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Paul and Ivor Going Feral 2

Part 4/4

Winton QLD to Lawson NSW

 

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By Paul Jones

By Ivor Morton

Wed 28 March 2008.

Good sleep cool night but not as cold as the night before.

We have not seen any of Longreach yet I asked Ivor would he rather leave the camp up as we can stay up to four days, but he said he would rather camp some were on the other side of Longreach, so we packed up and then went into Longreach.

First we went to the Stockman’s “Hall of Fame”, but when I found it was $22.00 to go in I said that I wasn’t going to pay so much, but then Ivor said he really wanted me to go with him and would pay for my entry I relented and said I would go and pay my own way which with a pensioner concession was $18.50.

It turned out to be worth it, and took us about three hours to get through. There was a lot of written information, and various exhibitions. One exhibition that I particular liked it was in a semi dark enclosure and the sealing was dotted with Leds simulating the southern sky at night, under the simulated night sky there was a set up to represent a stock camp, with a life sized dummy stockman sitting near his camp fire. Before the narrative started the face was lit up with a three dimensional hologram and the narrative began, all about droving and the hardships thereof. It was very realistic and well done, and I enjoyed it very much.

There were other exhibits representing all aspects of bush life, including the Flying Doctor Service, women in the bush, aboriginal stockman and an acknowledgment of the part they played in the exploration off early Australia . The main thyme was of the stockman and their sports and their life.

After we left there we had a look at the “ Power House Museum ”. I was getting a bit worried about the state of the batteries in the cruiser as by this time as the refrigerator was pulling eight amps for about four and a half hours, so I asked Ivor if we could keep the museum visit down to about an hour- he said he understood and we went in cost another $8.00 each.

I expected that it might be a small version of the Sydney Power House Museum . what it was, was the old power house more or less as it was when the town switched from Council supplied electricity to connection to the grid, and it was shut down with the main engines and generators only two years into there life before repairs of ten years.

There were four main engines all running on gas generated from coal burners and extracted from coke, that was produced in coke burners this equipment is mostly intact and the engines and the control panels have very little missing. Two of the engines were eight cylinder and stood between about Four meters high massive engines, the other two were horizontally apposed eight cylinder the diameter of the pistons was about 450 mm and the length was about 900 mm, there were some parts on display as well as the original workshop and tools again, very interesting.

But we got through in about an hour and the Cruiser still had plenty of charge in the batteries, so the world was fine and it now being around three o’clock we decided to get a move on towards the next town on our agenda, Barcaldine.

We found what we thought was a suitable spot 22 kilometres out of town it looked ok as far as setting up the 80 Meter antenna for tonight’s radio Sked with Ralph and Dave. Ivor walked over the site and said it was ok for his tent so we started to set up, only to discover that there were hundreds of very sharp seeds in the innocent looking small plants that covered the ground. We decided to stick it out and cleared as much as we could. I managed all right thanks to the gumboots that had been taking up space and a lot of ribbing from Ivor. Every time we would pack or UN pack he would say. `Thank God we Brought the Gum Boots,’ but now the Gum boots, so to speak were on the other foot, while these burrs would fall into Ivor’s shoes every time he would touch one of these bushes, with my gumboots on they were high enough so that I could walk around immune to the burrs so I kept saying Thank God I bought the gumboots. It was true in away because I had to erect the antenna and that entailed walking backwards and forwards in a forty-meter length unwinding wire and erecting poles and guy ropes which I did in comparative comfort,

Ivor reckons it is the worst camp we have ever had, and he will be right if any of these little horrors find there way into the tent and sleeping equipment, as they attach themselves to anything they touch including the outside of my gumboots. They are only about a millimetre and half but on one side they have half a dozen sharp barbs that even stick to rubber, and if they get into our clothes or bedding life would become very hard indeed.

The Sked went very well indeed. I had virtually no noise level on the S meter and static crashes in general below the audio that I was receiving from Ralph and Dave, every thing is still at my place at Lawson repeater wise that is.

 

Did the Longreach thing very well. Apostle birds woke us up and I was amused by the early morning toilet run. Buckets and bags and Po’s, kids running, stately matrons in dressing gowns with hair curlers and nonchalant men all heading in the same direction to the impatient queues. Council workers fell on he place like starving animals, there were trucks carting garbage and rubbish, hosing the dusty ground. Vehicles were packing up and `Getting Away Early’, little dogs yapped, people were promising to `Keep in Touch’, whilst some got out comfy chairs and sat and smoked. Went to the Hall of Fame and spent a long time and then wet to the Power House Museum, really good shows. Camped south of Infricombe. I was determined not to move the camp once we had settled on a place and I chose the worst possible site ever. If we had moved the twenty meters to the place Paul suggested it would have been much better. I can still feel the prickles. Sked night. Nights getting cold.

 

 

Thursday. 29 March 2008.

The decamping this morning was a very meticulous event every thing had to be brushed down to get rid of any burrs that were sticking to our gear, we managed to get most out of the tent and I even got one out of my bedding, thank goodness that was all. We both agreed that it was absolutely the worst camp ever.

We got to Barcaldine around 11.00 am and went first to the Australian Workers Heritage Centre- The centre was started with Government funds but is now a non profit organization and is run by a private company which is also classified as a charity. It does not receive any funds from the labour party or the union movement.

There is a lot of information on all aspects of the Australian union movement and the formation of the labour party under the “Tree of Knowledge”, which was poisoned a few years ago by vandals. There were exhibit on women’s contribution to the work force, also the police, fire departments, postal service Etc. Etc.

After this we went and had a look at the site were the “Tree of Knowledge” used to stand- It is now concreted over and a temporary monument stands in the old the trees place- I do believe that the remainder of the trunk is now under going a preservation process and will be mounted on the original spot, as a permanent reminder of the great events that took place under it.

After getting a few things at the shop we headed out for “Blackall”. But due the fact it was 3.00 pm. The only things we did when we got to “Blackall” was go and pay our $5.00 fee at the information centre so that we could camp in the Council park near the “Barcoo River”. At first they weren’t going to issue us one. Because in spite of there being one toiled on site and public toilets and showers with in a five minute walk. The health department had decreed that all campers had to have portable toilets; there were facilities to empty them on the site. Ivor said could we lie about it, the girl behind the counter said, “ No because you have already told me you haven’t”. I could see that she was sympathetic so I said we have got a bucket we can use that and much to my surprise she and her mate agreed that that constituted a portable Loo and issued us with a permit for the $5.00 fee, and just to reassure us she said before we left “Of course you wont have to use the bucket because there is a Loo on the site”.

The site was good with mowed grass, there were ten other campers and I think that they did have Porta Loos with them, the one toilet was good but I could see what the council was worried about, it would not be enough for dozens of campers. We later walked over to the public showers, which were clean and the water hot, there were only two and the   shower that Ivor used had a flat floor and although there was a drain in the flour the water went every were including all over the flour in the shower that I was using, which created a bit of a challenge getting the clean clothes on and keeping them dry.

A cold night I had a shirt and track suit pants on and was quite snug, but I think it will rapidly get colder the further south we go.

 

 

Prickles everywhere. Packed up with care. Heading for Barcaldine. The Tree of Knowledge has died but the town is well into remembering it and a great exhibition centre. They were selling out of the remnants their clothes and I bought some things for Deirdre, I prayed they were the correct size. (I was wrong). The old railway station is a Gem and the town seems to be trying to get the tourists to sta.

On to Blackall, our camp book told us that camping was $5, but they didn’t tell us that we had to have a Portopottie! They finally settled for a bucket. Showers were in the town (500M) but good and hot. There were about ten Curley road transports parked near bye and the drivers were all waiting their turn for the showers. I phoned Dee and enjoyed a beer whilst Paul caught up with computer work. Cold night. 

 

Fri. 30 May 2008.

We did not wake up till nearly 8.30 am so by the time every thing was packet up it was after 9.30 am.

When we were starting off Ivor said he wanted to go on the 10 o’clock old wool scouring plant tour. It is the only steam driven one that has been restored in Australia .

When we arrived at the site we learned that it was only operated in a demonstration mode and no longer used for scouring wool, and the machinery and the restored steam engine were driven by steam from a modern boiler.

Volunteers have mostly done the restoration and they are rightfully proud of the end results, there has been a two million dollar grant from the government as well as money raised, we found it very instructive.

Ivor could not hear the guide because of his hearing so he missed a bit but there were written notices in front of the principle machines, so he seemed to get the idea of most of it.

Ivor is starting to get home sick so we wont hang out for the full three months pass. I think we will most likely be home soon after the first half of June. He is still keen to finish what we basically planned. Ivor has finished the Matilda way part, which was his main wish list. Mine being to see the lava tunnels and get to Cape York, so we will revaluate things when we get to Charleville tomorrow.

We have camped between “Augathella” and “Charleville” tonight about 150 meters from the road in the bush, the ground is clear of burrs this time, the soil is a red with a thin layer of pink sand, the sky is fully overcast, rain is forecast as far west as Charleville, so we have our fingers crossed. I know from past experience that if this stuff gets really wet we will be very wet and muddy by the time we get packed up.

 

 

Heading for Blackall to see the historic wool scour. Been refurbished recently and gives demonstrations. It is one great machine, from shearing to classing to scouring, drying and then bailing. Found an old truck the same as Paul used. Headed for Charleville and camped near roadside. Looks like a rainy spell coming. Notice each town tries to promote a certain theme. Augathela’s is MEATANTS!

 

Sat 31 May 2008.

Well the rain did not eventuate the skies where blue although the clouds did roll up for a short time while we were having our breakfast, but were non-existing again by the time we hit the road at 9.30 am.

I counted 10 caravans in the first 20 minutes we were under way all headed north, talk about a tourist migration. Will be glad when we leave the Matilda highway and head to Quilpie-

When we arrived at Charleville we drove around and had a look at the town area. It is a large country town and there was a lot of activity going on. There is not one pedestrian crossing or traffic lights, but every thing and every body seemed to know what they were doing, although it looked to be a bit of a dogs breakfast to me.

We parked the Cruiser and walked around the town. I went to the chemist and got a set of my drugs made up. Ivor wanted to have a look and a drink at the Historic Pub “Corones” build in1924, but it wasn’t open so we decided to have a cup of tea and coffee at the café. It was 11.30 am and they were just clearing up, so we went across to the super market and got some provisions and because we both been affected by the variety of different waters adversely we got 5 litres of bottled water for drinking only. Ivor is still not the best but feels a lot better today, he was feeling quite queasy last night the same symptoms that I had a couple of days ago.

At 12.30 pm you could have fired a gun down the main street with out hitting anything, the whole place simply died. We got some fuel and headed out towards Quilpie, after about seventy kilometres the land had changed to a much harsher environment, the thick fields of Mitchell grass were gone and replaced with light timber, some grass and the ground was completely covered with dark brown stones in a lot of places. The road for the most part was unmarked two-. lane bitumen

 

Around 70 Ks from Quilpie we found a good camp spot near a dry creek were the railway line which runs from Charleville to Quilpie drew away from the road and there was a distance of around 300 meters of bush between. It is very pleasant here- I promised Ivor that if we could let me have three or four days through the opal fields that I would go straight from the NSW boarder to home on as direct rout as possible- he has not been enjoying the trip since we got to cape York. Tis a pity because if he was enjoying it, it would have been a lot better. I said I thought we would most likely get home around the 9th June which will be three weeks earlier that we had planned, Ivor seemed greatly relieved and admitted that he had not been enjoying the trip the way he had expected to since he had left his credit card at the road house up north Queensland. I have sensed this and it has spoiled it for me a bit too so it will be better for all concerned to cut the trip a bit short. Ivor as far as I am concerned is still been a good mate on the trip and has gone out of his way to try and make the trip as enjoyable as possible.

 

 

Slow pack up from good camp, on to Charleville, info centre and gardens with native trees, lots of ducks. Went into town but the morning was ending, no cafes open and Paul needed medicines so we went to chemist and by then the whole town had shut up. Couldn’t even get a beer at Corones. Opening at five o-clock. We had some lunch on the banks of the Warrego, phoned Dee and headed towards Quilpie. Weather was overcast and rain was predicted but it was a good run. Camped about 60ks out of Quilpie on pleasant bush spot.

 

Sun.1st June 2008.

I awoke to the sound of light rain on the tent. I woke Ivor and we got straight up we had every thing backed up in double quick time and on the road before any thing got wet. At about 30 kilometres on the east side of “Quilpie” it started to rain quite heavily, the funny part about it was that I had the radio on and the weather forecast said, `Fine at Quilpie’, as I was peering out through the windscreen with the wipers going full pelt.

It was still raining when we got to Quilpie so for the first time on the trip we bought our breakfast, eggs and bacon with chips and toast, for two, total cost $28.00, after filling our LPG Bottle we set off for “Toompine”. It rained heavily at times till about the half way mark, but by the time we got there had been no rain at all but was heavily overcast. There is a pub here

 run by an ex-footballer named Greg apart from the pub there is goats, a llama, camel and donkeys, also a tennis court, clay pigeon range and little else.

After parking we went in and had a drink each, we told Greg our interest in opals and the mining of same, and he suggested that we go out to a place called “Duck Creek”, were he said there were a few old miners all in there late seventy’s that would be happy to answer our questions, he then drew us a mud map showing us the way and wrote two names Mike and Don. So away we went back out the way we had just came from and turned off about ten Kilometres out onto a gravel road, it was through the most inhospitable country that we have travelled so far, no grass and only stunted trees on red brown stony soil. After a time and according to our mud map we came to a grid and a double gate with Mike’s place written on it- we went through and followed a dirt track up the fence line before swinging off at right angle from the fence until we came to a sign saying something like, this was the beginning of the opal mining reserve, not long after we arrived at the mining itself.

 

At first there seemed nobody there but a dog that came barking from the vicinity of a caravan and Corrugated lean-to, we stopped and alighted from the Cruiser. The dog, which was large and black and lucky for us, was friendly and also the owner, who turned out to be a fellow named Don.

We introduced ourselves, and told him that we were asking the publican about opal mining and that he had told us to come out talk to Don, we ended up having a half hour chat and Don answered all our questions. He told us that he started out as a fencing and droving contractor and then brought property and became a successful grazer. When his wife died he passed the propriety over to his children and took up opal mining full time, Don is seventy-eight years old.

Water being non-existing in the area, means they have to cart water from a government bore some distance away. Don does have a telephone, but it would have cost too much to have it but on to his caravan, so it is in an old locked refrigerator some distance away near the Telstra tower.

Don had just finished telling us about a young fellow that was working a mine adjacent to his two claims- that is the maximum that one person is allowed at one time, when the fellow in question arrived in an old Ute unregistered, no back window and a very large grey Mastiff type dog in the back- the dog never got out of the Ute while we were there, but just curled up and went to sleep. The young fellow whose name escapes me now joined into the conversation and then asked me did I want to see some of his samples. I said I would and I went over to his Ute and he showed be some rock with opal in it. I was asking him about mining and he said.

 “I’ll show you were I am digging, I don’t mind”. I said I would like that very much, I will ask Ivor if he would like to have a look too. Ivor wanted to.

 We went over to were the young bloke had his generator going, and followed him about fifteen meters down a shaft we then went thought some beautifully constructed drives that were done by the previous owners, when we got to the new drives there was a notable difference in the workman ship, the walls were uneven and a lot of loose material was hanging from the ceiling and walls, to a novice like myself it looked rather unsafe, never the less we arrived at the face where he was digging- and he showed us the sort of material that he was looking for and were he had come across good opal. We arrived back on the surface safe and well. It was an experience that we both enjoyed. We gave the young fellow twenty dollars, which at first he refused but Ivor pressed it on to him and he finally accepted.

After about another half hour we bid farewell and headed back to the Toompine pub were we were told we could camp free.

When we arrived back there was another caravan already parked there- and because it was looking more like rain than ever, we put our tent up under the awning of the Clay shooting hut.

The weather looking as it was, I rang Dave and asked him to go on the radio and let Ralph know that I would not be on to night

We had dinner at the Pub of roast chook and vegetables after which we turned in after a very good but tiring day.

 

 

Woken up by rain, quick pack up as ground sticky. Drove to Quilpie and bought the biggest breakfast I have ever had. Only the one café service station open and we got fuel and headed to Toompine, A pub and a Council depot. Lady at pub has a menagerie of animals and birds. Booked to camp and sought advice regarding opals. Sent out to Duck Creek to see `Don and Mike’. Real outback drive but the directions were good and we found a typical opal field. Ingenious use of old cars, panel vans, water tanks and bits of iron to make dwellings. Holes and mullock heaps everywhere. Found Don and he slowly opened up and started to show us bits of machinery he had invented and we looked down shafts with reinforcing wire over the openings and his big black dog snuffled around us. Paul tried to get Don to show opals but he claimed he had none. A newcomer came and changed his footing regularly, he was younger but confessed to having a problem with the law, but they were not hassling him as long as he kept off the grog. He offered to take us down his mine. Interesting to see the stone lines in the clay and the chambers he has been digging out and comparing it with the older conventual drives, which were very uniform. Back to pub seeing lots of big roos, had too much food for dinner and enjoyed some stout. Slept soundly.

 

Mon 2 June 2008.

It rained most of the night but because the tent was under cover it remained reasonably dry.

It was still raining when we had packed up and on the road headed for “Yowah” we drove out of the rain and by the time we got to “Yowah” the sky was mainly blue and sunny the land between “Toompine” and “Yowah” remained the same but even less grass.

When we arrived we drove around a bit to check the town out- there was a group of people standing outside the caravan park and we stopped and talked for a while. They told us about a free caravan park, so we had a look, there were toilets and a shower and also there were some SES huts with a veranda at the front- we put up the tent and backed the Cruiser up to the end of the veranda so that when the tail gate was open it protruded under the veranda roof. We set up our gear also under cover. The only trouble that we had was there was a lot of washing hanging on ropes that we had to get around although the owners were kind enough to move some of it later so we then we had ample room. Later in the after noon it clouded up and then started to rain- lets see how it is tomorrow. There is a Laundromat here so we did our washing there. We had six dollar coins so we thought we would be ok since the washing took three and the dryertook three but we did not read the notice on the drier, three dollars last for fifteen minutes only, so it was only half dry when we finished and we did not have any more dollar coins, so Ivor had to re-hang every thing up on veranda that we were using so now we have washing all around us again.

I was in bed at eight o’clock my self because it was too cold to do anything on the computer.

 

 

Was glad our tent was under an awning as it rained heavily. Headed for Yowah. Country improved but at Yowah it seemed to be even more derelict than Mintibee. It was raining and we camped in the free camping grounds where it was wet and muddy, I was not impressed. Using veranda of old barracks to dry things but slow going. Looking at miner’s shops, opals expensive. Rain consistent. Phoned Dee, clothes too small and N S W due for at least four days rain. Dry in tent.

 

Tue 3 June 2008.

In a word WET! It rained all night, but cleared up around ten and was lovely and sunny, we have decided to stick it out here and see how it is tomorrow.

There are half a dozen caravans here in the free caravan park, and the occupants were walking around getting quite good samples of opal after the rain had cleaned the stones and gravel, there is a bloke across the road that will cut and polish samples for ten dollars apiece, I found a couple but not worth polishing. In the afternoon we walked around and had a look at the place.Ivor wanted to call into the miners hut because he had run into the owner seven years ago in “Eulo”, he turned out to be very friendly and gave us a lot of good information including a telephone number and name of a fellow that is next door to where we are camped that has a amateur type antenna in his yard. I rang him later but he said he was an amateur radio many years ago but had no longer any interest it and wasn’t very interested in having a chat; it was a disappointment but what! That’s life.

Before we left I bought a couple of opal samples. We called into another place that was more a seller and museum we had a good to talk to the owner.

When we got back to the caravan park, Ivor re-hung the washing under our veranda in the hope that it will dry a bit over night, the sky is still clear, and I hope to do a bit of fossicking tomorrow.

 

 

Wet, but a slight breeze and slowly drying. Full sun by 10 o-clock. Slowly drying our goods. Old fellow collecting stones and going home to `Crack his nuts.’ Paul getting info from anyone passing. Lots of tales. Walked around town and spent some time talking to Fred Mucke and looked at his collection, Paul bought a few small stones. Went to local Museum where there was a good collection, opals very expensive but had on show gold and opals on a chain and a ring. Nice abo work and burls but nothing for sale.

 

Wed 4 June 2008.

Although several times when I got up the sky was a mass of stars. It must have clouded up around three in the morning, because when we got up the heavy cloud cover was back, and with out the ground drying a bit and the sun to pick up any colour it would be of little benefit to go fossicking, however we decided to wait till ten o’clock and if there was no improvement we would pack up and head for “Eulo” and then “Cunnamulla”.

At 10 o’clock it looked even worse so we backed up and headed out. We had to back track twenty kilometres to the Toompine Road and then head south to the Bulloo Developmental Road and east to “Eulo”.

As we got towards “Eulo” the country changed, grassy plains gradually replaced the red rocky land with small trees to a more grassy plains.

As we drove into Eulo we noticed a line of assorted Police Vehicles lined up on the other side of the road, we learned that there was an unveiling of a monument at three o’clock when we went into the only shop to get something to eat.

While we were having our lunch a four-wheel drive pulled up and although we did not recognize the gentleman that alighted, he recognized us straight away It was the owner of the last place that we visited yesterday at “Yowah” all dressed up in a suit. I asked him what he was doing here and he said he was attending the unveiling, and then went on to tell us that he had built the monument out of “Yowah Sandstone”, and had done another two in the district, I gathered that he did it for free as a public gesture.

Before we left we decided that we had better go over and see his masterpiece, it was in front of the Police Station, when we got there we found a rather nice construction with a veil covering the plaque. A woman came out of the police station and we asked could we have a peek under the veil at the plaque. She said Ok and also told us it was in remembrance of a policeman who died there one hundred years ago, but far as I could discern there wasn’t anything out standing about this individual. He was stationed at “Eulo” and worked there and the surrounding district, he died of natural causes, it appeared to me that the whole affair was to give the place a little more interest for tourists.

After thanking the woman, we were back in the cruiser and headed for Cunnamulla.

The country continued to become better with more grassland.  When we reached Cunnamulla we had a drive around looking for a caravan bark and the town in general. I went into my bank to check on my credit card which before I left I put into credit to the tune of three thousand dollars, it still had two hundred and fifty dollars credit so there still was no need to put a payment on it.

We then topped the tank up with petrol, as the was no auto gas available in Cunnamulla the next place we can get gas is Bourke, and although we are presently running on gas there is not enough too get us all the way to Bourke.

Not seeing anywhere to camp in Cunnamulla, although there is a caravan park there some where, we decided to keep going and find a bush camp out of town, which we did about sixty kilometres south of town we managed to find a disused gravel pit, it was a very long time ago judging be the re-growth that it had been in operation, the ground was somewhat stony and hard, but as it still looked like rain, and we did get a few spits during the evening, we decided that it was a pretty good camp and it had ample room to erect my eighty meter antenna as well.

The camp was good and my Eighty Meter Sked with Ralph and Dave went well, there was little background and the signal was good. Lets hope we don’t get any rain during the night, as there is nothing worse Than packing up a wet camp.

Ivor is still pushing to get home, although he has said he would be happy to get home next Tuesday. I think he will try to hurry us along a bit. We had a bit of discussion on the direction of the points of the compass and the direction back to the road to Bourke, due to the sky being over cast and the antenna should be set up East to west for best performance.

 

Clear night but raining again by morning. Not able to fossick and packed up and headed for Eulo. Eulo had 4 inches of rain. Shop for sale. Lots of police vehicles at station and we found that they were dedicating a monument to a police constable who had lost his life in service exactly 100 years ago A publicity officer uncovered the stone for us to see. It was made from Yowah sandstone by the proprietor of the museum.  As we crossed back to the vehicle a 4WD stopped and out stepped the man himself with his lady resplendent with the gold and opal display we had seen yesterday.

We headed to Cunnamulla for fuel and Paul checked his bank. On to a roadside camp in old quarry. Pauls sked went well.

 

Thur 5 June 2008.

Good Sked on eighty meters last night with Ralph and Dave so we did get the antenna set OK.

And went back to the highway Ok and headed towards Bourke along the Mitchell Highway, we only stopped briefly at “Barringun” on the Queensland New South Wales border to photograph the boarder sign and to boil the Billy and have a bite to eat.

On arriving at “Bourke” we drove around the town a bit as we have been doing lately, just to get an idea of the lay out before actually going to the Information Centre. I saw my bank and went in to inquire about my standing on the credit card it was still a couple of hundred dollars in credit so I don’t have to worry about it for another month.

We found the “Mitchell Caravan Park” and booked in for the night, there was a elderly very short grumpy woman behind the desk and she said the un powered sites were to wet and told us to go into one of the powered sites she only charged nineteen dollars instead of the twenty two that is charged for the powered site, though I found that two sites up she charged anther camper who wanted an un-powered site the full twenty two dollars. The couple on this site had a very compact camper installed on a four wheel I tonne table top, a very nice middle age couple the husband was just recovering from a bad attack of flue coupled with asthma and allergy, when I was talking to her and asked if she new whether old grumpy at the front desk had a shop she said no, “But I am going up town can I get you something”? I gave here some money and thanked her and asked here if she could get be some margarine and some snags.

The sun broke through this afternoon and it was more than welcome, the difference to every thing was terrific. I got the solar panel hooked up and got some extra charge into the batteries.

After Ivor had rung Deirdre this afternoon he said we had to get back on Monday instead of Tuesday because Deirdre had booked an interview for him at the CES. Ivor said that this was the latest that the CES would book the interview, seems rather uncooperative of the CES to me however there is nothing I can do it means we will hit the Sydney traffic when we get on the last hundred or so from home but I am sure that if there was any other way Ivor and Deirdre would have done it.

I had about an hours worth of typing done into the laptop when The woman from two doors up arrived back and while I was talking to her I accidentally closed the file I was working on because, when it came up and asked if I wanted to save I hit No instead of Yes and lost the lot. Teach me not to save every ten minuets or so. It was near ten o’clock that night before I retyped the page that I had lost and got into bed.

 

 

Heading for Bourke, lots of people going the other way. Some interesting signs on road. Arrived abour3 o-clock. Country carrying good body of feed. Booked into a caravan park, lady very sour. Will explore to-morrow. Did washing and tidy up of gear. Warm and sunny. Looks set for a clear frosty night.

 

Fri 6th June 2008.

We woke up to a cool and cloudy day again although by eleven the clouds were gone and the day was perfect.

After having Breakfast and washing some more clothes Ivor went up and paid another night of caravan fees. Before he left I said I bet you cant get a smile out of old grumpy, when he got back he said, “Well I not only got a smile but she laughed as well”.

We headed up town about eleven and went to the Information Centre and spent about an hour there reading and looking. The Information Centre is in Bourke’s restored railway station, and has a good collection of information on Bourke and its history. We then went over to the other side of town to where a replica of the old wharf is, at the site of the original one. From it there was a terrific view of the river and I got some good video (I hope) of the river and some black Gang Gangs. Ivor spent a lot of time talking to an extremely good looking Asian woman, so I don’t know how much time he spent on photos, adjacent to the wharf there was a centre called the “Back of Bourke”, more a souvenir and information than anything else, besides it was a fully restored two cylinder 1923 “Crossley Brothers Diesel Engine” in fully working condition, unfortunately the man who starts it up for the tourists was off sick so we did not get to see it run.

After this we went back up town and had a toasted sandwich with a cup of tea for me and coffee for Ivor.

After this being the first opportunity since I lost my pocket-knife to old man Neptune at “ Cape York”. I went looking for another pocket-knife and scabbard, I found a suitable one at the paper shop, by the time I bought a pouch for it, it cost me eighty dollars, but at least it is a good one. After comparing it with Ivor’s we found they were identical.

When told Maria it sound like she though that paying that much for a knife was slightly over doing it.

We had decided that there being a paddleboat that took people on short trips on the darling for a cost of twelve dollars for pensioners, we would go on it. But only being one thirty and the boat not leaving till three o’clock, we had  time to see a few other things. The first thing we did was to go to the cemetery, to pay our respects to the memory of Fred Hollows the great Eye Surgeon, who did so much the help people here and over seas to regain there sight, when we got there was quite a big area set aside for his grave. There was a monument to his memory and the grave itself was covered with a massive granite bolder partly polished with an inscription to Him on it. There was an information board set up with a lot of information on it among was a message that said that they would like people to climb or sit on the rock and for children to play on it! A very touching and unusual request I thought.

 From there we went out and had a look at the weir and old lock. The lock is not operational any more. When it was it was used lift the old paddle steamers to a higher level of the water held back by the weir. The weir is still vital and holds the whole water supply for Bourke. The water is a light brown with a fair bit of green algae on the top, surprising enough though after it has been treated it is clear and tastes as good as any water that I have tried on this trip. Although they tell me that Bourke runs a duel water system using recycled water for toilets and watering Etc. So you have to be a bit careful where you get your drinking water from.

The last thing we did was to go for the trip on the paddleboat.  Designed and build by two men in five months, one was a local grazer and the other a mate of his that moved to Bourke to help him. The second fellow has a masters ticket and is presently training a young local fellow for his masters ticket the Bourke Council has recently bought the boat from the owners and the skipper who is presently training the young bloke is a doing it on a volunteer arrangement. The boat is driven by a diesel engine driving a generator, which in turn drives two electric motors one for each paddle wheel.

The trip on the Darling was quite an experience. The young bloke that is under instruction was driving it on the down trip and as he approached the old bridge that spans the “Darling”  on the north side of Bourke three resident geese were right in front of the boat, he slowed down and altered coarse slightly and eventually got past the geese but put himself at the wrong angle to the pylons and as he went through hit the port side pylon a glancing blow no damage done, not a regular occurrence as I under stand it, but added a bit of diversion on the cruise though.

I was talking to the master of the boat; unfortunately I can’t remember his name. He told me a story about the geese. Originally there were four, they arrived some years ago, one day he saw a couple of men with dogs sool the dogs on to the geese which were on the bank of the river. The geese got into the water in front of the two dogs and headed for thecentre of the river dogs swimming in hot pursuit, the two men egging them on from the bank. The four geese reached the centre of the river with the dogs not far behind, then two of the geese took to the air and banking around each side and landed on the two dogs pushing them under the water and nearly drowning them, upon surfacing the two dogs spluttering and gasping gave up the chase and headed for the bank, the two blokes were upset at the geese and the master of our boat conclude by saying I yelled out to them it was all right when you thought that they were going to bite there heads off wasn’t it, a great story I thought.

He also said that the four geese went down to the weir for a while and when they returned there were only three one male and two females.

Its been a real good day and Bourke has proved a very interesting place with a very interesting history, a much cleaner and revamped Bourke than the one I visited on my first trip nine years ago in the little Sigma.

 

 

A great day and we really explored the town and district.  River, wharves, old buildings, spillway and lock. Fred Hollows grave, fruit growing. Went on paddleboat trip, Paul bought a new knife. A great days outing.

 

 

 

Sat 7th June 2008.

Last night I could here cars racing around the streets and loud voices, also the sound of many dogs barking near and far at around midnight. I guess the old Bourke is still there in the back ground- but it all settled after a couple of hours, all was as it should be.

We got going this morning about nine thirty am- I am feeling sadder that the trip is drawing to a close as Ivor is brightening up at the prospect of getting home- been a bit of a contest between the two of us over the last couple of weeks, with Ivor trying to hurry the trip and me trying to extend it but it is now agreed that we will be home on Monday about two and a half weeks early, so though I would like to have the full three months I am now eager to get it finished, but I still want to make it last to the Monday. I think Ivor might be hoping we will get back on Sunday; we could do so if we went straight home now and did not dilly-dally at all.

We had a bit more of a look around “Burke” and then headed on our way home I want to call into Don’s place in Trangie. He is a Ham, and collects old radios and restores them. The last time I saw him was when I had a friend living at Trangie and I used to go and stay with him for a couple of weeks at a time. The last time I was there was about ten years ago. I will try and ring friend Brian at “Eumungerie” Who is in the same ham radio club as Don is and see if Don is still around.

 Instead of going all the way to Trangie we turned towards “ Warren” and camped at a rest area a few kilometres before Warren . There were a couple of campers there before us so rather than camp close to them we looked around and found a good spot a few hundred meters from where they were.

For the first time we lit a fire and it was great to be able to sit around and keep warm.

Ivor keeps getting happier the closer to home and seems quite OK for me to call in and see my friends tomorrow. I tried to ring Brian from about half past six to nine o’clock this evening but he must be on the computer. I will try again tomorrow.

There does not seem to be much rain fallen around here lately and the land is looking quite dry although there is plenty of grass around it looks pretty dry.

 

Sun 8 June 2008.

Up in the morning and headed for Trangie. Ivor starting to whistle and hum as we drive. We are going to call in and see a fellow radio Amateur. Don that I met years ago when I was staying with another friend.

When we got to Trangie I had a lot of trouble trying to find Don’s place. I could remember it was next to the race track, and it wasn’t until we stopped and asked a old man who was sitting in a Ute watching some sheep eating grass on the side of the road and he pointed us in the right direction which was on the other side of the race track, I recognized the house as soon as I saw it. Don had got a lot older and had been sick and just out of hospital but once I reminded him of the last time we met he graciously agreed to

 

 

 

On road to Nyngan and east. Country looking great. Camped on road to Warren and had fire. Night cold but clear. I am looking forward to getting home, thought I think Paul would like to have gone longer.

 

show us some of his radios. All the radios, crystal sets and gramophones, he has restored are in working order. He can tell you the history of just about every one. We did not stay very long as we did not want to over tax his strength, so wishing him a speedy recovery we set of to visit other friends of mine Brian and Sandra at “Eumungerie”. About an hour later we arrived and found them in the old original cottage that they have done up and use as a recreation room- I was amazed at the work they have done around the place it looked really good. We had a cup of tea and a yarn with them and then set out aiming for Orange and a motel for the last night of our trip, being the Queens birthday we though we might have trouble finding one but the first one we called into had a vacancy.

Well you can imagine the difference after camping out in a small tent for nine weeks in all sorts of weather, here we were in the lap of luxury, after having a hot shower and getting into our nearly good clothes we walked a couple of blocks up to the local club, and had a meal and drinks before coming back. Ivor was soon in bed and a sleep and I followed soon after.

 

 

Nice camp morning. Paul wants to contact old friend at Trangie but having difficulty with name. Unable to get Brian on the phone. Spent some time driving around Trangie before asking a passer by. Then on the right track. Don was recuperating from hospitalisation but invited us in and showed his wonderful collection of radio gear. He was an interesting talker and we enjoyed our visit, I hope we didn’t tire him too much. On to Brian and Sandra’s, cupper and a talk. On the road again and stayed in a motel at Wellington. Had a good dinner at the local club.

 

Mon 9th June 2008.

The alarm woke us up at six forty five in the morning and we were up and packed before our breakfast of bacon and eggs arrived at seven twenty. What luxury indeed.

We only stopped one more time to have a cup of tea, and the arrived at Ivory and Deirdre’s place at about one o’clock to be welcomed by Deirdre and a big pot of delicious pumpkin soup.

I then left and did the last few kilometres to my place, and the trip had finally come to an end about three weeks before we had planned, and although I would have liked to have been gone the full time, it was great to be home, and as it was true for the other time I think we both will feel a lot wiser and contented for the experience.

 

 

It was a pleasant trip home, holiday traffic was a bit thick but we enjoyed a final cupper on the road and then home. Great to see Dee and we unloaded some of the gear.

It has been a truly great trip! I got a bit cranky on occasions and hope Paul will forgive me. I was glad to be home a bit early but did enjoy the whole trip. Thank You Paul.

 

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