Monthly Archives: July 2017

Day 103 – Young to Home

The rain continued unabated during the night.  We both usually love the sound of rain on Bertha’s roof but this was just a bit too much.

Over breakfast we reviewed our plans for the next week.  Our intention had been to visit our daughter Katie in Canberra but still be home by the weekend.  A look at the weather forecast for Canberra showed negative overnight temperatures, low maximum temperatures and rain and thunderstorms every day for the next week.  Melbourne’s winter weather, by comparison, was looking fantastic.

We decided to defer our visit to see Katie and head straight home.  Ann rang the caravan park in Canberra and they have deferred our booking for 3 months (ie rather than cancel all together and lose our deposit).  Ann also let Katie know and although she was disappointed she understood our situation.  Our house-sitters were leaving today so that worked out well too.

After a wet pack-up (don’t you love that) we set off through a very wet Young and down to Cootamundra and then to Coolac, where we joined the Hume Highway.

Wet views of Young

Views around Cootamundra

From there Bertha went in auto-pilot mode and we were off.  Our plan was to have lots of breaks but to keep them short and hope that we could reach home in one day.  It wouldn’t be a disaster, however, if we did have to stop somewhere overnight.

Scenes along the way

Our first break was at Gundagai after our cross-country drive from Young to the Hume.  For lunch we stopped at the legendary Holbrook bakery and had delicious hot pies and pasties.

Views around Holbrook

Then Glenrowan, Wallan and Home.

For the start of the trip the weather was horrible – no other word for it.  From around the Victorian border the skies cleared a bit and we actually got a few bursts of sunshine between rain showers.

Getting closer now!

We arrived home later than we ever have before, after a much longer than usual day, in the dark, but we arrived safely and very glad to be home.  After connecting to mains power and collecting a few bare essentials, we locked up Bertha and left cleaning and emptying until tomorrow.

Inside, our house-sitters had left the heater on and had left some treats in the fridge for us.  What a great thing to do.

So, we’re home, tired but we’re warm and we had a nice hot dinner before winding down in front of the TV.

We’ve had a fantastic 2017 Up the Centre Adventure and will post our usual recap shortly.

Still thoroughly enjoying the Motorhome Experience!!!!

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure

Day 102 – Cowra to Young

It was almost warm when we woke this morning and I started the day wearing a t-shirt.

Unfortunately Ann seems to have picked up a bug or something and is not feeling well, so today was a very slow and easy day.

After topping up the fuel in Cowra we turned onto the Olympic Highway and drove through some more beautiful Australian country-side.  Sheep seemed to dominate in the livestock stakes, although we did see several paddocks with cattle.  The pleasing news is that many of the dams appear to be nearly full, with many having cattle and/or sheep around them.

Scenes along the way

We drove through a couple of small towns including Koorawatha, although in most cases it was a matter of “blink and you miss it”.  Koorawatha did have an impressive hotel though.

Views around Koorawatha

There were some buildings and some earth-works that had us a bit confused, but otherwise it was beautiful countryside and quite good quality roads.  There was very little traffic in either direction.

Scenes along the way

After a distance of about 70 kms we arrived in Young.  We came here last year as part of our plan to escape floods and detours on our way to Canberra.  As it was late and wet when we arrived last year we didn’t see much of the town, but this time the weather was more amenable to a drive around town at least.

Views around Young

Views around Young

Young was founded in 1831 and gold was found in 1860 but these days the town is better known for its cherries, orchards, vineyards, olive groves and strawberry farms.  A cherry festival is held in December every year.

Many of the buildings in town date back to the late 1880s and early 1900s, although these days many of those buildings are being used quite differently to their original purpose.

Other than heritage buildings, there is some considerably more modern buildings and complexes.  Young has a Big W and a Woolworths, a Mitre 10, a Rivers and other stores we weren’t expecting to see in a country town this size.

Views around Young

Views around Young

As we drove through late on Sunday morning we were surprised that so many shops were open and that parking spots were hard to find.

After a bit of a reconnoiter we checked in at the Young Tourist Park, where Ann had already booked our accommodation.  We have a great site in a quiet corner but still very close to amenities, BBQs, etc.  The pool is closed, not surprising.

Bertha happy in Young Tourist Park – before the rain started

Once power, water and sullage were organized, we walked a couple of hundred metres to Aldi, to pick up some supplies.  As we returned to Bertha we felt some raindrops.  This wasn’t totally unexpected as showers and rain were predicted in this morning’s weather forecast.  The last stretch back to Bertha was done at a slow jog!

After lunch in Bertha the rain stopped for a while so I was able to clean some of the bugs off Bertha while Ann rested.  The rain did return and according to the evening news we may be looking forward to rain and showers over the next few days.

Still enjoying the motorhome experience, but not the weather so much!

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Days 100 & 101 – Chilling in Cowra

The last few mornings have been freezing, perhaps more-so because we are near the river.  Bertha’s thermometer showed negative on Saturday.  The days, however, have been clear and sunny with blue skies, but still chilly.  It has been great sight-seeing weather and we have been quite busy.

Cowra Japanese Garden & Cultural Centre

When-ever we are in Cowra we make a point of visiting the Japanese Garden.

Welcome to Cowra Japanese Garden

Its history goes back to the Japanese POW breakout in 1944 and is a testament to reconciliation between our two nations.  It is a wonderfully peaceful place to visit and you can almost feel the calm descend on you as soon as you walk through the front gates.  After starting with lunch we then did a tour of the Cultural Centre which has some amazing displays of Japanese culture, clothing, dolls, samurai outfits, a beautiful raked pebble garden and more. These displays change over time so it is always interesting.

Views of the Cultural Centre

Views of the Cultural Centre

Once out in the garden, there are plenty of paths to follow through the different aspects of the garden; visit the tea house and other buildings; feed the fish; explore the bonsai collection, and more.  Each time we have visited it has been a different month of the year and it is lovely to see the different colours as the seasons change.

“Bonsho” Bell

Views of Cowra Japanese Garden

Views of Cowra Japanese Garden

Views of Cowra Japanese Garden

Views of Cowra Japanese Garden

Cowra Prisoner of War Camp

From the Japanese Garden we set off to the POW Camp, which was the scene of the POW Breakout.

Cowra Breakout POW Camp

Last time we came here it wasn’t much more than some overgrown paddocks, but there is a project underway to make the area much more accessible and meaningful.  There is a new interpretive covered area which provides a great overview as to how the camp was organized; nationalities of the inmates; and the story behind the cause of the breakout and exactly what happened at the time.

Views of Cowra POW Camp

The original POW Camp consisted of four 17 acre compounds, each designed to hold 1,000 prisoners.  The majority of prisoners were Italian and Japanese, but there were also Koreans, Indonesians and Taiwanese.  There are new paths to various areas around the Camp and interpretive boards to explain highlights, stories, etc.  We were particularly impressed by some of the stories from the Italian section where the internees had vegie gardens, did a lot of cooking, made their own grappa, and even built concrete monuments and fountains.

Views of the Italian section at Cowra POW Camp

We look forward to coming back here again some-time in the future to see further development of this important historic site.

Cowra War Cemetery

It was perhaps a logical move to visit the War Cemetery after visiting the POW Camp where 234 Japanese prisoners were killed (or committed suicide) during the Breakout.  The War Cemetery is adjacent to the main Cowra cemetery and comprises several sections.

The War Cemetery itself includes memorials to 26 Australian Army members and one Airman from the RAF, including the Australian officer and enlisted men who died in the Cowra Breakout.

Australian Memorials at Cowra War Cemetery

The Japanese War Cemetery was established immediately after the Cowra Breakout on August 5, 1944, but was later expanded to include other Japanese who had died prior to the Breakout.  The RSL maintained the Japanese section of the cemetery until 1964 when the Japanese War Cemetery was officially opened at the request of the Japanese government.  Other Japanese remains from WW2 were exhumed and are now interred here.

Japanese War Cemetery at Cowra

Visiting the Cowra War Cemetery was  a sobering experience.

Cowra – General

Over the last few days we also did a lot of walking and enjoyed a few coffees and meals, bought newspapers and magazines, stocked upon groceries, and I even had a hair-cut, all boosting the Cowra economy.

Looking out our back door

Still living the dream!

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Day 99 – Forbes to Cowra

It was freezing when we woke this morning; Bertha’s thermometer showed 3.5 degrees at 8.00am.  So, on went the diesel heater until it was warm enough to comfortably start our day.  We saw some pelicans on the lake as we got ready to head off.

Scenes at Forbes

First stop was McFeeter’s Motor Museum which was only a few hundred metres away from where we had camped. Ann spent a nice quiet time in the sun reading with a cup of coffee while I indulged myself taking photos of some really interesting classic and vintage cars.  I have been here before but perhaps I have been suffering classic car withdrawal symptoms as it is a while since I have seen a good collection of restored and well maintained cars.

McFeeter’s Motor Museum, Forbes

Japanese Funeral Car at McFeeter’s Motor Museum, Forbes

Some of the collection at McFeeter’s Motor Museum, Forbes

Some of the collection at McFeeter’s Motor Museum, Forbes

Heritage Camping at McFeeter’s Motor Museum

Back on the Newell Highway we soon turned onto the Lachlan Valley Way.  This is a very nice drive through what we might regard as ‘typical Australian bush’.  Mature trees, crops, water in dams, sheep and cattle – everything that we imagine and expect from the bush.

Scenes along the way

We soon drove through the small town of Gooloogong – population 466.  This is a neat and tidy place with a very prominent hotel, a unique log cabin style hall, and a caravan park.

Views of Gooloogong

From Gooloogong we continued through ‘typical’ country-side although now with more signs of irrigation and even some grapevines.  Unlike some areas we have driven through the farm houses and associated sheds etc are visible from the road, and are quite interesting in their own right.

Views along the way

Views of Cowra

After about 30 kms we turned onto the Mid Western Highway and eventually arrived at our destination – Cowra Van Park.  We have been here several times and this is one of our favourite parks.  The managers are friendly; the sites are large and includes concrete slabs to park on; the amenities are impeccably clean; and the park is right on the edge of town and on the banks of the Lachlan River.  You really can’t get much better than this.

Once Bertha was set up (it doesn’t take long) we went for a walk back across the Lachlan River to the Visitor Information Centre.  There are a couple of cafes beside the VIC so we stopped for a coffee before going in.

Views of Cowra

After collecting a few brochures we spent some time at the Cowra POW display and theatre.  There is a brilliant 9 minute hologram feature in the theatre which recounts the story of the Cowra Breakout of Japanese POWs in 1944.  The technology is exceptional and the story is enthralling.  Once the presentation finishes there are display boards with further details to flesh out the story.  There are also books for sale, and a display of artifacts from that time.  It is all very moving.

Cowra POW Theatre & Display

It was starting to get cold as we headed back to Bertha so we settled down with the heater on to watch some TV.

We will be in Cowra for several days so will only do a summary or our time here before we leave.

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Day 98 – Peak Hill to Forbes

Once again we woke to a rather chilly morning which evolved into a beautiful clear and sunny day with temperatures in the mid-to-high teens.

After another slow start, which we are now renowned for, we headed off in Bertha to the Peak Hill Gold Mine Experience which was only a short drive from the caravan park.  Although we knew that there had been a gold mine in Peak Hill, we had never visited it before but when we got there we were most impressed.  There are several walking trails and you can actually walk right around the old mine, but we simply walked to the main interpretive information area.

Peak Hill Gold Mine

Scenes at Peak Hill Gold Mine

The Peak Hill Gold Mine produced a total of 153,000 ounces of gold between 1996 and 2002 under its current ownership.  Gold was first discovered here in 1889 but was initially recovered by underground mining whereas the more recent work has been done by open cut techniques.  Since production stopped a huge effort has subsequently gone into rehabilitating the old mine to make it environmentally safe and friendly.  This is an ongoing process.

From the gold mine we ventured back into town to the antique store/lolly shop/café for a nice hot cup of coffee by the wood fire (it was a little chilly out at the mine).  After coffee we made a short visit to a local store where we bought a few second-hand books for later.

Then it was back to the Newell Highway heading South.  The Newell is known for the high volume of trucks on the road and this was certainly the case today.  There were plenty of trucks going in both directions and a reasonable number of caravans and motorhomes going in the opposite direction to us.  The highway is, however, in reasonable condition so there weren’t really any issues with all the trucks and other traffic.

Scenes along the highway

There were some roadworks just south of Peak Hill but really, although there is some inconvenience at the time, it is great that the highway is being upgraded.  These particular works were actually realigning the road and will remove several curves from the highway and that will be a good thing!

Our next stop was at The Dish, 19km north of Parkes.  I just love coming here to look at the Dish, but also to have one of the Dish Café’s beef and burgundy pies. We’ve been here several times in the past and the views and the pies have been great every time.  We actually bypassed The Dish on our last trip so we really had to visit this time.

One thing that we had never seen before was a person actually on The Dish itself.

First sighting of The Dish

Welcome to The Dish – see the person up the top in his Hi-Viz vest?

Views of The Dish

Displays at The Dish

Visitors are requested to turn off mobile phones etc so as to avoid Radio Frequency Interference to the dish.  There are signs everywhere and they go as far as not having paywave EFT facilities in the gift shop or the café (ie you have to insert your card and manually enter your PIN).

After a delicious lunch and a good look around the displays and gift shop, we returned to Bertha and headed back to the highway.  We didn’t go through the Parkes town-ship itself but continued down the Newell which effectively bypasses town.

We soon arrived at Forbes and headed straight to the Visitor Information Centre which is located in the old railway station.  There is a statue of Ben Hall the bushranger outside.

Forbes Visitor Information Centre & Ben Hall statue

The ladies there were very helpful and supplied us with maps and some brochures.  They also gave us directions to a freecamp on the outskirts of town, but still walking distance to the mainstreet, shops, cafes, restaurants, etc.

Within a few minutes we had found the freecamp at Wheogo Park and had Bertha setup in freecamping mode.  There are a number of other caravans and motorhomes here but we found a great site and have fantastic water views over Lake Forbes (the water is only about 7 metres away).  It wasn’t long before we were sitting on a bench by the water enjoying a cup of coffee.  Several other vanners came by and joined us for a chat beside the lake.

Views of Forbes free camp

Views of Forbes free camp

After coffee we went for a walk along the path, returning to Bertha before it became too cold.  We have phone coverage, internet access, and access to 32 TV channels, so we should be set and cozy for the night.

Thoroughly enjoying the motorhome experience!

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure, Free Camping | Tags: , , ,

Day 97 – Nyngan to Peak Hill

Once again we woke to a rather chilly morning which evolved into a beautiful clear and sunny day with temperatures in the mid-to-high teens.

After a slow start we packed up Bertha and went for a quick walk down to the river.  The pelicans look so regal!

Peaceful pelicans

We then headed into Nyngan for another walk around and stopped for coffee at the Daily Grind coffee shop.  Sitting outside in the sun with our coffees we were briefly joined by Bob and Anne, who were also having a walk around town.

It was soon time for us to make a move so we headed back to the Mitchell Highway and crossed over the railway line that went through town.  There was another side to Nyngan that we hadn’t seen before.

The “other” side of Nyngan

Soon we were out in the country-side, and it was not long before we were confronted by roadworks.  Traffic was actually stopped in both directions for a while and was eventually let through one lane at a time.

Scenes along the highway


Once through the roadworks we came to the interestingly named town of ‘Nevertire’.  By now we were clearly in grain country with the major features in Nevertire being grain silos and grain handling equipment.  It appeared that a very long string of railway cars were being filled with grain as we passed.

Grain handling infrastructure in Nevertire

Trangie was the next town along the highway so we pulled off the highway to have a look around and decided that it must be lunch time.  Trangie is a small country town which has a quaint bakery – we bought rolls and takeaway coffees and ate our lunch in the Bicentennial Park opposite the Bakery.  The streets are very wide and there is a good assortment of shops including, of course, several old hotels.  There are some very nice community areas and gardens around the town.

Views around Trangie

Scenes around Trangie

Scenes around Trangie

From Trangie it was back on the Mitchell Highway and through more grain country and also some indications of water irrigation channels and water spraying equipment.  A large complex of buildings turned out to be a cotton processing facility, further confirming our idea that we are in irrigation country (we didn’t watch 4 Corners last night but I wonder if this area was discussed?).

Cotton Gin

Narromine was our next stop.  This is another nice country town with a great mix of heritage buildings, and it’s a lot bigger than we expected.  There are also indications that this is something of a citrus area.

Perhaps not surprisingly Ann found a craft shop and spent a bit of time exploring.

Scenes around Narromine

Scenes around Narromine

During that time I found a statue of Australian cricketer Glen McGrath, who was born in Narromine and is obviously regarded as a local hero.  Reading the plaques on the statue he definitely had a very distinguished cricketing career.  When he retired in 2007 he held the world record for the highest number of test wickets by a fast bowler (I’m not a great cricket fan so this did come as a bit of a surprise to me).

Glenn McGrath statue

I also found a War Memorial honouring Narromine’s war dead, and there were a lot of names on the list.  Very sad.

War Memorial at Narromine

From Narromine we diverted from the highway and took a lesser road towards Parkes.  Road quality was actually quite good and we drove down very nice tree lined sections of road.  There were signs of irrigated crops at times, and cattle grazing at other times.

Scenes along the highway

Some 40 kilometres along the road we drove through Tomingley.  There’s not much here other than the historic Cross Roads Hotel which was apparently established in 1880.  However there is some huge mining activity in Tomingley.  A quick search on Google tells us that the Tomingley Gold Project consists of 4 exploration licenses covering some 270 square kilometres from Tomingley down to Parkes in the South.  The project includes the Peak Hill Gold Mine.  Population at the 2011 census was 330.

Not a lot to the Tomingley township

Mining activity in Tomingley

At Tomingley we turned onto the Newell Highway and it was less than 20 kilometres to our destination – Peak Hill Caravan Park.

Scenes along the highway

We have stopped in Peak Hill for coffee or lunch on several occasions, but had never actually stayed here.  Caravan park owner Leighton showed us to our site and gave us a sheaf of information about the town.  Frosty – Leighton says Hi!  When we first arrived there were only a couple of other vans and motorhomes here, but once we set up there was a continuous stream of new arrivals.  There are 34 sites here and I don’t think that many will be vacant overnight.

We got Bertha organized and then went for a walk around town.  According to Leighton it is 324 steps from the caravan park to the services club, and that seemed about right.  We walked from one end of town to the other but will come back for a better look in the morning.  Peak Hill hasn’t survived quite as well as other small country towns we have visited and there are far too many empty shops.  Never-the-less the community is certainly working hard to keep the town clean and tidy, and welcoming to visitors.

Scenes around Peak Hill

Scenes around Peak Hill

Scenes around Peak Hill

Back at the caravan park Ann sussed out the camp kitchen and later cooked our dinner out there.

Peak Hill Caravan Park

It does get dark very quickly and quite early, so we were soon settled in Bertha for the night.

Still living the dream!

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure | Tags: , , ,

Day 96 – Cobar to Nyngan

We woke again to a rather chilly morning which evolved into a beautiful clear and sunny day with temperatures in the mid-teens.

Not really in too much of a hurry this morning until the heater had done its job, we eventually got going and headed back into Cobar.  Ann made a ‘quick’ visit to the quilt shop and we went back to ‘Caffe Forenze’ for a great coffee.  Then a short stop at IGA for supplies and we were off down the Barrier Highway.

Couldn’t miss this photo opportunity at Cobar!

This was a generally uneventful drive – the road surface was very good, and there was very little roadkill.  We did note some work being done to strengthen water courses under the railway line through floodways, but didn’t encounter any roadworks.  Most of the roadside was lined with healthy trees and vegetation although there were patches of canola and a few sheep.  As usual, we encountered a couple of oversize loads.

Scenes along the highway

Scenes along the highway

After about 130 kilometres we reached Nyngan in Bogan Shire.  We turned off the Barrier Highway onto the Mitchell Highway and crossed the Bogan River where we saw a sign we had never seen before.

Coming into Nyngan over the Bogan River

A quick drive through town revealed some nice heritage buildings, and a metal sculpture of ‘The Big Bogan’, which shows that the Shire has a sense of humour.

Views around Nyngan

The Big Bogan and other views of Nyngan

Bogan Lollyshop and Beancounters House in Nyngan

For lunch we stopped at Nyngan Rotary Park, which was a great spot for a picnic lunch.  There are plenty of places to park, there are BBQs and toilets, seats and benches, and plenty of walking paths.  As it was on the banks of the river, there were some great views along the river as well.

We had a picnic lunch at Rotary Park

We had a picnic lunch at Rotary Park

Once we had finished lunch it was back on the Mitchell Highway then onto the Barrier Highway for a few hundred metres until we reached the entrance to the Nyngan Riverside Tourist Park.

Nyngan Riverside Tourist Park

The Office/Reception area gives an immediate hint that things might be a bit different here.

There are two caravan/motorhome parking areas – there are about 10 gravel drive-through sites situated amongst a collection of cabins, and a separate large camping area without designated sites.  It was a bit like a showgrounds or something similar as there was plenty of space with power and water points situated at almost random locations around the place.  Still, somehow it worked out and we found a great site overlooking the river.  Plenty of other vans came in after us and they all seemed pretty happy as well.

We had a great chat with our neighbours Bob and Anne, and Anne even took a photo of us.

Ann & Shorty enjoying the river views at Nyngan Tourist Park

After settling in we went for a good walk around the park.  There are some very nice cabins here and there is even a camp kitchen with a gas pizza oven.

Cabins and a camp kitchen with a pizza oven

There is also a function area which has an interesting décor.

Interesting function area and decor

The amenities block at ‘our’ end of the caravan park also has a distinctive rustic ‘shearing shed’ décor.

Interesting “Shearing shed” decor at the amenities block

The caravan park also supplies half 44 gallon drums on legs and firewood, so there are several fires around the camping area.  It was a little unusual to see one of the campers with a wheel-barrow full of firewood.

Camper with a wheel-barrow of firewood

Back at Bertha we set up the BBQ and Ann cooked up a feast outside.  The temperature stayed a bit milder than we experienced the last few days so we even ate our dinner outside as well.

Ann cooking up a storm!

After dinner we packed away the BBQ and chairs and settled down in Bertha (with the heater on) for the evening.

We only travelled about 130 kms today and we are getting quite used to this slower pace.

Still living the dream!

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure | Tags: ,

Days 93 to 95 – Cobar

We have loved the last few days we have spent here in Cobar Caravan Park.  Overnight temperatures have been near zero, but every day has had clear skies and it has been wonderfully warm out in the sunshine.

Not surprisingly, therefore, we have spent a lot of time outside.  We have a huge site in a quiet corner of the park so there is plenty of room to move the chairs around to stay in the sun and we are not disturbed by noise from passing traffic.  It’s the perfect place to relax reading the paper, catching up with our books, and Ann has done some hand quilting sitting outside.  Bertha is looking much cleaner and shinier, as I have also had time to spend some time on cleaning chores, although the high bits will have to wait until we finally get home.

Enjoying the Sunshine at Cobar

We have met some very interesting people and have seen some very interesting sights here in the caravan park.  Just watching some SUVs tackle the speed humps with their caravans can be quite exciting!  Many of the people we have met are Victorians who have made a late start heading North.  John, our next-door neighbour comes from Ferntree Gully and it turns out that we have travelled to many of the same places over the years.  We’re pretty certain that we’ll meet up with him on the road again at some time.

Just this afternoon 3 Avida caravans arrived and basically encircled us – it almost looks like a mini-meeting of the Avida RV Club here in Cobar.

There are 4 Avida RVs in this picture

There are plenty of birds around and we have spent hours calmly observing our feathered friends and trying to identify them from our Field Guide to Australian Birds.  There are many different varieties that come to visit and trying to identify them all has been a very interesting exercise.  Ann made a mistake by feeding the birds outside Bertha with some left-over bread crusts and it seems that we have made some friends for life.  As soon as we open the door our new friends start to gather.  They’re not shy either, and we have had them land on our feet and one even perched on my coffee cup as a vantage point whilst looking for food.

With such fine weather we have, of course, cooked outside, and even then our new feathered friends are on the lookout for a handout.


Not all our time has been spent in the caravan park.  It’s a long walk into the centre of town so we packed up Bertha and found a car park close to the main street.  Cobar is a very nice small town with all the facilities a traveller might need.  It doesn’t, however, take all that very long to walk from one end of the main street to the other, it just depends on where you get distracted along the way.  Ann found the Cobar Quilt Shop and she spent some very pleasurable time there, and made a few purchases.  I love browsing in bookshops and newsagents so I was also able to spend some quality time looking at things and I made a few purchases as well.

Cobar has plenty of heritage buildings, including hotels, and the huge beer can outside one of the hotels is a real landmark!  The Post Office is, as usual in most country towns, an interesting building and there is a huge fig tree nearby which caught my attention.  Some of the cafes that were here last time have gone but new ones have opened up to replace them.  We found a great spot for lunch one day almost by accident – we went into a nice looking gift shop and once inside it looked as though they were serving coffee from a counter right down the back of the shop. In fact there was a small café with a nice range of light meals and a couple of tables and chairs.  There was a door out to a great courtyard where we had a very tasty lunch under an umbrella shaded from the sun.

Views around Cobar

Views around Cobar

Views around Cobar

Tomorrow we will probably leave Cobar and head a little further South.

We’re still thoroughly enjoying the Motorhome Experience.

Sunset at Cobar Caravan Park

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Day 92 – Bourke to Cobar

We woke to another chilly morning with clear blue skies.  Bertha’s thermometer showed 7 degrees at 7.15am, and it didn’t get much above 15 degrees all day.

After a bit of a slow start we packed up and left Kidman’s Camp and drove to the ‘Back ‘O Bourke’ information centre.  We have been here several times before so we didn’t go on a tour or visit the Outback Stockman Show.    Apart from some general tidying up, this complex appears to be pretty much the same as before.  The notable exception being the new ‘Dance of the Echidnas’ sculptural area out the front.

Back ‘O Bourke

We did visit the café here for a cup of coffee, and shared a lamington the size of half a brick.

Lamington – half brick size

From ‘Back ‘O Burke’ we headed into town and went for a quick drive around town before parking Bertha very close to the Wharf area.  There are some stunning views here of the river and the reconstructed wharf.

Views from the Bourke Wharf Area

Crossley Steam Engine & Shops and Cafes at the wharf

Scenes around Bourke

Scenes around Bourke

Scenes around Bourke

We then went for a walk around the wharf area before we stopped at the legendary Morrall’s Bakery Café for lunch and to buy some bread.  Then we headed back onto the Kidman Way towards Cobar.

Oversize load along the highway

Not very far out of Bourke we were slowed down by some very lengthy roadworks, controlled by traffic lights.  Traffic was one lane, one way only down the very middle of the road, as both sides were being graded and hopefully resurfaced.  It took a looooong time to get through the roadworks.

Lengthy roadworks

Today’s drive was a bit different to the last few days.  Much of the road shoulders had been graded, presumably for flood mitigation purposes, but it is interesting to note that there is no roadkill with the wide grading.  We’re not sure if this is a planned situation but it is certainly a lot more pleasant driving without having to put up with the roadkill slalom we experienced over the last few days.

Scenes along the way

There was, however, a difference in the wildlife we saw along the way.  We didn’t see any kangaroos today, and as noted above we saw a lot fewer kangaroos as roadkill.  I don’t think we saw a single emu, but there were literally hundreds of feral goats along the way.  Most of the goats were in smaller groups and there were quite a few goats with young kids (often twins), and a few obviously pregnant goats as well.

Some of the goats we saw along the way

About 160 kilometres from Bourke we arrived in Cobar.

Views of Cobar

Ann had booked our accommodation at Cobar Caravan Park this morning and as we have been here several times before and our details were on file we breezed through Reception much faster than others in the queue.  We were allocated a nice quiet site, with all four wheels on a level concrete slab and all services close by.

After setting up we got our chairs out and sat in the sun with a cup of coffee to warm up.  Although it wasn’t exactly warm, it was very nice being out in the sun.  It was then time to pack away the chairs and go for a walk around the park.  Just as we were setting off we bumped into our neighbour from last night in the Jayco Conquest and we had a great chat about motorhomes, places to visit, and so on.  By then we were all getting a bit cold so we said our goodbyes and headed off for a walk to warm up.

Bertha & great Camp Kitchen at Cobar Caravan Park

Back at Bertha we settled in for the night, with the heater on hand for when it is required.  It looks as though the overnight temperature here in Cobar will be around 5 degrees, so we’re pretty sure that we will need the heater.

We’re not in a hurry to travel too far south just yet so we will be staying in Cobar for a couple more nights.  As usual, we will report on highlights of our stay rather than write a daily diary.

Still living the dream!

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure | Tags: ,

Day 91 – Cunnamulla to Bourke

We woke to a fine and clear, although crisp, morning and it was clear that today was going to be a driving day.  We got ourselves and Bertha ready for travel and got off to an earlier start than recent days.

First stop was town where we needed to post an important letter and collect some more supplies from IGA – they had a new delivery this morning so we were able to tick nearly everything off our shopping list, finally.

Then it was back onto the Mitchell Highway heading South.  Again there was plenty of wildlife and we again enjoyed participating in the roadkill slalom.

Roadkill Slalom

There were plenty of live emus and kangaroos by the roadside, but many more dead animals and birds on and along the road.  We also noticed a few dead pigs and goats.  The volume of roadkill is horrendous and is the reason we have a bull-bar on Bertha and why we never drive at dawn or dusk.

It was interesting that there were so many emus around – many appeared to be quite content feeding by the roadside whereas others were very skittish and we never knew whether they were going to run out onto the road in front of us or not.  Makes driving a bit more of a challenge.

Plenty of emus everywhere

We also saw some sheep, and several small herds of feral goats, but they at least seem to have some road sense and knew to get off the road if traffic was approaching.

Sheep and goats by the roadside

About 115 kilometres from Cunnamulla we crossed over the border into NSW and almost immediately pulled off the road in Barringun opposite the Tattersalls Hotel for a quick cup of coffee in Bertha, and to put on some warmer clothes.  Bertha’s thermometer only showed 15 degrees and the wind made it seem even colder.

NSW Border and Tattersall’s Hotel at Barringun

From Barringun we continued through the small town of Enngonia which is big enough to have a primary school, a memorial hall, a pub and a police station but not much else.

Views around Enngonia

It was then another 125 kilometres or so to Bourke.  Driving today has been largely uneventful, other than our slalom challenges.  We did come across some roadworks and some line marking which slowed us down a little, but otherwise there were no other dramas.

I think they call this a Rest Area

Views along the highway

Line marking – plenty of warning

Coming into Bourke we noticed some new developments.

New developments around Bourke

There is plenty of water in the Darling River, and even in the Polygonom Swamp Billabong, which we had never seen before.

Lots of water in the river

Even water in the swamp

However we decided to leave most of our sightseeing to another day and make securing our accommodation at Kidman’s Camp our priority.  This is a very popular camping ground/caravan park but they don’t take phone bookings and there isn’t much of a Plan B in Bourke if you can’t secure a site.

Welcome to Kidman’s Camp

Fortunately we arrived at a good time and despite a queue of caravans waiting to book in, there were plenty of sites left and we had our choice of several sites.  We actually chose to park next to a Jayco Conquest motorhome which is similar in many ways to Bertha.

Bertha and Conquest at Kidman’s Camp

After having lunch in Bertha we put our coats on and had a good walk around the camp ground.  There have been some noticeable changes since we were last here.  For starters, there is a new Reception area with a small shop which sells a few snacks, hot food, drinks, bread, papers and real coffee – it’s so new that the plastering hasn’t been finished yet.  This is a great improvement as the old reception was tiny and cramped.

New reception and shop

Other areas of the place have been tidied up and the pool area is looking much more ‘resortish’.  There is some paving underway near reception.  The camp Kitchen is quite impressive and there is a new bank of nice looking new timber clad cabins, complete with rocking chairs on their verandahs.  There are also a variety of older cabin style accommodation, including some converted shipping containers.

Vegie garden, camping area and other views

Views around the park

Container cabins and new timber clad cabins

Impressive camp kitchen

Three times each week Kidman’s Camp hosts ‘Poetry on a Plate’ which is a campfire dinner with entertainment.  Proceeds go to the Fred Hollows Foundation.  .  It’s not on tonight but we have been to one of these dinners before and it was great fun, and warm around the fire.

Poetry on a Plate area at Kidman Camp

We then went for a walk down to the river which have never done in any of our previous visits here.  Just as we arrived at the river the Jandra paddle boat arrived, and blew its whistle at us then continued up the river.  The Jandra departs from a small jetty at Kidman’s Camp then travels up and down the river giving visitors a great river view of the local area.

Jandra paddle boat

Back at Bertha we needed a hot cup of coffee to warm us up after the cold outside, then settled in for the rest of the evening.

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure | Tags: ,

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