Sydney to Darwin – The big drive home

Sydney – Tamworth

On Monday, the first day of our 4200-kilometre drive home, we left Sydney just after 11.00 am and drove through the Hunter Valley passed vineyards, coalmining, horse breeding and sheep and cattle rearing country to Tamworth, stopping only at Wilberforce for fuel and Bulga to eat lunch.

We got to Tamworth around 6.00 pm.The information centre was closed but we managed to find the tourist park we’d stayed at before.

Tamworth – St George

We did a bit of shopping before leaving Tamworth next day, then stopped for fuel at Barraba and had a pitstop at Warialda Apex Park. After getting an hour back when we crossed the Queensland border, we stopped for lunch in Goondiwindi and visited the information centre and the statue of Gunsyng.


We got to St George just after 4.00 pm, checked into our cabin and went for a walk along the Balonne River.



St George – Barcaldine

On Wednesday we left St George for Barcaldine. On the way we saw an echidna, a very special privilege, scurrying into the undergrowth by the side of the road; and, a couple of herds of cattle being driven along the ‘Long Paddock’; again, not  something you get to see every day..

We stopped for lunch at Meat Ant Park in Augathella, then fuelled up and drove on to Barcaldine through Tambo and Blackall.

Barcaldine – Mt Isa

Before leaving Barcaldine on Thursday morning, we visited the Shearers Memorial and the remains of the Tree of Knowledge. 



Longreach
was our first top for fuel then Winton where we watched the reconstruction of the Waltzing Matilda Centre while we ate lunch. The original was destroyed by fire in 2015.

We had a pitstop at McKinley and fuelled up again at Cloncurry before arriving at Mt Isa around 6.00 pm..

Next day we intended doing a tour of the Hard Times Mine but it was closed for maintenance so instead we just had a walk around town, drove to the lookout, went back to the cabin for lunch, then drove out to Moondarra Dam.



Mt Isa – Renner Springs
We left Mt Isa at 9.15 am and drove to Camooweal where we stopped for fuel before crossing the border back into the Northern Territory and getting back another half an hour, so it was now 10.55 am not 11.25 am as it was in Queensland. 

We stopped at the Barclay Homestead around 1.oo pm and ate lunch, then at the Threeways for fuel at 3.10 pm before getting to Renner Springs at 4.15 pm, where we stopped for the night.

The walking tracks were shortened by the recent rain but we saw plenty of birdlife around the motel and dam.

Found this pair on our way to dinner.



Sitting outside our room after watching our last outback sunset, I suddenly had a green tree frog land in my lap! 
Renner Springs –  Darwin

Between the resident cockerel and the ‘ventilated’ curtains, we didn’t need a wake-up call the next morning.

So we started the last leg of our journey and left Renner Springs at 8.40 Sunday morning. We stopped for fuel at Elliot and Mataranka and had a pitstop at the explorer Alexander Forrest memorial cairn. We were going to eat lunch at Bitter Springs but it was closed due to a crocodile sighting so we continued on to a roadside stop just before King River.

After lunch it was less than an hour’s drive to Katherine where we fuelled up, then on to Adelaide River for our last pitstop before the final drive home, arriving in Darwin at 5.30 pm.


It rained for a week after we got home!

Well that’s it, the end of another journey. Thanks for joining us. Hope you enjoyed it. Bye for now!

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Darwin to Adelaide Roadtrip – December 2017

Day 2  Mataranka to Tennant Creek

Checked out at 9.35 am and fuelled up.

Along the way we started seeing what looked like small people by the side of the road. They were in fact dressed termite mounds. Some of them are quite realistic. I believe it’s something started some years ago by backpackers. 

We passed the smouldering remnants of a few bushfires – not what you’d expect with the place looking so green and lush – then the Pink Panther hotel at Larrimah, then through Daly Waters and Dunmarra. 

Had a pitstop at the George Todd Memorial. Hot water came out of the cold tap in the toilet, quite hygienic!

It was 12.30 pm as we got to Newcastle Waters and we were going to stop for lunch but there was no shade so we continued on to Elliott where we found enough shade to cover us and the vehicle. After fuelling up at the supermarket we hit the road again heading for Tennant Creek. We went through Renner Springs at 2.00 pm, then on to the Telegraph Station, stopping briefly at the Three Ways to see the memorial to the Rev John Flynn, Royal Flying Doctor founder.

Telegraph Station

Fighting off flies makes it hard to pose for photos!

The Rev John Flynn Memorial

Dressed termite mounds

The long unwinding road

Lunch at Elliott

  
Our hosts at the Tennant Creek Caravan Park while welcoming, advised us that it was 42 degrees and those cabins were like hot boxes – they hadn’t turned on the airconditioning in advance – and then handed Joshua his bedding, telling him he could make his bed himself. 


They were right, the cabin was like an oven and it took both the old and new aircon units to eventually cool the place down. There was no cold water in the fridge and the glasses were hot. 

Again, there was no microwave-safe bowl and, in terms of crockery and cutlery, there was exactly three of everything.  So miserly! 
All this for just $150 a night.

There was a shaded swimming pool which we all took advantage of while we waited for the hot box to become habitable.

Darwin to Adelaide Roadtrip – December 2017

Left Darwin around 11.45 am, off on our first roadtrip with our 9-year-old grandson Joshua.

The last time we did this trip was in 1994 with his mother Tara and her sister Aisling, then aged 7 and 10-and-a-half respectively, and my mother Phyllis, who was visiting from Ireland. We were on our way to Tasmania for Christmas.


After fuelling up we stopped at Tara’s workplace to say our goodbyes. It wasn’t long before we were on the open road and passing a herd of Brahman being loaded onto a roadtrain at Coomalie Creek cattleyards.

Our first pitstop was Adelaide River where we ate a hurried lunch of chicken rolls. Besides the heat and the flies, it’s hard to relax when roadtrains you know you’re going to get stuck behind are constantly rolling past.

It was 1.40 pm before the radio reception ran out. Yay! Time for Bob Seger, always the first CD on our roadtrips. Radio reception has improved – we used to be halfway through the CD by Adelaide River.

Not long after passing the Pine Creek turnoff we spotted a goods-train travelling alongside us. This was a first for us. We haven’t even seen the Ghan yet and I think that’s been running north of Alice Springs for over twenty years.

We got to Katherine at 2.55 pm and fuelled up at the first petrol station over the bridge, United. It wasn’t there last time we went through and that really threw us out – it was being rebuilt! 

Then it was on to Mataranka Homestead for our first overnight stop.


We really appreciated the airconditioning having been turned on before our arrival and the jug of cold water and chilled glasses in the fridge, but it didn’t take long before we were soaking in the thermal springs.

Preparing dinner proved to be a bit tricky between having to wash the cutlery and use our own bowl in the microwave, which doesn’t seem like much but when you’ve paid $124.50 you expect a bit better.

Watching TV was another challenge without a remote control. I tried looking for it in one of the drawers:

These cabins have seen better days!

Should have been time to get a good night’s sleep, but the insects that had managed to get inside had other ideas, they even got under the topsheet! But while we tossed and turned and fought off insects, Joshua slept like a log. He said it was because he had to sleep in complete darkness instead of having a night light.