Saturday 20th July 2002
This trip in July/August 2002 to the Northern Territory via Western Queensland, was arranged by 4 people - Ray, Coral, Judy and myself. Ray and Coral live near Judy. Coincidentally it was The Year Of The Outback, something we only became aware of as we passed through the outback.
Ray and Coral both had come from New Zealand to live in Australia but had never travelled very far within Australia and were keen on seeing the inland. Ray was also very keen to visit some of his relatives in Darwin.
Judy came to Australia in 1984 after living in various locations including, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Great Britain and USA. She arrived in Adelaide, soon moved to Melbourne and then to Nanango to live a rural lifestyle. So, she had seen various parts of Australia but not inland Queensland or the Northern Territory.
I had seen most of where we were about to travel, through various trips, though had never camped in the way we planned.
We set off from Kingaroy around mid morning after picking up some last minute items.
Judy and myself were travelling with Judy's two Corgis, Muffy and Chippy in her White Nissan Pulsar, towing a trailer.
Ray and Coral were travelling with all of their gear and their miniature Fox Terrier, Max, in Coral's Maroon Ford Festiva.
We left Judy’s home with Ray and Coral and headed to Kingaroy. After fuelling up and checking tyre pressures at Woolworths Service Station we picked up some last minute things at Super Cheap and had breakfast at McDonalds. We also topped up with ice at Reickes Service Station.
The drive to Dalby was uneventful other than one stop to check the load on the trailer to see that all was settling in ok and that no ropes were becoming loose. The Nissan Pulsar was showing no signs of strain, in fact to the contrary, passing over the Bunya Mountains through Porter's Gap with ease.
As we had both done the trip to Dalby many times, the scenery didn't entice us. In Dalby we stopped for a comfort stop for both species, human's and dogs. We also took the opportunity to take on board some fresh fruit and vegies at Betros's.
We left Dalby and headed west, passing through Macalister, Warra and Brigalow with their wheat silos and associated facilities. A loaded train passed slowly in the opposite direction as we drove towards the sun. Green areas of wheat flashed by. As the sun was getting low in the sky we had to find our first camp site.
In our planning for the trip we had decided to stay as often as possible in roadside camping spots. I purchased a reference book and associated map book, which together gave us these locations. These books proved invaluable on the trip and will be used on our future trips. We didn't ever know what to expect other than from information given by the symbols and notes in the reference books but this was part of the excitement of the trip. We made do with what we found, combined with our camping equipment. None of us are wealthy and therefore decided the best way to travel and keep the costs down was to use these spots as much as possible.
The first of these locations, that seemed to suit our situation was a weir located just outside of Chinchilla. After a little information from a local, we found our way to the Chinchilla Weir. It proved to be a lovely spot and very tranquil, with pelicans gliding across the still water of the weir.
After much fun and games we set up our first night's camp, starting to get used to a lot of newly purchased camping equipment. The smell of burning campfires from other campers filtered through the trees as we cooked our meals. After a relaxing cuppa we settled in for the night.
Being in the middle of Winter, the night was cold but not overly uncomfortable. Not so for Muffy though. Because both dogs tend to roam at night when they are at home, looking for what we call "take away", which is road kill etc, then drag it home, we decided to tie them up. Each had their leash connected to a long length of chain which was then attached to a nearby tree. There was a fairly steep drop off down to the water. During the night we heard one of them barking, followed by a lot of scuffling, a whimper and then silence. We both assumed it was Muffy chasing something near him. We thought maybe one of the birds had wandered up near him. Morning arrived to find both dogs lying beside the tent. One problem though, Muffy had about 12 inches/ 300mm of his brand new, synthetic leash trailing from him with a ragged, chewed end on it. We went looking for the rest of his lead and found it and the chain at the bottom of the steep bank. Apparently Muffy HAD chased something in the dark, then crashed down the slope into the branches etc and couldn't get back up. He then chewed through what is a very tough leash till he set himself free, then wandered back up and dutifully lay near the tent till we appeared. From the position he had chewed through the leash, it looked as though he may have been hanging by it. He showed no signs of distress and is still with Judy to this day. Keep in mind, this Corgi is 15 years old, which is supposed to equate in human terms to 105 years old.
Judy set about making breakfast with our newly acquired equipment and soon found that the "toaster" was completely useless. It was supposed to toast 4 pieces at once but DRIED 4 pieces at once. We assumed it may have been the low morning temperature not allowing the metal to heat fast enough, eventhough the gas burner was turned to maximum. So, she reverted to the good old 1 piece toaster which worked fine.
As there were signs stating that Blue/Green Algae may be present in the weir and not to use the water or swim in it, we washed with some of the 40 litres of fresh water we carried with us and hoped to be able to shower at our next overnight stop, wherever that may be.
Site comments :
The pictures below hopefully illustrate our time at the weir.
Click on the pictures for larger versions
Ray, Coral and Max relaxing after setting up camp near the edge of the weir.
|Judy is testing her hammock.
Muffy is certain it's a success.
Chippy is exploring the aromas of the site.
Who knows what I'm doing?
|"It's a dog's life!"
"Please mum................pleaseeeeeeee mum!! ......can I have some?"
|The scene around my tent on our first night.
|The birdlife as the winter sun fades.
|One of the many pelicans that trawled back and forth for most of the night searching for an unlucky fish.
|"Ah the serenity"
Darryl Kerrigan, The Castle
Last Updated : 28/01/2012 03:55 PM +1000