Leaving Queensland and driving South into New South Wales we very nearly became the dumb tourists who underestimate the vast distances between “towns”. It would have been very embarrassing to run out of diesel in the middle of the Outback!!!
Fortunately we made it to Bourke with a few litres to spare and a few extra grey hairs. From now on we’ll be refuelling as soon we reach half a tank, depending on availability of course😀
We pull into Bourke’s “Michell Caravan Park” and within minutes the sky darkens, the rains start, and the wind hits 1000 kms p/h (well maybe not that much): A tree blows over less than 10 metres away from where we’re parked.
15 minutes later the sun is shining and all is once again well with the World (especially after a few strong G&Ts)
The next day, after exploring Bourke and stocking up on some much needed gin and other bare necessities (like wine and beer), we once again bumped into Paul and Sandra who we’d met at just about every campsite we’d stayed at so far. We decided to all go out for a meal together and took advantage of the free shuttle from the campsite to the local bowling club which also incorporates a Chinese restaurant! Very nice meal in very nice company!
After a couple of days the flies were becoming too much for us (not even mentioning the mosquitoes here!).
We thought it could be due to the crowds in Bourke so decided to move to a campsite 10kms down the road and away from the centre of town. The flies at Kidman’s Camp Country Resort hardly bothered us at all: We’d invested in our latest outback Ozzie accessories and were now prepared!
Soon it was time to move on: Destination Louth and Shindy’s Inn. Bad roads meant it took us two-and-a-half hours to travel 100 Kms (Yes, we’re wimps but we were trying to avoid the emus!). We also passed two squished kangaroos, both had had their tails chopped off. Have we started a culinary trend?!!
Shindy’s Inn is probably the nicest place we’ve stayed yet. A cosy bar, nice camping ground, the usual airstrip where the flying doctors land once a month to hold a clinic and friendly locals who took the time to tell us the best places to head for, the state of flooding on the roads and where to buy a fishing licence.
Unfortunately we also met our first ignorant campers. Nobody on the site except for yours truly and they come and park right in front of us. This made the decision to leave after two nights easy.
Now this was paradise (well, except for the flies and the mosquitoes 😀). For the next five days we lived totally self contained. Lots of sunshine meant that the solar cells were able to do their job and the fridge kept running. Had we had more water, we would definitely have stayed longer.
The evenings are still pretty cool so Dave got a lot of exercise chopping up wood to feed the big fires we built every night – I was in charge of kindling👍. Baked potatoes never tasted so good (due to the quality of the kindling of course)!
With water once again running out it was time to return to “civilisation” to stock up. So back to Bourke and then on to Mulga Creek, another great bush pub with campsite and great lamb chops!By now we were down to 4 weeks left before our 90 days are up so time to head East and then North back to Brisbane.
We realised how glad we were to leave the Outback behind us when we saw the green rolling hills and mountains of the Great Dividing Range ahead of us. Although it does have a beauty of its own (as does a crocodile 😀), the Outback is a pretty desolate and intimidating place. This is a completely subjective opinion of course. We’ve met loads of people who love it.
We arrived in Tamworth – What bliss ! After 10 weeks of rugged, remote and arid vastness, we had shops, restaurants, bars – We’ve learned that we’re true Townies at heart. We camped within walking distance of the centre of town (the most expensive campsite up until now) and, after recently having had this conversation in a Bush pub:
Me: Steak and chips please 😐
Waitress: You want chips?
Me: oh, there’s a choice 😃?
Waitress: No chips
spent the next few days eating meals which did not include steaks or chips.
Our supply of good gin had long since run out and, unable to buy anything else (not a lot of gin tonics are drunk in the Outback), we’d been forced to resort to “Gordon’s”. In Tamworth we were spoilt for choice and eventually settled on these two:
“Ink” really was that colour and very flowery tasting. The New Zealand gin “Rogue Society” was a revelation – Probably the best we’ve ever tasted!
Initially we’d intended to head to the coast but because of the beautiful scenery decided to spend more time in the Great Dividing Range. So Northwards to another free camp in Guyra (Mother of Ducks Nature Reserve). What a great spot, wild flowers all around us and finally, because there were hardly any flies to speak of, we could sit outside and soak up the views. This is what we’d been waiting for.
Before crossing the border from New South Wales back into Queensland, we spent a few days in Tenterfield, surrounded by hills it’s a lovely place. Moving on to Killarney, after passing through Glencoe, Ben Lomond and Glen Innes (Yep, lots of Celtic named towns around here): We were sitting outside the camper, temperature about 30℃ when a black cloud blew in and this happened:
Quite an amazing experience. Within minutes everything was white causing Dave to burst into a medley of Christmas carols (not an amazing experience).
Our first trip round Australia is just about over. In a few days we’ll be parking up the camper on the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and heading back to Asia for 5-6 months, before we return and head North towards Cairns and further.
This trip has been an eye opener and very different to what we had anticipated (both in good and not so good ways). We’re still very happy we made the decision to buy the camper and look forward to our next visit which, now that we have more of an idea of what to expect, we’ll approach with a much a more open-minded attitude – Aware that touring around Australia is very different to touring around Europe and that the Outback is not for us.