4WheelingSA2333

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					   Story and photos by Greg Bulling
Day 1     (Friday 12 July) Left Adelaide at 4:15 pm        further on. This siding also had a dam adjacent to it
and drove to Pt Augusta for fuel and tea. On to Lynd-      with quite a bit of water and plenty of corellas. The
hurst to camp at the normal spot (turn off is right on 2   Strangways ruins were next on the list and these
kms out of town). Arrived and in bed by just after         were found after taking a track off to the left about 12
midnight. (601 kms travelled in the day)                   kms past Beresford.       The ruins here are a few
                                                           hundred metres from the car park but worth a look
                                                           around. By the time we got to William Creek it was
Old Ghan Locomotive                                        blowing a 40 knot dust storm so we headed straight
                                                           for the pub.
                                                           We had a beer and pie before making our way to the
                                                           Algebuckina Bridge on the Neale River 143 kms fur-
                                                           ther on from William Creek. The water level in the
                                                           river was quite low but the bridge is an impressive
                                                           sight. We took some photos, went and checked out
                                                           the waterhole and hunted around for a good camp-
                                                           site. Found a spot where two old sleepers had been
                                                           left from a previous fire and as wood was scare, this
                                                           was to be the spot. Still very windy but a camp oven
                                                           roast was soon under way. Just before dark a few ve-

                                                                                             Algebuckina Bridge
Day 2      Headed off from camp in the morning just
after 8 am and on to Marree for fuel ($1:00c/l). We
took some photos of the old Ghan locomotives before
branching off onto the Oodnadatta track. Weather
was fine and cool but very windy. First stop was to
check out the ruin at Farina, 25 kms up the track.
Then on to the Curdimurka rail siding where we met a
couple boiling the billy inside the building. They were
returning from a Simpson crossing in their 100 series.
They warned us to be wary of “cowboys” who were
not flying sand flags or using radios during the cross-

The Bubbler
                                                           hicles turned up looking for a camp and ended stay-
                                                           ing a few hundred metres away. Unfortunately, they
                                                           ran a generator all night which took something away
                                                           from the ambience of the place! (532 kms travelled)




                                                                                         Algebuckina Waterhole



ing of the sand ridges.
Next stop was the Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs
Conservation Park. We took the track off to the left
and visited both the ‘Bubbler’ and ‘Blanch Cup’
springs. The wind was still howling and it was very
cold out of the car. Next stop was Coward Springs
where we payed our dollar as a daily visitor and went
for a wander. Checked out the wooden “spa pool”
and had a walk around the old buildings before mov-
ing off to the next stop which was Beresford, 24 kms
         Page 23                                                                                      4 W HE E L I NG S A
Day 3 Up at 7:15 am and off by just after 8.     Track      and found the air temperature dropped quickly when
to Oodnadatta was not quite as good as the previous         the sun went down. Without any wood there was no
section, so we lowered our tyres down a little more         fire so after cooking tea on the gas stove we hit the
(~24 and 22psi). Stopped at the Pink Roadhouse at           swags at 7:30 pm where the temperature had already
Oodnadatta and had a chat to Adam Plate the owner.          dropped to 20C! (240 kms travelled)
He is a good bloke who has spent a lot of his time try-
ing to lift the profile of the area with his mud maps,      Day 4 Got up at 6:45 am to find that it was –50C!
desert signs and general interest in travellers.            This was the minimum temperature for the night and
His wife Lynnie was very helpful and friendly as we         meant that as well as freezing the water in the wash-
                                                            ing up tub the swags had a layer of ice on the inside
                                                            covers due to condensed water from our breath that
                                                            had frozen during the night. Sampled the Purnie crap-
                                                            per and was delighted to find warm water coming
                                                            from the taps to wash our (frozen) hands.




got a few last minutes things, including a Desert Pass
($85). We found out at this time that Mt Dare was out
of all fuel so we grabbed a jerry from Lynnie, fuelled
up ($1:08c/l) with diesel (and 5 jerries) and headed
off towards Dalhousie via Pedirka. The road was
quite good until the turn off at Hamilton where it then
deteriorated a bit. After leaving Oodnadatta at 10 am
we arrived at Dalhousie Spring after 2 ¼ hours. Made
some lunch in the car park (which was quite full) and
then had a swim in the spring. It was still quite cool so
the warm spring (~370 C) was rather hard to drag


                             Overflow at Purnie Bore




                                                              –50C at night made hand washing a chore!

                                                            Left Purnie at 8 am sharp and headed for the French
                                                            Line junction 29 kms away. This section was easy
                                                            with no 4wd needed. After the Rig Road turn off the
                                                            dunes on the French Line became steeper and we
                                                            bumped along for 39 kms over lots of humps.
                                                            Overloaded vehicles, camper trailers (with hitch
                                                            marks dug in on every bump) and people who refuse
                                                            to let down their tyres to reasonable levels have left
                                                            the approaches to many dunes with deep scalloping.
yourself away from. Headed off towards Purnie Bore
around 3 pm and found the track to be quite rough
with lots of corrugations and bulldust. Ended up tak-
ing almost 2 hours to travel the 77 kms. Set up camp
at Purnie Bore after checking out the wetland area

V O L U M E 1, I S S U E 1                                                                                   Page 24
2 hours after the leaving the Rig Road we arrived at      out the ‘Lone Gum’ we backtracked to the Rig
the Colson turn off and headed south. The start of        Road/Erabena junction and headed east along the Rig
this track was very corrugated but it improved as we      Road. By now it was late afternoon and near the junc-
got closer to the WAA line. At this junction (Lynnies     tion we met another vehicle, with a guy by himself,
                                                          heading down to the ‘Lone Gum’. The lack of traffic
                                                          had been one pleasing surprise. The 35 km section of
                                   The ‘Lone Gum’         the Rig Road to the Knolls track junction only took us
                                                          an hour and we only needed 4WD on one occasion
                                                          over a sand topped dune. At the junction we headed
                                                          south again on the Rig Road past Poolowanna Oil well
                                                          and settled for a camp site at the old Poolowanna
                                                          bore. We organised a fire and had chops and roast

                                                                                           Poolowanna Bore Camp




corner, named after Lynnie Plate) we turned left and
headed east along the WAA line. This track was simi-
lar to the French Line but the dunes were a little
smaller and the runs between a little longer. It took 2
¾ hours to traverse this 55 km section which included
a half an hour stop for lunch along the way. Except
for one vehicle near the French turn off we had seen
nobody all day. Next junction was the Erabena Track
and we headed south towards the “Lone Gum”. The           veggies in the camp oven for tea. Refuelled from the
track took a bit of a zig-zag when it met the Rig Road    jerries and found that we had used 63 litres since Ood-
and the 7 kms past this to the gum were heavily cor-      nadatta for a distance of 451 kms (14.1l/100 km) and
rugated due to the extra traffic. Once we had checked     had travelled 207 kms in the day.
                                                          Day 5 Woke again to a temperature of –50C. I have
                                                          worked out that I only need my unzipped down sleep-


                                                                                                         QAA Line




                                                          ing bag to keep warm in the swag with these low tem-
                                                          peratures. Off again by 8 am down the Rig Road to-
                                                          wards the K1 junction. This section of track was very
                                                          different from the others with a lot of it skirting the edge
                                                          of dry salt lakes; it would be great to travel in a good
                                                          season. The dunes had clay approaches with tops of
                                                          soft sand that needed 4WD. The 100 kms from camp
                                                          took us 2 ¾ hours and was worth the extra distance.




        Page 25                                                                                        4 W HE E L I NG S A
Once at the K1 intersection we headed north and met
the support crew of a guy who was walking through
the desert. The 86 kms along the K1 line was differ-
ent country again, as it ran between the dunes for
most of the way. After 1 ¾ hours we hit the French
line intersection and for the first time in two days
started to see quite a few other 4WD’s. We took the
track west to check out Poeppel’s corner before re-
turning to the K1 intersection for a lunch break by the
edge of the lake.
The 18 kms north along the K1 line to QAA was quite
fast going as it skirted the edge of a dry lake. The
QAA line was soon upon us and we headed east
again. Just after the intersection we passed our first
convey of vehicles coming towards us in the whole
trip. They had sand flags but were not on UHF 10.
The QAA line had numerous steep dunes (some with


   Poeppel’s Corner




                                                                               On top of ‘Big Red’


                                                              Day 6     Up a little earlier and were on the track by
                                                              7:45 am. We made good time to Eyre Creek with the
                                                              distances between dunes increasing and the claypans
                                                              providing a good run. We stopped at the base of ‘Big
                                                              Red’ right on 9 am and had the place to ourselves.




by passes around them) but with tyre pressures down
to around 18 and 20 psi the ‘Surf” cruised easily over
them. The 71 kms to the old vermin fence took us
about 2 ¾ hours and we arrived at a campsite just
east of the fence at 4:30 pm. When unpacking at
camp we found the tailgate lock had seized and we
couldn’t lower it, so the panel was removed from the
inside to get it open. A bit of grease did the trick and it
was back working again. Once again the camp oven
was fired up and we dined on the stew that we had
kept frozen since home. (284 kms travelled)
                                                                                            Birdsville’s famous pub

V O L U M E 1, I S S U E 1                                                                                     Page 26
As we stopped to deflate the tyres a dingo trotted up       really convinced. After passing a stock yard the track
behind us and after watching us for a few minutes           was getting fainter and we started to think we were
slowly walked over the dune. We deflated the tyres          only on a station track. A few kilometres further on we
to 10 and 12 psi and slowly made our way up and             intersected with more major track which was what we
over in low range, without getting past 3000 rpm. I         were looking for. We can only assume that the
guess the 2 km run up must be for those who haven’t         Walker’s Crossing rack meets the Birdsville track in the
worked out how to let air out of a tyre!                    tree lined area that our radio friends had stopped at.
We spent some time going up and down a few times            Never discount the obvious! This little wild goose
from both sides and got the obligatory photos. Just         chase had taken over an hour but we soon picked up
as we were leaving the top we heard the roar of 4WD         some cues from the map and knew we were heading
and a petrol 80 series churned over the top at maxi-        on the correct track. To our surprise it was in excellent
mum revs, our cue to leave. We stopped at the west-         condition and we made the 100 kms to Walker’s
ern approach and pumped up our tyres and then it
was off the 30 km to Birdsville on a major dirt high-
way. Got into Birdsville at 10:30 am and after fuelling
up ($1:10c/l) we had a shower at the caravan park for
$3:30. Total fuel used since Oodnadatta was 116 li-
tres for 807 kms (14.4 litres/100 km). We then
headed over to the pub for a few beers, and lunch of
steak, egg and chips ($12 each). Not much had
changed since the last time we were there in 1984 in
the FJ 55. Left at midday and headed off down the
Birdsville track towards the start of the Walker’s




                                                            Crossing in a little over an hour and a half. The track
                                                            passed through a variety of countryside ranging from
                                                            flat gibber plain, skirted sand dunes and dry lakes to
                                                            more wooded creek areas as the Cooper Creek was
                                                            approached. The crossing itself had recently been
                                                            graded and a memorial to Syd Walker a SANTOS em-
                                                            ployee who had supervised the crossing being rebuilt
                                                            in 1986 was back on display.




Crossing track. The various maps we had showed the
turnoff at different distances but we figured it should
have been about 125 kms from Birdsville. After a 141
kms we still hadn’t seen it so we backtracked to try
and identify the Koonchera sand hill it was meant to
be near. We radioed some others who had stopped
at an area nearby with a few trees and they also had-
n’t seen the turn off. Eventually, we spied a faint track
across the gibber plain and took it, but we weren’t

         Page 27                                                                                      4 W HE E L I NG S A
Despite only passing one other vehicle on the way in,    good future campsite at Minkie Waterhole. Soon we
a few 4WD’s at the crossing convinced us to kept go-     were into Innamincka and found the place full of
ing and look for a more secluded camp for the night.     4WD’s. Luckily the fuel bowser was free, so we fuelled
Unfortunately, after the crossing the countryside be-    up ($1:13.9c/l) and then checked out the ranger’s sta-
came devoid of trees and not ideal for camping.          tion (which was unattended, pity if you wanted a desert
                                                         pass!). After making a phone call home it was off to-
                                                         wards Coongie Lake.
                                                         The track proved to be heavily corrugated so we
                                                         stopped to let the tyres down even more (18/20psi).
                                                         Got caught up behind a convoy of vehicles who as well
                                                         as pointing out every kangaroo to each other on the
                                                         radio, stopped in the middle of the track on several oc-
                                                         casions to ‘adjust their load’. The 105 kms to the visitor
                                                         information boards took us 2 ¼ hours. We had plenty
                                                         of time so we spent the afternoon driving and walking
                                                         around the entire area. We chose a campsite on the
                                                         southern side of the lake overlooking the central penin-
                                                         sular. We set up our swags on the water’s edge and
                                                         hoped the water level didn’t rise overnight! Without be-
                                                         ing able to have a fire (none allowed) we settled for
                                                         spaghetti bolognaise cooked on the gas stove, which
                                                         was our last meal brought from home. With no other
                                                         campers nearby we settled down by the lake and en-
After travelling another 35 kms past the crossing to-    joyed our last night (208 kms travelled).
wards Gidgealpa Waterhole we eventually passed a
creek bed on our left near an oil exploration track      Day 8 We were up at 6:15 am to the sound of din-
(which were now criss-crossing the track) and            gos howling nearby. The wind had picked up during
headed cross country towards it. It turned out to be     the night and we were hot in the swags as the tem-
an ideal spot for the night and the camp oven was        perature had only dropped to 70C. Having packed the
again soon under way. (397 kms travelled)                night before we were away pretty quickly and we were
                                                         left with the sight of a spectacular sunrise coming up
Day 7 It was much warmer night than previously in        on the lake as we departed over the entry dune by 7
the desert, with the overnight temperature only drop-    am. We had decided to lower the tyres a little more
ping to zero. Away again by 8 am and on to a track       (15/16psi) and the ride was much smoother on our re-
which varied from major highway (in the sections that    turn back to the Innamincka Trading Post.
were used by the oil companies) to good fast track       We refuelled and pumped up the tyres to stony road
(60-80 km/hr). New signs look like they had been re-     pressures (22/24psi) and headed south down the
cently installed at the many oil company track inter-    Strzelecki Track. The condition of the track (road) was
sections, (since the track had been made a PAR one       quite rocky to begin with but improved after Moomba
would assume) and it made it easy to follow the          and we were able to sit on 90 -100 km/hr. We stopped
route.                                                   at Montecollina Bore for lunch and found that it had
As the track approaches Innamincka it changes name       changed quite a bit since 1984. The whole dam looks
                                                         as if it’s changed and there were camp areas and even
                                                         a tour bus there! Arrived at Lyndurst at 3:15pm (6
                                                         hours from Innamincka, including lunch) and refuelled
                                                         ($1:00c/l) before heading off towards Pt Augusta. We
                                                         had the same tea at the same roadhouse at almost the
                                                         same time as the Friday night before when we were
                                                         heading off. The ‘Surf’ was running well and fuel con-
                                                         sumption on the last leg from Pt Augusta to Adelaide
                                                         was the lowest ever at 9.9l/100 kms. We arrived home
                                                         at 10:30pm after leaving the banks of Coongie Lake
                                                         that morning (1146 kms travelled).
                                                         All in all it was a great trip, problem free and with eve-
                                                         rything going to plan.




to the ‘15 Mile Track’ and there are numerous turnoffs
left towards the Cooper Creek. We checked out a few
of them including King’s Marker Track and found a


V O L U M E 1, I S S U E 1                                                                                   Page 28
                            GLENDAMBO 2004
                                           By Andrew Hiscock
The Glendambo Outback 4x4 Endur-
ance & Field Days was held on the
June Long weekend at Glendambo,
North of Woomera (about 3 hours from
Pt.Augusta).
The event included sponsor displays,
trade displays and competitive 4WD
trials around a purpose built track. All
of the action was centred in the large
area behind the Glendambo Resort.
This made it easy to access the well
equipped and well stocked roadhouse
shop and the bars and restaurants at
the Resort.
We arrived after lunch on the Saturday
and set up camp before going for a
wander to see the track and some of
the trade displays.




Sunday morning we were up early so
we had time to browse through all of
the equipment on display before the
competition started. It’s too easy to
spend a lot of money with these peo-
ple when they have time for a chat and
run through their products.
The competition itself involved 20 ve-
hicles doing timed laps around the
track, twice in each direction. During
the lunch break they also had to re-
move and refit a wheel with the time
taken added to their overall score.




         Page 29                                               4 W HE E L I NG S A
The real crowd pleaser was the deep waterhole with
steep entry/exit which quickly became too slippery
for most of the vehicles. I think about 90% of the
crowd had gathered here for some spectacular pho-
tos.




                                                     3rd Outright
                                                     Barry Packer of Alice Springs in a Toyota FJ40 SWB
                                                     Landcruiser (pictured above)



We walked around the entire track to watch the
4WDs going over various obstacles.
Sunday night was dinner, drinks and the presenta-
tions in the restaurant/bar area. Monday we packed
up and headed home.




                                                     1st in the Ladies Event
                                                     Sue Packer of Alice Springs in a Toyota FJ40 SWB
                                                     Landcruiser



Perfect daytime weather com-
bined with light overnight rain
(which kept the dust down) meant
that there was very little to com-
plain about all weekend. For a first
up effort, especially when 4WD
competitions are so rare in SA,
Dave and Margie Boothy and their
Glendambo Outback Resort team
ran a great show and we look for-
ward to the 2005 event.


2004 Results
1st Outright
Grant Evans from Adelaide in a
Nissan GU Patrol

2nd Outright
Neil Carruthers from Roxby
Downs in a Toyota HJ79 Land-
cruiser

         Page 30                                                                          4 W HE E L I NG S A
                            CORNER COUNTRY
                                                By Rick Moore
I hadn’t seen much of Ross since we moved back          was not fast, but we quite liked that. A few small coola-
to S.A. in the mid 1980’s. He runs sheep and cattle     bahs in a creek bed near Mt Hopeless provided shade
in central Victoria, and had only a week that he        for our lunch stop and second ritual “boiling of the billy”.
could spare for a trip away. I intended to use some     We’d hadn’t seen any vehicles on the road for the last
long service leave. So after pouring over maps and      two hours until Terry Tourist from Victoria screeched to
calculating driving times, we reckoned that a trip      a halt. He’d travelled in two days what we thought
through the Flinders, up the Strzelecki track to In-    might take five.
namincka and back                                                                       Eventually we joined the
through      Tibooburra Strezlecki Signpost                                             (new) Strzelecki track
and Broken Hill was                                                                     near Montecollina Bore,
feasible.                                                                               and then left it as soon
                                                                                        as possible by heading
We headed for the                                                                       east to Merty Merty.
Flinders Ranges on                                                                      Then we poked north-
our first day. Ross                                                                     wards a small way up
had not seen the                                                                        the Strzelecki Creek wa-
Clare region, and as it                                                                 tercourse. Corellas are
drizzled rain most of                                                                   not always farmers’
the day, still hasn’t.                                                                  friends, and so it was
Through      a    quiet                                                                 with Ross.      He com-
Quorn, past Kanyaka                                                                     plained about the noise
ruins, and onwards                                                                      while enjoying a camp
we drove. Polly the                                                                     oven meal of pork,
Patrol was doing it                                                                     sweet potato, pumpkin
easy. The Moralana                                                                      and spuds. Soon we
Drive was to have                                                                       rolled out our swags for
been a Flinders summary, but we couldn’t see            this, our second night.
much as it was covered with low, grey clouds. As
neither of us had seen each other much in the last      Just after dawn, Landcruiser utes sped by on their way
fifteen years, we decided that we might stop, have      out from Moomba to an amazing number of oil wells
a drink or two in the Prarie Hotel at Parachilna, and   and associated refining satellites. Here was another
try their famous Australian tucker.                     contrast. Specialised pumping equipment in the middle
                                                        of traditional desert country. The infrastructure was
We could not have had a better first night. Shane       such that we constantly marvelled at the Santos input
and Saida from Clare                                                                    for the next two days.
were working hard on                                          Near Toolachie Satellite
the rum bottle. From                                                                    When we rejoined the
a nearby station, The                                                                  Strzelecki Track near In-
Moralana Kid was in                                                                    namincka, we saw the
full song at the bar.                                                                  first of many 4WD’s that
Perhaps he might ap-                                                                   seemed to be like bees at
pear in the hotel ad-                                                                  the Cooper Creek honey
vertising soon as a                                                                    pot. The Innamincka
pastoral icon. I think                                                                 township marks the spot
we got to bed late.                                                                    where gibbers meet the
Lucky they swipe                                                                       Cooper       watercourse.
plastic at Parachilna,                                                                 There are only ten town
because the bar bill                                                                   residents, but the settle-
nearly fleeced us for                                                                  ment is an Australian
the rest of the trip.                                                                  mecca. Into the showers
                                                        and around the Telstra phone booths was a steady
The inclement weather was left behind next morn-        swarm of the over 60’s. So far all our travel was in two-
ing when we turned right at Copley and drove            wheel drive. In fact, Joe Blow could have driven here in
through the Gammon Ranges. The first billy boiling      a conventional vehicle. But the Merninie gibber circuit
of our trip was in the rugged Italowie Gorge. The       to the Dig Tree really needs the clearance of a 4WD.
road soon broke through into the pastoral Balca-
noona and Wooltana landscapes. This dirt road

         Page 31                                                                                     4 W HE E L I NG S A
It took about an hour to travel this moonscape into         cance, and the 5,000 plus kilometre dingo fence. At
Queensland, and to the site that Nappa Merrie sta-          least fuel at the store is cheaper than Innamincka! After
tion has preserved the famous Dig Tree in. Warren           another billy boiling ritual and lunch stop under some
Mayar, the station manager, was only too willing to         mulga trees, we kept driving east.
share knowledge. He is constructing a simple but            The Sturt National Park soon gave way to sheep running
informative interpretive shelter at the Dig Tree re-        in pastoral country, and we drew closer to Tibooburra in
serve entrance.                                             N.S.W. We grabbed a shower, fuelled up and snuck out
                                                            on the Gorge Loop road to Mt Wood. Polly Patrol was
Still in two-wheel drive, we crossed the $2.5 million       consistently returning 17 litres per 100km, which consider-
Burke and Wills bridge over Cooper Creek. Near the          ing the 3 tonne weight was acceptable. These new Pa-
permanent Cullyamurra waterhole we saw Wills burial         trols really are very comfortable touring buses. The sus-
site. The compulsory Desert Parks Pass that we ac-          pension has plenty of travel, and yet is not so soft as to
quired is actually reasonable value, given the quality      wallow. The seats proved to be heaps better than the
and quantity of maps and information provided. There        Raider, Landrover and Suzuki ones we had previously tol-
are heaps of attractive campsites all around Inna-          erated.
mincka to choose from. The booklet included in the
Desert Pass pack has all the local features marked,         For us, the scenic highlight of our trip was this region.
and detailed track notes for local tours.                   Having camped at Mt Wood homestead under threatening
                                                            skies, and survived without a fire to cook on, we com-
We struck north on the next day to the world-               pleted the magnificent loop drive in the early morning
renowned Coongie                                                                                among mobs of roos
Lakes.          T h e Tibooburra Sign                                                           and emus. The broad
Scrubby Creek cat-                                                                              gibber and mitchell
tle    yards    and                                                                             grass     plains,    the
Kudrimitchie outsta-                                                                            wooded         water-
tion were worth                                                                                 courses, and the old
looking at in the                                                                               escarpments are very
now sandy land-                                                                                 easy on the eye. Yet
scape. When one                                                                                 when we saw the
finally spots the                                                                               bleak,    arid    stone
lakes that the Coo-                                                                             country northeast of
per runs into, and                                                                              Milparinka, we had to
later out of, the                                                                               wonder how thou-
contrast is again                                                                               sands of men sur-
marked. The round                                                                               vived all those years
trip takes a small                                                                              ago when a gold rush
day, but if I went                                                                              was on. Nearby Mt
again,     I  would                                                                             Poole is a stark, domi-
camp for a night                                                                                nant peak with awe-
there. It truly is a                                                                            some views, which
special place. Both Ross and I reckoned that a week                                             took only half an hour
would be about the right length of time to really get the   to climb and descend. A humbled couple of blokes pot-
feel of Innamincka, but we had only two days. Next          tered back onto the Broken Hill road, never likely to forget
time……..                                                    that area and its history.

We had decided to take the less travelled routes were       Our last billy boil and lunch stop was south of Packsad-
possible, and poked on down to Cameron Corner.              dle, and it was there that we observed rabbit evidence
The oil wells and treatment plants that Santos oper-        for the second time in the week. What a magnificent
ates seemed to be around every corner.                      event the calici virus has been to arid Australia. The
                                                            Barrier ranges were soon in sight, and about 4.00 pm,
The road that heads east from Merty Merty crests            we rolled into Broken Hill. That night we were the only
the tallest and steepest sandhills we had so far en-        ones with out tents or vans in the caravan park. The
countered. These whoop-de-doo’s are capped with             wind did its cold best to annoy us all night, but the old
clay to make for easier travel, and they would be           canvas swags coped. Next day I dropped Ross at the
quite uncomfortable if one suffered from travel sick-       Adelaide airport and was back home in the ’Bridge at
ness. The corner of Queensland, New South                   4.30 pm. What a small, short trip we’d had. And yet
Wales and South Australia is red, sandy country             what a brush with the magnificent arid lands of the Cor-
that is note-worthy only for its geographical signifi-      ner Country we’d had.




V O L U M E 1, I S S U E 1                                                                                        Page 32
Planning your first big trip? Part 1
                                               By Ron Holland
As more and more new adventurers enter the world retirement caravan travel is becoming one of the most fa-
voured methods of seeing our huge outback for the first time. All cashed up and raring to disperse some of it on
that trip of a lifetime, many new entrants to the exciting world of caravan travel look for advice from the “old stag-
ers”. What do we need? How long will it take? Can I take old “Shep” with me? What about my boat? Which is
the best van? What type of tow vehicle? The list goes on and on. The following guide might assist in answering
some of these questions and hopefully make the experience one, which will keep you travelling for years to
come.
Where to start?
Let’s start by saying that it is possible to travel right around Australia on a bitumen road. On the main routes there
are no longer miles of rough, dusty tracks scattered with rocks and potholes filled with bull dust. Its getting harder
to find the real rough tracks every year. Hell, there’s even talk of sealing the famed Gibb River Road, once the
fear of first time adventurers, and the curse of long haul road train drivers of the Kimberley. Regular mainte-
nance by road crews makes this a breeze by comparison to the early days, but it does still have its moments.
The difference today is the ability for anyone to get true and accurate information on road conditions with relative
ease. Tourism has insured that visitors are looked after like never before as the cash injections to outlying com-
munities are their lifeblood.
Before you open the bankroll here’s a few suggestions.
Write down what you think you want to do and decide if you have the time and the money to fulfil these ambi-
tions. Vans can cost as little a few thousand dollars, but as is the case in all ways of life, you get what you pay
for. Perhaps a good way to start might be to borrow or hire a small tent or camper trailer and take it to a nearby
holiday spot for a few days. Camp on a powered site at a local park and experience the life for yourself. On the
way home pick a great spot by the river and stay a night around an open fire. Before you leave pack what you
think you need then just head off.
What you will find is that you have taken a lot of things you will not use, and have left a few important things be-
hind. A good rule of thumb is “When in doubt – Leave it out!” It is amazing how little you really need and even
more amazing how much we all carry that “might just come in handy”. The trick is to decide just what is right for
you. Some veterans seem to have every base covered and always have that spare clip or hose or bottle of glue –
others take nothing! But there always seems to be a willing hand to help in an emergency.
Now that you have experienced a short try out you will have an idea of what you might prefer. If you are happy
sleeping on a blow up mattress then a good camping trailer might be the ideal and generally cheaper way to go.
You will be able to take many campers to spots a standard van will never go, but when it rains you may have
second thoughts. The options are almost endless. If on the other hand you like a bit of “TLC”, then a caravan or
motor home may be more to you liking.
Again you will be confronted with a thousand questions. How big? Pop-top or van, motor home or slide on?
Single Beds or Double? With shower or toilet? Tandem or single axle? Off road or conventional van? Getting
confused? Well don’t panic.
The introduction of the roll out awning has revolutionised caravanning. The ease of operation, no need for bulky
annexes and downright practicality make one almost an essential item. Once you have one you will never go
back to the old style annexe, so give them real thought in your purchase options. Most new vans now have
these as standard.
Go for a walk through you local caravan park and talk to the occupants. Ask them why they have what they have
and what they might change and why? You’ll find most will be only too happy to ring the praises of their outfits
and show you all the features. Soon you’ll have some idea of what works and what doesn’t – you might even pick
up on some of the lingo! This will give you a feel for what is available and at what cost. Remember some people
sell everything and make their van their home for years – its up to you. Make sure you visit a few parks outside
the busy periods. Many long-termers don’t travel during school holidays, Christmas or Easter. Next visit you local
dealers and see what is on offer and at what price? Ask them if you can hire a van or if you can try one prior to
purchase? Van Hire is available in many areas – check out the Internet and caravan magazines.
Now buy all the caravan and touring publications you can afford – an advert in the local rag will probably produce
hundreds of back copies you could borrow from enthusiasts. These will quickly build your knowledge but, no
doubt, raise even more questions. Take some credence in the “experts” advice – they do, afterall, have a deal of
experience in a host of matters, caravanning. Check out the dates of the caravan and camping shows and if you
feel you are ready to take the plunge you’ll usually find a
bargain to be had. Don’t be in a hurry though – look around This article was originally written for Badgers’
on the first day, consider overnight and go and look again            excellent Australian Caravan Parks Report
next day. Be prepared to haggle, don’t take the first deal                  website. It’s well worth a visit at:
offered and ask them to throw in extras. You’ll be amazed                 http://home.vicnet.net.au/~badger04
what can be achieved.

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