Friday, 23 June 2017

2017 Caravan Travels - with Charley

Our trip this year began last Tuesday with our caravan all loaded up, the car newly serviced and everything set up for an expedition to warmer climes to the north of Australia. With our Border Collie dog, Charley with us we headed north from Hastings in Victoria and had our first overnight stop at Deniliquin in New South Wales.

Next day was warmer after a very chilly night and gradually throughout the drive the sky cleared and in mid afternoon we arrived at Ivanhoe (central-west NSW). Now we were in typical outback territory - very flat landscape and ochre coloured soil. We checked in at the small caravan park that we had stayed in several years ago hoping to continue north to Whitecliffs. That time we had heavy rain and the road was closed which meant a very long drive back to Hay and then over to join the Kidman Way to go north.

This time we were luckier - no rain! Not long after we set up, another van pulled in and of course we had a chat with Sully and Wendy - also retirees enjoying their travels. Sully had worked on the railways and liked a beer and a talk. Over the road we went to the local pub for dinner that night - fantastic fish and chips, so a good start to our trip.

Next day, Sully and Wendy headed off to Menindee Lakes and we continued north to Wilcannia. We have stopped here for a couple of nights as we have a great spot by the Darling River with wide open spaces and plenty of room for Charley to run around  without a lead. There are some very old, massive river gums here, but with signs saying 'Limbs may fall' we have been careful not to park beneath them.

There is also a nice little stone weir just upstream with a few pelicans and herons waiting patiently for a fish feed.

Wilcannia is a small town with a large Aboriginal population with just the basic post office, garage workshop, police station, small supermarket, etc. The one popular spot for tourists is a small, attractive coffee shop with indoor and outdoor seating. Dogs are welcome in the outdoor setting, so with a nice cappuchino, we chatted to a young family nearby about dogs. Charley is always an attraction and conversation starter.

At one time it must have been quite a prosperous locality going by a few very substantial buildings dating from around the 1880s. There is also a very large Catholic Convent here that has long since been abandoned with massive damage at one end. There is a sign saying 'This Heritage building is due to be repaired and restored in 2012/13'. Somehow, sadly, I think it has been forgotten!

Tomorrow, we'll head on up to Whitecliffs where there is opal mining, so a good look around that area is planned.

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