A Travellerspoint blog

September 2014

Bourke - Day 2

Day 79 - Sunday 14 September 2014

Fine and clear and 29 degrees today.

We have decided to stay an extra day in Bourke and do a bit of maintenance brought on by the rough roads over the last few days. A few things had been letting go and dropping off walls including a drawer that dropped onto the floor and spilt it contents. All fixed now, but some of the very undulating roads northwest of Lightning Ridge need a slower speed than the 85-90 that we were doing.

We were talking to John and Denise from Stanley in Tasmania today. They have a big F-Truck with a slide on camper and have recently done the great Inland highway from Leonora in WA (north of Kalgoorlie) via Uluru and the Plenty Highway to Boulia, Windorah, and Quilpie to Bourke. At one roadhouse they were asked $2.30 per litre for fuel and a $20 fee for being 5 minutes after closing time, even though the road-house was still open. The road-house did themselves out of a sale as John had a 900 kms range and could wait until the next roadhouse.

Bourke being located on the Darling River was a Maritime Port with a Maritime Court that is located the furthest inland of any Maritime court in Australia. The courthouse has a crown on the roof to indicate its status as a Maritime Court. The Bourke Wharf has a number of loading levels to cater for the fluctuating river levels.

Crossley steam engine at Bourke Wharf

Crossley steam engine at Bourke Wharf

Di at Bourke Wharf (level 1)

Di at Bourke Wharf (level 1)

Bourke Wharf level 2

Bourke Wharf level 2

Bourke Wharf levels 3 and 4

Bourke Wharf levels 3 and 4

Fitzgerald's Post Office Hotel circa 1888

Fitzgerald's Post Office Hotel circa 1888

Bourke Post Office circa 1880

Bourke Post Office circa 1880

Bourke Court House built in 1900 for 9,500 pounds

Bourke Court House built in 1900 for 9,500 pounds

Crown on the Bourke Court House

Crown on the Bourke Court House

Bourke Police Station circa 1889

Bourke Police Station circa 1889

PV Jandra moored on the Darling River near Bourke

PV Jandra moored on the Darling River near Bourke

George paddling up the Darling River

George paddling up the Darling River

Black Cockatoos feeding in the caravan park

Black Cockatoos feeding in the caravan park

Posted by TwoAces 05:19 Comments (0)

Bourke - Day 1

Saturday - 13 September 2014

Fine clear and 27 degrees today - we could get used to this.

This morning we took the chance to get a bit of washing done. After lunch we went for a drive around the sights of Bourke. Sturt discovered nearby Mt Oxley in 1829, Major Mitchell arrived on the Darling River in 1835 and established Fort Bourke. However it wasn't until 1883 that a bridge was built over the Darling River at North Bourke, and Cobb and Co arrived soon after took over most of the coach routes to the north.

North Bourke Bridge over the Darling River

North Bourke Bridge over the Darling River

Di with her head in the roses

Di with her head in the roses

Old timber trestle approach to the North Bourke Bridge

Old timber trestle approach to the North Bourke Bridge

Free Camp on the Darling River at North Bourke

Free Camp on the Darling River at North Bourke

Old Cobb and Co Tavern, Bourke

Old Cobb and Co Tavern, Bourke

Old Tower Drug Company Building circa 1889

Old Tower Drug Company Building circa 1889

Lands Department Building circa 1898

Lands Department Building circa 1898

Riverside Motel - formerly the Telegraph Hotel circa 1876

Riverside Motel - formerly the Telegraph Hotel circa 1876

Posted by TwoAces 05:17 Comments (0)

Lightning Ridge to Bourke

Day 77 - Friday 12 September 2014

Fine and clear and 25 degrees again!

We were up reasonably early and on the road by 9:00 am for the 312 kms trip from Lightning Ridge to Bourke. There was very little traffic on the road and after an hour and a half we stopped for a morning coffee at the Boorooma Creek Rest Area which was about half way between Walgett and Brewarrina. The rest area is a quite large and is listed in Camps 7 as an overnight parking area suitable for Big Rigs near the Warrambool Bridge.

We arrived at Kidmans Camp after lunch and paid for two nights. We had the choice of any of the sites in the park and chose a drive-through site on grass with it own rose garden. The caravan park is quite attractively laid out and is located just 6 kms from the centre of Bourke on the road to Cunnamulla. As TV reception is not too good we set-up the satellite dish so that we could watch the football game between Geelong and North Melbourne. Shock horror - we found out that since leaving Southport a few days ago our VAST subscription has expired and we have no access to the commercial TV channels - Not Happy Jan! We will be unable to sort out our subscription renewal until Monday morning. Probably just as well as Geelong threw away their double chance and went down by 6 points. Ah well - its only a game and there is always next year.

Kidmans Camp Bourke

Kidmans Camp Bourke

Drive through site at Kidmans Camp, Bourke

Drive through site at Kidmans Camp, Bourke

No fuel until Cunnamulla

No fuel until Cunnamulla

Outback sunset from Kidmans Camp

Outback sunset from Kidmans Camp

Posted by TwoAces 05:50 Comments (0)

Lightning Ridge

Day 76 - Thursday 11 September 2014

Fine and clear and about 25 degrees.

We were up early this morning for our Black Opal Bus Tour along with about a dozen other people from our caravan park. The tour took us to a number of sites around Lightning Ridge including Fred Bodel's Camp, the Lunatic Hill open cut mine, Amigo's Castle, and the Black Opal Tour Shop. At the shop we were provided with morning tea, an explanation of the different types of opal found around Lightning Ridge, and we were shown the difference between solid opal, doublets and triplets. Our bus tour was essentially a trip around the red and yellow car door tours.

Over the 100 years or so since opal was first discovered at Lightning Ridge the miners have built been allowed to build their homes at their mine sites with little in the way of rules and regulations. Homes vary from tin shanties to quite elaborate constructions using local materials collected by the miners. Mining equipment is likewise constructed from old vehicles, trucks, tractors - nothing is wasted and nothing is ever thrown away. Lightning Ridge is therefore one of the biggest junk-yards in the country!

One of the most elaborate residences as Amigo's Castle built by an Italian miner using stones collected from the local vicinity. No machinery was used in the construction of the building and everything was done by hand using scaffolding constructed with oil drums and timber planks.

Courtesy Bus pick-up point

Courtesy Bus pick-up point

Black Opal Tours bus

Black Opal Tours bus

Fred Bodel's camp

Fred Bodel's camp

Fred Bodel's kitchen

Fred Bodel's kitchen

Di at Fred's camp

Di at Fred's camp

Nearby mine shafts

Nearby mine shafts

Another lunatic at Lunatic Hill

Another lunatic at Lunatic Hill

Lunatic Hill open cut mine

Lunatic Hill open cut mine

Haleys Comet opal found in 1986 valued at $6 million

Haleys Comet opal found in 1986 valued at $6 million

Modern drilled mine shaft

Modern drilled mine shaft

Old style shaft dug by hand

Old style shaft dug by hand

Di looking for opal

Di looking for opal

Nearby homes

Nearby homes

Black Opal Tours Shop

Black Opal Tours Shop

Amigo's Castle

Amigo's Castle

Amigo's Castle with the shaft in the foreground

Amigo's Castle with the shaft in the foreground

Another shot of Amigo's Castle

Another shot of Amigo's Castle

Di on the balcony at Amigo's Castle

Di on the balcony at Amigo's Castle

Lance Armstrong's grandfather's bike perhaps

Lance Armstrong's grandfather's bike perhaps

Ridge Castle

Ridge Castle

Car doors built into the wall to provide opening windows

Car doors built into the wall to provide opening windows

After our tour ended we returned to the caravan park for lunch and in the afternoon we paid another visit to some opal shops without spending any money. We ended the day by doing the last of the car door tours - this time the Green Car Door Tour to the First Claim Lookout.

View from the First Claim Lookout at Lightning Ridge

View from the First Claim Lookout at Lightning Ridge

Kangaroo on the track to the First Claim Lookout

Kangaroo on the track to the First Claim Lookout

Posted by TwoAces 05:47 Comments (0)

St George to Lightning Ridge

Day 75 - Wednesday 10 Sep 2014

Fine and clear with a temperature of 27 degrees in St George, and a temperature of 25 degrees in Lightning Ridge.

Before leaving St George we visited the Public Dump Point to empty and clean out both holding tanks. Then into town for milk, rolls for lunch and newspapers. We eventually hit the road about 10:30 am for our 230 kms trip to Lightning Ridge. Not much traffic today - mainly cars and caravans with only a handful of road-trains. We stopped for a morning coffee and a lamington from the café at Dirranbandi, and sat in the park for half an hour before moving on. Dirranbandi appears to be dying with many empty shops - not that there were too many to start with. Not much stock around and only a few scrawny recently shorn sheep on the sides of the road. Not sure how they survive as the is very little for them to eat.

Dirranbandi rail yards

Dirranbandi rail yards

Old steam engine in Dirranbandi

Old steam engine in Dirranbandi

Coffee break in Dirranbandi

Coffee break in Dirranbandi

The Dirranbandi Dandy

The Dirranbandi Dandy

After our coffee we continued on to Lightning Ridge arriving at about 1:45 pm. We checked into the Opal Top Tourist Park for 2 days. All the sites are drive through sites on gravel with not a blade of grass to be seen. If you want to put out an awning or erect an annexe the Office will lend you a an electric drill with a masonry bit to drill holes for the tent pegs - we have not bothered with the awning.

After setting up camp we drove back into town and checked out a couple of Opal shops, so far so good, nothing purchased yet. Lightning Ridge has a number of tourist drives all signposted with coloured car doors. We did the Blue car-door tour, which took us past a number of mines and other businesses out in the bush.

Welcome to Lightning Ridge

Welcome to Lightning Ridge

Opal Caravan Park, Lightning Ridge

Opal Caravan Park, Lightning Ridge

Coopers Cottage, Lightning Ridge

Coopers Cottage, Lightning Ridge

Blue Car Door Tour marker

Blue Car Door Tour marker

Joe's Cactus Garden

Joe's Cactus Garden

Posted by TwoAces 19:22 Comments (0)

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