Darwin via the Dirt Roads (part 2)

Tuesday, Jun 15, 2010 at 10:00

Member - Michael John T (VIC)

Left Castlemaine, central Vic, on 15th June and headed for our first and one of our favourite camping spots in the state forest on the Murray at Picnic Point. Day two saw us heading for Ivanhoe on the Cobb Highway wide open country with few highlights except for the ever changing colours of the grasses and low vegetation - silver (saltbush) amongst greens and browns.

On approaching Ivanhoe we were pulled over by the local policeman for a licence check & breath test (but mainly for a chat) we were one of the few vehicles he had seen that day. From there onto Whitecliffs, via Wilcanna, for a fossick among the piles of white clay. Interestingly south of Ivanhoe virtually no trees or scrub but immediately north trees and scrub almost all the way. Just 9 kms north of Ivanhoe came across a large waterhole, full from the recent rains which would have made a great overnight camp. The Manara Hills made a momentary change from the continuous flat country, but with changing grey soils and red sandy sections and a brilliant blue sky backdrop, made for a very pretty drive.

Day 4 saw us driving west from Whitecliffs towards Tibooburra along the recently opened dirt road now still suffering (in places) the ravages of the recent rains, especially across the flood plains of the William Creeks. Plenty of wash- a- ways kept the speed down arround 40 kph. On reaching the Silver City Hwy, the plans for the day changed as we came across the Green Lakes about 98 kms south of Tibooburra. What started as a quick look see saw us camping by the waters edge in another beautiful spot.

The next day we eventually reached Tibooburra but not before spending most of the day detouring into Milparinka ruins. It must be almost 20 years since we last visited here to find quite a bit of restoration work going on by volunteers (police station and courthouse) but the hotel has now closed. Interesting to talk with the people working and visiting , so spent quite a bit of time here before heading around the loop to Depot Glen and Pooles' grave (he was second in charge of Sturts' 1845 expedition) via Sturt Station and Gum Vale Gorge and finally to Tibooburra. Camped beside the granite boulders at the caravan park (considerably cheaper than the Dead Horse Gully National Parks camp ground). A very satisfying meal, drinks and a chat with the staff and locals at the Family Hotel ( Clifton Pues paintings on the wall are still worth seeing again) completed another brilliant day in NSW north west corner country.

The next day was a rest day giving us time to quietly look around the township and it's improvements since our last visit whilst we waited for the arrival of our traveling partners Al and Den. The following morning saw a slow start as we farwelled the folk we met at the park, had a final buy up of essentials (the next would be at Tennant Creek in two weeks time) and refueled ($1;55 pl) - we each carry enough for 1400 kms - so it was about 10.45 am before we headed for Warri Gate and beyond. The road was fine, plenty of emus, roos and wedge tailed eagles and again quite lush vegetation. By 1.30pm after detouring into several waterholes we had only traveled 90 kms but couldn't resist the large waterhole 100 meters from the Nocundra turnoff as a lunch stop. Here bird watching was at a premium with floatillas of pink eared ducks, many nesting darters and whistling kites harassing them. Yes all 4 of us are into bird watching, a product of many trips across the continent. We passed through Santos station and turned into Orientos station where the road although graded was washed out in many places and sandy in others. Now heading west into the rapidly dying sun we eventually hit tarmac, found a campsite 100 meters off the side of the road , lit a fire and settled in for the night. Several well lit road trains passed us by throughout the evening (one convoy of four) and each tooting at our camp.

Our target for the day had been the Dig Tree but the changed road conditions since my last visit (when you actually forded the river to get there) and the lateness of our arrival left us a few kilometers short. Not a problem we'll get there tomorrow morning.
More photos at :-http://picasaweb.google.com/112144804027186242059/DarwinOnTheDirt?authkey=Gv1sRgCN_4kKmT_tb10gE#
Up dated 14 May 2012.
We retired to travell
It's time to go again...
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