Burren Junction & Bingara

Free camping at Burren Junction

This is not our first time here but it is a convenient stop on our way as we head west and north towards Brisbane for Rob to catch his flight back to Sydney to have some specialist tests.

New walls partly protect the pool
Both camp grounds are quite crowded as it is always popular here in winter.

Of course we availed ourselves of the hot  bore pool here. It is not quite as hot as the one at Lightening Ridge and the walls of the pool are slimy which takes away from some of the pleasure in my opinion, though the warmth is always a welcome soothing element to tired aching bodies.

There's been quite few cosmetic changes here, chiefly in the wall that has been constructed on the western side which protects the pool from westerly winds and casts it late afternoon shade on the edge of the pool a bit.

Free camping at Bingara Riverside Camping

This campground was new to us. The approach was half flat driving and half very steep driving with quite a few hairpins which rather took us by surprise.

Free camped along the Gwydir River

Rob building up the fire
Still the camp alongside the Gwydir River was very pleasant. We camped overlooking the river directly. There are a lot of wonderful spots up and down the river where one can camp. We were lucky to get such a great spot straight off. We didn't have neighbours too close, maybe 100m away from our nearest.

Sit back and enjoy the bird life
We went for a drive around many of the camp spots on the second day. I think we had one of the best spots. It was lovely and quiet and we could have fished from our door almost. You definitely need to have your fishing license here as it gets checked frequently. No traps allowed either. So instead we lit up a fire and enjoyed this as it had been a while since we had a fire going.

Be aware of the fishing laws
We would have loved to stay here for quite a few more days but three nights was all we could safely allocate to ensure Rob didn't miss his flight.

Nothing better at the end of a beautiful day than a marvelous sunset

A while since I've posted

It is raining today and I was all set to bury my nose in my sock doll craft but Rob gently reminded me that I'm falling behind with posting here. It's been well over a month since a travel post.

My sock pup poking his nose out of my craft bag

Many of the places we stop at have no Internet access and then when I do go through a town that has coverage, I really don't have much motivation or inclination to stop and write up a post.

My grand daughter loves the rain

In addition, I don't seem to get many people leaving comments, mainly just from one faithful friend here and a loyal blogger friend from America.

Now if the reason is because people don't find this blog interesting, well fair enough, that's that.




BUT it would be nice if those who are interested were to just drop a couple of words in the comments to let me know that they are at least reading the blog. It would mean so much to me. It can be rather hard to remain enthusiastic about keeping the blog upto date if one wonders if it is a waste of time.


Sorry for the rant. I've got that out of my system and now I feel so much better. Hopefully it will encourage you to pop a word in the comments below. You don't have to join anything at all to leave a comment, so PLEASE leave me a comment at least every few visits!

Cheesy Salmon Quesadilla

Finding quick and healthy lunches aside from a variation of sandwiches can be a challenge for me. So this fits the bill perfectly. Just put the quesadillas together, place them in the frypan, and almost before you know it, it is done! I like this so much I also cook it at home in the kitchen at times.

They are so simple they make a great snack, lunch or an easy light dinner. This recipe uses just 4 ingredients I always have on hand: tinned salmon, grated apple, cheese and some mayo inside a tortilla and it works every time and anytime.


Ingredients

  • 1 can (170 g) pink salmon, drained well (I keep the bones and crush them with my fingers - added calcium and it is easily digested - I promise that fussy eaters wont even notice them!)
  • ¾ cup grated tasty cheese
  • 1 apple peeled and grated
  • ¾ cup low fat mayonnaise
  • 4 x 10-inch whole-wheat flour tortillas

Directions

  1. Preheat barbecue or fry pan to medium heat.
  2. In a bowl, stir together salmon, apple, cheese and mayonnaise.
  3. Spread a generous serving of mixture on half of each tortilla. Fold into a half-moon shape.
  4. Place on your frypan or a piece of tin foil large enough to cover the folded quesadilla but leave the ends open so it doesn't sweat and you can easily check on it. 
  5. Grill/fry about 4 minutes per side, or until cheese has melted and tortilla is golden brown.
  6. Cut tortillas into wedges and serve immediately.

Best eaten hot!

This mixture is also lovely as a topping on open bread roll and placed under a griller until top melts and turns golden brown. It is fabulous in jaffle iron sandwich on a wonderful camp fire.



Lightning Ridge

Lightning Ridge is a opal mining town and has always held a fascination for me. It is quite remote, being about 70 kilometres south of the Queensland border in New South Wales but way, way out west. We had heard of this place for years and was certainly a place we wanted to visit. So this trip we finally got there after travelling on some of the worst bitumen roads in NSW. We had to slow down to an average of 60km as the roads were so bumpy. I reckon we would have shaken off any rust and lose stuff on the motorhome if we went any faster. I am not sure my back would have coped either.

A giant Emu greets arrivals
As you approach the town from Walgett, the first thing you see is a giant metal sculpture in the shape of an emu made out of old VWs. This sculpture by a local artist was supposed to be erected in Birdsville, but that's another story. This is also the location of the free camp is which is about 10-15km still from the town.


At the turn off to town, there is an old concrete mixer painted blue. You'll soon find out that Lightning Ridge is home to many old mixers, used to wash the mud mud from the material taken from the mines in search of opal as well as the left overs of many machine parts.


We decided to camp right in town at the Lightening Ridge Tourist Park. The cost of fuel running back and forth from the free camp makes the $10 site fees (no power)and the convenience of a toilet, showers and laundry well worth the ten bucks. There is also a happy hour in the BBQ area every night where the park owners supply slices of fresh oven baked pizza which they cook outside. Most nights there's a guy with a guitar for some sing a longs too after a bit.


There is a certain mystery and  novelty tot he people and the area. It might not be to my taste but it is still extremely interesting to visit.


I certainly did not mean it to sound so negative. There is a certain charm here. Sure it is a dry area and the temperature would be terrible in summer. The people are what makes a place into a home town and the local residents here are very casual and very welcoming. And I certainly love the quirky humour here. It is everywhere from the door posted and used as signage, colour blocking the different areas. The art in and around town is evident of the wacky dry humour too.

Royal Air Mail - Daily Delivery

Our first full day was spent doing a self drive tours around town. You get to follow the coloured doors and drive past miners claims and the shanties that they live in. It seems like there is no building code, no houses really. Miners appear to live in anything they can beg, borrow, steal or put together themselves. It could be an old caravan or bus or even tram. It could be a corrugated humpy or even just a tent and all dwellings are very, very basic. Oftentimes, I think that a place has been abandoned and dumped only to discover it is someone's home. It seems like every square metre has been mined with piles of opal discarded dirt everywhere. It makes a mockery out of conservation codes. If a mining company did this to the land there would be a huge outcry. If there's big money to be made here, then it is well hidden most of the time.



The first up for us was the Red Door tour which also encompasses Amigo's castle. I don't understand this guy at all. I mean why spend a life doing something that basically has no purpose other than to fill in time. Still it is worth a visit and a walk around. Pay the $5 to listen to the guide who is also a talented artist and she'll tell you about Amigo and his quest.


Then after a quick shop at the local IGA and lunch, we went on the Green Door self drive trail which is basically where the mining really started. It is both fascinating and ugly at the same time.

On the Green Door self drive tour
After a day driving around there is no better way than to soak in the hot (40 degree) artesian pool just outside the town centre. A terrific way to wash away all your bodily aches and pains.


 We chose not to fossick here in Lightening Ridge as we did that back when we were in Andamooka and Coober Pedy some years back.



On Sunday we went to the local community church which had around 40 people in attendance. I am sort of sorry that we didn't have church in the Tin Church below.

Tin Church at Lightning Ridge
Afterwards we popped past the markets which sadly didn't have much to offer other than opals and trash masquerading as treasure. We did get a lovely BBQ in support of the RFDS. After the markets we did the yellow car door self drive tour. I noticed this time that there are many open shafts with little attempt to close off the openings for safety.

Alien landscape: Opal dirt and tailings are everywhere

This tour includes the Chamber of the Black Hand, which is the biggest most impressive underground Black Opal mine and probably the most popular opal mine tour in the town. It is certainly the most expensive at $35 per head. Still it is worth a visit.


Lightening Ridge is famous for its Black Opal as well as its white. However we learnt that opals can come in every colour of the rainbow from deep blues to iridescent green through to golden orange, red and fuchsia. Opal can be pale and delicate or dark and brilliant. The colour can change as the observer turns the stone.

Rob & I were fascinated with the carvings and I wish I could show you each and everyone of them. Here's just a taste:


Before we left I really wanted to stop past the John Murray Art Gallery. I just love his quirky way of looking at the world around him and has the freedom to express his view via his art. I even bought 2 of his prints to hang up in the motorhome.

John Murray's reflection of outback country roads
One of a caravan bouncing on the bumpy road and the other of the outback dunny. I wish I could have bought more. A video at the John Murray Art Gallery sums up the Lightning Ridge raison d’ĂȘtre which went a long way to giving me some sort of answer to my 3 questions above.

A house made from aluminum cans
 
People come here to Lightening Ridge and experience a certain type of freedom. Many stay, many return. Looking around, one can see the great variety of people, cultures and their homes and you begin to see & sense the freedom of expression and lifestyle here that is so attractive to many. One guy told us that he came for a visit and he's still here 26 years later. It certainly appeals to some.

All in all, Lightning Ridge was well worth a visit. It is a unique and intriguing experience not to be missed.

Free camping at Wingadee

This is not such a great spot that I would normally write about it as a camp site. It does have a toilet, some rubbish bins and some picnic tables with a roof. My main reason for posting is that I just had to show you some lovely photos of the sunset and one of the moon and some of its craters.


 I don't used filters or such as I wouldn't know how. I just use a point and click Canon camera - sometimes I am lucky and others - well... lets say my computer rubbish bin needs emptying frequently. ;)



It had been raining for a couple of days right across the country prior to our arrival, which was absolutely great as the land needed it so bad. As we all know that clouds really enhance any sunset and sunrise.


In this one the trees look like they are on fire!
This is the first time I had ever tried to take a photo of the moon. (I think our recent visit to the Parkes Observatory had inspired me to at least try!) I don't think I have seen the craters on the moon without a telescope before!!! It might not win prizes but I am tickled pink with it!



Free camping at Bogan Weir

The reason we went off road and thus got bogged was that we missed the driveway into the Bogan Weir. It is just 7km from Peak Hill not the 15 we had been told. (Just 150m past the causeway).



This lovely spot is so quiet (other than the birds) that I think it must be a well kept secret. We had only 4 other campers there the entire time we were there and one of those was our good friends, Steve and Lorraine.




Peak Hill


Peak Hill is just a small town many people just past on through. There is a small supermarket, and a few little cafes. We enjoyed looking at the craft shop and the 'antique' shop which also houses many other bits and pieces including this fabulous hand beaded sheer dress at the bargain price of $400. It would be a dress that would looked fabulous on someone like Cher.

Mostly though we were at the weir just to have some time out to veg and spend some time crafting and chatting.




On the way out of Peak Hill we just had to stop by the open cut Gold Mine in Peak Hill.

Parkes Observatory

One shouldn't ever go past Parkes without visiting the Parkes Observatory. It is free to visitors and so very interesting.



I loved the photographic gallery inside. There are some amazing photos of night skies and phenomena in the gallery.  This universe is just amazing.

I was fascinated to learn about the information on the moon, and particularly about the role that Parkes played in the world event of the first manned moon landing.



I also enjoyed the movie 'The Dish' when it came out years ago and I was fascinated with comparing the facts and the few liberties that the script writers added to get a story across.


Allow at least 90 minutes to visit here. It is so worth it. The telescope was continually turning the whole time we were there.



We couldn't leave without having a go at the whispering discs either! Rob went to one disc and I stood at the other one and we spoke sweet nothings to each other. It was corny but great fun. Aww Sweet, I know! LOL Sadly we didn't think to get a photo of one to show you.