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  • Writer's pictureJess

Week 1 Of Our Weekly Blog 27/05/2021 - 03/06/2021

Updated: Jun 3, 2021

Day 1 The day of leaving for our trip was finally here! We were up bright and early (4am) ready to complete out last bit of packing into the car and camper. We hooked up the camper to the car when Allan realised the DC-DC charger was not charging the battery in the camper (previously it had been). The battery in the camper is important because it powers the fridge in the camper which holds our food. Allan knows just how important food is to Jess (hangry Jess is not a fun time), so he really wanted to fix it. Our initial departure time of 9:30am came and went and Allan and Brian (Allan’s dad) were still trying to work out exactly why the DC-DC charger was not working and how they could fix it. They eventually decided to get rid of the DC-DC charger and rig the electronics so that it charges the camper battery straight from the car battery (which charges while we are driving) and while we are stationary/camping we set up our solar panel to charge the battery during the day. We finally left for our trip at around 12pm with the plan to stay at Horrock’s Pass Campground for the night. We arrived at Horrock’s Pass Campground just before sundown which allowed us to set up in a little bit of daylight. Brian almost rolled their camper. He drove up a hill which turned out to be the wrong way, so had to reverse back down it. Little did he know the trailer was not reversing straight and it was teetering on the edge of a hole. Luckily, Allan saw this and stopped Brian in his tracks and corrected the trailer line. We setup camp, cooked dinner, sat around the campfire and watched the full moon rise, then went to bed. First days are always eventful!

Day 2 Destination was a little unknown. We headed into Port Augusta for a few essentials that were forgotten (coffee for Allan, because he is almost as bad as Jess without food if he hasn’t had his morning fix!!) and then drove through Quorn to Parachilna with the aim to stop at the Prairie Hotel. Unfortunately, we forgot that the Prairie Hotel is closed in non-peak times, and this was during that time. We sat outside the Prairie Hotel and ate our lunch. We continued through Leigh Creek and Copley, then stopped at Ochre Hills, an Indigenous Site with a beautiful array of coloured dirt hills (red, white, yellow, purple, brown) which is ground up and used by Indigenous people for medicine, ceremonies, burials, paintings and making tools. Then we kept driving to Farina. Farina used to be a pumping town in the late 1800’s to early-mid 1900’s, until it became a ghost-town after World War 2 and the trains were stopped, as a lot of the men of Farina went to war. The town of Farina is now a working station with a campground (where we decided to stay the night). There is a group of Volunteers that are restoring the town of Farina as a part of the Farina Restoration Group and are even running the Bakery at Farina. We stopped at the bakery and had a guided tour of the underground oven which is used to cook the bread that is sold at the bakery and got a bit of history about Farina. We setup camp at the campground. Allan and I walked up a small hill to the War Memorial and read about those men from Farina that went to war (World War 1 or 2). We watched the sunset which was stunning (we took photos, but they never show the whole beauty of the sunset). We cooked dinner, played Sequence then went to bed.

Day 3 Jess decided it was a good idea to go for a run. It was a stupid idea because it was less than 10 degrees C. We went to the Farina Bakery for breakfast, and both got chunky steak and cheese pies- they were the best quality pies we have had for a long time! Everything else at the bakery also looked delicious and it was difficult to choose just one thing. We had a look around Farina at the buildings that were being restored. The cricket ground, which holds the annual cricket match “volunteers vs. the world”, was made of gravel and dirt with a cement pitch laid on 5/5/2010- I know I would not take a dive on that ground! We had a look at the Farina Cemetery, which was quite sad at how many deaths were children and very few reached the age of 70yrs or older. After exploring Farina, we packed up the camper and got back on the bitumen heading for Marree for the night (55km away). Had a look at the free campground, but it was poorly organised and both of us (us and Allan’s parents) would not fit, so we paid for sites at the campground and set up camp. We headed to the pub for a drink or two and had a look at the Tom Kruse Museum. Got talking to a lady who was riding her bike through the 10 major deserts of Australia to raise money for depression and suicide. We walked back to the caravan park and got chatting to a couple in a caravan who have been travelling Australia. 6 beers and 4 ciggies later (on their behalf) they decided to keep moving and talk to another couple. We went to the camp kitchen to cook tea (red chicken curry with rice and mixed veg) and set up base there for the night around the communal campfire. A couple (Holly and Pilot Rasheed??) who were running the scenic flights at the caravan park joined us and another couple (Kathy and Andrew) who had been split from their group of travellers also joined us. Kathy and Andrew were musicians and bought their instruments with them to play their music around the campfire. Kathy plays the flute and Andrew the guitar. We spent the night listening and singing to their music and chatting around the campfire. We had a relatively early night despite the entertainment.

Day 4 The next morning, we were woken by the lovely sounds of someone vomiting. Sue had a rather big night hitting the hard lemonades and not lining the stomach with food (rookie error). Jess was able to finally pass the “Chuckie” trophy on to Sue. We got travelling early as we were excited to finally get off the bitumen and travel along dirt road of The Birdsville Track. The aim was to get to Mungerannie Station where we were going to stay the night. Allan wanted to get some footage of the Birdsville Track on the drone, which he tried to but due to Marree having an airport, he was unable to get any footage at the start. We stopped roughly 20km into the Birdsville Track to try and get some footage. This time the drone allowed us to record some footage, but due to it being very windy, it did not want to follow our car with the ‘active track’ mode, so Allan had to run/walk back along the track 600m to retrieve the drone once it had landed. Allan kept himself entertained with the colour changes of the dirt while I wrote in my journal. We got to Mungerannie by midday, fuelled up, paid for fuel and campsite and Allan and Brian had a couple of beers- Sue was too hungover still. We stayed and chatted to Phil (owner/station manager) for an hourish, then decided to leave to setup camp and Phil gave Allan and Brian a “roadie”. The flies were dense and annoying when setting up camp. Pottered around camp and inspected damage of the vehicles. Brian lost his Anderson Plug that connects his camper electronics to his car battery when driving, our mud flaps on our camper were pretty much shredded and we both had dust everywhere. In the late arvo we walked back to the pub for another/a drink where we met Kathy and Andrew (musicians from the night before). They had lost a wheel on their camper (150km from Marrree) and were having it towed back to Copley (115km from Marree) that night. We walked back to camp, started a campfire, cooked and ate tea and sat around the campfire, then went to bed.

Day 5 We woke up early, had showers. They were bloody freezing, and it was the quickest shower Allan has ever had! Packed up camp and got back on Birdsville Track heading towards Birdsville. Crossed the border from SA into Queensland just outside of Birdsville. Went to the Birdsville Bakery for lunch, Allan had a Curried Camel Pie which he claimed was delicious (cost $9). Setup camp at the Birdsville Caravan Park in unpowered sites ($20 a night). Inspected damage on the vehicles… Allan and I lost the Anderson plug connecting the camper to the car and our mudflaps on the camper were non-existent, Brian and Sue lost a D-shackle and a foot off the leg of their camper. Allan and I almost lost the camper at one stage, because the R-clip was almost out. The R-clip is used to keep the pin that is connecting the camper to the car in place. All in all, it was not the hardest track ever, but it still did some damage. Went to the Birdsville Pub for a couple of rounds, then went back to camp, cooked dinner and went to bed.

Day 6 Was the day we finally started getting ready to tackle “Little Red” and “Big Red”. They are sand dunes of the Simpson Desert. Little Red is a steady incline and slightly boggy, but quite an easy track. Big Red is a little bigger and has multiple different lines that you can take to conquer it. Allan and Brian decided to start with the easiest line and they both got up easily. Sue then wanted to have a go and she also made it easy. Allan went again on the same line and made it easy. Brian and Allan decided to try another line which has slightly more incline and is softer (less worn track). Brian floored it and made it well. Allan’s first attempt he did not quite go fast enough and bogged in about 30m from the top. On his second attempt he hit it harder, got about 6 feet from the top and bogged in good and proper (the under body of the car was indented into the sand). Allan decided not to try that line again and went for the easier line and made it up. He had to get some photos for the Gram of course. Allan noticed some grease near his driver side tyre, so he called it a day and we slowly drove back to Birdsville. We stopped in at the mechanic who said it looked like we had cracked the CV boot, but he would recommend replacing the CV as well because once dirt and dust gets into the CV their lifetime decreases. Mechanic said unfortunately he does not have a CV or CV boot for the model Triton we have, but the next flight for parts to come in would be in 2 days’ time (Thursday). It would be an easy fix once the part is here. There was not much we could do except for wait for 2 days for the plane, then we could leave Friday.

Day 7 It’s now our third day in Birdsville (meant to be heading out today) and we were expecting rain and storms, which is a very rare sight in Birdsville. We started the day slowly knowing we would be in Birdsville for another 2 days. Allan walked to the mechanics to find out what was happening with the parts, but the mechanic was at the dentist (Allan found out the dentist only comes to Birdsville once a year!). Walked to the Visitor Information Centre which had lots of interesting information about the wildlife, country and Indigenous heritage. We found out that there were 3 geocache locations (2 of them with the free version of the app) in Birdsville and decided to walk to one today and another tomorrow. The first one took us to the bore; we found it and signed our names, then walked back to the caravan park. Spent the day chilling in the camp kitchen, catching up on socials and putting together videos of our travels so far all while keeping an eye on the weather for the storms and rain that were meant to come. It became very windy in the afternoon and many people rolled into the caravan park with mud all over their cars and with reports that they had to drive through rain and mud to get here. It stayed dry in Birdsville with no rain and no storms, as they all seemed to go around us, but it made for some amazing views in the sky with all the different cloud formations. All in all, it was an interesting first week that didn’t run according to plan but that’s what makes it all the more interesting and exciting. From here we are just waiting for the car to be fixed so we can hit the road again. We are going to be heading north still up towards Mt Isa, and then east to the Queensland coast. Thank you for reading along and hopefully we have been keeping you entertained, stay tuned for another weekly blog next Thursday. Stay safe!

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