March 2021 and we’re off again

Dear family, friends and our future selves

24th March, 2021: You may notice that the last entry was October last year, when Ted had hurt his back. We headed home then, in time for a new hip, his recovery and renewed enthusiasm to ‘start again.’

But now there was a difference! We could go find the Indian Ocean thanks to the borders opening.

We sat on the verandah on our last evening before departure. Glass of red in hand, we watched out over Dungog in the distance, the sun setting on a glowing sunset, the kookaburras calling and the sea breeze drifting in from the coast behind us. The swallows were out tonight, zipping over our heads in a crazy gymnastic aerial show, the noisy minors were being noisy and the crickets had just started chirping. Charlie was nosing the air as though he could smell dinner and it felt like we had our own little piece of heaven.

Actually, why were we thinking of leaving at all?

25th March, 2021, Dungog to Gulgong: A couple of nights in Gulgong settle us down into travelling mode.

28th March, 2021, Girilambone (where?): Dungog is only three days ago, and we’re gladly here in Girilambone, red dirt country again – how great to be back. Where? Well, it’s a pub with a few houses around, a Post Office in someone’s front bedroom, a corrugated iron building that used to be a church, and another, now painted with how it used to look, which had once been a grocery store – and that’s it. So we eat in the pub and they are as friendly as all folks in red dirt country seem to be.

30th March, 2021, Meadow Glen Rest Area, west of Cobar to Round Hill, outside Broken Hill: Already, naturally, there’s a van issue. The water pump is not turning off, so Ted Nobbs is spending all his spare time with his head in dark corners looking for leaking pipes. But what’s new… we’re on the road, right so things are bound to go astray… he’ll find it soon. We’ve driven to Meadow Glen Rest Area today, just outside Broken Hill, picturesque, red dirt and red sand and green salt bush. The road is amazing, straight line of road in flat infinity plain, all ending up in a mirage on the horizon – trees without trunks, ranges floating in the air. It’s another world. Goats, plenty of goats, occasional clutches of huge emus, shiny feathered, black and brown, with their babies.

31st March, 2021, Broken Hill to Penrose Park at Silverton: We pass through Broken Hill, a short stay at Silverton and we’ll be on to South Australia the day after tomorrow. We’ve been to Broken Hill before, so a short visit to the Pro Hart Gallery and a short drive through town, then on to Penrose Park for a couple of nights. Can’t wait to go West!

The horse drops by for a drink just like everyone else
Camel-riding tourists go by daily
Telegraph poles in the sunset in Silverton
Desert to infinity from Mundi Mundi

3rd April, Easter Saturday, 2021, not going anywhere much: Oh no, we’re not going anywhere, let alone the Indian Ocean – water pump is working overtime and the water pressure is failing. Of course, it’s Easter, so now we’ll enjoy Penrose Park, the whole 70 acres of it and return, tail between legs (well that’s Charlie) back to Broken Hill to wait until the world wakes up again on Tuesday, then hang around Broken Hill until we have a working water system again.

In the West, you’re not anyone if you don’t sport an ironwork town sign

4th April, Easter Sunday 2021: back to Broken Hill: We’re in the Broken Hill Tourist Park. When travelling we find it’s not the big sights that we love most – it’s the small things… gumnut trees from my childhood story books, historic corrugated iron and mini-orb cottages and concrete telegraph poles (no timber for building), the magnificent ironstone school buildings, courtesy of BHP.

But never mind the nostalgia, we need some serious plans here. Without a water pump we can’t go anywhere, and Broken Hill is teeming with Sydneyites in brand new vans entertaining their children during the Easter Holidays, taking up all the labour of caravan repairers.

Tuesday 6th April, Broken Hill: Ted contacts the only campervan repairer in the town.

‘Oh well, you know the Easter Break and now the holidays – we a booked up until next week.’

‘Next week’ seems a million years away, so Ted gets out his best negotiating skills.

Finally: ‘Okay, if you bring in the van on Thursday morning at 8.30am, we’ll try to fit it between other jobs on Thursday or Friday – can’t tell you how long it will take until I look at it.’

Thursday or Friday? That means we have to move out of the van. Trying to generate happy vibes, I book a cabin in the caravan park for Wednesday night, Thursday night and Friday night, not knowing when we’ll get it back.

‘What if they still don’t finish it Ted?’

‘Yeah, well we’d better plan to be here Monday just in case.’

‘Okay, so let’s make a positive of it, Charlie is licking his leg too much, we’ll take him to the vet, and why not phone to see if we can get an Astra Zeneca Jab? Hey! What about Menindee Lakes for the weekend’

So ten minutes later, dog is to go to the vet on Thursday, and amazingly the Astra Zeneca jab is booked for next Wednesday. (So what’s an extra couple of days in Broken Hill?). So I book Menindee Lakes for the weekend until Tuesday and book the caravan park for Wednesday night and Thursday. That’s eight nights into the future! Such master planning…

So everything goes to plan until Ted takes the van in on Thursday morning, phones half an hour later to say that the water pump is working (don’t ask). So we’ve booked nine nights accommodation for nothing – we could have gone to South Australia today. Shall we try to cancel? Nah…. let’s us do it all.

Saturday 10th April, 2021, via Menindee to Bindara Station: We wind our way through the Menindee Lakes – not a drop of water, sad, wide spaces, very beautiful, goats galore, emus and ‘roos. Red dirt alternating with clay pans. We stop at the Maidens Hotel in Menindee for lunch then 80km over a wide dirt road to find Bindara Station, first settled in 1849, with only half a dozen owners since. We wind our way down the river away, find a spot. There’s one other South African family a good hundred metres away, and not another sign of human life except the owner, Barb, who runs this 60,000 acre property alone since her husband died seven years ago.

‘Since the drought, we just harvest the goats, there’s good money in that,’ she tells us as she drives us through the old stage coach route, pretty hard to find these days in the arid stunted tree and saltbush red sand desert.’ We find the old woolshed, falling down but still magnificent, and the air strip which still brings occasional visitors. She grins, but it must be a hard lonely life, 80km to the nearest town, and that’s the single street Menindee.

2 thoughts on “March 2021 and we’re off again

  1. Great to read your journey accompanied by photos! I started planning my trip to Adelaide via Broken Hill today. Would 3 nights in BH be enough, giving us 2 full days to see everything? I am hoping that early September will still have some green pasture after this great season. Glad you could fix the water problem before you headed too far west.
    There is a nip in the air here so your nights might be getting cooler too.
    Love from all the Addisons


  2. Hey Cas, so good to hear from you. Yes, two full days should be enough. Its a very prosperous town theses days. Very excited we’ll be headed west again on Thursday. Been down to 5 degrees at night here. Much love from both of us to all over there. Nancy


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