Port Augusta to home (6 days)
These notes were written by Eric and occasionally amended by Jean. Eric took some of the photos and Jean took others. All photos were selected, cropped, and inserted into this file by Jean. Factual information was taken from various sources including tourist brochures; we do not guarantee its accuracy. Not many photos in this installment, as we were mostly just driving, not sightseeing.
Click on a photo to see a full size version. Not recommended for readers on dialup connections — some of these files are between 1 and 2 MB.
Photo album from this part of the trip (more photos than shown on this page) are here: Days 68-70.
Day 66, Port Augusta to Broken Hill, Monday 9 August 2004
It rained on us or threatened to rain on us for most of the trip. If there were any sights, we couldn’t see them through the low cloud. We only covered a bit over 400 kilometres, after a slow start, but it seemed far further. We are both really tired of the travel now. Took a photograph as we crossed the South Australia to New South Wales border.
We must note that South Australia seems to have Telecentres, country internet access points, that appear superficially similar to those we saw in West Australia.
We were again booked in at a Best Western motel in Broken Hill (S31.57, E141.29), a little distant from the business centre. Nice room, but it set a new low in dim room lighting. We turned on every light we could find, and managed not to stumble into the furniture.
The restaurant prices there at the motel were more than we wanted to spend, so we wandered along Argent Street seeking inspiration about food. What we found first off was a Variety Club car bash just arriving in town, with all their strangely modified old cars. Wonderful sight, and they do a great job raising money for charity. Another wonderful sight was some of the old buildings for Broken Hill’s early days. We should also note the mine tailings heap is one block from the main street. Leaves you in no doubt that this is a mining town.
Jean decided on a Pizza Hut pizza for dinner, but they had little room to sit, and were playing obnoxious noise, believed to be music. Eric walked rapidly back to the now fairly distant motel and collected the car. Jean and the just arrived pizza were awaiting him at the Pizza Hut, thus saving Jean a long walk back with her bad knee. We both decided we had enjoyed the previous three Eagle Boys pizza a lot more than the Pizza Hut version.
Although it didn’t have a separate data connection, at this motel we got a 44 kbps data connection, for the first time since leaving Queensland.
Day 67, Broken Hill to Nyngan, Tuesday 10 August 2004
On leaving the motel, we were slightly annoyed to discover our local call ISP connections were charged as a trunk call, due to the nature of the motel phone connection (ISDN, I guess). If we’d known that, we wouldn’t have stayed online so long. We gently suggested to the proprietor that a note on the “how to use this phone” card would be a good idea.
We headed east all day, which is what we have been doing since about Perth. However we were now approaching a decision point. About 200 kilometres from Broken Hill is Wilcannia. From here we could take a dirt road north 300 kilometres to Bourke. Or we could continue east on the bitumen Barrier Highway to Cobar or Nyngan, then head northwest to Bourke, and finally zig zag across central Queensland, since there is no road that takes us directly. Or we could change plans entirely, and head further east, and then take roads that generally go north until we hit the Queensland coast somewhat south and east of home. That is what we decided. Besides, the coast is warmer than the interior.
Nyngan (S31.34, E147.11) turned out to be a much prettier town than Eric expected from very old memories. Our first choice of motel was full, but the Alamo (why that name?) worked fine for us. We took a walk down the main street searching for dinner. The RSL had been recommended, but their meals didn’t start until 6:30 p.m. After going past some closed fast food cafes, we eventually came upon Beancounters Cafe, located at the back of a building. The place was deserted (except for the cook), however the hot pots we had were excellent.
Day 68, Nyngan to Narabri, Wednesday 11 August 2004
After a bit more driving southeast, we turned northeast at the tiny town of Nevertire and arrived at Warren, where Eric had lived for awhile nearly 40 years ago. We drove around while he exclaimed at the changes in the town.
We had decided to detour through the Warrumbungles National Park and vist Siding Springs Observatory.
We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the road (marked gravel on our map) was actually paved for most of the way.
We enjoyed the views in the Warrumbungles, and then took the steep winding road to the Observatory, where we had lunch.
We had hoped to get all the way north to Moree, where several motels advertise thermal pools. However we had spent too much time in the national park and at the observatory to make that practical. At that, the park and observatory were both worth much more time than we gave them.
We gave up for the afternoon at Narrabri (S30.19, E149.47), found a motel, took a walk through town, and ate steak at the Bowling Club, accompanied by a $13 bottle of wine.
Day 69, Narabri to Taroom, Thursday 12 August 2004
It was cold in the morning. The car reported 7C degrees.
Basically we drove north all day. As predicted, now that we have headed towards Queensland, the sky turned blue, and weather turned beautiful. When we crossed the Queensland border the weather was perfect, and the roads turned terrible (by comparison).
We originally thought to end the day at Miles (so we could report Miles to go before we sleep), however as we didn’t often stop along the way, we managed to get there early. We continued on for another hour or so to a little town called Taroom (S25.38, E149.48). There is only the Cattle Camp motel in Taroom, so if you don’t like it you are out of luck. We had a well set up room, with decent lighting. We were both able to set up our computers.
Day 70, Taroom to Rockhampton, Friday 13 August 2004
Between Taroom and Theodore we came across a short dirt track to Isla Gorge parking lot. A short walk brought us to some excellent views of both sides of the Gorge, and a short saddle lead to a more extended walking track. This park was very convenient to reach from the road to Rockhamption.
We reached Rockhampton in the early afternoon, and stayed as usual at the Ambassador motel on the north side of the town. This is in easy walking distance of the shopping centre, so we were able to visit the Sizzler restaurant for dinner. Shopping was less fruitful, but we weren’t expecting much either.
Day 71, Rockhampton to Airlie Beach, Saturday 14 August 2004
We got away from the motel around 7:30 in 17 degree C temperatures, way too cold for the tropics. As usual the drive to Mackay was long and boring, which was why we hadn’t attempted it the previous afternoon.
We took a bit of a lunch and shopping break in Mackay, since we usually can’t be be bothered driving that far from home, and arrived home in the late afternoon.
Page last updated 23 April 2005