I’m always itching for the next adventure. And whilst I was keeping myself well content amongst my family and friends I was ready to hit the open road once again. So when I was lucky enough to get the one and only tour guide job that I actually applied for I did my little happy dance, spent quality time with my family and friends and bid a fond farewell to the approaching winter in Victoria, Australia. For my final destination was to be a grand trek across three states and up to Queensland. Only just 2,600 km to go!!
WHICH WAY DO WE GO??
I had 9 days before I had to be in Winton, Queensland. So, I figured that if I could knock off 350-400 km each day, I could have 1 or 2 rest days in between and still make it up there with plenty of time to spare.
I had a brief stop in at Kilmore, only about an hour North out of Melbourne, to catch up with some fellow travellers. Then I made it my days mission to at least get over the border and into New South Wales by nightfall. After 415 km, with a petrol stop in Tocumwal, I pulled into a sweet little camp site just over the border in Morundah, NSW. Right on the river with not a soul about and just the campfire to watch over.
ITS GETTING HOT OUT HERE
Heading North, the weather quickly started to get warmer. Nice in the evenings and super after the minimal Summer that I had in Victoria. But driving in the day, with the sun tanning my right arm and the hot winds coming off the flat land, well, all I can say is Thank God for Air-Conditioning. This was to be a saving grace on the long drive. That cold air felt like it was reviving me and helped to make the hundreds of kilometres before me a much more pleasant drive.
After another full day of driving, stopping at Alderthan, Forbes and then Dubbo, I decided that 415kms was a great days effort. I was keen to get North but happy to take it at a gentle pace. That afternoon I happened to chance upon another beautiful river camp spot. Charming in its own way, but not as idyllic as the previous nights location. My fellow campers had also found this spot and the river was down the embankment, hidden from view. But I was grateful to have my camp set up and looked forward to another night under the starry sky.
CHANGE OF SCENE
The land cutting through Central New South Wales was getting drier, hotter and more taxing on the drive. Each time I stepped out of the car, I’d be knocked back with a blast of hot air. I knew it was only going to get hotter further north so sucking it up and doing my best to acclimatise was the only way to go.
Coonabarabran provided me with a pretty little park to have lunch and a nap in the shade of the trees. It’s a real treat to find any bit of green grass out here. What with the conditions being so dry and dusty. The rains seem to have forgotten to share their loads amongst those in the Outback. After a little shop for food provisions in Narrabri, I was off and into the lands of the Great Artesian Basin.
ARTESIAN WATERS FROM ANCIENT SEAS
This massive water storage lies under 23% of inland Australia and has taken millions of years to seep through the ground creating a huge reservoir below. Eventually being tapped into from above (they had to drill over a kilometre to reach the water in some spots) before it comes steaming out from the Earth at temperatures ranging between 30c -100c.
So, when I stumbled into Moree after 375kms, I decided to treat myself with a rest camp in a caravan park. Purely because they had a hot and cold pool filled with the blessed mineralised waters from deep below us. It truly was a pleasure to detangle my knotted muscles in. And besides, Queensland was practically around the corner and I was making pretty good time already. So why not enjoy a little rest and relaxation.
The next day saw me crossing the last border heading North, back into Queensland, after spending 3 months down South in Victoria and going through what felt like a life time of experiences.
MORE REST AND RELAX TIME
I stopped in at Goondiwindi for a bit of a restock shop with some goods for the car and some food for me. Spent another lunch stop in a beautiful lush green town park and then took off for yet another day of driving. After stopping in at St. George for an ice-cream break, clocking up a decent 360kms for the day, I was lucky enough to find a beautiful camp ground at the Beardmore Youth Camp just near the impressive E.J. Beardmore Dam.
Here was a lovely piece of the past valiantly hanging on. All the original fixtures still well maintained and the touch of rain that they had recently been blessed with turned the fading grass into a green, rich pasture. Perfect for the Kangaroos that greeted me at the entrance. Here was an old Scout Youth Camp that once upon a time had seen all the rooms full and the fields brimming with tents. Kids getting into the great outdoors, making their own fun, instead of trying to find it in an electronic plastic box!! I was grateful to have this magical spot all to myself but I hoped that more travellers would have the good fortune to stumble across this sweet little haven. And at the cost of a gold coin donation, you’d be mad to pass it by.
I ended up spending two nights here. And the day in-between was spent watching movies on my laptop whilst trying to move as little as possible under the shade of the verandah. Trying to catch any bit of the breeze that was going on this balmy 38c day. Before I got too comfortable here it was time to hit the road again.
HEADIN’ NORTH WEST NOW!!
One of the prettiest towns I passed through was called Roma.With it’s charming old style buildings taking pride of place in the centre of town.
Even the 80’s style Post Office building was a pleasant surprise to see. Most of these had been torn down in other towns for buildings a bit more appealing to the eye to take their place.
Back on the road it was more of the same. Same landscape, same heat, same flatness, same street (Actually, it was a highway but that just didn’t rhyme!!). However, one new factor that made the trip somewhat different for me was all the bugs that were slowly bonding with my little car. Swarms of grasshoppers were coming off the road and the surrounding land and into, onto and all over my bumper bar, windscreen, wherever they would splatter.
I had one poor fellow stuck in my wiper for over an hour with me steadily cruising at 110 km/hr, his wings quickly getting destroyed, but he still managed to stay alive. What a battler!! Which is more than I can say for his unlucky mates who were literally in pieces spread from bumper to bumper.
THE JOURNEY’S END, ALMOST…
I was getting closer to my final destination and I was eager to churn up some kilometres. The distances were getting to over a 100 km between each town so I powered on and got through another 490 km. That night, after a petrol stop in Augathella, it was a simple road side stop for me. A fire under the stars with the sounds of an occasional road train passing. Just me and a few fellow travellers making camp on a quiet and peaceful stretch of the highway.
The end of the trip was well within my sight now. After having driven over 2,000 km, through 3 states of Australia, the last 600 km felt like a piece of cake. I drove through Tambo, Blackall and Barcaldine. Clocking up another 400 kms I had finally arrived into Longreach, the proclaimed “Gateway to the Outback”. With still 3 days to spare before I started work, it was time to chill back and relax. A chance to gather myself up and to prepare for the season ahead.
For the next stop was Winton!! and The Australian Age of Dinosaurs!!!