Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Surat to Takarakka Carnarvon Gorge

Chilly start. Cold enough to stop one of the gas burners from lighting! 

Despite our best efforts at optimising departure packing, it still took 2 hours from wake up to getting on the road. Not good enough, more practice clearly required.

Stopped in Roma for fresh food supplies for next two days. Having discovered that our stainless steel mugs don't fit in the special cup holders on our borrowed chairs and also dissipates heat rapidly in cold mornings, we also went looking for insulated lidded mugs that would fit our requirements.

Camping shop and Woolies had some, but we balked at the $. The Reject Shop came good with mugs that although not fully insulated, met our sizing limitations and had good secure lids. At $1 each we felt we'd happened on a winner!

Coffee at what passes for a hipster hangout in Roma, refueled the ute and scored some ice. Then onwards to Carnarvon Gorge.

The final road in has been upgraded and sealed for the last few km. Back in 2012 the last dirt 10km were wet and provided a challenge to us on the bikes. As if to underline the improved conditions, we passed a large tourist coach on its way out. I doubt it would have made it in 2012. Such ls progress

Tomorrow we'll hike up the gorge then spend another night beforehand our northward push to Winton.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Moree to Surat.

Our first night sleeping on the new stretchers in our borrowed tent.
I slept well, asleep by 10pm, waking once for an early am pee and then back to bed until 7am. Celeste had trouble getting to sleep and woke up earlier than me. We both agreed that the stretchers and self inflating mattresses were a good investment. Leisurely breakfast and then packing up. Learning how to best take down and roll up the borrowed tent. Also re-arranging the back of the ute to best accommodate our gear. Interesting how habits/techniques from previous road trips - especially those undertaken on the bike - quickly return.

On to Mungendin on the banks of the Barwon river. Coffee - not the best - then a quick stop on the river to show Celeste where I stopped on the round Australia trip in 2012 with Ursala and Marco.

Eerie feeling retracing some of the route we took on that trip. Also interesting how some places, stretches of road are etched in the memory. Why - out of the hundreds of places we stopped at and the thousands of km we traversed, do some resonate more vividly?

A brief stop at Thallon to view the freshly painted grain silos. Great to see this initiative take off. Adds a touch of magic to otherwise boring industrial sites.

Lunch at St George - on the banks of the Baronne River. St George is a pretty town but lives under the ever present threat of floods.

On to Surat and the Surat Fishing and Restocking Club Recreation Ground. Prime Grey Nomad territory, and by 3 in the afternoon, all the best camping spots are taken. We manage to find a flat spot for the tent, albeit a little close to the road. Earplugs may be needed to dampen the noise of road trains passing in the night!

Again this is a spot we stopped at back in 2012 on the bikes. However, on bikes you can squeeze past the large boulders strategically placed by the authorities to prevent vehicles from gaining access to the grassy river bank.

A late afternoon walk back into Surat - alas too late to visit the Cobb and Co museum. Pick up some beers for the next few days and back to the campground. Sunset drinks then back to the camp to download photos, blog and a light meal. Another early night beckons.

Tomorrow on to Carnarvon Gorge via Roma. Hopefully we can spend at  least two nights there and do a decent walk up the gorge....

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Taree to Moree

After full Sunday Breakfast and fond farewells to our hosts we set off just after 8:00am. Inland via Thunderbolt's Way to Walcha and Uralla. 

A scenic route on a quiet road that climbed from 100 mt in Gloucester to 1300 mt outside Walcha. The weather had turned to rain and a cold wind.

After coffee at the always excellent Alternate Root in Uralla and having checked the weather ahead, we decided to skip Bald Rock and head inland in the hope at avoiding the rain and cold. Continuing on Thunderbolts Way via Inverell, occasionally drenched by passing thunderstorms highlighted by bolts of lightning!

So here we are at the Moree Showgrounds campground. $10 for an unpowered site. Excellent communal camp kitchen, and adequate toilet/shower block. Our first camp this trip.

The weather has cleared and the temperature should be reasonable overnight. Tomorrow over the border and northwards....

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Sydney/Taree Catch Up

Thursday night we stayed with Hillary and Raph in Dover Heights. Dinner out in Double Bay at a cheap and cheerful Asian restaurant. Joined by Shirley, Stuart and Oliver. Pleasant evening catching up with old friends.

After breakfast with Raph we headed to Coogee Beach for a walk and coffee.
A sad morning visiting Robin - who's health has deteriorated to the point where he needs full time care. He is currently in the Randwick Montefiore respite facility awaiting a bed in palliative care. Our visit coincided with a visit from our mutual friend Hilton - someone we haven't seen for many years which helped to lift the mood. Still a sad departure, knowing that we are unlikely to see Robin again.

After negotiating the hell that is Sydney's road system we had an incident free afternoon drive up the coast to Taree. Arrived with plenty of daylight to appreciate Wendy and Peter's new home. Lovely old heritage house perched on the hillside overlooking the Manning River.

Saturday was spent doing some shopping for the trip, and a drive out to Oxley Island to Wendy's old family farm on the banks of the river. Afternoon tea and picked lots of sweet  oranges and mandarins for the next few days. A late afternoon stroll on the beach in Saltwater National Park with bonus sighting of whales breaching off the point.

Home for dinner, wine and conversation. Special added pleasure of hearing the Super Saturday bye-election results. What a total waste of time, energy and money. Still - at least it wiped the smirk off Malcolm's face.

Tomorrow - hoping for an early start. Heading inland and up the escarpment towards Tenterfield. If we have a good run we should make it to Bald Rock NP on the Qld border with enough daylight to make camp.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Darwin Round Trip July/August 2018

Kicking off later today.
Celeste & I will be on the road for about 5/6 weeks. This time on 4 wheels.
Round trip to Darwin. +- 10,000km
Outward route via outback Queensland - the return leg via Alice Springs & the Flinders Ranges.

This afternoon we will head for Sydney to catch up with friends & visit someone special. More later.

Time to get cracking with the packing.......