2014.1 Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges, South Australia Trip - Days 1 to 16

Tuesday, Mar 04, 2014 at 18:20

Member - Ossiejs (Qld)

Travel Blog 2014.1
3 to 18 March 2014

Day 1 (Mon 3 March 2014)
Travel: Brisbane to "Mehi River" Rest Area, NSW
Distance: 568km.
Route: Brisbane to Toowoomba via Warrego Highway
Toowoomba to Goondiwindi via Gore Highway
Goondiwindi to Moree, NSW via Newell Highway
Moree to "Mehi River" Rest Area via Gwydir Highway
Campsite: "Mehi River" Rest Area.
GPS: -29.45302 149.00534
Cost of Camp Site: Free.
This basic, level, sealed rest area beside the Gwydir Highway is free, and has limited shade. It is on the westbound side of the highway, 89km W of Moree and 51km E of Collarenebri.
Facilities: Covered picnic tables ; No barbecues : Drop (smelly) toilet; NO water to tap – wheelchair accessible : Rubbish bins provided : Suitable for all sized caravans - Vans camping off the sealed area note this is black soil country; if it rains, you may be there a little longer that planned! No River views : Can be a tad noisy with Road Train and heavy vehicle traffic noise.
Being a designated Rest Stop, you are likely to have truckies pull in for their regulated break. The night I was there, I had a refrigerated double for noisy company from late afternoon until early morning: but, it's his job.
Activities: Driving, 1 hr delay on Warrego Highway due to fatal road accident near "Rusty's Garage", just East of Plainlands. Daihatsu between two fuel tankers. Great start to Monday. Visited Aunt in Toowoomba, then on the road to NSW.

Day 2 (Tue 4 March 2014)
Travel: "Mehi River" Rest Area, NSW to Nyngan, NSW
Distance: 425km
Tom Tom directed Route: "Mehi River" Rest Area to Walgett via Gwydir Highway
Walgett to via Collarenebri via Carinda-Walgett Rd
Collarenebri to Carinda via Macquarie Valley Way (and spectacular Macquarie Marshes)
Carinda to Nyngan, via Macquarie Valley Way, Buckinguy Rd and Colane Rd.
One lane poorly maintained road with occasional collapsed shoulders, heavy vehicle damaged road base and pot holes. Frequent stock on the road (sheep, cattle and 'free range' emus). Drive accordingly.
Campsite: Nyngan Riverside Tourist Park, Bogan River, Nyngan

Cost of Camp Site: $30 for powered site for 1 person.
Location: Just West of Nyngan along the Barrier Highway.
Facilities: Very comfortable and spacious Caravan Park on the grassed areas of the Bogan River just West of Nyngan - well marked once outside Nyngan.
Activities: Driving, slowish trip for reasons explained. I would do the trip again, to have a closer look at the marshlands, particularly the abundance of wild flowers and fauna. I was unable to safely pull over the Camper, or I'd still be there until a dozer came along to extract me from the primeval bogs. Need a passenger, dear!

Day 3 (Wed 5 March 2014)
Nyngan, NSW.
Campsite: Nyngan Riverside Tourist Park, Bogan River, Nyngan
Activities: A bit of local exploring was in order in this pretty town in the Bogan Shire while I wait for the arrival of my old mate Ron - a close friend for almost four decades. We have been planning for some time a visit to South Australia with the intention of exploring Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges, as well as some of the famous and historical sites from South Australia's settlement.
$3:00 entry to the Museum near the railway overpass. The Museum, accommodated in the old Railway Station office, was interesting, but nothing significantly different from those in many outback country towns. However, the photographs of the 1990 floods, when the Bogan River broke its banks for the first time in recorded history, received pride of place. That the townspeople were evacuated by chopper to high ground was notable, albeit nothing extraordinary for someone born in flood-prone Charleville, and raised at places along the North-Eastern seaboard which have experienced flooding from the occasional cyclone. A least, I was told, while Nyngan's flooding caused major damage, there were no fatalities.
With Ron's arrival mid-afternoon, I would have company for the rest of the trip. After chin-wagging as you do, we set up Ron’s camp for the night. Fired up the free electric BBQ in the camp kitchen for a feed.

Day 4 (Thur 6 March 2014)
Travel: Nyngan to Broken Hill, NSW
Distance: 588km
Route: Barrier Highway via Cobar, Wilcannia
Campsite: Broken Hill Tourist Park, Rakow Street, Broken Hill
Cost of Campsite: Top Tourist Discount - $99.90 for 1 powered and 1 unpowered site for 3 nights.
Location: Western side of Broken Hill.
Facilities: Good, clean facilities a reasonable way from office at rear of Caravan Park.
Activities: On the drive to Broken Hill, we stopped at the somewhat infamous town of Wilcannia to obtain photographs of the heritage-listed Centre Lift Bridge over the Darling River.
One had to use their imagination to envisage the River taking navigable river boats with heavily laden barges working up and down the Darling.
Wilcannia has somewhat of a “bad lands” reputation from research before the trip. talking to several people we spoke to en route. Driving through, and carefully parking and securing our vehicles, we did a careful and quick look at the Darling River, and the old Bridge. One look into the shallow River from the Bridge clearly illustrates its use as a dump.

Day 5 (Fri 7 March 2014)
Broken Hill Tourist Park
Activities: Today, we set out for the historic town ofSilverton. Some 25km north west of Broken Hill.Silverton was a mining town settled in the 1880s before the ore riches of Broken Hill were discovered. We explored real pioneering history here, and absorbed the ambiance of the numerous films and TV commercials shot there since the mid-1970s. They include Mad Max II, A Town Like Alice, Adventures of Pricilla, Queen of The Desert, and Mission Impossible II : http://www.filmbrokenhill.com/.
History beckoned us. Especially as copper was discovered in 1845, and mined at Silverton, before valuable ores were discovered at Broken Hill.
Many ruins of bygone days of the rich history lay around; some beautifully restored and preserved stone buildings, including the secured St Carthage Catholic Church built in 1886. Only stone ruins remain of St Stephens Church of England also built in 1886.
The Cafe, Mad Max II "Halls of Justice" Museum, with pretend "tough" looking look-alike vehicles, were closed.
So, it as off the Silverton Gaol, built in 1889. The Gaol, built in 1889, now a beautifully presented Museum, is well worth spending some time exploring. It has to be one of the best Outback Museums I’ve seen in my travels. If you hold a Senior’s Card, show it on entry to get the Senior Card Holder’s Discount! Photograph above says it all!!
We ventured up to Mundi Mundi Lookout, where one can see the extensive Mundi Mundi Plains. It is said that on a clear day, the curvature of the Earth can be seen. Hey, my long distance vision is not that powerful any more, and I don’t have a wide aperture lens to do the scene justice. Impressive, but somewhat similar to vistas from several jump-ups and lookouts in Central and Western Queensland. Down to the Umberumberka Reservoir at the end of the bitumen for a quick gander, and then back to Broken Hill for an afternoon drive and walk around the town/city.
A tour of some of the historical mining relics was indicative of the hard work of pioneering underground miners, and the imported mining equipment which facilitated mining, much to the glee and wealth of English and Scottish owners. By today's standards, working conditions seem manifestly unsafe and deplorable, and living conditions, when large families were the norm, cramped and basic. This was reinforced later on during our trip.
My appreciation for the ingenuity and technological advancement introduced after this country was settled is continually reinforced.

Day 6 (Sat 8 March 2014)
Broken Hill, NSW
Activities: Today, an easy day, as we continued our exploration of Broken Hill, to feel the ambience and culture of this famous historical mining town.

Day 7 (Sun 9 March 2014)
Travel: Broken Hill, NSW to Wilpena Pound, South Australia.
** NOTE - generally, unprocessed fruit and vegetables are prohibited from being taken into SA. Dump or eat such material before entering the Quarantine Inspection checkpoint. Have your ESKY ready for visual inspection by a SA Biosecurity Officer.**
Distance: 483km.
Route: Barrier Highway via Yunta to Peterborough, then Wilmington Ucolyta Rd; Hawker Orroroo Rd to Hawker; turn East at Hawker to Wilpena Pound. $10:00 entry per vehicle to Flinders Ranges National Park. A bit rich, but I expect it's to cover the restoration work and maintenance of Park facilities - I hope. Doesn't happen in Queensland (yet)!
The changing vista as we approached Wilpena Pound was incredible, as the Flinders Ranges seemingly emerge from the horizon. Nature at its best. I found myself envisaging the hopes and plans of our early explorers and pastoralists as we drove closer.
Campsite: Wilpena Pound Resort campground
Cost of Unpowered Campsite: $12:00 per person per night. ** Resort actually charged us double, and then resisted refunding overcharged amount. Eventually found an accommodating staff member.**
Location: Wilpena Pound Resort inside Flinders Ranges National Park.
Facilities: Excellent campground with dedicated shady campsites. Can camp close to excellent camp kitchen and amenities’ block . A sign in camp kitchen advises campers that if kitchen is not in use by coaches, one is free to use a small number of 240V 10A power outlets available. Very helpful feature which would encourage campers to stay an extra day or two.
Activities: Setting up camp, enjoying the peaceful environment while watching the fairly tame fauna, and chatting while dinner was cooking with friendly International Students undertaking a variety of Post-graduate studies at Adelaide University.
Comment: Sometime, someplace about Yunta, it seems my trusty iPad had a coronary as that is where EOTrackMe stopped recording the trip. At Wilpena, I discovered the battery was flat, neither keeping a charge; nor being able to be charged. I had the old iPhone which I enabled to make calls, and send emails. More concerning for me was that EOTracker had not recorded and did not record travels for some days. I put the apparently dead bit of technology aside, and continued onwards. It was not until I was in Peterborough some day’s later when I put Murphy’s Law to the test; the iPad was gradually coaxed back to life. (Subsequent Apple diagnostics didn’t find fault, and it now appears to functioning normally).
Parts of the trek not picked up included Yunta to Wilpena Pound, to Peterborough, to Burra and return to Peterborough. It was on return to Peterborough, after the iPad was stating to accept and hold a charge, that EOTracker found me again.
I was starting to miss the old iPad, principally as a mean to easily send recent photographs to my family. I once vowed to not become too dependent on technology, but I was willing to try techno-withdrawal to cope!

Day 8 (Mon 10 March 2014)
Wilpena Pound Resort campground
Activities: Well today was it. We were determined to have a go at a short! 7km walk via the restored Hill’s Homestead to Wangara Lookout. The landscape in the Pound is absolutely astounding, as became obvious how it came to be called a Pound. Climbing the volcano-like walls from inside the Pound seems relatively easy, but once at the top, mountain goat agility and/or abseiling gear would be necessary to “escape” down the outside to freedom. See the plethora of images on Google to put the ancient geological structure in perspective. And we could not afford the half hour flight to view the structure from the air.
The brisk walk (Low Road) took us to beautifully restored Hill’s Homestead, where an informative panorama attributed to a Jessie Hill, the youngest of 9 children, is cause for reflection of living and working in the late 19th Century. There is tanked rain water at the rear if the house (used for cooling on the return trip) and toilets a little further away.

Knowledge boosted, and seeing some justification for the Park entry fee, we made our way forward, heading slightly uphill all the way, initially.As we climbed closer to the sun, or so it seemed, vegetation gradually changed from forest shade to clumps of shrubs and bushes offering no shade; the temperature rose to the low 40’s; and gradually steepened.
No, I didn't get right to the top of the Lookout, but, the geological features en route were stunning. Oh for a wide angle lens!
My mind thought back to just how tough were the pioneering men, women and children of yesteryear to tame and work this harsh land.
Ron arrived back from the Lookout, and after making our way back to the Homestead, rehydrated, and enjoyed the reasonably brisk (mainly downhill (High Road) 3km walk to our camp.
Time to smell the flowers, and feed a curious Magpie chick with his/her parents keeping a watchful eye on junior.We enjoyed a thoroughly refreshing cold shower, evening meal, and bed.

Day 9 (Tue 11 March 2014)
Travel: Wilpena Pound, to Peterborough, South Australia.
Distance: 199km
Route: Return trip via Hawker to Peterborough. Along the road, take a moments to admire masonry work of St Cecilia's (Catholic) Church which is a similar structure to the Church at Silverton.
Campsite: Peterborough Caravan Park
Cost of Powered Campsite: $25:00 for a camper trailer.
Location: Grove Street, Peterborough.
Facilities: Very nice, clean and comfortable Caravan Park. With campground with dedicated shady campsites, and offering all facilities, including good camp kitchen, and bird aviary to admire budgies and peachfaces.
The town has a particularly good café in the Capitol Theatre. We recommend it to travellers, and it stocks good old sarsaparilla - the unofficial state soft drink.

Day 10 (Wed 12 March 2014)
Peterborough Caravan Park
Having heard so much of the old Cornish mining town of Burra, we drove down to view some more historical sites, artefacts and Ron's memories with a young family.
One the way down, we were amazed to see hills on the horizon adorned with numerous wind turbines as far as the eye could see. I'd hazard a guess that there would have been hundreds spaced over many kilometres - that we could see. Being somewhat into renewable energy (solar), when we passed through the small town of Hallett, the 44m turbine blade and information panels are informative, and well worth inspecting - AGL's Hallett Hill Wind Farm.
Amazing stuff, and to think wind turbines provide 20% of South Australia's power! Not cheap, but using renewable energy. Just think what open-minded and forward thinking governments could achieve by embracing such technology. Augmented by solar, also think of what that would do to coal, oil and gas mining income and royalties to governments, and carbon emissions! I suspect there's too much money involved for many to cease exploitation of non-renewable resources - mores the pity.
Anyhow, down to the pretty little town of Burra. Having purchased a Burra Heritage Passport (required for entry to several locked Heritage sites and Museums) from the Burra Visitors Centre, we headed for the the Mine. Originally an underground copper mine, Cornish workers were brought over as they fitted the physical height and strength requirements to work underground.
A mainly self-guided tour again reinforced, in my mind, the ingenuity and technology brought over to enhance lining the pockets of owners from the "old country". The captioned photographs speak for themselves.
Next to Redruth Gaol, Burra, famous as the setting for the Australian Movie "Breaker Morant" in 1979. We know the Boer War story, based on fact, of the typical way Aussies had been treated by the "Motherland" for generations.
Then, on to the Heritage listed Tiver's Row Cottages. Unable to gain entry (occupied?), the stonework and construction are historically impressive.
By contrast, a visit to the Miner's Dugouts is a wake-up call to those of us used to relatively clean and comfortable living conditions.
We have one other thing to be really grateful for - the Cornish Pastry. Buy one (or more) in Burra, and you'll be convinced. Except for their size, I could have eaten two! Twice the filling and ten times the taste of those made and sold by modern bakers.

Day 11 (Thur 13 March 2014)
Travel: Peterborough, South Australia to Mildura, Victoria
Route: South to join Barrier Highway to Burra, then SE to Morgan until joining with the Sturt Highway to Renmark, South Australia, and Mildura, Victoria.
Distance: 433km
Campsite: King’s Billabong, Mildura.
GPS: 142.2299 -34.1962
Cost: Free
Facilities: Solitary Rubbish bin only Small gravel campsite overlooking the Billabong.Campsite could handle a dozen or so self-contained vans.Young lad spent lot of time fishing, and caught two good sized fish. Unfortunately, they were Carp; and thankfully, not returned to water. However, they were left in a stump, and I hope buried before their bus left. Otherwise, campers during the following week or so would experience the wonderful aroma of stinking fish!
Location: Close to Psyche Bend Pump Station. Periodically operates, but not at night.
Comment: See: http://www.murrayriver.com.au/the-chaffey-trail/psyche-bend-pump-station/
Psyche Bend Pump Station was built in 1891 by the Chaffey brothers to meet the needs of the irrigation settlement. Five years earlier, George Chaffey had selected Mildura as the site for an irrigation development because of its large tracts of Crown land, climate, soil types and proximity to two major rivers, the Murray and Darling.
The need to raise water from the Murray to land approximately 28 metres above river level challenged George Chaffey to design his 'billabong system', which elevated water in four lifts by pumping water from the Murray River into Kings Billabong and then lifting water via a number of pumps. The system supplied an area of approximately 20,000 hectares and was the first stage of a grand scheme to irrigate over 100,000 hectares around Mildura. Unfortunately, we did not become aware of the important historical significance of this site until our return home.

Day 12 (Fri 14 March 2014)
Travel: Mildura, Victoria to Hay, NSW
Distance: 294km
Campsite: Sandy Point Campground, Hay
Cost: Free
Facilities: Hay Council is truly an RV friendly town. The Council has provided a large free camping area on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. There are two large covered camp kitchen areas, with four free electric BBQs, and a number of covered picnic tables overlooking the River. Separate M/F flushing toilet, sink and wash basin outside toilets, and non-potable water on tap outside the small amenities block adds a nice touch. Plenty of open space, with a few large gum trees for late afternoon shade. The gums are not stressed being close to the River, however, given their sometimes fatal reputation, campers should not set up camp beneath them.
During working hours, the helpful Information Centre in Town provides the usual high standard of toilet, and hot/cold showers. Showers require a $2:00 coin donation. A “tap” is also available from the Information Centre, for free potable water.
There is a boat ramp located in the camp area, which is frequently used by locals for skiing and related sports. This is a popular spot for locals, especially of weekends. There were a couple of P Platers who liked to stir up dust around the camp area, but statistics prove they generally have a short tenure. Those who survive, grow up one day.
To sum up, if one doesn’t mind driving the seemingly endless Hay Plains, Hay is a must visit and stay for a few days. There is so much history here to absorb.
Hay gets my vote for one of the best Council-provided camping areas I have been to.
Activities:Hay has a lot to offer those interested in Australia’s pioneering history, World War 11 history, and more recently, the abysmal criminal abuse of young girls at the hands of NSW Children’s Services, and some of its staff.

Day 13 (Sat 15 March 2014)
Sandy Point Campground, Hay
Activities: A must see is the interactive Dunera Museum at the old Hay railway Station. It irks me that this is another example of how the "motherland" rode roughshod over Australia, this time during WWII. While there, we met a gentleman whose father, an Italian Immigrant, was taken away by authorities from Innisfail, northern Queensland to Hay Gaol for internment as an "enemy alien". Mum, not speaking English, was left to raise a young family by herself. The local community, typically, the family and others in a similar position, until they were released as "friendly enemy aliens"!

Day 14 (Sun 16 March 2014)
Travel: Hay, NSW to Dubbo, NSW
Distance: 500km
Route: Mid Western Highway to West Wyalong; Newell Highway to Forbes, Parkes and Dubbo, NSW
Campsite: Roadside Rest Area 14km South of Dubbo
Cost: Free
Facilities: largish tarred area; a couple of areas suitable for tents. Used by school bus route to transport students. Two rubbish bins, nothing else. Disgusting to see some people too lazy to use rubbish bins as old and fresh rubbish strewn around Rest Area. Dubbo!
Activities:Parkes Radio Telescope Dish - a must see if only for its role some 50 years ago when the Americans (apparently) put the first human on the Moon.
Not impressed with the big Caravan Park on the way into Dubbo from the South, so we chose to stay at the Rest area we passed on the way North.

Day 15 (Mon 17 March 2014)
Travel: Dubbo, NSW to Goondiwindi, Qld
Route: Dubbo to Goondiwindi via Newell Highway
Distance: 517km
Campsite: Goondiwindi Tourist Park
Cost: $30 for powered or unpowered site (less Top Tourist Discount)

Day 16 (Tue 18 March 2014)
Travel: Goondiwindi, Qld to Home
Route: Goondiwindi to Toowoomba via Gore Highway; Toowoomba to Brisbane via Warrego Highway.
Distance: 348km
To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root -- Chinese Proverb
John & Marie
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