What great news, Brisbane managed to reel in the COVID outbreak and lock down ended at 4PM Sunday. That meant we could get on the road and catch up with Lachie and Sarah who were already in Far North Queensland waiting for us us. We decided to stay in motels for the run north, given that we had long driving days planned and there would be plenty of nights in the swags once we got closer to the Tip.
So close… 4 days from our planned departure to Cape York and Brisbane was locked down due to a COVID19 outbreak! Today we planned to have been trucking up the Bruce Highway with plans to reach St Lawrence tonight, the first of several long driving days to reach end of the bitumen and start of the Cape’s dirt roads and tracks.
Well the last few weeks have flown by as we get closer to ETD for our Cape York trip, with plenty of preparation tasks in amongst the normal hurly burly of life. From vehicle modifications and repairs to accommodation bookings and food planning – we’ve been pretty busy building up to next weeks’ departure.
We’re in the final stages of getting organised for our Cape York adventure, mainly camping out of the car, so we thought that a shake down trip would be a good way to check things would work as intended – it would also get Suzzanne acquainted with her new Crashpad swag. Goomburra section of the Main Range National Park seemed like a good place to head, only a couple of hours from home and with some great little hikes, but when picking the dates to go I didn’t think it would get down to -2.5 degrees C!!
Well the sad day arrived – we sold the X3 and delivered it today.
That leaves us with a space in the garage until the TVAN arrives – I’m using that to start getting organised for our Cape York trip in August and wrap up a few other projects.
Well it was a big call but we’ve decided to replace the Patriot Campers X3.
With a fair bit of research and investigating, mostly by Suzzanne, we have been lucky to secure a TVAN Zenith that is already on order with an August ’21 build date, effectively allowing us to jump the 9 month long queue. The Zenith is a 20th anniversary limited run version of the TVAN that has the features we would have selected, and we have grabbed it early enough to add a few more options to suit our needs
Our long run down from Winton to the Central Highlands was worth it when we found gemstones, and an absolute gem of a place to hike.
And along the way we assess the X3, is it doing the job or time for something else?
After a night camped in a sheep station front paddock we got ready to head into our first booking for the day, at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs natural history museum. Our camp is 70km north of town and Winton’s two main dinosaur attractions are quite a distance apart, and we have booked to see them both today, so we’ll have around 400km to cover and will need to keep on our toes to cover everything.
With cooler weather here at last, it was time to explore some of the outback places on our list – I’ve been keen to check out Winton’s dinosaur attractions for many years and recent opening of a new exhibit at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs park was a great excuse to head out there.
I normally seek out remote hard to get to camps that instil a sense of adventure, but there are times when a quick dose of fresh air and green space is best served by a camp site that is near to home and doesn’t need a big clean up of the rig afterward.
Its a fortnight since we returned from our outback adventure and its been a busy period of cleaning the rig, making some repairs, catching up on chores and fitting in treatment – but now its time for a long awaited break with family.
Well sometimes you’ve got to get lucky with timing, and today we did. We happened to be in Birdsville on day that the town’s famous bakery reopened! We were front and centre to get some supplies for our trip toward home before heading for fuel and then leaving town.
An early start and a few short miles had us crossing the border out of the NT and into the Sunshine State, welcome home for the Travelling Two. Our 630km run southward today took us along the Donohue Highway to Boulia, then down a series of development roads through the channel country to Birdsville.
On the run from Old Andado to Finke we got to see extent of the rain and flooding that had caused the change in our plans. We looked to be the first vehicles through this part of the desert and were making our own tracks at places where the road was submerged or missing altogether.
We farewelled the rocky escarpments of the East MacDonnell Ranges as the Binns Track took us southward toward the Santa Teresa indigenous community.
From Santa Teresa the gravel road became the Old Andado Track, reputedly constructed on request of Molly Clark the owner of the historic station at southern end of the route, and our destination today
From the majestic West MacDonnell Ranges we cross over to the lesser known but just as spectacular East MacDonnells. In fact, the East Macs became our favourite of the two once we had discovered its many hidden secrets. Our first destination is the Ross River Resort, a former cattle property with pioneer history of its own and plenty of nearby sights to take in.
Eventually blue patches of sky appeared above Kulgera, but not enough to breath life back into our plans to cross the Simpson Desert, that trip will be rescheduled for 2022. We weren’t completely sure where we would be going for the next two weeks, but we were assured that the plan would emerge as roads opened and tracks dried. In the mean time however we were going to be treated to a special destination – Kings Creek Station in heart of the West MacDonnell Ranges.
The morning haul to Kulgera was an easy 180km drive that took us just across the South Australia – Northern Territory border. Where we were bound for after that remained a mystery, in hands of the weather gods and Moon Tours…
For now all roads to the north were open but we knew the forecast low pressure system would change that very quickly, so rather than breaking our trip we again decided forego any overnight stops along the track and run straight through to Oodnadatta to reassess our plans.