Lake Cargelligo – we are six again!

We all got a lovely surprise in the morning. Andy & Jenny arrived. We thought we wouldn’t see them again on this trip after they left Broken Hill. They’d meandered from Broken Hill and had been camping for a couple of nights on the Lachlan River at Willanthry. Exactly the spot we’d camped at on our way to Broken Hill. They’d only planned to stay there one night but it was such a lovely spot they stayed for two.

They got such a surprise to find the four of us camped at Frogs Hollow in Lake Cargelligo and we were pleased when they said they would camp for one night there too. So now we were six again!

The huge lake is a fabulous sight to see as your drive into the small country town of Lake Cargelligo. The Main Street is perpendicular to the lake and as you come into town from the north you turn left into the Main Street. You get a glimpse of the lake at the end of the street then the closer you get, more of the lake appears until you reach the end of the road and you get the full vista. The lake is huge.

Lake Cargelligo is a natural lake that Aboriginal people have been living around for thousands of years. The abundance of fish and other wildlife made it an ideal area to live. Thousands of years of Aboriginal habitation of the area is evidenced by the shellfish mddens that have been found on the lakeshore. The middens contain the remains of thousands of shellfish meals.

The lake has an abundance of bird life and is a popular spot for birdwatchers. Boating, fishing and water skiing help contribute to the town’s tourism.

Gold was discovered in the area in 1873 bye a Mrs Charlotte Foster, who was a cook at a burr cutters camp. Her husband and the population of the small village of Cudgellico caught gold fever and the town was inundated with prospectors. A gold mine was commenced in 1877. Water in the underground shafts and the poor veins of gold needed mining in the town however shafts remain under some shops and houses in the town to this day.

The town name was changed officially to Lake Cargelligo in 1917 when the railway arrived in town. The town has a population of approximately 1,500 people.

There are a few lovely old buildings in the Main Street including a couple of banks and the Art Deco Civic Theatre.

Frogs Hollow is a free camp provided by the town along the edge of the lake. It has a couple of toilets, rubbish bins and plenty of flat spots to park up. There is a donation box for those who wish to help the council maintain this great spot. It is a short walk to the Main Street along a paved pathway. The paved pathway goes around the lake all the way to another free camp at Deadman’s Point. During our stay we saw lots of people using the pathway.

The Visitors Centre is at the lake end of the Main Street and has a lovely garden full of gorgeous roses. Many of the gardens around the town also had beautiful roses blooming. Roses love the hot dry climate.

Unfortunately it was too windy to go for another paddle, there were whitecaps out on the lake but we did enjoy being six around the little fire again.

The next day we all packed up and headed off in our various directions. We set off towards home and it was only a 2 hour drive and we were driving in our own driveway. We’d enjoyed this short meander very much. Where to next?

I spent the next day cleaning the motorhome, doing minor repairs and getting it ready for it’s next adventure.

All clean and ready for another adventure

Cobar to Lake Cargelligo

We packed up camp at the Old Reservoir in Cobar after a leisurely start to the day. I used up some old squishy bananas and made some banana bread and it cooked whilst we had breakfast. The delicious smell of baking filled the motorhome. Don’t you just love that smell?

Do you cook in your RV? I’ve met a lot of people on our travels who never cook inside their RV. I cook inside all the time. In fact, I cook pretty much the same in the motorhome as I do at home. One of my favourite vegetables is cabbage, sautéed in a pan with a little butter and black pepper. I often cook this and our motorhome doesn’t smell like cabbage! Well, maybe it does while the cabbage is cooking but not afterwards. I use the oven and griller all the time for various dishes. I do love those one pot meals where you throw all the ingredients in a pot then bung it in the oven to cook. I have a Weber casserole dish that is perfect for those meals.

I’ve made muffins, cakes, banana bread, cooked garlic bread and even baked roast dinners. The other useful cooking appliance is my small slow cooker. This is brilliant for cooking if you have a long driving day planned. Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker and it cooks slowly all day as you drive along. I plug it into our inverter and I sit the slow cooker in my folding laundry basket on the floor. I made an elastic band that hooks over each handle of the slow cooker to keep the lid from bouncing off as we go along the road. One of our favourite dishes to cook this way is a seafood chowder. Yum. It smells so good. When you pull up it’s ready to eat. Perfect with a crunchy loaf of bread.

Anyway, this morning I made banana bread and it was cooling in the oven as we drove along.

It was a cloudy overcast morning as we drove along the Kidman Way heading south. The recent rains have changed the landscape so much. There was long grass and lots of green grass along the roadside. I was looking for bands of goats to try and get some photos however the goats had all decided it’s a good day to rest under a tree as we saw very few on this road. The day before we’d seen hundreds between Wilcannia and Cobar.

Stopped for morning tea at Mt Hope. Mt Hope is just a dot on the map. There’s a pub, a community hall and a couple of houses. That’s it. This tiny place is where my dad and his four brothers lived as children until the family moved to Griffith so the boys could go to high school. What a place to grow up!

The. Community Hall is a free camp for RV travellers and there is plenty of flat area to park. An old amenities block with toilets and hot showers is out the back. They are old but they are clean. There are a couple of power point on the side of the hall and can be used by travellers needing power for a donation. There is a donation box next to the power points. Well done Mt Hope for encouraging travellers to stay.

Just out of Mt Hope we took the turnoff to Euabalong. This is a good tar road through dense mallee scrub. We saw lots of wildflowers in many colours. White, pink, bright yellow, lilac and a bright blue. Of course there was also the purple of Patersons Curse. It’s a weed found all over Australia.

As we got closer to Euabalong we came across cleared land with wheat crops. The crops looked thick and healthy. We also came across mobs of fat cattle looking sleek and glossy. The rains have been fantastic for this area.

Sadly the mallee is home to the endangered Mallee Fowl and the poor Mallee Fowl is fighting a desperate battle for survival due to loss of habitat from land clearing for cropping and feral predators such as pigs and foxes. Mallee Fowl mate for life and lay their eggs on nests they build on the ground. The birds use compost to regulate the temperature of the nest so it remains a constant temperature for the eggs. Having their nests on the ground makes them open to pillaging by feral predators. Some 80% of all chicks that do manage to hatch die within a short time.

We came to a train line and the tiny village of Euabalong West is built next to the train line. Huge grain storage sheds are also alongside the line. This train line is the main line across the country that the Indian Pacific uses to cross from Sydney to Perth. Many freight trains also thunder past the tiny village.

We came across a tractor going along the road. We joked that the farmer was going to town in his John Deere!

Only 5kms further on is the village of Euabalong situated right on the Lachlan River. It is a very tidy little village. The river is very full and as we left the town a large billabong on our left was also full of water. We passed through the village and headed out on the Lake Cargelligo Road and again we saw many wheat crops and healthy, sleek, fat cattle.

We arrived in Lake Cargelligo in the early afternoon and went directly to the service station to top up our fuel. I keep a log of all the fuel and the kilometres traveled. We’d had a great run only using 14L/100km. That’s pretty good for a 5 tonne vehicle.

We drove through town and the huge lake spreads out before you at the end of the Main Street. The Visitors Centre is on the last corner and has a gorgeous display of roses out the front.

We continued around the lake to the free camp at Frogs Hollow. What a lovely spot it is along the edge of the lake. There were quite a few vans and one motorhome there already. Robert was parked up a little way along the bank and there was room for us to pull in behind. We did have to get our chocks out to level up but what a great spot. Nice green grass and it’s very pleasant sitting out under the awning. Occasionally fish jump out of the water with a big splash. They’re probably carp!

Late in the afternoon Catie and I went for a long paddle in our kayaks. The lake is really huge. It is very calming being out on the water and we both love it. We saw Pelicans, a Cormorant, fish jumping and a bird of prey that we don’t know the name of. We arrived back in time for sunset drinks and nibbles. Love this RV lifestyle!

The Barrier Highway – Broken Hill to Cobar

It was time to say farewell to Broken Hill. We had really enjoyed our short stay in the Silver City. Our camp at the Racecourse was a lovely one on nice green grass with power and water. The water was good quality for drinking. The showers at the Racecourse were some of the cleanest we’ve ever come across and the water pressure was incredible. Kevin, the caretaker, was super friendly and looks after the place well.

Catie & Robert left to get fuel before they headed off with a rough plan to get to Lake Cargelligo to camp by the lake. We left not long after with full water tanks and an empty cassette. We stopped at a couple of places to get some photos and we briefly stopped to put some air in one tyre then left Broken Hill heading east on the Barrier Highway.

The Barrier Highway runs 1,014km from Nyngan in NSW to Adelaide in south Australia. For most of its length it is a long, straight, lonely drive. Half an hour east from Broken Hill we entered the Eastern Time Zone and had to put Richard’s watch and our clock forward half an hour. The Apple devices change time automatically. The motorhome is still on Winter time!

It’s really desert country between Broken Hill and Wilcannia. We saw mobs of feral goats and once we saw a group of huge Wedge-tailed eagles feasting on some road kill. Such huge majestic birds. As it was Sunday there wasn’t even a lot of traffic apart from the occasional road trains and ‘B’Triples.

Out there are miles and miles of flat, red sandy desert with scrubby grasses and saltbush. There are hardly any trees. Usually if there are trees you can be sure there will be a creek bed however all the ones we crossed were dry. The road is long and straight out there and in the far distance we could see a line of low hills. There was not much sign of human habitation out there apart from the long line of power poles that track along the roadside into the distance. Occasionally we passed an entrance to a property with a mailbox and property name but we didn’t see many buildings along that road.

By midday we’d arrived in the tiny outback town of Wilcannia where we stopped to get fuel. It was $1.79L, the most expensive fuel on this trip so far.

We pulled up for a brief lunch break at MacCullochs Rest Area, the same spot we’d camped at on our way to Menindee.

As we got closer to Cobar there were a lots more trees and grasses. The rainfall must be a lot higher along that stretch. The soil is still that red sand though. We did see a lot of goats many with young kids. The young kids are very cute. There was still not a lot of traffic on the road and at times it seemed like we were the only ones traveling.

We finally arrived in Cobar where we fueled up, got a replacement gas bottle then headed out of town. On the way we passed the recently opened Miner’s Memorial and stopped for a look. What a great job they’ve done on this park. It’s worth a stop if you are passing through Cobar.

We headed out of town and set up camp at the Old Resevoir with water views. There was only one other camper. There is a lot less water in the reservoir than there was when we were last there in June 2021 but it is a lovely spot for an overnight or short stay camp. There are no amenities just lots of flat area to camp. The road in is a short length of gravel road but don’t be put off by that. It is worth it. The other option for a free camp in Cobar is right underneath the Cobar sign at Cornish Rest Area. There are toilets at the rest area however it has never appealed to us as it sits right at the intersection of two busy roads. We like it much better out at the Old Reservoir.

It was Halloween night and we laughed when we received messages from our children with pictures of our grandchildren going trick or treating. What fun Halloween is! They all looked like they were having a great time. We miss them all so much when we are off meandering. It’s the biggest drawback to RVing.

Halloween looked like fun

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..

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