Monthly Archives: June 2013

Uluru – The Climb

20130629-101627.jpgWe know not everybody is happy with our decision to climb Uluru but we hope that you can see from Matt’s post on the matter that it was not a decision we made easily (in fact much more difficult than we expected once we were actually there!) and we tried to tread as lightly as possible – being sure to keep on the marked path and leave no rubbish or toilet waste as we went and to take the climb seriously and stay safe (these along with the obvious sacred nature of the site are the most common issues with climbing the rock).  We don’t regret doing the climb – it was an amazing experience – one that I will never forget and I know Jack and Matt never will either!  It was very hard work – especially for those with no climbing experience like ourselves and I really had to give myself a talking to a few times to keep going as it was soooooo high and breathtaking.  We saw people doing the climb in ugg boots and thongs which was just crazy!!!!  It was our last day  at Uluru before I tackled the climb early one morning on my own – mostly because I just couldn’t not climb – I didn’t think I would ever get the chance to do something again like that in my life.  I had a good little chat to Uncle Murray who just happened to call my mobile just as I reached the top and sat down!  Hehehehe – nice to share the moment Uncle Murray!

Anyway – we wanted to share some photos and a short video of our experience – it was beautiful and so very different up there – it almost felt like we were on the moon.  Jack really is so proud of the fact that he did it – something he and Matt will share forever – they were both on a high that afternoon – a shared moment that I hope you can tell from Matt’s post – was a real father/son bonding experience.

We can definitely see why Uluru is such a sacred place for the Aboriginal people and it will live forever in our family memories now also.

The boys at the start

The boys at the start

Jacko starting to climb

Jacko starting to climb

Very steep

Very steep

Absolutely beautiful

Absolutely beautiful

Jacko talking to mum & the kids on the UHF about half way up

Jacko talking to mum & the kids on the UHF about half way up

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Jacko climbing

Jacko climbing

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Beautiful views of The Olga's

Beautiful views of The Olga’s

Checking out the view over the side

Checking out the view over the side

Great views!

Great views!

Jacko so proud to make it to the top

Jacko so proud to make it to the top

Having a look at the weather station at the top

Having a look at the weather station at the top

Me at the top

Me at the top

Scary!

Scary!

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The kids and I!

The kids and I!

Categories: Camping, NT Camping, Travel | 4 Comments

Uluru, to climb or not to climb?

Uluru at dusk

You would have to be living under a pretty big rock, (Did you like like that? See what I did there?) not to know that there is some controversy these days around climbing Australia’s most iconic attraction.

Since the 1940’s “The Rock” has been a worldwide destination and until only recently, climbing it was marketed as the thing to do, the whole point of visiting it. Well known as being a very difficult climb, it has attracted visitors from far and wide to come and “conquer” it.

These days it is very different. Whilst you are still allowed to climb it, it is not encouraged, in fact, it is beginning to err on the side of being frowned upon, socially taboo if you like. (The badges and stubby coolers available in the souvenir shop now state ” I didn’t Climb Uluru”)

You would be hard pressed not to take two steps once inside the national park without being presented with sometimes subtle, sometimes downright confronting (37 people have died climbing Uluru) information attempting to give you a different reason for visiting other then trampling over the top of it.

Let me try and give you an insight into the journey I have taken over the last few days at Uluru.

I am a sceptic, I’m more a believer of the sciences then the spiritual so when people say things like “there is something magical/mystical about that place” or, “I took a piece of it home when I visited and we had 3 flat tyres and a breakdown on the way home, nothing but bad luck since I took that piece home” I smile and nod and walk away, discreetly calling the people with the nice white jackets with one sleeve to come pick them up.

I came to Uluru to do one thing, test some more of my photography skills and try and get a keeper that would go straight to the pool room. Jack was interested in climbing it, so I also figured if he didn’t chicken out once we got here, it would be a fun thing to do with my little man.

On the first sighting, approx 40klms out from Yulara (the campground/resort you have to stay in, still 20klms from the rock itself) I was impressed. As we got closer it became apparent just how big it is. I guess growing up in Australia I have seen so many photos of it, I was probably a bit desensitised. We pulled in, set up right on dusk, and walked up a little hill to a look out and watched the sunset on the rock. Again, I was impressed.

The next day we went into the park, and with every kilometre closer, it simply got bigger and bigger until we were at the cultural centre (this is where every piece of information about the park recommends you begin, to the point that there is actually nothing giving clear directions on how to even get to the rock itself) This pretty much ensures that any first timers are almost guaranteed to see the cultural centre before the rock itself.

Jess and I have travelled a bit, we have walked through our fair share of “interpretation centres” good and bad. This would be the best I have seen. It was so natural, so symbiotic, so unobtrusive inside and out that it was easy to assimilate into the surroundings, become immersed.

The overwhelming message here is about respecting the traditional owners “Tjukurpa” or Law. I’ll try not to offend here, but in the interest of documenting my journey, this will be honest. My experiences (and therefore opinion) thus far with the Aboriginal people has not been positive. Throw a word like “Tjukurpa” at me and it might as well be a made up word the B(ig)F(reindly)G(iant) uses. I had always dismissed all this “frogscollop” about rainbow serpents creating river systems and Goanna men dying on the coast line creating the dividing range as complete bollocks.

This cultural centre, in these surroundings, done so naturally, depicted the aboriginal stories that would be told to their children, boys preparing to become men specifically, stories relating to Uluru in such a way that I began to understand them, believe them? Each of the stories outlined a character or group of characters, a problem or conflict, a solution or result, and the underlying message was about right and wrong, cause and effect, morals by which to live by, all of which were no different to the lessons I was taught as a child, and that I attempt to instil in my children…… so was it really all frogscollop? As with everything we encounter that is unknown, we try to relate it to something we do know, we are simple beings…. I began to think about our bible (let’s just stick with general Christianity for the moment). Did some bloke with a wicked beard really build a boat big enough to fit two of every animal and then go on a round the world cruise for 40 days and nights as the planet turned completely aqueous?

So as the stories continued throughout the centre, solidifying the understanding of how sacred Uluru is, tossing in a bunch of good ole fashioned science (the fact that Uluru really is a giant water catchment in an otherwise arid landscape, with many waterholes, sustaining life, plants and animals as well as shelters that so perfectly protect their inhabitants from the elements) my respect for “The Rock” and how for at least 50,000 years it had supported life, made me wonder…… there really is a hell of a lot more to this place then simply rocking up in my air conditioned 4wd, lacing up my “Made in Bangladesh” Nike’s and trampling my way up the side of an equivalent 95 story building.

So, this brings me back to my original question, to climb or not to climb…..

Well….. Jack and I climbed Uluru, and you want to know why? If this place has been the life blood of generations of the oldest living human race on the planet, a place of learning, a place where boys became men, then “conquering it” with my little man, teaching him along the way there is a time to talk and a time to be silent and concentrate, when it gets hard….just keep going, nothing great is easy, and a little science along the way (discussing the erosion, formation of the grooves, the geological make up) then the way I see it, Uluru has and will continue to play it’s role today, and for many more in the future.

By the way, call in the white coats with one sleeve, there IS something rather special about this place.

Categories: Camping, NT Camping, Travel | Tags: | 4 Comments

Mudtank to Uluru

So, as you have guessed from Matt’s last post we headed from zircon fossicking at Mudtank pretty much straight to Uluru.  We left mudtank just as the weather started to turn very cold, very windy and a bit showery.  We had a quick stop in to check out the campground at Gemtree which looked really nice and the kids enjoyed having a wonder through the gem shop there and seeing some of the lovely jewellry that can be made from the rocks around the Harts Range area – we are looking forward to seeing what the ones we have found will look like all cut and polished by Grunda!!

Gemtree

Gemtree

From there we hit the end of the Plenty Highway – hooray!  We had to get a photo of us crossing the ‘Tropic of Capricorn’ line but found it very tricky to explain this invisible line down the middle of Australia to the kids!

We survived the Plenty Highway

We survived the Plenty Highway

The Tropic of Capricorn

The Tropic of Capricorn

Next we hit Alice Springs for a quick overnight stop as we needed to do a big grocery shop, fill up our gas bottle, do three loads of washing and have a much needed hot shower!  We were really surprised by how scenic the drive in to Alice Springs was – really beautiful and not dry and desserty like we expected!  We stayed at the Heavitree Caravan Park which was pretty cheap ($27 for a site for the night) and it was ok, but very busy and a bit dirty in the amenities etc.  A note for Alice Springs is that you need to pay 50cents to use the public toilets – just something we weren’t expecting!  We are planning on coming back through Alice Springs in a couple of weeks so will do some of the touristy stuff then!

And then it was on to Uluru – a place we were all looking forward to visiting on this trip!  We  had a quick toilet and coffee stop at Stuart’s Well which looks like a nice place to camp and checked out the emu’s and camels there.

Stuart's Well

Stuart’s Well

Two hours later we stopped for lunch (its about a four hour drive from Alice Springs to Uluru) on the side of the road and I will never forget overhearing Toby say to Jack when he hopped out of the car and started to climb up a sand dune to have a look, ‘Jacko, its soooooo tiny!!’ in such a hugely disappointed voice!  He thought we were at Uluru and the sand dune was it!  Hehehehehehe – so funny had us all laughing for ages and Tobes of course was cranky at being laughed at!

Our next stop was Mt Connor (Jack had to send a photo to his mate Connor!) which often gets mistaken for Uluru – it is huge in its own right!  We crossed over there road here and climbed a very red sand dune to discover a big salt lake on the other side!  Amazing!  The kids loved the novelty of the red sand!

Mt Connor from a distance - tricks you into thinking it is Uluru!

Mt Connor from a distance – tricks you into thinking it is Uluru!

Mt Connor

Mt Connor

Lex loved the red sand - her 'Kanga' is going everywhere with her - thank you Keria

Lex loved the red sand – her ‘Kanga’ is going everywhere with her – thank you Keria

Salt Lake

Salt Lake

Then Uluru came into sight and it just got bigger and bigger the closer we got!

First sighting of Uluru

First sighting of Uluru

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We camped at the campground at Yulara which is the resort township about 20km’s from the rock.  It was a nice campground with great amenities but obviously very busy with lots of tourists.  It was freezing during our time there – I even had to scrape the ice of the windscreen at 7.30am one morning before heading out to the rock – brrrrrr!  Anyway – we had a brilliant four nights camping here exploring Uluru and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) – I will get some photos and a post on those next – sooooo many beautiful photos from our time there so very hard to choose some to share!

The drive out to Uluru

The drive out to Uluru

First sunset over Uluru from the campground

First sunset over Uluru from the campground

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Mud Tank Zircon Fossicking

20130622-204821.jpgWe had originally planned to head across the Plenty Highway with my Mum & Dad and then do some Zircon hunting with them at the Mud Tank Zircon fields which are about 8okm’s along the Plenty Highway from the Alice Springs end.  Unfortunately Mum & Dad weren’t able to come along with us on this trip due to problems with their ute, but they gave us a pick and a sieve and some basic instructions (and directions!!) and off we went!  They also told us to look out for ‘Macca’ who they had met the previous year and say g’day to him from them!

So – we found Macca and after a few introductions he was kind enough to show us the ropes and lend us some of his digging tools.  We then proceeded to spend the next couple of days getting filthy hunting for Zircons which are quite tricky to pick out from the ironstone.  But Matt soon got his eye in (and a bit of an addiction to the chase of the Zircon!) and we had a few nice ones to be sent home to Grunda for cutting.  Jack enjoyed it, but the younger two lost interest quite quickly as the Zircons were not as easy to spot as the Opal and Garnets we had found over the last couple of weeks!  I enjoyed it but I am well and truly over dirt and dust after the week  travelling from Boulia over the Plenty!!

We had a great three days here – again another good free camp spot – no showers but there was a long drop toilet called ‘Sonny’s Dunny’.  This will be a spot to revist with the grandparents for sure!

The road in to Mud Tank - much better than the one in to Harts Range

The road in to Mud Tank – much better than the one in to Harts Range

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Kids loved having the longer stop to get their lego out for a play

Kids loved having the longer stop to get their lego out for a play

Macca showing us the ropes

Macca showing us the ropes

Jack searching through the sieve

Jack searching through the sieve

Lovely lady showing Lex and Toby what to do

Lovely lady showing Lex and Toby what to do

'Come to papa' - Matt has lost his trusty Ergon Energy hat - it is a major calamity!!

‘Come to papa’ – Matt has lost his trusty Ergon Energy hat – it is a major calamity!!

The site where Matt finally got some nice little Zircon's

The site where Matt finally got some nice little Zircon’s

Getting the campfire ready

Getting the campfire ready

Not a bad view while cooking tea

Not a bad view while cooking tea

These boys are obsessed with fire!!

These boys are obsessed with fire!!

 

Categories: Camping, NT Camping | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Harts Range

20130621-210619.jpgOur second night camping along the Plenty Highway – we ended up at the Spotted Tiger campground at Harts Range.  It was beautiful but quite remote and a very corrugated 8km’s down a track (past the most scenic racecourse in Australia!) to the Spotted Tiger campground.  This was once a paid camping spot but has become very run down and is now free/donation.  There were long drop toilets (lots of them) so we were happy to have an almost ensuite toilet for the night!  We did head into the campground under false pretences thinking this was where my Mum & Dad had fossicked last year but after looking at the map that night we realised we were about 60km’s off!

However – it is probably the most scenic spot we have camped so far!  I was a little nervous as it was quite isolated and I was worried their might be some crazy gem fossickers hiding out there but the other campers turned out to be nice people from Jimboomba outside Brisbane!  The kids were stoked as the ground was literally littered with shiny stones!  They found stacks of Mika and Garnett Bombs to load up the camper with!

It was just an overnight stop but it would definitely be a place to revist with somebody who knew what they doing on the gem fossicking front – apparently there are some amazing crystals hidden in the hills!

Our campsite Spotted Tiger Campground - Harts Range

Our campsite Spotted Tiger Campground – Harts Range

A walk in the hills behind the campsite

A walk in the hills behind the campsite

Walking

Walking

Happy Fossicker!  'Take this one home for Grunda' she says

Happy Fossicker! ‘Take this one home for Grunda’ she says

A bit of specking for Garnett bombs in the hills

A bit of specking for Garnett bombs in the hills

Harts Range on a short walk in the hills behind the campground

Harts Range on a short walk in the hills behind the campground

Jack with one of the many pieces of Mika

Jack with one of the many pieces of Mika

Kids very excited to show Trevor - a nice fellow camper - all of their 'treasures'!

Kids very excited to show Trevor – a nice fellow camper – all of their ‘treasures’!

Sunrise at Harts Range

Sunrise at Harts Range

Sun coming up

Sun coming up

Sun up

Sun up – camper at the bottom right!

Very pretty

Very pretty

Us driving out of Harts Range

Us driving out of Harts Range

Categories: Camping, NT Camping | Tags: , | 7 Comments

The Plenty Highway

20130620-000345.jpgWell, the fact that you are reading this is proof that “We survived the Plenty Highway!”

As proud as we are, we didn’t splash out $8 for the bumper sticker available at the Tobermorey Station.

For those unsure what I’m on about, the ‘Plenty’ is pretty notorious patch of road that runs between Boulia and the Stuart Highway, This is the shortcut that avoids having to go all the way up to Mt Isa, then across into the territory and then back down to Alice.

During the planing stages of this trip I made it pretty clear I wanted to take the ‘road less travelled’ and avoid bitumen as often as possible, this was our first real test.

Well actually, the road into Carisbrooke Station was our first test, and we failed. Both the shockies in the camper overheated and leaked, 4 bottles of cider popped their tops in the fridge and there was waaaaaay too much dust getting in the camper. So after rectifying some of these problems, we braved the Plenty.

2 broken spot lights, one lost shovel, one puncture and one ‘no darling we are not bogged, I’m just making sure the low range still works’ moment and we arrived safe and well in Alice Springs.

The road from Boulia to the Northern Territory border, ie the QLD side, is called the Donohue, and it was terrible! As the chicks in the back started chirping their inevitable “I’m hungry” chorus, we said “We’ll stop at the next tree with some shade….. 100klms on still no tree, so we pull up in the middle of nowhere and had lunch. Lexi was less then impressed with number of flys, and anyone who knows Lexi and has seen her frustrated before will know that this was not a happy lunch stop (She had no idea what was was in store for her at Arthur creek the next day!) I’d say we averaged about 40kph on this stretch (240klms) until we arrived at Tobermorey Station where I think Jack’s comment sums it up when we drove up over the levy bank and he exclaimed… “Wow! Green grass!!!” It was a great stop, and we all poured out of the car and literally rolled in the grass and took our shoes off and let the grass caress the dirty dusty soles of our feet, bliss! Facilities were clean, showers were hot, diesel was a bargain at $2.30p/l (yes, FILL UP IN BOULIA!!) if it wasn’t for the generator that ran all night this would have been awesome. Either way, more then enough for a one night stop ($22 for the site for the night).

Next day we were off to hopefully make it to Harts Range and the Zircon fossicking areas that Stewie and Myra spent a couple of weeks last year. After a quick road side chat to a bloke coming the other way, he told us Arthur Creek was a nice stop, so this became our lunch stop. As with all the rivers and creeks out here they are dry, and being these are the only bodies of water for a few months of the year, the only trees or shade are literally in the creek beds. There was a nice looking spot about 15meters up the creek bed that I decided would do nicely, Jess didn’t like the idea of driving up the creek bed….. I knew what Peter Prado had to do to get Karen Camper into a friends place at Boonah not long before we left so I knew he would be up to the task…….well…….Lets just say it was fun to finally engage low range. Poor Jess freaks out as soon as we get “bogged”, as I have explained to her, we are yet to get “bogged”, bogged means you can’t get out, everything up until that point is the fun. Anyway, we have never experienced so many flies in our lives, probably collectively! Poor Toby gave in and jumped back in the car, and Lexi? Well we can add flys to her list of things she cannot stand along with Ants and Long drop toilets. (All of which are pretty much going to be our life for then next few months) Well….. We found Harts Range, and it was spectacular, but this was not quite the place we were looking for. That night we worked out at happy hour with the other campers, the place we were after was about another 60ks down the road.

I got up at sunrise that morning and tried to get a couple of nice shots of the Range…. Not really happy with what I’m getting yet, going to price a nice wide angle lens in Alice I think. (Yet to be approved) So after a whopping 60klms travel this day, we got to Mud Tank Zircon Fields. I think Jess wants to elaborate on Harts Range and Mud Tank so I won’t go into that now.

So a couple of days at Mud Tank and back on the road for the mostly bitumen drive to the Stuart Highway and on to Alice.

Things we learned on the Plenty:

– QLD Main Roads division needs to re-do their apprenticeship in NT (Are you reading this Kerry and Anthony?)
– Don’t whinge about paying $1.71p/l for diesel in Boulia because that’s 1960’s prices compared to on the Plenty
– A long handled shovel wedged into one of your camper chassis rails and ocky strapped up TIGHT doesn’t stand a chance (If anyone finds my shovel please forward it to the Alice springs post office, I’ll grab it next time we are in the neighbourhood)
– Duncan, thank you for the spotties, it looks like they are going to be a little more like a Lego kit when I get them back to you (quite possibly missing a few pieces)

All in all we are VERY glad we did the plenty, and we had a ball. Tested the rig, found some weak points to work on before we really head bush shortly.

Jess blogging at Boulia while I hitched the camper up

Jess blogging at Boulia while I hitched the camper up

Hitting the Donohoue Highway on the QLD side - a little nervous!

Hitting the Donohoue Highway on the QLD side – a little nervous!

Lunch stop on day 1

Lunch stop on day 1

Middle of Nowhere lunch stop Day 1

Middle of Nowhere lunch stop Day 1

We hit the Northern Territory!  A first for all of us!

We hit the Northern Territory! A first for all of us!

Overnight camp at Tobermory Station - oasis!

Overnight camp at Tobermory Station – oasis!

Beautiful green grass!

Beautiful green grass!

View out the camper door Tobermory Station

View out the camper door Tobermory Station

Day 2

Day 2

Us on the Plenty - NT side

Us on the Plenty – NT side

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Scenery NT side

Scenery NT side

Lunch stop Arthur Creek Day 2 - sooooo many flies

Lunch stop Arthur Creek Day 2 – sooooo many flies

Checked out the camp area at Jervois Station - not bad

Checked out the camp area at Jervois Station – not bad

Harts range comes into view

Harts Range comes into view

Very corrugated road in to Tiger Gum camp at Harts Range

Very corrugated road in to Tiger Gum camp at Harts Range

Beautiful campsite (free) at Harts Range

Beautiful campsite (free) at Harts Range

Yet another campfire

Yet another campfire

Categories: Camping, NT Camping | Tags: | 5 Comments

Boulia

Spotted our first camel in Boulia

Spotted our first camel in Boulia

Well we are about to lose reception/internet access for about a week so I thought I would quickly try to get a post out about our time in Boulia before we left.  I had planned to do it last night but we ended up having drinks with the Grey Nomads camped beside us instead.  They were two very lovely couples who spoilt the kids with lollies and gave us heaps of good tips on places to visit in NT and WA.  Matt spent the night with a pen and a map on his lap circling good spots as the nomads yelled them out – good fun!

We have had a really good stay in Boulia free camped down on the Bourke River behind the racecourse.  There were toilets and cold showers here but we had to drive to them – if not for that I think we could have stayed here for a week!  We went to the visitor information centre and paid $36 to do the fantastic Min Min encounter experience they have there!  It was fantastic!  A little scary for the kids but they still enjoyed it!  The kids have been looking for the Min Min light (unexplained light that follows/chases people out here in this area – people have various theories – mineral gases being released, emu’s who have rolled in phosphorous gas, ghosts from the ‘seedy’ Min Min hotel that burned down etc, etc).  It was a 45minute show that had you walking from little room to little room while people (talking dummies) told stories about the Min Min light – really great!

We also have now seen camels!  Boulia is famous for its camel racing weekend which occurs at the end of July and as we are camped behind the racetrack we got to see the camels in training yesterday afternoon – sooooo awesome – just our little family watching the camels get pushed around the racetrack by a man on a four-wheeler – we all loved it!

We had another pretty relaxing afternoon yesterday after checking out Boulia in the morning (nothing much here except the Min Min encounter, a shop (lovely lady behind the counter gave the kids a lolly pop each for free!), pub and library and huge aquatic centre!), Jack was lucky enough to borrow some Robert Irwin dinosaur stories written about the Winton Dinosaurs which we had seen for sale at the Dinosaur Museum in Winton – so he read both of them in one afternoon and was sooooo excited to be reading about all the places and things we had seen in Winton!  Once again the library is so good while travelling – the librarian is even letting us return the books to the Visitor Centre before we leave as the library is closed today.

I had a go at baking brownies in the camper gas oven but they turned out a disaster – burnt on top and not cooked on the bottom – more practice definitely required!  I did redeem myself with crumbed steak and veges for dinner – yum!  And I got a lesson on camp oven cooking from the Grey Nomads so I am keen to give ours a go soon!

Favourite Parts of the Day

Lexi – Having a walk with mum

Toby – going for a 4wd with Dad to collect wood

Jack – lighting the fire with dad, the Min Min show, dinner

Jess – seeing the camels go round the racetrack while having an afternoon family walk

Matt – collecting firewood with Tobes with Zac Brown cranking

Think we will be out of range for the next week or so – a glut of posts to come next week – hope you are all well – we are having a ball so far – 2 weeks of our trip gone already!!!

Boulia - we liked it but really not a lot here

Boulia – we liked it but really not a lot here

Relaxing

Relaxing

Lex finally getting a chance to play with some of her birthday presses

Lex finally getting a chance to play with some of her birthday presses

Dirt bombs!  Keeping these kids clean is impossible!

Dirt bombs! Keeping these kids clean is impossible!

Lex and I off for a walk - me sporting my new headband which my mum crotcheted for me - love it mum!

Lex and I off for a walk – me sporting my new headband which my mum crotcheted for me – love it mum!

Afternoon walk across the dry river bed

Afternoon walk across the dry river bed

More Dirt

More Dirt

Camels in training

Camels in training

Our private show on our afternoon walk

Our private show on our afternoon walk

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Burke River where we camped - not much water up our end of the camping area

Burke River where we camped – not much water up our end of the camping area

Love having campfires

Love having campfires

Jack loved reading about the dinosaurs in Winton after we had just seen them!!!

Jack loved reading about the dinosaurs in Winton after we had just seen them!!!

 

Categories: Camping, Qld Camping | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Winton to Boulia

 

Beautiful sunset as we were driving in to Boulia

Beautiful sunset as we were driving in to Boulia

Yesterday we drove the 360km’s from Winton to Boulia.  We left Winton at 12pm after sleeping in and being a bit slow in the morning and doing a big stock up on groceries and meat at the butcher.  We arrived in Boulia at 7pm which was far too late and really silly/dangerous to be trying to find a campsite in a place we have never been to in the dark – we have vowed never to do that again!

It was a nice drive – quite scenic and probably the most remotest countryside we have driven through so far.  We stopped at the Middleton Pub for lunch (and Matt had to buy a beer from the bar).  This pub is known to be one of the most isolated pubs in Australia – there is literally nothing at Middleton but the pub!  While we were making our lunch – a very friendly pig called ‘Pig’ wandered across the road from the pub to us and tried to steal our food – the kids thought it was hilarious!

From Middleton we stopped at the old Hamilton Hotel site (each of these sites were Cobb & Co carriages change-over points on their route between Winton and Boulia – there were 9 changeover points – qute interesting!) and filled up with water – thanks for the good tip Aunty Nerida and Uncle Garth!  It saved us having to do most of the drive with a heavy camper full of water and we got some of the best tasting water straight up from the Artesian Basin!

We ended up travelling in to Boulia in the dark (silly as lots of Kangaroos on the road!) but we wanted to make Boulia so we could only have one set up and stay put for a few days!  It took as a little while to locate the free camping area behind the racecourse, but when we did we were lucky enough to be directed in to a lovely spot by some Grey Nomads – saved us driving around dangerously in the dark and no arguments!

North Gregory Hotel where we free camped (gold coin donation) in Winton

North Gregory Hotel where we free camped (gold coin donation) in Winton

Campsite in Winton - quite crowded but a great spot!

Campsite in Winton – quite crowded but a great spot!

Tobes checking out 'Banjo Patterson' in front of the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton

Tobes checking out ‘Banjo Patterson’ in front of the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton

Swagmen Statue Winton

Swagmen Statue Winton

Lunch stop Middleton Pub

Lunch stop Middleton Pub

Very friendly pig who joined us

Very friendly pig who joined us

Pig

Pig

Matt having a beer and a chat to a local at the pub

Matt having a beer and a chat to a local at the pub

Cobb and Co carriage at the Middleton changeover point

Cobb and Co carriage at the Middleton changeover point

Feeling up with the best water at the Hamilton Hotel changeover point rest area

Filling up with the best water at the Hamilton Hotel changeover point rest area

Kids playing while we got the water at Hamilton Hotel - windmill pumps water straight up from artesian basin

Kids playing while we got the water at Hamilton Hotel – windmill pumps water straight up from artesian basin

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Winton

Out the front of the Age of Dinosaur museum

Out the front of the Age of Dinosaurs Museum

Well – we finally left Winton today – we definitely got a case of the Winton go slows while we were there – it was really lovely to stop and slow down a little!

We drove into Winton with the family on their way home from Carisbrooke and did a little more sightseeing with all the kids.  We checked out Arno’s Wall – basically a wall of junk but quite interesting really and our kids loved it!  The kids are at the age where they are collecting junk wherever we go – driving us nuts – but we have given them a plastic ‘treasure’ box each and they are enjoying filling them with bottle tops, screws, rocks, glass and whatever shiny things they find!  I will have to get a photo of them.  The deal is once the treasure boxes are filled – they must throw something out – hopefully then we won’t come home with a van filled with trash!!  Anyway – a little off track there!  While we still had all the cousies together we also checked out the ‘Musical Fence’.  The kids loved this and made sooooooo much noise there!  I’m sure we ruined the experience for the poor Grey Nomads who ended up there at the same time as us!

Arno's Wall

Arno’s Wall

Kids checking out Arno's wall - Tobes thinks he's making one when we get our 'new home' hmmmmm

Kids checking out Arno’s wall – Tobes thinks he’s making one when we get our ‘new home’ hmmmmm

Playing 'laser noises' on the musical fence

Playing ‘laser noises’ on the musical fence

Not much music but lots of good racket happening!

Not much music but lots of good racket happening!

Unfortunately then we had to say goodbye to the family and our much loved little dog Jerry who has gone to live with the Grandparents while we do our trip!  We are missing him lots already but I am pretty sure he thinks he has gotten an upgrade!!

Goodbye Jerry!

Goodbye Jerry!

After that we decided to free camp behind the North Gregory Hotel (the pub where ‘Waltzing Matilda’ was first played publicly).  It was very crowded, but it was central and we had toilets and a hot shower!  We decided to spend our ‘treat’ money this week on the most delicious lunch ever at the pub!  My mouth is just watering thinking about our yummy BLT’s, Steak Sandwich and chips – definitely get a meal there if you are ever in Winton – real pub food!  We then spent the next few days doing some washing, replacing the camper trailer plug that fell out and got trashed on the road back in from Carisbrooke, hanging out at the library – Jack was kindly allowed to borrow a book (‘Diary of A Wimpy Kid’) for the night which he really enjoyed and finished, and doing some more sightseeing.  Oh and we got to have a free singalong ‘Waltzing Matilda’ show at the pub, put on by ‘Helen’.  It was good for the kids as she told them all about the history of how Waltzing Matilda the song evolved and the different versions of it!  They did well joining in on the singing – Tobes likes to belt out a a very loud chorus of Waltzing Matilda!

Lark Quarry exhibit in the Corfield & Fitzmaurice building

Lark Quarry exhibit in the Corfield & Fitzmaurice building

The dinosaur wheelie bins everywhere in Winton - awesome!

The dinosaur wheelie bins everywhere in Winton – awesome!

On the deck chairs outside the North Gregory Hotel

On the deck chairs outside the North Gregory Hotel

Waltzing Matilda Centre Theatre Room - a pretty good story of how the Waltzing Matilda song evolved

Waltzing Matilda Centre Theatre Room – a pretty good story of how the Waltzing Matilda song evolved

Statues in the main street depicting the Waltzing Matilda story

Statues in the main street depicting the Waltzing Matilda story

Open Air Theatre

Open Air Theatre

World's Biggest Deck Chair - Huge!

World’s Biggest Deck Chair – Huge!

We loved the ‘Australian Age of Dinosaurs’ museum just outside Winton – it was great for the kids and soooo interesting to see people working on cleaning up real Dinosaur bones and learning how a dinosaur dig actually happens!  Jack said he can’t wait to be twelve which is the age required to join a dig – Jack was really interested in it all – excited and asking lots of questions – a good age for it!  Lex feel asleep on the floor during the talk about the collection of bones that have been found – hehehe – might have to make sure she has a sleep before the next tour – the Grey Nomads thought it was quite funny!!  Very inspiring too, to hear how David Elliot (the founder of the non-profit museum) discovered the first dinosaur bone on his station in Winton, and to hear about his passion for the Australian Dinosaur history to be uncovered while at the same time, putting his local community on the map as a tourist destination and helping to keep a rural town alive – definitely a great story of an aussie farmer who cares deeply about our country and the community he lives in.

Age of Dinosaur Museum

Age of Dinosaurs Museum

Awesome experience to see how Dinosaur bones are uncovered and made ready for the museums

Awesome experience to see how Dinosaur bones are uncovered and made ready for the museums

Dinosaur bones in their 'jackets' waiting to be processed

Dinosaur bones in their ‘jackets’ waiting to be processed

Volunteers working on cutting the dinosaur bones from the rocks in the laboratory

Volunteers working on cutting the dinosaur bones from the rocks in the laboratory

Australia's most famous dinosaur bones from 'Matilda' a huge dinosaur who they think died as a result of getting stuck in the mud in a billabong

Australia’s most famous dinosaur bones from ‘Matilda’ a huge dinosaur who they think died as a result of getting stuck in the mud in a billabong

View from Age of Dinosaurs museum was great!

View from Age of Dinosaurs museum was great!

Great views

Great views

The Waltzing Matilda centre was pretty good, but probably a bit expensive and we had seen a lot of the stuff that was there (old trucks etc) for free at Ilfracombe, so apart from the little Waltzing Matilda theatre show and the holographic show about aussie legends, the kids weren’t terribly interested.  We had purchased the ‘Gold Winton Pass’ for $140 which gave us entry to all of the attractions around Winton so we feel we got pretty good value for money from it – especially as I got $5 off at the butcher today too for having that pass!  And that was Winton!  Oh – forgot to mention the amazing shop called ‘Searles General Store’ – it had everything you could possibly imagine jammed in to it!!  And the shop just kept going back, and back!  The kids and I loved having a dig through all the toys, clothes and ‘stuff’ in there!  Thanks for the tip Mrs Holman to check it out!!!

 

Categories: Camping, Qld Camping | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Carisbrooke Station

DSC_0726On our second day at Carisbrooke Station we decided to join in with some of the Grey Nomads on their station tour. Station owner Charles guided us to Python Canyon where we had a short but fairly steep walk down to see some Aboriginal paintings. It was nice to visit something so interesting in a fairly non-commercial setting.

Off for a hike to Python Gorge to see some Aboriginal Paintings

Looking out over Python Gorge

Python Gorge

All the kids walked down & back up by themselves and so did the Grandparents!

All the kids walked down & back up by themselves and so did the Grandparents!

Aboriginal Paintings – Carisbrooke Station

Cooper & Tobes

From there we went on to the station’s private opal mine. Of course with Grammy & Grunda with us we were keen to do some fossicking and Charles was happy just to leave us there to spend the day looking for that magic opal that was going to see us all retired by the end of the weekend! We didn’t find anything really amazing but at least we all found a few bits and pieces with some colour in them so it was quite exciting! It was however very hot! I can’t imagine what it would be like out here in summer!!!

Grunda & Riley hunting for opals

The Campbell Boys claim – don’t mess with them!

Grunda & Jack didn’t even stop for lunch!

Grammy & Tobes with their treasures

Lunch time at the Opal mine

We had a good stay at Carisbrooke Station and owners Penny and Charles were very friendly and accommodating – however it is a long way out of Winton (also quite corrugated) and being in drought there was no water in the dam so nowhere for the kids to swim and cool off at the end of the day. Not quite Easter at Emu Park but still a great family weekend together with some lovely memories!

Grunda telling the two youngest grandies a story

The Fealy/Campbell kids in the shearing shed

True Blue Aussie Boys – the 6 grandsons

Rod cooking dinner – Dad there for moral support (ie. to drink beer!)

Camp kitchen – Carisbrooke Station

Communal Campfire Area – Carisbrooke Station

Matt and I and the kids feel so grateful that my mum and dad and Beth & Rod drove all the way from Townsville (7 hours) just to spend the weekend with us and wish us Bon-Voyage for our trip – it was a really lovely way to kick off our adventure and nice to see everybody before we are away from them for the next 7 or so months! We feel so lucky to have the best family in the world – thank you Mum, Dad, Beth, Rod, Riley, Dylan, Cooper and Corey xoxoxoxox

Camp Carisbrooke 2013

PS. Sorry about the photo sizes in this post – we are playing around trying a few different things trying to figure out the best way to use as little internet as possible to try and get the blog posts uploaded quickly as we are flying through our internet quota’s!  If we can get some decent free WiFi (the internet at the library yesterday was just too slow!) then I will try to re-upload the photos – bummed because these photos are some of the nicest from the trip so far but I just don’t have time to re-upload them now!

Categories: Camping, Qld Camping | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

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