One week today since I left Canberra and set off in pursuit of my two travel companions for a trip to Central Australia ... Yuluru, Alice springs, Kings Canyon, the McDonnell Ranges East and West and all points thereabouts and en route to and from.
It is good to be back on the road again. Last year I did not travel Australian highways as I was fortunate to make a trip to Alaska, Canada and the west coast of the USA. But even though that was fabulous, I was well and truly ready for another Sally Wagon adventure.
As you can see from the photo of my beloved campervan, she has undergone quite a transformation in looks as I have let my hippie tendencies have their way with a little purple paint and flower decorations. And with further internal refurbishments prior to leaving, she is yet again proving to be the most wonderful vehicle in which to travel the highways and byways.
Though I left home (Bermagui) just after Easter, I then spent the next 10 days in Canberra visiting with family before I finally took off in pursuit of Maureen and Lou, my two fabulous traveling companions.
Murrumbidgee River at Darlington Point
My love affair with black and white continues ... this is an early sunrise shot
They had left Canberra exactly one week ahead of me for some time in the Flinders Ranges while they waited for me to catch them up which I did four days ago, on Sunday 29th April, in Quorn, SA.
My solo trip across the Hay Plain, out through Mildura and into the Riverland of SA was uneventful. I managed to stop again at a couple of old favourite camping spots on the way and made such good time in the first couple of days, that days 3 and 4 were relatively easy and restful. Time for a little photographing and walking, and even several campfires to warm myself and boil the billy.
My first night was at Darlington Point on the Murrumbidgee River, the next at Lake Benanne just outside Eucheca (Mildura), then on to Hogwash Bend on the Murray River out of Waikerie, SA. (That name makes me laugh because it sounds so like Hogwarts from Harry Potter, but I promise you it is nothing like it - a beautiful place to sit and meditate and watch the birdlife which this time was there in enormous numbers. Huge flocks of Corellas and of the once threatened Regent
Yanga National Park, just outside of Balranald NSW
Parrot which now appears to be thriving in the conservation reserve surrounding that place designed purposefully to ensure the viability of this beautiful bird.
My final solo night on this pursuit leg of my journey I spent in a new place that I recalled flying past on an earlier trip and which I promised to return to in the future. It was a recreation camping spot in the World's End Reserve just outside the South Australian township of Burra ... called in fact the Burra Gorge. And it was a delight. Beautiful majestic River Red Gums lining a partially dry creek bed and again teaming with birdlife ... this time the galahas outnumbered the corellas although it was a close call ... the noise at dawn and dusk from these fenetic birds as they either started or ended their day was quite deafening. The reserve was full of happy campers, being a Saturday evening, some making themselves quite noticeable by their not so sweet and rather raucous renditions of a wide repetoire of popular music as they collectively celebrated some kind of family or other reunion. Luckily they recognised that 9pm was bedtime, so all was forgiven.
the next day I enjoyed a restful drive through the lower Flinders Ranges from Burra to Quorn on some very pretty and delightful south Australian country roads. And there waiting for me outside the Pitchie Ritchie Railway Station were my traveling companions Lou and Maureen. After much laughter and hugs, we enjoyed a counter lunch together at one of the pubs before settling down for the evening in the Quorn Caravan Park where we were treated to an amazing sunset that filled the sky overhead with fabulous colours for 360 degrees.
The next day we headed into Port Augusta and loaded up with fuel, food, water and everything else essential to a safe and productive trip through the outback before finally setting off up the Stuart Highway. We didn't get far that evening - stopped just 70 kms up the highway at a place called Range View rest area and again enjoyed the sunset and approach of some rather ominous but interesting cloud cover from the south.
Tonight we are in Roxby Downs having spent last evening in the fascinating opal mining town of Andamooka ... these opal towns are a lifestyle apart from anything that resembles a
"normal" form of living. I am sure it takes something very special to enjoy living in delapidated and ramshackle "homes" in the midst of mullock heaps littered with old and rusting vehicles, tools, digging equipment, rusting wire, tin etc etc. And with access on gravel roads that turn to heavy sticky mud the moment it rains (and it has rained a lot out here lately). But very obviously it suits some people down to the ground and it certainly makes for some interesting photographic opportunities and of course, the chance to "noodle" oneself ... that is to scratch around in the mullock heaps (provided they are not marked by the four posts that demarcate someone's claim) in the hope of finding an opal that was missed on the first going through by the original miners. Sadly all I came away with was a bag of some valueless rocks and stones of interesting colours. Of course it is probably necessary to persist at such "noodling" for more than 5 minutes to have any chance of finding that big one. I did however manage to find the most expensive cabinet of opals for sale in the showroom of the local post office
which also doubles as an opal and souvenir shop and museum ... without hesitation I found that my number one and two choices were available for a mere $19,000 and $43,000 respectively. Oh well .....
And so tomorrow we will head back to the highway (travel south again for approximately 100 kms) and then head north in the direction of Coober Pedy. It will take us a least two days to get there ... we are not in a hurry.
This blog comes with a strange mixture of photographs for your enjoyment. The panorama is of Andamooka - taken from one of the high spots in town in early morning light. Colours are true ... I have done nothing to change the reality this photograph records. The other photos speak for themselves. I continue to be fascinated by Black and White as a photographic medium and there are a couple of B&W shots here ... but the really interesting ones I am saving for another time.
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