Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 28th 2017

A warm morning. I was up early to do washing in the Park laundry...All done so off we went heading for a Cooper's Creek Camp. Prior to leaving we decided to visit the Windorah Museum called the Whitula Gate Museum. It is interesting to note that Cooper's Creek was actually named this way but over the years maps have abbreviated and called it Cooper Creek.
Central building of the Museum...a Rabbiters Hut...taken through
 the wire of the surrounding fence

In 1906 George Geiger built a boundary hut for the Rabbit Board, located 40 kms west of the town on Whitula Creek. The slab hut was dismantled and moved to Windorah in 1996 to become the foundation of the Museum. The hut and surrounding enclosure contained many interesting items including an 'outdoor dunny' , a twin tub washing machine, saddles for a pack horse and an old cotton quilt on the single bed as well as an old crocheted rug on the bassinet. The garden was immaculate! Water for Windorah  comes from Cooper's Creek. Each property has two delivery pipes. One pipe is for water directly from the 'Cooper' ...chocolate milk in colour, while the 2nd pipe delivers potable water to every household and business establishment. This water has been through a treatment plant, .
We came out to the bridge over the Creek and set up camp a little way down a track. The day has been warm but we have enjoyed the quiet and freedom to enjoy R & R. There are quite a number of birds about including pelicans, whistling kites, tree creepers and this evening a pair of red winged parrots.
We have now had time to look at the maps which will take us north from here. Some track changes have been made so we can visit a few places we have not seen before.

Is it a Red Back ???

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

June 27th 2017

This morning as we left Welford NP, our thoughts returned to the last time we camped in this park about 8 years ago. The ground was much wetter than what we have experienced this time. We got bogged on the way into our camping spot and we had enjoyed the experience of camping on the Barcoo. By the second evening the weather had become hot with a suspiciously warm breeze. We felt rain was coming! At about 3.30 am it began raining with very large drops falling on the canvas of our camper trailer. We got organised and were leaving by 4.00 am. After actually finding our way out of the park and crossing the Barcoo river on a very low crossing, the road to Windorah was atrocious.with thick mud sending our trailer from one side of the road to the other. It is a morning we have never forgotten. Hosing the mud off our rig was yet another experience!
 Thankfully, this morning, our exit from the park and entry into Windorah was made in a much more civilized manner. We will have the opportunity to explore Windorah and surrounds in more detail this time. 
We actually called here last year but it was very wet as well...third time lucky! We now think that we will move out of the Caravan Park tomorrow, and camp on the banks of the Cooper's Creek. It is a tidy little town of about 80 people. The airport is busy with regular services being flown in and the school has about 12 children attending with quite a varied staff of specialist teachers. Windorah is situated on Cooper's Creek in the heart of the Channel Country of Queensland. It is a rare occurrence where 2 rivers merge together to form a creek. The Barcoo and Thompson Rivers do this. It is the second longest river system in Australia, with Cooper's Creek eventually flowing into Lake Eyre.

Bougainvillea blooming in Windorah

Twin Leaves from the Bauhinia tree found on the banks of Cooper's Creek.

June 25th & 26th  2017  
Warm weather on both days…with mornings at 5 deg & 9 deg  & highs of 26 deg. This means much less clothing and generally much easier living. Apart from doing a small amount of washing We have enjoyed restful days with a drive through some areas of the park on each day. A great red dune was a source of enjoyment so we walked to the top and then along it’s length. What a view with Ghost Gums, Rattle pod Grevilleas, Desert Bloodwoods and lots Parakeelya plants with delightful bright pink blooms. These are a type of succulent plant. We lunched near the bottom of the dune in the shade of a Grevillea tree. Unexpectedly while walking along the top of the dune my mobile phone received a message so I sent a short message off to Cynthia & John A.

Bright pink flowers of the parakeelya plant.
The decision was made to stay here a third night. This enabled us to explore the 80km Mulga drive in the park which took about 3.5 hours. The information boards were great as they set us along a course to remember the differences between ‘mulga’ and ‘gidgee’ trees, both of which are Acacias. The mulga was showing some bright yellow rod shaped blooms. Then there is the ‘wilga’ tree. I have never known that the correct name is Eremophila or desert fuschia. There are many varieties and evidently the red flowering type attracts birds and the white flowering type attracts ants. Whether we can remember all this info, when we next visit a desert, is another matter.
We embarked on a short walk along a rocky track to Sawyers Lookout. Off we went me in shorts for the first time, water bottle in one hand and a hiking stick in the other and followed by a persistent flock of flies. Luckily it only took a very short while because the view was ‘underwhelming’ to say the least. (underwhelming is a new word for us and this fits the meaning perfectly!)

Roast pork for dinner this evening so we will have a fire to sit around.
June 24th 2017

Quilpie was quite busy this Saturday morning. We had several things to attend to before we left…Super Market (again), Fill up with water at the Info centre, fill up with fuel..and so it went on. It was a long drive, but with a good bitumen road, before we turned off onto a dusty gravel road to find Welford NP where we were booked to stay for 2 nights, at the Boomerang Waterhole.
Again the country appeared to be green as if there had been a rain fall. There were many small flocks of emus  enjoying the green feed. It has been surprising how many kangaroos lie dead on the road or on the side of the road. It seems a shame but many birds..eagles hawks and crows eat well because of this carrion. We have seen the first Wedge Tailed eagle for this trip. They are huge birds about 1 metre across the wing span. They seem to have difficulty rising from the road and into flight. The Pelicans give the same impression..they are so big it is amazing that they can rise into flight, from the water.
Across the Barcoo R. from pour camp

It is a warm night where we are camped on the Barcoo River. It is a lovely spot with River Red Gums lining the banks and giving wonderful reflections in the evening sun. There are about 10 or 12 other camping rigs here. We are booked to stay for 2 nights. There are a couple of drives around the park that we can explore and hopefully some walking tracks.
Evening reflections of the Barcoo River

Friday, June 23, 2017

June 23rd 2017

Yapunya trees showing their copper trunks

We were late leaving our camp among the
 Yapunya trees on the Paroo River flood plains.

The day has been very warm after the cool
 morning. Our trip north to Quilpie was quite uneventful
apart from the large number of emus we saw. Probably 30 or 40 of these huge birds which are the largest in Australia. They do not fly but can run at 40km per hour. The father emu takes complete responsibility for the eggs, the hatching and care of the young birds. We did not see very young chicks today although some families appeared to be made up of 'teenagers' so to speak or half grown birds. The small flocks of birds seemed to be enjoying the green feed available.
The scrubby bush looked quite green nearly all the way from Eulo to Quilpie. There must have been recent showers of rain.
We are camped on the Bulloo River on the eastern
 side of the Quilpie township. Last year when we came through here these areas were flooded with a fast flowing stream. A different very dry scene this year. Thankfully this allows us a lot more freedom to choose our route.

The Super Market here is much superior to any we have seen over the last week. We will be away from towns for several days so we are stocked up in preparation for this.

I could not resist including these photos of emus. I did not take them myself. They are amazing birds which are unable to fly. In many ways they are expressive with their actions of panic when a car is near. They rush unexpectedly from one side of the road to the other, but appear very calm when feeding. You can see from the tiny photo of an emu 'face' that they can really look you in the eye! I have not been that close.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

June 22nd 2017

We left the Currawinya NP this morning after getting out of bed to 1.2 deg in temperature. The difference to Milawa cold mornings is the rise in daytime temperature. The gravel road north was in good condition with even a short stretch of bitumen.
Eulo Police Cells which are part of the Heritage Walk
We were in Eulo by lunch time, after which we have purchased some food supplies and caught up on internet responsibilities. Late in the day we found the local rubbish tip to dispose of a weeks rubbish. We also explored the small township  which is neat and well cared for. The school buildings is quite extensive but I do not know pupil numbers. There is a hospital, hotel, public hall, camping ground, a Patchwork & leather goods shop, a General Store and a heritage walk. Disappointingly Paroo Yapunya honey was not available as the Yapunya trees are only in flower now. I did purchase local honey made from River Gums..what ever type of trees these really are..I suggested River Red Gums..but NO...River Gums.
This evening we are parked under the Yapunya trees on the banks of the Paroo River which is showing the dried ravages after flooding.
 June 20th  & 21 st  2017

The Granites Rock formation
What have enjoyed two warm and relaxed days here in the Currawinya NP. Both days I made our lunch and we set off to explore the park. The Granites were an interesting formation of rocks about 10 kms away. We ate our lunch after which we walked for 40 minutes around the many granite rocks, both large and small.
The second morning we drove a distance to view the nearby lake system. The road was excellent but quite wet in patches. With the puddles and the green bushes we assume that a recent shower of rain has been through.
The first lake we stopped at was Lake Numalla which is Currawinya’s largest freshwater lake covering 3,000 hectares. Disappointingly there was no water in this lake only ‘mirage’ seen across the dry bed. It was crusty as if salty but evidently it is not…maybe calcium?
We went for along walk around the edge where there was little to see but we did come upon 2 dead tortoises…the poor things out on dry land and nowhere to go.
Dead tortoise
Wetland or saltpan… Secondly we visited a huge saltwater lake called Lake Wyara which covers 3,800 hectares. As Currawinya’s largest wetland, it also, was dry so we did not see the birds for which it is noted. Thousands of pelicans, ducks, swans, waders, stilts, terns and other waterbirds live and breed here as long as there is water.
We lunched amongst the shrubs at the edge of the lake, then returned to our camp along the same track calling at a couple of other lakes on the way. One was dry but the second one had some water and distant bird life. Through binoculars we thought that the single bird was a white necked heron and the other flock were terns.

We have enjoyed the emus and various birds coming in to drink at the waterhole near our camp. Galahs, swallows and treecreepers are not disturbed by our presence. John has identified the Desert Blood trees nearby. We the same trees as we travelled the Canning Stock Route in 1996 & 1998.
There is a bilby enclosure quite close by here. The special wire netting fence encloses 25 square kilometre sanctuary for bilbies. It acts as a barrier to foxes, cats and dingoes, as well as the large grazing animals and rabbits that compete with bilbies for food. Cats are so strong and breed so quickly that it is a real challenge to eradicate them from the area. Evidently trapping is the most successful method of catching them. It is a long slow process to develop the area into a safe sanctuary.
Bilby sign Currawinya NP
The days have been warm preceded by very cold mornings. We will leave this delightful camping spot in the tomorrow.

June 19th 2017 
We rose early very mindful that we were on private property. We were nearly ready to leave when the Manager of Yantabangee Station and his wife drove in…Pat & Sharon had the ‘inspection of windmills’ as their aim for the day. They seemed quite happy that we had camped the night on the property.
Off we went, north on a very good gravel road, in fact there was only a very small distance of road, that was rough, for the whole day. Before reaching Wanaaring we called at King Charlie’s Waterhole. There was a long distance of water which appeared to be permanently filled. It designated ‘Day Visitors Only’ which again seemed a pity as there was plenty of space to camp.
The nest of the Bottle Swallow at King Charlie's Waterhole
 Wanaaring is a small town without internet or phone connection. The store was quite well stocked. It was part of the Post Office, Store & Caravan complex which all looked clean and well cared for.    
The country is generally red sand and today a clear blue sky and a warm temperature up to 21 deg was very pleasant after 3.5 deg this morning. The bush was green with Mulga, Poplar Box, Bimble Box, Red Gums, Black Box, Coolabah and Leopard Wood.
We crossed into Queensland and went through the Wild dog Fence at Hungerford about mid afternoon. This fence is about 2 metres high and is the longest fence in the world, a total distance of 5614 kilometers from Jimbour in Queensland to the Great Australian Bight. Originally built to keep rabbits out of South Australia. The fence is now maintained to prevent dingoes entering sheep grazing areas.
 John felt it was a good idea to stop at the Pub for a drink and a chat with the owner who was able to answer many of our questions about the area. The settlement of Hungerford is green and well cared for.
Tonight we are camped in the Currawinya National Park at the Bore Site. The water, from the bore, is continually running by pipe into the 2 small lakes. It is very clear, warm and most suitable for washing clothes in!
Yapunya or Honey Tree in flower

June 18th 2017
We left our camp on The Darling River with some regrets as we had absolutely enjoyed the 2 nights of camping on Mt Murchison. It was peaceful but had a large number of birds flitting about enjoying the Red Gums and the ‘Chocolate Milk’ Of the Darling. The other sadness we felt was the fact that Mt Murchison is no longer a working sheep station. The shearing sheds and shearers’ accommodation rooms are both showing the ravages of white ants and weather. Most nearby stations would be in a similar condition.
Ian Marr had left his Homestead, by the time we came by with a bottle of red wine for him. We knew he was leaving early to go to Clare in South Australia where he is able to access the slate that he uses for letter cutting. He is a skilled artisan.
We said our farewells to Peter and drove into Wilcannia and on a few kms on the other side where the Wilcannia Cemetery is. It is a large cemetery with some old graves and some unusual graves. We spent over half an hour there wandering around. John spotted a grave with the name Desailly on the memorial stone.
A memorial to a young member of the Desailly Family Ancestry
Alfred Clive Desailly Brougham died as a baby of a few months in age. He was the son of Connie Desailly’s sister, Emma who had married John Waugh Brougham, from the nearby family of Broughams. He was Connie’s nephew and Alfred Desailly’s grandson. It was not uncommon for small children to die, during the early years, especially being so far away from medical assistance. There was quite a number of tiny graves in the cemetery, indicating the death of a small child.
We drove back through Wilcannia, photographing Desailly Street on the edge of the township. The morning had quickly disappeared so we lunched on the side of the road. No more salt bush covering the country. Red sands and acacias were much more common as we drove north toward White Cliffs which showed only a small amount of activity despite opal mining pursuits which continue to benefit those who live there. John and I camped in White Cliffs during the late 1980s. At that time the White Cliffs 5 star Hilton Hotel was advertised as BYO Everything. Today the building is completely missing from the main street and has been replaced by an Information Centre.,
We continued along the road to Walnarring, travelling through the Paroo-Darling National Park where we had hoped to camp. But No Camping only Day Visiting. We went for a short walk,from the Day Area, to the top of a nearby rise to view Lake Peery.

We had no alternative but to travel on until we were out of the National Park where we turned off the road and camped behind a row of small trees on a Station Property near a large ‘tank’/damn of water. 

Looking Down Desailly Street, Wilcannia
June17th 2017

How lucky we were this evening to enjoy Roast Lamb on the banks of the Darling River. We have absolutely loved camping here on Mt  Murchison Station. It has been so peaceful with many birds living in the vicinity. We even saw a number of sheep and one goat coming down to drink from the river..carefully walking down the very steep bank on the other side of the river. The black cockatoos returned this evening and I now realise they have a splash of red on their tails..Red Tailed Black Cockatoos. We must be camping on their patch.

The morning was spent enjoying the warm morning and general peaceful atmosphere of this site. This afternoon we went down to the Homestead again to chat with Ian. He is a very knowledgeable man who enjoys Art and History. There are many examples of his work about the Homestead garden and general surrounds. Walking along the river bank this evening, we found the memorial slate/stone which Ian had erected in memory of a station hand and a cook who had lived here early in the 1900s.
The old shearing shed still stands but sadly, unused these days.

Old Shearing Shed on Mt Murchison Station
Edward Dickens, the youngest son of Charles Dickens had been sent to Australia, by his father to find his way in the world. He worked as a Station Manager, for several years, on Mt Murchison, 30 km east of Wilcannia. Alfred Desailly owned a property called called Old Netallia which is west of Wilcannia. Alfred was a younger brother to my Great Grandfather Edwin Desailly. Alfred's daughter, Connie, married Edward Dickens. They lived on this property, Mt Murchison, for a short while. Edward had managed it for 5 or 6 years, married Connie after which they remained here for only a further 5 months in about 1881.
Memorial Stone lettered by Ian Marr

Saturday, June 17, 2017

June 16th 2017

This morning we travelled about 30 kms before reaching the boundary of Mt Murchison Station. There was no signage on the roadway so we followed our GPS mapping devise. The country is covered in salt bush and other low growing desert shrubby plants. Eventually John found Ian Marr at the Homestead. Ian is a very welcoming host to this property which he now owns. He grew up on the property but was, to a large extent, educated in Sydney. Mt Murchison has been owned by the Marr family since about 1950, after World War 2. It was originally about 120,000 acres but is now only 10,000 since part of  the land was purchased to form the Paroo National Park. Interestingly the actual mountain called Mt Murchison was named by Major Mitchell.

In the Cactus garden at the Mt Murchison Homestead

At the time we arrived Ian was busy battling, on the phone, endeavouring to regain his Internet services. Peter is the only employee, a chap who has lived in the area all his life and mostly on this property. He led us down to this camping ground on the Darling River. He is very familiar with the surrounding country having been here for 46 years.

Signage at Mt Murchison Homestead
Our afternoon was spent relaxing on the river bank watching birds and reflections in the waters of the Darling River. These waters are like Chocolate milk at present. At first appearance the river seems to be still but actually it is flowing quite well. 

Soon after 5.00 pm Ian arrived from the Homestead and we enjoyed chatting with him over a glass of wine.

While the evening was still light a pair of black cockatoos settled into one of the nearby network of red gum branches. I guess we will hear their chatter early in the morning. I cooked a lamb stew in the camp oven over a small fire. It was delicious....something to do with being outside and sitting by a fire.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

June 15th
We awoke late and did not even hear the morning notes from the large flock of Corellas camped in the nearby trees. The temperature was about 4 deg and reached a daytime top of a little over 20 deg.
Athenaeum Club in Wilcannia

Late morning we drove into Wilcannia for a ‘look around’. It is a town which needs much more support for it to grow into a busy and interesting Tourist Town. Many of the old stone buildings have been there since 1880s when the Alfred Desailly family lived in the area. Connie Desailly, daughter of Alfred, married Edward Dickens in 1880. Edward was the youngest son of Sir Charles Dickens and was a great supporter of the district of Wilcannia and eventually represented the area in State Parliament. I am proud to be part of the Desailly family ancestral tree.
Connie and Edward managed the station property of Mt Murchison. We have arranged to camp on Mt Murchison which is now owned by Ian Marr who has developed it as and Artist’s precinct. Ian is an artist himself and works as a Letter Cutter using stone as his base medium.
Now back to today….after lunch we walked 4km out to a point on the Darling River known as ‘Bondi Beach’. It was a long walk along a dusty track. John was disappointed as he was looking forward to visiting Bondi Beach…a ‘sight for sore eyes’! It was another flat area looking over the Darling River..a great spot for a camping weekend but no bathing beauties! After walking 8 km return I am very weary but pleased to have been able to enjoy the activity. The birds on the lagoon were many an varied. Another interesting day!

Bondi Beach on the Darling River

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

June14th  2017

Another cold night at 2.5 deg with a very bright moon. The day has warmed very quickly to 22 deg. so is very comfortable for driving. 
Menindee was only 40 km away and the road was much better. After Menindee and the turn off to Wilcannia we enjoyed a much better quality gravel road on the north/west side of the Darling River. With a clear blue sky we had a good view of a flock of swans then later a flock of pelicans as they flew over.
The country is very dry with only low vegetation. This is a great comparison to the wet weather of 2016. when all dirt roads were muddy and closed. 
We had lunch on the side of the road then walked across to see the River which has quite a medium amount of water in the deep channel. The river Red Gums are huge and majestic and of course many years old..maybe 500 years.

Looking down stream on the darling River south of Wilcannia

The birds along the Darling are many and varied. We are lucky to be camped on a Billabong at the Warrawong Camp Ground. The birds are very busy..pelicans, darters, corellas, spoon bills, egrets, cormorants and even 2 emus which launched into the water and swam across. I has never seen emus swim before. They climbed the bank not far from us and went on feeding. they didn't even shake their feathers. It all happened so rapidly there was no time for photos.
The park has a lot of visitors and we joined a large group around a camp fire for drinks and nibbles.
Another cold night ahead.
A magnificent old Red Gum On the banks of the Darling River
June 13th 2017

We awoke to fog across the Hay plains. We travelled through this fog which sat in a rather spectacular manner, along the Murrumbidgee River, until nearly midday. The day began at 3 deg with a top temperature early afternoon of about 20 deg.
The last of my shopping was done at the Hay IGA. The fruit and vegies were excellent so now we are well stocked up to cross the outback country ahead of us.
Ivanhoe was the last of the bitumen road as we headed for Minindee. It was a long way and eventually we camped on a Road Workers track about 40 km from Minindee. It is the first flat area, off the road that was suitable to camp on.
Just on sunset we walked across to inspect a dam. It appeared not to be used for animals other than kangaroos and emus and a small flock of Major Mitchell Cockatoos. I have noted their unlike the sulphur crested cockatoos at Milawa. The pretty pink under wings were very obvious as they flew. The only other wild life we saw today was a few kangaroos and a flock of about 12 emus.
The road across to Minindee from Ivanhoe is a dirt road which proved quite challenging for the driver. It is the first time we have really tested the Jayco for ‘dust’. Surprisingly there is little or no dust inside.

Fog on Hay Plains


Monday, June 12, 2017

SAFARI 2017 June 12th

June 12th
Today has been great. It took us 4 hours to do our final packing and clean-up. We were pleased to drive through our gateway about 10.30 am....a very foggy morning to leave. 

Our aim was to reach Hay this evening. However at about 3.00 pm we found a clean dry camp site off the main Cobb Highway so we decided to stay for the night. We are about 42 km south of Hay. A perfect place for our new rig. The surrounding country is covered with a type of salt bush and another very prickly bush. We went for a lovely long walk through the bush and the box trees. Across the Highway there was an Auction sign for Nyangay Station. The entry was flanked with 2 emus made from old wire.
The morning at Milawa was 1 deg and the top for the day has been about 17 deg.  I wonder what tonight will bring. The sky is clear so we will probably be glad of our generator making light, warmth and hot water.
Ready to leave 'Kyamba'

Entry to Nyangay Station