The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

29 December, 2014

Heading out thru western Victoria

On Boxing Day after spending 3 months in and around Adelaide we finally packed up and headed out of South Australia.  We had one final stop before leaving the state which was overnight at our nephew's property at Tintinara and had a terrific catch up with more rellies and participation of more food and Christmas celebration drinks!!
As we headed off the next day we were mindful that it was school holidays and the high holiday season so as to avoid high prices and crowded parks, we decided that our journey to Queensland would take more of an inland route. 

This is "4 mile beach" no water but!!

After passing through Bordertown headed to Nhill where we turned north to make our way through the back blocks of Victoria towards the River Murray.  Our first night free-camp was at "Four Mile Beach ".  Now I know I said we were keeping away from the beach and we are - this camp is on Lake Hindmarsh just 20kms from Jeparit.  Lake Hindmarsh is now a dry lake as a Weir was built not far from Jeparit which stopped the flow of water into the lake some 3 years ago.  The Caravan & Camping area had power and good amenities and also showed signs of what would have been a very popular water skiing and  picnic area when the lake was full of water.  


You can only imagine the fun water skiers and campers would have had when the lake was full.


We only stayed one night before travelling further north passing through Hopetoun where we stopped for morning tea at Lake Lascellies and watched water skiing.  This was very popular, with fishermen & water skiing camps dotted around the lake - will certainly keep this in mind for future camping spots.  From here we set off for Sea Lake with the intention of camping there the night as we had heard and read favourable reports about the area.  When we arrived at Sea Lake around lunch time it did not look as appealing as we envisaged and with the temperature hovering in the mid-thirties we decided to keep going and try our luck for a campsite on the River Murray.

Hopetoun reserve, on the other side you can see the campers.  Note the painting of the corrugated iron on the shelter.

Arrived at a small town on the River Murray approx 100kms upstream from Robinvale and explored the Nyah-Vinifera State Forrest where we were lucky enough to find a quiet camp site beside the River and ended up staying for 3 nights - only seeing a couple of fishermen and the odd jet ski passing.  Thought ourselves very lucky to find this gem of a campsite at this time of year.

Water front site in the Nyanh Forest, nice to relax.

Our camp is on the LHS

Our camp - on the bank



On the last day of 2014 we headed into New South Wales crossing the River Murray at Tooleybuc, travelling through Balranald, Maude and settling on Hay to stay for New Year's Eve.  Thought we would celebrate New Year's Eve with a night at the Bowling Club - a venue where the catering is done by Chinese and offer Chinese and other meals.  We chose Schnitzel  & Fish and on reflection we should have selected Chinese!!!  Without the most vibrant entertainment we headed home around 9.30pm, treating ourselves to a Magnum Ego - which was the highlight of our New Year's Eve!

24 October, 2014

Road Transport Hall of Fame, Alice Springs

Well you might ask ......... what were we doing in Alice after saying we were staying in and around Adelaide for a while.  In short, we had a problem with the Tojos throttle module system in Qld which reoccurred in Adelaide and while having this repaired (waiting in the car sales area), some how bought a new vehicle. As we have NT licences a quick trip to Alice was needed to register the truck!!

Not the new wheels, I couldn't afford the fuel!!!

We left the van in Port August and drove to Alice in a day, the next morning went and did the rego bit and was going to head straight back but thought we needed a territory fix so decided to stay for the day and take in some sights.  One of which was the Road Transport Hall of Fame, just south of town at the Shell Rimula Hall of Fame.



The Road Transport Hall of Fame is a volunteer based display which is dedicated to preserving Australia's unique road transport industry.  Alice Springs is also considered the birthplace of the road train and the first road train "Bertha" is on display.

The vehicles displayed take you through a mix of the very first types of transport in the early years to the modern trucks of today with the Kenworth Dealer Truck Museum dedication an entire shed for the most modern vehicles on display, which I believe is going to be bigger in the future.

The society has a reunion each year and people who have earned recognition from their colleagues are inducted into the Wall of Fame with many photographs covering the wall from each year - it's fascinating to walk reading names that are familiar to the quiet achievers in the industry.

I suggest it's well worth the time to visit, keeping in mind you could spend a whole day or more if you enjoy looking at trucks and reading about the history.

"Bertha" the first Road Train



Some of the old vehicles scattered around the displays










Lots of separate rooms displaying all sorts of memorabilia, from scale models to posters and engines.








Note the Wall of Fame in the background. This is from one year.


A selection of vintage vehicles around the displays




30 September, 2014

Barbed Wire Pub, Spalding

After arriving in Adelaide we spent some time catching up with friends and relies before heading to the Clare valley for a couple of weeks with my brother.  Over the next few months we will be around Adelaide having check ups and catching up with friends. Our daughter also came over from Canada for a wedding so was good to catch up while she is in Adelaide.

On our trip to the Clare Valley done the usual winery visits and stroll around Clare etc before we decided to head to Spalding, about 45 km north of Clare.  We had heard about a free camp at the local hotel.  The Barbed Wire Pub, Spalding which housed a museum of local and other various barbed wire and fencing droppers.  There would be about 500 pieces of barbed wire along with star posts and temporary fencing posts.  The collection was put together by Leon Dobbins over about 40 years and sold when he became ill to Geoff at the Spalding hotel.

This was well worth the visit and in our case a stop over and a pub meal. You can camp at the back of the pub for free if you don't connect to the power.

Camping out the back of the Pub, free if you don't want power.

Geoff giving a talk on the barbed wire, mostly displayed in the main hall way.

Some of the star droppers

Didn't realize how many types of barbed wire


11 September, 2014

Farina, SA

We had passed Farina ruins on several occasions when travelling north but can't recall stopping to look at the historic town or stay at the camping area. So on this trip after 3 days travelling along the Birdsville track we decided to spend time at Farina.

Farina was proclaimed a town on 21/3/1878 - originally called "Government Gums", but later called "Farina" (Latin for flour) by Governor Jervois.  Original plans was to grow wheat but the climate proved unsuitable. Farina was the railhead from Pt Augusta from 2/5/1882 to 1884 when the line was extended first to Marree and then to Alice Springs.  The line closed in 1980's & was removed in 1993. Afghan camel drivers lived on Afghan Hill (eastern side of the town).  They brought in wool from the stations and delivered supplies to them.  Chinese came to Farina as construction workers on the railway and some stayed on as gardeners.  A School opened in 1879, Hotels "Transcontinental" &  "Exchange", Post Office, savings bank, telegraph station, police station, Anglican & Catholic churches, general stores, bakery, brewery, blacksmith, saddlery, hospital & butchery - the town was finally deserted in the 1980's but in its heyday the population reached approx 300 residents.

Several groups have taken on restoring the ruins and have established information boards and signposts which shows interesting history on the town and is thoroughly worth the visit.

The New Police Station 1935 to 1950


Farina Cemetery - quite detailed information boards giving info on pioneer families buried in this cemetery. The cemetery was last used in 1960. 

Chimneys are the site of  Patterson's House and Butcher Shop 1915-1989 with the underground Bakery in background

Underground Bakery - volunteers have restored this Bakery and has become operational during some of the restoration projects


Transcontinental Hotel (1878-1928)
Bush Nursing Hospital (1928-1945)
Boarding House (1945-1955)

Back of Transcontinental Hotel ruins

 Farina Cricket Ground - the resident ghost batsman! 

Another view of Transcontinental Hotel

The owners of the station run the camping ground which has recently had shower and toilet upgrades and provides hot showers when the donkey boiler is fired up.  Lovely spot to camp with plenty of space and trees.

Camping area approx 1km from Farina Ruins

Local chicks!



08 September, 2014

Down the track

Around midday on Monday 8/9 we decided to make a move down the track as majority of the Race Goers had already left.  Had a magnificent breakfast at the local Bakery (enough food to last a few days!!).   In hindsight being at the 'back of the pack' may not have been the best option ........ why? The track was not in the best condition, may be due to the amount of traffic which had traveled up and back to the races - probably the worst condition we had experienced in our previous travels. Generally the rocks were exposed - almost looking like a cobblestone effect, which certainly kept the average speed down.  At times when the track was in better condition we were able to get up to 60kph!

Just over the boarder in SA and the corrugations started.

Uninterrupted view for miles and miles in the Sturt Stoney Desert
We camped out twice on the track - first at Tippipila Creek Bush Camp (approx 200kms).  This camp even had flushing toilets!!  Were able to do a bit of  'maintenance' as vibrations caused a few "interesting incidents"!
Sunrise over the looo at Tippipila Creek Bush Camp

Mungerannie Pub
Next day travelling the road conditions had improved slightly although still not able to get above 60kph.  We experienced very strong cross winds and drove into a dust storm around Mungerannie.  With the strong wind we managed to collect quite a bit of the dust in the van.  By this time Helen was constantly reminding me that this was our home I was dragging down the Track and each time we stopped there seemed to be something that needed attention - not happy Hels!!
It was around Mungerannie the strong winds blew creating a dusty mist, not that pleasant!! 
Had planned to stay at Coopers Creek however on arrival the dust was blowing into our sandwiches so decided to drive further on to escape the conditions.  Was a great move as we stayed at Clayton Station (approx 54kms NE Marree) which was well worth the visit.  They had hot showers, flushing toilers and even a hot tub!!
Was the end of another windy day of dust and rough roads - a hot tub was most welcoming.

At Clayton camped with 2 other couples who had already started to fill the hot tub with warm spring water ..... oh so relaxing.

This monument south of Maree in 2012 commemorates the 150th anniversary of the crossing from Adelaide to Van Dieman Gulf by John McDouall Stuart
Stopped for a coffee in Maree - Helen pleased as finally of the Birdsville Track!  Traveled onto Farina for our next camp.