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Back to 24/7 land

We woke in Ipswich to sunshine, maybe QLDs beautiful one day and perfect the next may just show itself 🙂

It didnt take long to be well aware that we were back in 24/7 land – freeways, Fast Food, traffic jams and traffic lights. I very much enjoyed not having to tackle any of these for the past few days.

We were headed to Slacks Creek (Sth Brisbane) to check out a new camper trailer/van and then onto my Aunt and Uncle on the Tweed Coast to start a few days of family catch-ups.

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Love hanging out here with my fam it’s always very chilled and relaxed and always great to obviously see the actual family members too 🙂

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St George to Warwick, well actually Ipswich

We woke to another overcast sky, so much for QLD beautiful one day and perfect the next 🙂

We decided to skip the usual road trip/camping breakfast of coco-pops and hit the bakery. so we packed up and headed down the main street only to find the bakery closed! arghhh foiled by our own stomachs 🙁

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So with empty tummies we headed on out of St George on another quest for sunflowers, this time around the Warwick area. As we headed out of St George it was nice to see some blue sky, which had cleared up a little whilst we were hunting sweet treats, and also the irrigation canals filled with water with lush green cotton crops stretching out as far as the eye can see.

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It didn’t take long for the blue skies to be replaced with looming storms and as we approached Goondiwindi the lush green was replaced with the vast brown land and then wheat fields.

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I pulled over to capture some of the wheat fields and within no time at all from getting back on the road again the rain had started again, this time much heavier than we had had for the past few days. It was coming down reasonably heavy by the time we arrived in Goondiwindi.

As we were here nearly twelve months ago we thought we would pay the river a visit and see what the level difference was – only thing was we couldn’t remember, so just as well we were able to go back and check last years blog – it seems the river hasn’t moved which i guess is a good and bad thing, good that it hasn’t gone down any further but bad that they haven’t had any rain to lift the levels.

(This Year)

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(Last Year)

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We stopped and had a trusty pie for lunch at the local bakery and then got back on the road with Warwick as our destination, to hopefully capture some more sunflowers.

Unfortunately it didn’t take long before “Huey” decided to throw down the rain in serious bucket load drops for about the next two hours, making for an intense drive at times as there was almost as much water already on the road as there was coming down onto, coupled with road trains throwing another pool load over us 🙂 .. the joys of road tripping!

Once we arrived into Warwick and the rain was still coming down, the mountains all around were shrouded in clouds we decided that there wasn’t going to be much sunflower shooting today, so we decided to head to Ipswich to be closer to our appointment tomorrow.

(A few from Tash whilst we were driving out of Warwick)

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So we continued to drive through the rain, although not as heavy thankfully and arrived into Ipswich as “Huey” threw it done again. We booked into a hotel – this whole tent thing is just not going to cut it in this weather. But true to form QLD weather, the sun broke through with another great sunset unfortunately not knowing Ipswich at all we could see it but couldn’t get to a spot to capture it 🙁

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Back of Bourke and Beyond

Before heading out of town we headed out to the weir and old locks. The river is running but its clear its much lower than the ‘old’ days when the lock would have been in use. looking at the lock today i don’t think there would be anyone using it even if the water level did allow it, the banks, trees and grass have taken over at both ends of the lock.

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From the lock we headed out of Bourke and once on the town limits the GPS says straight 250km – that’s when you know you’re getting pretty close to outback Australia. The roads are straighter, the dirt gets redder, the semi trailers become baby road trains and the wildlife likes to play chicken with you!

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The scenery changes regularly from barren expanses of nothing to scrub to grassy tree lands.

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We hit the QLDborder and with no border control in sight we crossed over without incident 🙂

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It didn’t take long to realise we were in QLD when we saw camels! they were in a paddock so fair chance they were being farmed for either meat or milk but still camels ! there were also some grumpy cows that didn’t like their photos being taken and decided to upset the camels and scare them away – not happy !

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We passed quite a few more eeemoos (emus) and this time a few were very close to the side of the road without fences so i decided to pull up and try to get a few shots.

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We hit Cunnamulla and it was a very quite Sunday lunchtime with not a soul stirring. We did catch up with the Cunnamulla Fella though.

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We continued on along the straight road which the GPS helpfully advised as we left Cunnamulla turn left in 288Km – yep we can take it from here thanks !

As we got closer to St George the pasture turned greener and it was evident that some decent rains had fallen in the past few weeks across these plain, lush green grass almost unnatural in colour surrounded us.

We have seen 6 or 7 pairs of eagles, 3 times now they have been sitting atop the carcass of roadkill by the roadside, but you do think that they will stay there as we zip by and try to pull up and get a photo! as we left Bollon i cat and moused this little b#$tard up the road and managed to get this shot.

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Once we arrived in St George we checked in to the park and headed down to the river to check out the river and weir.

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We did some bird watching on the downside of the weir as one of the gates was slightly up

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Sunset was looking might it do something so we headed back out on the highway where we came in.

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From the Ridge to Back of Bourke

After a um well lets say not the best nights sleep – Thomas you are looking mighty fine about now !!!!! We packed up charlie and headed off towards Lightning Ridge. We hadn’t even made it out of Narrabri before the boys in blue were in our sights doing Random Breathe Tests (RBTs) – i missed out 🙁

We followed the Kamilaroi Hwy along some extremely long and straight roads with properties as long and probably as wide as the roads were traveling on. The land in many places is really dry and the irrigation canals are dry as dry can be. _DSC5867 (Medium)

There has been some recent rains which has left some water laying by the road and some puddles but for the most parts the rivers, creeks and canals are dry – its a really sad sight to see.

This is the Pagan Creek Bridge next to the Namoi River near Walgett.

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You forget or just don’t understand how cut off some of these towns still really are until you start driving and realise just how far from ‘normal’ accessible everyday activities like fuel and groceries they really are. Burren Junction only had the final pavement linking it to Walgett laid in 1993, 21 years ago, sounds a lot but 1993!

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Trying to understand the sheer magnitude of these places is really hard to do. This one was just outside of Cryon (between Burren Junction and Walgett). You know its big when the driveway looks like this and you cant even see the house !

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We had the first sightings of wild eeeemoos (for the adults and non-Aussies Emu’s) just outside of Burren Junction. After the first dozen we stopped counting, but it was still pretty cool to see them wandering the paddocks as we zipped on by.

We joined the Castlereagh Hwy just outside of Walgett where it intersects the Kamilaroi Hwy and headed to Lightning Ridge. By this time the sprinkling had set in and was enough to be annoying with the windscreen wipers but not really do too much else.

We were greeted into Lightning Ridge by “Stanley” the 18ft metal Emu and the typical outback property entry.

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Opal is found in many parts of Australia but it is the elusive Black Opal that has made Lightning Ridge famous. Black Opal was first discovered in the area in the 1870’s but the indiscriminate finds were little more than curiosities when presented to gem buyers in Sydney.

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Once in Lightning Ridge we followed the “Car Doors” tour. There are four each a different colour and each one showing a different aspect of the ‘ridge. You literally follow different colour painted car doors as your guides. Apparently, someone years ago had the bright idea that with so many abandoned cars in the area, why not recycle parts of them and use the doors to mark the various areas of the town.

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You really do need to be a special sort of soul to be able to live here, a bit like Coober Pedy i suspect! We’ve been to both and i’m not sure that we have any real reason or wanting to go back to either again. They really are persistent, patient and hard working souls – mining of any sorts particularly the hand cutting types is bloody hard work for a lot of the time not much return.

Just some of the sights we saw  …..

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It was then time to re-trace some of our steps and make our way through Brewarrina  and onto Bourke.

Following the combination of Kamilaroi and Castlereagh Hwys we made our way through Walgett and on towards Brewarrina crossing the Barwon River a number of times, which did have some water in it.

We fueled up in Brewarrina and headed to the weir and Aboriginal Fish Traps in the Darling River, which due to the water levels weren’t running although some had water in them and it was easy to see how they would function when the water was flowing. Known in the local Aboriginal language as Baiame’s Ngunnhu. It is believed that Ngemba, Wonkamurra, Wailwan and Gomolaroi people have shared and maintained the traps for thousands of years. The traps are believed to be at least 40,000 years old, possibly the oldest surviving human-made structure in the world. Consisting of river stones arranged to form small channels, the traps direct fish into small areas from which they are readily plucked. The traps form a complex net of linked weirs and ponds along 500 m (547 yd) of the river.

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It was getting on late in the day and we had seen plenty of ‘road kill’ already and didn’t really want to make any more of it, so we headed for Bourke. We had a few stops for rivers, roads and clouds and to let the wildlife go by.

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By now we had managed to see Emu, Kangaroo, 3 beautiful big eagles, goats, plenty of birds, sheep and cattle.

Once we arrived in Bourke we grabbed a feed at the RSL and then headed to the west to see if we could bag a sunset like yesterday – unfortunately it wasn’t to be. We did however check out the Darling river and the bridges crossing it.

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It was then time to find some accommodation so we checked into the campground, however as we really weren’t sure what the weather was going to do and the locals were a bit unsure too, as there is a storm front coming across QLD and they have had some rains in the past few days so rather then potentially getting wet in the tent (and another rather uncomfortable nights sleep) we opted for a cabin.

 

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Chasing Sunflowers

After a beautiful Christmas day with family we were headed north via the west. Charlie (our vehicle) was well and truly packed – with camping gear, photography gear and general holiday gear.

Thomas – our camper trailer – was staying home. We were only camping for about 4 nights before landing on family doorsteps for some freebie accommodation 🙂 so had decided to ‘rough’ it a little bit in the old 3 man tent and airbeds.

We had originally decided to head to Walgett via Gilgandra and then up popped the golden hues of sunflower fields around Willow Tree on the Liverpool plains, so we quickly changed plans and decided to head back to Narrabri via the sunflower fields.

Newcastle had some really nice rain overnight before we left and it was nice to see the damp edges of the road as we kept heading up the valley into the Liverpool plains. judging  by the water on the paddocks they had had a reasonable amount of rain in the past few days and the paddocks were a bit muddy underfoot.

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After driving a few of the back roads we managed to find some fields that weren’t fenced it, weren’t miles away and had a nice depth of sunflowers happening.

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After snapping off quite a few shots in a few different locations it was time to hit the dirt road highways again – i love dirt road highways my almost most favourite part of holidays and road trips finding the dirt!

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We stopped in beautiful little blink and you miss it Breeza across from the grain silos in a great little rest stop for some late lunch before making tracks again for Narrabri and a fuel stop in Gunnedah.

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Upon arriving in Narrabri we headed for our caravan park and pitched the tent before heading into town to see what was open for dinner – which would turn out to be a waste of time.

after a beer and chips back at the tent we headed into town for Rissole (RSL) only to discover that it was booked out – hmm yes thanks for telling us that when we asked what time meals were on until ! so plan B – chinese which was pretty darn good. Only problems was as we left the remains of an absolute cracker sunset was disappearing before our eyes – we had made an assessment (clearly not a good one) that the clouds were thick and ugly along the horizon and not going anywhere so had headed off for dinner instead.

Then it was back to cry in the shower over missed sunsets, write this blog and grab a few pics to fill it in.