Northern Territory · Travel Photography · Working on the Road · Writing & Reading

In The Stock-Camp

If you’d asked me a year ago if I’d ever live and work in a stock-camp I would have laughed in your face. Stopped. Smiled. And then laughed some more. But as I type this post today I have done just that. Lived and worked in a stock-camp. And lived to tell the tale

It wasn’t all beer and skittles that is for sure. It was tough. It was extremely tough to start with and as time went on I adapted. In the end I was enjoying it and at the end of the day what an experience.

We were down there for around three weeks. No contact with the outside world. Showering with dam water heated in a donkey by heat of the fire. Cooking over an open camp fire in camp ovens. Days were filled with hard work and nights with a few relaxing beverages around the fire.

Now to be honest the cook (me) doesn’t get let out of the kitchen very much. Chained to the sink and all that jazz. Time in a the stock-camp changed all that. I got a get-out-of-jail-free card. Up early to cook breakfast and to bed late after cooking tea. But it was all worth it to be let out with the boys and work in the yards with the cattle and head out mustering.

I learnt a hell of a lot. Not just about cattle but also about myself! One really important thing I learnt is that I love living out here.

Attractions · Australian Travel · Four Wheel Driving · Queensland · South Australia · Travel Photography

A Very Different Track

The Birdsville Track is iconic. It is a feat for many modern-day travellers, 4WD enthusiasts and caravanners. The “track” we drive these days is a world away from that of our predecessors. The road now is practically a dirt highway mostly smooth with rocky patches here and there. Back in the day soft sand dune, flooded creek crossings, rough corrugations and sharp rocks made the journey that much harder and longer. A trip up the track could take weeks now you can practically complete it in five to six hours depending on conditions. It was originally opened back in the 1860’s to drove cattle from North QLD & the NT to the railheads at Port Augusta and later Marree. The track was immortalised by the film “Back of Beyond” about the outback legend & mailman Tom Kruse. From 1936 to 1963 Kruse held the contract for the Birdsville Track mail route and for his struggles he became an outback legend.

We started our trek at Marree like many others do. A quick drink at the pub and we hit the road late in the afternoon. Our aim was Cooper’s Creek and if lucky enough maybe even Mungerannie Pub. As the wheels of the Colorado hit the gravel road we started the journey that so many have before us. It really was such a momentous occasion for us. After so much planning we were finally heading up “The Track”. Destination Birdsville.

After only thirty minutes of driving over to our right was a massive expanse of water. Who would have thought so much water could be  lying around in the desert. According to our Hema5 GPS we were looking at Lake Harry but to be honest it looked more like and inland sea. It was breathtaking. We hopped out for a few minutes to dip in our toes and take it all in.

As we drove along taking in the wilderness that surrounded us. We came up on Cooper’s Creek and pulled in for a look. It was a nice little camp spot however a few grey nomads had taking up most of the room so we decided to push on. Another quick stop at a monument of the old Cooper’s Creek Ferry. When this area floods the road can be cut for months and this ferry and flood bypass are the only thing that keep each end of the track connected. However, the old ferry is a lot different from its modern day counterpart that many traveller utilise in the wetter years. The original ferry was nothing more than a 12 ft steel punt fitted with an outboard motor. There are many historical accounts of the original ferry sinking and having to be unloaded to allow it to refloat. Lucky the water has receded and we didn’t encounter this.

We arrived at Mungerannie Hotel late in the afternoon. I can imagine the relief on many a travellers face as they reached this little oasis in the desert. The campsites are dotted along the river and only metres from a hot spring spa. This was delightful and much appreciated after the stress of smashing our window earlier that morning. Due to the days events we headed to the pub for dinner and a few drinks. The characters you meet in the outback really make your experience that much better. Phil, the publican was no exception as he poured our drinks he had us in absolute stitches. What a character.

The next morning we hit the road early as Birdsville was in our midst. For some reason Birdsville holds a special place for us and we find ourselves coming back again and again. We have been three times in the last 18 mths and are already planning our next adventure back there in September. As we neared Birdsville we stopped for an early picnic lunch on the edge of a river. It was so romantic just us and a gazillion meats ants and even more flies. After the ants and flies chased us back into the car after half and hour of shooing them away we were back driving up the track. Next stop, Birdsville.

Pulling into Birdsville felt like coming home. We don’t have a physical home at the moment so Birdsville is as good as any. We decided to stay for two nights to catch up on blogging and washing, yes in that order. I have to admit we spent quite a lot of unplanned time at the pub and relaxing around the campsite. We had some lovely meals at the iconic Birdsville Pub and they were quite reasonable priced. The Birdsville Bakery was frequented for brekky with Dusty’s square, flat croissants delish. The mayor of Birdsville even got a standing ovation after a true Dusty style introduction when he came to get his morning coffee.

From Birdsville we had a horribly long trip to Mount Isa in one day. I say horribly long because we are heading to work soon and the thought of not travelling for leisure is always a dampener. We left Birdsville early and waved goodbye as we headed North. Don’t worry the road always leads back there.

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Attractions · Australian Travel

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Wow I can now definitely see why the Flinder’s Ranges is a 4WD and traveller’s paradise. It was amazing to say the least and we only scratched the surface of what the Flinder’s has to offer. As it was our first visit and a short one at the that we decided to base ourself in one spot and do day trips from there. We stayed at Rawnsley Park Station and we more than impressed. (read more in our post titled “Home on the Range”) The facilities and camp sites were second to none and the view we woke up to was spectacular. Absolutely breathtaking.

For our first full day in Flinder’s we decided to pay $45 for a crack at the 4WD track at Rawnsley Park Station. I was a bit worried about the cost but it was worth every penny. The drive itself was beautifully scenic and the 4WD was just enough, nothing extreme to wreck the vehicle but enough to give you a 4WD thrill. Most of the track was AWD accessible there was only a small part at the end closed off to 4WD only which had some steep hill climbs. It was after the steepest hill climb that we reached the summit of a lookout that gave us panoramic views over the Flinders. It was so worth the bumpy ride there.

On the second full day we head into Wilpena Pound, an iconic landmark of the Flinder’s especially from the air. We decided to see “The Pound” from as high up as we could which meant a steep walk or as I put it rock climb to the top of Mt Ohlsen Bagge around 923m above sea level. It was a steep, steep walk that seem to drag on forever but the view at the top was worth all the sore limbs the next day.

We left Rawnsley Park on the third day and headed to the quaint little town of Blinman. When we arrived it was overcast and with the buildings all being made of stone it looked like a movie set from the snow country. Our visit to Blinman was to complete a side trip out to Nuccaleena Mine, an abandoned Copper Mine from the 1850’s. Due to the road out there being quite rough the ruins are in quite good condition which is fantastic. It always breaks my heart to see these ruins scattered across Australia with people’s name etched in them or grafitti’d. Don’t people realise this our history they are defiling. Enough of my rant but it was fantastic to see none of that at Nuccaleena.

From Nuccaleena we headed North to the mining town of Leigh Creek where we had a quick stop over before heading further North to begin our Birdsville Track adventure.

NEXT POST – our adventures from Leigh Creek to Marree, out to Lake Eyre and up the Birdsville Track.

 

New South Wales · Preparation · Random Thoughts

Ciao Griffith.

Image Sourced from http://froggg.altervista.org

Well this week has been one of goodbyes, see you laters and more importantly ciaos.

We have been packing up, cleaning up and getting ready to hit the road. As exciting as it all is it will be sad to leave as we have been here for quite a long time by our standards plus Shaun has family connections here and that is always hard to leave.

For me so far the saddest see you later for me was Mum and Dad. After their two week visit they headed home on Saturday morning just gone. I think what made it most difficult was that we don’t know when we will be seeing them next as we don’t know how far away our travels will take us and as Mum and Dad are still working for THE MAN they have to wait to accrue leave again. Which could be sometime next year.

I worked my last shift at La Scala and that was another round of ciao bella’s. I am sure I will see many of them again as we will be back to Griffith to visit family no doubt. However, it was such a wonderful place to work and the staff are fantastic – I will miss them.

Tonight we are having a farewell dinner at the farm to see all the family together. It will be hard to say goodbye but we will be back.

At this stage we haven’t decided whether we are leaving tomorrow or Saturday. It all comes down to whether everything is packed. So I guess instead of blogging I should get packing.

Here is my Top Five Griffith Experiences:

  1. Working at La Scala
  2. Catania Fruit Salad Farm Tour
  3. West End Estate Wine Release
  4. Showing Mum & Dad the sights of Griffith
  5. Getting to know Shaun’s side of the family better

 

Ciao for now. xx

Australian Travel · Travel Photography · Working on the Road

Our New Home

Today we purchased our brand new camper trailer at the Melbourne Camping Show. Here is some quick pictures:

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Project 365 · Random Thoughts · Travel Photography

Riverina in Flood

The Riverina is in flood villages surrounding Griffith have been evacuated and the water is rising. Hopefully, the waters will recede within the next few days and people can start rebuilding their lives.