It was a trip we had been planning for over 6 months and indeed dreaming about for years. Three months touring Australia, away from the pressures of work, the routines of home life and the stresses of suburbia.
We set off in early May, a little later than we had planned due to Rai’s work commitments but that didn’t matter, we were going, and we were excited. We had our route planned out in Wiki Camps and the Subaru was packed to the roof with as much as we could safely stuff in – including the Celeston telescope which we were anxious to set up and spend our evenings gazing into space (more on that later).
In all we covered well over 10,000 km’s and saw a large chunk of the country, however in hindsight we missed a great many places as we barrelled along. A lesson for next time, yes there will be a next time, slow down and explore as you go. We are already planning to revisit many of the towns and campgrounds from this trip simply because we missed so much. Many places I didn’t even get the camera out!
Our first camp was at Newnes Campground in the Wolgan Valley, just outside Lithgow. It was quite a hike for the first day but enthusiasm makes the drive so much more enjoyable.
Being the start of winter the valley itself was quite cold as the sun never really hit the ground. We warmed ourselves up walking in the hills and sitting around the campfire.
It was actually a good start to our trip, being isolated from shops, restaurants and with no mobile phone coverage we were forced make do with what we had with us.
After Newnes we head straight to one of our favourite spots, The Warrumbungle National Park and spent the week exploring The Pilliga Scrub before heading off to Burren Junction to meet up with family.
A quick trip home
From there we made our way back to Sydney to celebrate my mums 80th birthday. We had a brief 3 day stop over at a quiet roadside camp spot in the village of Binnaway then headed back home.
A week later we headed off again, this time straight up the New England Highway to Allora QLD. The home town of Rai’s parents. This gave us the opportunity to cover a large distance quickly without the need to set up camp after the drive. It also proved fortunate as we had the opportunity to gauge the weather forecasts for the areas we were planning to visit and it didn’t look inviting – rain followed by more and more rain.
Fortunately our hosts are seasoned travellers and told us of some wonderful alternatives and we very soon had Wiki Camps pointing the other way – North West.
Our original plan was to keep to the dividing ranges along the east coast free camping as much as possible and staying in national parks to use facilities as required. But as winter was building so was the rain.
Truthfully I had not considered Outback Queensland primarily because I thought it might be too challenging for our first big trip and in some ways it was however it proved to be a great experience.
While freecamps are easy to find, we quickly discovered our soft floor camp trailer was less than ideal for most of the QLD free camps. With this knowledge we re aligned our priorities and discovered Pub Camping. What could be more Australian than pitching your tent outside a country pub and staying for a week?
Our first experience of this was The Tattersalls Hotel in Winton. We stayed there for a week and it served as a base while we investigated the local attractions.
From there we headed south through Longreach to Charleville and followed the Natural History Trail west through Quilpie, Eromanga and back to Cunnamulla.
Another brilliant Pub Camp at Nindigully before heading back to Allora for a couple of days R and R at the farm. The fact that the third State of Origin match was on that week may have had something to do with it.
A slow trip home
By this stage we were coming to the end of our 3 months and had to start heading home. We were keen to find a quiet spot away from red dust and flies. Fortunately WikiCamps saved the day directing us to Tooloom Falls just across the border in the Northern Rivers district.
We managed to grab a spot right on the edge of the falls, the sounds of running water was very soothing as we rested in the camp for a few days.
Looking out over the water was very enjoyable after the dry, dusty camps we had been staying experienced over the past few weeks. The realisation of just how wonderfully diverse the landscapes of Australia can be just makes you want to see more.
Then on to another pub camp. The Pub with no Beer at Taylors Arm. Thankfully the name is inaccurate and we spent several nights on the front deck chatting with the locals and playing pool inside. I’d like to say I let Rai win but truthfully she s far to good for me I think I got 2 out of 9 games.
Last stop before home – a week at Ellenborough Reserve. Another beautiful lush green picture perfect free camp beside the water. Sun shining, birds singing and the both of us smiling. A perfect spot to finish our adventure.
We’ve been home a few weeks now and the trip has really motivated us to get out and do more. The biggest take away is that we tried to do too much and in doing so missed too much. Next time we’ll head to one region and explore it thoroughly before moving on.
Oh and the telescope, we used it once! We simply never stayed still long enough to get it out.