buy, build or sell, we are here to help!
If you are looking for a different way to travel, check out http://www.trikesaustralia.com
Tears at Broken Hill
Wednesday 4 April 2007
We were planning to leave about eight p.m. but then I reckoned that if we left very early Thursday morning we'd be able to get to Broken Hill at a reasonable hour on Friday afternoon.
Late afternoon I hitched the brand-new trailer and brought it up to the house so we could load it. This was going well until I decided to check the trailer's lights again. What I found floored me: the brake lights and turning indicators were OK but the tail lights and number-plate light were dead. This threw me into a bit of a panic and instead of trying to reason out where the trouble lay I tried to test the wiring of the plug and socket with a multimeter. In the process I managed to blow a fuse in the car, so that its tail-lights were not working either.
This brought me to my senses and I started to reason things out. The most likely place for trouble was where I'd modified the wiring to add the number-plate light. Sure enough one of the wires had pulled out of the terminal block I'd added to the system. This was easy to fix and I was able to borrow a fuse from another circuit in the car (the one for the interior lights and radio) to get the tail-lights working on both the car and trailer.
Thursday 5 April 2007
We were able to get away at about 5:30 a.m. I'd spent a lot of time trying to work out the best route. There is no "best" one really, and so I decided to try roads that were mainly new to me, starting down the Pacific Highway to Grafton, then cutting across to the New England Highway at Armidale.
It was light by the time we reached Grafton and took the road to Armidale. The road soon became quite winding and steep, with the auto transmission often down to second gear. Somewhere about Ebor we must have taken the wrong turn and we were headed for Guyra instead of Armidale. Twenty Km of gravel got us back on track.
Gravel road are like Brer Rabbit's briar patch to me but I was pleased to find the trailer towed pretty well on this surface too; although we discovered when we stopped for lunch that it's not completely dust-proof.
From Tamworth we left the New England Highway and headed west towards Gunnedah and Coonabarabran. Along the way we pulled into a park and had something to eat and a snooze -- Christine on a rug with the dog and me in the trailer. So at last I fully realized the benefit of towing our little trailer.
The sun had set by the time we were approaching Gilgandra, looking for someone to stay for the night, after having travelled 850 Km that day. We found a caravan park just east of the town with a nice quiet private spot for us. For the first time we put up the little tent for the dog to sleep in and I went off to a nearby roadhouse for a couple of take-away meals.
See http://www.rotarycaravanpark.com.au for details of the park. It's a possible venue for next Easter's get-together.
Friday 6 April 2007
Another pre-dawn start soon found us in Warren, where we bought petrol and headed towards the Mitchell Highway. There were big flocks of cockatiels beside the road. Taking the Barrier Highway at Nyngan gave us the feeling we really were making progress.
At Cobar we bought coffee (well, they said it was coffee, but Christine was doubtful) and hot-cross buns for our Good Friday breakfast. We sat at a bench just opposite the big Cobar sign. At http://www.flickr.com/photos/stara you can see the photo I took there and a few other pictures of our trip.
Next there was a 260 Km drive to Wilcannia. This seems a very remote, almost forgotten, little town, but once it was an important river port. In the drought the Darling River has long since stopped flowing. At the BP petrol station we were told that just half an hour before us a big man with a bushy beard in a Toyota ute towing a Teardrop trailer had bought petrol there. We had no idea who that could have been...
So we were on the road again towards Broken hill, with another 260 Km. to drive. There were lots of dead kangaroos beside the road, with crows feeding on them. We saw a few wedgetail eagles too.
When a huge mullock heap came into view against the horizon we knew we were nearly there. As Christine drove into the city I tried to orient myself to the map and find some street names. We drove all the way along Argent St. and back without finding any. I realized we needed to follow the signs for Adelaide. And there on our right, just short of the city's dead centre (see Flickr photo), was our destination.
We were at the Broken Hill City Caravan Park http://bhttp.tripod.com, where Paul had booked several places for our group. Because we had a dog, we were not close to the others. The benefit was that we had our own ensuite bathroom.
We set ourselves up and before long we were visited by a tall youthful man who introduced himself as Paul. It's funny how we gain a visual impression of a person we've only met over the telephone or by email. I'd imagined Paul to be stocky, even plump, with a fleshy face, plenty of dark wavy hair, a moustache and thick-rimmed glasses. He has none of those dubious attributes.
Paul told us we were all to meet up at sunset, and so we did. There were:
Editorial Note: Yes, yes, yes... we had some fun with the super fine, red dust of the outback, but with the pressure hatch in the new 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. As to why we went off road with the Belmontear? It wasn't really to pick the shortest distance... we like kilometres... it was just that dirt roads are so much fun! Reiner may have been born in Germany, but he has Aussie outback running through his veins now. And what better way to test the quality of our campers and make necessary improvements than to try them ourselves on the toughest roads our country can offer.
Saturday 7 April 2007
In the afternoon Several of our group visit Silverton and the Daydream mine. Barry and Leroy managed to scare Christine off going inside the mine by saying it is a ples masalai i.e. there is a spirit in the cave that might harm her.
That evening we met for the big prize-giving ceremony. At stake was a magnificent trophy donated by Reiner: a model Beetle and Teardrop, mounted on a wooden base and compete with a brass plaque. After a secret ballot the trophy for the best home-built Teardrop was awarded to Paul. As we decided it shouldn't be a perpetual trophy, Reiner will have to come up with something next year too.
Following this, most of us went to a local hotel for dinner. On the way home there was RBT roadblock. They waved most of our people through but picked on Keith -- a non-drinker -- for some reason.
Sunday 8 April 2007
Some of the women were keen to go to a craft market in the morning. In the evening we got together again at sunset and in due course gravitated to the barbecue area for dinner
Monday 9 April 2007
All except Keith, Howard and Christine left in the morning for their return journey, after a really successful inaugural Easter Teardrop convention.
Planning for next year's Easter event is already under way. Queenslanders will be pleased that most likely it will be somewhere in northern News South Wales. Maybe we'll even attract a few Teardroppers from that state.
Tuesday 10 April
In order to do the return trip in two days we had an early start. It was still quite early by the time we reached Wilcannia. We bought petrol and I took a couple of photos along the almost deserted streets. My guess is they'd not really be busy at any time.
At Cobar we decided to head for Bourke, directly north along the Kidman Way. The country around Bourke seemed more affected by drought than anywhere else we'd seen. What ground cover that was left was grey rather than brown and many trees were dead or dying. There was water in the Darling River but it was green and stagnant, held back by a weir below the town.
We headed for Brewarrina (Bre to the locals), still not certain where we would stay for the night. At Walgett we bought petrol. Noting all the business premises with metal security screens over their doors and windows we thought it better to find a place to stay elsewhere. I'd never seen Collarenebri, but my guess was it wouldn't offer much on the way of facilities for tourists either. So Lightning Ridge, about an hour's drive north of Walgett, seemed the best idea.
We arrived at Lightning Ridge just after sunset. The first park we tried was full and the Crocodile Caravan Park across the road, almost in the centre of town, was nearly so, but we were given a space near the front entrance. (See http://www.wj.com.au/accomodation/croc.html). We had 240V and water and some shade under a peppercorn tree.
We set ourselves up and I strolled over to the bottle across the road for a nice bottle of red, then just up the street to the bowling club for a couple of take-away meals.
Wednesday 11 April 2007
Christine liked Lightning Ridge so much we decided to have a full day there. The photos at Flickr will give you an idea about how we spent our time.
Thursday 12 April 2007
I arose at 4:00 am to ensure we were away well before sunrise. The dog's tent didn't take long to take down -- it had almost fallen down already. Temus had been on his best behaviour throughout or trip, barking only occasionally at passer-by as he sat on guard duty in front of our camp.
As we drove north in the early dawn towards Hebel, just over the border with Queensland, we saw hundreds of kangaroos on the road. On this road they were mainly live ones and, in due course, the inevitable happened and we christened our bull-bar. Christine, who was driving at the time, was very upset: I was to blame for making her drive too fast. But it's just about impossible to avoid every kangaroo.
We bought petrol at Dirranbandi. The shortest way home, bypassing St. George, took us along a secondary road to Thallon, about 20 Km of it gravel. Somewhere along the Barwon Highway we stopped at a roadhouse for a breakfast of meat pie and coffee. We were told that it was even stevens whether it was quicker to drive to Brisbane via Toowoomba or Warwick.
We by-passed Goondiwindi and headed for Toowomba. I expected to find petrol on the outskirts of the city, but there were no petrol stations along our route until just short of Milmerran. The gauge was creeping so low I cut the speed by 10 Km per hour to make sure we got there. At the petrol station I barely resisted the temptation to say something to the woman driver who'd been tailgating me for the last 20 Km, despite many opportunities to overtake as I drove at 20Km per hour below the 110 Km per hour speed limit. Why do people put themselves and others in danger in this way?
Our drive on to Toowoomba, down the range, then through to Gatton, Ipswich and the Gold Coast was without incident. We rushed along without stopping for lunch, keen to get home; we arrived at about 3:30 pm.
This site has borrowed images from
tear-droppers around the world.