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your tales : ROAD TRIP TO AUSTRALIA

Log in every Friday for the next five weeks for updates to this Australian Road trip. Join Jo and Mark as they travel from Brisbane to Adelaide then up through central Australia and to the northern tip of Western Australia.

PART ONE: Day 1st to 7th
PART TWO: Day 8th to 14th
PART THREE: Day 15th to 21st
PART FOUR: Day 22nd to 28th

Day 1 Saturday 14th April

After weeks of planning, debating how to pack the car, what food to take, whether we had enough or too much stuff and what day we should actually leave... we bit the bullet. We packed up and left Brisbane on a Saturday morning. We filled the car up with 80 litres of the cheapest fuel we could find, at AUD 84 centres per litre and took off towards Warwick at 11am. It was warm and sunny, autumn had not set in yet, and the skies were blue. Farming areas with sheep and cows followed us all the way to Warwick. On the other side we entered cotton picking regions. The roads were lined with white balls of cotton, that huge road trains dropped as they swept past driving us off into the dirt. Roadkill littered the tarmac, huge wedge tail eagles picking at the freshest kill and flying off as we approached. We camped just shy of Morree the first night by a small billabong. Plagues of mosquitoes surrounded us so we escaped into the tent.

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KANGOO ON THE ROAD


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COTTON FIELD


Day 2 Sunday April 15th


We were hoping to make it to Broken Hill today via what we we thought was a short cut between Bourke and Wilcannia on the River Road. It was a dirt road of 300 kilometres and when we were 100km into it there was a brief rain shower. The road immediately turned to slush and we skidded and slipped along in 4wd all afternoon at a slow pace, not used to the conditions and worried as water slushed all over the windscreen. At times we could hardly see. Eventually we pulled in and as flies hoarded in on us we prepared dinner off the deserted road.

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Day 3 Monday April 16th

The rest of the road into Wilcannia was sludgy but driveable 4wd material. We slushed and slithered along, sighting emus, kangaroos, sheep, cows, horses, galahs, wedgetail eagles and a few remote stations. Wilcannia has a high Aboriginal population. An aboriginal man in a suit kept wandering around near where we had lunch, peeing in the bushes and squatting in the litter. Most of the houses were either smashed up or completely boarded up. One had an eight foot high barbed wire fence around it. The Darling River here is where they used to ship goods by the waterways.


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ART CAR

We made it to Broken Hill early in the afternoon and explored the huge minelooming over the town (the town grew up around the mine and not the other way around) and Pro Harts gallery. Pro Hart once painted ants running over the front of my parents Volkswagon. So it was fun to spot the same designs on some of his own cars, Rolls Royces with Australian bush scenes, and old vintage cars. At sunset we drove to the lookout with all the sculptures and camped nearby. The earth was deep red and sky husky pink.



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SCULPTURE SUNSET

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MAD MAX HOTEL

Day 4 Tuesday April 17th
At sunrise a kangaroo hopped past followed closely by a man on horseback. He looked startled to see us camped in the sandy dunes. We almost got bogged as we drove back onto the road. We went to Silverton, a ghost mining town where Mad Max was filmed. The countryside is perfect for a film about a post nuclear world. And the town is great. Only ten people live here but there are red dusty streets, art galleries, a pub, museums, old gaol and so on. When we first arrived there was a huge ford hot rodded up with four exhausts on each side and an engine protruding from the bonnet sitting outside the Silverton Hotel and owned by the pubs manager. It even had MAX as a number plate. There is a Mad Max reunion here in July and apparently Mel Gibson is coming. Adelaide was 600km from here but we were visitng friends and sped through the old mining towns and farming areas to get there for an Indian curry. I had not seen the O'Rafferty's for two years and stayed up talking til 2am with Chimene and Dave reminiscing about our times in India. Chimene had to be at work at 6am the next morning.


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Day 5 Wednesday April 18th
The car spent the morning at the garage getting a tune up. We spent the morning entertaining 5 year old Madelene and drinking coffee with Dave. In the afternoon we wandered into Adelaide briefly and then returned to pick up the car. As we hosed of the red dust and muck into the O'Rafferty's garden Chimene drew us a map to get out of the city and we headed off. It was late when we stopped in the Clare Valley - baked
beans for dinner at 9pm and no bed again to sleep on.





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SPANISH FESTIVAL

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WINE CELLAR

Day 6 Thursday April 19th
It was harvest season in the Clare Valley and pickers were out in the fields. Local farmer Martin Smith spotted us and offered us work, then free accomodation and drove us around his farm. By the time we left for Clare we had bags full of grapes. In Clare there was a Spanish festival and people in traditional dress were parading the streets. We followed them for awhile then headed to a Jesuit church and winery to do some wine tasting. There were lovely old wine cellars (left) which reminded us of places in Europe and old wine producing equipment. The Jesuits started the tradition of wine making but it's now a more commercial enterprise. The church has an old crypt with places for two more priests inside.



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Day 7 Friday April 20th
Wilpena Pound is a huge geographical formation that looks like a bowl or cupped hand and means exactly that in the Aboriginal name. The campsite was AUD $10 per car but there were hot showers, lighting and barbecues. We walked up Olssens Bagge in the morning, a beautiful 3 hour hike through rock of changing colours, past lizards and wonderful views of the countryside to a high point above the Pound.




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LIZARD

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LOOKING OVER WILPENA POUND

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STREZLEKI TRACK
Brachina Gorge is another great place to camp with many creek crossings, huge gums and amazing cliffs. We drove through here on our way to Parachilna where we stopped at the Prarie Hotel for a drink and our first sighting of the Old Ghan railway line that was once used when the railway ran up to Oodnadatta. It was deserted when we first arrived but a huge family group arrived and asked Mark to take pics of them outside the pub and then shouted him a drink. The bar staff were friendly, two girls working there way around outback places in pubs and resorts. In the afternoon we headed past Beltana which has one of the three original telegraph repeater stations that Charles Todd established back in the 1870s when the telegraph was the means of communication between England and the colonies. It's pretty much a ghost town and kind of eerie. A few lived in houses with farmers wandering around. We were hoping to make it to Maree for the night at the start of the Oodnadatta track but made it to Lyndhurst instead where the bitumen ran out. The lady in the roadhouse told us we should camp down along the Strezlecki track that goes up to Birdsville but to pull far off as the road trains rumble on this track and the dust spreads everywhere. We watched the most glorious sunset over the flat red sunbaked land.



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