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. 

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!


Sydney break before the big drive home

It was lovely to be back with family, even if it was just for the weekend.

We had a domestic day on the Saturday, going to Chattswood shopping and unsuccessfully trying to get my iPad problem sorted. By this stage the battery was so swollen I was advised not to use it all because it was in danger of exploding and killing us with the lethal gas it would emit. This is one of the reasons my blog is so far behind.

Sunday the weather was unpredictable and windy. We ended up going to Manly Dam in the afternoon where we were treated to a black swan courtship performance.

Adelaide to Sydney highlights continued

Bairnsdale to Eden 

After the very informative and enjoyable tour of St Mary’s Church and visiting the information centre nextdoor, we started our journey to Eden – as in the town, not the ‘Garden of …’.

This was one of the most enjoyable day’s drive. The misty mountain roads made driving enchanting without being too dangerous and the walk in the Drummer Rainforest after lunch was just magical.



I love Eden. We stayed there once before. Again, the only accommodation the information centre  could find us was a motel. No kitchen facilities meant we had to eat out. First we checked out the views from a couple of lookouts before having dinner at a lovely Chinese restaurant, the Golden Ocean, where the food and service were excellent. The staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome and nothing was too much to ask. It even said on the menu that if there was something you wanted that wasn’t on there, they’d do their best to make it for you.

Eden to Batemans Bay

Before we left Eden. We drove down to the very popular Aslinn Beach, the beachfront of the local tourist park.

From Eden we went to Merimbula and the Blue Pool, though it wasn’t very blue due to an algae outbreak. From there we drove to the beautiful Bermagui where we stopped for lunch.

At Batemans Bay we checked into the tourist park, shopped for groceries, then went for a drive to the beautiful beaches nearby, before going for a walk along the seafront.DSC07366

On our second day at Batemans Bay we finally had the big breakfast we’d been carrying with us since Broken Hill!  We walked that off at Eurobodella Botanic Gardens on our way to Mogo, a picturesque little town we’d been to quite a few times, the main attraction for us being the cheese tasting, although many go for the fudge, ice cream and pies. Overall it’s a very tasty place.




Community Building Mogo

We went back to the cabin for lunch, then drove across the bridge to Nelligen, another historic little township.


Batemans Bay to Sydney

We started the last day of our Adelaide to Sydney roadtrip around 9.00 am, stopped for lunch and a visit to the craft shop at Berry, then at Bald Hill Lookout, before arriving at our destination around 4.15 pm.




Adelaide to Sydney highlights continued

Broken Hill to Mildura

Before leaving Broken Hill we did a quick tour of the Pro Hart Gallery which was fascinating and we wished we had more time to spend there but we had to press on. We were going to lose half an hour when we crossed into Victoria later that day.


We stopped by the river in Pooncarie for lunch.

Then it was on to Mildura where we appreciated the airconditioning of the Information Centre while they found us accommodation – it was 44ºC outside. The only cabin was a fair bit out of town, expensive and we had to make the bed ourselves. Not impressed!

It was too hot for us to even go for our walk so we just drove back into town, had a drive down by the river, then shopped for dinner before heading back to the airconditioning.

Mildura to Echuca

We drove to Swan Hill on the Murray River and ate lunch there before heading to Echuca where the only available accommodation was even more expensive but it was a beautiful fully equipped apartment with a spa and laundry.


We had a look at the waterfront area where we were going to go on a river cruise the next morning and did the usual drive around town before shopping for dinner then heading home.

The lamb chops with baked potatoes and green beans went down a treat.

After dinner I decided to take advantage of having a laundry and did a load of washing, but when I went to get the clothes out of the dryer before going to bed I realised that the dryer had just been turning but not drying! I rang the host first thing the next morning and she offered me the use of the dryer nextdoor as there was nobody staying there that day. Needless to say, I took her up on that offer but it put our departure back by about an hour. We would have missed the river cruise but, as it turned out, the cruise wasn’t running that day and in any case it was raining  so we just got back on the road.

Echuca to Bairnsdale

Our first stop was Glenrowan, the site of Ned Kelly’s last stand.


Myrtleford was our lunch stop when there was a break in the drizzling rain.


Then we headed to Bairnsdale via the Great Alpine Way, a long twisting climb through the mountains and some astounding scenery.


When we checked in at the tourist park in Bairnsdale,  I thought Brian had found religion because he asked if the local Catholic church was open. Then he reminded me that it was no ordinary church and we had visited it with our girls and my mother years earlier.

We visited St Mary’s the next morning. Its reason for fame is its frescoes painted by an Italian artist with a sense of humour, for example he painted some cherubs with their heads on back to front and modelled some of his subjects on locals.




















Adelaide to Sydney highlights

Yorke Peninsula was our first destination. The landscape on the way was vast, beige and pretty barren, with only stubble left where the crops had already been harvested.

However Coobowie, where we spent our first night, is a bird haven especially popular with pelicans and quite pretty.

Next day, not far from Coobowie, we passed through Wattle Point Wind Farm, the largest one we’ve ever come across.

At Innes National Park we walked to the lighthouse at Stenhouse Bay and around Inneston Historic Township.

That night we stayed in Wallaroo at a lovely heritage-style motel, the Sonbern Lodge, opposite the old train station.

Next day we stopped to eat lunch by the river at Jamestown.

Later we got to Broken Hill, checked into a tourist park, then did enough shopping for three days before having a drive around town. It was too hot to do anything outside, with the temperature around 40 degrees and forecast to get even hotter. Back at the cabin, trying to deal with a black ant invasion, we got a text message informing us the power company was cutting off supply from 8.00 am to 4.00 pm the next day. Not good.

True to their word, the power went off at 8.08 am before we had time to cook the big breakfast we’d bought the ingredients for. Brian had to put them and the rest of the food that had to be kept refrigerated into the car fridge and take them all with us for the day.

First we went to Silverton, another historic town, and had a look around the remaining buildings, the John Dynon Gallery and the Mad Max Museum before having a refreshing beer at the Silverton Hotel.

The power was still out when we got back to Broken Hill so we went to see the Broken Hill Sculptures and the Miners Memorial lookout.

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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. 

Mary River Weekend

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Just had a three-night stay at Mary River Wilderness Retreat courtesy of daughter’s Christmas present. She and grandson joined us for the Friday and Saturday nights but then had to return home for work and school, leaving us to our own devices for the Sunday night.

The Retreat is about 120 km from our house in Darwin. It took us an hour and thirty-five minutes to get there, a bit longer than normal due to a huge thunderstorm that reduced visibility and speed to a minimum.

Activities were severely curtailed because of the weather and the presence of crocs. It’s the Wet Season, so all of the walks and points of interest were inaccessible because: they were under water; the resident saltwater crocodile was on the move; and, a decent-sized freshwater croc had been spotted close by. We still managed to enjoy ourselves though.

At night we played board games and watched movies on a DVD player hooked up to a TV screen we brought with us – there was no TV in the room – and on the last night the clouds cleared for long enough to allow us to sit on the verandah under the stars and even make a wish on a shooting one.

In the daytime we went for a 100 km-plus drive around nearby locations, all of which were inaccessible due to flooding. The pool was a welcome relief from the heat when there was a break in the storms and no lightening. Otherwise we just walked around the grounds and enjoyed the wildlife.

While we self-catered on Friday, we dined at the Gecko Restaurant on the other two nights. The food was delicious, reasonably priced and beautifully presented, the service was excellent, the staff  friendly and informative and we appreciated the complimentary glass of wine with each main meal. The menu included vegetarian options and the children’s menu included dessert.

Alternatively, there was a camp kitchen equipped with microwave, toaster, jug, cooking rings, bbq, washing-up gear including a sink with a plug, but no utensils, crockery, cutlery or pans.
We enjoyed seeing the wallabies, kangaroos and kingfishers. The massive thunderstorm we drove through on the way down was an experience! We loved the variety of birds we saw at Fogg Dam on the way home. All in all it was a great weekend!

Darwin to Sydney Roadtrip – Day 8

Gunnedah – Sydney

This was the last day of our roadtrip, so since we had the luxury of a kitchen, we started the day with a big fryup for breakfast: bacon, fried egg, baked beans and toast.

While he was packing the truck, Brian saw the owner who told him that the resident Koala, which had gone missing, had been spotted that morning and he was going to keep an eye out for it on his rounds, but he hadn’t spotted it by the time we were ready to leave.

Gunnedah is a koala-friendly town and it is often possible to spot them, but we didn’t. We went to the lookout where there were some great views but no koalas.

We fuelled up at Woolies – 46 L @ $1.329 per litre $61 less 4 cpl discount $58.29. Odometer reading 62802.

10.45 Left Gunnedah.

11.50 Arrived at Willow Tree and turned onto the New England Highway.

12.25 Took the Burning Mountain turnoff. Had lunch in the carpark. The walk was too long to do.

13.05 Drove through Scone, into the Upper Hunter wine-growing region.

13.35 Muswellbrook

14.05 Singleton

15.25 Went through Cessnock on the B82 and kept going straight along Freeman’s Drive instead of turning right onto the M1 to Cooranbong.

16.00 Left Cooranbong and drove towards Morrisett where we took the turnoff for the M1 to Sydney. We missed the exit for Hornsby because it was the same exit as the one for the Pacific Highway South but we took the next one and eventually made our way back to Mona Vale Road and arrived at our destination, Belrose, in time for dinner.

View from Gunnedah

Darwin to Sydney Roadtrip – Day 7

St George – Gunnedah

10.25 Left St George

11.15 Drove through Thalon.

11.40 Fuelled up at Mungindi border town on the Barwon River: 59 L @ $1.319 per litre – $77.82

11.55 Crossed the QLD / NSW border into New England.

12.40 Passed through Garah; 13.00 Ashley; to Moree where we stopped and ate lunch. at 13.10. The weather was cold although the sun was shining.

13.40 Left Moree and drove on through Gurley at 14.05.

14.59 Narrabri and the Kalmilaroi Highway where we took the Kaputar Road turnoff.

15.15 Reached the base of Mt Kaputar and engaged four-wheel drive for the 20 km dirt and bitumen track to the summit. We were greeted at the top by a large grey kangaroo which was still there when we returned from climbing the stairs to the lookout – nice view but a bit dull at that time of the afternoon. The rest of his family came to check us out. A female with a joey in her pouch and a juvenile in tow came right up to the vehicle. Cyclists were using the track for racing and we passed a few on the way back down.

Roo Mt Kaputar
Roo family

16.40 Got to the base and disengaged the four-wheel drive.

18.00 Arrived at Gunnedah and checked into a cabin at the Top Tourist Park – $89 – too cold to camp.

Had a choice of three major supermarkets to shop for dinner: Aldi, Coles and Woolies, where we got some pork with native spices and had that with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans for dinner.

The cabin we stayed in was clean, warm and spacious and adequately equipped for our needs.

We started catching glimpses of wildflowers after we left Blackall yesterday: small patches of purple clumps, paler smaller purples forming roadside carpets in places, yellow sprays, thicker yellow bunches and prickly pear – not an infestation, just individual stands – and bottle-shaped trees like the boab trees in Western Australia.

Small purpleClose-up

Today, as well as the purples, yellows and prickly pear, we saw yellow daisies, wild cotton and canola that had escaped from the fields, sunflowers around Moree, a little white flower and lots of yellow wattle.

Small white
Yellow daisy

Yellow wattle