Winter is the best time to travel in Australia’s outback – the nights are cold but the days are generally warm and sunny and not too many flies have started to hang around, looking for any living thing to bother. We have been on the road for about ten days now. First campsite was Nyngan in the west of NSW on the banks of the Bogan River. Pelicans sailing up and down, looking for the huge quantities of fish they need to survive, a spoonbill, numerous other birds making their living along the river.
Next stop was Wilcannia, a new very small caravan park on the banks of the Darling, once again full of birds. We hadn’t intended to stop here but the head winds were so strong that driving on to White Cliffs was too exhausting and the diesel consumption was ferocious. Black, black clouds gathered and rain poured through the night. The weather didn’t improve much for White Cliffs, still cold with bursts of rain but we were able to wander around fossicking for opal in the mullock heaps thrown up by the scores of miners who have sought their fortune over the last 150 years or so, and take a tour in a working mine. These are all small operations, one or two people working each claim, many with just basic tools, but this one was more sophisticated, with powered diggers and machinery for sifting and crushing the rock that was excavated.
Tibooburra was next stop, last chance at phone signal or Internet then on towards Innamincka through the Sturt National Park. We always think of how harsh the conditions must have been for those intrepid (and sometimes stupid) early explorers. It’s hard going even when you are as well equipped as we are, and with satnav and decent maps. (The satnav was pretty confused at times though, urging us to ‘turn right in 200 metres’ even when there was not even a hint of a track …) Bush camping at lovely small campsites near abandoned properties for the next couple of days, then Innamincka, on the Cooper Creek, near where Burke and Wills died. Now a couple of days in the relative civilisation of Birdsville, we can have a shower and wash the dust off our clothes before heading north.
Please leave comments, but I may not be able to respond for a few days, just depending on when we get the next Internet access!