The Way Outback Tour
To The End Of The Bitumen And Back Again!
15 May to 24 May 2013
Now the cooler weather had finally arrived, we decided on a trip to Cameron Corner, Innamincka and Birdsville, not in the caravan this time but the camper trailer. What an exercise in packing, though, not having the luxury of cupboards and drawers to stow all the bits and pieces.
With the car and trailer loaded and spare tyres on the roof, we set off, and made for Nindigully Pub free camp, just out of St. George, for our first night’s stop. “Camper trailing” is quite physically demanding, so took us a bit of time to set up camp. We got better at it as the trip progressed. Quite a lot of vans here, a popular spot for travellers.
Awake early next morning, thanks to next door’s roosters. Stopped at St. George for fuel and a few groceries. Quite a few cattle on the roadside, taking advantage of the feed the “long paddock” provides. The cotton in full bloom around St. George a sight to see. Judging by the great stacks and bales of harvested cotton, must have been a bumper crop. Then Cunnamulla to have a look at the Cunnamulla Fella. This is an impressive bronze sculpture of a typical outback bushman, immortalised in a song by Slim Dusty.
“Well I’m a scrubber runner and a breaker too, I live on damper and wallaby stew, I’ve got a big cattle dog with a staghound’s cross, I never saw the scrubber he couldn’t toss, Cause I’m the fella from Cunnamulla, Yes, I’m the fella from Cunnamulla”
Country by now just red dirt and scrub. An awful lot of roadkill littered the highway, roos, goats, emus and pigs. Boy, do those pigs give off an odour. Pulled in to Paddabilla Bore for the night.Picked the wrong spot to camp, though. What we thought was dry grass turned out to be a large patch of prickles! These will be permanently imbedded in the soles of our thongs. We were the only campers here, not a soul around for miles it seemed. Early to bed, came in very cold during the night.
Up early to catch a bush sunrise. Mind you, it was 7am! We filled up with water from the bore and were on our way. A bit of an eventful day as it turned out. We decided to head for Caiwarra Waterhole for a couple of nights. Seemed like a pretty good spot on the river. Maybe a bit of fishing and yabbying. So, got to the turn off just passed Eulo, and headed down our first unsealed road. It was in pretty good condition but the dust found it’s way in everywhere. The camp was about 66k’s down the road. Finally pulled in and, although it is now a National Park, it was once Caiwarro Station. There was a ruin of the old homestead and an old tank. The place itself was fairly unspectacular and the river was just a muddy creek. Being a NP, a camp fee was required. For two nights it would have cost us over $20. We thought this was a bit steep, although there was a toilet! So, morning tea with the flies and back up the road to the highway. In the meantime, the water pump on the trailer decided to give up the ghost.
Made for Yowah, an opal fossicking district, about 70k’s off the highway. A great free camp with hot showers, for a donation. Quite a few people camped here, dedicated fossickers and ‘noodlers’. Very small village, not even a pub!! Opal shops and a café, a caravan park and a general store. We were lucky enough to be there for the monthly community BBQ. An excellent three course meal for $15 a head and the best apple crumble we’ve ever tasted. And a really friendly bunch of people. There are plans for an Artesian Bore swimming complex which will put the town on the map. We’ve been to the pool at Mitchell and the hot bore water is very soothing. We stayed at Yowah three nights. The weather was great. Max managed to fix the water pump, so all good. Met Dick from Tasmania and Judy and Ray from Nanango. Lots of birds, Spotted Bower Birds, Blue Bonnet parrots, even a couple of Major Mitchell cockatoos flew by. And cattle wandering the streets! A funny sight we saw was a woman walking along the road with her dog and a baby goat.
On now to the camp at Wilson River at Noccundra, the last stop before we hit the ‘real dirt’ to Cameron Corner. Took the dirt road from Yowah back to the highway and were going pretty well, until we there was an almighty bump. Max didn’t see the hazard warning! That was OK, but after a while a strange tapping sound was coming from the roof. Pulled up to find the roof rack had come apart. We were literally in the middle of nowhere. Managed to make repairs and were soon on our way. We stopped to have a look at Lake Bindegolly, but it was a 9k return walk to the water’s edge. It was the middle of the day, and quite hot, so thought better of it.
Stopped at Thargomindah, the last place to pick up supplies. Bought a few groceries, then fuel and a bit of lunch at Fergies Roadhouse. Pulled into the Hydro Power Plant on the way out of town. Thargomindah was the first town in Australia, and the third in the world, to produce hydro-electric power for street lighting by using the water pressure from the Artesian Basin. Who knew!
Finally arrived at Noccundra, a pub, a hall and public showers and toilets. That’s it. Set up camp beside the Wilson River. Quite a few travellers here, too. Not the most attractive spot, very dusty, and the flies drove us mad. Maybe a bit of luck this time catching fish and yabbies to make up for it. Had a bit of a shower during the night, a bit worrying, couldn’t bear the thought of a wet camp. We put the big tarp over the tent the next morning for some extra protection. Checked the yabby trap. Only some freshwater shrimp and a baby Golden Perch so far. A drizzly day and quite cold, very dreary.
Well, so much for the ‘dry camp’. Very heavy rain during the night and windy as well. The tarp had shifted, so the tent was a bit damp in places. The dust had turned to sticky, slippery mud! A real mess. Time to pack up and head home. As it was, when we got back to the main road, we were told the road to Cameron Corner was closed, so the decision was made for us. We were disappointed, though, looking forward to seeing the Corner, the Dig Tree, and visiting Innamincka and Birdsville.
Took the road to Eromanga, the furthest town from the sea in Queensland, where we saw emus wandering the streets. We have never seen as many emus as we have this trip. They were everywhere. We came across a couple of oil wells beside the road and wedge-tailed eagles having a feast of roadkill. There must have been a lot of rain, as there were great puddles of water everywhere. There is drought in this part of QLD, so locals very happy. On to Quilpie, where we decided cabins were the way to go from now on. Didn’t want to put the tent up since the rain was still threatening. No luck there, so next stop Charleville, and a cosy cabin. Thought we’d make our next stop Miles, but not a cabin to be had there for the next two years! Mining!! Took a back road from Mitchell to St. George, where we’d booked a cabin for the night, via Mungallila for morning tea. I love the names of these towns we travel through.
A comfy night, although a storm came through with more heavy rain. Headed for home via Moonie, a very quick coffee break here as a bitter wind had come up. Then the Cecil Plains – Toowoomba road. I like this drive,( we last did it in 2010) as, after the bush, vast fields of cotton and grain appear and go on for miles, almost at Toowoomba’s back door.
And so home. We’d only been away ten days, but travelled nearly 3000k’s. Whether we ever decide to do this trip again and complete the journey, who knows.