Lyn and I enjoy camping and find it an excellent way to explore the Australian landscape and meet the people of outback towns. We have just returned from such a trip in which our goal was to visit a number of National Parks in New South Wales and Queensland. At Lake Mungo the sand dune formation and the fascinating lunette as well as the marvellous old woolsheds caught my eye on a previous visit and I wanted to reshoot the National Park on digital.
We continued on through Menindee which we found disappointing because unlike our last visit there was no water in the lake and the National Park and town appeared neglected. Wilcannia was a complete surprise as we camped at the relatively new Warrawong-on-the-Darling camp ground. The property boasts 12 km of Darling River frontage with huge River Red Gums and old farm machinery which guests are encourage to explore.
From Wilcannia we continued through Cobar and Bourke visiting the Gundabooka National Park. We made the mistake of walking in the heat of the day, all for no pictures, only a spectacularly shredded tyre to show for our journey.
Beyond Bourke we set out for the Currawinya National Park situated on the Paroo River. It is north of the tiny town of Hungerford which is on the Queensland side of the border and the impressive Dingo fence.
I made a portrait of Craig at the Royal Mail Hotel. He told us that the population there was 9 and 50% of these were over 70 and on a good day two vehicles passed though Hungerford.
The National Park was once was a sheep station. A little after the entrance is an old shearing shed and adjacent to that is rather primitive shearer’s quarters. The camp ground sign proudly displays a shower symbol. Imagine a roofless corrugated tin enclosure, men’s at one end, women’s at the other. There are three shower roses in each space. The water source is bore water pumped up into a couple of tanks about 200 metres away. A thick black plastic hose lying on the ground warms the water on its way to the showers.
When we planned the trip our research told us that the average daily temperatures would be about 30 to 34 degrees during the day and 10 degrees cooler at night. However for us it had been extremely hot since Lake Mungo – 41 degrees each day and not much cooler at night. We found ourselves driving around in the car with the air conditioning on just to keep cool. This was ridiculous, so rather than going further north we decided to call it quits and head east for the coast. Unfortunately we scored another ruined tyre before hitting the bitumen at Eulo. We could not get the tyre repaired anywhere because it was Easter, so we drove on to St George. We paused here for a couple of nights and discovered some distance out of town the Nindigully Pub on the banks of the Moonie River.
By the way, never take the advice of a caravan park manager regarding the best place to eat. He recommended the RSL Club. It was the worst meal we have ever eaten.
From St George we drove east though Goondiwindi to the charming town of Warwick where a highlight for tourists and locals alike is the Pig and Calf Auction at the old stock yards – just the place to see many remarkable Queensland characters.
The countryside of the Southern Downs Queensland is most pleasing and we have it earmarked for further exploration on another trip. Finally we reached Lenox Heads where the temperature was a much more tolerable. It was a balmy 30 degrees.