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Welcome to our travel blog

Welcome to the Touring Wombats blog and website for our 2022 Bailey Caravan Tagalong. This website serves two purposes…

  1. The Bailey Tagalong22 Member’s website, including:
  2. The Touring Wombats Travel blog for the Tagalong which is basically split into 3 categories:
    • Pre-Tagalong22 where we travel from Melbourne to Mudjimba (QLD) via the Kidman Way to Longreach & Winton, then Carnarvon Gorge, Roma etc
    • Tagalong22 with 17 other Bailey caravans traveling through QLD over 4 weeks
    • Post-Tagalong22 where we head back to Melbourne via the coast

Check out the 1st and 2nd sections of the trip on the Tour Maps web page.

TIP: Posts are displayed with the latest on top of the browser and then in descending order with the oldest being at the bottom (i.e. last). There are also lots of website links to explore things (which open in a new window).

Contact Neil via email – touringwombats@gmail.com for further details.


Longreach QLD

About Longreach

Longreach is the largest town in central Queensland and, as such, is an important rural service centre for one of the state’s most prosperous wool and beef areas. Located on the Tropic of Capricorn it services an ever-growing tourism industry which has been driven by the success of the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Qantas Founders Outback Museum (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

It was a fairly short 134km drive from Lara Wetlands northwards to our new destination, so no stops along the way.

Accommodation

We pulled into the Longreach Tourist Park and found our site among the other 300+ sites in the park. This place is absolutely huge and tends to fill-up and empty out on a pretty regular basis. We have 4 nights here.

It was pretty amazing when, in the morning at least 50% of the park empties out and later in the afternoon it was full again. That would mean that every day there would be over 150 caravans going from or coming into Longreach!

Stockmans Hall of Fame

The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre is Australia’s premier outback heritage institution. The centre provides visitors with a spectacular outback experience.The outback is as prosperous, tough and unforgiving as it ever was. It’s where hard yakka, guts and resilience built our nation’s identity and why the great Australian stockman – the legend of the bush – became our national hero.

The enduring journey of the stockman, the challenges and demands, and the evolution of this epic industry continue to this day. The museum will awaken you to the hardships, passion, bush comradery and industry changes that have shaped the industry that has made our country great.

The Cinema Experience and Live Show

We booked into the Stockmans Experience Tour ($68ph) which begins with a 30 minute movie showcasing virtual and real footage across a 16m screen featuring the birth of a nation through the eyes of the Australian stockman.

Then it was outside to be seated under a massive roof (out of the hot sun) to experience a brilliant display of horsemanship by Lachie Cossor who runs the live show. He’s an experienced stockman, horseman, rodeo rider, entertainer, and now singer as well. This was so entertaining and we all learned a lot about the stockman and their life on the land. Plenty of laughs were had when Lachie showed the crowd how to groom his horse called Ernie. Ernie was the perfect showman/horse upstaging Lachie many times – a real hoot!

The show also included his working dogs (also plenty of laughs) rounding up the sheep and concluded with an introduction to this massive 1000kg bull named Jigsaw, who Lachie rides out to meet the crowd.

We rate the show a 10 out of 10 – a must see when in Longreach.

The Museum

The museum experience is simply icing on the cake to what was one of the best experiences we have had on this trip so far.

Cracking the whip

While we were exploring the museum we met Anthony Rennick who was creating another of his beautiful stockman whips. The Wagga Wagga whipmaker has been wintering in Longreach for over a decade now, moving his operation to the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre where he is a living exhibit.

Our friend Jackie was so impressed that she purchased one of Anthony’s whips and it included a free training session out the back of the Hall of Fame, which we all participated in.

Here’s a couple of examples of Merrisa attempting to crack the newly created whip and absolutely nailing it on 1st attempt at two whipping styles…

And then it was Neil’s turn…

Around the town

Longreach has so much to offer the visitor. Even a stroll through the town centre throws up some unexpected delights such as “The Drovers”, which were part of “The Human Factor” sculptures by John Underwood, created for the Brisbane World Expo ’88.

Starlight’s River Cruise

We were picked up at our caravan park a 4:45pm and then bused out to the Thomson River to participate in Starlight’s Cruise Experience run by the Kinnon family.

We took a gentle cruise at sunset east down the Thomson River on the Thomson Belle, a very old paddle wheeler, following their recently introduced Pride of the Murray paddle wheeler. As the sun sets of the trees in the west we return to to the jetty.

After the cruise we disembarked to enjoy a traditional stockman’s campfire dinner followed by bush poetry with a local outback storyteller, Scotty reciting bush poetry and a few funny yarns. Scotty was an ageless old soul, who when about 16 years old seriously injured both feet and cannot wear shoes (they make him fall over) so goes everywhere barefooted. The legend has it that he was banned from doing his lawn mowing rounds by Work Cover and so his mate mate him a pair of boots with no soles so he could trick the inspector 😂.

Afterwards, we moved down to the seated area on the riverbank to watch the Starlight’s Spectacular Sound & Light Show – a unique big-screen presentation featuring the Kinnon & Co family and locals in the amazing adventures of the notorious local cattle thief known as ‘Captain Starlight’.

Finally, in the atmospheric surroundings of the bush at night, we enjoyed the timeless favourite – billy tea and damper. Then it was back to our accommodation after wonderful 4.5 hours of mesmerising dinner and shows.

Cost of experience was $125pp, including pick-up at accom, river cruise, dinner & show, movie, tea & damper and return to accom. 4.5 hours of total enjoyment!

We also rate the show a 10 out of 10 – a must see when in Longreach.

The Cruise

The Dinner & Show

Dinner consists of bush stew and mashed spuds with bread to mop up the gravy. Dessert was an apple cake with custard. Then the show begins with Jeremy Kinnon providing an insight into the stockman’s travels and gear they use. Pretty funny, especially the many items he says are “available at me mum’s shop in town“. Then out comes Scotty to tell us his bush poetry and some funny yarns.

After dinner the crowd moves down to be seated for an after-dark Captain Starlight movie in outdoor riverbank theater and brothers Jeremy and Lane Kinnon begin the movie with an introduction which is an absolute scream. Please enjoy the video below, which is only part of the intro…

QANTAS Museum

They’ve gone all out at the QANTAS Museum in Longreach. You just cannot miss the place as you drive into town from the Barcaldine direction. There’s now a massive carport style roof built over the 4 planes, including a Jumbo Jet.

The Tour

We began our tour under the massive roof as our guide spoke about each of these amazing aircraft in great detail, about their life and how they arrived at the museum. We then were taken through

DC3

Starting its life as a C-47 with the United States Army Air Force in 1944, it was given to the Royal Australian Air Force in 1944 before becoming a QANTAS Empire Airways aircraft and being converted to civilian DC -3 standard as VH -EAP in 1948. The aircraft still has the large double C-47 style doors.

Developed from the earlier DC1 and DC2, the DC3 revolutionised air travel in the 1930s. It was relatively fast, reliable and able to carry up to 28 passengers in comfort. Despite its success, QANTAS did not begin to operate the DC3/C47 until 1945 when military C47s became available in large numbers. After service with QANTAS in New Guinea, VH-EAP was sold in 1960 but continued to fly in New Guinea. In 1982 it returned to Australia and was flown by Bush Pilots Airways (later Air Queensland). There were a number of other owners and last flew in January 1993. VH-EAP was later donated to QANTAS Founders Museum by John Williams, with the aircraft being dismantled, transported to Longreach and repainted in its original QANTAS Empire Airways colours by retired and serving QANTAS staff.

When I was 5 years old we moved to Madang in Papua New Guinea for 3 years as my father took over as the head Met Officer (Meteorologist) and we flew from Port Moresby to Madang in a DC3 just like the one at the museum.

707

This particular Boeing 707 – 138 – originally VH-EBA – was the first jet of thirteen 138 purchased by QANTAS from Boeing and the very first civilian jet aircraft registered in Australia. The 707 replaced the propeller driven Super Constellations and practically halved the flying time on QANTAS overseas routes. The new Boeing 707s were so fast they also introduced Australians to “jet lag” for the first time. After serving with QANTAS, the aircraft was operated by other airlines and private operators. After several years lying derelict at Southend Airport in the United Kingdom and about to be scrapped, it was purchased by QANTAS Founders Museum and restored and flown to Longreach in June 2007 by a dedicated group of volunteers, mostly retired QANTAS engineers.

747

VH-EBQ, “City of Bunbury”, was the first QANTAS aircraft named after a West Australian provincial town to mark the 150th Anniversary of Western Australia and Bunbury being declared a city. VH-EBQ was accepted from Boeing by QANTAS on 10th December 1979. During its working life with QANTAS it is estimated the aircraft carried over 5.4 million passengers and flew over 82.54 million kilometres – equivalent to more than 2000 trips around the world or ten round trips to the moon or ten years continuous flying.

VH-EBQ is unique in being the only surviving Boeing 747 – 200 with Rolls Royce engines. VH-EBQ was donated to QANTAS Founders Museum by Qantas Airways and landed at Longreach on 16th November 2002.

Super Constellation

QANTAS operated Constellations on the Kangaroo Route between Sydney and London from 1947 -1955 before the Super Constellation operated the route from 1954-1962. The Constellation was the first aircraft that enabled QANTAS to establish and sustain long-range overseas air service in its own right and it was the longest air service in the world using the same aircraft all the way.

Constellations were  the first QANTAS aircraft to feature flight hostesses (female cabin crew) and be pressurised. QANTAS Super Constellations operated the first ever regular round-the-world air service via both hemispheres in 1958. The Museum’s Super Constellation was built for the US Navy in 1953 before being used as a cargo aircraft. The aircraft has been repainted to resemble the QANTAS Super Constellation “Southern Spray” VH-EAM.

A stroll through the Museum

The museum tells the story of Australia’s national airline, from its early days in Outback Queensland to present day.  Characters of the early QANTAS days and their pioneering spirit contributing to the impact the airline had for all Australians is brought to life through life size exhibits, historical artefacts and interactive displays including the National Heritage Listed QANTAS hangar.

We found a full replica of the Avro 504K which was the first QANTAS aircraft and was used by the airline for five years. Powered by a 100 h.p. Sunbeam Dyak engine, it was modified to carry up to two passengers as well as the pilot.

A real, full sized, Catalina flying Fortress is also parked behind the museum. Catalina flying boats played important roles for QANTAS in two eras. During the 1950s, they enabled air services to be provided to remote villages in New Guinea and around the South Pacific where aerodromes hadn’t yet been built. But, it was in the last two years of World War Two that they became the lifeline which helped keep QANTAS alive and maintained communications between Australia and the United Kingdom.

And that concludes our 3 day Longreach visit.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Longreach Tourist Park (07) 4658 1781
    • Cost per night$40.50 (@ 1-Aug-2022)
    • FacilitiesNot too shabby but a bit of a walk
    • CP Location12 Thrush Rd, Longreach in a good location & a short drive into town
    • Our rating/score8/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? Yes – a great town!
    • Activities & places of interest plenty to do – 4 nights was good for us
    • Tourist info centre?99A Eagle St, Longreach (07) 4658 4141
    • Would we return?probably
    • We rate the town8/10
  • Overall thoughtsWe thoroughly enjoyed our stay here. There’s plenty to do and the 3 main attractions we attended were absolutely fantastic.

Lara Wetlands Station QLD

About Lara Wetlands Station

Getting there

Leaving Charleville we headed north on the Matilda Way (Landsborough Hwy) stopping off along the way to check out the towns of Augathella and Tambo as well as a refuel in Blackall (route map) before turning left off the highway at about 79kms from Blackall onto the Lara Wetlands access road – red dirt for 14kms to get to the wetlands.

Augathella stop-over

A nice little town famous for it’s mascot called the “Meat Eating Ant.” The town chose the enormous insect as its mascot not because it’s overrun with the (much smaller) real-life version, but because of its football team. There is also a nicely painted water tower in town worth a look.

Great Artesian Basin

Tambo stop-over

Another nice little town famous for it’s “Tambo Teddies store” which Google says it’s open until 1:00pm on Saturdays but we discovered it was actually 12:00pm and therefore closed. Probably saved a hit on the budget anyway . Lunch at Fannymaes then back on the road again.

Accommodation

Lara Wetlands Station was a really great place to stay. We pulled up facing the water so our Bailey caravan’s windows showcased it each day. There’s no power but accessible drinking water (fill your tanks from one of their many hoses but can’t stay connected). A fire pit every night was so good to get around.

The road in and out of Lara Wetlands is 13kms of red dirt from the highway and still a but boggy from rains from 2 weeks ago.

The Campground

There’s plenty of space around the wetlands to set-up. The lake’s probably no more deeper than 1metre (in the middle) and it takes around 30 minutes to do the lap. It’s a very pretty place and the dead trees in the lake make for a good photo or 12.

I had a paddle across the lake in one of their free canoes and followed up with a dip in their thermal pool – serenity!

Sunsets and Sunrises

What a great spot for either sunset or sunrise. Great colours in the sky and a sliver of moon in the sunset too.

Bird life

We’d heard that it’s a haven for birds but there wasn’t that many but enough to fill the film roll.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Lara Wetlands Campground 0457 661 243
    • Cost per night$25.00 (@ 30-July-2022)
    • FacilitiesVery rustic but with flushing toilets
    • CP Location39052 Landsborough Hwy Barcaldine
    • Our rating/score8/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? This is not in a town, just a bush setting with no shops around
    • Activities & places of interest just a walk around the lake and bird watching or a swim in thermal pool
    • Tourist info centre?none
    • Would we return?Yes
    • We rate the town8/10
  • Overall thoughtsA really great spot to stay. They have fresh water but no power. The staff are really friendly. It’s a bit of a drive in from the highway (13km or red dirt) but really worth the effort. 2 nights would be a sufficient enough time to stay here.

Charleville QLD

About Charleville

Charleville is a rural service centre on the Warrego River. With a population of over 3,000, it is the largest town in South West Queensland. Surrounded by rich pastoral land, it grew to prominence as an important transportation stopover between the vast properties of western Queensland and the vital rail-head at Roma. Today the town is an important centre with offices of both the School of Distance Education and the Royal Flying Doctor Service (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

Its a 201km trip from Cunnamulla to Charleville travelling straight north on the Mitchell Hwy (route map). We made a couple of stops along the way…

Wyandra

Wyrandra is exactly half way between Cunnamulla to Charleville, so we pulled in for coffees. There’s really only one thing in this town worth stopping for and it’s the Wyandra Post Office, General Store and Caravan Park (maplink). The bloke who runs this place is a real scream who serves great brewed coffee and freshly made scones. His humour is something else! Find it n WikiCamps

Angellala Bridge Monument

On Friday 5th September 2014, a truck carrying 52.8 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was involved in a single-vehicle incident. The blast radius was more than 1 kilometre and was the equivalent power to 10-15 tonnes of TNT; so powerful that 30 km away Charleville residents thought there was an earthquake. A police car travelling to the scene was damaged about 200 metres away from the blast.

In fact, the explosion was measured as a seismic event measuring 2.1 on the Richter scale. The explosion site looked like a war zone with the complete demolition of the road bridge and as well as the Angellala rail bridge, that had stood since 1897. Thankfully not a life was lost.

The monument symbolises the bridge and the information boards provided represent the human and historic aspects of the site. The memorial is located 8.2kms north of the town of Bakers bend (maplink)

Accommodation

It’s pretty funny as I’d listed the phone number of another caravan park for the one we intended to stay at, so upon arrival all we got was “you’re not booked in here mate!” so with a quick phone call we discovered that we’d actually booked the Bailey Bar Caravan Park instead and it proved to be a pretty good mistake.

Even though this park is in need of some pretty serious upgrading (one WikiCamp review said “This Park should be demolished, the Public Health need to visit!! Only shining light was Darren a lovely guy) we enjoyed our stay here. A camp barby on our 1st night and then a camp oven stew on our last night was excellent. Our hosts were really nice and put on a great dinner too. We had 3 nights staying here.

Around the town

Charleville Historic House & Museum

Dating back to 1887 the building was purpose built as Charleville’s first national bank, before it went onto become a private boarding house until the 1970’s.

Filled to the brim with treasures of yesteryear, some dating back as far as the 1800’s, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find and it’s well worth your time to take a look. It’s located in Alfred Street Charleville (maplink).

Many of the original features of the bank still remain which include marble fireplaces and the vault. The display is completed with a large early day machinery display in the grounds including a life size replica Cobb & Co Coach, Rail Ambulance and Steam Engine.

Charleville Water Tower

The Charleville & Cunnamulla Water Towers were painted by renowned artist Guido van Helten in 2019. It’s located in Parry Street Charleville (maplink).

Separated by 200 km, Cunnamulla and Charleville are joined by the rivalry they share of a simple game. They meet twice a year, then complete in a grand final where they are destined to try and best each other. The murals of both represents the significance of the game to the community.

Charleville Railway Station

Charleville railway station is a heritage-listed railway station on the Western line in King Street (maplink). It was built from 1888 to 1957.

The tourist information centre is located in the station building. While we were there a train was waiting at the platform to begin it’s 17.5 hour trip to Brisbane.

Cosmos Centre

With great expectations we booked into the Charleville Cosmos Centre for their evening show called the Big Sky Observatory and it was terribly disappointing. With the sales pitch beginning with “A mesmerising sky filled with thousands of stars, combined with the beauty of deep celestial objects all come alive in front of your very eyes during your adventure to the Big Sky Observatory” you’d expect to see some pretty spectacular stuff but you just get an enlargement of watch you see with the naked eye. I’m sorry but it sucked! The guy doing the presentation is really knowledgable, so no complaints there, it’s just it didn’t even come close to my expectations of what the telescope would show you of our galaxy. Even the final “coup-de-graph” of viewing Saturn was a total disappointment. My score is a lowly 2 out of 10.

WW II Secret Airbase

An interesting fact we discovered was that, during WW II the US established a strategic Secret Airbase in Charleville. In 1943 there were 3500 United States Army Air Force personnel stationed in here.

We made 2 visits to the airbase – a self guided tour through the museum and then a 2 hour “tagalong” with a guide around what used to be the secret US airbase. It’s located at the Charleville Airport (maplink)

1st visit – Secret Airbase Museum

Our 1st visit was to the static display housed in the main building. There’s plenty to learn about this “secret base” and it’s really well set-up. The interactive bomb drop is great and out of the 4 of us only Merrisa could successfully drop the bomb on the target.

The rumour is (no facts here because it’s still an official secret place) that the Americans set-up the base to act as a strategic location, far enough inland that the Japanese bombers could not reach it.

2nd visit – Secret Airbase grounds tour

Back again to the secret airbase, this time to take the tagalong tour through some of the vast area the original base had occupied.

Taking up 25sq km with 101 Australian purpose built buildings, 3 runways and many large unique planes flying in and out on a regular basis- this little town was sworn to secrecy. All in a massive effort to conceal and protect the location of this TOP SECRET AF base. But what made it so special was the object that was being so heavily protected was the Nordon Bombsight, the prize piece of the American’s upper hand in the Battle of the Coral Sea….. And not even the base soldiers knew it was there – Just Incredible!

Bilby Rescue Centre

Bilby Rescue was initiated by a couple of guys by the name of Frank Manthey and Peter McRae, whose passion to rescue these tiny marsupials from certain extinction is something of an absolute wonder. They created an organisation called Save the Bilby Fund in 1999 and what has occurred from their early work has been areas set aside for the Bilbies to safely re-populate their species.

The Bilby Fence at Currawinya National Park was designed to protect bilbies from feral animals and predators to enable them to live and breed in safety. It opened in 2003 and cost $500,000 to build the 25sq km electrified predator-exclusion fence. Save the Bilby breed and release captive bilbies to a sanctuary surrounded by a predator exclusion fence in Currawinya National Park with the aim of building a population of 400 free-living bilbies; and it’s working.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Bailey Bar Caravan Park (07) 4654 1744
    • Cost per night$34.20 (with G’Day discount @ 27-July-2022)
    • FacilitiesVery old and really need some sprucing up
    • CP Location196 King St Charleville
    • Our rating/score7/10 despite the negative reviews on WikiCamps we actually liked this park
  • Was it a nice town to visit? yes – typical outback town with lots of friendly locals
    • Activities & places of interest plenty to see and do here. A great place to visit
    • Tourist info centre?Charleville Visitor Information Centre (07) 4656 8359
    • Would we return?yes – but a long way from Victoria
    • We rate the town8/10
  • Overall thoughtsLoved our stay here and were also happy with the accommodation.

Cunnamulla QLD

About Cunnamulla

Cunnamulla is a rural service centre which is the administrative seat of the Paroo Shire – a vast shire which covers 47,617 sq. km of South-West Queensland. With a population of over 1600 in 2011, Cunnamulla is significantly larger than the other towns in the shire – Eulo, Yowah and Wyandra. While the town offers little to tempt the curious traveller, it does have a distinct old world charm. The hotels in the main street have remained unchanged for over half a century, the shops still have a pre-supermarket feel to them, and the tree-lined streets evoke the world of the country town long past. (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

Yet another fairly boring 258km drive north along the Mitchell Hwy (route map) from Bourke to Cunnamulla. At least it took us into Queensland. 😄

Accommodation

Staying at the Cunnamulla Tourist Park wasn’t too bad. It’s a G’Day park so we got the 10% discount. It’s close enough to town (maplink) enabling us to take a leisurely stroll into do some shopping. @ nights here before moving on to Charleville.

Outback Stockman Show

We found out about the Outback Stockman Show show at our caravan park. It’s run by a fantastic bloke called Paul Clarkson. He takes the crowd through how a bushman’s horse is trained along with their working dogs. This is a brilliant show with plenty of laughs and great stories. Paul shows how much he loves his animals and how much trust they have in him.

Totally recommend the Outback Stockman Show. It’s on run at the Cunnamulla Show Grounds every morning at 11am – book through the Cunnamulla Visitors Centre and it’s $25 per person.

Cunnamulla Fella

Located out the front of the Cunnamulla Visitors Centre is a massive bronze statue called the Cunnamulla Fella.

The Cunnamulla Fella is a song written by Stan Coster and sung by Slim Dusty. He is an iconic Australian Bush character. The town of Cunnamulla has erected a statue of the Cunnamulla Fella as a tribute to Stan and Slim and to the ‘ringers’ of the bush. The statue is double life size bronze. It was created by sculptor Archie Sinclair from a drawing by Mike Nicholas. The statue is located in front of the Paroo Shire Hall in Cunnamulla gazing across the centre of the town.

Song’s Lyrics

Here’s a great YouTube video by Australian C&W singer Lee Kernaghan singing the Cunnamulla Fella…

Cunnamulla Water Tower

The Cunnamulla & Charleville Water Towers were painted by renowned artist Guido van Helten in 2019.

Separated by 200 km, Cunnamulla and Charleville are joined by the rivalry they share of a simple game. They meet twice a year, then complete in a grand final where they are destined to try and best each other. The murals of both represents the significance of the game to the community. 

Allan Tannock Weir

A short 5km trip out of town takes you to the Allan Tannock Weir on the Warrego River. Pretty cool weir and it shows how high the river is at the moment. They recently had a lot of rain here and there’s plenty of evidence that the river had flooded over the weir uprooting trees and leaving plenty of debris behind.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Cunnamulla Tourist Park (07) 4655 1421
    • Cost per night$36.00 (@ 25-July-2022)
    • FacilitiesDated but always clean
    • CP Location69 Watson St Cunnamulla – close to town
    • Our rating/score6/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? Yes
    • Activities & places of interest not much to do but we still enjoyed ourselves
    • Tourist info centre?Cunnamulla Visitors Centre (07) 4655 8470
    • Would we return?Definitely
    • We rate the town7/10
  • Overall thoughtsThis was a great place to stop. IGA was a bit pricey but the town was nice

Bourke NSW

About Bourke

Getting there

It’s a fairly short 167km trip to Bourke (route map) with nothing much to see along the way but some emu’s and goats.

Accommodation

We booked into the Mitchell Caravan Park for 3 nights. Bourke had recently had a lot of rain and there were only 50% of the sites available, so it was great that we’d pre-booked as a lot of people were turned away. It’s nice park BUT if you ever stay there try to get a site of the north side of the park NOT the south side (where we were) at the highway is about 5 metres behind these site with heaps of trucks going past on the highway.

Port of Bourke

The old Bourke Wharf is a great pot to check out, situated on the famous Darling River with great views along the river. The Crossley Engine next door was not working when we were there but is apparently pretty cool when it’s being demonstrated.

Back of Bourke Centre

The Bourke Visitors Information Centre is a must visit place as it houses stories of Outback Legends like Barefoot Harry, Captain Starlight, the Camel traders, WWI Prisoners of War, Charles Bean the man behind the Australian War Memorials.

The entry fee also includes the showing of a locally produced animated story called Lifeblood which was absolutely fascinating. From the Producer – “Lifeblood is a film about the intersection of place, history, and our identity. Who are we as Australians? We are disconnected from our true cultural identity. We don’t understand our environment, and therefore we don’t know how to protect the delicate equilibriums that have existed for millions of years on our planet“.

North Bourke Bridge

The original road bridge over the Darling River is now closed (and looking pretty sad). We stopped off to check it out and to find out a bit about the Paddle Steamer PV Jandra but it was closed due to the river being in flood – would have been a great experience 😞.

Gundabooka National Park – Aboriginal Art Site

We ventured out to check out the Yappa (Mulgowan) Aboriginal Art Site in Gundabooka National Park, 73kms south of Bourke, for a day trip. We’d heard the rock art was pretty good.

After turning off the highway we were then on 16kms of red dirt road, which was still wet in places, giving us a bit of red mud fun. There were also plenty of emus along the road, which never run in a straight line!

The 700m walking track into the rock art area is well defined and easy to navigate. It just gets a bit hairy crossing the small creek in front of the rock art area. Returning to the car-park we came across a inquisitive Bearded Dragon (lizard) sunning himself on the track. Then it was time for lunch in the great picnic area (no lizards were eaten).

Here’s a video of some emu’s we met along the access road. Looked like one was having a bath on side of the road…

Fred Hollows Grave

On our return trip from the national park we stopped off at the Bourke Cemetery to take a stroll among some of the history of people buried there as well as visiting the grave site of the famous Australian Eye Surgeon Fred Hollows.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Mitchell Caravan Park (02) 6872 2791
    • Cost per night$34.37 (@ 22-July-2022)
    • FacilitiesBasic but clean
    • CP Location2 Becker St Bourke
    • Our rating/score6/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? yes
    • Activities & places of interest not as many as expected
    • Tourist info centre?Back O’Bourke Information & Exhibition Centre (02) 6872 1321
    • Would we return?probably not – maybe just as a one night stop-over
    • We rate the town7/10
  • Overall thoughtsWe enjoyed our stay here but it was another of those “Been there and seen that” type of stays..

Cobar NSW

About Cobar

For over 100 years Cobar has been a mining town. Even today an essential part of every visitor’s itinerary is a visit to the New Cobar Open Cut Gold Mine and the Peak Gold Mine. Cobar is one of those deceptive country towns which, on the surface, just looks like any one of a hundred rural service centres. However just beneath this ordinary exterior there is an exceptional museum, an excellent Mining Heritage Park, a remarkable Sound Chapel and a superb display of Aboriginal rock art at Mount Grenfell. Mining still drives the local economy but, in the winter months, it becomes popular with tourists driving from the coast to Broken Hill (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

It was a 367km trip from Griffith (route map) and we stopped off along the way at a small rural town called Merriwagga (maplink), where the term “The Black Stump” is said to have originated.

We went looking for the black stump memorial and couldn’t find it, so just checked out the town discovering that the Black Stump Hotel is said to have the highest bar and bar-stools in Australia (lofty 1.3 meters high). Local legend has it that the original publican built the bar this high so that local ringers could ride their horses right up to the bar! Pity that it was closed as we were too early in the day to check it out. Next stop-off was Hillston for a coffee and a photo taken with the local emu before moving onto our destination of Cobar.

Accommodation

Checked into the Cobar Caravan Park which has really nice big sites, but amenities need to be seriously updated. 2 nights here before moving on to Bourke.

Cobar Museum and Miners Memorial

The Cobar Tourist Information Centre includes a museum highlight mining in the area and was a great place to spend some time.

We then ventured over the road to the Cobar Miners Heritage Park, which is a memorial been built to pay tribute to the hundreds of miner’s who have lost their lives mining in the Cobar Shire. It was only built in 2020 & opened in 2021.

Just around the corner from there is the famous Cobar Town Monument which is the iconic gateway to Cobar. Anyone travelling to or through Cobar must have a photo of these remains of what would have been a huge copper smelter

Fort Bourke Hill Lookout & Peak Gold Mines

Fort Bourke Lookout is just minutes out of town (maplink) and the view from the viewing platform provides a vista over the open pit and entrance to the underground mines.

The rich Cobar mineral belt is clearly visible in a straight line from North to South (line up the head-frames). The mining here is all underground now with the entrance at the bottom of the pit.

Cobar’s water comes from Burrendong Dam 400km away and is pumped from Nyngan via a 135km pipeline into storage tanks on top of Fort Bourke hill.

Cobar Sound Chapel

The Cobar Sound Chapel is located on a dirt road a few kilometers north-east of Cobar, along a dirt road (maplink). It’s basically a large old metal water tank that has been converted into a musical art-piece. It’s quite amazing. It was completed in early 2022 and is a creation by composer / sound artist Georges Lentz.

The Sound Chapel is locked and you need to get to get the keys from the Cobar Visitors Centre, BUT there is a catch as you need to pay a $300 (cash only) deposit to get these keys! We didn’t have that much cash on us (who does these days!) so drove out to check it out from the outside. You can actually hear the music from outside which is still pretty cool.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Cobar Caravan Park (02) 6836 2425
    • Cost per night$43.20 (G’Day discount @ 20-July-2022)
    • FacilitiesVery old and needs an update
    • CP Location101 Marshall St Cobar – great location close to town
    • Our rating/score6/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? yes
    • Activities & places of interest a fair bit to do – 2 nights was enough though
    • Tourist info centre?Great Cobar Heritage Centre (02) 6836 2448
    • Would we return?yesonly as a stop-over though
    • We rate the town7/10
  • Overall thoughtsCobar was a great place to visit and would recommend 2 days as adequate time to stay

Griffith NSW

About Griffith

Getting there – Coleambally stopover

It’s a fairly short 132km drive from Jerilderie (route map) but along the way we pulled into the town of Coleambally to check out their unique water tower and street art. Both were very impressive; we debated the shape of the water tower and couldn’t agree on being a wine glass, schooner or a mortar bomb. Its mosaic depicts the history and amenities of Coleambally. 24½ metres in height, with a capacity of over 1 million litres, it is filled from two deep bores and is the towns water supply. The street art is in the form of a giant Brolga (just in front of the water tower) as well as some unique lizards in the median strips made from welded chains.

Accommodation

Arriving at the Griffith Tourist Caravan Park (maplink) we were a bit disappointed as it looked pretty run down, but a young couple had just taken it over with a huge project ahead to get it up to scratch. We had 3 days to spend exploring what Griffith had to offer before moving on to Cobar.

Around Griffith

The Hermits Cave

The Hermit’s Cave is well worth a visit – perched high on the ridge of Scenic Hill, part of the McPherson Ranges, it offers a fabulous view across irrigated farmland to the Binya Hills and Cocoparra National Park in the distance.

The cave was once the home of Valerio Ricetti, a miner from Broken Hill who lived the life of a hermit in his cave on Scenic Hill for many years from 1929 to 1952. A keen gardener, Valerio transformed the rocky escarpment and created dry-stone-walls, paths and stone steps creating access to areas that he called, the Garden, the Chapel and the Main Cave. The walls of the Main Cave feature paintings of small daisies, created by Ricetti. Read more on Wikipedia

De Bortoli Winery

We then took a trip out to the De Bortoli Winery in Bilbul (maplink) for a bit of a tasting. Our host, Dominique, provided the wine tasting, making our visit very enjoyable and interesting. We ended up purchasing some whites and a bottle of their Old Boys 21 Years Barrel Aged Tawny (yum!).

Centenary Sculptures at IOOF Park

Griffith celebrated 100 years of progress in 2016. The Centenary Celebrations hinged around the 17 day International Sculpture Symposium, which was held during May. Seven of the world’s best hard stone sculptors converged on Griffith to transform 20 tonnes of granite into beautiful pieces of public art. The granite sculptures, which reflect the theme ‘Griffith’s cultural diversity and the meaning of water’ are located on Centenary Walk, in the IOOF Park in Kookora Street (maplink). This is really cool and well worth a visit.

Whitton Malt House

While we were at the De Bortoli Winery we asked our host about other places to visit and she suggested we check out the Whitton Malt House (about 48kms south of Griffith), so off we went and found it to be a pretty amazing place, only having been created in 2020.

The Malthouse is truly amazing with accommodation, a man-made lake where you can fish (catch & release Murray Cod), a special golf course where you pitch at targets in the lake (pretty cool), some great metal art – especially the horse created from all sorts of metal objects from spanners, cutlery, machinery parts, chains etc. This is just an add-on to the wonderful distillery and function centre which is the jewel in the crown.

Make sure that you pay the Malthouse a visit if you’re ever in the area – totally well worth it!

Some friendly Parrots

On our last afternoon here we discovered the source of the crap over our car; it was a pair of beautiful Australian Ringneck Parrots. They were eating the fruit on the tree next to our van and after 1 chew the fruit was discarded onto the car, before the next piece of fruit was chosen. They were forgiven as they were so beautiful – so I just moved the car 😄. The sunset that evening was also pretty special with a nice orange sky.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Griffith Tourist Caravan Park (02) 6964 2144
    • Cost per night$30.00 (@ 17-July-2022)
    • FacilitiesPretty poor – needs a lot of work
    • CP Location919 Willandra Ave Griffith NSW
    • Our rating/score4/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? Yes
    • Activities & places of interest Plenty to do
    • Tourist info centre?1 Jondaryan Avenue Griffith
    • Would we return?Probably not – been there & done that
    • We rate the town7/10
  • Overall thoughtsNot a bad town to visit and we really enjoyed taking in the places of interest. If we were to stay here again we’d pick another caravan park as this one was pretty run down; however – a young couple have only recently taken over the park and we wish them luck updating it to a better one.

Jerilderie NSW

About Jerilderie

Jerilderie, which is located on the Newell Highway in the heart of the Riverina, is famous for its connections with Ned Kelly. It is reputedly the only town in New South Wales where Ned Kelly and his gang robbed the local bank and Ned’s famous defence of his lifestyle and explanation for why he became a bushranger is known as the Jerilderie Letter because it was during the robbery that he handed it over hoping that it would be published. (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

Jerilderie is a 323km trip (route map) from our home in Melbourne. Up the Hume Fwy, taking the Shepparton turn-off thru to Tocumwal and then the Newell Hwy to Jerilderie.

It’s so good to be back on the road again, heading north away from the cold of Melbourne. The 1st morning in Jerilderie was only 2 degrees, so we really didn’t escape the cold too much 🤣

Accommodation

We arrived at the Jerilderie Motel & Caravan Park late in the arvo. It’s a really nice park with plenty of room. The caravan park is in town so it’s an easy walk into check it out (maplink). We had two nights here before moving on to Griffith.

Around Jerilderie

One thing we didn’t know about Jerilderie was…

Ned Kelly came to Jerilderie in 1879 – with a bounty on his head, he could be shot on sight by anyone. Yet Ned boldly relieved the Bank of £2000, chopped down the telegraph poles, locked the police in their own cells, booked up the cost of shoeing his horses to the police. He held more than 30 hostages while shouting the bar and burned the mortgages held in the bank’s safe – all in three days

No person aware of Ned Kelly’s presence in Jerilderie took advantage of the AUD260,000 reward for his capture or made an attempt on his assassination. The main purpose of Ned Kelly’s visit to Jerilderie was to have his 40 page manifesto published – now known as The Jerilderie Letter. The document didn’t surface until 100 years after the event.

Found on the visitnsw.com website

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Jerilderie Motel & Caravan Park (03) 5886 1366
    • Cost per night$35.00 (@ 17 -July-2022)
    • Facilitiesfairly modern and very clean
    • CP Location 121 Jerilderie St Jerilderie
    • Our rating/score8/10 – well maintained park
  • Was it a nice town to visit? not a bad town, a good stop-over spot
    • Activities & places of interest not much – Ned Kelly story was interesting
    • Tourist info centre?63 Jerilderie St, Jerilderie – 0448 878 597
    • Would we return?only as a stop-over spot & may free camp next time (great spot near the lake)
    • We rate the town7/10
  • Overall thoughtsPleasant enough town to visit and the caravan park was good. Went to the pub for dinner on the Saturday night and that was a bit of a disappointment – took nearly 2 hours to get our meals 😠.