What are our most useful items?

We often get asked ‘what are the most useful items you’ve bought or use in your motorhome’ so I thought I’d compile a list. This is by no means an extensive list, just the things that we’ve found to be the most useful. Your list may look completely different to ours and that’s OK. Being different is what makes this world such an interesting one.

1. Muk Mats

I’m a huge fan of Muk Mats. We own four of them. We first purchased an Extra Large Muk Mat to use on the ground at our doorway. They are brilliant at collecting sand, leaves, grass, burrs and sticks from your shoes BEFORE it comes inside. We loved this mat so much we purchased two small ones to use as car mats in the cab of our motorhome. Recently Muk Mat announced they now make Step Mats so we purchased one of those too to replace our old ratty step mat. Love it! If you haven’t got a Muk Mat you can buy one from their online store.

2. A second water tank

Our motorhome came with only one 90L water tank and a 90L grey water tank. We found this would only last us for about 3-4 days so we had another 90L water tank installed underneath. This has now meant we can free camp for up to a week without running out of water.

3. 1000W inverter

Our Avida came with a small 150W inverter that was really only useful for charging our phones and iPad. When we had the washing machine installed we needed a bigger inverter and I went with an Enerdrive 1000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter. It runs our washing machine, my Bamix, our small slow cooker and charges our Makita batteries and Richard’s MacBook. I purchased our new inverter online from mygenerator.com.au.

4. Sphere 3.3kg Automatic Top Loader Washing Machine

I know, I know. It’s a family joke how much I love to do the washing. I get it from my mother! I’m a very happy Vegemite now we have our beaut little washing machine. I bought it from Campsmart.net.au online and our son-in-law and our RV Repairman installed it. It only weighs 18kg and uses about 20L of water on a full load. I only use wool wash so I set it to wash only, then spin only as you don’t need to rinse.

5. Versaline Traveler RV Clothesline

I can’t talk about washing without mentioning our clothesline. I purchased a Versaline Traveller RV Clothesline online and my son-in-law installed the wall brackets on the side of our motorhome. He glued and screwed them on and they have never moved. The Traveller Clothesline comes in its own storage bag and to put it up you take it out of the bag, unroll it, hook the ends onto the wall brackets, then put the spreader bars on to tension the line. Simple. Ours is long enough to hold sheets. I can hang about three loads of washing on it to dry. Packing it away is simple too. Sadly Versaline’s website does not appear to be working so I hope they are still in business.

6. Solarscreens

These were one of the first purchases we made after buying our motorhome. The Avida came with a curtain that clipped onto the front windscreen to offer privacy however we found that fiddly. I purchased the Solarscreen’s online. They make them to fit your vehicle and we have used them every day we’ve traveled in the motorhome. They are so quick to put up and take down. They roll up and live in their own bag and we throw the bag up in our Luton as we travel. They keep the heat and cold out and provide privacy. We recommend Solarscreens.

7. Safety Dave TPMS

We love our Safety Dave Tyre Pressure Management System. It has saved at least three tyres since we purchased it this year. To order one you call up Safety Dave and they will ask for details about your rig, how many tyres etc and then send you the appropriate monitor and number of sensors. The sensors replace the valve cover on each tyre and the monitor sits on your dash. The sensors send data wirelessly to the monitor and you can keep an eye on each tyre pressure and temperature. The monitor charges via a USB. If a tyre suddenly loses pressure the monitor lets you know immediately by making a loud beeping noise. You can pull up before the tyre blows out and causes damage. Brilliant device.

8. Adventure Kings folding fire pit

I bought the Adventure Kings Folding Fire Pit a few years ago for Richard’s birthday. I have to say he wasn’t very impressed when he opened it and set it up. He thought it was way too small for a good fire pit however he has since changed his mind and now loves our little fire pit. We use it a lot, especially when free camping and really enjoy sitting around a little fire at night.

9. Biji-Barbie
We’ve had our Biji-Barbie for a long time, long before we bought our motorhome. It has gone on many many camping trips. We love the Biji as it folds up flat and is so easy to store. It fits on top of our Adventure Kings Folding Fire Pit and also can be used on a fire on the ground. It has three folding legs and a long folding handle. When cooking over an open fire you can simply pick it up and move it away from the fire to turn your cooking over and you don’t get a face full of smoke. Biji’s come in 3 different sizes and our is the large 430mm/17″. We pack ours into a bag for storage.

10. Space Saver Saucepans

I purchased these stacking saucepans from Caravans Plus online store. They are Teflon lined and stack neatly inside each other. The handle is removable. We also purchased the frypan and lid with detachable handle. These have seen constant use since we bought our motorhome in 2016 and I am still very happy with the product. As they are square they fit well on the cooktop and it is easier to pack things around them in the drawer.

11. Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak

I love paddling so where to put kayak on motorhome was the challenge. I found the Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak on Amazon.com.au and it is a fabulous little kayak. It came with its own hand pump and only takes about 10 minutes to be all pumped up and ready for use. Packing it away takes a bit longer to get all the air out and wipe out any water. My kayak has been used on the Murray River, the Coorong, Lara, Wetlands, Lawn Hill Creek in Boodjamilla NP, Lake Pamamaroo, Lake Cargelligo, and our own dam at home. It does ‘waggle’ a little but having a skeg helps reduce that. It is not a ‘performance’ kayak however it is enough for me to get out on the water and enjoy a paddle.

12. Netgear Nighthawk WiFi Router

This has been a fabulous addition to our gadgets. I purchased an unlocked Nighthawk from devicedeal.com.au online and, at first we had an Aldi SIM, we now have a Boost SIM. Being on Boost we have access to the whole Telstra network and this gives us great coverage. For those occasions when we don’t have Telstra our iPhones on the Optus network provide us with a WiFi hotspot. As Richard is an avid trader of international portfolios he has found the Nighthawk to be an amazing gadget. It enables him to check his portfolios in the some very remote places.

13. Sandlewood sticks

This seems like an odd thing to include in this list but I love these little sticks. I buy them from Bunnings (usually in the BBQ section) and one or two of these will keep all the bugs away when we are sitting outside enjoying a fire and the night sky. A pack of 10 is about $5.

14. Makita Tools

I love my Makita Vaccuum. It is so quick to use to give the floor a daily clean. I hardly use the broom any more. Richard loves the power of the Makita Torch and he gets a lot of use out of the Blower keeping the fire going and blowing the leaves and sticks off our awning mat. We also carry a Makita Drill and mini Air Compressor so that we only have to carry one type of battery and battery charger. We have purchased all our Makita tools from Bunnings.

15. Air Compressor

After much research on forums and talking to other RV travellers we purchased an OUTBAC Portable Air Compressor 220PSI 12V 200L Tyre Deflator – Platinum Series from Edisons.com.au. This device enables us to quickly pump our tyres back to tar road pressure after deflating them to travel on gravel roads. It has leads to attach it to your battery. Our tar road tyre pressure is 70psi and before we hit the gravel we deflate to 50psi. It’s amazing the difference that makes to the shaking.

16. A second toilet cassette

To enable us to free camp for longer we purchased a second cassette for our toilet. We have room for the second one under our bed and we keep it there in the box it came in until it is needed. When the first cassette is full we take it out and store it under the motorhome (who’d steal a full cassette??) until we are ready to move and then it goes in a garbage bang and we just sit it on the floor until we get to the dump point. It gets a thorough wash and sterilise then goes back in the box under the bed. We purchased our second cassette from mygenerator.com.au.

17. Our folding aluminium outdoor table

Even thought here is a fold down table on the side of our motorhome we find that we tend to use that to hold our drinks and nibbles whilst we use the folding aluminium outdoor table to dine at. We were given the folding aluminium outdoor table as a gift so I don’t know where it was purchased but I found one at Catch.com.au that is similar. We use this table all the time.

18. Outdoor Connection Directors chairs

We have had many folding chairs over the years and we currently have the Outdoor Connection XL Director Chair. We both find these very comfortable and you can sit more upright in it to eat at the outdoor table. It is not the lightest of folding chairs but comes with it’s own carry bag and built-in side table and two of them fit in one of our outside bins.

19. Folding Beach Cart

The Folding Beach Cart is a useful addition to our camping fear. It is quite large and can carry quite a load. It has large wheels that can move across sand (useful in the desert or at the beach) and it makes carting your gear to camp or the beach a lot easier. It folds up neatly and stores in the outside bin with our chairs and table.


And now we are four!

Our friends Jenny and Andy left this morning. They will be meandering towards their home over the next five or six days. It was sad to see them go. Silly me forgot to take a photo of our motorhome parked up between the two Zone Caravans. It’s not very often you see Zone’s let alone having one camped on either side.

It was really cold outside with a brisk breeze blowing. As we were saying our goodbyes a racehorse thundered by on the dirt track behind our camp. We are parked at the Racecourse!

As I was typing up my blog a lady with two small fluffy white dogs on leads came by and was checking out my clothesline. I went out to see if she had any questions and she was intrigued by our clothesline and wondered if she could fit one on her fifth wheeler. I explained that I’d ordered it online from Versaline and I suspect she might get one herself. I think Versaline should be paying me commission for the number of clothesline’s I’ve sold over the years!

Our camp at the Broken Hill Racecourse is a good one. We are on a powered site, on a large grassy area in front of the main grandstand. There is room for a lot of RV’s. Unpowered sites are also available. There is an amenities block and the showers are spotless. I have had a couple of showers there as the water pressure from the tap to our motorhome shower is not great but it is amazing at the shower block.

The four of us set off in Robert’s car to explore the town of Broken Hill further. Unfortunately there are still quite a few attractions that are still closed due to COVID or, if they are open, some things like mini theatres are closed.

Our first stop for the day was to the Broken Hill Geo Centre. This is an excellent little museum with fantastic displays of the all the different minerals found in this area and displays of the history of mining in Broken Hill.

I was awed by a huge 42kg silver nugget on display. There was a huge screen with a satellite map of Broken Hill and it displayed all the streets that are named after a mineral. There’s Tin Street, Argent Street, Sulphide Street, Boron Street, Crystal Street and many more.

The highlight of this little museum has to be the Silver Tree. This incredible work of art was created in 1880 and is an 8.5kg tree made from pure silver. It was designed to be an epergne, or table centrepiece and is also known as ‘The Boundary Rider’. Originally the branches would have supported a cut crystal bowl.

It was made by an Adelaide jeweller for display at the Royal Melbourne Colonial Exhibition in 1880. It was also displayed at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London in 1886.

In 1886 it was purchased by Charles Rasp. Charles was a German immigrant who is credited as being ‘the Boundary Rider’ who discovered what he thought was tin. When Charles died his wife Agnes became the owner of the Silver Tree and it now belongs to the City of Broken Hill.

Charles Rasp and six others formed a syndicate and started the Broken Hill Mining Company. It was tough going at first but as silver, lead and a huge amount of zinc were extracted mining became serious business and the company was floated in 1885 and became BHP. BHP went on to become one of the worlds largest mining companies and producer of steel.

The rich ore body at Broken Hill is known as the Line of Lode and is one of the richest ore bodies in the world. Mining created fabulous wealth for the mine owners and their shareholders.

At the turn of the century 27,000 people lived and worked in Broken Hill and the town had 60 pubs. The lady that worked at the Geo Centre explained that Broken Hill is unlike other mining towns in Australia in that most of the mine workers are not Fly-in Fly-out. The workers live in the city with their families.

The Geo Centre (Albert Kirsten Mining & Minerals Museum) is housed in an old warehouse on the corner of Crystal and Bromide Streets. The building was in danger of falling down however it has been beautifully restored and now houses the museum. Out in the back garden is an original corrugated iron clad miners cottage, Unfortunately we couldn’t go inside however we had a good look around the outside and the collection of old household items.

Our next stop on our exploration was to the Silver City Art Centre & Mint. This amazing place houses the world’s largest painting on canvas. It is 100 metres long and 12 metres high and was painted by local artist Peter Anderson. The painting is truly quite astonishing. You enter the circular room along a covered walkway that leads to a circular area. The painting is all around you. Some 300 tonnes of red dirt, 10 tonne of rocks and local plants were brought in and placed on the floor to simulate the desert. Scattered around the desert are animals such as snakes, lizards, even a rabbit and a large eagle. I spied paddy melons and emu eggs, Sturt Desert Peas, snake skins, Aboriginal tools and grinding stones amongst the rocks and desert plants.

You cannot take in the whole painting at once as it is too big so you have to look at it a section at a time. It is so cleverly done and showcases landmarks within 300km of Broken Hill including the Flinders Ranges, Silverton, the Mundi Mundi Plains, the Living Sculptures, Broken Hill and the Line of Lode, Menindee Lakes and Mungo National Park. There is a storm in the distance with lightening and a dust storm in different area.

The painting took artist Peter ‘Ando’ Anderson over 2 years to paint and has to be seen to be believed.

The Silver City Art Centre & Mint is basically a huge shop with multiple rooms showcasing local art, jewellery, garden art, leatherwork and a collection of yummy goodies from the Broken Hill Chocolate Factory.

In one room you can watch a 45 minute video called ‘The Big Red’. It is a story of how Australia was formed and became the driest continent on earth. We all stopped to watch this and it was very good.

We all made purchases from this amazing place and recommend it to any tourist visiting Broken Hill. I challenge anyone to go in and come out without buying something!

Back in the car we travelled around the Line of Lode over to South Broken Hill to visit a Broken Hill icon. Bell’s Milk Bar has been serving up cordials and milkshakes to Broken Hill locals since 1892. It has been faithfully maintained in all its 1950’s glory for all to enjoy. Walking in the front door is to step back in time to the glory days of the milk bar. For a Gold Coin donation you can visit their little museum to the 1950’s and we all spied objects that our parents once owned something similar to the chairs and sofas, the laminex topped table, little side tables with ash trays, the huge cabinet televisions, the Sunbeam MixMaster, and much more. We all enjoyed a ham, cheese & tomato toastie and one of their delicious traditional milkshakes.

Back at camp we had drinks outside. It was freezing cold with a strong wind blowing. We just put on coats and beanies to keep warm. Catie went to chat to our new neighbours and invited them over to join us. What a lovely couple. Steve and Tracey are from WA but have been living and working in Bega on the NSW South Coast. The work contract finished and they set off in their brand new New Age Manta Ray caravan to travel and explore on their way home to WA. They’ve never caravanned before so had lots of newbie questions. They travel with their two cute little dogs that Robert calls ‘car washers’ as they are small and curly haired. Steve and Tracey sounded like they were having a lot of fun learning this new way of traveling.

It had been another great day exploring and meeting new people. These two things are what makes the RV lifestyle so appealing to us. We love exploring new places and finding out about the history, culture and sometimes oddities of a new place. Meeting new people who are also living the RV lifestyle is always interesting and can sometimes be challenging. I love how you can just ‘click’ with people you’ve only just met and all of a sudden you are friends.

Broken Hill Day 2 – The Living Desert & Silverton

It was Catie’s birthday and we all made her feel special by wishing her a happy day and giving her presents.

For morning tea I brought out a cake that I’d bought the day before. Jenny provided candles and I had sparklers. We all sang a loud ‘happy birthday’ and then shared the delicious cake. It was a happy morning.

After the morning’s frivolity we set off in two cars to drive out of town and visit the Living Desert State Park. The park is located 12km from the city and is a unique 2,400ha reserve established in 1992.

Our first stop in the park was at the top of a hill to view the Sculptures. The incredible sandstone sculptures sit atop a rocky hill. They are the result of a Sculpture Symposium held in Broken Hill in April 1993. 53 tonnes of sandstone was brought to the site from Wilcannia and artists from around the world created the 12 individual pieces. There is a large carpark below the hilltop and the sculptures are accessed by a winding concrete pathway that is wheelchair friendly.

On the way back we passed by the entry to the Starview Campsite. This is a campgound that has 15 unpowered sites, a shelter with gas BBQ’s and picnic tables, toilets, showers and drinking water and you can camp for a maximum of 5 nights.

Next we visited the 180ha John Simons Flora & Fauna Sanctuary. This is bordered by an electrified predator-proof fence. The Sanctuary has kilometres of walking trails and many of the native plants are labeled. We saw Native Apricot trees, a fabulous prickly plant called Dead Finish, Hop Bush, Sturt Desert Pea and any more.

Here’s a fun desert fact. The evaporation in the Living Desert exceeds the rainfall. The evaporation rate in the desert averages over 2,000mm per year while the rainfall averages only 250mm. This is why water is such a precious commodity in Broken Hill.

Our next stop was Silverton but to get there we had to drive back to Broken Hill and then a further 25km out on the Silverton Road.

Silverton was a town long before there was anything at Broken Hill. The discovery of silver and lead in the area in 1875 led to Silverton being proclaimed a town in 1885 and by then had a population of 3,000 people.

The Silverton Municipal Council had its inaugural meeting in January 1887 in the Silverton Municipal Chambers which still exist today.

The Silverton Tramway operated between 1887 and 1969 linking the SA rail line with the newly found Broken Hill fields via Silverton. The tramway transported over 42 million tons of ore, 14 million tons of freight and 2.8 million passengers. A standard gauge rail line was opened in 1970 linking Broken Hill directly with South Australia and the Silverton Tramway became obsolete. There is not much of the Tramway left except for some rail lines, a small rail building and a crossing sign in town. The tramway has been developed into a shared pathway following the line of the old tracks. Walkers and cyclists are encouraged to follow the track and learn about the history, heritage and the landscape of the area.

As Broken Hill’s larger mines became established, Silverton fell into decline and the Council ceased in 1899. Many buildings were torn down so their materials could be reused elsewhere. Today Silverton has a steady population of 60 and the village is managed by the Silverton Village Committee. The town survives mainly on tourism and the film and television industry.

We had lunch at the iconic Silverton Hotel. This incredible hotel has been in many movies and television ads and is instantly recognisable as soon as you see it. Since we were last there in 1997 they have added a large covered beer garden on one side. However builders were working out there being very noisy with their power tools so we ate our lunch on the other side of the pub under an large covered verandah shaded by shade cloth walls. There was an amazing collection of native animals in jars on the end wall including red back spiders, snakes, and other critters. The tables and the long benches along the edge of the verandah were made from huge slabs of River Red Gum. Overhead fans were whirring and it was a lovely spot for lunch and a cold beer.

Sadly many of the galleries and museums in Silverton were closed so we could only view them from the outside. The Mad Max Museum looked like it might be worth a visit and the Old Goal Museum too. Oh well! We’ll have to come back again one day. We did drive around the small town though and I managed to get photos of most of the old buildings.

Here’s a fascinating piece of history for you! Broken Hill is the only site of an enemy attack on Australian soil. Two Turkish patriots raised a flag over their ice-cream cart and opened fire on passengers aboard the Silverton Tramway, which was heading to the annual picnic, during WWI in 1915.

And here’s another one! Huge quantities of our nation’s gold reserves were moved to and stored in Broken Hill during WWII because of fear of a Japanese invasion. The gold was stored in a purpose built strongroom at the Broken Hill Goal.

We drove another 5km west out of Silverton to the Mundi Mundi Lookout where we met a lovely young couple traveling around Australia in their campervan. Pedro and Estephania are from Spain and have been living in Australia for a year and a half alternating traveling with working. They’d just finished a 3 month work stint in Bourke and were now setting off traveling again. They were really enthusasitc to show off their camper that they’d fitted out themselves. Pedro had built all the cupboards and bed and Estephania has done the painting and decorating. They’d done a great job.

The view from the Mundi Mundi Lookout is huge. You can see for miles across the vast Mundi Mundi Plains. We could see willy willy’s in the far distance and we joked that those willy willy’s were in South Australia. Mundi Mundi Station is where the organisers of the Big Red Bash have chosen to stage another of their fabulous 3 day music festivals. Tickets have already gone on sale for that event and I’m sure it will be popular as it is a tar road nearly all the way.

The vast Mundi Mundi Plain

Andy & Jenny headed back to town but Catie, Robert, Richard and I went on further to check out the Umberumberka Reservoir. The reservoir was completed in 1914. It was a surprise when we arrived there to see a large expanse of water behind the dam wall. At the top of the hill with a good view of the lake below was a lovely picnic area with very green grass, picnic tables and free gas BBQ’s. Umberumberka, combined with the Stephen’s Creek Reservoir, provides Broken Hill with water.

On the way back through Silverton we called in to check out Penrose Park. Penrose Park was established in 1937 as a recreation area for miners and their families. Picnic areas with wood and gas BBQ’s, powered and unpowered camping sites with amenities, a large hall for hire with a kitchen, 2 bunkhouses with kitchens and a self contained cottage that sleeps 10. The park also has 6 tennis courts and they were all in good playing order. The caretaker out there obviously looks after the place. It would be a good spot to camp if out that way.

As it was Catie’s birthday we went out for dinner to The Musicians Club. The Broken Hill Musicians Club began in 1919 with four musicians meeting up and having ‘jam sessions’ in an old shed down the Main Street. This grew into the successful club it is today. The club moved to its current home in 1964 and the building was refurbished in 1991/92. In 1996 a complete refurbishment and extensions were commenced and the club spent over $8million completing the project in 1998. The Club has over 5,000 members and has a Bistro which is open for lunch and dinner, three Function and Conference rooms, a 250 seat Auditorium, the Main Bar, TAB and 101 gaming machines.

Jenny and Catie ready for our dinner out. Taken at the Racecourse.

We had dinner in the Bistro accompanied by the Friday night chook raffle over the intercom. About 7pm we all felt and heard a deep rumbling noise. We later found out that at 7am and 7pm the mines do their blasting and that is what we felt and heard. It felt like an earthquake. Locals are so used to it they don’t bat an eyelid.

We were a little disappointed that there was no live music at The Musician’s Club.

After dinner we drove up to the Line of Lode Lookout again to check out the sunset across the city.

Broken Hill at night from the Line of Lode Lookout

Arrived in Broken Hill

We left our lovely camp site at Lake Pamamaroo and headed west towards Broken Hill. It had sprinkled rain during the night and we were amazed to run into rain along the way. It rarely rains out this way so it was a real treat to see rain falling in the desert.

Raining in the desert

As you approach Broken Hill a line of hills appears in the distance. These are the Barrier Ranges. The town of Broken Hill sits amongst these hills.

We arrived in Broken Hill and, after topping up with fuel and pumping our tyres back up to highway pressure we went to find a supermarket to stock up our supplies. We found a large carpark suitable for our motorhome near the Woolworths Supermarket. It was to be Catie’s birthday the next day and I managed to get a decorated birthday cake, a lovely bunch of flowers in a pot and a lovely Kaffir Lime & Mango scented candle as gifts.

After stocking up our supplies at Woolies we headed out to the Racecourse to book in to camp for a couple of nights. Robert and Andy had set up their vans with the rear facing the track barrier fence. The campground is a huge grass area in front of the grandstands with powered sites all along the track barrier fence and unpowered sites opposite. Kevin, the caretaker directed us to the site next to Andy and we started to set up there only to discover the three power points were all in use. We called up Kevin to come back and find us another site. While we waited for him Robert suggested we camp right next to him as the sites are very wide and he could park his car in front of his van instead of beside it.

Kevin agreed we could do that as long as we all agreed so Richard moved the motorhome into place in between the two Zones. There was plenty of room and we had power and water.

After everyone was settled in to their camp we set off in the two cars and drove up the big hill to the Line of Lode Miners Memorial. This memorial sits atop a big hill made from the remains of mining and overlooks the whole town to the north. The Memorial is built from Steel and contains a wall inside with all the names of miners who have died showing their name, date of death and how they died. So many died from falls and blasting. I think the saddest were the one that fell into a crusher and the other that fell into the sawmill. What a terrible way to die!

It was blowing a gale at the top of the hill. It was hard to walk against the wind. Next to the Memorial is a new building that houses a cafe but sadly it was closed. It would have an amazing view of the town and would be a fabulous spot to dine in the evening.

Outside are various mining equipment on display and one of the most bizarre pieces of street art I have ever come across. It’s called the Big Bench and is a street bench built in a large scale. However the whole thing is fenced off so you cannot climb up onto it. How crazy is that? A bench seat you can’t sit on. What are the council thinking? It is the perfect photo opportunity and you can’t use it. C’mon Broken Hill. Stick a Broken Hill sign on it and allow people to take their photo sitting on it. I’m sure most tourists would do it.

We drove back down into the CBD and went to the historic Palace Hotel for a cool drink. The Palace was used in the filming of the movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The Palace is still used for the Annual Broken Heel Festival. A festival that celebrates all that is colourful and eccentric about drag.

The interior walls are covered in murals painted by well known Aboriginal artist Gordon Waye. The murals cover the foyer and all the walls around the central staircase.

The historic hotel stands in pride of place in the middle of the Main Street. It is a three storey building with the pub and restaurant on the ground floor and accomodation on the two floors above. We all went exploring and found the first floor has a lovely wide verandah with great views along the Main Street. The whole building is in a shabby state and I hope someone with more money than sense comes along and restores it to it’s former glory.

The Palace Hotel, Broken Hill

Back at camp we had a social time trying to sit out of the wind while we discussed our day and all the marvellous sights we’d seen and what we would do tomorrow before everyone retired for an early night.

Last day at Lake Pamamaroo

I had really enjoyed this lovely camp. It had been one of the most enjoyable camp sites we have stayed at. We had a great site with enough flat spots for our three RV’s and our nice little private sandy beach in front. The wind pushes the water across the lake and we had that lovely sound of waves breaking on the sand to listen to. That’s one of my favourite noises.

We had lots of shady spots to sit and enjoy the bush but our RV’s were getting enough sun on the solar panels during the day to charge our batteries. I thought I would add this spot to my list of favourite camp sites.

We spent the morning doing chores. I got a load of washing done. We changed the cassette to our spare one so we could take the full one to town later to empty at the dump point.

With Robert, Richard and Andy’s help I crawled underneath the front of the motorhome to screw the sump cover back on. Some of the screws had rattled loose and some had fallen off so the plastic cover was hanging down.

We found another use for our trusty Muk Mat. It made for a great mat to lie on while we worked under the motorhome. A quick shake and all the sand was gone and the Muk Mat was back in its place at our door. I wouldn’t be surprised if next time we meet up with these guys that they too have a Muk Mat.

A discussion over a late morning tea led to a decision to go into town for lunch at the pub. We set off for town, four of us in Robert’s car and Richard and Andy in Andy’s car. Richard and Andy were doing the run to the dump point and would meet us at the pub. Robert took the long way around through town and we discovered the historic railway bridge. We’d have to tell Andy, our train enthusiast, about that. We all met up outside the Maiden Hotel in Menindee and were pleasantly surprised with the hotel. It was badly burnt in a fire in 1999 and parts of it had to be rebuilt. There were quite a few people in the pub with drinkers in the bar sitting at high stools around bar tables and the small dining room was almost full. The publican opened up the second dining room for us which was very nice of him and we all enjoyed our lunches. It was good pub grub.

We left the pub and headed back to the historic railway bridge where we all went for a walk across the bridge. We all found it fascinating that the bridge was built for trains and cars. When a train was coming cars had to wait to cross the bridge which led to some grumpy car drivers when a long freight train pulled in to the station as the trains would be so long they would be across the bridge and thus blocking car access to town. The cars would have to wait for the train to move on before they could cross.

The bridge was also built as a lift bridge so that the central section could swing up using huge counterweights so that paddle steamers could pass underneath.

Our next stop was the Menindee Railway Station with its historic Water Towers. The station is still in use today. The Indian Pacific that crosses our country from Sydney to Perth passes through this tiny town and freight trains regularly pass through.

Back out at camp and as it had become quite hot I went for a short swim to cool off then sat in the shade under a tree to type up this blog. I could hear Richard and Robert in the background talking about crypto currencies and crypto trading. Our kayaks were waiting to be taken out for another paddle later then I would have to pack mine up as we were moving camp the next morning. We planned to head into Broken Hill and camp at the Racecourse where Andy and Jenny had stayed a few nights ago..

Lake Pamamaroo, Menindee NSW

Lake Pamamaroo is a large inland lake and part of the Menindee Lakes Water Storage system. The lakes are a natural series of shallow ephemeral lakes fed by the Darling River that have been developed into water storage. There are four main lakes, Wetherall, Pamamaroo, Menindee and Cawndilla. The Main Weir is located on the Darling River and the water that is damned by the weir forms Lake Wetherall.

When the lakes are full they hold three times the water in Sydney Harbour and today the water is used to supply Broken Hill, irrigation and stock use and to supplement the Murray River system.

Camping at Lake Pamamaroo is all along the shoreline. Camping is free. There are numerous camping spots to choose from. You will need to be self-sufficient. There are toilets available at Burke & Wills Campgound and further around at the Main Weir Campground.

As you are lakeside it is the perfect spot for kayaking and swimming. The lake is very shallow so it would be great for children.

Dogs are allowed and you may use generators. There is a boat ramp down near the Regulator and fires are also allowed.

Sunsets at Lake Pamamaroo are usually a special time of the day.

Another relaxing day at Lake Pamamaroo

What a gorgeous spot we found to camp at Lake Pamamaroo. This camp site ticks all the boxes for me. Shady trees but still enough sun on our solar panels to charge our batteries. There is a rubbish bin that is emptied regularly. We have our own little sandy beach. Perfect for launching our kayaks. There seems to be not as many campers along the lakeside this visit. We have a spectacular view across the lake, I’m a happy camper with a water view.

Before we left home I took some scones out of my freezer and put them in the motorhome freezer. In the morning I took them out to thaw. I put them in our oven wrapped in foil to heat through and we had them for morning tea. Catie provided strawberry jam, lemon butter and whipped cream.

Andy decided to have a cleaning and washing morning so the rest of us piled into Robert’s car and went for a drive to check out the Menindee Regulator. This is where water from Lake Pamamaroo enters Lake Menindee. When we were here last year the channel that connects the two lakes was dry. Not a drop of water. This day it was full and water was still flowing into Lake Menindee.

To get to the regulator you turn off the main Broken Hill/Menindee Road and go up and over a large sand dune. All of a sudden there is Menindee Lake stretched out before you. What an amazing sight it is to see. Water stretching away to the horizon.

Menindee Caravan Park sits on top of the sand dune with views out across the lake. Sadly it is very run down and in need of a good clean up. I’m guessing they haven’t had many guests during the drought.

Our next stop was into Kinchega National Park so we could stop by the Lake Menindee Outlet. This is where water from Lake Menindee is allowed into the Darling River. We were so pleased to see water pouring through into the river. Well actually you can’t really see it pouring in but you can stand on the grate over the outlet and you can hear the sound of the water rushing by under you. The water is piped under the main park road and into a side channel that leads to the river proper. This side channel was full of water and a huge Pelican was serenely gliding about occasionally sticking his beak into the water to catch fish.

We drove along The River Road which is where all the main camping sites are. There are 34 designated camp sites along this very winding dirt road. The River Road winds its way through Red Gum forest. Some of the old Red Gums are huge with many twisting branches. These often fall off and make for animal habitat on the ground below the shady branches above.

Some of the camp sites have pit toilets and most of them have fire pits. All of them are right on the river bank. We stopped at Weir 32 and it was amazing to see how much water was pouring over the weir. Last year there was only a trickle of water going across and all the rocks were exposed. We stood for quite a while watching fish jumping up the rocks against the flow of the water. They leap out of the water and swish their tails to try to get to the next level above. It’s a little mesmerising to watch and you want to cheer them on. It seems such a gutsy thing to achieve.

We continued on past the tree with flood markers, past the remains of the boiler from PS Providence, a paddle steamer that blew up, and on to the last site, no 34. This is where we all camped when there last year. Of course the water level is so much higher now but the banks are still quite high so the river could hold even more water. It really was a good camp site.

Back at camp a joint effort was made to prepare a camp oven roast for our dinner. Robert was in charge of the fire and the camp ovens.

One of Catie’s Dragon Boat friends came over from their camp at Copi Hollow to check out my inflatable Kayak. She is looking for a new kayak that is light enough for her to carry and I’d told her about my inflatable one the other night. She had a good look at mine and I think she will get one for herself. Amazon will have to pay me commission!

While the camp ovens were cooking our roast Catie and I set off for an evening paddle. This time we followed along the shore towards the north. We didn’t see any other campers at all although we could hear music playing somewhere ahead of us so there are campers much further along. We did see Pelicans, Cormorants, a few fish jumping and Catie even spied a tortoise. We also spotted a group of very bright green parrots. They were quite beautiful.

We came across a large tree that had fallen with most of its roost system exposed. However enough of the roots must still be in the ground because the tree has sprouted new branches all along its length and they are growing upwards like new trunks.

Relaxing at Lake Pamamaroo, Menindee

What a lovely relaxing day at our fabulous camp spot lakeside at Lake Pamamaroo, Menindee NSW. We have a fabulous spot with shady trees with still enough sun for our three RV’s solar panels. We are camped right alongside the sandy waters edge. Our own secluded little beach.

Everyone had a slow start and enjoyed a sleep in. I love looking out at the expanse of water and watching the changing light on the water throughout the day. There’s something special about a water view, especially a water view as large as this one. Because the lake is very full it is a very large expanse of water we can see from the shore. The far shore is hazy in the distance. The old River Red Gums on the lake bed died many years ago and their twisting trunks and branches are quite beautiful.

Our own little sandy beach, Lake Pamamaroo, Menindee

After a leisurely group morning tea Catie and I got our kayaks ready and left for a paddle. We headed directly out across the lake and went as far as where the trees stop. All we could see ahead was water with the far shore way in the distance. It does make you feel a little insignificant out there surrounded by this huge expanse of water. The water is a milky brown probably due to all the sediment from the flood waters as they make their way down the river system from Queensland.

The mornings excitement was a native visitor to our camp, a beautiful huge goanna. It wandered into camp, sniffed around our campfire before slowly climbing a tree. What a magnificent creature.

Late in the afternoon we piled into the two 4WD’s and headed off to visit the Lake Pamamaroo/Lake Wetherall Regulator. This is the barrier between the two lakes and enables NSW Water to keep Lake Pamamaroo full of water. We were staggered by the amount of water on the Lake Wetherall side. When we were here last year that side was just a channel that followed the Darling River. Now the water has spread out over the banks, a huge expanse.

We continued on to the Main Weir and again we were staggered by the amount of water flowing over the weir and into the river. Last year this was just a trickle of water. It’s good to see the Darling River with so much water in it.

From the Main Weir we drove into town to visit the little supermarket to pick up some supplies and then we all drove out to the Caravan Park on Lake Menindee. Wow. As you drive out on the very dry gravel road you drive up and over a large sand hill and the vista of a full Lake Menindee appears. It is stunning. This time last year the lake was bone dry and full of scrub and now it is water as far as the eye can see.

That’s Lake Menindee in the background

Sadly the Caravan Park has seen better days and is very run down and in need of a good clean up. It has prime views from its position atop the sand dune. I guess no money has been spent there as drought has been the norm here for so long.

Menindee Lake Caravan Park

Back at camp and we had an early dinner so we could drive over to Copi Hollow Caravan Park where a group of Dragon Boaters from Dubbo were camped. Our cousin Catie is a Dragon Boater and she knew all of these people. They’d invited us over to watch the sunset.

Copi Hollow Caravan Park is home to the Broken Hill Water Ski Club and has a lot of permanent sites that belong to the club members but they also have a few powered and unpowered sites down one end for the traveling public. It is a lovely park with lots of green grass that a mob of local kangaroos obviously find appealing. They were everywhere and so was their droppings. Kangaroo poo was everywhere.

The water looked very inviting and perfect for water skiing. I was thinking all our families would love it here but it’s such a long way to travel.

We enjoyed a lovely social visit with the Dubbo contingent and watched the sun set across the water. We arrived back at our camp and sat around our little fire for a couple of hours before heading off for a well earned rest. It can be tiring being retired!!

We go extreme motorhoming again

After a great nights sleep at MacCullochs Rest Area we set off in convoy towards Wilcannia. I’ve never been to Wilcannia before but what a lovely little town. It had been on the news a lot lately due to a COVID outbreak but the town seemed very quiet as we drove in across the Darling River.

Wilcannia was once the third largest port in NSW after Sydney and Morpeth near Newcastle. In 1887 218 vessels arrived in Wilcannia carrying 36,170 tons of goods and 222 vessels left Wilcannia carrying 26,552 tons. Isn’t that incredible? Fancy being the third largest port and it is so far inland in the middle of the desert!

Because it was such a centre for trade the town has many beautiful historic buildings and I just had to go for a walk around the town to capture these gorgeous buildings with my camera.

The Athenaeum built in 1884. The youngest son of Charles Dickens, Edward Dickens was on the original committee. Edward later went on to represent Wilcannia as town Alderman and state member of Parliament. The Atheneum was a School of Arts with a library and reading rooms and was later the Wilcannia Municipal Offices.
Wilcannia Club Hotel built in 1879 on the site of Wilcannia’s first hotel
Wilcannia Post Office built 1879 and restored in 2010.
The Original Bridge across the Darling River was opened in 1896
Rich & Co Emporium was built on the site of a shepherds hut that was an outstation of Mount Murchison Station. The Emporium became the shipping and transport hub of the district.
Court House built in 1880
The Old Gaol and Courthouse, now the Police Station

Richard and Robert went to the self-service fuel station to fill up while Catie and I went for a wander with cameras at the ready. Robert tried the Police Station to see if he could find out which road would be the best to take. There was nobody there. He did find a number to call to find out about road conditions but when Robert called the lady who answered was really no help at all.

There was a group of people gathering in the park so I wandered down to see if they were locals. They were and when asked about the roads a lady told me that they were much the same, rough gravel roads. I explained that we’d driven from Ivanhoe to Mendindee and she quickly exclaimed that was a worse road than these two. So we decided to take the Western Road and see how it went. This road follows the Darling River and is part of the series of roads known as The Darling River Run.

I have to say I am so please with the build quality of our Avida Esperance. Another 160km of rough gravel road and not a thing fell off, nothing broke and we arrived safely at Menindee 3 1/2 hours later. At times we were down to 30km/h but at others the road was good enough for us to get up to 70km/h. It was an interesting trip too. We saw lots of emus. A few property entrances and a Woolshed. About half way along we passed a Farm Stay at Nelia Gaari Station and we thought that looked like a great spot to try one day.

Richard drove half the way and then we swapped drivers and I drove the rest of the way into Menindee. I find the Iveco very easy to drive although, because I am so short and have to move the drivers seat forward so I can reach the pedals, the seatbelt cuts into my neck. I bought myself a sheepskin seatbelt cover and that has made a huge difference. I can drive for hours now.

We meet so many people on our travels that say to us they’d never take their motorhome off the tar. I think they are really missing out on some fantastic travel experiences by not venturing off the black top. These motorhomes are built on a truck chassis and our thoughts are that if an Iveco truck can go there then we can probably go there. So far our trusty Avida has taken us on many gravel roads and it has never let us down. We are impressed with it. It is a 2013 model so getting on for 8 years old and we are up to 89,000km traveled.

We arrived in Menindee and went directly to the Showgrounds to fill up with water, get a load of washing done and use the Dump Point. We managed to call up Robert on the UHF and he directed us to where they and Andy and Jenny had set up camp lakeside at Lake Pamamaroo.

We had no trouble finding them and quickly got our camp set up. What a gorgeous spot. A lovely sandy beach, shady trees but still enough sun for our solar panels.

Lake Pamamaroo, Menindee

And we’re off again

I love spur of the moment travels. I was having a conversation with Richard’s cousin Catie recently and we talked about how good it would be to see Menindee Lake now that it is full of water. We were at Menindee last in July 2020 and only two of the lakes had any water in them. Menindee Lake, the largest of the system, was bone dry and had been that way for 7 years. Since last year lots of rain has fallen in the catchment and Menindee Lake is full once more. What a sight that must be!

So that short conversation became a plan and here I sit in the Motorhome at MacCullochs Rest Area on the Barrier Highway about 45km from Wilcannia. It is still early morning but the Apostle Birds are up and about tapping on our shiny hub caps (I think they see their reflection) and the big rigs have started going past. Catie & Robert are parked up next to us in their new van probably still asleep. There was a little herd of wild goats grazing only 10 metres from our camp.

This journey began on Friday afternoon when we left home in Griffith NSW and headed west towards Hillston on the Lachlan River. We found a great little camp spot just 36km north of Hillston at Willanthry. Here the Highway crosses a concrete bridge over the Lachlan River. The river was very full and running very fast. All that water will eventually end up at the Mouth of the Murray in South Australia. The Lachlan River runs into the Murrumbidgee River between Maude and Balranald and the Murrumbidgee runs into the Murray near Boundary Bend in Victoria.

The Rest Area at Willanthry is a lovely spot right next to the river. There is a large paved flat area with picnic tables and rubbish bins. We were able to park right next to the river. We were the only campers on our side of the river however there were two others on the opposite bank. Although the Rest Area is right beside the road there was little road noise during the night and we had a peaceful sleep.

There has been a bridge across the Lachlan at Willanthry since the late 1800’s. The first was a timber beam toll bridge that stood where the current concrete bridge now stands. The second bridge was a timber truss bridge built in 1885 and became known as Coopers Bridge. There was a toll of threepence a wheel and threepence a horse to cross Coopers Bridge. A second Coopers Bridge was built in 1921 and it was again a timber truss bridge. The new concrete bridge was built in 1998. You can see the ramparts of the last of the timber bridges just near the Rest Area however all the timber was dismantled. A DVD recording of the demolition of this historically significant bridge is kept at the Library in Hillston.

Willanthry was once a thriving little town first settled in 1854. There was a hotel, a store, post office and a few private dwellings. A school first opened in 1933 and finally closed in 1972. The hotel burnt down before 1900 but the old store stood until it was relocated to the coast in the 1990’s. There might not be any buildings left but it is a lovely spot for a camp beside the river.

We met up with Catie and Robert at Newey Reserve in Cobar. We’d been there before and it is a lovely spot for a lunch break with flat spots to park so you can see the water in the reservoir. Newey Reserve is full of huge old pepper trees that make for inviting shady spots to pull up. We’d just finished our lunch and a chat with some fellow motorhomers when Catie and Robert arrived. They brought their lunch over and we all sat in our RV to discuss our plan for the afternoon. We decided to continue on towards Wilcannia. Our friends Andy and Jenny are already in Broken Hill and plan to head out to Menindee and find a good spot for our three RV’s alongside Lake Pamamaroo.

Once we left Cobar I was on a road I’ve never been on before. I’ve been to Cobar many times and also to Broken Hill however I’ve never been on the Barrier Highway from Cobar via Wilcannia to Broken Hill. Our plan was to get to Wilcannia, fill up with fuel and check on the state of the two gravel roads that travel on either side of the Darling River to Menindee to determine which one we will take. I’m expecting that to be a slow trip for us in the motorhome.

We pulled up for the night at MacCullochs Rest Area near Wilcannia. This is a large rest stop popular with big rigs and there is even Telstra Service. The rest area has a children’s playground, pit toilets and even a book exchange in an old red refrigerator.

We had not long set up camp when a couple of escort vehicles and a police car with their lights all flashing arrived followed by a huge truck towing a long low loader. Robert and Richard went off to chat to the driver to learn more about the amazing rig. They found out lots of information from the driver. The low loader alone was worth $1.4million. It had 8 rows of wheels with 8 tyres in each row. The first set of 4 wheels and the last two rows of wheels steered. The low loader could carry 240 tonne. The load on top was a giant mining truck minus its wheels and its tray. Just that part of the truck weighed 60 Tonnes.

There were two of these massive rigs travelling in convoy. They were taking the trucks from Adani Mine in Queensland all the way to Adelaide where the massive vehicles will be refurbished. The loads were so wide they took up the entire width of the road. Of course there were many escort vehicles that travel in front and behind with flashing lights. I wonder how they get though towns? They had been travelling for 10 hours and had come 600kms from Cunnamulla in Queensland that day. The logistics were staggering.

The driver of the first one to pull up at the Rest Area was quickly out of his truck and checking the tyres and the load. He climbed up onto the low loader and then up onto the truck to remove some branches they’d collected from trees along the side of the road. The load was so tall it had knocked off quite a few large branches and he tossed over the side.

Once the entire convoy had assembled they set up a camp and cooked their dinner. We assume they all slept in their vehicles. It really was quite a sight to see.

It was really windy when we pulled in and set up camp at MacCullochs Rest Area however the wind died down enough so we could enjoy a small campfire and a good chat before retiring for the night.