Simpson Desert

We head off for our trip to the Simpson Desert with anticipation, excitement, a few butterflies of nerves but with a great sense of adventure. It’s good to have a healthy respect for the remote areas of Australia, a lot can go wrong, a well prepared vehicle is a must. The Simmo has been on our bucket list of places we would like to see for many many years. Finally the time has come.

With a trip like this a lot of preparation and planning is required. You really need to think through every aspect of the trip, do lots of research and ask lots of questions. Many do take their camper trailers across the Simpson and get across perfectly fine, but it’s strongly discouraged. We decided to leave the camper trailer at the Birdsville Caravan Park in storage for 2 weeks, but still have the use of it to and from Brisbane.

It’s a balance of what spares, tools, water, fuel, food, recovery gear etc is needed and what you can leave at home to lighten the load.

The back seat has come out again to make room for the tent, bedding and a few other bits. Chris has secured a table over the top of the compressors etc which, gives us a flat base for packing, protects bits and gives us a table to use 😀

Some rearranging and removing of items not needed has made room for items that usually go in the trailer like clothes, food, plates etc

We are allowing 2 weeks from Birdsville taking the Warburton and Rig road across to Purnie Bore and onto Dalhousie, where we will stay a few days. Run up to Mt Dare to fill up and maybe do a run up to Old Andado.

Then we will take the French line, Poepple Cnr and QAA line back to Birdsville. Well that’s the plan anyway. 🙂

The times they are a changin

As Bob Dylan sung back in 1964 “The times they are a changin” and they certainly have for us in the last few years. In a great and wonderful way with 3 beautiful grandchildren. The configuration and setup we have had in the Ute for the last 6 years has suited us great but with the addition of our crazy Labrador Jess and some little munchkins that will like to come camping with “Mama and Grandude” we needed to do some slight modifications which included putting the back seat into the Ute.

Sounds easy enough but if you recall the back seat area was where we had installed the batteries, the chargers, inverter, air compressor, air tank and all the air hoses and wiring that go with these items. As well as a set of draws on both sides.

Finding new places for the items was not an easy task. It took many weeks to find just the right spots. It was also an opportunity to change over our batteries as we weren’t happy with how the current ones were performing. Now lithium batteries would have been nice but since we haven’t won lotto yet we opted for 2 x 150amp Fullriver AGM batteries. Chris still wanted to keep them low and as forward as he could. Behind the genie proved to be the sweet spot.

With the chargers and inverter just above them on the front wall of the canopy in a little nook that wasn’t been used and well protected.

Chris also installed a new battery monitor, that gave him a lot more information and details.

Another unused little spot is under the back seat. Chris managed to fit 2 compressors, all the air hoses and wiring under the seat and the 2 fire extinguishers easily accessed on each side. The air tank will have to sit outside protected between the cabin and canopy.

A new addition is a 175w solar panel that will be installed on the Ute canopy when we are not taking the kayak. This and the current 100w solar panel on the Ute will charge the FullRivers and starter battery.

When we have the kayak the 175w solar will travel on top of the existing solar on the trailer charging the trailer batteries as we travel and of course like the other one come off and be setup when we are staying put for a while.

All up we think the new changes work very well and will suit us very well for our upcoming trip crossing the Simpson Desert.

Q – Heifer Creek

Heifer Creek – F, OR, B, W, D,ND, BR. 41km from Gatton on the Clifton-Gatton Road. Beside a creek is a large grassy area. Lots of trees for shade. Tables and chairs, bins, toilets, creek. Fairly sheltered area. A memorial commemorates the contribution of the Thiess Brothers (Bert and Leslie) to Australian earth moving. Rating – 4

Heifer Creek Theiss Memorial

Don’t you just love GPS’s especially on country roads. They take you on roads you wouldn’t think of traveling up and down windy roads, past lovely vistas. Try and send you up some dirt road short cut, or just try and tell you to turn down a road that just isn’t there and then get you lost. I’m sure they do it deliberately and have a little laugh about it, we call ours Bossy Betsy.

Eventually we made it to our last stop for the trip, Heifer Creek Thiess Memorial. Rather a pleasant surprise as you come up a steep hill into an open green grass area with plenty of trees for shade next to the creek. There are long drop toilets, bins and several tables. Not a bad one night stop. A memorial commemorates the contribution of the Thiess Brothers (Bert and Leslie) to Australian earth moving.

Q – Bengalla Reserve

Bengalla Reserve – F, OR, B, W, M, D,ND, BR –  There are several free camping areas along the Dumesque River not far out of Goondiwindi. Bengalla Reserve, is the fourth one along, the camping areas are sign posted on the main road, there is also a blue skip bin up near the main road. As you enter the reserve you can turn left or right, with the main one running along the top of the bank following the river.

It’s a big area with plenty of flat areas overlooking the river to camp. Also several very large areas away from the river. Even if this place was busy you would still find places to camp. There are roads leading off every where. We really like this place. Rating – 6

Bengalla Reserve

We are so are so lucky in Australia to have some great free camping areas. I know many councils are closing them down but good on the Goondiwindi council for allowing free camping along the river. Support the town and do you shopping there if staying at any of these areas.

We think we like Bengalla Reserve even more. It’s a huge area, even if there was lots of campers you would will still be well spread out. There is another blue skip bin up near the main road and the place is well sign posted.

There are several roads with the main one running along the top of the bank following the river. As you enter the reserve you can turn left or right, we went left and followed it right to the end of the reserve and it goes along way, we haven’t gone right yet. There are 3 others campers that we know of, a van not too far from us but in our spot he can’t see us and we can’t see him without walking away from camp.

We have again snagged ourselves a great spot down near the river about 5m from the waters edge, talk about river frontage and water views. Tucked up in a corner hidden from the road with a bank behind us, there is a little bit of grass here. We have not setup the annex this trip so far but with some possible rain on the way we decided to put it up and put down the floor mat.

We also have the Ute awning up and used one of the side annex walls to reach across the gap from the camper to the Ute annex. Gives us a large under cover area to walk between both vehicles ☺ works quite well.

Last night and in the late arvo we had quite a lot of rain and used buckets and any other containers we could find to collect the rain water running off the canvas. We filled the 25 Lt shower drum and 5 other containers about 80lts all up. Chris made the point how come when we are camped next to a flowing river with plenty of clean running water to fill the shower drum we get rain but it never happens when you are camped in a gravel pit etc and could do with the water. Chris kept a close eye on the river making sure if was not rising during the night since we were camped so close.

Next day was very foggy and remained overcast for most of the day. We only saw the sun for a few hrs late arvo. Next morning was also foggy and everything was dripping wet with a heavy due. But it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day. We went for a paddle up the river, very shallow in places.

We also went for a walk. It’s a big area with plenty of flat areas overlooking the river to camp.

More mice last night heard one scratching the outside of the canvas and we found a dead one in the kitchen waste bucket again. It was a pretty chilly night. We spent several hours having fun taking star shots. We have a big open sky above us, which our lenses aren’t wide enough to capture all the amazing site our eyes can see.

It will be sad to leave this area, we have very much enjoyed our time here, it has been so peaceful and relaxing. Jess will be sad to leave as well, she loves the water and her sticks.

Q – Lees Reserve

Lees Reserve, F, OR, B, W, M, D,ND, BR –  There are several free camping areas along the Dumesque River not far out of Goondiwindi. Lees Reserve, is the third one along, the camping areas are sign posted on the main road, there is also a blue skip bin up near the main road. It’s a short drive down a dirt road to a rickety old gate, which must be kept close due to cattle, which do leave their little deposits everywhere. Turns out the cattle aren’t always there.

At the end of the dirt road it opens up to a large flat area on top of the bank of the river, there is also another big open area to the left. Down a steep little hill leads to the river and some areas to camp under the trees. Area is sandy and rocky. You can also find some other little pockets to camp around the place. You can just get mobile reception. Rating – 5

Lees Reserve

Sorry for the delay to our followers in getting this post up. Well we have got ourselves a beaut spot right on the river, but more on that later. There was a mass evacuation in the morning at the pub with everyone pulling out early. We were on the road just after 8am heading towards Goondiwindi. We picked up a few supplies at Coles and had morning tea at the park chatting to a few other travelers. Goondiwindi is a reasonable size town with plenty of shops.

Our aim was to pull into one of the free camping areas along the Dumesque River not far out of Goondiwindi, there are at least 4. We were aiming for Lees Reserve, third one along, the camping areas are sign posted on the main road, there is also a blue skip bin up near the main road. It’s a short drive down a dirt road to a rickety old gate, which must be kept closed due to cattle, which do leave their little deposits everywhere. Turns out the cattle aren’t always there.

At the end of the dirt road it opens up to a large flat area on top of the bank of the river, this is where caravans seem to go, there is also another big open area to the left. Down a steep little hill leads to the river and some areas to camp under the trees. Area is sandy and rocky. That’s where we decided to setup camp.

And what a beaut spot where only hard floor campers could get in. Tucked up on some rocks where no one can camp too close with a large rock area as our veranda leading down to the river with a few Cascades and home to an Egret and Heron.

Our view.

Just off to our left leads to a sandy beach like area at the river. Great for getting the kayak in.

It would be difficult to get any caravans down here so they all stayed up the top and we had the whole area to ourselves for the night. We just get them coming down for day visits ☺.

The river at present has plenty of water to keep it flowing. Cod and yellow-belly can be found in the river but it’s a bit fished out at the moment. We are expecting a bit of a crowd here over the long weekend so we may not have this area to ourselves for too long but we will enjoy it while we can.

Surprising it wasn’t too busy over the long weekend, people came and went. We had this area to ourselves for 3 nights nearly. We enjoyed relaxing in the hammock and paddling up the river.

On the third night in the wee hours of 3.30am someone towing a noisy trailer pulled in near us. By 6am his mate arrived with music. We lost count how many beers they consumed during the day, the plus for us they were out to it by 3.00pm.

We took a few stars shots at night. We haven’t done this before so it was all a bit of experimenting and a bit if fun.

There are some mice here, we found a dead one in the sink water bucket and heard them on the outside of the canvas at night. So keeping everything locked up.

Of course Jess enjoyed, swimming in the river and collecting sticks that were nearly as big as her.

We stayed here for 4 nights, little did we know a better place was up the road.

Q – Nindigully Pub

Nindigully Pub – OR, M, W, F, D, ND, S, T, B, BR, DP. 45 km South East of St George is Nindigully Pub or “The Gully” as it’s locally known. This is a large area next to the Moonie River, sites next to the river go quick but they are the dustiest ones. Towards the back isn’t as dusty. Lots of trees, free toilets and showers up behind the pub and toilets and a dump point at the back of the camping area. Fireplaces, table and chairs next to the river, there is also a paved pathway called “Gully Walk” that follows the river with information signs along the way.

Meals can be purchased up at the pub, they are very large meals. There is also a phone box and mail box near the pub. The walls of the pub are dawned with lots of memorabilia, hats, photos and the like. There is a well set up dining room and an outside beer garden with table and chairs and play equipment and even a cubbie for the kids.

The pub and camping area really provide everything a camper would need. More information can be found in our post about the area. The only downside is it is very dusty, due to that we found it hard to rate and most likely people wouldn’t agree with us so we will let you make up your own mind.

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Nindigully Pub

45 km South East of St George is Nindigully Pub or “The Gully” as it’s locally known and easier to say, is pretty much these days 4 houses and a pub on a riverbank. The pub is perched on the banks of the Moonie River, established in 1864 it is the longest continually licensed pub in Queensland.

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Apparently the meals are big here, we will see at tea time. They are famous for their burger “Road Train” a whopping 5kg burger big enough to feed 10 people.

Free camping is available just below the pub along the banks of the river. Plenty of trees but very dusty. There is a 500m historic river walkway called the “Gully Walk” along the banks with heaps of tables and chairs, fireplaces and bins. Toilets and showers are available for free behind the pub. Campers, vans and day trippers kept rolling in all day.

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Nindigully-WalkNindigully-pathNindigully-Pub-River-areaThe showers were pretty good. The light switch is up very high above the door which I, Kate could only just reach and I’m not short.

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The walls of the pub are dawned with lots of memorabilia, hats, photos and the like. There is a well set up dining room and an outside beer garden with table and chairs and play equipment and even a cubbie for the kids. There is also a phone box and a post box and even a dump point.

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A bit of history about the place, in its heyday Nindigully was home to a school, hall, accommodation house, post office, telephone exchange, mechanics, a vegetable garden on the banks of the Moonie River, a store and the pub which served as the Cobb and Co changeover station.

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The pub has had many names over its 150+ year history. The first and current name was Nindigully Hotel, but it has also been known as The Grand Hotel, Travellers Rest Hotel, Sportsmans Arms Hotel and Sternes Hotel. Info as found in the St George and Surrounds Travels Guide. The movie Paperback Hero was filmed here.

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Our camp spot in the dust.

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Well the meal had a little bit to be desired. Large yes, in fact we shared a meal. They had unfortunately run out of spuds, so no chips which many including us were disappointed with but these things happen. So we had veggies that were very holy as they had the hell boiled out of them. We had barra, steak was on special and looked good and many said it tasted good. Truckies use the place as a stopover for the night, grab a meal, a beer and have free showers. There were 5 roads trains pulled in up near the pub.

It was a very interesting place to visit, it was really really dusty, mostly due to the many many campers that stop here.

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