Archive for July, 2009

Finally – just for the statistically minded…….

July 30, 2009

Distance covered on The Ghan train = 2989 kms or 1857 miles.

Distance driven = 7884 kms or 4899 miles

Fuel used = 583 litres or 128 imperial gallons

Fuel consumption was 7.4 ltrs per 100 kilometres or 38.3 miles per imperial gallon

The incredibly good fuel consumption is mainly due to Honda engineering. Although it is a 3.5 ltr V6 the electronics can shut up to 3 of the cylinders when you are cruising, thereby minimising fuel consumption.

The final statistic covers the profit/(loss) on the Pokies and the nett result was ($28). Just goes to show you cannot win them all.

The blog ends here, see you in 2010 perhaps when we embark on The Dog and Rocket Tour to the USA.

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Today’s Photo – The Honda Accord that did the hard yacca!

July 30, 2009
2008 Honda Accord 3.5 V6

2008 Honda Accord 3.5 V6

The final leg – Gunnedah to Clarenza

July 30, 2009

Thursday July 30th. Gunnedah to Clarenza via the Oxley & New England Highways.

After an early and frosty start a short drive of 391kms and we were back home by lunchtime, journeys end and boy are we glad.

ODO reading from Clarenza to Clarenza = 7884.8 kms

Today’s Photo – West Wyalong

July 29, 2009
Douglas DC3 - Built in the same year I was, 1943.

Douglas DC3 - Built in the same year I was, 1943.

Narrendera to Gunnedah

July 29, 2009

Wednesday 29th July.  Narrendera NSW to Gunnedah NSW via the Newell and Oxley Highways

A longer drive today of 658 kms but on fairly fast and empty roads. The scenery on the first half of the drive was similar to yesterday’s but in the afternoon, after leaving Gilgandra, we passed through and over the Warrumbungles mountain range where the scenery was fantastic. This is our last night on the road and we should be home tomorrow by early afternoon.

ODO reading from Clarenza = 7493.9 kms

Today’s Photo – Alice Springs Station

July 29, 2009
The Ghan Monument at Alice Springs

The Ghan Monument at Alice Springs

Pinarroo SA to Narrendera NSW

July 28, 2009

Tuesday 28th July Pinarroo SA to Narenderra  NSW

A fairly quick drive today of 595kms along the Mallee and Sturt Highways. The day started well with the biggest plate of scrambled eggs and bacon that has ever been placed before me, it was great. The drive itself took us through the wheat producing lands and also the vast vineyards that are spread about this part of Australia. We saw two “spectaculars” today. The first was just out of Balranald when we saw two small flocks of Emus grazing by the roadside and the second one was further down the highway when we came across two massive flocks of Galahs. They were gathered on railings around a granary, there must have thousands of them. We arrived in Narenderra just before 4pm and found the most amazing town full of lovely old Aussie buildings. A session with the camera tomorrow morning is called for. Tomorrow we head off for Gunnedah NSW, our last night on the road.

ODO reading from Clarenza = 6836.7 kms

Today’s Photo – Alice Springs

July 27, 2009
Todd Steet Mall Sunday Market

Todd Steet Mall Sunday Market

Alice Springs to Adelaide/Pinarroo

July 27, 2009

 

Monday 27th July.  Overnight Ghan  train to Adelaide – By road Adelaide SA to Pinaroo SA via the Princes & Mallee Highways.

A reasonable night sleeping on the rain despite a rickety rail track but not so good for some local Steers. Generally speaking the land adjoining the rail track is unfenced and much of it is pasture land, the rest is desert scrub. Unfortunately at about 2am the train came upon some Steers wandering along the track. Some of them were killed and in the process some collateral damage was caused to the leading part of the train, resulting in a loss of water to passengers travelling in the cheap carriages. We slept through it all and only found out about the incident via the PA. By 1.30pm we were in Adelaide, the car was quickly off loaded and a journey of just over 3 hours saw us in Pinnaroo, our first of three overnight stops on the way home.

Sunday 26th July

Our first night aboard the train was a pleasant one. A very nice 3 course meal and then off to bed. Fortunately on this leg of the journey the train halts for 5 hours overnight to allow freight traffic to use the single track that is all there is available. So we had an OK night’s sleep and a slap up Aussie version of a full English Breakfast to start the day off on the right footing. At 11.15am the train arrived in Alice Springs for a four hour stop to enable passengers to go on excursions or just explore the town at their own pace. We chose the latter course. Not knowing what to expect of Alice we found it be fairly typical dry Aussie town without any particular or remarkable endearing features. The street market was in full swing and this added a bit of life and colour to the proceedings. At 3.15pm the train departed and we headed out into the Simpson Desert, bleak but magnificent scenery in its own right. The evening was once again a delight with good food and company in abundance. And so to bed for our second and last night on The Ghan.

ODO reading from Clarenza = 6241.8 kms

Today’s Photo

July 26, 2009
Aboriginal girls fishing on the Katherine River @ Katherine

Aboriginal girls fishing on the Katherine River @ Katherine

Leaving Darwin on The Ghan

July 26, 2009

Saturday 25th July

Our week in Darwin is over and it is an early start to be at the rail terminal by 6am to load the car and ourselves on The Ghan which will take us the 3000kms to Adelaide. The train itself is quite remarkable, 27 carriages in total stretching for just under 800 metres. The train left Darwin more or less on schedule at 9.15 am and by lunchtime we had dined and were in Katherine for a 4 hour layover. We took the opportunity to go on a 2 hour Nature Cruise on the Katherine River. We saw lot’s of Freshwater Crocs, the biggest being a female about 3 metres long. It is now about 5.20pm and the next item on the agenda is dinner at 8.30 pm in the lovely old dining car. We are travelling Gold Class on the train, we baulked at the Platinum Grade price, so have a compact two berth cabin with shower and toilet. A considerable amount of dexterity will be required to master the ablution facilities and I may report on that in a later post. Tomorrow we stop at Alice Springs mid morning for a four hour layover and we are looking forward to seeing “A town like Alice”

Today’s Photo

July 24, 2009

The Cullen Bay to Mandorah Sea Cat Ferry

Cullen Bay Ferry Terminal

Cullen Bay Ferry Terminal

Darwin to Adelaide

July 24, 2009

Friday 24th July

Our week in Darwin is almost over and tomorrow morning we put ourselves and the car on The Ghan Train for the journey down to Adelaide. The train leaves Darwin at 9am Saturday and gets into Adelaide around 1pm on Monday. The distance to be covered is just over 3000kms and we have two four hour stops for side trips, one in Katherine on Saturday and one in Alice Springs on Sunday. From Adelaide we have about 1700 kms to home, so three overnight stops on the way in Pinnaroo SA, Narrendera NSW and Gunnedah NSW. We had a great time in Darwin, plenty to see and do and the weather was hot and apparently unusually humid for the time of year. Aviation buffs would have enjoyed themselves immensely as the RAAF and USAAF were conducting joint military exercises the entire week so the sky was alive with sounds of military hardware day and night. Here in Darwin they don’t mind since the Japs bombed them over 60+ times in WW2 during 1942/1943 and there are 160 million people a few miles north of them in Indonesia and just 22 million in all of Australia.

ODO reading from Clarenza = 5958.2 kms

Today’s Photo – Nearly made it!

July 19, 2009

Heavy landing the Aussie way, just outside Katherine NT. 

Another 50 yards and it would have been ok..................!

Another 50 yards and it would have been ok..................!

Katherine NT to Darwin NT

July 19, 2009

Thursday/Friday July 15/16 in Katherine NT.

Katherine is the last town of any size before Darwin as you head north up the A1 Stuart Highway. Its great attraction is the Katherine River Gorge, some 30 kms outback from the town itself. We took the trip and it is spectacular, saw one freshwater crocodile who was taking a snooze and some amazing scenery. Lots of people were swimming in the river, not a dangerous activity with freshwater crocs. However in the wet season when the river floods some saltwater crocs (they will eat you!) can enter the gorge and we saw a couple of traps set up but with nobody home.

Katherine also has large aboriginal population and unlike the ones we encountered in Tennant Creek, these were more amenable. However many of them look to be destitute and behave somewhat strangely. For instance, there is a dual lane highway that runs through the middle of town and any time of day you would see them sitting on the median grass strip in amongst the traffic fumes having picnics or meetings etc quite oblivious to all that was going on around them. They also like to swear out loud quite a bit as we found out one morning. We were walking to the coffee shop one day when we passed a family, mother aged about 35 with 4 children, one of which was about 4 years old pushing a 2 year old in a push chair. As we walked past the mother she bellowed out to her kids (or perhaps to us?) “Are you f**king deaf?” to which her 4 year old replied “are you f**king deaf?” This appeared to amuse the two year old in the push chair who summoned up all the volume she could muster and rent the air with “are you f**king deaf?” This carried on until we were out of earshot, it was kind of sad I suppose, but it did give us a good giggle. We also saw an old abbo woman being put unceremoniously in the back of the paddy wagon one morning, quite what her crime was it was hard to tell. All in all our experiences with the aboriginals and the conditions they must survive in have been a real eye opener for us on this trip.

Saturday July 18th. Katherine to Darwin via the A1 Stuart Highway.

A relatively short drive today of just 332 kms to our holiday apartment in Darwin. We are here until next Saturday when we board the Ghan Train for our journey down to Adelaide and then home. So unless some monumental events occur there will be no more updates while we are in Darwin.

ODO reading from Clarenza = 5714.7 kms

Today’s Photo – Karen’s Road Train Set

July 15, 2009

Pretty big at 188 feet long

Karen's train set

Karen's train set

Camooweal to Katherine

July 15, 2009

Wednesday July 15th. Renner Springs to Katherine via the A1 Stuart Highway.

Today’s drive was 483 kms and fairly unremarkable. The highlight was our lunchtime stop at the Larrimar Hotel/Pink Panther Cafe at Larrimar. The place was little more than a shack but the beef pie I had was out of this world. Despite its cruddy appearance the place was full of character, probably due in part to the fact that in WW2 it was the Officers Mess for the local RAAF camp. It also had a remarkable collection of wild birds in aviaries to look at as well as couple of crocs in pools. After  Larrimar we drove on to Katherine where we are stopping over for the next 3 nights before going on to Darwin.

ODO reading from Clarenza = 5174.8 kms

Tuesday July 14th. Camooweal (QLD) to Tennant Creek & Renner Springs (NT) via the A2 Barkly & A1 Stuart Highway

Another long drive today (638kms) with a short diversion to visit Tennant Creek the famous old Gold Mining Town. Before we set off from Camooweal we had one of those moments which make this country so fascinating. Two flatbed utes with trailers pulled up at the pumps and they were loaded with ATV quads and at least 10 dogs. A guy got out of one ute looking for all the world like a character out of a western movie. Stetson, thick jacket with collar pulled up, jeans and rugged boots. A soon as he saw me looking at his rig he said “G’day mate” and we got chatting. It turns out they were itinerant feral pig hunters, hence the ATV’s and the dogs. They had about 10 dogs in total, they were a mix of Beagles, Greyhounds and Irish Wolf Hounds. They were well socialised with humans but I don’t fancy the pig’s chances. We did a quick detour to Tennant Creek and visited the old Battery Hill Mining centre and had a look at the town itself. We decided not to get of the car in TC town centre as the black fellas, hanging around in large mobs looked decidedly unfriendly. Tomorrow we have a 500k drive to Katherine where we are stopping over 3 nights to see the sights.

ODO reading from Clarenza = 4657.4 kms

Monday July 13th. Richmond to Camooweal via the A6 Flinders Way & A2 Barkly Highway.

A fairly long drive today of 593kms. Like yesterday the road kill was prolific but was augmented today by three large cows and what appeared to be a large deer. One of the spin offs from this road kill is the amazing amount of raptors including eagles that it supports. We passed through some interesting small places, Julia Creek, Cloncurry and Mt. Isa. Cloncurry holds the record for the hottest temperature recorded in OZ at 127.5 f. Just after we left Cloncurry we saw a huge dust storm on the horizon, spiralling and whirling hundreds of feet into the clear blue sky. However as we met up with the storm a few minutes later we got the shock of our lives as were in the middle of a storm of locusts and we were forced to stop until they passed. It was a truly amazing sight. Mt Isa is famous for its mines, the largest of which sits almost bang slap in the middle of the town as you approach from the east. It is the largest single mine for the production of copper, zinc and other minerals in the world. Journeys end tonight is a road house with basic accommodation in the middle of nowhere, Camooweal. Tomorrow we have a similar day on the road as we leave Queensland for the Northern Territory and Renner Springs.

ODO reading from Clarenza = 4019.4 kms

Today’s Photo – Lucinda (FNQ)

July 12, 2009

The longest bulk sugar terminal jetty in the world, it stretches 5.7kms in to the  Coral Sea.

Lucinda Bulk Sugar Terminal Jetty

Lucinda Bulk Sugar Terminal Jetty

Port Hinchinbrook to Richmond

July 12, 2009

Sunday July 12th. Charters Towers to Richmond via the A6 Flinders Way.

Another relatively short drive today of 363kms to Richmond along a road strewn with all sorts of road kill e.g. Roos, Wallabies, feral pigs and other indescribable matter. They need to be avoided as they will wreck your car but as you are swerving to avoid them on the narrow road you have to take into account the oncoming Road Trains. These monsters are over 50 metres long and need to be respected. Richmond is a tiny place, just a few small motels and a pop. of 800. It got its name from two graziers who lived in the Richmond River area of NSW who in 1882 made application for a grant of settlement here. The grant was confirmed and they drove all their cattle and livestock hundreds of miles from Casino NSW to settle their new land. The hardships they must have encountered along the way can only be imagined. Tomorrow our destination is Cammoweal, more than 600kms from here so it will be an early start and a full day of road kill and trains to look forward to.

ODO reading from Clarenza = 3417.9 kms

Saturday July 11th Port Hinchinbrook to Charters Towers via the A1 Bruce Highway and A6 Flinders Way

A relatively short day’s drive of just over 300kms got us to CH just after noon. We decided to allow some time here a look around as we heard it was an interesting place. Well it may well have been back around the end of the 19th Century when gold was discovered and the town prospered immensely. Some fine old buildings have survived from those days but that is about the extent of it. A nice place for quick stop and refresh, that’s about it we think. Tomorrow we have a similar length drive to Richmond, population of 800 so we are not expecting too much excitement there.

ODO reading from Clarenza = 3048.7 kms                 

Friday July 10th.

Wow a beautiful bright and sunny day so a brisk walk around the resort after breakfast before a trip down to Halifax and Dungeness, they must have had difficulty coming up with names of their own. Halifax FNQ, sits amid sugar cane plantations quite unlike Halifax Yorks. Dungeness on the other hand bears some similarities to the one in Kent as it sits on the Herbert River with easy access to the Hinchinbrook channel and is a great place to launch your tinnie. Tomorrow we leave here and start the big trek across the top end to Darwin.

ODO reading from Clarenza = 2714.5 kms

Thursday July 9th.

Another grey and typically tropical morning, with rain imminent. Decided to go up to Innisfail, the banana growing capital of FNQ. The area was devastated by a cyclone in 2007 which flattened most of the plantations but things are back to normal now. The Innisfail Show was on but we did not go and consequently missed the “Banana Packing Championships” and the Banana Snapping World Record attempt. Oh well next time perhaps! Went down to Flying Fish Point for lunch  and that was about it until the Ashes came on at 8pm.

Today’s Photo – Moon Rising @ Port Hinchinbrook

July 9, 2009

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