Viewing entries tagged
"New South Wales"

Postcard from Broken Hill - What's in a name?

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Postcard from Broken Hill - What's in a name?

Broken Hill seems a long way from anything, but is certainly entrenched in Australian folklore, being the 'BH' component of 'The Big Australian' BHP Billiton , and becoming the first city in Australia to be included on the National Heritage List - the 'broken hill' that gave the town its name initially being a number of hills that appeared to have a break in them. Alas, all have now been mined away.

And there's no shortage of culture here, with at least 8-galleries showcasing the work of artists including the iconic Pro Hart and Jack Absolam. Chips Rafferty and June Bronhill also came from here.

Today the air is dense and hot at 37degC, but it's hard to warm to a place where over 700 souls have been lost in mining accidents - the youngest killed at age 14 - and most streets are named after rocks and minerals.

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A birthday away

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A birthday away

Today is Sue's birthday, last night having set up camp by Lake Parmarmaroo - part of the Menindee lakes on the Darling River NSW - dinner a chilled Coriole Fiano with a watery sunset through ancient, river redgum boughs.

But this morning is the big day, us relaxing, having finished fruit, muesli and yoghurt... with black coffee of course.

Two figures approach, kindred spirits in more ways than one it seems.

They are from faroff Switzerland, having hiked the 2km from their camp this morning, beside the same lake... and as it happens... with a similiar truck... and a similiar fitout.

But their truck is fire-engine red, a left-hand-drive Toyota Troopy, having been fitted out by Roger - gifted carpenter -and his partner Connie... then shipped all the way from Switzerland.

Tonight though, the big day almost over, we are by the roaring weir overflow, more ancient redgums riddled with nesting holes, and a celebratory bottle of Rockford Black Shiraz we've lugged all the way from the Barossa... oh, and 1kg of Menindee's finest giant yabbies, freshly caught and cooked... but eaten by us.

We finish with birthday cheese, chocolate and a traditional Italian green walnut liquer from Kangaroo Island... the smells here of red sand and dust, the sound of rushing river water, and thoughts of how far we've come so far... and our new Swiss friends - with a red Troopy truck the mirror of ours.

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Outback and onwards

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Outback and onwards

We are 350km northeast of Adelaide, the sky an endless sea of blue, the only sound an occassional surf-like roar. But we are a long way inland, the roar just wind rushing through hardy conifer-like indigenous black oaks that proliferate these scrubby plains of red dirt and bulldust, the occasional rock and sand ridge drift.

We are in the Danggali Conservation zone, once a 253,000Ha South Australian sheep farm, now just ruins, but declared Australia’s first park classified under UNESCO’s 'Man and the Biosphere Program' - a living laboratory and hopefully a successful balance between conservation and sustainable use.

Yes, we've camped out in the middle of nowhere before - the wilds of WA's Cape Arid, on a fast-eroding beach at the northern point of Qld's Fraser Island. But this may be our first truly 'wilderness' camping experience - in our Troopy truck at least - no facilities, no shelter - toilet duties needing a hole to be dug, the paper burned and all buried.

We are many miles from anyone, no other vehicle for days on end, but equipped with 4x4 recovery gear, a week's supply of food, wine, beer, our 70L water tank and 2-90L diesel tanks... us having driven north from the outpost town of Burra, over the Goyder Line and finally arriving here, in the middle of nowhere - the South Australian 'Outback'.

It's autumn, but the days' temperature still in their 30s, lots of animal tracks in the red sand, but no animals to be seen. The night silence is deafening, the clear sky ablaze.

Next, it's further north, headed for Broken Hill, passing nothing but 'stations', 'outstations' , 'homesteads' - and through gate after gate - the sandy tracks and ridges, the occasional emu, the recent carcass of an unfortunate kangaroo... the smell of rotten sunbaked meat... and the special treat of five magnificent wedgetail eagles jostling on a single branch, momentarily disturbed from their roadside feast.

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A truck called `home'

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A truck called `home'

We've finally received the news, the Troopy conversion ready, all done and waiting to be picked-up. .. a welcome Christmas present.

Our morning flight leaves Melbourne, and with minimal carry-on luggage we land at Sydney late morning. At the airport we're met and chauffeured to Trakka headquarters at Mt Kuring-gai, just north of the city.

With the official handover, there are a few last-minute tweaks, with Trakka Troopies not so common these days, but the truck is ready to go... with everything including a kitchen sink of sorts.

From Sydney we head out on our newly-kitted-out maiden voyage, heading south around Sydney, via the Illawarra coast and Royal NP, the second oldest `National Park' in the world. Through Waterfall and Otford, Stanwell Park and Coalcliff we follow the toe of towering escarpment cliffs.

Now we wind our way along a sweeping, giant's causeway propped on high concrete pylons. This is SEA CLIFF BRIDGE, a balanced cantilever marvel completed in 2005, the Pacific swell 40m below, home to passing ships and the occasional whale.

At  94km we pull into COLEDALE raising the new tilt roof with our inbuilt bed,... but with only airport carry-on, we've no cooking gear, proper supplies for our first night, or even a chair to sit back and take in the ocean view. Mmmm... but there is a wine shop handy and somewhere to buy breakfast muesli, yoghurt and a drop of juice for the morning.

But tonight it's back to the truck for our celebratory sparkling shiraz in plastic cups, sweet chilli corn chips, cheese and spiced nuts - all to the pounding of surf and the screeching of Coledale cockatoos tussling for sunset roosts, their feathers white beacons a dazzle in the shadows of impossibly high Norfolk Pines - all this under a glorious Coledale sunset behind that magical Illawarra escarpment.

Later, these same seaside skies are loaded with stars, the surf a rhythmic whoosh and thump. Night birds wheel in the dark, others whistle from roosts unknown.

In the top of the truck the bed is cosy and warm, the canvas sides breathing in a salt-laden breeze. Dreams drift, to far-off secret coastal coves - between nagging questions of what to pack and the limited available space in this truck of ours. What we will need does seems like an awful lot right now. Will we have enough DRAWERS, NOOKS and CRANNIES for storage? There is the necessary safety gear to fit in too; some tools and spares, the food, the clothes... the list goes on, and on...

Oh well... maybe we could tow a small trailer if needed? Well no... not really. That's never been part of the 'grand' plan... so... we'll see how this latest challenge goes... like packing a boat the size of a sardine can for an extended ocean going voyage, or a magician pulling a reluctant rabbit from a hat.

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