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Making the most of short breaks... Again!
It seems that Easter is becoming a regular whirlwind trip for us. Especially now that a few teardroppers have decided to make it the time for a national teardrop gathering. This year we took a whole 9 days to take in the sights of the New South Wales outback. What a blast!
We were meeting up with a group of teardroppers from around the country, so we looked for a central, interesting location as the first gathering point. Including us, there were 8 x teardrop campers and 18 x people who made the trek out to Broken Hill. Rod, Keith and Paul were there. These guys each have a homebuilders page on this site. Paul and his wife Katrina were joined by family Emma-Kate, Jeremy and Seth. Glenn, who is very active in the Yahoo! Teardrop Group helping people with their 12v needs was there. Howard and Christine showed off their home built teardrop. Leroy is the proud owner of the 5th ever built, Aussie Teardrop Camper. He brought a good friend Barry, who camped in a tent nearby. Darryl and his family of four made up the last of the team, travelling from Toowoomba to see teardrop camping in action before Darryl embarks on his own teardrop building project.
To celebrate the occasion everyone voted for their favourite home-built teardrop at the gathering, with Paul, Keith and Howard wining the first, second and third honours respectively. It was decided that next year people can sponsor other awards such as Best Presented teardrop, so if you plan to come along, put your thinking caps on.
Different travelling styles
The beauty of a trip like this is that it suits all kinds of travellers. Some of the travelling style depends on where you start your travels from. Rod travelled some long days to come all the way from Perth for the weekend. Very impressive! Some took it easy, like Paul and his family from Adelaide who cruised for a day with a simple 500km ride. But we are describing the trip from Brisbane and even that can be achieved in a variety of ways.
Leroy from Brisbane travelled along bitumen in a Belmontear he bought several years ago now. Up before the crack of dawn, he and Barry pulled into a caravan park in Cobar to rest for the night. He passed us on his first morning, still asleep in a truck stop in Goondiwindi. We tend to leave after work on the night before we start travelling to cut a couple of hours off the trip for the next day (and because Sam isn't a morning person, so there are no crack of dawn starts in our house.)
We stayed in Bourke that night and instead of travelling on to Cobar in the morning, we followed the Paroo-Darling River to Wilcannia. Reiner loves to hit the dirt roads... even if we didn't take an off-road Desertear. Our 5 foot Belmontear is well made and can deal with some light off road, and it was worth giving it a work out to see how well it stands up. It did well, but our beautiful retro mudguards took a beating, so next time we do a trip like that, I think we will take the off-roader (especially since the new Desertear will be finished soon.)
We had some fun with the super fine, red dust of the outback, but with the pressure hatch in the Desertear we have that one under control. Our teardrops are generally dust and waterproof, but the red powder of the outback is something that needs to be seen to be believed. Leroy avoided this problem by sticking to the bitumen on his return trip also.
Some of the best sites on the way
We know we didn't see everything you could see on the trip. How could you in 9 days? But we were able to pick a few favourites along the way that we did take in:
Wilga Camping Grounds: Paul is a National Parks & Wildlife caretaker who lives in Wilga and is an absolute wealth of knowledge on the townships and wildlife of the area. Wilga is about 80km off the road to Wilcannia where we found Paul ensuring weeds don't spoil a beautiful waterhole that can be found even when the river hasn't been flowing for some time. The waterhole is overlooked by a great camping ground with simple, but immaculate facilities including barbeques and toilets. Paul gave us the helpful tip that the BP petrol station in Wilcannia, which can be found just off the first left as you drive in to town from the east, carries diesel for up to 10c cheaper than the competing station on the main road through town. Paul has been living in Wilga for several years with his young family and loves the area. We found it a great spot for camping, and had diesel service with a smile and saved some money on the way.
Broken Hill & Silverton: Dramatic landscape, historic and new mine tours, galleries, opals, fascinating architecture and mecca for Mad Max fanatics. You need some time to appreciate this fascinating town. Well worth the drive.
White Cliffs: This town is like a mini-Coober Pedy. Remote, harsh and breathtakingly spectacular.
Wanaaring: The townsfolk of Wanaaring are warm and friendly. The honey from the local bee-keeper is magic, and camping and fishing by the river here is idyllic. The local store provides a good feed and great conversation by a young couple who manage the postal run for the surrounding properties for hundreds of kilometers.
Palm Grove Date Farm & Winery (Eulo): Ian and Nan Pike run the most remote winery in Australia 67km west of Cunnamulla, producing lovely date and fig produce including date wines and liquors. The property is worth a tour as the Pikes have lived in the area for over 25 years and have created an absolute haven in the outback.
A trip like this makes you realise why we love Australia.
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