Sunday, 25 June 2017

A trip to South Australia - week VI

Monday 5 June, 2017

Again it's a cold start in the morning, as we are still so far inland.  We have a late breakfast and morning tea at Cobar, from where we will turn northwards on our way home.

We find a dump point at the information centre and walk from there across the road to search for a geocache.  It's hidden near some mining equipment and sculptures.  We find the cache, which is to be the last one for this trip.

Hard to see, but I photographed two ground parrots

Mining past (#1659)

There also is an earth cache close by, but we give it a miss, because they are not Patricia's favourites. Instead we walk back to the camper and drive to Bourke where we arrive at 1 pm and have lunch.

With the greater distances to drive right now I feel in need of a rest and sleep for an hour while Patricia walks into town.  Next we push on to Brewarrina.  My intention is to drive to Four Mile Reserve (#378) S29 59 06, E146 55 02, just outside of town.  We arrive at 16.00h and stay for the night.  It's a beautiful spot with plenty of camp sites along the Barwon River and a spot where I could easily stay for a few days, but..... it isn't to be.... ;-)

We're early and there is plenty of time for a walk before dinner.  I catch the setting sun over the water.

Tuesday 6 June, 2017

We have to space our last few days, because we are heading for St. George as Patricia's final destination.  At this stage it's just possible to get there in one day, but it didn't quite work out like that...

We leave at 08.00h and drive to Walgett first.  I wanted to take pictures of Stephen and Tori's house.  The first time I was unlucky, because council trucks were busy in the street.  This time I take pictures of the wrong house! I wasn't sure about the street number, so wanted to take pictures of the two houses that looked like the one I remembered.  Unfortunately a big council truck was again parked in front of the right house! :-(

As it's morning tea time we stop at a nearby park before driving to Lightning Ridge where we arrive just before lunch time.  We enjoy a dip in the Artesian Bore baths again and have lunch after.

We need to push on and in my haste I forget to go back for fuel after we leave the baths.  Outside Lightning Ridge I discover my error and Patricia thinks that the fuel station at Hebel has closed down.  It's too risky to keep driving, so we return, get fuel and all of a sudden I don't feel like driving any more.  We pick up some groceries and book into the Lightning Ridge Caravan Park for the night.

Wednesday 7 June, 2017

We leave at 09.00h as we are not in a hurry and I am still very tired.  I had a short night with bad dreams.  A coffee stop at Hebel is more than welcome.  Patricia knows and likes this little restaurant and wants to shout me a coffee.

The dining room in a very, very old building

On our way to St. George a while later we are surprised by kangaroos hopping across the road in front of us, but still far enough away not to cause any problems.  I get the time to slow down to a complete stop, necessary, because after the first three there are another three and they keep coming until we have counted approx. 20 of them.  Lucky kangaroos and lucky us.  No one got hurt!  We also still see plenty of emus, but they will be our last ones now we get closer to the coast and bigger cities.

Upon arrival at St. George I pick up some more FG port from the winery and then we arrive at Elizabeth's.  Elizabeth has visitors and is very busy, so we opt to have lunch in the camper which we park in front of the house.

After that Patricia gets her camper and we start unloading mine.  She is going to stay here for a few days.  I am going home by myself from here. We say goodbye and I drive to Westmar Rest Area (#761) S27 55 09, E149 42 55, where I camp for the night.

Thursday 8 June, 2017

I leave at 08.30h and stop for morning tea somewhere along the road at 10.00h.  Twice I come across kangaroos hopping across the road in front of my vehicle, but luckily not close enough for a hit.

I have lunch at Cooyar at 12.30h and afternoon tea at Kingaroy at 15.30h.

It's pushing on today, but I can make it home in one day now and want to do so.  I arrive at the decent our of 17.00h and have made a round trip of 5604 kms!  I have also found 44 geocaches on this trip.

At the weekend I visit both boys and their families and I am happy to also be home in time for Tori's birthday on the 9th.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

A trip to South Australia - week V

Monday 29 May, 2017

Today I did something I haven't done before and I doubt it has been done by any other geocacher: I claimed a FTF (First to Find) while lying in bed!!!

For non-geocachers (called muggles by us) I will explain what you normally do.  If you get notification that a new cache has been hidden you run out of the door, as any good geocacher does, and hope to be the first person to find that particular cache. So, how did I manage to claim a FTF while in bed, you wonder?  Well, this happened to be an earth cache, which is a different type and you don't find a hidden container, but ordinarily you have to visit the site and answer a few questions in order to claim a 'find'.

I had been reading in bed and been playing a bit of Wordfeud and started to look if there were any more caches to be found in the area.  Imagine my surprise when I see a cache close by that I hadn't seen before.  Why?  It was only published two days before!

I read the description and the requirements and I noticed that I actually had been to the two lakes mentioned and I had no problems answering the questions either, so the CO (Cache Owner) allowed me to claim the find.  How good is that?!

The Pinkest Lake (#1649)

I have seen the pink lakes before, when I was travelling in South Australia with Patricia and the explanation and more pictures can be found here.

The rest of the day was spent quietly, talking, reading, etc. while Dianne had visitors.

We went out for dinner to the Coobowie Hotel.  Dianne and I shouted Pat and Allan dinner for all they had done for us during the week.

Tuesday 30 May, 2017

Dianne makes breakfast for a change and I tend to a few chores, taking in water and emptying the grey water tank amongst other things.  Patricia does her washing and adds a few items of mine.

Dianne wants to visit a cave at Troubridge Point (for personal reasons) and Pat, Allan and I join her for the trip.  What luck, because the container for one of the multi caches I solved at the cemetery is hidden near the lighthouse and on the way back we find two more caches. One at precisely the spot where we had been standing just before when looking for the cave I mentioned before.

Clan Ranald 1909 (#1650)

Turn Left (#1651)

Robert. (#1652)

When we return I try to start the engine of the camper, because we haven't driven anywhere for a week and I am worried about the batteries.  No problem.  The engine ticks over a first go!

Wednesday 31 May, 2017

Did I mention batteries yesterday?  I did try them, but..... at the crucial moment, when Dianne needs to be dropped off at the bus station at 6 am they are dead!!!  Luckily Pat is awake, grabs her dressing gown and car, and all three of us drop Dianne off.  At least she's alright and at the bus stop with plenty of time to spare.

A lot later I ring the RAA, the South Australian equivalent of road service, and a kind young man comes around and does his very best to get the engine to start, but it takes a lot of effort and a long time before he is successful.  End result: drive to his garage at Stansbury and get two new batteries.

The only reason why they worked the day before and not in the morning is most likely because the temperature was really low and too cold for old batteries...  Learned something new today.

Patricia and I take our leave from dear Pat and Allan, who have been such fantastic hosts and drive to Stansbury first, to get the batteries.  That done we drive on to Port Clinton Reserve where we arrive at 12.15h and have lunch.  We also find a cache.

The King's Port (#1653)

From there it's quite a trip to our camp spot for the night, but first we stop at Wakefield to get fuel and find a dump point.

Then we have a long drive along a dirt track, which eventually brings us to Burra Creek Gorge Reserve (Worlds End) (#215) S33 49 52, E139 02 44, where we arrive at 16.30h.  It's a beautiful secluded spot and it's a shame that we only can stay here for the one night.  Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the campsite, but the following two may have been taken in the area:

Thursday 1 June, 2017

We leave at 08.00h, but not before I have scraped the ice of the windscreen!  It is so terribly cold that we decide to leave in our nighties and dressing gowns and have breakfast later when the camper has warmed up sufficiently.

For that we stop just past Burra.  We also find a cache:


We have morning tea at Oodla Wirra and want to drive on to Broken Hill, but.... I remember that the options to obtain fuel along the Barrier Highway are few and far between.  My fuel app says there is one close to the quarantine check point.  We can drive past this without having to hand in fruit, so we keep going until we discover that we must have passed the petrol station.  We drive back, but have to tell the officer at the check point that we have no intention to go back other than to get fuel, so we don't have to hand in the fruit that we obviously carry with us.  However, the fuel station has closed down and we have to turn again and cross the check point one more time.  The nearest fuel station, it appears, is Yunta and I have enough fuel left to make it that far.

We have lunch at Yunta as well as a little rest and we might as well stretch the legs.  There are two geocaches in the area, which is very helpful. The closest is at a children's playground, occupied by a toddler and its parents.  The next one is at the local airstrip and a bit further out of 'town'.  We decide to walk anyway.  It's an easy find and on the way back we pick up the cache at the playground, which wouldn't have been such an easy find if it wasn't for Patricia having a bright moment, because the description, and container size were wrong, as were the coordinates! :-)

Yunta tales - The Airport! (#1655)

Yunta tales - YTC (#1656)

Later in the day I discover that one of Patricia's books, left on the floor near the passenger seat, has lifted the container for the windscreen wipers fluid out of its brackets and leaked some of the fluid.  This will need to be fixed at the next service, because now the windscreen cannot be cleaned while driving. 

Also, when I wanted to boil the kettle later I could not get the stove to work.  Strange, I thought, because I could not have run out of gas so quickly.  Then I discovered that the lead for the ignition had been pulled out of its socket.  Fixed it and we could have our cuppa!

As I had developped a headache earlier on we decided to stay at the Yunta Centennial Park (#205) S32 34 54, E139 33 46, for the night so I didn't have to do any more driving.

Friday, 2 June, 2017

As we left early (07.30h) after another cold night, with frost on the windscreen on the inside this time, we took breakfast a bit later down the road in a warmer camper.  Hooray for the heating while driving! However, it was still so cold that I couldn't lift the cover on the ventilation of the gas heater for hot water, so, we had to forgo a shower.

We stopped again at Manna Hill for a cache and at Olary for a lie down for me, as I again had problems with cramps.  We also had time for a shower now I could lift off the cap.

The cache we found was:

Manna Hill (#1657)

And when we stopped for lunch at Thackaringa I again had to lie down, this time a bit longer to be sure I got rid of the cramps, and when feeling better we found a nearby cache here as well.

Thackaringa (#1658) 

From here it wasn't a long drive to Broken Hill where we stopped at Woolworths for groceries before driving on to our camp spot for the night at Silverton, just outside of town.  We camped at Penrose Park (#948) S31 52 57, E141 13 55.  Cramps and headache seem to go hand-in-hand, so I opt for a quiet evening.

Saturday 3 June, 2017

It's again a cold morning, but beautiful and refreshing, so I go for a long walk around the park, which is quite big.

After breakfast we leave and look around a bit at what Silverton has to offer.  There is a museum dedicated to Mad Max, but as I, nor Patricia, have never been a fan we skip that in favour of the combined information centre/art gallery/coffee shop.  It's a quirky place and even the artists in this little town are quirky!

From the information centre we walk to the Masonic hall opposite and next past the pub and stop at the Gaol Museum.

The Masonic Hall

The Pub

The Silverton Hotel

Souvenirs shop

Silverton Gaol

We also visit a local artist at work: John Dyon.  His paintings are not as quirky as the ones we have seen at the art gallery, but very colourful and not particularly my personal taste either...

Before we leave Silverton we stop for lunch and then make our way to Broken Hill, the Silver City.  We park next to the railway station where we notice two interesting murals:

Patricia knows about a huge circular painting, not unlike Panorama Mesdag in The Hague, that she wants to go and see.  It's called "The Big Picture" and it's exhibited at the Silver City Mint & Art Centre.  It takes a bit to find the place, as we are sent in different directions, but we find it at last.  It's big, it's (too) colourful and it's different, but.....  not half as good as the one in The Hague, which has always been my favourite.  However, the saying is: "If you never never go, you never never know!" So true. 

There would have been a lot more to see and visit in Broken Hill, even if it would have only been a few more geocaches, but Patricia has become quite restless and seems to want to travel on.  However, I want to stay at least the night near Broken Hill, because I don't want to make a 200 km trip to the next town this late in the day.  We stay at the Broken Hill Race Course (#945) S31 54 48, E141 28 51, where we can take in water and legally drain the grey water tank.

We were warned that it would be very cold, out in the open area on the plains, but it's not half as cold as our coldest nights have been.

Sunday 4 June, 2017

I am still being plagued by headaches, but manage to drive anyway.  We leave early and fill up with fuel at Broken Hill before we travel north.  The next stop is for morning tea at Topar at 10.00h.

As you can see, this far inland the vegetation is very different and sparse, but it makes for easy driving and I fully enjoy the peace and quiet so far away from towns and cities.  What I didn't mention before is that we are seeing so much wildlife.  The inland highway is lined with hundreds of wild goats and we see at least up to a hundred emus and even a few wild pigs and foxes.  Some are dead carcasses on the road, but most are alive and well.  Not so the kangaroos.  We see numerous dead ones and in some places I have to zigzag around their carcasses, which are devoured by even more crows.

It's basically because of the trucks on the highway.  They travel through the night and kangaroos are generally on the move at dusk and dawn.  They are hard to avoid when travelling at speed and most of the time you notice them far too late to stop.  Luckily the only live ones we see crossing in front of us in daytime happen to move across at a much quieter stretch of road near St. George.

Of course I don't have any pictures of all this wildlife, as we are driving and can't stop.  We're on a two-lane highway with soft shoulders and busy with road trains, some 36m long!

We lunch at Wilcannia at 12 noon and stop for afternoon tea at a rest area at 15.00h approx. halfway between Wilcannia and Cobar. We have already crossed the SA/NSW border, but our clock resets somewhere past Broken Hill and we now have half an hour extra in the Standard Eastern Time Zone. 

The distances are great here, so we don't quite make it to Cobar and stop at Meadow Glen Rest Area (#927) S31 33 33, E145 11 16, for the night.