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Bob's travels across N.S.W. and into Q'ld


Bob
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I think I left you troops in Broken Hill, at the far western edge of the state of New South Wales, having just come up from South Australia.

That was about 3 weeks ago. It could have been 3 months ago, but when you're on the road for a few weeks, you lose track of the days then the weeks as you keep travelling.

Anyhow . . . . . on the second night in the caravan park we stayed at in Broken Hill, the heavens opened up and dumped a record June rainfall in one hit on us. . . . . . 58mm or 2 1/4" for the old timers who still think in inches like myself!

The roads heading east were just going thro mile after mile of what seemed like a vast delta or flood plain.

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We drove 200 kms east, going thro a town that was once pretty, called Wilcannia. It was depressing to see what had become of this once graceful N.S.W. country town but will talk another time of this Australian problem with photos to clarify what has happened. Needless to say, we camped off the road some 60 kms further on for the night.

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At the end of the day

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early next morning

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We pressed on thro across northern N.S.W., only stopping at a place where opals are mined called Lightning Ridge. 90% of the world's opals are to be found in Australia which also has the best quality opals. These opal miners were to be seen at one of the "diggings"

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Lightning Ridge is only 64kms south of the Queensland border and I felt like I wasn't really "there" until we crossed the 29th parallel (the Q'ld / N.S.W. border)

Our first Queensland town was called "Hebel" after a German pioneer in the late 1800s. There was a delightful General Store which made great devonshire teas.

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When you're on the road living out off caravan tucker you feel like a good treat once in a while, and boy, did we pig out?

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It had a very cosy restaurant for travellers also alongside the general store section to the right of the building that was originally built in 1897.

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We camped around the back of the store for a cheap $15 a night . . . . hot showers too!

We do it tough in Australia by having king prawns for tea-time

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The pub across the road was a real Queensland Outback pub with sloping bar, cold beers and no nonsense service

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Once in Queensland you can see and watch rugby (rugby league, especially) which isn't followed much in South Australia or Victoria. I enjoy watching Rugby League and my "local" team is Melbourne Storm. When I found a bear in a shop window, I knew he wasn't going to bought by any Queenslanders, so I had to rescue him and here he is with his girlfriend, a bear brought along by my sister-in-law.

He says "Hi!" to all you South Africans who like rugby.

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Outside the Q'ld town of Dalby, we began to negotiate the Great Dividing Range which is a range of hills in the south east of Australia that separates the rivers. To the east, they flow into the Pacific, to the west they flow up to 4 000 kms into the great Murray-Darling River which empties at Goolwa in South Australia into the Southern Ocean. We found a free overnight camping spot, complete with toilet which we used as a shower block too.

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My sister-in-law and husband worked in northern Queensland in 1999 / 2000 and met a couple that they had kept in touch with ever since. They invited us to stay for a while at their place whenever we were in Q'ld. The hospitality was great and they asked us to stay for the week to see a rodeo on the Saturday, which we did (piccies on that later on)

Having an outside barbie

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It was too cold . . . . only 24 degrees . . . . for a swim

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They lived just out of the city of Maryborough, up the coast of Queensland from Brisbane about 250 kms.

The township itself was steeped in colonial history which I found interesting.

The market in the middle of Maryborough

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The author of the book "Mary Poppins" came from Maryborough

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Needless to say, we toured the surrounding district, seeing the South Pacific for the first time at Hervey Bay

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Tourists are well catered for throughout Queensland with picnic spots, play areas for kids, etc. all clean and in good nick

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having a play

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We went to Rainbow Beach to look across to the biggest sand island in the world, Fraser Island, and noticed a car ferry coming across the 1 mile strait of water. It just ran straight up onto the beach, dumping its front end on the sand and the cars driving off like the D-Day landing in Normandy!

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Ginnie noticed all the different flowers in tropical Queensland and was envious. She'd worked up in New Guinea years ago which is tropical and felt nostalgic about it

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next day, we travelled 110 kms north to Bunderberg, which is surrounded by sugar cane country and has the famous rum distillery called "Bundie" by Aussies. It sells 96% of its stuff to Australians, with 3% going to New Zealand and 1% going to London and Canada. When they tried to increase production by en extra 30% to service the overseas demand, Australians just drunk it all

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sugar canefields are mechanised nowadays. My sister in law's hubbie, Syd, worked as a cane cutter years ago. Australia was the only place in the world where white men only worked in the sugar cane fields . . . hard work

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They place all the sugar cane into these rail trucks which head for the mill

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Across the road, we noticed some Aussies picking peppers. We stopped for a chat and they offloaded heaps of hot peppers onto us which kept us going for a couple of weeks on our sandwiches and meals . . . great stuff!

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Just to illustrate how clean and tidy the tourist barbeque areas are in Queensland, this one we stopped at on the banks of the river flowing thro Bunderberg

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Ginnie has a snooze in the play area alongside

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The river bank alongside

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More later!

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[Thanks Bob for all the photo's and wonderful descriptions of the places you visit.

It is lovely for all the people in South Africa to see how beautiful and also clean Australia is.

For those of us already here it is great to get another view of this vast land.

I have just had the map out following your travels trying to get a sense of where every place is.

We will be relocating to Moranbah in the coming weeks from Western Australia so your pics make it more real.

I hope you head further North as I would love to see a little of Mackay and surrounds.

Travel safe

Andrea L

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Hi Bob.

I was waiting for your post, my husband just ask me last week have Bob posted some more photo's.

Thanks for your update. O i just love your posts, have learned a lot about Australia though your eyes.

Cant wait for your next post. Enjoy !!!!!!!

Cheers vir eers

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Bob

THANKS for your lovely photos and comments on your trip. We love reading it and seeing the rest (or some small part of it) while sitting in front of the PC.

Have a great trip.

Frenchy

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thoroughly enjoyed. Wish more people would post their travel stories. Gives us still here quite a thrill but also gives those of us who know most areas in ZA well a picture of how the place looks.

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Nice pics Bob. This walkabout thing people do over here is starting to look better and better to me. What is the best way to do it? Do you just get yourself a nice 4x4 and drive around or what?

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Great Pics Bob and wonderful narration. I am learning heaps and heaps. I agree with Gerardinoz, this walkabout is looking better and better.

I think its time to go on that SKI TRIP- for those that dont know ...its SPEND THE KIDS INHERITANCE !!!!!.

Keep it coming Bob, looks like you had a great time :whome:

Edited by Enrica
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Hi Bob,

Just wanted to say it was so nice to meet you, could have spent days just chatting and learning from you. I was telling David that there was so much more I wanted to discuss with you, about Adelaide, your travels etc. Hopefully we will meet up again one day, maybe when we get to do some travelling. Thanks for the bottle of wine and I hope you enjoy the boerewors.

Enjoy the rest of your trip and I will be following your adventure with you as you go.

Say hi to Ginnie, Dell and Sid

bye for now Jill

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Thanks for the photos and your stories Bob. It's so interesting to see all these different areas of Australia and boy does it make my feet itch! Can't wait to get out there and do some more travelling.

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Wow! Looks great... and a REAL BRAAI! What I'd give for a steak on a "real braai" instead of the gas bbq.

Can't wait to see your next post. An inspiration for us to start travelling the countryside soon too.

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Thanks Bob for the great photo's and naration. Who needs a travel guidebook when we've got you!! Can't wait to get to Oz & explore the beautiful country! Regards mcnut3

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  • 2 weeks later...

We pulled out of Emerald on Monday morning, heading another 400 kms to the Outback of Australia.

Longreach was our destination.

Just out of Emerald a few miles are the sapphire mining towns of Anakie and Sapphire. These places begun in the late 1800s when this part of Queensland was being opened up to settlement.

We met a convivial Welshman who had a claim on an old workings. He lived previously in South Australia, but found himself increasingly heading north to this part of Queensland, so he eventually shifted here altogether. He lived in a shed on his claim.

The mine where we dig out the dirt for sifting

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$10 for bucket of dirt isn't a bad earning?

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shovelling the dirt

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We bring it to the top, putting enough in for a "wash" to get rid of the small dust which is useless

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a couple of minutes later

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washing & sifting the fine stuff

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checking for true sapphire

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the reward

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We got our money's worth, as Ginnie and her sister went off to a cutter to get it valued. She'd lose 2/3rds of her two biggest stones, but would get a pair of sapphire earrings out of the morning's work . . . . $20 worth.

We got a visitor for lunch that day

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The Capricorn Highway, as the name suggests, follows the tropic line east / west

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Later on that afternoon, we began to look around for spot to pull up for the night. We saw this look-out in the Drummond Ranges. It was a turn off from the main Capricorn Highway and far enough away not to be disturbed at night by any heavy transports going past. . . . . just the ticket!

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Our view, 100 yards' stroll away, where I watched the sky turn pink thro purple to a deep indigo before the lights eventually went out on Australia

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With the night comes the campfire, the "happy hour" drink and the tall tales. I dunno what I'm talking about here, but it was BIG

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The stars are that big in the Outback that you feel you can just pick them out of the heavens. Here we lie on the down track to our spot, just gazing up at the stars for about 20 minutes.

In Australia you can afford to be free enough to do dopey stuff like lying on a road, gazing up at the heavens and know that you're OK.

All you need is a partner who's as dopey as you are???? . . . and as uninhibited to be free enough to appreciate the beauty that is all around us if we only look at times

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The end of the day

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Next day we pressed on for Jericho, a stuggling town on the way to Longreach. It had some interesting items for tourists to look at and take note of. Here are the "Crystal Trumpeteers", the people who walked 7 times around Jericho before blasting their horns to make the walls fall down for the Israelites

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the town also has the smallest drive in theatre in Australia . . . . all of 36 parking spots. Once a month, the latest films are put on.

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if you can't get a spot in your car, then it's the "pash pit"!

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You've all heard me mention the words "Great Dividing Range" which are a range of hills that run as the backbone of south eastern Australia. To the west, the rivers flow into the Murray-Darling Basin where it hits the sea at Goolwa, 3 000 kms away in South Australia, or drains into lake Eyre, an enormous salt pan below sea level where the water eventually evaporates or seeps into underground water tables which make up the Great Australian Artesian Basin

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the town had wall paintings galore

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and an interesting town store that a young enterprising couple had rigged out to be a local museum out the back

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I take my hat off to them for their imagination and skills in presenting such an interesting feature in their store.

Lunchtime across the road

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The ubiquitous road trains that run everywhere, carrying stock across Queensland

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Edited by Bob
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Wow Bob! Really great!

You seem to have the most interesting life!! Thanks for sharing it with us!

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No worries, Carrie

My life is great . . . . . . and this country is in no small part, the reason for why I say that.

Australia? . . . . . . . enjoy!

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Thank you again Bob.

I will soon be living not too far away from Emerald in Moranbah and your photo's give me a glimpse of what to look forward to!

I think at the end of your journey you will have to put it all together as a slide show for all the people in South Africa to get a taste of this vast land.

Enjoy the rest of your travels.

Andrea L

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Thank you again Bob.

I will soon be living not too far away from Emerald in Moranbah and your photo's give me a glimpse of what to look forward to!

I think at the end of your journey you will have to put it all together as a slide show for all the people in South Africa to get a taste of this vast land.

Enjoy the rest of your travels.

Andrea L

I'm toying with the idea of putting a three or four minute slideshow on for the troops . . . . together with music from one of my fav Australian country singers.

I'll have to get a mate to help me out, as I'm pretty computer illiterate in many ways.

Watch out in a couple of weeks' time when I get home, at last!

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Hi Bob

Must admit I am much the same, I did a family slide-show before we left Namibia for the grandparents, I spent days doing it and putting music to it and then couldn't get the thing open!

I really do think it is a good idea, imagine if newcomers could not only get all their questions answered but a true blue Ozzie's pictorial outback adventure journey too!

They should have you as the new tourism ambassador for Australia Bob.

All the best, can't wait for the next lot.

Andrea L

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I'm toying with the idea of putting a three or four minute slideshow on for the troops . . . . together with music from one of my fav Australian country singers.

I'll have to get a mate to help me out, as I'm pretty computer illiterate in many ways.

Watch out in a couple of weeks' time when I get home, at last!

...and that is who?

You'd surely had to use the song, love to have a beer with duncan - thats as aussie as it gets (i have memories of nan listening to that) - and will fit right in with outback pics.

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Go to a pub in far off London and you'll find young white South Africans and Zims hanging out at a friendly "local". They'll all be talking about things back home.

Longreach won't be on the radar screen for any of them.

Go to a pub where young Aussies frequent and you'll hear Aussie news, Aussies ballards being sung, Aussie life, culture and history being played out.

To them, some places in Australia have a magical ring to the name . . . . . places like Birdsville with its horse race once a year in the bush, Alice Springs in the centre of this vast continent and . . . . . . Longreach.

Longreach was the start or the end of many a long drove overland.

Longreach brings up images of tough blokes facing a hostile environment, droving their stock thro hot dusty country for months on end, to finish at the railhead so the cattle could be taken to markets thousand of miles away in Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne.

Longreach is the Outback town of outback towns.

Located on the Thomson River, it reaches a long way up into this part of Queensland to drain the countryside into Lake Eyre down in South Australia . . . . . hence the name "Long Reach"

We found a lot to do in this Outback town of only 3 500 people, with its history and connections into Australian folklore, so much so that we ended up spending 4 days there.

We camped 4 kms north west along the Thomson River, on the outside of town where a local service organisation had got a spot of land ready for travellers to stay and enjoy. When you travel Australia's highways and byways, you get to meet all sorts of characters . . . . retired, millionaires, lonely, widowed, former company directors, politicians . . . . . you name it!

Some have "modest" rigs (vehicle and caravan and/or motor home), others a bit more up-market for their own comfort.

Looking around, I noticed all sorts of caravans and rigs, some with Aussies just on a short holiday while others have sold everything they own and put all their funds into their motor-home.

This bloke, on his own, pulled in driving an old Leyland bus across Australia, from WA. He lived in it

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Others have modern Winnebagos, the big Yanky jobs

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Most just pay for a caravan to see Australia and dust it off once or twice a year before they climb in and trek off on holidays

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This bloke pulled up alongside us on our last day. This Yorkshireman had sold it all up in Melbourne and had lived in it for 5 years. The old 1937 Austin 10 was his "run-about" once he reached a spot to stay

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Everyone was on good terms with each other, and one bloke we found out was an entertainer

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We all chipped in a few bob at the end of the evening for this bloke's songs going back to the 60s and 70s. Good atmosphere that night!

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The town of Longreach isn't big, but it's such an iconic place in Australia's history that the Queensland and Australian governments have put money into features around the place, such as the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame.

Dedicated to 100 men and women who helped shape Australia's history on the land, it opened in 1988 by the Queen herself, and is a reminder of the tough conditions that Australian settlers had to face in taming this vast land with its enormous distances, lack of help and often hostile, dry, hot climate. No wonder Aussies are such formidable folks to compete or fight against with this sort of background behind them

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A display of what work was like in droving was put on by this old cattleman

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For almost an hour he explained in good ol' Aussie dry humour what the work was like, the importance of a good cattle / sheep dog

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even the Aussie use of a stock whip . . . . the 8' whip used from high up on a horse, to the 4'6" whip yard whip when working on the ground with stock

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The windmill that many an Outback homestead had for many years to supply the water and for the cattle troughs out in the bush to be supplied with water. Without this, the settlers job would have been nigh on impossible

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Inside the hall were the most interesting displays for anyone keen to find out what made Australia, its people and what they faced in past decades.

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women did it especially tough

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the bringing of the gospel to the people of the Outback

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Every so often a few names would be displayed with a story of who they were, what lives they had lived and done in this country . . . . the 100 men and women of Australia that have helped shape this land

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and no account of Australia would be complete without an account of the involvement in South Africa of Australians . . . . sons of Empire

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more of Longreach later!

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...and that is who?

You'd surely had to use the song, love to have a beer with duncan - thats as aussie as it gets (i have memories of nan listening to that) - and will fit right in with outback pics.

Graeme Connors

"A Little Further North" 3m:43s Graeme Connors The Best 'til Now Country

If you don't like it, you can apply to get your money back from me!!!!

Edited by Bob
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Hi Bob,

Good to read the next instalment of your holiday, glad you managed to get out to the gemfields. Longreach sounds like a really interesting place for a visit.

Love the museums,

say hi to Ginnie and the rest of your family, Jill

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