We are kicking off our “Time to reminisce” series again with our long awaited first ever multi week outback camping trip, the first of many. This is where it all began.
With the good old rodeo packed, the dogs off to the boarding kennels and several weeks off work we were set to head off early and make it as far west as we could. As luck would have it, morning broke and one if us (Chris) was feeling very much under the weather, not wanting to go anywhere much, nevermind a long day on the road. With some encouragement and Sandra taking on the driving for the day we made a later than anticipated start to what would be an amazing journey and the catalyst for many to come. We actually did pretty well the first day making it from our home base in the Blue Mountains to the mining town of Cobar. We opted for a motel room for the night along with room service dinner in an attempt to rest up and feel a bit more human the next day. Amazingly it worked and by day 2 Chris was already feeling much improved giving Sandra a break from the driving.
From Cobar we ventured further west keeping an eye out for the many wild goats that inhabit this area, of which we were advised by the lovely motel owners at Cobar upon checkout, and they were right particularly first thing in the morning as it now was. Once arriving at Wilcannia we refueled and headed south, our first destination we were aiming for being the delightful Kinchega National Park. Our first stop was the dry Lake Cawndilla where we spotted our first giant tumbleweeds, we were quite impressed.
From here we took the scenic Emu Lake Drive to the historic woolshed complex. This is well worth checking out and a highlight of the park.
Then it was off to explore the other points of interest including the ruins of the Old Kinchega Homestead, the old cemetery, remains of a paddlesteamer which blew up on the river many years ago followed by our first camp for the trip beside the lovely Darling River.
Next day it was off to Mungo National Park. This was an amazing place and one which would set the mood for the rest of the trip. We were able to take the scenic drive through the park taking in the famous “Walls of China” as well as remnants of the parks pastoral past.
Another highlight of Mungo are the amazing mobile sand dunes as they tower above the otherwise flat landscape.
Our camp for the night would be at the main campground, where we were treated a beautiful outback sunset and full moon, simply stunning.
Departing Mungo it was time to head to the “big smoke” of Broken Hill, stock up on supplies and head further north into the “real” outback. We would be exploring some of what Broken Hill had to offer on our way back.
Venturing north along the Silver City Highway we turned east towards Mutawintji National Park for a couple nights. This is a simply stunning national park with awe inspiring scenery. We took the walk into the gorge, viewed ancient aboriginal rock art and enjoyed views from the ridgetop walk at sunset. As we said an awe inspiring place.
Too soon it was time to head back out to the highway and continue our journey north along the highway, although not the type of “highway” us city slickers were accustomed to. We were aiming for Tibooburra and were to spend a couple days exploring the surrounding Sturt National Park. After a quick look around Tibooburra and a bite to eat at the service station come general store come tyre repair come cafe and take away joint (we would become familiar with some of their services offered here the next day) we ventured back out of town heading for Mount Wood in Sturt National Park for the night. Camped out in the Gibber Plains at the Mount Wood campground we were quite relieved to be in our rooftop tent and not on the hard, sharp rocks that made up the campground. Another first for us that night was dealing with the large moths after dark. We quickly learnt to only have lighting on for the shortest time possible and do everything via moonlight.
The next day the plan was to head back into Tibooburra, fuel up then head further north into another section of Sturt National Park, take the drive via the “jump up” country making our way back down and out to Cameron’s Corner. As with all best laid plans this didn’t exactly go to plan. We had had problems with our gas stove and thinking our 4.5 litre gas bottle was empty we headed to the all in one store at Tibooburra to have it filled. After enquiring at the counter the lady said she would have to find Wally in order to have it filled, he apparently did all that sort of thing. After a short while Wally came and out the back we ventured to have our bottle filled. Upon hooking it up it was discovered that it was still full with Wally stating ” yep it’s full”. We weren’t novices at this camping thing at all! He also mentioned to Chris that “did you get dressed in the dark this morning?”. I then noticed that yes I had my tshirt on inside out and back to front. Feeling rather embarrassed it was time to make a quick exit, but as it turned out not for long. Just out of Tibooburra we got a flat tyre. Being novices we were not accustomed to lowering tyre pressures for the terrain and as we were only carrying one spare at the time we decided to head back into Tibooburra after changing the tyre to get it repaired. So back to Wally it was where he asked “why didn’t you get it fixed when you were last here” and “you know you should be carrying 2 spares out here”.
We eventually left Tibooburra and Wally rubbing his hands together with a bus arriving in town, apparently he always gets a few tyres off these guys. With our plans now changed we decided to head directly out to Cameron’s Corner via the more main route then head back into Milparinka for a night camped by the river. We got our obligatory photo at Cameron’s Corner and at the Dig Fence Gate and had a customers cool drink at the corner pub.
Back a Milparinka we wandered around the ruins of the bakery and other buildings that once stood here. The only building remains here today being the pub of course.
We then ventured just out of town for a peaceful nights bush camp beside the river and the end of a challenging day.
Next morning it was on the road early heading back to Broken Hill where we changed the tyre that Wally was able to temporarily fix for a new one. We had a couple nights in accommodation in Broken Hill giving us time to explore this outback metropolis. A visit to the Outback Sculptures as well as the adjacent Living Desert, a must when visiting the hill.
Of course a visit out here wouldn’t be complete without a trip out to Silverton and the set of Mad Max.
After our short time in Broken Hill we headed west and across the border into South Australia. A little way over the border we turned off the main highway and started heading north towards the Gammon Ranges. The plan being to do a loop through the Gammon Ranges then into the Flinders Ranges taking in its attractions before heading south to the Eyre Peninsula and eventually the coast. Heading north towards the Gammon Ranges there are ruins to explore, a common sight in South Australia we would find out over the years of traveling down here.
Once in the Gammon Ranges we followed a drive described in a guide book “4WD getaways”. This was a brilliant idea as it took us down some roads and tracks we probably would never have ventured down ourselves.
After taking in the Gammon Ranges we headed into the Flinders and to Chambers Gorge, one if many beautiful gorges all that bit different and unique. Camping in some of these gorges is a great experience. Nothing compares to the changing colours on the gorge walls in the late afternoon.
Armed with what was becoming our bible for this trip and many to come, “4WD getaways” we spent some time exploring the wonders of the Flinders, camping in not only Chambers George but also a very windy night where we though the tent might be lifted off the roof in Brachina Gorge
as well as a bush camp on a knoll between gorges with views over this beautiful landscape.
We had also decided and prebooked a nights accommodation in a cabin in the Flinders at a property. The main aim being we needed to catch up on washing and thought it would be good to have a night out if the tent for a change. Well it being winter and the temperature hitting minus 4 regularly we have never been so cold even with all the blankets we could find in the cabin and the heaters on. I think lack of insulation might be an understatement. To top things off even though it was advertised there wasn’t even a washing machine to use.
After taking in the sights of the wonderful Flinders Ranges of which we only scratched the surface we headed south for the coast and to the Eyre Peninsula. This was to be a change in the scenery of the last few weeks and to fill the lungs with that sweet sea air. First of all it was into Port Lincoln and to Lincoln National Park.
After taking in the beautiful coastal scenery and spending a rather blustery night camped on the coast in Lincoln National Park we headed around the Peninsula and to the pure white sands of Coffin Bay National Park.
Here armed with you guessed it our copy of “4WD getaways” we were to explore Coffin Bay out to the headland. However with our limited 4WD experience and the deep soft sandy track we did not make it all the way out and decided as the sand was getting softer and deeper it would be wise to turn around and head back to the main campground for the night. We even almost got bogged attempting to turn around in the soft, deep sand.
After a night at the main campground and having done our “sand driving” for this trip we journeyed further along the beautiful Eyre Peninsula coastline taking in some of what would become our favourite spots to visit in the country. From this first time to this very day and every time we have visited the Eyre Peninsula it has left us wanting for more. Camping along the edge of the Southern Ocean is one our favourite places and there is no shortage of places to do so. We had a night camped right on the beach at Greenly Beach.
A predawn “skinny dip” nearly getting interrupted by some early morning surfers, a mouse plague whilst camped at Laura Bay where we could have sworn the ground moved right after dark.
We were greeted by some little furry faces looking out at us from the drawers of the car the next morning, we even managed to relocate one to our camp the next night at Fishermans Paradise.
We enjoyed beautiful coastal drives taking in the splendour of the Southern Ocean, one such drive is even complete with thought provoking sculptures.
Tearing ourselves away from the coast it was time to start heading for home, but with a couple more stops up our sleeve, the adventure wasn’t quite over yet. Back along the Eyre Highway we made a couple stops at points of interest including Pildappa and Tcharkuldu Rock as well as the impressive Murphy’s Haystacks.
Then it was a final nights camp in the Eyre at Lake Gillies with an amazing sunset to farewell us.
From here it was back across the border, this time into Victoria and our final bit of adventure for this epic first camping trip, Wyperfield and Little Desert National Parks and the Pink Lakes.
There was even time to practice some more of our sand driving skills, although not on the soft deep sand of Coffin Bay. A couple nights camped and exploring this little corner of Victoria it was all too soon time to head home and start planning our next camping and 4WD adventure, we were of course pros by now.