Close Nav

Last 12 months

  • December 2021 (0)
  • November 2021 (0)
  • October 2021 (0)
  • September 2021 (0)
  • August 2021 (0)
  • July 2021 (0)
  • June 2021 (0)
  • May 2021 (2)
  • April 2021 (1)
  • March 2021 (0)
  • February 2021 (0)
  • January 2021 (1)
  • Show All

Tags

Tagalong Adventures Australia

Number of blogs returned: 1 to 12 records of 12

Uluru and Beyond Safari 2021

We crossed the Qld border excited to be heading south and running our second safari of the year “Uluru and Beyond”.   We were only gone one day, and we learnt that SA had closed the border to anyone who had been in Brisbane which quickly deflated our excitement.

Nonetheless, we kept on driving, ever optimistic and ended up in Silverton waiting to cross the SA border accompanied by a couple of the safari members who were also from Qld.   After some phone calls with the local SA police, we were told that we were allowed to cross the border 14 days after leaving QLD, which would be the day the safari started, so all was good but until we crossed that border it was biting nails.  

We decided to make the most of our time in Silverton with some bike riding (trying to avoid getting a flat tyre from the bull heads but having no such luck!) a camp oven roast, pub dinner and a walk around the quirky town of Silverton.  I was sitting quietly in our caravan when the news announced that the SA border was officially open!  I immediately ran over to the others with great excitement to share the news. We eagerly completed our border passes and the next morning we were on our way.

To some of our dismay we had to take a covid test on arrival in SA, so we set up camp in Peterborough whilst awaiting our negative result, nevertheless grateful that we had finally made it over. After two long days of twiddling our thumbs, we were raring to get back on the road, and with only three days to do a reccie of the Flinders time was of the essence. 

The next few days were hectic as we toured the Northern and Southern Flinders. Many kilometres and a second covid test later we made it to Spear Creek where our safari was set to begin the next day. Having finally had a night to relax, we were disappointed to discover that our inverter had given up the ghost which resulted in an eight-hour return trip to Adelaide to pick up a new one. Luckily, we made it back a few hours before the safari started. Wow, what a start to our trip for us!

With all of that out of the way, the safari had begun!  Everyone had arrived and we decided that a campfire was a good way to kick off the adventure ahead. With the fire warming our hands and toes, it was a relaxing social evening that allowed everyone to get to know one another. Soon, we all headed to the function room for a buffet dinner. 

The first day on the road is always tricky as everyone is still getting used to travelling in convoy, but lucky for us we had an easy road to take us to Coober Pedy in a couple days’ time. Our original plan to stay at Glendambo Caravan Park was dismantled when we discovered that it had been closed since Summer, so we went with plan B; an overnight stop at Lake Hart which overlooks the huge Salt Lake and the train line running right along it.

We did see a couple of trains snaking their way along the horizon, the contrast amongst the red and blue colours of the outback is a special sight all on its own. The moment you leave Port Augusta you feel like you are far from civilisation and in the true outback, with the spectacular colours of the red dirt and blue skies and not a building in sight.

Coming into Coober Pedy you can see the mounds of dirt where mines or test holes are dug, and you can’t help but wonder about what beautiful opals are hiding down there.  Coober Pedy is an interesting little town. While it can feel a bit daunting walking down the main street, it is worth the effort once you see the opal shops on both sides and the bigger tourist opal shops in the centre of town.  Most of the bigger shops are dug into the side of a hill as are most of the houses.  With a cool 18 degrees all year round, you can understand why the locals live underground, especially in Summer. You could climb the stairs and walk over the top of one of the bigger shops which provided a lookout over the whole town.  

We had hired a tour bus which took everyone around the town and interestingly we saw land that was for sale which was actually a patch of land with the cut-out already made ready for someone to dig their home into the wall of the hill. I always wonder how they know when to stop so they don’t dig into their neighbour’s lounge room or bedroom!  

We also drove past the golf course, and interestingly but not surprisingly it was a dirt golf course with black sump oil instead of grass over the holes to mark them.  Further down the road and a small way down the Stuart highway we drove into a 9-mile opal field with markings of sites everywhere and testing holes, and if you didn’t know what you were doing you could easily step into one of these holes, so we were happy to be observing from the inside of the bus. We also spotted a 12-mile opal field in the distance with one of its mines featuring on the TV show “Opal Hunters”.  Driving through the opal fields we came to “the Breakaways”.  The beautiful colours of the hills and landscape is paint worthy, but it would be very hard to capture the beauty of these colours in a painting. We then continued on past the “salt and pepper”.

Leaving Coober Pedy, we had a couple of overnight stops before making it to Uluru. We spent the first night at Marla Roadhouse and the next at Erldunda Roadhouse. We had told everyone that the chicken burgers at Erldunda were pretty good and thank goodness they still were because quite a few people went and bought one for lunch.  I don’t know if it is still the same chef, but they sure do a pretty good job for a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere.  We had a bit of a rainy afternoon which proved to be our first cold night. However, we woke up to the usual blue sky and warm weather as we set out for Uluru.  

The excitement was building now as we were getting closer. Some got excited when we stopped at Mt Connor which could have been mistaken for Uluru, but it meant we were almost there – just around the corner and there it is, the Olgas in the background and Uluru off to our left. We finally rolled into the campground without too much fuss, and everyone set about organising their tours and what they wanted to see in the couple of days that we were there. In saying that, not too many turned up for happy hour that afternoon!

We got up the next day at the crack of dawn – actually, before the crack of dawn for our bus trip out to Uluru to see it at sunrise. We made it just as the light was turning into that beautiful morning glow and along with all the other tourists, we made our way out to the viewing platform so that we could get that perfect photo. With the sunrise done we did a small tour around all of the important sites at Uluru and learnt a bit about the cultural significance of certain areas. It is amazing to see the real colour of the rock where the rain washes the coating away and leaves a grey black colour. By mid-morning the fly nets were out which didn’t really stop them hitching a ride on our backs into the bus.  

 

We headed back to camp for lunch and a quick siesta, and then we were on the bus again to visit the Olgas.  Some of us did the short walk up into the gorge, and there was water lying around in spots from the recent rain. It was also nice to see some of the wildflowers here and there.  While the Olgas are not as much of a tourist spot as Uluru itself, they are well worth the visit and just as spectacular in a different way with the massive, orange-coloured walls all around you. However, on a hot day it does get very hot in there, so we were lucky for a mild afternoon.  After our walk into the gorge, we headed back to Uluru for our sunset nibbles and drinks and watched the sun set over the stunning rock.  There were many bus groups there to see the sunset, but luckily, we had our own area with a great view. While watching the sun set in the moment it was hard to notice the subtle changes in the sky, but upon looking back at photos taken at two-minute intervals you can really see the change of colour as the shadows move across Uluru as the sun goes down. Everyone was having a great time with the champagne and wine flowing and lots of laughter. It was a great end to a huge day and I’m sure that our tour guide was glad that the day was over too; she did a fantastic job talking to us and looking after us all day.

The next day was a free day for everyone, so we went with a couple of the other safari guests and rode our bikes around the base of Uluru. As we had stopped at all the significant sites the day before it was a bit more about the exercise and experience, but of course we still took a few more pics of things we hadn’t seen before. It ended up being about 14 km all up once we rode back to the car, so it was a nice bit of exercise for the morning.  A rest in the afternoon served us well before we got back on the bus at 7:05pm to visit the field of lights. The bus wasn’t just for us this time, so it was jampacked with people who had tickets for this time slot.  Once we got there we were let loose into the field and stumbled our way around following the little lights on the edge of the path. The colours are an amazing sight and a massive job it was getting it all set up - they say if you strung the lights in a straight line, it would take you all the way to Alice Springs. We heard the call and made our way back to the bus - “Think the bus was over that way?”, we could hear as we made our way back. Once we got on, we found there were no seats left; we figured some bus jumpers must have decided to catch the early one back. But not to worry, we waited for a bit and sure enough another bus came along and took us back to camp.

The next day we said goodbye to Uluru and watched it disappear in our mirrors as we headed to our next stay at Curtin Springs. Driving past this roadhouse you could be forgiven for thinking that it was just a bush overnight stay and a fuel fill-up on your way back out to the Stuart Highway, but stay overnight and see what they have to offer - they have really diversified and made the bush work for them. Walk across the road to the old abattoir, once you get inside it is actually their paper making factory; they make paper out of the spinifex and other natural grasses found on their property along with other paper products that they sell in their shop.  It is definitely worth a stop and a tour with the property owner who will explain how it all began and let you have a go at making your own paper.  After doing this tour we sat around the fire and had some fines, a raffle and sausage sizzle fundraiser. There were lots of laughs and some happy winners, so it was a great night to socialise under the stars. 

It was a much longer drive the next day as we set out for Kings Canyon, but we stopped at a rest area on the way for a coffee and tea break.  A call went out on the UHF that there were some major Mitchell cockatoos sitting in the tree so all those with cameras tried to take pictures of the beautiful birds and their lovely pink colours. That was a real treat to see them cuddling in the tree.

As we arrived in Kings Canyon it was a surprise that they had Telstra service now and apparently only hooked up 3 weeks before we arrived, so we now had mobile service. After Andrew giving everyone the spiel on the rim walks and what to expect a handful set off in the morning to brave the 6km walk with 500 metres of vertical incline at the start and the rest did the other various walks.  We decided to do the Kathleen Springs walk as we hadn’t done it before, and it was well worth it.  With old cattle watering stations and yards along the way, many wildflowers and then a waterhole at the end.  Reading the history along the way it all made sense.  I love the way that Kings Canyon is still fairly untouched and yet still as spectacular as Uluru and has much to offer by the way of walks and spectacular sunsets/sunrises

We only had 2 nights at Kings Canyon and then set off for Erldunda once again but first dropped in to the Karrke Aboriginal Cultural Experience.  We had been here once before, and Peter and Natasha give a very interesting insight into the food, medicine and tools used by the local Indigenous.  We went around to different areas that they had set up with each area dedicated to what they were talking about such as food or medicine, dot painting or tools.  A fabulous experience and one that I will never get tired of seeing and listening too.

On the road again with an overnight stop at Erldunda for more chicken burgers, not as good this time, they may have had a different chef on disappointingly.

We were heading to Alice Springs for our 2-day break where it was free time for everyone to explore the surrounding areas and enjoy Anzac Day services.  Once you start looking around at Alice Springs there is quite a lot to see, from bike rides to the old telegraph station, a drive up to memorial hill with views of Alice and for a longer trip a drive out to either the East and West MacDonnell ranges where there are gorges aplenty.  We decided to stop in at the Desert Park and take in the bird show.  The eagle, hawks and kites all come on command and the beautiful white owl popped out of a log when requested. I’m sure it must take them a long time and a lot of patience to teach the birds to do this, but it resulted in a pretty good show, and I learnt some more about these birds.

After our hiatus at Alice Springs, we ready to be on the road again and set off in the morning for Devils Marbles Hotel.  The camping area out the back was quite small and had been left free for all of us to squeeze into.  We had a stop a morning tea stop at Aileron and had a look at the impressive statutes of the Aileron Man and Aileron Woman and Child then a lunch stop at infamous Barrow Creek stopping outside the telegraph station.  A good rest and then another quick stop at Wycliffe roadhouse on the way to take photos of the aliens and ufo’s that are in abundance there.  Was a sight to see some water in the creek under the bridge and then off to our overnight stop just up the road.

Driving into Devils Marbles it looks like a another dusty roadhouse on the long drive north but walk through the gate into the courtyard and you will see a sparkling pool, green grass and a great happy hour shed.  We all gathered there for happy hour drinks and dinner and as always, the chef served a delicious dinner.

Waking up the next morning we drove 5km down the road to the actual devils’ marbles for a morning tea and time to do some of the walks.  They are quite amazing; you can actually see where the rocks have cracked and broken in half or more pieces and how it would all fit back together into one piece again like a jigsaw puzzle. Erosion over the years have turned them into the rounded boulders that they are now and eventually they will erode away into sand.  They are scattered throughout the park along with the wildflowers.  Take a walk up the hill  and you get a great view of the camping and picnic area.  

Time to move on again to our next short break which was on the northern side of Tennant Creek at the old Telegraph Station.  It looks as though some work has been done here since our last time 3 years ago and it is pretty well kept.  An old cemetery also lies there which tells the tale of 2 pioneers who came to the area.

After our lunch we drove north and turned right heading east towards Qld and onto the Barkly Highway, as always there was a headwind, but we only drove 70km to our overnight stay in a bush camp on the side of the road.  There was plenty of room far back from the road, so the road noise didn’t really bother any of us too much.  It was the perfect night for our RFDS sausage sizzle although we decided to do steak sandwiches this time for something different.  The moon was full, the fire was roaring and the poetry was flowing.  We played a game passing gifts left and right, right again then right and left until we were all confused but eventually ended up with a gift.  

We set off down the Barkly Highway into the headwind again stopping in briefly at Barkly Homestead to catch up on text messages and emails and of course all important coffee and fuel.  That night’s stop was at another bush camp at Avon Downs, opposite the police station.  The police station was put there many years ago to help stop the cattle thieving from the local stations.  

The next day we arrived at Mount Isa, our home for 2 nights.  A busy day the next day starting off the day with a tour of the Outback at Isa learning about Riversleigh fossils then catching up on shopping and a bit of a rest in the afternoon.   We set of for our next stop being the Blue Heeler Hotel.  The Blue Heeler put on a good night with a BBQ for dinner, and we all sat around the front waving to the road trains and watching the sunset.  I was a bit disappointed the brolgas didn’t turn up for a feed this time but it was still a good night.  

We were getting down to the pointy end of our safari now with only 2 more stops with Winton being the next one which was a 2-night stay.  Winton was going to be a busy 2 days with 2 tours and tickets to the Waltzing Matilda Centre.   We were picked up early in the morning for our tour of Bladensburg National Park and the old homestead and shearing shed.  Our guide for the day was Vicki from Red Dirt Tours and she knows an amazing amount about the local area.  It was great to learn all about an area which we hadn’t been into before.  I have always wanted to see the red kangaroos in the wild but learnt that actually only the males are red, and the females are a grey/blue colour, so I probably have seen plenty of them and didn’t even know. There were many kangaroos around and one lone wild dog but surprisingly hardly any tourists in the park.  We stopped at Scrummy Gorge which had a big drop off, you could walk around the edge but after looking at the giant cracks in the surface on the top it was wise to stay a few metres away from the edge.  Vicki and the bus then left us to go to our morning tea stop and get it organised for us while we walked the 700 metres along the side of the creek.  After our morning tea we continued on, crossing a creek and stopped at Scrummy Lookout where we could see Winton in the distance and the beautiful colours of the Mitchell and Flinders grasses, the pink colours really standing out.  

While this was the end of our morning tour, we were picked up again in the afternoon to go to a “jump up” 10km out of town on a private property.  The rifts on this property are incredible, some metres deep and we could actually walk through the bottom of one and then back up the top to our sunset area to watch the sunset with nibbles and drinks.  The private property allows the locals to come up and enjoy the area on the jump up and we could see an area marked off that was earmarked for glamping to be set up, this area is definitely on the move.  Heading back into camp the bush poet was all set up and ready to go for an entertaining night.  We decided that we would have our last happy hour in Winton as the next couple of nights were going to be busy so we had an early final happy hour and we were treated to another great poem written by Fiona, you can find that on our website, awards, fines and thankyous made the night complete.

Last day on the road together, it was a bit sad, but all good things have to come to an end eventually.  We hit the road and was a short day of travel ending up in Longreach.  It was a bit of mayhem going into the caravan park as we had one safari ending and another starting 2 days later so there was some confusion there.  Eventually we all found a site and got ready for our Smithy’s outback tour that afternoon. 

We were picked up by the bus and taken to the Thomson River for a great sunset tour which included turtle feeding and bird watching.  The sunset did not disappoint as we cruised back to the jetty where we were then escorted into the dining area. As always, they put on a great meal and singing entertainment with lots of laughs and a bit of dancing to end the night and to the end of another great safari.  Until next time.

 

Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 30 May 21

Fiona's Poem "Off to Uluru"

Oh the places we'll go and the things we'll see

Drop off any fruit or veg, have your permit in order

to get us all across the South Australian border

Across sparse paddocks, creeks and tanges

along the ay we will see many changes

As we head to Spear Creek near Port Augusta

where the mob will gather like sheep in a muster

To meet up with old and some new travel mates

as we cross the land of few fences and gates

Each morning a briefing of the trip for the day

a call goes out and we are on our way

Vast salt lake, ironstone flats and hills of sand

our convoy of nineteen heads into no mans land

Towns of dugouts, mines and painted mountains with Ned

"Why" our bus had an unscheduled stop is best left unsaid!

Finska and ladder golf we sometimes play

making a good way to end the day

It's goodbye SA Hello NT

Uluru, Olgas, Kings Canyon we'll see

Field of Lights, "the Rock", sunrise and sunset

hundreds of photos we're sure to get

Learnt some culture, had walks in the bush

in an old abattoir, a lesson on how to make paper

raffles, quizzes and fun games

Poems and jokes by the campfire with lots of laughs

Had to unpack and assemble a new BBQ

An intricate job for the boys, it took quite a few

Twenty-five days together, its been a blast

when having fun, time goes so fast

As we head our separate ways, don't look back

See you again, somewhere on the track

Written by Fiona 29/4/21

Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 19 May 21

The Great Tasmanian Adventure 2021

 

We were finally on our way to our first safari of the year, we had our doubts about whether we would be able to run it after a shaky start to the year but with a few tweaks and changes, border passes in hand we breathed a sigh of relief when the safari members all boarded the Spirit of Tasmania, all set for our trip to the apple isle.

 

Tasmania was set to impress with warm weather, even if a bit windy but the biggest impression was the scenery, beautiful coastline, cliff side properties looking over the ocean, potato, onion and even opium farms with the Nut in the distance, our destination for our first night.  

 

A fantastic dinner at Hursey Seafood, apparently the lobster was the best choice, and a day of chairlift rides to the top of the nut, walking the trails, happy hours and a great start to the safari.

 

From Stanley our next destination was Cradle Mountain, this was always going to be a long, slow winding trip down to Hellyer Gorge, beautiful little spot, you can walk along the edge of the creek and through the rainforest, a short walk but worth the stop.  

 

 

Driving out the other side and a quick stop at Waratah, another small town with surprises, a waterfall in the centre of town and the old stamping press with the old motor working at the press of a button.  We would have spent more time here but time was ticking away.  Expecting cold weather at Cradle Mountain we were all rugged up but it was surprisingly mild ,still requiring beanies and a fire to sit around though.  

 

Our time in Cradle Mountain was only brief so making the most of the next day everyone planned their day and the walks they wanted to undertake, quite a few walking around the popular Dove Lake.  We decided to walk to the Boat Shed and then caught the shuttle bus back to Ronny Creek where we were told the wombats could be seen.  Much to my delight they were around and we were able to snap a few shots of the wombats in the grass, the highlight of Cradle Mountain for me.  There was low mist on the mountains and a drizzle for most of the day and it made it all the more beautiful and serene.

Bright and early the next morning we were all packed and ready to head off to Strahan, our next destination.  It was going to be a busy day with stops at Mackintosh Dam and Lake Plimsoll getting to Strahan in time for our 3:00pm dinner cruise on the Gordon River.  But to miss out on these lookouts on the way would be missing out on some beautiful scenery and another part of Tasmanian history.

 

We arrived in time and were all ready for our cruise with most of us walking to the cruise boat and from the moment we stepped on board the top deck we were served with beautiful Tasmanian cuisine, local wine and beer and felt like royalty.  The scenery only added to the amazing experience, cruising through Hells Gates, stopping at Sarah Island, wow the history there is pretty amazing and made all the more so by the way the story was told, you can hear the passion in the guide’s voice as we all learnt about the history of the island as a penal colony.  To top it off back in Strahan a few of the safari members went to the play about the “Ship That Never Was” and this hilarious play had them in stitches, all tying in with our trip to Sarah Island.

 

The adventure in Strahan didn’t finish there, after a relaxing free day to wander around the town and a walk up to Hogarth Falls, the next day we embarked on a trip on the infamous Wilderness Train along the King River ending at Dubbill Barrill and back the same way to Strahan.  These majestic old carriages have been so beautifully kept and are a pleasure to ride in, following the river and crossing bridges, amazed at how the rocks were hand cut to make a pass for the train to get through.

 

Time to leave Strahan and head off to the wild west of Queenstown, a free day there and we decided to do our fundraising sausage sizzle for the RFDS, who doesn’t love a cooked snag on the bbq and for a good cause, you can’t go wrong.  Plenty of laughs, fines and stories and money raised.  Everyone was getting to know each other pretty well by now and were happy to “dob” each other in for a fine, raising more money.  It’s amazing to see how much Queenstown has changed, from the moonstark hills in the past to the trees that have grown up and now cover the hills.  On our way out of Queenstown going past the “99 bends” we came to a lookout perched on the side of the hill and some of us walked up the many stairs to a look out and a waterfall.  Not much water in the waterfall but the lookout over the hills was worth the walk.

 

We kept going to the small town of Tarraleah which was placed there purely for the purpose of the hydro power station.  A bit of a lookout at the hydro station and then as you drive down the road there are cottages beautifully kept on the side of the road which are now used for holiday accommodation.  Our stay was in the caravan park with lovely big drive through sites, some fun and games in the afternoon and we headed into the pub for a dinner.

 

The next day still travelling south we stopped at Russell Falls for some walks to these incredible falls and on to New Norfolk, into the “big smoke” which it felt like after being on the west coast for a week.  A nice caravan park along the Derwent river, we had time to visit the Salmon Ponds, a birthday celebration and some much needed shopping, including the local markets for some fresh fish.

 

From New Norfolk we were heading further south through Hobart and on to Geeveston.  It was a day of free travel as there is quite a bit to see on the way, depending on your interests.  There are many apple stalls, cider shops, the wooden boat shop and of course following the river and the little towns along the way.  At Geeveston we stayed at the new CMCA park, nice easy walk into town to the cafes and along the river to spot platypus (which we did). 

 

The Tahune Airwalk was about a half hour drive away, we chose to do that on our free day, it was sad to see the damage that the fires had one in that area but was great to see the attraction open again and it was good to support it.  The walk itself was very high through the trees, I wasn’t game to walk to the end of the lookout but braved the rest of the walk, just not looking down!  The rest of the group went their own way, some doing the Tahune Airwalk, others driving down to Dover and Cockle Creek, the southern most driveable point in Tasmania.

 

 

A few days earlier it had been decided amongst the group that they would like to do the Pennicott Bruny Island Tour, so we arranged for this to happen and after much research we managed to find enough parking space for all the rv’s so they could do this tour when we left Geeveston on the way to Hobart.  After leading everyone there and making sure all rv’s were safely parked we left everyone to go on the boat cruise around Bruny and we went on our way to Hobart.  The reviews coming in that night were great and it seemed everyone had had a great day out on the boat.  

 

We were now in Hobart for 3 days staying at the showground.  We rose to another early start as we were being picked up by coach at 8:30 to do a half day tour of Mount Wellington.  We really couldn’t have asked for better weather, as we got up there the skies were clear and we had a great view over the city and no snow or ice this year.  A stop at the Lost Café on the way doun for essential coffee and cake and we made our way back to the showgrounds.  It was basically free time for everyone after this and everyone made the most of it, doing town tours, shopping, bike rides and stocking up on locally caught fish.  Unfortunately we weren’t there when the Salamanca markets were on but one couple stayed back another night so they wouldn’t miss out. 

 

 

The rest of us went on to Port Arthur, stopping at Richmond on the way, another bakery stop and a quick visit to the old Gaol which was kept in great condition, you could really imagine the stories you read when you were there.  More free time on the way to Port Arthur to see the sites on the way, so much to see on the Tasman Peninsula, really a very spectacular part of Tasmania with stunning coastal views and cliffs.  The caravan park at Port Arthur had beautifully laid out sites with plenty of room and space and very friendly local green cockatoos.  

 

The next day was our guided tour at Port Arthur and free time to look around at your own leisure.  We had decided we would do another fundraiser the next morning with a bacon and egg breakfast which went down very well and raised some more funds for the RFDS.  The campground pizza oven went to good use that night and as everyone dropped their home made pizzas at the oven we cooked 21 pizzas in one hour, not bad!

 

 

Leaving Port Arthur we stopped in at Bangor Vineyard Shed for a delicious, if not massive, slice of cake and coffee and some wine tasting.  The history on the property dates back to Abel Tasman first placing his flag on the property and the property takes in a good part of the coastline.  Many generations of the family have owned and still own this property. 

 

 But it was time to keep going and our overnight stay was in Oatlands which produced windy, rainy, cold weather keeping most of us indoors that afternoon and night.  A few braved the cold and walked up the main street to see the many historic little houses and buildings  which the town is famous for,  but also for the cold windy weather.  

 

The next day with clear skies we headed off for Freycinet where we were staying 2 nights.  A quick lunch stop at Devils Corner winery we were soon at the caravan park and were settled in, with most of us walking down to the local pub for a dinner that night.  They even gave us our own room, which was great as we tend to be a bit noisy!

 

The weather was looking good for our Wineglass Bay boat cruise, apparently the only day that week they were going to be able to do the cruise due to the weather so that worked out really well.  Most of us walked the 1 km to the harbour and on board we hopped for our cruise.  It started of pretty smooth and as we went around the peninsula into the Tasman Sea it got a bit choppier but still pretty good and we were treated to a sea lion in the water and some great sights along the cliffs around the peninsula.  We arrived into the calm waters of Wineglass Bay with the beautiful white sand and had time to enjoy the peaceful scenery.  As we left we were told the adventure was about to begin and sure enough higher seas as we were heading back to our lunch stop, which was very sensibly made after the high seas, not before, most people enjoyed bumping over the waves, a few not so much.  All in all it was a great day out on the water and we felt lucky that the weather was on our side and we were able to do this tour.

 

 

The safari was starting to wind up at this stage and we only had 1 more stop before we reached Launceston, our final destination.  So we arrived at St Helens, lovely seaside fishing village and hopped on the courtesy bus to have dinner together at the Wharf, that dinner did not disappoint with 2 very generous courses and everyone agreed that the dinner was delicious and a great stop and some not wanting to eat again for a whole day.

 

Leaving St Helens we knew we were in for a very long and sometimes steep and windy climb over the hills into Launceston and it took us the good part of the day to do it.  We made a stop at Ledgerwood to see the carved memorial trees sculpted into World War I soldiers, this would have to be a definite stop on any tour of Tasmania.  The trees were planted in honour of fallen soldiers and as the trees became unsafe each of the trees were carved into a likeness of each soldier, to preserve the memorial.

 

 

We arrived in Launceston, everyone a bit tired from the big trip that day but we still managed a happy hour later in the afternoon.  Free day the next day and then on our final day there we went on a cruise up the Tamar River.  Again we had a beautiful day for the cruise as we made our way down the river as far as we could go towards Cataract Gorge and then up the river to the Batman Bridge, being treated to some white breasted eagles on the way.  A very relaxing day, wine tasting, plenty of food for lunch and some even had a snooze.

 

 

A busy day on this last day, we got back and had our final happy hour with some final fines issued, thanks to our tail end Charlie for the great job he did and plenty of food and pizza to finish the day off.

 

The next day after everyone leaving at their own pace and making their own way to Devonport we all met up again at the cruise terminal and after safely on board the Spirit had some dinner, played some cards and another smooth sail back to Melbourne.

 

We felt very lucky to have been able to run this safari, after covid lockdowns and border restrictions, even after we arrived in Tasmania, Melbourne was locked down and we all felt very fortunate to be in Tasmania and enjoy each other’s company and travel around the beautiful state making more friends and many memories.

 

 

 

Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 02 April 21

Wanderer Yearbook Article

Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 21 January 21

Poem - Andrew & Renee's Xpedition

By - Renee Derry

This poem was written somewhere in outback QLD - a scribble as we drove

 

We're on the road again scouting, a new safari to make

With blue skies & wide open roads we stop & camp beside the lake

The fire is soon roaring and the camp oven is on the coals

Our stomachs are grumbling as the stew fills our bowls

We set off in the morning driving the road less taken

Stopping in the smaller towns looking for inspiration

The things we see, the kilometres we travel

Sometimes going in circles as our plans unravel

To show of our country is a privilege for sure

Whether iconic or unknown you'll see on our tagalong tour

Through flooded roads, dusty storms & searing heat in Kunnanurra

The flat open plains and friendly locals found in Muttaburra

We scour the country searching for roads we can take

On our next tagalong suiting rv's of every make

And as our truck gets tired it might be time to say goodbye

 A landcruiser is on the cards which brings tears to Andrew's eyes

We've had plenty of bumps, hiccups and trials along the way

We see familiar faces, some just met and friends here to stay

And so off we go on another safari, another brand new day

by Renee Derry

Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 23 October 20

Poem - Outback Wandering 2020

By - Fiona Owens

This poem was written by Fiona on our recent safari through outback QLD, hope you love it as much as we do!

 

Wandering some dusty outback track

who knows when we'll be back

Settle down in our seat

Off to Lara Wetlands to meet and greet

It's been a really long wait

to catch up with old Safari mates

Twenty-seven travelling in fifteen vans

The majority being "safari" old hands

Four first timers, treat them gently break them in slow

Looking and learning as they go

Heading out in convoy with fifteen days to enjoy

Aramac - white bulls and sculpture trail

Lots of photos without fail

Glorius camps spots at Lake Dunn

Rest & refresh for more days of fun

Freedom camp - Muttaburra-Saurus

Old hospital tour especially for us

Winton - come a Waltzing Matilda with me

Age of Dinosaur, bones and fossils to see

Kynuna - Blue Heeler Hotel

Jokes, laughs and good food to keep us well

McKinlay, quick stop Walkabout Creek hotel to see

it's famous connections with Crocodile Dundee

Dunnarts, lighthorsemen, sculptures, mosiac seat

Hellish hot at Julia Creek, 39 degrees had us beat

Knonosaurus ancient creatures, inland sea

all part of Richmond's bygone history

Hughenden, Flinders Discovery Centre, windmills

Porcupine Gorge and rather steep hills

Charters towers lots of history from days of old

it all started when someone found gold

The Lynd then to Einasleigh & Forsayth on the dirt

We hoped and prayed our motorhomes would not be hurt

Road to Cobbold Gorge, corrugations dust and rocks

with rattles rolls and shudders that nearly shook off our jocks

Over the range to Pinnarendi Station stay

Saddened to think it's our second last day

Final destination Paronella Park

Sausage sizzles, quizzes & ladder golf, it's been a lark

A big shout out thankyou, Andrew & Renee

for the great adventure and leading us astray

By - Fiona Owens - October 2020

Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 22 October 20

Our trip through the Simpson Desert

For years I have been hearing about this iconic trip so it was with some excitement and trepidation, not sure how I would like the isolation, that we made a plan to take the trip through the desert on our way back from WA to QLD last July.

After finishing running our Kimberley & Beyond tagalong tour in WA the plan was to meet up with friends at William Creek to start our trek through the Simpson Desert.

A mad dash across the Nullarbor Plains and after a couple days freezing in single digit weather in Broken Hill to stock up on supplies we set off for the Flinders Ranges.  Our first night was spent at Alpana Station bush camping in our Tvan, a warm fire at night and frozen water hoses in the morning, but what a great place to visit, will keep that one for a future trip!

We kept on going up through Marree, stopping for lunch and then up the Oodnadatta Track to William Creek, a bit rough but nothing compared to later that day.

 

We met our friends at what seemed like a bustling William Creek. It seemed that every man and his dog had decided to fly or drive to William Creek to see the rare sight of high water in Lake Eyre, caused by the flooding in the northern part of QLD earlier that year.  This of course is the reason we then set off for Halligan Bay.  This was to be the most corrugated, rough “road” we had ever been on  and after 80 km of bouncing around and trying to find the least corrugated part of the road we arrived at the camp ground and managed to find one of the last spots available where we could fit two camper trailers.

 

Well the sight of Lake Eyre was worth the bone jarring experience of 80 km of corrugations. To see high water in Lake Eyre is an experience all in its own not to be missed, the sunset and sunrise, to see birds on the water which is normally a dry bed was spectacular.  We walked down as far as we could down to the edge of the lake, which was about half-way until the mud stopped us, then it was time for a spectacular sunset, happy hour and catching up with our friends.

The next day after tackling the road back out of Halligan Bay to William Creek we set off for an overnight stop Oodnadatta staying behind the iconic Pink Roadhouse and a good meal at the pub.

 

Leaving Oodnadatta our next stopover was to be Dalhousie Springs, stopping to look at the old Dalhousie Ruins on the way. 

 

I had heard a lot about the hot springs here and it did not disappoint.  The campground was a surprising visit, great camp spots and to soak in the hot springs after a day of dust was just magic with the added bonus of no flies as long as we stayed in the water.

The next day leaving Dalhousie Springs was the start of the desert and after a quick stop at Purnie Bore for lunch we started our trek across the desert.  We had decided to tackle the French Line and the 1000 sandhills that would see us through to the other end.  A couple hours in at a speed of 8km an hour I had calculated it would take us at least 5 days to get to the Birdsville, a bit overwhelming  at first! 

The gaps between the sandhills soon spread out and we gained a bit of speed and I started to see the beauty of the desert from the tiny animal tracks to the desert flowers and the ripples on the untouched desert sand.  Dingo tracks were abound, but amazingly we only saw a couple dingos,  with their pawprints in the sand going for many kilometres in front of us on the track.

Our first night in the desert we stopped off about 50 mt off the track, made a campfire and amazed in how clear and abundant the stars were.

The next day we continued our journey and had picked up a bit of speed in between the hills and made some good distance before we stopped at the end of the day again off the side of the track. Out here the flies are abundant and driving until almost dark was the popular choice when the flies had all but gone.  Another camp fire, another great night in the desert, the silence is incredible, not even animal sounds to break the silence.

Amazingly there were a lot of people on the track, mainly due to the end of the Big Red Bash in Birdsville, but most people had chosen to take the easier tracks rather than the French Line.  We could hear a lot of chatter over the 2 way though and did cross paths with other groups throughout the day.

Our last night in the desert was beside a huge salt lake, with the scenery changing again and we knew we were getting close to the other side. 

 

Waking up ever morning in the desert with the cool crisp air is pretty special and now we could hear some birds which was something we hadn’t seen or heard earlier in the desert.  We crossed over the salt lake and stopped at the famous Poeppel Corner.  This was a highlight of the trip, it was pretty amazing to think how they had surveyed the point where QLD, SA and NT meet, with basic equipment, all those years ago, and only to be out by such a short distance, incredible.

From there we crossed massive salt lakes, the scenery changing again and came to Eyre Creek which was impassable due to the huge amount of water that had come down from the flooding in North Qld earlier in the year.  There was a bypass which only had a foot of water in it so we were able to get across and just amaze in the phenomenon that Eyre Creek is, being a dry creek for many years at a time.

Almost at the end of our trek through the Desert we had one more iconic sandhill to get over.  Coming up to Big Red it was a lot bigger than I had imagined and after trying unsuccessfully to get over the top with our Tvan in tow we opted for the smaller Little Red and left Big Red for another day and drove on to our camp spot in Birdsville

 

The next day we drove back to Big Red in time for sunset, driving up from the eastern side was less challenging but still rewarding and definitely a must.  The perfect end to our journey through the desert, champagne, friends and sunset on Big Red. 

Travelling through the desert was an incredible experience and even though I started out with some trepidation it is an experience not to be missed and I would definitely do it again.

Renee

Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 23 July 20

Darling River Run Safari 2020

Exploring the Darling River is an experience not to be missed.  To follow the river and see how it impacts towns and stations along the way and to hear the stories from station owners such as Kallara Station on how they manage the water is a very special experience. 

We stayed at Kallara a couple nights and the station owners were so welcoming and happy to share their stories and even take a few of us out for a drive around the station showing how they manage the water and keep their farms going.   Sitting in front of boiler with the fire going and cooking up a camp oven for dinner was a great way to relax and spend the afternoon.

When we ran this trip a year ago the river was fairly dry and when we stopped in at Tolarno Station there was basically no water at all in the river.  We were able to camp on the banks of the river at their Station enjoying a campfire at night, the stillness of the outback, it was magical.

Travelling through Bourke the river was very low and we were unable to experience the paddle vessel 'Jandra' at that time, but going into the Back o' Bourke Centre and the Stockmans Show was fantastic and really looking forward to seeing that again.  Bourke has a lot to offer and while we were a local tour guide took us on a tour through a cotton gin learning about farming sustainability.

To be able to follow the river again this year will be a different experience, some water has been flowing into the Darling and we will be able to see the changes it has made as we head down to the river.  I'm looking forward to visiting these stations again and to hear their stories on how they adapt to the changes and keep their stations running.

Another great place we visited was Brewarrina with a great free camp right on the Barwon River and if you head into the information centre in town you can get a tour of the ancient Aboriginal fish traps, another insight on how the water in the river was used

Seeing a part of outback NSW that you don't normally get to see is a truly unique experience and the landscape is incredible with the changing colors and scenery that only this part of the country offers.

Check out our youtube video below showing the highlights of this fantastic safari following the length of the river.  This is such a diverse tagalong including Lightning Ridge, Silverton and Mungo National Park, something for everyone!

https://youtu.be/lfti0dOqhow

Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 20 July 20

Goodyear MTR Tyre Review

Youtube video of tyre review and driving footage https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HbQnWRCbfw&t=95s

Hello everybody Andrew from Xpedition Tagalong Tours here, today I want to talk to you about the Goodyear MTR Kevlar Mud Terrain.  Firstly, I need to let you know that we are not sponsored by Goodyear, the results and experiences that I have with these tyres is my own opinion.  

 

Over the last few years I have used several brands of off-road mud terrains and all terrains with varying levels of success, also to note that I have also changed sizes as well. Previously for many years I have run 315/75r16’s various brands.  As I am based in Queensland Australia, I recently went to the trouble of obtaining full engineering certification for our Patrol GU this meant returning to 33” or 285/75r16’s. So, a change to a new tyre dealer, Beaurepaires Burleigh, and they suggested I try this Goodyear MT/R. Having run other brands for a while a quick google search failed to bring much results in Australia for the performance of these tyres, the reason for my review J

 

So, a few facts to start us off so we have a base line for how I have collected my data.

 

Vehicle is a 2001 Nissan Patrol GU TD42T running a 3” lift, Arb BP51 dampers, Arb locker front and rear long-range tanks etc……. The vehicle currently weighs 3300kg on the road in touring trim with our Tvan hooked on.  This is important to understand tyre wear as the vehicle carries a bit of weight all the time. Due to our business we also complete a lot of kilometres both on sealed and unsealed roads and at varying speeds and temperatures.  All of these factors effect tyre wear and longevity.

Our home base is Gold Coast, Australia.

 

Current set fitted 22nd March 2019

 

April 2019, a short holiday to Moreton island towing our portable house, sand driving on a new mud tyre (good test), tyre pressures set to 16psi front, 15psi rear HOT temperatures.  Sand conditions were damp sand most of the week trip, results and feeling about the tyres very positive, good floatation on the sand, tracking and steering at low pressures very responsive, this of course was only a short trip and not a good test so far.

 

1500km completed so far

 

May 2019 - depart for a Tag-a-long across the top of Australia, mixed surface mostly black top.

 

Pressures for highway 40psi front, 42psi rear COLD pressures

 

At this stage the tyres are basically still new with the little dimple things still showing on the tread blocks

 

Most of our highway running will be done at up to 110kph including towing, fuel consumption is between 17 and 18 l/100 at this stage

 

June 2019  - 9500km completed total

Tyre wear recordings as follows; new tread depth 15mm

                                    Front depth 13+mm (at 38psi cold)

                                    Rear Depth 12.5+mm (at 42psi cold)

 

Wear of the tyre is very even, no signs of scalloping or chopping on the front tire (remember it’s a live axle patrol) tyre feel is excellent so far a big tick from me, over the distance 5% of this section was mixed surface the most part secondary sealed roads

 

July 2019 - 13750kms completed total

 

Tyre wear recordings as follows; new tread depth 15mm

                                    Front depth 13mm (at 40psi cold)

Rear Depth 10.5+mm (at 42psi cold) this is a reflection on the load on the rear axle approx. 1900kgs

 

As previous wear of the tyre is good, very minor signs of scalloping or chopping on the left front tyre (remember it’s a live axle patrol), not noticeable unless you look closely.  Feel is excellent, so far a big tick from me, over the distance 20% of this section was mixed surface the most part secondary sealed roads.  We did traverse the western end of the Gibb River road, during this section the pressures 26psi front, 28psi rear HOT this end of the Gibb can be fairly average in road condition and it certainly was this time again, being corrugated and stony a big impact on tyres.  Stones are the big killer on tyres on a touring vehicle in outback Australia. Although we only completed about 450km on this section, but we had no signs of chipping to the tread blocks, no signs of sidewall damage, I was travelling at 90kph plus over these roads too, also not towing this section.

 

July 2019 Northam WA - 14255kms

 

Our tag-a-long tours has finished so we booked in for a tyre rotation through Beaurepaires in WA to make sure we get maximum life from the tyres, rotation completed we head east for a meetup in the middle of Australia for the real test of the tyres……..

 

July 2019 Broken Hill NSW - 17850kms

 

High speed run back across the Nullarbor plain, all black top including 12 hours of heavy rain at night, my confidence in the tyres only grows, this was the first real wet weather run and the grip and surefootedness of the tyres was very good, again so far I am very happy.

 

July 2019 - Dalhousie Springs, west side of the Simpson Desert Australia

19,285kms

 

So now we get into the real stuff, having passed through the northern section of the Flinders Ranges, up through Lyndhurst north to Maree and onto the Oodnadatta Track heading north through to Oodnadatta, taking in Halligans Bay out from William Creek a notoriously rough road, and up through Dalhousie ruins.

 

Tyre wear recordings as follows; new tread depth 15mm

                                    Front depth 9.5+mm (at 24psi cold)

Rear Depth 10.5+mm (at 28psi cold) remember we completed a tyre rotation

 

Road conditions for the Oodnadatta track were fair quite rocky and corrugated, I was adjusting tyre pressures to find the right setting cold up to hot, my target was to be running just under 30psi hot so most of the time we were getting a 5psi increase as the tire warmed up. At this stage the wear on the tyres is very good no side wall marks or damage, very minimal chipping to the tread blocks, I was travelling at up to 90 km/h or more on the gravel depending on traffic and actual road conditions so I am not babying these tyres at all.

 

July 2019 Gold Coast - 21500kms

Tyre wear recordings as follows; new tread depth 15mm

                                    Front depth XXX+mm (at 40psi cold)

                                    Rear Depth XXX+mm (at 42psi cold)

 

From Dalhousie we proceed eastward across the Simpson Desert traversing the French line making our way into Birdsville, then down through Walkers crossing to Innamincka and then home to the Gold Coast. Crossing the French Line in the Simpson Desert, mud tyres in the sand no problem.  I was very impressed with how they responded to pressure drop and tyre shape to keep flotation on the sand.  Of the many sandhills in the desert we only needed 3 reattempts and this was with pressures around 13psi cold, as the hill started getting bigger I repressured down to 10psi cold ( rear) and with the rear locker in was able to just walk over all the sand dunes no problem, remember I am towing a Tvan 1250kgs as well, at the very low pressures the tyres still give me confidence to run up to 40 to 50 kp/h for very short distances with confidence, although I don’t recommend those speeds unless you are a very experienced driver. We also traversed a section on the Eyre Creek bypass that is very rocky.  It’s only short and, due to my laziness, I run through here at the very low pressures. By this time we are finally showing a few signs of abuse on the tread surface area, as I would expect, the sidewalls look as new even considering the low pressures I ran and treated them badly. During the sandy sections they performed above my expectations.

 

We head off again south for a dirt road tour exploring the Darling and Murray River areas throughout western NSW, over the next couple of months I expect to clock up a few more kilometres and will update you before Christmas this year for a 40,000km update, thinking at this stage will be able to achieve very good kilometres from these tyres with the right care and rotations.

 

SO, in summary,

 

In the 20,000 kms I have done so far 3+ months

 

Good even Tyre wear
Good km’s for a mud tyre
Kept balance at all times
Excellent grip in both dry and wet conditions both off road and on
Noise levels very low, (last 2000km just being able to hear a little rumble with window down **just**
No Punctures

 

So I would have no hesitation to recommend these tyres for off road / on road use.  We all drive our 4wd’s around on the black top more so than off road, I like to have the more aggressive tyre as in wet weather I find they perform much better than all-terrain, especially when its heavy rain.

 

Stay tuned J

 

Edit: follow up note, now completed 42,000kms, 8mm tread depth left even wear, little bit of noise but very impressed, so much I have ordered another set, no punctures or any issue only did one rotation at 17,000kms and the fronts are still looking pretty good J

 

Andrew

Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 20 January 20

Windjana Gorge

We were in Derby in June running a tagalong safari and had a free day spare.  Having heard about Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek we thought we would run the 300 odd km up and back on the Gibb River Road and check these places out for ourselves.

We started out on bitumen which soon turned to very corrugated dirt but nothing too bad that we couldn’t handle, had to dodge a few tourists driving through the dust at speed and in the middle of the road but got to our first stop at Windjana Gorge with no trouble.

Wow! Never have we seen so many freshwater crocodiles in one place, it was incredible, we counted at least 80 before we stopped trying.  Due to the very dry wet season over the top half of WA there wasn’t a lot of water in the gorge and didn’t seem like there would be enough water for crocodiles that were there for too much longer.  The gorge was spectacular and worth a visit, we didn’t venture too far down the gorge but there is a 7km walk you can do on a sandy track. 

We walked a small way in and due to lack of time we ventured back out and headed back up the road towards Tunnel Creek.  The road had improved significantly on the other side of Windjana Gorge and we made it to Tunnel Creek in no time, about 35 km further up the road.

A short walk up to the start of the tunnel, then a bit of clambering over the rocks to get into the tunnel.  A spectacular site, a little bit of water but not as much as what we thought.

 

We had been told by a local at Fitzroy Crossing that we would have to wade in thigh deep water and in order to determine if there were any crocodiles, throw a rock in the water and if you see eyes, they are in there.  Luckily for us we could skirt the water and didn’t have to test the theory.  We walked somewhat into the tunnel but as we were very unprepared for our spur of the moment trip, we didn’t have strong enough torches with us to venture all the way in. We went as far as we could which in itself was pretty spectacular and then turned around and headed back out and headed back down the corrugated Gibb River Road to Derby.

A day well spent and worth the trip out, some more exploring to do there on our next trip to WA.

Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 02 September 19

Uluru and Beyond Tagalong Safari 2018

Port Augusta in South Australia was the starting point for the Uluru and Beyond tagalong Safari 2018.  This was going to be an epic trip away with 37 other fellow members.  We were all looking forward to travelling and exploring new country over the next 21 days.

         

Our meeting point was to be Spear Creek Caravan Park, a beautiful little park nestled in the base of the Flinders Rangers just outside Port Augusta, actually located on a working sheep farm. You may be discouraged by the rough road in, including some gravel road (in fact the gravel was better than the main road out front, but once you get past that you can settle down on the grass amongst the trees and begin to unwind and in our case meet our new friends (and tell a few yarns) that we would be travelling with for the next few weeks.

We arrived the day prior and to our surprise most of our new friends were already there getting to know each other, telling stories and so forth. Happy hour was started on the afternoon following and we all got to know each other better, followed by a BBQ dinner that night and a few more stories.

Our first day on the road together today, off we left en route Coober Pedy.  Due to the distance we would have an over night stop at Glendambo Roadhouse, passing through Woomera on the way for a lunch stop, with a member later telling us some stories about the rockets that were there from his experience. The next day we headed to Coober Pedy to stay for the next couple of nights where we had tours organised for everybody.

Our members had half a day to take in the sights at their leisure with lunch provided in the cafe and a half day tour where we were shown history, opal cutting and mining, an underground house and mine.  The tour included a visit out to the breathtaking Breakaways including a stop at the Dingo Proof Fence.  This is a fence that was built during the 1880’s to control dingo’s and wild dog movements across Australia.

      

Next we travelled north towards the township of Yulara (at the outskirts of Uluru) over 3 days, stopping over night firstly at Marla Roadhouse, where we formed a wagon circle around the grass and enjoyed an afternoon together.  A few members decided the local establishment looked good for dinner, must have been good as later that night one member came out from the hotel and had misplaced their motorhome, fortunately we were able to locate their home for them! The next day we kept heading north in anticipation of a famous Chicken burger from the Erldunda Roadhouse which was our next nights stop over, again nice grass sites and magical sunsets to see the day out.

The next day we arrived at one of the major highlights of the trip for everybody, Uluru, where we stayed at the Ayers Rock Campground for 3 nights.  The first day’s activity was a big day, up for a sunrise tour, coffee and biscuits, then onto a guided tour around the rock itself, lead by our trusty tour guide “driver” (that was his name seriously), then Driver dropped us back at camp for a couple of hours rest so that we were ready for our afternoon’s activity including a gorge walk at The Olgas, wine and canapés watching sunset on the Rock (unfortunately it was overcast so not much of a sunset this time).

      

After such a big day we all had a rest day the next day, sleep in and members went off to do their own thing including camel rides, helicopter flights and scenic plane flights to name a few, but we all had to be ready for our night excursion to the fabulous Field of Lights exhibit that night.

Unfortunately our time at Uluru had come to an end and it was time to head for Kings Canyon. Our time at Kings Canyon resort included free time to be able to visit Kings Canyon, either the 6 km rim walk or the gorge walk. About 15 of us braved the 500 metre climb to start the rim walk early in the morning while the rest of the group decided on the more relaxed gorge walk.  Dinner that night was at the Outback BBQ at the resort, we all enjoyed the meal, live music, great company then on the road again bound for Alice Springs over a couple of days. 

En-route we visited Karrke Aboriginal Cultural experience where we heard from the traditional owners about bush medicine, traditional food, hunting and dot paintings to name a few.  We all thoroughly enjoyed this experience and the way that Peter and his wife explained the traditional customs was very informative.

     

On our way to Alice Springs we once again stayed at Erldunda with some of us enjoying the roast meal at the tavern that night.  Leaving Erldunda we travelled to Alice Springs staying for 3 nights giving everyone a time to rest, rejuvenate and absorb our trip so far. 

We hired a mini bus and ferried members to the shops and some local attractions while others decided to take in some extra tours, camel rides, cultural visits and a drive through the East or West MacDonnell Ranges in their own vehicles or hire cars.  

Whilst we were at Alice Springs we remembered our Anzacs on Anzac day at the dawn service.  Andrew once again played “driver” to get the members that wished to partake in the service along to Anzac Hill, we followed this by our own morning tea at camp with donations for Anzac biscuits being made to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Red Poppies made by a member with donations going towards the RSL.  One of the members shared a very informative story about the role women played in the war in particular one amazing woman.

      

We had also decided to collect our cans and bottles during the trip ( a suggestion of a member at the start) and while in Alice Springs we took all the collection to the recycling centre and the money was also donated to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Off we go again on our next leg towards Mt Isa.  This was a long stretch of the trip happening over 3 overnight stays.  The first stop was at Devils Marbles Roadhouse with a beaut dinner at the roadhouse that night (the chef being awarded top chef in NT).  In the morning we stopped at the Devils Marbles, a must stop on this leg, continuing north through Tennant Creek and visiting the old Telegraph Station for lunch stop.  Here we bid farewell to a member as they left our convoy heading north toward Darwin and a further 6 months on the road.

We free camped on the Barkly Highway, enjoying happy hour, trying to ignore the heat, wind and flies. We did make a stop for morning tea at Barkly Homestead, with most of us enjoying a coffee and snack.  We then stopped again at another free camp on the Barkly Highway with some entertainment by a member and some more happy hour.

       

Mt Isa was out next stop, with time to explore the city that afternoon.  The next day we embarked on a bus tour taking in the Outback at Isa experience and a delicious lunch there, then we headed out to lovely Lake Moondarra, this was built for the mines and in fact the largest water scheme funded by private enterprise in Australia, it is quite spectacular and well worth a visit. Once again we said farewell to a member who was leaving us to head north towards Cairns.

Our safari was starting to get towards the end as we headed on towards Winton, this visit was to be a highlight with the opportunity to visit the newly opened Waltzing Matilda Centre.  We took a tour out to the Australian Dinosaur Museum with a tour of the collection centre and also Dinosaur Canyon.  What an amazing place this is.  We were treated to a sunset and nibbles and enjoyed each others company watching the sunset from the top of the jump up

        

Our time had come to an end and we needed to head towards our last destination of Longreach.  En-route to Longreach we stopped overnight at the Walkabout Creek Hotel, made famous in the movie “Crocodile Dundee”.   The flies were pretty thick here so most of us opted for dinner in the pub and a few games of pool and lots of laughs, what a great night and great hosts at this pub.

Off we went on our last day on the road ending in Longreach.   We ended the day with our last happy hour together with a few awards and presents being given out and a lot of laughs.

Our last day together we had a full day of free time and with everyone receiving tickets to the Qantas Museum and Stockman’s Hall of Fame, safari members were able to walk or drive and visit these venues at their own leisure.  The last night we all went on a sunset cruise on the Thomson River and enjoyed a great meal and entertainment at Smithy’s Outback Show.

     

Now this Safari was finished and new friends were made.  A time to reflect on the trip and the great times together and to look forward to possible new trips together to explore this great and diverse country that we live in.

See you somewhere around the campfire smiley

Andrew and Renee

Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 30 September 18

Small Town Surprises

Just got back from checking through our up coming Opals & Gold Safari this will run in October this year, taking in some great areas including Lightning Ridge, Hill End and lots more, see the tours section for more information. When setting up the routes we take, I quite often try to take the roads less travelled as you never know what you may find.  On this reccie we decided to pass through a small town called Carinda just south west of Walgett NSW.  A typical small country town with a sports ground (free camp) dozen houses or so and yes a local hotel.  Now we learned when we got there this hotel featured in a David Bowie film clip, so it just goes to show that we need to take the time when passing through these small towns as there is always something of interest to see.

Something which I had time to ponder on our last reccie was communication.  We live in a world where communication, specifically mobile phones, are becoming a “must have”.  When travelling outback it is expected that between towns you may not have phone reception and a lot of people will take a Telstra phone because they have the best coverage.  Now we travelled through a town recently that I would say is not remote, in fact would be less than 1 hour from Toowoomba.  We stopped at the Local for dinner and just out the back was a very nice free camp, no phone service at all, never have had phone service!.  The publican advised us that 5k either side of town you could get service. We need to remember that travelling throughout this awesome country we have, we cannot rely on our mobile phone’s, and I would suggest that all caravan’s, motorhomes and frequent outback travellers should at the very least have a quality UHF and antennae along with a trip plan that you leave with relatives and or friends.  We carry 2 x vehicle based UHF’s, a 5w handheld, Sat Phone, Spot gen3 (EPIRB) and a Telstra and Optus phones (yes there are places that Optus works and Telstra doesn’t)

 

Don’t be afraid to get out and Xplore our great country and experience its hospitality on your next Xciting Xpedition.

Catch you round the campfire

Andrew

 

Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 16 July 18