Gra Nomad Wanderings

Sunday, April 29, 2012


 Well, the rig is getting overdue for a rest! Replaced and repaired a few bits and pieces (mostly from the avan). Reckon the Sussex Inlet Computer Club folk would be able to help!!!! Plus the Men's Shed of course!

 Departing Alice Springs for Sussex Inlet tomorrow (Monday 30 April). We expect to journey through Coober Pedy, Woomera, Port Augusta, Broken Hill and Dubbo. Then we're pretty well home.

 Stats tell me it's only 3,115 km. I'll check and see how many we do. James Leavers must have done a great job because this rig is still firing on all cylinders. Thanks James. Cranked the tyres up to 40 for the bitumen driving too.

And thanks SI Computer Club. Just checked the firewall and it looks OK. Cheers to David, Tom, Frank and the rest of the gang who meet at the RSL on Tuesdays at 10 am. I'm worried about how many games of tennis I'll need to get to catch Pat Picken and Jenny Flanaghan!!! Seeya soon.....

Saturday, April 28, 2012


 Bit late getting the photo of the barramundi (fish). It was served with "truffled infused Saffron mashed potato and a white wine mustard sauce." The Penfolds Chardonnay went very well with it too. The other option was steak.

 Here the deserts get shared so that Fay and I each get a taste of the 2 items.

 The band for the evening was IN TATTERS! How 'bout that? They were really GREAT as you can see from the following pix.

 Malcolm and Gay from Gerringong on NSW South Coast. Doesn't he look young?

 Rhonda and Bruce from Balgownie were in amongst it also.

 Here's our intrepid secretary Brendon (pointing the finger at his wife Joan, our ex president.) Just couldn't warm him up enough to remove his vest. But the showed the was hot dancers nonetheless. They're from Yarrambat in Victoria.

 Here's a young chick and an old bloke trying to keep pace with the rest of the gang.

Our vice president said a few words and thanked the caterers and the band for helping to make the night such a success. Cliff comes from Garran in the ACT.

Marree's trying to hit......

.... these bits.........
 ...and these fellas have to count. (I think that's what happens.) This was just one Saturday arvo activity.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Well today was wine and cheese. Bring your wine and Big4 campground provided the cheese. 
Great. There were a few on hand to sample the handout. Excellent. 

Yes, it was a 6 pm show which brought shadows and a sunset.

 Earlier in the week we had market day. Fay sold a bunch of lovely handbags which she had been making for some time. Clever thing isn't she?

I even sold a few number plates! Now we've gotta plan for next time.
Seeya.... off to a camp kitchen to have dinner with Les, Lily, Malcolm, Gai, Bruce, Rhonda, Tony and Anne etc. Take your food and wine and .... BINGO!!!
LATE PRESS: (Friday)
Went cycling today out to Simpson's Gap. Round trip 55 km. Fay says she hasn't steered so much for a long time (she's usually on the back of the tandem and I steer for her.)
 She did well up until the last 4 km. If you want to know, ask her!

 Just beautiful. Don't you reckon? This shot was taken facing away from "the gap". I liked this one.

There's a great sealed path out to Simpson's Gap. Well done Alice.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


There are 204 Avans gathered here at Alice Springs for the 13th National Avan Gathering. They come from all over Australia. Activities started on 23 and conclude on 29 April.
Events include:
  • ·         4WD presentation
  • ·         Star gazing
  • ·         Avan markets
  • ·         Avan Chefs’ Challenge
  • ·         Wine and Cheese event
  • ·         Pancake Brekky
  • ·         Trips out to picturesque spots to the west & east
  • ·         A bunch of happy hours
  • ·         AGM
  • ·         Club Dinner
  • ·         Visits to the many Museums in Alice
  • ·         Bush dance

Here the photos show avanners enjoying a street breakfast.
Many thanks to the Big4’s involvement. Brendan and his team here at MacDonnell Ranges Caravan park have been just excellent. 

Monday, April 23, 2012


Headed into NT (Northern territory for the benefit of any body from outside Aust ). Once again no phone internet or microwave available. (I mention the microwave because Fay appreciates a heated up wheat pack on some of her joints both during and after sleep.)
Once more we were blown away by the beauty of this awesome site – Rainbow Valley (and sometimes the flies as you can see). We were so moved we decided we’d stay two nights. That would get us into Alice Springs (only 100 km) on Sunday 22 April, one day ahead of schedule. If you’re reading this we most probably did make it! If you’re not reading this, don’t bother, OK? 

This is actually our 3rd visit to RV, and we appreciate the improvements made to the place and especially the road. There would still be a heap of people who’d prefer not to drive in on this road (and who can blame them.) But, we’re glad we did. Guess we’ll have to replace a few pop rivets, attend to the wiring, check out battery scene, see what we can do about the “floating” cooktop and fix two drawers that have come apart. Oh, and the door. The avan’s held up pretty well really.
Small world. Only a handful of people here at RV. One lass is from Mollymook, one couple from Bermagui, Owen & Marree Bruce were here yesterday and they’re from Nowra and of course we’re from Sussex Inlet. All NSW south coasters. Othere folk Bob & Mary are from Engadine, slightly further afield. Then of course there’s Bevan and Kathy from Nanango in Qld.
 Maybe this is the first time anybody's ridden a Bike Friday at Rainbow Valley.
 Here we are having a celebration drink with Marree and Owen Bruce from Nowra. They're here for the Avan gathering in Alice also.

Two (of the many) shots I took of RV. If you can make out the tree in the centre of the "dip", we walked around the back and up to that tree. Huge claypan in front which filled with water the morning we headed out and on to Alice. 
Monday 23 is the start of the Avan Gathering in Alice Springs. Tell you more next time. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Heard a story; Adam and Lynnie Plate arrived in Oodnadatta about 25 years ago – him riding a camel and her riding a donkey. They now own and operate the Pink Roadhouse.

He’s been fixing punctures for blokes like me travelling the Oodnadatta Track (and other tracks) for about 25 years. (Thankfully we didn’t need his services.) We didn’t meet him but did meet his wife at the Roadhouse.
After our stay in Oodnadatta, we headed for the Painted Desert, arguably one of Australia’s prettiest spots. We also found along that track Arckaringa Station where Hobbsy made us feel welcome. We camped there the night and enjoyed both his hospitality and the showers provided at the campsite.
 Can you see the corrugations? No wonder we're in need of replacing a few of the bits n pieces.

Upon leaving Arckaringa Station (campsite above) we wandered slowly through more Painted Desert country. Actually we did 35 km the first hour and 40 km the second hour as we headed for THE BITUMEN. The bitumen (Stuart Highway) took us through Marla and on to the SA/NT border where we set up camp for the night along with seven other assorted rigs. Had good free facilities there. No phone coverage or I’d have rung you!
Got mixed up with 2 photographers - check out Silvi and Ollie.

 This sure is picturesque country round here. Glad you like it.

  [More story tomorrow. Actually I'm pleased to report we have made it into Alice Springs on Sunday morning. Trouble is I've still got pix and story to share. I'll add stuff on Rainbow Valley tomorrow. We only just made it out after having 2 sleeps there. Nearly got flooded in. Snuck out this morning by the skin of our teeth. Thanks Lord.]

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Sunday 15 April – 5:12 pm.
Had a beaut day. We’d set up our avan on Saturday at about 4 pm. Unfortunately we set up camp while the sun was hidden behind the clouds. When it came out we reckoned we shoulda been several metres over that way. Too late. Then last night, after we’d had a lovely Spanish dish (diced spud, onion, peas, chopped up cooked sausage and 4 eggs. Hhhmmmmm. Lovely. Anyway, after that we joined 2 couples at their campfire. What a great campfire! As per usual, we scavenged a bunch of wood to help the worthy cause. The stars were out in full bloom once the flies decided to turn in for the night. The campfire owners also had 2 dogs who were friendly kinda fellas. Coffee and port by the fire. Does it get much better than that? Sorry... no pix.
So today was an avan-free day. We locked up Matilda, drove to Blinman and then headed on to Mt Chambers Gorge. We’d covered about 90 km by the time we stopped at the designated “this is as far as you drive” spot. Saw two beautiful blue flyers (roos) and one owl. Then, spraying ourselves generously with the fly repellent and having some grapes before departure, we ventured off into the unknown.
The trail was quite easy to follow, although I did resort to putting some arrows here and there in the event that the police or the rescue squad were called in later in the day. We walked sometimes in the dry creek bed and sometimes beside it. The blue slate was everywhere and I couldn’t resist picking up some pieces and writing my name etc on some of the flat palm-sized bits. At times the trail was actually quite high and required some skill to avoid slipping down the side of the bank into the dry creek bed. The flies hadn’t realized we’d sprayed ourselves with fly repellent, which was unfortunate for all concerned, especially us.
Finally we reached the spot where there was a heap of Aboriginal art on a rock face. Yep, this is where that 14 year old kid told Fay to come. Well, we’re here buddy! Photos. Then we wondered whether we should go on a bit further... so we did. Meanwhile we’d not seen another soul for ... well since we arrived at the “this is as far as you drive” spot.

Walking further proved unsuccessful. Actually we saw 2 roos and 2 small lizards in the gorge. When we reckoned there was no point in going onward we turned back and headed for the car. I wonder of my “markers ” would prove helpful as we headed towards the fly-free zone (the car.) 
Uneventful trip back. Fay drove a fair bit of the way back to Blinman, counting the creeks that we crossed and also including “floodways”. By the time we reached our camp we’d counted 168! Lucky there hasn’t been rain for a while eh?
Blinman was an interesting spot. Not much there. Last time we went into the store, this time to the cafe. Guess next time we’ll make it to the pub (further along). We ordered coffee and scones with home-made quandong jam. Very tasty, but the scones had to be the smallest in captivity. The sort that you can plaster with jam, then load with cream and still be able to stuff into your mouth in one go.
 How's that for a tree? Yeah... guess who took the damn photo??

 Parachilna Gorge campsite. Not a lot of company here Al.

As our avan is in a gorge (but not too low down), we are beside a mountain and thus lose the sun earlier than other areas. Good choosing! Once the flies depart, we’ll light the campfire tonight and enjoy our last night in the area between the Southern Flinders Ranges and the Northern Flinders Ranges. Maybe they might call this the Central Flinders Ranges.
Tomorrow, Monday, we’ll head for Parachilna, Leigh Creek and Marree (photo of pub included below). Think I checked with the GPS and found it was 280 km to Marree from here. Too easy. Now, will we need to buy diesel fuel, and if so, when? We’re under a half at present and we have a spare drum which holds 10 Litres.

Another night without power, toilets or water. No phone coverage. No internet. We have extra water and it looks like a “portable wash” outside the van tonight. There are other campers not too far away, but I think we’re private enough here. Back to the Sudoku and the Chardonnay! Reading Richie Benaud’s Over But Not Out. A good read. Especially if you like cricket. I’ll check with Fay to find out if the flies are around or not. I can wait. 
Fay reckoned I was depressed! Maybe I was despondent???? Who knows. Better now as we're actually on the bitumen!!!! And we just picked up internet connection here at Marla! Last place before heading to NT. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Thur 5 Apr -2:32 pm        OK, what has happened so far today?
We left Paddy & Marie’s place at Lake Boga about 8 am. Paddy headed off to help transport an engine (a plane engine of course) in a trailer. We’d had 2 sleeps at Dillons’ by the lake in our trusty avan, Matilda.  Lake Boga’s about 20 km out of Swan Hill.
In Swan Hill Fay wandered round to buy bread, hot cross buns and a pair of sandals to replace ones that had just died. Of course parking in big towns is not an easy trick, but even that was managed fairly well and in the shade too!

Sonsies live here, so it was good to catch them. (Graeme and Betty). 
Off north to Balranald via Murray Downs and Kyalite. 115 km. On a beautiful bitumen road – I think Paddy worked on this road. Balranald; bread rolls, milk and top up with diesel. [Damn! Just had a go at a March fly and didn’t kill him!]
Wasn’t too long before we ran out of bitumen road as we headed north to Turlee Stn, enroute to Mungo National Park. We needed Paddy desperately to fix the road!! It was a shocker in places. I drove at 30-60 kph for quite a ways. Very, very rocky. Stopped to photograph Wakool River and the Kyalite Bridge as well as a sign that said ROUGH ROAD.

About 110 km after leaving Balranald, we made it to Turlee Stn. With some guidance from workers, we found our way to the “campground”. You can park anywhere, but the shower/toilet block is over there. Shade of course was the biggest factor in deciding where exactly to position the avan so the annexe (or awning) was going to be in the best spot. (Pic of GK and Nathen Wakefield from Turlee.)
It is lovely and quiet here.
We’ve set up camp, had a shandy and now a salad bun. Beautiful. We have beautiful shade on the awning side of the avan.
There are another 6 families camped here. All spaced out under trees.
All I can hear are birds.
Temp about 30⁰. It’s warm. Tomorrow is said to be hotter.
Still 2 hrs 17 mins of battery left… and I have a spare battery! And I have a spare laptop!
No phone coverage. None! Gonna be a quiet few days. No phone calls and no emails. Guess I can jump into the car and listen to the news if I get desperate.
There is a gentle breeze from behind me – quite pleasant, Flies are a bit plentiful. Did I mention the grasshoppers? Yeah… plentiful also. Quite plentiful. And that damn March fly.
There are some activities based at Turlee – a tag-a-long tomorrow finishing with a 2 course BBQ by the campfire and then an all you can eat brekky the following morning. Sounds pretty good.
That’s enough for now. Off for  a 2nd bun. Perhaps a banana one this time. Think the March fly has gone off for a siesta. I know I haven’t killed him…. Yet.
Friday 6 April 2012 – 2:07 pm
Hey, the bar was opened at 5 pm yesterday, in the shearing shed here at Turlee. It sure was 5 o’clock somewhere – in fact right here! Thanks Nathan (Wakefield).
Today we headed for Mungo National Park getting there around 8 am. It was predicted that Friday is gonna be warm to hot, so we reckoned we needed to be there early. [Temps reached a warm 33⁰.]
After getting the information sheets we decided on a 70+ km self-drive around the park. Took us 3 hours or more to do the circuit allowing for a number of stops here and there. Mungo National Park is part of the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area. It is traditional home to the Paakantyi, Ngyiampaa and Mutthi Mutthi People. In fact they have the ownership and running of the park now. We walked on the Walls of China and read about lunette, examined Vigars Well, old shearing sheds, and even walked to the top of some sand dunes for a look all over the place. What a day! We drove 125 km all up and saw 6 roos (nearly got a couple) and 28 emus (nearly got a couple of them too.)

We looked through Mungo Woolshed which was constructed of locally hand cut Cypress Pine back in 1869. We also checked out Zanci’s Woolshed. Both huge, impressive buildings. Unreal to think how plentiful the lakes were round here back thousands and tens of thousands of years.

Friday arvo…. Time to relax after lunch and maybe have a read. At 4 pm we’re scheduled to join a tag-a-long tour which finishes with a BBQ (Murray Cod and yabbies!) Might need a kip later this arvo. Hope the cool change comes as some have predicted. 

Saturday 7 April 2012
Hhhmmm.  The tag-along was good and the Murray Cod barbie was just excellent! I had 2 helpings of Murray Cod - cooked in foil (just like Jimmy Smart used to do) with lemon and button tomatoes. Delicious! 
Sat saw us get across to Pooncarie. Hey... the school currently has 3 kids! Yep, 3 kids! There are 10 buildings plus the new tennis court. They say there are more staff than kids! Bro Bill taught there in 1962-64. I even did a prac there!!! I know a lot of things happen when a bloke comes back outa the pub, but when we came back outa the Pooncarie pub we were greeted with a flat tyre on the avan! Bugger!

Tuesday 10 April 2012 update
Since Pooncarie we've been to Wentworth, Mildura, Mannum (SA), Strathalbyn, Goolwa and now Adelaide. Great to catch up with Des/Deanne Wakefield (Mildura) and Scott/Jacqui at Goolwa.
Mungo National Park - well worth a visit. Looked a bit like a mini Grand Canyon.