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September 24th 2013
Published: September 24th 2013
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Its all about the journey

This entry is dedicated to Eugene, my colleague in the UK, who keeps telling folk that Marg and I have gone walkabout. This little trip has definitely taken on that feeling of being ‘unstructured’. Perhaps it is the first sign of losing one’s marbles…

As an example, we were telling folks for weeks that we would be heading East and up the coast before heading across southern NSW. So the first change was to head towards western Victoria, a change bought on with the realisation that school holidays were due to start at the end of the week, and there was a good chance that the East coast locations would be busy with school age holiday makers. School age holiday makers and grey nomads are a bit like oil and water… That decision made, we decided to head to a favourite from the days when our girls were just that – young girls, and the first stop was a spot at the Rocklands reservoir. As it turned out we were trying for a new location on the East side of the reservoir that had the tick of approval in our travelling bible, the ‘Camps’ book. OK, we did agree (and that is always a bad sign) to make a turn off the highway where we thought we should go.

Lost is maybe a bit harsh, but we could not find the designated location, and with the day drawing rapidly to an end in inclement weather, we opted to head for our old spot at a location called Glendinning on the south west corner of the reservoir. The Rocklands is a large waterway on the western side of the Grampians and is in fact part of the Glenelg River system (which ends up flowing through Adelaide) and provides water for irrigation in the western district. It is a lovely unspoilt area, and we have not visited there for at least 25 years; mainly because it has been severely depleted water-wise, dropping to just 7% capacity at the height of the drought. Water levels are now back around 75%, although it is quite weird travelling around the edge with “High Water Level” signs 10’s of meters from the shoreline!

The weather was not good with high winds and almost constant rain squalls, but we did stay for 3 nights – because there was high winds and almost constant rain squalls. It did give us the opportunity to find the spot we were originally planning to go to, and we were very happy that we did not find it on the first attempt. The Rocklands is definitely a favourite of ours, but eventually it was time to move on.

This trip is definitely about exploring places we have not been to before and the next stop was a short distance North; who could not want to spend a night at Lake Ratzcastle? The journey took us through the little town of Harrow where they have tried very hard to preserve the old buildings and heritage of the town. It was worth a stop, but Lake Ratzcastle beckoned. It was not hard to find and the 2 kms of dirt road in to the site was in quite good condition. The weather was improving and we were very impressed with the place. It is obviously a sanctuary escape where the folk of Garoke the hectic life (that was sarcasm), as there was a pavilion erected by the Garoke Anglers Club and a local service club,
Ring Neck Parrot - Mallee genusRing Neck Parrot - Mallee genusRing Neck Parrot - Mallee genus

These guys were very difficult to capture - sorry about the mass of tree! Better when in flight, but I'm not up to that yet!
and a big toilet block with SOLAR HOT WATER showers… never have we seen anything like that! Definitely a place to which we could return. After 4 nights and 5 days being self sufficient, we were running short of water and fuel, so we headed off again the next day. After replenishing pantry, water and fuel at Horsham we headed for one of the camps on the edge of Lake Albacutya

Lies, lies and Government departments. There is no water in Lake Albacutya, and we read that the last time it had water was 1975. Give me a break, rename the place! We have a suggestion based on the 16 million flies that tried to get into every orifice available. We were quite surprised to find a large number of families already camped there, not to mention 2 (TWO) of the old style Clipper coaches. The Clipper coach people were somehow associated with a group of VW Kombi owners (although when you look at a Clipper from the front, there is a lot of similarity). The families turned out to be a 4 x 4 club and they headed out in the morning. Flies and Marg are
Free entertainment as wellFree entertainment as wellFree entertainment as well

Balranald Caravan Park on the Murrumbidgee river
not a good mix so we already had plans to leave. We headed further North, still within Victoria. Not sure what happened to the Kombi folk, but they didn’t seem to mind the flies…

Things did not get a lot better with our next choice at the Hattah – Kulkyne National Park. No water at the first spot we looked at and water only visible through the trees at the second location. This as the name states is controlled by the National Parks and there is a charge for camping here - $20 p.n .That includes having 12 million flies to greet you. There are good walking trails and opportunities for biking (pedal or trail) here, but none of their attractions could get us past our 12 million new friends… So far we had been out for 5 nights and had not been attached to mains power or reticulated water, so we thought it was time to touch base with humanity again.

We were heading for a ‘free’ camp that is attached to a pub at a place called Maude (and as such attracts a small fee), but we buckled when we were heading towards Balranald (NSW). As it turned out the local caravan park is an absolute gem. It is run by a young couple and is a neat as a pin. The facilities are very clean and all the sites are in lush grass (ok, it is the end of winter, but it is a very refreshing change). It is located on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River and is just superb. That has probably put an end to a best kept secret, but it is worth reporting. Located on a bend of the River and the Sturt Highway, there is a small issue with the Adelaide – Sydney transports going past the door, but that is only an issue for about 3 hours between 6 and 9 pm. We have been here for 2 days and will be off tomorrow.

Until next time.


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