris’s suggestion to call into Bundaberg and Bargara, I’ve cotton onto his plan. He likes ginger beer. He innocently looks at me and says hey we could call into the Ginger Beer Factory, mmm I’m onto his game.

That’s a bit of a worry when you see a sign that says roadworks next 54kms, multiple prepared to stop 🙁

After much roadwork we finally arrived at GIn Gin rest area. Once the trailer was level we flipped the camper out, set up the kitchen, kettle on, chairs out and setup in about 3 mins, not bad going. Setting up the main big awning would take us a few mins longer. Travelled approx 445km’s

Q – Bedford Weir Reserve

Bedford Weir Recreational Reserve and Camping – T, S, B, W, F, OR, M, D. BR. This is an awesome spot, only a few km’s outside Blackwater. Large grassy areas, trees, weir. Very friendly caretakers. Dogs allowed on leash. Free for up to 7 days, supported by the local council, very popular spot. Next G mobile only. Happy hour on Wed’s and morning teas on Sunday’s for a small fee. Rating – 5

Bedford-Weir Bedford-Weir-Camping Bedford-Weir-Camping-2 Bedford-Weir-Camping-3 Bedford-Weir-Camping-4

All good things come to an end

Friday – 13/4/12

It was a bit noisy last night with trucks and cars on the hwy throughout the night. Much prefer those quiet country roads.

It was most likely our last night of having a shower under the stars. Was a little cool, not like out west where we hardly needed any hot water. As we have travelled we have turned the 12v hot water on, it’s been nice to turn up at our destination with running hot water straight up. That has suited this trip since we have been on the move a lot. When we did stay put a few nights easy to run the generator for the 240v hot water. The wooden duck boards I picked up last min as a trial for the shower have worked really well, so we will be making them part of our kit.

Our neighbours had a diesel hot water and heater and we could smell the diesel fumes, so for us we are happy with the way we went with the 12/240v hot water.

Well it’s has been a great shake down trip. We have found what works, what needs a bit of tweaking and what needs a bit more sorting out like tyres. The springs on the ute need sorting out too, we have been hanging a bit low in the rear. Standard springs that came with the Ute are a bit soft and fine with no load on the bitumum but not off road and with a load. Update: We have visited and talked to many different spring places, (the supposed experts) so we are well on the way to getting new springs and all the other bits they have suggested all sorted. We are very concious of weight in the Ute and on the ball and make sure the load is correctly distributed. Chris has done loads and loads of research on it all too. Seems you buy a 4wd vehicle new but it’s not really suited for 4wdriving without some after market products. As one guy said the manufactures have taken the 4wd out of 4wd’s. All the bits Chris did in setting up the ute have been fantastic, have made the whole setup/pack up a lot easier and everything has a spot.

The trailer went really well no issues with it apart from a little dust getting in due to the seals softening after some use from being new, a little adjusting is all that is needed. The trailer has lapped up the dirt roads, follows without a hitch, wouldn’t even know it was there. Setup has been quick and easy. We have had both awnings on the whole trip and only sent them up a couple of times, so we plan to take them off at the start of a trip when there is a lot of overnight stops, save having to battle with them blowing around in the wind.

We called into Bundaberg and Bargara for a bit of a look around. Had morning tea on the beach at Baragara.

Doing our run for home now, with some stops along the way. Lots of bits to get sorted for our next trip, the big one into the red centre for 8 week trip all up. Been a great trip and we have had lots of fun.

Approx 400kms travelled today, lots for the whole trip.

The adventure begins

Friday 6th July – Well we are all packed, hooked up and raring to go on our biggest trip yet, 8 weeks, yeah. There has been a lot of preparation for this trip, loads of cooking and pre mixes ready to go. Being restricted on foods does make things a bit more difficult and creates a lot of work but it’s worthwhile to make sure I’m not crook on the trip. You can see my web site Simply Grain Free to see the food restriction I (Kate) have and how I manage, I have even co-written a cook book. Makes life interesting 🙂

Other preparation has been some more modifications to the Ute. The rear was hanging a bit low last time, so we have new springs and a bit of a lift done on the rear by ARB, and Chris installed some Air Bags to help give extra lift when needed and a smoother ride. We now have a winch, driving lights, CB and have upgraded the tyres to Cooper ST Maxx, and we now have two spares for the Ute. The trailer and Ute now have the same size tyres, so hopefully we will not have the issues with tyres we did last trip.

We have also put a Stone Stomper on the trailer and an extra Jerry can holder. We don’t expect we will have too many issues with flies this trip, mice maybe. Fingers crossed there is no mouse plague this year, but we have picked up some extra led strip lights to throw under the trailer and Ute to help deter the little blighters.

Unfortunately we had some horrid individual try and break into the Ute earlier in the week. Looks like they use dsomething like a tyre iron. They did some damage but didn’t get in. They bent the door frame a bit, and the seal, leaving a gap (where the tyre iron made it through) so it wasn’t dust or water tight as it was, also made some deep scratches. Police and insurance mob were called, getting it on record and ready for a proper fix when we get home as we didn’t have time to get it fixed before we left. Chris managed with quiet a lot of effort to bend the door in enough and we ran an extra seal along the door to help seal it. We have also taken extra seal with us just in case it’s needed. Tell you there are some really rotten people around, as a friend used to say “bless them with a brick”

We also know that there are some wonderful people out there, many we have the fortune of meeting on the road so we won’t be put down by this and are excited to be heading off. So where are we going on our great adventure this trip. We head west to Birdsville via Roma and Mitchell. Spend a day or two in Birdsville before hitting the Birdsville track, taking our time and enjoying everything the track has to offer. Then along the Oodnadatta track, Dalhousie Springs, Alice Springs, Uluru, Kings Canyon and MacDonald Ranges, then north, who knows maybe into Kakadu. Lawn Hill has been on wish list for ages so hopefully we will pop into there as well. After that we don’t know, where ever we want in the time we have left. Should prove to be a great trip with some iconic destinations. 🙂