Friday, November 17, 2017

Towards Home

Leaving Dubbo just after 8 am we took the most direct route along the Newell Highway passing through Gilgandra, Coonabarabran and Narrabri before turning north east heading towards Bingara.

The drive through Mount Kaputar National Park with its steep and winding roads gave the torque converter a real test.  At some stages we were down into third gear but the auto transmission temperature never climbed above 80 degrees so we are more than happy with those figures.

Bingara is one of our favourite spots to camp, and we have been coming here for the past ten years. Unfortunately the introduction of Wiki Camps and Camps Australia, has meant that more people have also found out about just how wonderful it is to camp along the banks of the Gwydir River. In the early days we almost had the place to yourselves.

We have always camped east of the bridge with camps spreading for many kilometres but this is the first time we have camped north of the bridge and within the town area.

Camping is now permitted in three locations all bordering the river. We camped in the largest area just across the river from the golf course. It was the largest of the three and we were lucky to find a great spot surrounded by trees and shrubs that afforded us some privacy.

Most of the other sites strung out along the river provided no respite from the heat and were described by one of the campers as being very hot and similar to camping in a caravan park.

Bingara is renowned for receiving bad weather in particular storms with hail. One only has to look at the roofs on all the houses to realise that they are all new, even on the oldest of the homes.

On our second night we thought we may be going to experience one of their storms with the sky off to the north east being very dark but then it looked like we had missed it. In the early hours of the following morning, we were woken to the most amazing thunder and lightning show followed by heavy rain. Our thoughts turned to several years ago when our van required a total re skin after a hail storm but thankfully this time we escaped although further north did experience hail.

We had planned to stay four days but with the weather being so nice and having our lovely camp spot we stayed for the allowed seven days. We spent about $400 in the town buying diesel, groceries, going to the bakery most days and eating at the pub one evening when friends Deb and Hank where passing through on their way home.

After heading north east on the road to Delungra we joined the Gwydir Highway as we headed towards Inverell and then onto Glen Innes, before heading down the range between Washpool and Gibraltar Range National Parks.

Our campsite tonight is at the bottom of the mountain at the Cangai Bridge. As you cross the grid your confronted with a sign informing you that the road is unsuitable for caravans but this only applies to the road further on after crossing the two bridges and the camping area. 

The area is quite large with views up the valley and the Mann River. Unfortunately yet again there were already eleven vans here when we arrived. It really didn't matter as we were just here for the evening before heading home. There are no facilities here except clean river water that could be used for filling your non-potable tanks. The nearest dump point is at the caravan park at Jackadgery where they charge $5 to empty your cassette.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Heading to Dubbo

Before reaching Burra we had organised to have our V8 twin turbo 200 Series Landcruiser booked in with Stephan Richards in Murray Bridge in South Australia to have a torque lockup kit fitted.

While I was dropping off the car another Landcruiser owner was having the same work done along with an ECU/transmission remap. Of course I had heard about having this done but wasn't completely sure about the benefits. 

Stephan explained in simple terms what these were and said that if I was interested in having both done together we would reduce the transmission remap by $400.
This was only possible because we had already installed a larger aftermarket exhaust. The rest is history.....

After the installation Stephan took us for a test run where he explained the use of the switches. 

The auto lockup master switch on the left remains on at all times and the right switch locks the torque converter at around 75 km/h. The converter remains locked until slowing to below the unlock speed of just under 75 km/h. As a result our new forth gear is now fifth which reduces rpm and a slight decrease in fuel consumption of around 3 l/100km.

To activate the low speed lockup press the right button which will illuminate the switch showing that it is active. The torque converter will automatically lock at 35 km/h and the unlock below 30 km/h. When the low speed lockup is active then gears are also reduced as if you are driving a manual. 

This will be very helpful when we are towing our van over dirt roads with corrugations, where in the past we have seen our auto transmission temperatures increase considerably sometimes reaching as much as 120 degrees.

Our auto transmission temperatures since having the work completed have stayed around the 66 degree mark and  the 4wd is a completely different vehicle to now drive. 

We are currently camped at Frogs Hollow at Lake Cargelligo. Its a ten minute walk from town but the space here is quite limited. There is an area for probably three vans where they could park right on the lake but after recent rains its very muddy. The remainder of the foreshore has large gum trees lining the lake and one would have to be either stupid or very game to camp under these. So we are camped against the fence but still with a view of the lake.

After three days camped here and spending money in the local IGA buying food and alcohol to help support the town for providing this free camp we were heading north. 

Today's drive of 92 km will take us to Condobolin. We found the road to be very rough, narrow and with broken edges on the bitumen helping to make some parts of the road even narrower. I pulled over for many B doubles coming towards us to ensure we weren't showered with stones as they passed. 

We are just over 3 km west of town and camped at Gum Bend Lake. Its a man made lake, built to commemorate Australia's bicentenary and when full has a depth of 1.75 metres. A gold coin donation is appreciated for camping here and we are more than happy to donate as we filled our tanks with their water. 

There are hot showers and flushing toilets but we prefer using our own. Unlike Lake Cargelligo, there are no views of the lake from the camping area. We enjoyed a few beers and lunch at the local RSL yesterday after purchasing some groceries at the local IGA. Its quite a large town with a population of 3,800 people. Our plan was to stay for three days but no matter what repellent we used on ourselves we couldn't keep the flies at bay. 

As we were heading for Dubbo we thought we may be able to brake the drive so checked Wiki Camps and came up with Bogan Weir 6 km west of Peak Hill. When we arrived, there were five other vans camped here and another arrived after dark.
Its a large area probably the size of two football fields with just rubbish bins and phone coverage.

Just a short drive of 75 km today towards Dubbo. We are staying at the Red Earth Winery just south of town and on the southern border of the Western Plains Zoo. Camping fees are $15 per night for power and water or just $5 without power but you can still fill your tanks.

On our second day we visited the zoo and spent the day pedalling our bikes around the different enclosures. No visit to any zoo would be complete without spending a good amount of time with the amazing meerkats.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Historic Burra - South Australia

We have passed through Burra on numerous occasions heading to somewhere else but never stopping to smell the roses. 
On our trip south from the Flinders Ranges we decided to stop and spend three days here and explore the town and its surrounding area.

We camped at the showground for $15 per night. This fee included power, water and a dump point and was located just 2 km north of town.

It was the first surveyed mining town in Australia, and by 1851, it was Australia's largest inland town thanks to the discovery of the largest copper deposit in the world.

Many of its historic buildings are still intact giving the visitor a window to the past.

The information centre as a heritage passport. It cost us $50 with our senior concessions along with a refundable $50 for a key that gives access to eight locked sites. Included is a booklet which lists another 38 sites around town. It took us two full days to cover all the sites listed.

The open cut mine produced 50,000 tonnes of copper which in the early years was transported to Port Adelaide, before being shipped to Wales for smelting and refining. In 1894 smelters were built near Burra to save on the huge transport costs.

Some of the sites which require the passport and key include:

With the influx of people and the lack of accommodation the Miners Dugouts were dug into the banks of Burra Creek and it was estimated that around 600 were dug. A flood devastated the area and by 1860 they were virtually deserted.

The Police Lockup and Stables were erected in 1847, with the cells used until the the Redruth Gaol was built in 1856.

Redruth Gaol was built in 1856 and housed 30 prisoners both male and female but then it was renovated after the prisoners were moved to another gaol and reopened to house girls and finally closing in 1922. 
The 1997 film, Breaker Morant was filmed here.

Located on Paxton Square, the row of 33 cottages were built from 1849 onwards. Malowen Lowarth Cottage has been furnished in the period.

Unicorn Brewery Cellars were built in 1873 and operated until 1902. 

Hampton Township built from 1857 housed up to 30 miners cottages. The township also contained quarries which supplied the stone for many of the buildings in Burra. It was finally abandoned in the 1960's.

The town caters for the travellers with many cafes and restaurants. We enjoyed a lovely Sunday lunch at La Pecora Nera (The Black Sheep) and can highly recommend their wood fired pizzas.

On the outskirts of town this old homestead was used as the cover on the Midnight Oils 
"Diesel and Dust" album cover....