Peterborough - Sydney - Day 5

Wednesday, Dec 22, 2004 at 14:20

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

After our late night, we did surprisingly well to depart promptly and we were very thankful for a wonderful hearty breakfast spread prepared for us too. One of our discussions last night was to agree on a route towards Sydney from Peterborough that didn't involve bitumen highways. Although we had a basic plan, our friends provided that little bit of extra confidence by confirming what most of the tracks were like and assisting us to make the final decision. Although the route had been badly damaged by recent rains, we made a great 2 day drive on dirt tracks all the way through to West Wyalong, which we will prepare as a new Trek Note on the site. For those of you like us, who get bored of long-haul highway travel, you'll find that this route is not only interesting but it adds no additional distance or time on the drive to Sydney.

Our route from Peterborough headed south to Terowie, and then pretty much due east through numerous gates and over many more cattle grids within the large and remote outstations/ruins of Pine Creek, Loch Winnoch, Braemar, and Faraway Hill, which we reached about 10.30am when I suddenly yelled out to "STOP!" about 20m before a washout that had taken the entire width of the track away with nowhere to go but down a ravine deep enough to have been a very serious accident. I hope these photos give some indication...

The only way around was to backtrack and take a station track through some gates and drive around the ridge of a dam wall to be able to gain access through the fenceline and get onto the other side of the cattle grid. (Backtracking 3 hours drive was not an option).

After this obstacle we continued on but before reaching the next track, which was a slightly thicker line on the NatMap Raster mapsheet, we dipped down into a short and dry crossing over a minor creek but came to a grinding halt right in the middle of the crossing - stuck up to the sidesteps in thick silt and mud. Things did not seem good, and without speaking a word we just looked at one another with that look of "Oh" and then another look that seemed to say "don't say a word or Leah will want to get out and play in the mud". I believed I had seen evidence that there may have been a concrete causeway somewhere under the mud and with minimal words suggested we could try spinning the wheels to bite into the bottom. The wheels were certainly spinning but did indeed find the bottom and we were able to drive out and the kids were non the wiser (in fact Chardae was fast asleep through it all). There were no markings, tracks or visible water to warn us of this obstacle - these photos were taken after the event looking back down the track the way we'd come through.

The next track we turned onto was certainly a bit more of a road and was mostly firm, except for a few more washouts, potholes and in some places there was ponded water where it was necessary to take diversions. This is certainly remote country and we didn't even see any evidence of life. Our route continued through Oakvale, Loch Lilly (a South Afrian Boer Goat Station on the SA/NSW border), Harriedale, South Ita and finally met up with the Silver City Highway south of Broken Hill.

We then travelled the Silver City Highway north for 14km before turning east again on another dirt track through stations of Brackwell, Tandou and finally into Kinchega National Park which we reached at a very civilised time of 4pm, giving plenty of time to explore to select the best camp (David is a compulsive campsite perfectionist) and try a little yabbying.

I need to include at this point, some comments about how David works when he is travelling as it is rather interesting and explains why we are never "on holiday". As David's IT income comes from time billed for consulting services, from mostly interstate clients, his phone is his tool of the trade. It is therefore in his best interests to receive phone calls no matter where we are, and it makes little difference whether he is in the middle of a desert or in an office. When we travel, we are fortunate to have Juliana to manage the office and process the shop orders. She is therefore able to handle David's incoming email and phone calls too, although many will call David direct on his mobile. For some reason, we had no work of this nature for the last 4 days we've been travelling along the tar, but as soon as we had turned our wheels into the dirt the client calls started to pour in. In fact today we had 4 different clients with 4 different "major" dramas. These calls somehow seemed out of place, almost like an intrusion into our remote adventure, but with today's technology it is getting harder to be "unavailable".

So, our day ended on the banks of the beautiful Darling River, although camping here in summer with the flies etc was not quite as idyllic as we had experienced in the winter of 1999. After a tiring day following a late night, combined with the 3 hr time change we've experienced over the last few days we didn't manage more than a simple sausage sandwich for dinner. In fact David went to bed before me and the kids.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Always working not enough travelling!
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