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 The GRAYnomad Chronicles :: #057

Editorial

If you sit by a river for long enough the body of your enemy will pass by.

Old Chinese proverb (or some such)

As far as I know I don't have any enemies, and if I did I probably wouldn't want to see their body float past. But the gist of the saying is that if you don't get too worried about things they have a way of sorting themselves out.

It's a philosophy we've followed for years, happily ignoring pretty much everything that most people rush around trying to fix, so during the course of this chronicle we must have sorted a heck of a lot of stuff out because for weeks now we've just been sitting around watching various rivers.

And we have seen a shit-load of stuff float past, no bodies I'm happy to report.

 

Till next time then, and remember,

Don't Dream it, Be it!

Wed 17 Mar 2010

I finally feel we're back on the road. I know we left Gin Gin last September but in all that time we've really just been visiting friends and heading away from God's country (anywhere in northern Australia that is), now we're heading north though so as I said, I finally feel that we're back on the road.

We do have two friends to see just north of Tocumwal, it's about a 130k drive so we should get there in a day or two.

Meanwhile the digital speedo is working well, it's still not calibrated but does all the right things and it's nice to finally know roughly how fast I'm going and to have 6 trip meters to keep me amused.

We drive to Yanco Creek, about 80k north of Tocumwal, and call it a day.

Thu 18 Mar 2010

We sit around the creek for half the day then make our way up to Bob and Heather's place at Coleambally.

B&H are in Melbourne buying parts for their current motorhome conversion so we settle in at the back of their yard. Chris starts on a crossword while I try to do some work on the computer between interruptions like "Really annoying, C something something S, four letters".

And this one.

"Eastern temple"
"Wat"
"Eastern temple"
"Wat"
"AN EASTERN TEMPLE"
"A BLOODY WAT, W, A, T, WAT"

Is it any wonder wars start through bad communication?

While waiting for B&H to get home I wander around their yard, Bob is into buying and selling machinery and he has a couple of 6x6 ACCOs here.

I think I'll stick with mine.

Fri 19 Mar 2010

Drive up to Griffith then out to Lake Wyangan. We camped here about 10 years ago and I remember it fondly although Chris has no recollection of the place at all.

We only planned to spend two days here but there's a sign that reads "Three days camping only" so I guess we'll have to stay one more day.


Dawn over Lake Wyangan.

Mon 22 Mar 2010

Leave Lake Wyangan and head north with no particular goal except to make our way up to Queensland. There is however a nice spot on the banks of the Lachlan River about 36k north of Hillston so we aim for there.

Tue 23 Mar 2010

This is a really nice spot, I think we'll stay another day.


Workbench out, doing a couple of small jobs.

Wed 24 Mar 2010

Still driving north, we find a good rest area 110k south of Cobar that is not in the CAW5 (Camps Aus Wide #5) book so we'll earmark that for next time.

We've read about a deserted township at Mt Drysdale about 30k north of Cobar but when we get there cannot find any sign of it, well actually that's all we can find, a sign. It reads "Mt Drysdale" so I guess we're in the right place. We drive a few 100 metres into the bush and set up camp.


Campsite at Mt Drysdale.

Thu 25 Mar 2010

It's off to Bourke. As I recall Bourke has a bad reputation for it's "aboriginal problem" but I have to say the town looks as neat as a pin. I admit we weren't there on a Friday night just after everyone got paid, but first impressions are good.

There are however signs that things aren't, or at least weren't, so good. For example the cop doing some community relations with a mob of aboriginals in the main street, the pub has no windows and broken signs, the supermarket also has no windows, just a single barred door, and there's a larger than normal proportion of high fences with assorted sharp and pointed tops to the pickets.

Still we're not that interested in the town, we prefer the bush and are heading for a camp spot we've heard about just to the north, on the river. After following directions, a fence line, then our noses we find what must be one of the best campsites in central Australia.

We back the truck to the top of a bank within just a few metres of the Darling River. For much of the time I suspect this spot wouldn't be quite as good because like most Australian rivers the Darling normally struggles to provide any real flow. But at the moment it's running gang busters due to the immense amount of rain we've had further north.


Campsite on the Darling River.

Mindful of the floods that are heading our way we get on the net to see what the Darling is going to do over the next few days. After all we don't want to get too close to the water. I can find little information so decide to ring the local police.

The cop I speak to knows about as much as I do, so eventually I decide to use an old-fashioned method, I jam a stick into the mud at the water line.

The next problem we have is that the road north is closed, in fact just about all roads north are closed but the one we're interested in has had a 5-tonne limit set because the recent inundation has weakened the road and made it too soft to carry heavy vehicles.

So rather than being between a rock and a hard place, we're between the water and a soft place

I ring QLD Transport and the girl says they are currently testing the road and they'll ring back. Yeah right, someone from a government department is going to ring me back.

Blow me down if we don't get a call about an hour later from a very friendly and helpful QT engineer. Apparently they are still testing but hope to open the road tomorrow. I should ring in the morning to get the latest. He says that the only place we can cross the border at the moment is at Goondawindi, and that is a LONG way away.

He also says that even if they open the road it may not stay open, it depends on how it handles the traffic.

What to do? I go and check the stick-o-meter, the water has risen about an inch in the last couple of hours. We know the floods are coming — slowly from what we hear — but coming all the same and we could get caught here and maybe even have to go back south.


The stick-o-meter is already in the water.

Unfortunately then, despite having found one of the world's best campsites, if they open the road north tomorrow we should probably make a bolt for it and hope to get through before they close it again.

Meanwhile I go for a wander to get some photos.


This is normally a vehicle track. Check out tomorrow's photo of the same place.


You can see the river is higher than usual.


The view from the deck.





Our other meter, we'll see how the water goes relative to the sign.

Fri 26 Mar 2010

The stick is in trouble.


the stick-o-meter in well into the river now.

When placed in the mud yesterday it was on the waterline, now it's about 2 feet in the river. There's no doubt the water is heading our way so we get back on the web.

The Darling is expected to peak at about 11 metres on April the 10th, it's now at 6.8 metres, so the authorities expect it to rise another 4.2 metres and we're currently camped about 3 metres above the water level.

You do the maths.

Time to ring "our" engineer at QT. I wait until 9:20 to give him time to have a cuppa then dial.

"Office hours are between 8:30 and 5PM" says the recorded message. Eh? Oh that's right, Queensland is not on daylight saving time so they are an hour behind us.

A wait an hour and try again. He's opened the road and says that they will keep it open even if only as a single lane in the trouble spots. So as there's no immediate danger here, and some of the places we want to go to are still drying out, we might as well enjoy this spot for another day.


Same vehicle track as yesterday, I can't get to the same spot because it's under water.


The sign is getting closer to the water as well.


It's nice to have most of the back open for a change.

Sat 27 Mar 2010

What the heck, we'll stay for a couple of days, the floods won't be here for a week or so and the road north is open so there's no rush.

We spend most of the day watching the water flow past, and also the flotsam, everything from massive logs to plastic bottles. I hope the bottles don't have any "help" messages inside because they are way out in the centre of the river.


Stick-o-meter almost gone now.


Sign in trouble.

Sun 28 Mar 2010

The stick-o-meter has gone. I did a sterling job for several days but in the end it just wasn't long enough.

Chris is sitting on the deck watching nothing in particular when a snake ambles down the bank and goes for a dip. It seems intent on getting to the other side and strikes out for the far bank (can a snake "strike out"?). It does well for a while but then enters the main flow, still this doesn't phase it, with a change in heading into the flow it keeps pretty much on line.

After a few minutes it reaches the other side. I hope it stays there.


Now the sign is in the water, time to move.

Mon 29 Mar 2010

What was that I said about Bourke? Chris is listening to the radio and apparently on Saturday night there was a riot in town.

Anyway we're leaving today, in fact it's not even day when we start as we have a long way to go and as you probably know we don't travel that fast, so we head off before dawn.

After 127k we reach the "town" of Barringun (one building that I can see) where the road was closed the other day. I can see why, each side of the road is a swamp with water rushing from one side to the other through drains in places. It wouldn't take much to close it again.

Remember the old maps that used to say "There be dragons 'ere", well they were referring to Queensland, I swear there's a dragon (large lizard) posing on the road every kilometre. It's as though they are only allowed in Queensland because we didn't see a single one south of the border.

We persevere and reach Cunumulla after 6 hours driving, and we're not in camp yet, that's still another 70k away on the Paroo river.

A quick whip around town then it's off on the Bulloo Development road towards Eulo. On arrival we drive straight through town and out to the Paroo where we find a nice spot on the banks of the river.

As we arrive about a 1000 water birds scarper, I wonder what the attraction is to have so many birds right near the road. We quickly find out, there must be millions of fish trying to get up the weir and for the most part they are milling around in the shallows in places with no current.

Easy pickings, no wonder the birds like it here.


Most fish are swimming up the spillway.


But some are trying to jump the rapids.

At night I go back out to photograph the fish again.


You can clearly see how the fish are huddled in the still water gathering strength for th enext step.


Chris reading in the lounge room.

Tue 30 Mar 2010

More news from Bourke, part of the Radio station we've been listening to for forecasts was burnt down last night.

Anyway we're on a mission to get to Lake Houdraman just outside of Quiplie. I remember though that it's a dirt road to the lake so on arriving in town we drop into the visitors centre to ask about its condition.

Pretty good she says, but if it even looks like rain get the hell out.

We drive out of town and turn onto the dirt road that leads to the lake. For a while it's pretty good, but when we turn onto the access track the surface turns to sticky mud. It's like driving on ice, even in all-wheel-drive both vehicles are sliding all over the place.

There's no risk of getting bogged as the ground is dry and hard just an inch below the surface, but steering is nearly impossible.

Within a 100 yards of the lake the track has the smallest of inclines, the left side just a couple of inches higher than the right, but in this slippery mud that small slope is totally insurmountable, and forces the vehicles toward a ditch on the right of the track.


Doesn't look like much of a problem eh? But that tiny incline towards the tree was forcing us into the ditch on the right.

After several failed attempts by both of us we back up the track to find a spot with almost no side lip, then after a dozen attempts I manage to get a big enough run up to get off the track.

From there it's just a short way to the picnic area.


It doesn't matter what tread you have on your tyres in this sticky mud, within a few yards you're running on slicks anyway.


Storm clouds are about, should we stay?

Walking around is also well-nigh impossible. The mud not only sticks to our shoes but huge muddy dollops attach themselves with grass and swing around like dags on a sheep's bum as we walk.

We sit under the picnic shelter watching the sky, we'll be ok here as long as it doesn't rain. Then we hear rain on the roof of the shelter.

Still, as we've always said, as long as we don't have to move it doesn't matter if we can move or not. We plan to stay here at least a few days so as long as it's dry come time to leave it can rain all it likes in the meantime.

With that decided we get into the truck and settle in, it's beer o'clock.

Thu 1 Apr 2010

Well you can tell we're in the country. I ring the newsagent this morning to see what time they're open on Saturday so we can get a paper.

"Oooo about 9, maybe 9:30" she says, and closing time? "Around 12 maybe 11:30". Yep, you gotta love that precision.


Deck open again, this is getting to be a habit.

Sun 4 Apr 2010

When we were in at the information centre the other day the woman told me about the frogs in the trees out here at the lake. But I hadn't seen them until today, why I don't know because they are everywhere.


Fri 9 Apr 2010

I finally get around to taking a decent shot of the bedroom.

As you can see, with the shutters and roof open it's almost like sleeping outside. Certainly if there's any breeze at all we get it up here. In my opinion this is the only way to have a bedroom, most motorhomes have a couple of pokey windows placed well above the actual bed, so a) you don't get much breeze, and b) what you do get wafts above you along the ceiling somewhere.

Sat 10 Apr 2010

The lake seems to have a resident goose and it swims by on most days, today however it decides to waddle up to shore and have a closer look at us.


The lake's resident goose.

Tue 13 Apr 2010

It rained again yesterday, good thing we don't want to go anywhere because around here that's not an option after rain.

Even walking around the truck is a problem, get a load of my sandal.

Good thing there's no reason to get out of the truck, I can even take my photos from the landing.


The lake shore at dusk.

Mon 19 Apr 2010

We were told about the frogs but no-one mentioned the toads, probably because they only come out at night.


Nobody loves me, everbody hates me, think I'll go and eat worms.

How cute is that, you'd think butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. But other things will, these toads have a dark side.

Not so cute any more eh?


Frogs? yeah I love frogs...couldn't eat a whole one though.

That's one of "my" frogs on its way to becoming toad shit. Still, I'm a hardened nature photographer, I've seen baby gazelles dragged down by cheetahs, warthogs torn in half by lions, you name it. If that's nature's way then that's nature's way. It's not for me to interfere. Nope, the toad deserves to eat as much as any other animal, nothin' wrong with that, nature is cruel, it doesn't play favourites, it's eat and be eaten. Nothing to do with me.

Pigs arse! I'm coming little fella.

I squeeze the toad's tummy and out pops the frog, all covered in toad vomit but apparently none the worse for wear.

I clean him off a bit then he's on his way.

I've rescued a few frogs over the last week or so, despite emitting quite a mournful cry (which is how I find them in the dark) they seem unperturbed by the whole nearly-being-eaten-alive thing.

What I don't understand is why they don't put up a fight, I reckon if I was halfway down the gob of a crocodile I'd be hammering and eye gouging with all my might. Maybe to no affect in the long run, but at least I'd have a go. But most animals seem to just give up.

Then I return to the truck and solve one of our recent mysteries, that is how have the frogs been getting inside?

Answer, they use the steps just like we do.

Tue 20 Apr 2010

We're leaving tomorrow, so I thought I'd better get a shot of the campsite that's been good to us for the last three weeks.

And we only figured to stay here for a couple of days, our date with Kakadu NP in the Northern Territory is getting later every day.

Wed 21 Apr 2010


Getting fuel.


And water.

We fill up with fuel and water in town, sometimes in these outback towns water is in short supply, but not here in Quilpie. Not only to they have a washdown facility, there's a a sign next to the tap saying that there is a 2-hour limit on washing your car.

Two hours! Nope they don't have a water problem.

We wash some mud of the truck in much less than two hours then drive to the Cooper Creek near Windorah, getting there late in the afternoon.

After doing the sums it seems that the truck is getting slightly better fuel consumption in it's new guise, we used to get 3.3k/l but it seems like we now get 3.6. That's the small improvement I was hoping for, but one fill up doesn't really make for a reliable reading so the jury is still out.

 

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