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& 4WD ADVENTURES August – September 2014 Issue 92 Aus $6.95 NZ $8.95

OUTBACK – Gold to Opals Track, Outback NSW NATURE – Francois Peron NP, WA PLAY – Lower Glenelg NP, VIC HISTORY – Meckering, WA BUSH – Limmen NP, NT DRIVE – Cape Palmerston, QLD RELAX – Kwiambal NP, NSW EXPLORE – Waa Gorge, NSW
















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27 River of Plenty


31 Traditions & Turtles

Camping Conundrum By Andrea Ferris

The Glenelg River region in Victoria is beautiful and perfect for families. By Claudia Bouma


Confronting culture in Big Lagoon, Francois Peron National Park. By Kara Murphy


35 Chilling out at Chinamans Four-wheel-driving and camping just two hours out of Melbourne. By Miriam Blaker

Mountains By Ben Messina

We’ve taken the hassle out of planning a weekend getaway from Melbourne. By Martin Auldist, Megan Blandford, Claudia Bouma and Miriam Blaker

20 Girls’ Night Out

Leaving the men at home, the girls go camping at Kwiambal National Park. By Mandy McKeesick

23 Cape Palmerston

So much to do and so little time. By Susan Neill & Joel Sheridan

39 Limmen National Park One of Australia’s newest national parks on the Gulf of Carpentaria. By Dennis Hayes

44 Wow – Waa Gorge Waa Gorge is a bit of a hike through Mount Kaputar National Park, but well worth the effort. By Richard Kemp 46 Rocking the Wheatbelt

A tiny town with a huge earthquake legacy. By Peta Murray

50 Nulla Nulla Farm Retreat

A rural retreat in the wheatbelt of WA. By Danielle Harvey


Flinders Ranges–the lucky land. By Spida Everitt

56 Duned or Doomed? Five sins of driving on sand. By Heather Grant-Campbell

58 DOIN’ THE BLOCK–Part 5 In love with the Kimberley. By Luke Perrier

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61 GET OFF ROAD WITH PHIL Off-road driving techniques. By Phil Bianchi

64 Closer to the Stars

The TJM Yulara Roof Top Tent. By Matthew MacDermott and Andrea Ferris

66 Gold to Opals

The track from Milparinka to White Cliffs in outback NSW. By Russ Ryan


From humble stone beginnings to modern steel slicers—what to look for in a knife. By Blake Muir

71 PHOTOSMART Capturing movement. By Danielle Lancaster


Be a little bit saucy! By Julie Bishop & Regina Jones


Top new gear The pick of new gear, gadgets, guides and gizmos for campers. Compiled by Andrea Ferris


Subscribe or renew your Go Camping Australia & 4WD Adventures subscription and receive a FREE entry to WIN the Ultimate Camping package worth $25,584.

80 BUSH POETRY Are you catchin’ any, Mate? By Brian Langley


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Words: Andrea Ferris


Photo: Megan Willis Photography.


e bought a caravan. There, I’ve come out on these hallowed pages dedicated to camping. But whoa back, before you chuck the magazine down on the kitchen table in disgust muttering infidel and traitor and stomp out to the shed to waterproof the canvas and count the tent pegs, tell me this; what actually constitutes camping and what makes me (and you) a camper? It was an unusual week, the one where TOH and I drove 1000 kilometres to collect our second-hand caravan. On the Monday I threw a tent and a small bag of gear onto my motorbike to accompany my intrepid friend on the first leg of her epic solo bike journey to the Flinders Ranges, Alice Springs, Darwin and back to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. We camped overnight at Lake Broadwater Conservation Park just outside Dalby. I’d made a beef stew before leaving home that we heated on the Trangia and ate sitting companionably around a small, but cosy, fire listening to the gentle lapping waters of the lake. I woke at dawn, after a chilly and restless night in a sleeping bag that is rated for zero degrees, which it wasn’t, but was a bit light for my comfort, to indulge in some rising sun photography. Six days later, TOH and I were sitting around a fire at Stookies Corner, a free bush camp on the banks of the Moonee River probably twenty kilometres as the crow flies from Lake Broadwater. The final night of a four-day journey to Dubbo and back to take possession of the caravan. 6 |


Camping in a caravan at Stookies Corner near Tara, Qld. Photo: Andrea Ferris.

And this is where the definition of camping conundrum was raised. Sure, I had cooked a meal on a larger gas cooker than a Trangia; yes, the beer came out of a fridge; and I certainly was looking forward to sleeping under a warm doona on a real mattress—but were we ‘camping’? Home again and, after parking the caravan on the front lawn for the neighbours to admire, I headed straight for the worldwide web to justify our purchase (and my job). First stop Wikipedia (the guru knowledge point for everything). Search: ‘camping’. Result: ‘Camping is an outdoor recreational activity. The participants (known as campers) leave urban areas, their home region, or civilisation and enjoy nature while spending one or several nights outdoors, usually at a campsite. Camping may involve the use of a tent, caravan, motorhome, a primitive structure, sporting camp or no shelter at all.’ There it was; hot running water, shower, toilet, queen-size bed, I’m still camping—except if you are a compiler at the Oxford Dictionary. According to a dictionary with 150 years of heritage and more than 250 language specialist researchers camping is: ‘The activity of spending

a holiday living in a tent.’ Hark, camper trailer owners, technically you’re not camping either. Let’s try Google. Search: ‘camping’. Result: ads for camping stores. (Why am I not surprised?) Google search #2: The origins of the noun ‘camp’. Result: ‘ … early 16th century: from French camp, champ, from Italian campo, from Latin campus ‘level ground’, specifically applied to the Campus Martius in Rome, used for games, athletic practice, and military drill. (Well, it does come close to war at times when TOH is backing the van into a tight space and I’m directing …). A decider was needed, so to the bookshelf and the Aussie Macquarie Dictionary. Search ‘camp’. Result: A group of tents, caravans, or other temporary shelters in one place. Readers, my job and reputation as a camper is intact. Put your fundamentalist camping snobbery away; caravans, fifth-wheelers, RVs, tents, camper trailers, swags, roof-top tents, hammocks, tarps thrown over a tree—whatever. When we’re in a temporary shelter, away from home, sitting companionably around a campfire, we’re camping—and loving every minute of it! Happy camping (whatever way you want to)! 

Andrea Ferris, Editor









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Find us on Facebook Now you don’t have to wait weeks for the next edition of Go Camping Australia & 4WD Adventures to get the latest camping news, stories and offers from around Australia. Head to our Facebook page GoCampingAustralia and join the camping community.

& 4WD ADVENTURES Publisher


Michael Vink

Martin Auldist Phil Bianchi Julie Bishop & Regina Jones Megan Blandford Miriam Blaker Claudia Bouma Sheree & Spida Everitt Andrea Ferris Heather Grant-Campbell Danielle Harvey Dennis Hayes Richard Kemp

Editor Andrea Ferris E:

Advertising Manager Georgina Chapman T: (07) 3334 8007 E:

Production Team Richard Locke, Jonathan Nevin, Wendy Deng, Rebecca Davis & Karen Belik Go Camping Australia & 4WD Adventures is distributed through newsagents and camping stores across Australia. Recommended retail price A$6.95. Annual subscription A$33 includes postage within Australia and GST. Distribution by Gordon and Gotch. Editorial and photographic contributions welcomed. Disks, transparencies and self-addressed stamped envelopes are required. The publisher takes no responsibility for the views expressed in articles or advertisements herein. The publisher could not possibly ensure that each advertisement published in the magazine complies with the Trade Practices Act. While every endeavour has been made to ensure complete accuracy, the publisher cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Print Post approval No. 100000936. FRONT COVER: The Pentecost River with the Cockburn Ranges in the background. Photo Credit: Luke Perrier.

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News, Views & Events

Camp under the stars at Nitmiluk Gorge, NT Imagine canoeing between the massive sandstone cliffs of Nitmiluk Gorge, swagging under the stunning night skies far from the crowds, just you and the ancient wonder of this iconic destination. Nitmiluk Tours has just announced that the Gorge has recently opened its Under the Stars overnight canoe hire.

Sydney 4WD and Adventure Show The 4WD and Adventure Show will be on again from 17–19 October at Western Sydney International Dragway, Eastern Creek. Always a popular event for outdoor enthusiasts, the 2014 show will offer even more to visitors with product displays, entertainment and attractions, and special guests.

Keep River National Park Image courtesy: Tourism NT

New Loos at Keep River National Park Facilities at two camping grounds in the Keep

and three kilometres east of the NT and WA

River National Park in the Northern Territory

border. It has Aboriginal sites, spectacular

have had a facelift. Two self-composting toilets

geology and many different habitats. The

have been built in the Jarnem and Gurrandalng

geological formations are similar to the

camping grounds at a cost of $150,000.

Bungle Bungles. For more information visit

Keep River is 468 km west of Katherine

10 |


This overnight hire allows plenty of freedom for swimming, photography, bushwalking and exploring away from the crowds in the tranquil and secluded 5th, 6th and 7th Gorge where no cruise boats venture. The first designated overnight campsite is the 5th gorge, which is approximately 9 km from the visitors centre. A very high level of fitness is required for this tour. Pre-booking is recommended as the overnight hire is limited to 10 guests at any one time. For more information visit www.nitmiluktours.

Campground Hosting in Qld Campground hosting is perfect for self-reliant couples who are experienced campers, enjoy meeting other people and love being outdoors. At least one host must have a current senior first-aid certificate. Hosts should also be fit and healthy, and preferably 18 or over. Registrations are now open for campground hosting in several parks in Queensland. Visit w w w.n p r s r.ql d. (search campground hosting) or w w w.c o n s e r vat i o nvo l u nt e e r s . or contact Mark Dw yer, QLD Friends of Parks Manager on 1800 032 501 or

News, Views & Events APPS FOR CAMPERS AND TRAVELLERS Camps Australia Wide Camps Australia Wide has released an Android version of the Camps app for Android 7 & 10 inch tablets available from ‘Google Play’ store. Released by the team at Camps Australia Wide publishing, this app combines all the information and photographs from the Camps Australia Wide and Caravan Parks Australia Wide guides with more than 6000 sites verified. A comprehensive public dump point listing is also included.

New maps for Magellan eXplorist Magellan’s popular eXplorist range of outdoor GPS devices now includes new and improved Summit Series Australian and New Zealand Topographic Maps, following the release of a map update, downloadable from the Magellan website. The topographic maps include superior elevation and land contour details, as well as thousands of points of interest information including camping grounds, lakes, trails and more–perfect for many types of outdoor activities including camping, fishing, mountain biking, off-road driving and bushwalking. There’s now a whopping 105,000 kilometres of off-road tracks around Australia. Other features of the rugged and waterproof Magellan eXplorist range include the ability to view and record a journey with a sequence of digital breadcrumbs to make sure users can always get back to where they started from and a worldwide basemap that shows major road networks, water features, parks, city centres and shaded background relief for more than 200 countries. For prices and downloads visit

Views Wi-Fi Woes I just read the article on Wi-Fi at camp spots and couldn’t agree more. What a sad day it will be if Australian campsites install Wi-Fi. Keep up the good work with the magazine. B Dyball, Qld

Wheel Nut Solution I’m a new subscriber and am just reading the Feb–March 2014 issue. I’m not yet a van/ camper but starting planning in that direction. The article I’m reading (Dingoes at Dawn) is very interesting, but if I may make a suggestion that may have saved Mr Lohrbaecher and his family some of their worries. In circumstances where all the nuts are lost from one wheel, just remove one nut from each other wheel, which gives you three nuts on each wheel. It’s not perfect, but will get you out of trouble by driving carefully until you reach a service point. G Huxham Thornlands, Qld

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News, Views & Events

QLD 28–31 August 2014: Gympie Music Muster – Gympie The ultimate country music and camping event. Held at Amamoor Creek State Forest Park.

NSW 12 September–5 October 2014: Mudgee Wine and Food Festival – Mudgee Almost an entire month dedicated to fine wines, fresh produce and spectacular surroundings.

VIC 22–24 August 2014: Melbourne National 4x4 Outdoors Show, Boating and Fishing Expo – Melbourne

3–4 October 2014: Deniliquin Ute Muster – Deniliquin Ute muster, camping onsite, music and more.

NT 10–14 September 2014: Alice Desert Festival – Alice Springs Central Australia’s premier arts and cultural festival.

New Books Australian CamperTrailers Group –2014 National Get Together 22–26 September 2014, Glen Innes Showground, NSW The Australian CamperTrailers Group is holding its 10th anniversary national meet at Glen Innes in September. The last few years saw more than 100 camper trailers attending with around 250 people. There will be several interesting and practical workshops, entertainment and fund-raising activities.

National Bilby Day 7 September 2014 Held in Charleville, Queensland, the day captures the real bush and conservation flavour with an exciting and interesting program to delight the young and young at heart. 12 |


The Australian CamperTrailers Group is an online networking group for camper trailer owners, although the members own a wide range of camping accommodation from tents and swags through to motorhomes and caravans. The group began in 2001 and has more than 7000 members. For more information about the event and the group visit

The Kimberley – Travel & Adventure Guide by Ron and Viv Moon Ron and Viv Moon’s definitive guide, The Kimberley – Travel & Adventure Guide, is considered to be essential reading for those travelling the Kimberley. This comprehensive guide, now in its eighth edition, encompasses natural and historical information, as well as details on the major areas, Aboriginal communities and all of the towns within the Kimberley. Trek notes and GPS points cover the remote tracks giving access details to campsites, scenic spots and places to visit. There’s detailed information on fishing spots and the best places to launch a small boat. An exhaustive list of travel operators, guides and station accommodation and camping, along with important phone numbers, websites and contacts make this book a must for those going to the Kimberley for the first or thirtieth time. RRP $34.95 plus $5.00 postage and handling within Australia (GST inclusive).

News, Views & Events

Robert Pepper’s 4WD Handbook The complete guide to how 4WDs work and how to drive them In this second edition of the bestselling 4WD Handbook, four-wheel-drive expert and author Robert Pepper provides an in-depth explanation of how 4WD vehicles work. He shares practical techniques for hill-driving, sand-driving, water crossings, as well as driving in mud, snow and sand. While there is no substitute for actual driving and having lessons in four-wheel-driving, this book is a fabulous reference. What I liked is that the text is large and well-spaced, which makes it easy to read and comprehend, and there are lots of excellent images with captions. RRP $44.99

Boiling Billy’s Camping Guide to Australia by Craig Lewis and Cathy Savage This book is a hefty tome, but certainly comprehensive. It has more than 3000 campsites listed throughout Australia accompanied by a small explanatory note, a guide with symbols and contact information. There are lots of good images and locality maps as well as atlas maps for each state. Perfect to keep in the van to plan the next stop and would make a great gift for someone planning a long tour. $45.00

Travellers Guide to Tasmania A handy glove-box size companion for anyone travelling in Tasmania. It has more than 100 pages packed full of useful information including caravan parks, campgrounds, attractions, rest areas and emergency contacts. $15.00 posted anywhere in Australia. Ph: 0423 094 633 or E:


The MV Trinity Bay departs Cairns every Tuesday, travelling to the tip of Cape York via a stop at Horn Island and Thursday Island. She delivers essential supplies to the region. Passenger accommodation is in either ensuite or shared facility cabins. The voyage includes all meals and there are optional tours available on the northbound leg of the journey.**

To request an Information Booklet or make a booking call: 1800 424 422 or 07 4035 1234 email:


$775* per person

Travel Options: • 5 night round-trip, Cairns to Cairns • 3 night northbound, Cairns to Bamaga • 2 night southbound, Bamaga to Cairns (departs Fridays) For one-way trips, you have the option of carrying your vehicle on the ship and completing the journey in the other direction overland. Freight rates apply.

For more information visit our website and select ‘Passenger Cruise’: While on the website, check out our other passenger freight cruise, MV Malu Titan, which sails the Torres Strait Islands.

*Fare based on triple share cabin, shared facilities, for low season travel between 1st November 2014 and 30th April 2015. Departures and schedules are subject to cargo and weather considerations. ** Optional tours are operated by outside companies. Extra charges apply and their operation cannot be guaranteed. For Terms & Conditions, see our website or request an Information Booklet.


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MOUNTAINS Glasshouse Storm – Living on the Blackall Ranges, Queensland, gives me a unique opportunity to photograph the Glasshouse Mountains in a variety of different light and conditions. Storm Over the Glasshouse Mountains was captured after three hours of chasing storms that ended in the most amazing lightning show I’ve ever seen! I left the camera shutter open for 15 seconds and in that time had five bolts come down one after the other. With a large smile on my face I quickly packed up my gear and headed for cover as the storm by this time was coming over the top of me. Camera: Nikon D800e. Lens: Carl Zeiss 21mm 2.8. Exposure: 15 seconds @ f 8. 14 |


Light on the Land

features the work of renowned Australian landscape photographer Ben Messina. The pages are filled with amazing imagery from every corner of Australia all captured in the best light possible. If you’re in Maleny, Queensland, drop into the Messina Landscapes Gallery and grab yourself a copy or go to Ben Messina Landscapes Gallery 3/41 Male Street, Maleny, Queensland GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

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Weekend Camp Rubicon Valley Historic Area

Words & Images: Miriam Blaker

Just two hours’ drive north-east of Melbourne is the site of Victoria’s first hydroelectricity scheme and a beautiful area for bushwalkers and adventurers seeking a quick weekend getaway. It’s 7.00 am and we’re packed and ready to go. Our destination is the Rubicon Valley approximately 150 kilometres north-east of Melbourne; easily reached in two hours, however the drive is so picturesque that it’s tempting to make a few stops along the way. The route takes us along the Maroondah Highway and towards Healesville where the road winds around the southern shore of the Maroondah Dam and onwards through the Black Spur. Lower the windows and enjoy twenty-seven kilometres of magnificent driving as the road winds and twists through giant ferns and towering mountain ash trees that seem to touch the sky. Pull over and fill up your water bottle at the natural mountain spring of Saint Ronan’s well. Close by the historic Black Spur Inn at Narbethong is a beautiful place for a mid-morning coffee or meal. We pass through Buxton, home of the award winning Bucky Burger at the Igloo Roadhouse where, although we don’t stop, reports are that the burgers are not to be missed. If you love seafood and want a guaranteed catch pay a visit to the Buxton Trout and Salmon Farm where you can hook a trout or salmon to cook on your camp barbeque. The road then skirts along the fringes of the Cathedral Ranges and the imposing sight of the mountains before heading onwards towards Taggerty. We pass the small town of Thornton and stop at the friendly general store to pick up a local map of the area. Back in the car it’s just ten kilometres down the Taggerty-Thornton Road before turning right into Rubicon Road and the Rubicon Valley Historic Area located within the Rubicon State forest. Set up camp at either Kendalls A or B campgrounds; two large picturesque camping areas on the western bank of the Rubicon River on Rubicon River Road. Spend the afternoon exploring the historic Rubicon Valley and state forest; a steepsided valley surrounded by tall peaks. The Rubicon River Road and Royston Road loops around the historic area and along the way you can visit the Rubicon Power Station, at the junction of the Rubicon and Royston rivers. This was established in the 1920s and provided up to thirty percent of Victoria’s electricity and still operates today (though minimally). It has a huge network of pipelines, power station buildings, aqueducts and dams all intact exactly as built. Although you can’t go inside the buildings it’s a fascinating area to explore. 16 |


Walking across the Fifteen Thousand Foot Siphon Trestle Bridge.

Rubicon Valley Camping Trip

Panoramic views over Lake Eildon and surrounds from Morris Lookout.

The track loops through to the vicinity of the Royston Power Station and along the way there are three trestle bridges. Stop at the impressive Royston Trestle Bridge and walk to the other side before continuing and passing the Rubicon River Falls and dam wall before making your way back to camp. On Sunday, take the four-wheel-drive track that leads to Morris Lookout accessed from Kendalls Campground. This track can be closed in winter. At the top, enjoy panoramic views of the hills, townships and waters of Lake Eildon. Not far from Morris Lookout is Snobs Creek Falls, a spectacular drop of 100 metres over a series of rocky outcrops. A short walk from the carpark leads to the base of the falls and observation platforms. If you want to explore the area on horseback, local horse riding tours can be booked at nearby Rubicon Valley Horse Riding at Thornton.

Distance from Melbourne: 150 km. Travel time (without stops): 2 hours. Things to do: Bushwalking, touring, fishing, four-wheel-driving, mountain and trail bike riding, horse riding. Pets: Yes. Camping: Tent, camper trailers, caravans. Mobile phone: Patchy and limited in the state forest, good coverage up at Morris Lookout. Facilities: Tables, pit toilets, fireplaces, water available from river, but boil first. Campsite bookings: Bookings not required. Seasonal closures apply to some tracks and camping areas in the Rubicon Valley from mid-June to November. Activity information: Department of Sustainability and Environment ( Phone: 136 186. Rubicon Valley Horse Riding Phone: (03) 5773 2292. What to bring: Hiking boots, fishing gear, warm clothes, drinking water, camera, insect repellant.

ping Guides Noojee and Mount Baw Baw

Two-day hassle free trip plans to all points out of Melbourne.

Words & Images: Martin Auldist

A trip to Mount Baw Baw makes the ideal weekend getaway from Melbourne; no matter if it’s summer or winter. I’d go so far as to say that Baw Baw is worth two trips, because it’s quite a different experience depending on the season. The summit of Mount Baw Baw is only around 160 km from the centre of Melbourne but the last bit is a slow and winding road so it’s best to allow more time than you might think. From central Melbourne head straight east through Croydon, Lilydale, Launching Place and Noojee, then up the Baw Baw Tourist Route to the top. There’s probably no need to get up super early. Leaving Melbourne mid-morning on the Saturday will allow for a lunch stop somewhere along the scenic Yarra River near Launching Place. That might involve a meal at a pub or café, or a picnic by the water. Continuing on through Noojee after lunch, I’d probably opt to head straight for the Toorongo Falls Camping Area; strike camp and spend the afternoon exploring the local area before heading up the mountain the next day. This campsite is accessible by bitumen road and is suitable for tents, campervans and caravans. It does, however, require a slight detour up the Toorongo Falls Road and it’s very popular on long weekends or school holidays. If you’re into fishing, you’ll only have to travel fifteen metres to get into the action, for the campsite is on the banks of the trout-laden Toorongo River. Other good angling options include the nearby Latrobe and Loch rivers. Bait, lure and fly will be successful here. Only a hop, skip and a jump upstream from the campsite are the Toorongo Falls. These are well worth a visit and a photo, but they do require a brisk walk up some steep stairs. Elsewhere around Noojee check out the historic trestle bridge then call into the trout farm (it’s a sure thing that you’ll catch one even if you missed out in the river). Finish your day with a drink at the rustic Outpost Retreat, or a meal at the historic Noojee Hotel where Squizzy Taylor once gambled away his ill-gotten gains. The next morning, break camp early and get your vehicle pointed uphill. No matter the season it’s an enjoyable drive to the Baw Baw summit through some pristine eucalypt forest, but in winter you will be required to carry snow chains. These can be hired at a number of spots along the road. In winter, the Baw Baw Alpine Resort is a snowcovered wonderland. There are proper ski fields with chairlifts for the bona fide ski bunnies, but it’s

In spring, summer and autumn there is great trout fishing in the streams around Mount Baw Baw.

also a great spot for those who just want to show the kids some snow and have a play. There are plenty of places to build a snowman, throw some snowballs and have a toboggan race. Another great thing to do is to hitch a ride, for a moderate fee of course, behind the team of Siberian huskies at Howling Husky Sled Dog Tours. Afterwards, enjoy a warming cuppa and snack at one of the cafés. In summer, the Baw Baw experience will be more serene, but warmer. Enjoy some inspiring alpine views that are mostly obscured by fog in winter and wander bush trails through the snow gums without the encumbrance of foot deep snow. A lunchtime departure from the summit should see you back in the Big Smoke easily in time to catch the Sunday evening news. An alternative route home is to turn south at Noojee, pass through Neerim South, meet up with the Princes Highway beyond Drouin, then catch the Monash into the city. In winter there’ll be a team of Siberian huskies waiting to take you on a sled tour around the many mountain trails.

Noojee and Mount Baw Baw Camping Trip Distance: From Melbourne to Mount Baw Baw is approximately 160 km, one way. Things to do: Fish for trout, bushwalk, ski, toboggan, ride a husky sled, snow play, take photos, watch birds, four-wheel-drive. Pets: Pets are fine in most places except the Baw Baw National Park and most commercial caravan parks. Fees: There are fees for camping in the Baw Baw National Park and for entering the alpine reserve. The Toorongo Falls Camping Area is free. Mobile phone: Sporadic coverage. Camping: Free camping at Toorongo Falls Camping Area. A camping area is provided on the banks of the Aberfeldy River. Dispersed bush camping is permitted on the Baw Baw Plateau. Caravan parks at Rawson, Erica and Moe. Facilities: Toilets and picnic tables at Toorongo Falls Camping Area. Campsite bookings: Not needed for Toorongo Falls. Baw Baw National Park via the website. Activity information: Visit or or What to bring: Warm clothes and wet weather gear in winter, sun hat in summer, fishing gear, cameras, hiking boots, sunscreen, toboggan, picnic gear.


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The Shipwreck Coast

Words: Claudia Bouma Images: Chris Bouma

One of the world’s most photographed stretches of coast happens to be only a hop and a step from cosmopolitan Melbourne. It’s 7.00 am and we’re headed west to spend a weekend in Princetown, a stone’s throw from the world-famous Twelve Apostles. The ring road around Geelong has made this trip much quicker, not to mention more enjoyable. The route along the Great Ocean Road is the most scenic but we want to get to the Princetown Recreation Reserve by morning tea time so our inland route takes us via Colac and Simpson. The council-managed campground is large and facilities include toilets, hot showers and a coin-operated laundry as well as a large shaded playground. It’s advisable to bring along your own drinking water because the bore water is suitable only for washing dishes. We cannot see the ocean, but the pounding of the surf in the background is unmistakable. We find ourselves a non-powered site and start setting up, eager to get to the beach. The caretaker comes by to collect the camping fees, which are very reasonable. A non-powered site is $15 for two people ($5 per extra person) or $20 for a powered site. The kids have a ball at the playground, allowing us to set up in peace. A walk takes us along the Gellibrand River estuary to the impressive cliff-lined beach. As soon as we leave the protection of the sand dunes, a strong sea breeze blows our hair in all directions. The kids sprint up and down the long stretch of sand, collecting shells and building sand castles until their stomachs tell them it’s time to head back and have lunch. That afternoon we jump in the car for an 18 km four-wheel-drive adventure along Old Coach Road to Moonlight Head and Wreck Beach. A high-clearance four-wheel-drive is necessary while some experience with driving in soft sand is helpful. A small parking area gives access to the 366 steps leading down to the beach where numerous ships came to grief; the only reminders are the anchors that are now embedded in the rocks, which can only be seen at low tide. Sheer vertical cliffs tower at least fifty metres above the sand, dwarfing us by their size. Make sure to head back early enough to watch a spectacular sunset at the Twelve Apostles, although most likely you won’t be alone. The next morning we get up bright and early to witness a magic sunrise at the Bay of Islands near Peterborough. These uniquely shaped rock stacks do not have the same appeal as the iconic Twelve Apostles but they are definitely worth a look. We visit the different lookouts: Worm Bay, Crofts Bay and Boat Bay, before backtracking to the Twelve Apostles via London Bridge and Loch Ard Gorge. By then it is lunchtime and a weekend along the Shipwreck Coast is not complete without a 18 |


The Twelve Apostles at sunset. Kids playing on Wreck Beach.

The Shipwreck Coast Camping Trip Distance: 240 km west of Melbourne. Travel time: Allow three hours to get to Princetown Recreation Reserve. Things to do: Swimming, sightseeing, 4WDing, canoeing, walking and relaxing. Pets: Yes. Fees: $15 per unpowered site and $20 for a powered site ($5 per extra adult). Mobile phone: Yes. Camping: Princetown Recreation Reserve (

meal of fish and chips in the quaint seaside town of Port Campbell. We find ourselves a picnic table along the foreshore to enjoy the spectacular views. A quick visit to the local visitor information centre, where lots of great gifts are for sale, finishes off our camping weekend. We pack up our tent before heading back to the big smoke. There’s lots more to see and do but we’ll just have to plan another trip, after all someone’s got to do it.

Facilities: Amenities block with toilets, hot showers and coin-operated laundry. Large shaded playground. Fire bins. Campsite bookings: Bookings cannot be made. Activity information: What to bring: Walking shoes, hat, sunscreen, clothes for all seasons, bathers, camera.

Bellarine Peninsula

Words & Images: Megan Blandford

Living the easy life on the Bellarine is the perfect weekend away. Get set for great food and wine, intriguing historic sights, a little adventure—all topped off with luxury camping. When you wake up on Saturday morning, you’re relieved that all the hard work; the working week and the packing, is done and all that lies ahead is relaxation and fun. Jump in the car, head towards Geelong and take the easy drive to the Bellarine Peninsula to begin foraging along one of Victoria’s most famous Taste Trails. Stop in at Drysdale’s Tuckerberry Hill berry farm and café to pick (and eat) fresh superfood. This is the perfect time to grab some brunch at the café, which serves local produce like meats, bread, olives and goat’s cheese, providing a worthy introduction to the region’s ‘foodie’ reputation. Then it’s off to some more farm gates to gather more of the food you loved from your brunch platter. Visit the dairy, olive farm and apiary, and then start to think about beverages. The biggest winery on the Bellarine is Jack Rabbit, which has a beautiful view of Port Phillip Bay, and there are plenty of smaller vineyards around too. If you prefer your drinks to be more on the amber side, the peninsula’s only micro-brewery, Bellarine Estate, is for you. After this gastronomical indulgence it’s time to head to your camping spot. BIG4 Bellarine is the home of luxury camping, with big sites and heaps of activities for the kids. Spend the afternoon swimming, playing and go-karting, but remember to pace yourself and allow for some relaxing time sitting back with some of that fine produce you’ve collected. Surrounded by a visiting community of other families wanting to live the good life for a couple of days, the kids will make new friends while you chill-out and re-energise. The next morning, after a barbeque breakfast and some playtime with the kids, pack up the campsite and head to Queenscliff. A visit to the lighthouses and the fort will immerse you in fascinating military history (it was from here that the first Allied shot of World War

The community of BIG4 Bellarine, a place to play and relax.

Queenscliff’s white lighthouse on the beautiful Bellarine Peninsula.

I was commanded) and for the best view over the town walk up the 360 Degrees tower. Now for your final adventure and it’s a big one. The biggest theme park in Victoria, to be exact: Adventure Park. The water park has enormous waterslides, watery play areas for little kids and relaxing lagoon rides for parents, and it’s the perfect way to finish off a fun weekend. The kids will think you’re the best parent ever for treating them to a visit here! And that’s how you do a weekend away from reality. 

Bellarine Peninsula Camping Trip Distance from Melbourne: 96 km. Travel time (without stops): 1.5 hours. Things to do: Beach sightseeing, taking in the history of lighthouses and the fort, exploring the food, wine and beer of the Bellarine Taste Trail. Pets: No. Mobile phone: Yes. Camping: Big sites suited to tents, camper trailers, campervans and caravans. Check-in is 2.00 pm, check-out at 10.00 am. Facilities: Amenities, water, camp kitchen, BBQ, indoor pool, playground, power. Campsite bookings: Activity information: What to bring: Swimmers, warm clothes to offset the coastal breeze, sunscreen.


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Girls’ night out Camping in Kwiambal National Park Leaving the men at home, four girls go looking for adventure in the rugged Kwiambal National Park. Words & Images: Mandy McKeesick


usk falls softly on the Severn River as the boisterous cacophony of the sulphur-crested cockatoos is replaced by the boisterous cacophony of four women on a man-free camping trip! Leaving the blokes at home, Tania, Jen, Angie and I have packed the swags, the canoes and ample chocolate supplies and are venturing into Kwiambal National Park, an hour’s drive north of Inverell in northern New South Wales. Traditional land of the Kwiambal Aboriginal people, the park was also once a pastoral station and the good gravel entry road passes reminders of history in the form of abandoned huts and disused cattle yards. The road has the odd corrugation but otherwise is suitable for two-wheel-drive vehicles, however there are several low causeways that 20 |


flood easily after rain so check with the ranger first if you’re unsure of conditions. Our first stop is the bat caves. Seriously. Here in the middle of a paddock is a cave system once mined for lime and guano (bat poo), which was used as a fertiliser. The caves have multiple tunnels and openings and are an important habitat to the threatened eastern bent-wing bat—or so they tell us. We stride about twenty metres inside, but it’s dark and cool and smelly and seems like a very blokey place to explore. Besides, waking of the bats during their winter hibernation is detrimental to their survival so we don’t need any more excuses to jump back in the vehicles en route to our next stop. Kwiambal National Park is characterised by the Macintyre and Severn Rivers and the majestic Macintyre Falls is our second attraction for the day. A lookout stands over the granite

amphitheatre where water thunders over polished rocks, but with only a small river flow the falls are not at their dazzling best. It’s an easy 1.5-kilometre return walk to the bottom of the falls; rated as a medium grade with formed steps before a little rock hopping brings us to one of Kwiambal’s highlights—the plunge pool. This is a favourite spot for us in the summer —a seemingly bottomless circular pool of the coolest water. Blokes have been known to throw themselves from the top of the falls, but we bring foam noodles and idle away an afternoon in suspended contentment. There is a choice of two campgrounds at Kwiambal. The fees of $5 per adult per night are payable in an honesty box, but we didn’t see a ranger all weekend so it’s important to bring the exact change.

Clockwise from opposite: Warm soup and chocolate bananas by an ironbark fire.  Canoeing the Kookabitta waterhole on the Severn River.  The plunge pool at the base of the Macintyre Falls.

Lemon Tree Flat is the more established of the campgrounds and is the most popular with arching red gums, lawn-like sites and grazing kangaroos all within easy reach of the babbling waters of the Severn River. However, we are likely to be noisy on our one night out and, as we all have canoes, we choose the long waterhole of the Kookabitta campground. Both Lemon Tree Flat and Kookabitta are suitable for caravans, camper trailers and tents. Kookabitta is only a few years old and is yet to acquire the ambience of Lemon Tree Flat, however the facilities are exceptional; the cleanest pit toilets I have ever seen (‘With plenty of loo paper,’ Jen exclaims), solid tables, tank water, fire pits recessed into concrete and nifty hooks and barbeque plates that can be rotated in and out of the flames; all set on the banks of the glorious Severn River.

Our men may have started setting up camp by now but we have our priorities straight. On goes the billy and, after we have murdered a pack of Tim Tams, out come the canoes and we’re onto the river. The waterhole is not as long as I had anticipated, probably only a couple of hundred metres, but nothing quite beats the instantaneous serenity of sitting in a canoe on glassy water. We have our own private beach providing an effortless access point and I’m sure kids, should we have brought any, would have found the pool safe and easy to navigate. Tania makes a half-hearted attempt at fishing but really, what would we have done if we’d caught one? We’ve left the expert de-hookers/ filleters/fish cookers at home! Later, I chat to three blokes who have spent the entire day dragging their canoes between waterholes fishing for

yellowbelly and Murray cod. They didn’t even get a bite. Maybe they should have opted for the Tim Tams like the smarter sex. We get adventurous trying to navigate the canoes over some boulders on a small set of rapids, but when Tania ends up in the drink we decide the water temperature is not conducive to a winter’s night and retire to our camp. Actually, the river temperature can be cold even in the warmer months. The Severn lies below Pindari Dam, fifty-five kilometres to the south-west, and water released for the cotton irrigators in the summer is often chilly. The release can also make the waters too swift for comfortable canoeing so once again check conditions before your trip. Summer is usually the most popular season in Kwiambal with swimming, fishing and canoeing but there are a large number of picnickers and bushwalkers here on this winter’s day. GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

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Clockwise from left: The junction of the Macintyre and Severn Rivers.  Spread out over half an acre; our campsite at Kookabitta.  Eastern grey kangaroos watch cautiously from the ironbark woodland.  Swing-away hooks and BBQ plates over the fire pit at the Kookabitta campground.









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Further information Accommodation is also available in two farmhouses. Bat House can accommodate up to 20 people, while the smaller Joey House comfortably sleeps 9. Both have air-conditioning, hot showers and wood fires for the colder months. Bookings for the houses may be made by phoning (02) 6736 4298. R




When to go There is something to do here all year around, but the park is busiest in the summer when locals and travellers come for the swimming, fishing and canoeing.



Where to camp Bush camping is available at either Lemon Tree Flat or Kookabitta. Both have picnic tables, wood barbeques, pit toilets and campsites suitable for caravans. Lemon Tree Flat is the more popular due to its scenic location, however if you’re wanting to canoe, Kookabitta is right beside a large waterhole. Costs are $5 per adult per night and $3 per child but there are no bookings taken so it is a first come, first served basis.




Getting there Kwiambal National Park is 380 km south-west of Brisbane and 90 km north of Inverell in northern NSW. The closest town is Ashford, 30 km to the south.

© Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) 2012





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pad through the flood debris on the riverbank and soon pick up the main track. If the Macintyre Falls are one highlight of Kwiambal National Park then surely the spectacular gorges of the Severn River is the other. The first hour of our walk winds along ridges, past giant rock marbles and offers several uninterrupted views of this rugged riverine country. The Dungeon, in particular, is a dramatic steep sided gorge with sheer granite walls and gigantic boulders, through which the Severn turns and gushes. After heavy rain this must be a truly incredible sight. We reach the junction and after the falls and the gorges it is almost anti-climactic. Here the Macintyre River is barely several metres wide while the Severn has stretched and yawned. Silently and without fuss, the two rivers coalesce and go on their way. The calm waters and granite sand beaches provide ideal swimming holes and were this summer we would be in there like a shot. Although we have the junction to ourselves it is not hard to imagine it as a significant meeting place between the local Kwiambal people and neighbours of the Marbul, Ngarbul, Jukambul, Weraerai, Bigambul and Ginneibal tribal groups. We follow an access track back to the vehicle, puffing on the one steep section, stopping to admire the eastern grey kangaroos that watch us cautiously from the light bush, and listening to the feral goats as they call to each other in the hills. Back at Kookabitta we have one last cup of tea and make sure there is no surviving chocolate. ‘What a little piece of heaven this is,’ Jen says as we make plans for the next escape. Reluctantly we douse our fire, strap the canoes to the vehicles (who says girls can’t tie Broken Hill truckie knots?) and turn our heads for home. The solo male camper seems toN visibly relax in the E W S O U T H anticipated quiet—but watch out mate, those cockatoos can be mighty raucous come dusk.  Eu

We have come prepared for the cold. Although the park supplies some firewood it is in limited supply and so on the back of my ute are a dozen ironbark fence-posts from home— these girls are staying warm. We eat a smorgasbord of food with surprisingly little time spent slaving over the stove. Jen has pre-cooked a delicious potato and leek soup, which is reheated in a camp oven, and for dessert Angie stuffs bananas with chocolate, wraps them in foil and tosses them in the coals. There is not a steak nor a chop to be seen. Tonight at Lemon Tree Flat there may be a dozen or so different camps but here at Kookabitta there is a solo male camper at one end of the campground and a young couple at the other end—as far away as they can get from our laughing mob in the centre. Our sleeping arrangements are simple. Jen curls up in the back of her car, Tania sprawls on the back of a ute, Angie opts for a tent and I throw my swag on a stretcher bed by the fire. I sleep soundly until awoken by the morning chorus— kookaburras and magpies who are as vocal as we were a few hours earlier. Cooking smoke curls around bottlebrush and tea-tree and settles on the Severn at our doorstop. It is a magical place to begin the day. The gastronomic delights continue at breakfast when Tania prepares gourmet omelettes in muffin pans. I take one to the solo camper as a peace-offering, apologising for disturbing his night. I tell him we are having a weekend away, but he just grins and I suspect he now knows more about us than our mothers! I turn from his minimalist camp and can only smile at our set-up—spread over half an acre! After the omelettes have been washed down with juice and billy tea we drive to Lemon Tree Flat to walk the Junction Track, a 7.5-kilometre return, medium-difficulty circuit through ironbark and cypress pine woodland. The start of the walk is ambiguous with a sign appearing to point in the wrong direction, however we follow the well-worn



Palmerston Fun for everyone; this place has everything

Words & Images: Susan Neill & Joel Sheridan

One of the many places to bush camp.


eptember in Central Queensland is a prime month for camping. The weather is not too hot, not too cold and the chance of rain is minimal, plus all the things that like to sting you in the water are still a way off. So, it was time for the Sheridan family to head off on another adventure, this time to Cape Palmerston National Park just south of Mackay. It is a three-hour trek up the black top from home and it coincided with a full moon so tides were at their biggest, which meant that some careful planning and an early rise were the order of the day. A quick stop at Ilbilbie for fuel and we were off to the beach. Good planning or just luck that we were there at this time of the month meant that the sand was fairly hard and standard tyre pressures were fine. After an easy run up the beach with a quick stop under a palm tree for some bush tucker and about an hour later we were at Windmill Bay. I can tell you the anglers in the car would have been excited if it wasn’t for the blasted north-easterly that was blowing. Driving up the seaward beach you can see small islands, bommies and coral reefs so close to the shore you can almost cast to them.

We had planned to stay at Cape Creek camping area on the western side of the Cape but, after arriving at the camping area and not being able to find a toilet, we decided to head back to Windmill Bay. It didn’t take long to set up the camp with everyone pitching in to help and it didn’t take long to work out how this bay got its name! The proverbial dog had been blown off the chain a few weeks ago by the look of the trees. As luck would have it we had the place to ourselves; not bad going because Cape Creek was packed. After lunch, and a bit of coconut, it was time to explore. I don’t think there is anything a kid likes more than poking around rock pools at the beach and this place will keep them entertained until the tide chases them back to camp for tea. The next day we went for a drive back to the park entrance to look for the track into Mt Funnel, but the track wasn’t very well marked. We drove for a little way up what looked to be a fire trail, but when it appeared we were about to drive into someone’s backyard we thought better of it and turned around to head back up the beach for a bit of an explore. We headed out to the end of the peninsula and found a lovely coral/rock quay that looked

awesome to have a snorkel around. There were also a number of bush camping sites up there. On the western side of the cape we were finally out of the wind, but so were the midges, however with a bit of RID they were soon kept under control so we could enjoy a peaceful smoko beside the beach. After a bit of a rest for the littlies it was time to embark on a bit of a bush walk. With no real marked bushwalking tracks we decided to follow the beach and see what we could find. After crossing a few coastal creeks and scaling some sand dunes we found ourselves on Cape Lookout with views back to Mt Funnel and the surrounding islands. The walk also helped us recon some of the four-wheel-drive tracks that we could tackle later in the day. For those that want a four-wheel-drive getaway with a mix of sand and low-range dirt driving, this is the place. There are plenty of dunes to pit yourself against and more than a few places to get stuck. If you are going to tackle the centre track, which goes back to the park entrance behind the dunes, give yourself a couple of hours because it is tight and boggy. You will definitely need to fold the mirrors in on this track. Driving in the park ranges from easy to hard and maybe extreme if the weather GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

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Clockwise from top left: The view from Cape Lookout back to Mt Funnel.  Not too difficult in the dry, but imagine after some rain.  Fun in the rock pools at low tide.  Kicking back after a day of exploring.  Sunrise at Windmill Bay camping area.

turns, so come prepared. If you are a novice, travel in a group and make sure you know how to self-recover in sand as there is no mobile phone coverage and there didn’t seem to be too much traffic on the two-way radio either. The last thing you want to see is your pride and joy going under the waves as the tide rolls in! Check the tide times and make sure you know what the tide is doing for the whole time you are there, because on the big tides around the full moon and new moon there is no beach to drive on at high tide. As I mentioned earlier, the angler in me was salivating, but alas, time and wind was against me. Aside from throwing a crab pot in and having no luck, that was as close as I was going to get for this weekend away. The options here seem endless, especially for someone willing to tow in a small to medium boat. For the angler, the pick of the camps is Cape Creek as it has a decent boat ramp and you can set a line right from the campsite without a worry. The boat ramp at the Windmill Bay camping area I would class as a beach launch at best and with the ramp at Cape Creek being so good I wouldn’t even bother. For land-based fishos there are heaps of options from rock ledges to 24 |


sandy beaches all over the Cape. For boaties the options are nearly unlimited: head out to the islands if the weather is good to have a crack at some reefies or if the weather is being a pain, like it was for us, sneak up the creek and try for some barra or a muddy. Just remember, if you are heading out to the reef you will need offshore safety gear including an EPIRB and take a zoning map so you don’t get caught in a green zone. If you are more inclined to catch your wildlife on a camera, there is fantastic snorkelling but it would be best to base yourself from a boat or canoe because, even though the sites are not far offshore, currents are unpredictable and big things that bite are around (crocodiles and sharks). If you visit during the whale migration season they can be seen from Cape Lookout. There are various turtles in the area too so keep your eye out as you walk the beach. The Cape also offers good bird watching opportunities. Catch a glimpse of the white-breasted woodswallows as they play in the flowering grasses or look for sea eagles and ospreys and, of course, look out for the cheeky kookaburras trying to pinch a snag off the barbeque.

Remember when visiting Cape Palmerston that it is remote and the closest hospital and ambulance is at Sarina which is about sixty kilometres from the park entrance. You can’t have an open fire in the park, but if you have a brazier or something similar that is okay. If not, have a hunt around because we found a forty-four-gallon drum cut in half that someone had left behind. You will need to bring your own firewood. There is plenty of evidence of people not obeying this rule and unfortunately it has resulted in injuries to children running through what looks like a dead fireplace and burning their feet. Recovery gear is a must. If you are new to off-road driving, bring a friend. Make sure you have enough water for washing and drinking as there is no fresh water in the park. Be sure you book and pay before you leave as there is no honesty box at the park. Cape Palmerston is an awesome place to visit with so much to do that a week probably wouldn’t be enough for most people. This is definitely one of those places that if abused will be locked up, so please respect the area and other campers, take out what you take in and only leave behind your footprints. 

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0 ek 689 7 Bowen Gloucester Island Flin Mt Abbot Charters Home stead d er Juliato Cre ek Where camp Hayman Islan d 1056 s Towers When to go Restrictions and permits Dalbeg Whitsund Pentland Campaspe Ric ond There are Cnumerous Airlie Beac h ay Group Nelia bush campinghmsites re er Mount ek Whits Mt Norna mbianPalmerston R Cape Visit oruncall RivHughende The best time to travel to Wa Maxwelton a da the Ra ve ns Pr Co wo os llin od 415 erpine n sville CLA Prairie Hamilton Isl y Island along the coast in the dunes with no and R 130 001. National Park isTorduring the dry season from ranger on 1300 rens Creek bon Li nd eman Gro facilities. There is a pit Mt Walker Tarbtoilet e rax at Windmill up McK inlay Longton April has a Riv tropical climate Lake Dalrymple R Midge Point p ul s 472 to October. The area er CUMBER ay Bay on the eastern side of theCas eB peninsula. LAND silis R nl i a AN y Mount Elsie of about Mt William ck ISLANDS Stamford with an average summer Natemperature tal Downs RA N G Seaforth Prices and booking for camping can GE E M Ck be 1259 m Kynuna 32ºC. However, summer daytime temperatures h a Scawfell Island Fin ha ch Ha Ne g tto wlands nn n Marian at Kerrfound s Table Mou Yarrowmere k in el nt are mild and often Barenya can exceed 40ºC. Winters Wo Corfield Glenden 304 MACKAY Walkerston Mount Douglas M E ou There is a pit toilet at Windmill Bay and nt G sworth Coolon N Aberf oyle Hay Point dry with an average temperature Lakeof about 20ºC. Sutt RA or R Sarina Buchanan AM even though the Stra parks’ website says that Expect heavy rain during the wet season from NH thfi E llan D Toolebuc Ne bo Koumala Moray Downs there is one at Cape Creek, there isn’t Lerida Goonyella er as early as November right through until March. iv Corinda NORTHU Middleton M BE one there and the word on theWistreet nton is bunmaroo M or a an bah Cape Palmerston in Lake Galilee Co Mount) pp t abella Carmila that some ratbag burnt it down. All other Fuel & supplies an Frankfield Saltbush Pa ISLANDS am rk ttaburrafuel is at EaIlbilbie, stmere which is a short BROAD camping inDi the park is bush camping. The Mu closest Peak Downs SOUND SHOALWAT Saraji Camping isCork limited to a maximum of 22 drive from the park, but if you are leaving from ER BAY St Lawre nc Towns Dysart Morella e Bl air At nights in Cape Palmerston National Park. hol Rockhampton orAra Mackay it is advised to stock



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River of

Plenty The region surrounding Victoria’s Glenelg River is historical, beautiful and perfect for families. Words: Claudia Bouma Images: Chris Bouma

Boating is popular.


ll big rivers have small beginnings and Victoria’s largest waterway, the Glenelg, is no exception. The clear mountain stream starts its 400 kilometre-long journey high up in the Grampians before winding its way through the volcanic plains and the coastal hamlet of Nelson until it reaches the vast and unpredictable Southern Ocean. Lower Glenelg National Park protects a large section of the beautiful river, creating the ideal environment for fishing, boating, canoeing and swimming. Declared a national park in 1969, the 27,300 ha sanctuary is also a popular destination for bushwalkers and campers because it’s home to the acclaimed Great South West Walk and the famous Princess Margaret Rose Cave. Camping is on top of our list as we make our way to Pritchards campground, the largest in the park. Twenty sites are scattered along the tranquil river; some large enough for a caravan

and others suitable only for walk-in camping. If you book early, like we did, site sixteen is the ideal spot for a camper trailer as it’s spacious and provides some shade. The campground is deserted, which is one of the reasons why we travel outside of school holidays, but bear in mind that advance bookings are necessary for the summer and Easter breaks when families descend on the park to enjoy the many water-based activities. In the evening we wander down to one of the many jetties while the sun is going down. The water is perfectly still: the only sound is the clicking of Chris’ camera. Suddenly, he stops dead in his tracks and points at a dark shape emerging from under the jetty. At first I can’t make out the identity of this strange-looking creature until I realise I’m witnessing my first platypus sighting! Seven-year-old Shannon is just as excited as he’s never seen one either. The platypus doesn’t

seem in the least disturbed by our presence, continuing its search for food while we watch in awe. As we walk back to the tent, a couple of kangaroos jump away when we come too close and we hear the distinct growl of a koala, although we can’t locate it. The park is home to a healthy variety of wildlife, including possums, echidnas, wombats, emus and you might even come across a potoroo. The next day we head out to Nelson, the last town before the South Australian border, and an interesting place in more ways than one. The boathouses along the river are reminders of a bygone era, thanks to people like local Member of Parliament Denis Napthine, who lobbied for many years to guarantee the survival of the historical boatsheds. The concrete bridge is something we take for granted now, but until 1893 there was no easy way to cross the Glenelg River. In the early GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

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Clockwise from top left: Shannon on Nelson Beach just before sunset.  Admiring the glorious view.  G’day, Mr Platypus!  Our kids watch a school boating trip.

THE GREAT SOUTH WEST WALK days, teamsters had to negotiate a crossing at the river mouth that could only be attempted at low tide. The situation improved in the 1840s when Henry Kellett started operating a punt, but these crossings were not without risk. Several capsizes resulted in the loss of men, bullocks and horses. The first wooden bridge across the river was opened on 8 March 1893, which lasted for seventy years until the steel bridge was finished in 1963. The current bridge was opened on 21 September 1997, costing $4 million. The river is central to the Nelson community and has been part of many interesting events. One such event was Australia Day in 1954 when a pontoon carrying the highland pipes and drum band sank before the spectators; an unforgettable experience for those involved no doubt! A visit to any small town is not complete without a counter lunch at the local hotel. Built in 1848, Andrew Brown was the first to obtain a licence to operate the Nelson Hotel and more than 150 years later it still offers travellers lunches at an affordable price. The kids are itching to see the beach so we head five kilometres out of town to the parking area where the march flies attack us as soon as 28 |


we get out of the car. A short track across the dunes leads to the long-awaited beach, which is great for walking but not for swimming due to strong ocean currents. Any coastal community has its fair share of shipwreck stories and Nelson is no exception. The schooner Triumph left Port MacDonnell on 26 August 1874 bound for Adelaide but never arrived at its destination. In late October, police officers visited the area and found two masts and some spars on the beach south of the river mouth. Hull timbers and a stern board with the letters TRIUM were also picked up. No trace of the passengers and crew were ever found. After the kids had enough running, building sand castles and collecting shells, we make our way back to the car to check out the estuary beach a couple of kilometres down the road. A small bronze plaque relates the landing of Major Mitchell on 20 August 1836. He explored the Glenelg River by boat in search of a deep sea port. However, the shallow estuary was not deemed suitable so he returned to Dartmoor to continue his Victorian expedition. Next we drive out to the South Australian border to admire the surveyor’s monument depicting a theodolite (a measuring instrument)

Also known as ‘a symphony in four movements’, the Great South West Walk is one of the world’s great outdoor experiences. Beginning from the beautiful and historic city of Portland, you can follow a trek through vibrant native forests, along the majestic Glenelg River, hike in wonder along a beach continually being redrawn by a wild and untamed sea, and finally look back in awe at the mighty Southern Ocean from towering limestone cliffs. The 250-kilometre hike was initiated in the 1980s and is now well-known worldwide. Amazingly, it was built and is maintained by a tireless group of volunteers; Friends of the Great South West Walk. The entire walk can take up to twelve days or you can enjoy a number of shorter walks. A walking guide is available at Parks Victoria, the Nelson Visitor Information Centre or visit for more information.

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Clockwise from left: Kids in action on Nelson Beach.  Time to test out the 4WD.  Our campsite at Pritchards.

FACT FILE Getting there Lower Glenelg National Park is situated in Victoria’s south-west corner and adjoins the South Australian border, 420 km from Melbourne and 490 km from Adelaide.











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30 |

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and plumb bob. Unveiled in 2001, the monument commemorates the work of Henry Wade and Edward White who surveyed the border between South Australia and Victoria in the mid-1800s. After a quick break we head towards Princess Margaret Rose Cave, which is a must-see for anyone visiting the area. Tours are conducted daily providing the visitor with a memorable experience of this underground natural attraction. Princess Margaret Rose Cave also has a campground with seventeen unpowered sites in a tranquil bush setting. A short, but steep, walk down to the river is mandatory as this section of the Glenelg is one of the most spectacular. Sheer white limestone cliffs tower up to fifty metres above the water, casting a perfect reflection on the river’s surface. A boat ramp is the ideal place to launch a canoe and admire the cliffs up close. A twenty-minute bush walk, which starts near the kiosk, is an easy stroll past old cave entrances, which are fenced off, to a lookout perched high upon the cliffs affording spectacular views of the impressive river gorge. If you fancy a longer hike, consider doing the five-kilometre Lasletts Loop Walk, which is part of the Great South West Walk. The Great South West Walk is a 250-kilometre trek with Portland as its starting and finishing point. It was developed in the early 1980s and more than thirty years later is a popular destination with both Aussies and overseas visitors.

Where to camp There are numerous campgrounds to choose from, but Pritchards is the largest and most accessible (suitable for caravans). Fireplaces, toilets and water are available at all sites. Camping fees must be pre-booked and paid N E W nda u an The walk traverses a diverse landscape M before arrival, either online at Darnick Peterborough Oakbank Outsta Ivanhoe Coombah ranging from dense forests and the pristine tion Terowie ornanyah Lake Lake Mindona Moor Jamestown Popi ltah Lake Glenelg River to long stretches of beach and Mu lurulunote: over the phone 13 19Trav 63. Please Mt Bryan Lake Wil ellers Lake impressive rock formations. For this933reason it Poonca Canop you from rie us can no longer buy a permit Burra Canegrass is also called ‘a symphony in four movements’. the Nelson Visitor Information Centre.Garnpung Lake Lake Robert stown Nearby Discovery Bay Coastal Park is well Boree Pla Generators are Morga n Vict orianot permitted. Lake Mungo ins R Booliga worth exploring so we set out theRiverton next morning Waikerie RIVE Renmark Wentworth n la Merbein MI Kapundaleaving Barmera When to go LD UR eager to check out Lake Monibeong. After A ch Berri La Autumn goodRedfor camping and Loxton Meriis Cliffs ngur N ur the campground we turn left onto Nelson-Winnap Pitarpunga Lake io o t p a Swan Reach bushwalking as the temperature is mild.Balranald Maude Hay Robinvale Road before taking another left ontoMannu Nelson MU m Alawoona R RUM B Hatt ah Spring is a beautiful time of year, though Bridge waterRoad Peeb inga Road. (Keep an eye out for Bong Bong MALLEE Kulw in Manangis might be cool. Summer Karoonda the nights Unde atang rbool Ouyen Moulamein on the right—this is where the real fun Tailemstarts.) Lameroo Pinnaroo Bend great for Murra swimming but it can get hot.Nyah West Lake Tyrrell yville The dirt road meanders up and down through Lake W Swan Hill Alexandrina Patchewollock M large pine plantations until you pass a sign thatCoonalpyn Further information Sea Lake UR Wa koo l Hope toun Meningie R Lake Albacutya ham AY marks the beginning of the national park. Here Tintinara Nelson Information Centre:Woomelang KeraBar ng Rainbow M Birchip the track turns to sand and it is advisable to phone (08) 8738 Cohuna Lake 4051. Keith Hindmarsh Jeparit engage four-wheel-drive. Princess Margaret Rose Cave & Bordertown Nhill Echuca Num Warracknabeal Charlton Kya Soon we spot the freshwater lake and the Kaniva Campground complex: Donald Dimb oola Roc hester Padthaway WIMMERA Wedderburn St Arn large campground, which is a popular holiday aud Lacepede Bay Murwww. phoneGorok (08) 8738 toa Inglewood SHEPPAR e Hor sham4171 or Kingston SE Rushworth spot in summer. There is little shade but the BENDIGO Dunolly Edenhope lake is the perfect place to cool off andRobe a track V I C T O Portland Maritime Discovery Centre: Stawell phone Balmoral Castlemaine h Peno1800 to the ocean beach gives access to kilometres la 035Roc 567 or klands Ararat M a ry bo rou g Kyneton Reservoir R of unspoilt coastline. Unfortunately, there is no Kilm Beaufort Coleraine Willaura Daylesford Millice nt Casterton Dunkeld BA Mou nt LLA Gam RA bier T SUNBURY vehicle access to the beach. Lake Bonney Hamilton Cape Banks Lake Bolac Bacchus Marsh The rest of the day is spent back at camp Penshurst MELTO Derrinallum Port Macdonnell GEE LONG N Heywood Mortlake where we enjoy a refreshing swim in the river DISCOVERY Tera PORT Koroit ng Camperdown BAY PHILLIP and watch a group of teenagers launch their Winchelsea Portland d Bay ry C Cob den n i Colac a tla canoes. The kids wave at the boats that chug OL Por nt F Forrest an Cowes Poi BOPort Cam v M Y pbell past while keeping an eye out for the platypus, A Lorne ay e OT W NA P RR Apollo Bay Cape Otway which, surprisingly, turns up again. Really, Lower RN ll WA TE ES P h i W Lower Glenelg Glenelg National Park is the perfect touring on W National Park destination where river, bush and beach have something to offer to everyone.  Cape Wickh am


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Traditions & Turtles

Natural wonders and cultural traditions swim within the turquoise waters of World Heritage-listed Shark Bay, known as Gathaagudu or ‘two bays’ in the traditional Malgana language. Darren ‘Capes’ Capewell tells tour participants about green turtles in Big Lagoon, Francois Peron National Park.

Words & Images: Kara Murphy


tanding on the front section of my double kayak I dip one end of my paddle slowly and repeatedly into the shallow still waters of Big Lagoon, an inland bay and special purpose zone here in 52,500 hectare Francois Peron National Park on the northern tip of the Peron Peninsula. Using the kayak as a stand-up paddleboard gives me an excellent view of life beneath the water’s surface; every minute or so I spot another ray swimming gracefully and then, as it notices one of the three kayaks in our party, dart away. Twenty metres to my right a green turtle surfaces to breathe. However, rather than call out in excitement as I’d normally do, I suppress my enthusiasm and quietly pretend I didn’t see it. Why remain silent upon sighting my favourite marine animal in the world? My tour guide, Darren ‘Capes’ Capewell, has instructed us to look out for this endangered species but not just so we can take a photo as it swims past. Capes has told us he plans to catch one, and I want no part of that. Capes, owner/operator of Wula Guda Nyinda Eco Adventures, is a descendant of the local

Malgana and Nhanda people—two of three Aboriginal language groups in the Shark Bay or Gathaagudu (‘two bays’) area, which spans 2.2 million hectares of coastline, water, and islands in Western Australia. The Malgana people are traditional owners of the central Shark Bay area, while people on the coast from southern Shark Bay to Kalbarri traditionally spoke the Nhanda language. His company’s name, a term for the sharing of stories, means ‘you come this way’, and his tours (four-wheel-drive, kayaking, bushwalking and overnighters) aim to foster an understanding of the region’s land, wildlife, stories, and traditions. At the beginning of our full-day kayaking, snorkelling and four-wheel-drive tour, Capes explains that he aims to properly introduce us to this spiritually significant place, a place Aboriginal people have inhabited for some 30,000 years. ‘Many people come to Shark Bay and they see it but don’t feel it,’ he says. Using his hands for emphasis, he communicates that visitors might feel they know it in their heads, but not in their hearts.

And this, for me, is probably true. Having arrived only a couple of days ago, I’m aware of this enormous area’s World Heritage listing but haven’t yet had a chance to properly fall in love with it. To be inscribed on the list, an area must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one of ten selection criteria (six cultural and four natural) set by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Shark Bay satisfies all four natural criteria— natural beauty, ecological processes, Earth’s history, and biological diversity. As Capes drives us nineteen kilometres through the national park, the beauty I’ve witnessed elsewhere on the peninsula becomes even more pronounced. The deep ochre dirt road slices through mellow green shrubs while, in the distance, Big Lagoon’s turquoise waters rest calmly beneath vibrant red cliffs. Reminders of the other natural criteria have also been evident, both on this tour and in the days leading up to it. At an overlook near the town of Denham, Capes paused his vehicle, and we gazed westward over wind-stirred waters towards the distant rise of 63,000 hectare Dirk Hartog Island (Wirruwana), Western Australia’s largest GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

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Clockwise from top left: Kayakers pause to look out over Big Lagoon in Francois Peron National Park.  Emus are a common sight in Shark Bay, even wandering around the Monkey Mia campsites.  Capes, the owner/operator of Wula Guda Nyinda Eco Adventures, reduces tyre pressure before driving in Francois Peron National Park.

island and also a national park within the World Heritage area. Thanks to the meeting of temperate and tropical waters, Shark Bay has twelve of the world’s sixty species of seagrass as well as the largest seagrass bed in the world—the 1030 square kilometre Wooramel Bank, which stretches 130 kilometres along the area’s eastern perimeter from Gladstone to Carnarvon. Some species rely on these seagrasses for food, and by now, late April, many of the area’s 12,000 to 14,000 endangered dugongs (ten percent of the world’s population) have moved to the warmer waters and seagrass beds near Dirk Hartog as well as Bernier and Dorre Islands, to the north. Imagining dugongs’ odd bodies and comical ‘smiles’, I suddenly wished I’d planned this trip for summer, when they frequent meadows a bit more accessible to my intended route. Shark Bay’s seagrasses don’t just sustain mythical mermaids. They trap sediments, forming banks and sills that affect tidal flow and, combined with high evaporation rates, create areas of concentrated salinity. The Hamelin Pool, for example, along the peninsula’s south-eastern side, has waters with twice the salinity of the ocean. This environment has helped certain salt32 |


tolerant species—the tiny cockleshell, for example —flourish and has helped create stromatolites, rock-like structures built by microbes and similar to life forms found on Earth 3.5 billion years ago. On my first evening in Shark Bay I observed these living fossils from a boardwalk. Reading the interpretive signs, I grasped their significance in Earth’s evolutionary history, but still walked away with much to learn. Fortunately, Fervor, a pop-up degustation restaurant touring along the Coral Coast, happened to be entertaining at Hamelin Station, my base for the evening. So, over bush lime pearl-decorated gin and tonics and fried saltbush (a local plant), I had a chance to chat with scientists that had been studying the stromatolites for the past couple of months. Hamelin Pool is huge, they explained, and the stromatolites visible from the boardwalk pale in comparison to some of the magnificent structures elsewhere in the pool. (Which I won’t see in person as pool access is off-limits to the general public.) The scientists’ passion for these ancient structures (known as ‘elders’ to the area’s traditional owners, says Capes) was infectious; after all, these life forms were responsible for releasing increasing amounts of oxygen into the atmosphere, thus allowing for the eventual development of higher

life forms like fish and, sometime later, people. Fairly significant stuff, really. Still, when I mentioned to the lead scientist that I didn’t think I could get quite as excited about viewing ancient structures as I could about viewing turtles, she nodded and smiled. Given the abundance of seagrass, Shark Bay is a good place to do just that—and particularly from a kayak. After my initial turtle sighting on Big Lagoon, maybe five minutes pass before Capes spots another one and paddles ferociously towards it and the water’s edge. Abandoning his kayak, he bounds through the thigh-deep water, but the turtle (buyungurra) evades him. A few more quick paddles from atop his kayak though and Capes is once again running through the water. He captures the turtle in seconds and holds it above the water as it flaps its flippers in desperation. Placing the beautiful creature on the end of his sunshine-coloured kayak, one hand gently upon the creature’s near-flawless carapace, Capes motions us over for a closer look. My fellow tour participants, both from overseas, seem intrigued, but the turtle, its head resting upon the kayak, does not. As part of the Native Title Act, 1993, traditional landowners are permitted to hunt protected species such as turtles and dugongs (wuthuga). Capes has already told us how delicious green turtles are (particularly the green fat, he adds, which is how the species gets its name) and, after watching him chase the turtle, I can imagine that for him they’re fairly easy targets. Perhaps the turtle has observed his mates being hunted and is unsure of his imminent fate or maybe he senses from Capes’ tender touch that he’s likely to live another day. Either way, when Capes places him in the water he’s understandably anxious to swim as far away from us as possible. And so, as much as I enjoy paddling peacefully through Big Lagoon, the sun warming my skin from its home in the wide blue sky as I observe more turtles, small sharks and rays flee from us, the turtle chase and temporary capture disturbs me. I’ve never seen anyone do this before or listened to anyone tell me how tasty they are. I feel a deep sense of connection to this species and, while I understand that native title allows for hunting them as traditional food, the thought saddens me. As part of the tour we also watch as Capes enters a cormorant (wanamarlu) nesting area to try and find some eggs (a local delicacy). He returns empty-handed as they haven’t laid their eggs quite yet, but not before thousands of birds retreat further into the trees. This is a tour that exposes its participants to new things and whether the experience is positive or negative probably depends on the individual. For me, it heightened my awareness of a couple of traditional cultural practices and challenged me to maintain an open mind. Capes’

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Orleans Farms

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Mount Barker

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GEOGRAPH E BA Y raliste Cape Natu orough Dunsb ault Cape Clair


Lake Dundas

Lake Hope


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Lake Noond Youangarra

Lake Throssell

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Bandya Lake Darlot


Ida Valley


Lake Wells

Wonganoo Albion Downs



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Lake Carnegie



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Hill Tallering 443



Lake Breade


Lake Way

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eerie Mt Barlow 428 t New Fores Lake Nerra



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To check the touring schedule for Fervor, a pop-up degustation restaurant focussing on locally-sourced produce, visit

Peak Hill RO B Rive I N S O N R A S r



Neds Creek Lake Lake Gregory Nabberu









Eurardy Statio Kalbarri

Mt Essendon 910



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Three Rivers


Moorarie Outstation Mount Hale



Nerren Nerre




Trilbar River


Tabletop 427


Bulloo Downs

Woodlands River

Mount Clere


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Lake Auld

Blanche Lake



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Balfour Downs

Mt Newman 1057 Newman


Lake Dora

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Mount Augus


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Turee Creek

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Further information Wula Guda Nyinda (www.wulaguda. offers Shark Bay’s only guided kayaking and snorkelling tour. Full-day tours run from about 10.00 am–6.30 pm.


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Roadhouse Wyloo Nanutarra


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Mt Goldsworthy 122



■ Be sure to visit Monkey Mia’s beaches before 7.00 am and after the 7.45 am dolphin interaction has finished: seeing dolphins hunting fish close to shore is more rewarding. De Grey



East H Reef

Reef West Holothuria

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Cape Frey

34 |

Cartier Islet



Francois Peron National Park has remote coastal campsites at Big Lagoon,



Ashmore Reef

E ■ Bring yourC kayak or stand-up O paddleboard and mask/snorkel to Shark Bay if possible.

When to go Shark Bay’s average temperatures range from 23°C in winter to 33°C in summer. July is the coolest, wettest month, and February is the hottest. If you plan to sail, windsurf or paraglide consider aiming for October to April, when intense southerly winds prevail. If you want to see dugongs, visit Monkey Mia in summer; in winter, dugongs tend to congregate near Dirk Hartog Island.

For information on Shark Bay World Heritage Area and other area attractions, visit and

Hibernia Reef



Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort Caravan Park has unpowered campsites and powered van bays. Facilities include an amenities block, laundry, kitchen, BBQs, a pool, tennis court and endless emu sightings. Phone 1800 653 611 or book online at



Where to camp Hamelin Station Stay has unpowered campsites in a natural bush environment; rooms and units are also available. Facilities include a large communal kitchen and dining area, modern amenities block, laundry and BBQs. Pick up all food supplies in Carnarvon. Phone (08) 9948 5145 or book online at www.hamelinstationstay.

Tips ■ Spend a night at Hamelin Station so you can see the sunset over the stromatolites.

d Sun

Getting there Hamelin Station is 560 km south of Exmouth via the North West Coastal Highway and Denham-Hamlin Road. To continue to the Francois Peron National Park entrance station, follow the latter road for 128 km to Denham and turn right on Monkey Mia Road. The park entrance is 4 km east of Denham; Monkey Mia is a further 21 km.

Gregories, South Gregories, Bottle Bay and Herald Bight. Facilities are limited: all have toilets and some have gas BBQs. You’ll need a high-clearance 4WD to reach all these sites. Bring all fresh water and supplies and take all rubbish with you. Sites are first come, first served. park/francois-peron



dugongs and turtles—Capes takes about two dugongs per year. The thought still makes me squeamish, particularly since we’re talking about a couple of adorable endangered species, but I’m glad to know the limits exist. Just before 4.00 pm, we return to the Big Lagoon car park, near a basic campsite. While a couple of small boats process their own rewards, Capes cooks up the bluebone fish he’s caught today as well as some tasty Shark Bay mullet (mulgarda), which we enjoy while watching the afternoon light change perspective over the water. Following a dip in Peron Homestead’s hot tub, which is heated by artesian bore water, we’ll return to our respective campsites; Monkey Mia, for me, where I’ll wander along the shoreline, watching wild Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins hunt fish as pelicans follow their every move, hoping for a snack. I haven’t spent long enough in Shark Bay to truly carry it in my heart, but certain aspects of it scrape at a part of me that requires a contemplation of elements of our country and natural world I’d never experienced before. 


From top to bottom: The dirt road through Francois Peron National Park towards Big Lagoon is beautiful.  Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins hunt just offshore at Monkey Mia.

interactions with turtles and dugongs aren’t limited to hunting after all. In addition to his guiding and involvement in developing and promoting Indigenous tourism, he sits on the Board of the Shark Bay World Heritage Committee and is an active director with the Yadgalah Corporation, which represents descendants of the Yadgalah people, who form one group of the Malgana people. The corporation has worked with the WA Department of Environment and Conservation on a number of projects, including a pilot study for tagging loggerhead turtles and an award-winning dugong research program, which has studied breeding and foraging behaviour, interaction with predators such as tiger sharks, and migratory movements within the area. Using a handling protocol to minimise stress to the animal, Capes has assisted with capturing dugongs in the water and equipping them with a GPS tracking tag above the fluke; the resulting knowledge about dugong ecology has enabled the Aboriginal community to hunt in a sustainable manner. For example, Capes explains that members of his community limit their take of







Chilling out at

Chinamans Words: Miriam Blaker


t sounds like something out of a Road Runner cartoon; Bereep-bereep, now known as Mt Cole, was once home to the Beeripmo balug tribe before it became a timber harvesting area. Bereep-bereep meant ‘wild’ and Beeripmo meant ‘wild mount’. The area definitely has some wild tracks, though I’m not sure this is what was meant. Timber harvesting began in the state forest during the mid-1840s and by 1889 demand from the nearby goldfields towns for firewood and building materials led to thirty mills operating in the region until 1904. In 1918, the Forest Commission was established and soon after Mount Cole State Forest was closed for timber harvesting. Today, the only timber harvesting done is by campers that collect the forest litter for chilly nights around the campfire and to cook over bush barbeques. Tucked into a forested creek valley below the Mt Cole plateau Chinamans campground is perfect. It’s located just off the main Mount Cole Road, easily accessed and yet still feeling decidedly remote. Mt Cole is a bit of a hidden gem in Victoria. The area straddles the Great Dividing Range some twenty kilometres east of Ararat and the adjoining Langi Ghiran State Park and has tracks that would thrill the most die-hard off-

road enthusiast. Best of all, it’s less than two hours from Melbourne travelling via the small town of Beaufort; a great place to stock up on supplies and pick up local maps from the friendly visitor information centre. Mount Cole State Forest has some fantastic campgrounds. Whilst some of the smaller ones are only suitable for tents, such as Ben Nevis and Mugwamp (sounding like something out of a Harry Potter movie), there are others like Richards, Smith’s Bridge, Ditchfields and Chinamans that are suitable for camper trailers. Our destination was Chinamans campground, about twenty-five kilometres north-east of Beaufort, turning off towards Warrak. On the way we passed Mount Langi Vineyard set amongst a spectacular mountainous backdrop and, knowing the reputation of the wines, I made a mental note to self: ‘Convince the other half to return sometime over the weekend for a tasting!’ Chinamans has spacious level sites, some with seating, fireplaces, water, pit toilets and a stone shelter shed complete with fireplace inside. Nearby, there were horse yards, which made our teenage daughter nostalgic for her horse. We reminded her that it would have been difficult towing both the camper trailer and horse float simultaneously! The state forest is

Huddling together against the chilly wind and looking out onto the vast plains. Photo: Doug Blaker. GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

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Clockwise from top left: Enjoying dinner and drinks at our tranquil campsite.  Beautiful waterfalls nature walk in the state park.  On the way to Chinamans with Mt Langi in the background. All photos: Miriam Blaker.

a popular place for horse riders, so look out for them when on the tracks—along with log trucks and kangaroos, which are in abundance. Mt Cole is a walker’s paradise whether you prefer a short bushwalk or an overnight hike. The tracks vary from the 1.8-kilometre Grevillia, to the Beeripmo, which is a 21-kilometre or two-day trek touted as a good one for beginner backpackers. The walk starts off from the Richards campground winding through a myriad of vegetation and changing landscapes. The trail begins gently and climbs quickly as the landscape changes from woodlands to ferns and moss-coloured rocks. The trail continues to Cave Hill where the forest begins to change from tall eucalypts to more sub-alpine vegetation. Walkers can camp at Beeripmo campground, a gorgeous campsite amongst tree ferns and only accessible by walkers; a true reward for those that take this trek. The track then climbs to Mugwamp Hill for breathtaking views across to Mt Langi Ghiran and the Grampians before heading down again. For those that prefer something shorter, the five-kilometre Borella Walk starts at Chinamans and goes to Ben Nevis. We saw the signs from our campground, but decided that we’d let the Colorado do the work as we planned to explore some off-road tracks along the way. So, on our second day with low temperatures and a high windchill factor predicted, we headed off towards the Ben Nevis fire tower. As we climbed up along the Mount Cole Road and turned onto Ben Nevis Road, the temperature dropped and by the time we got to the top it was freezing—and spectacular. The cliff faces at Ben Nevis are popular with hang glider pilots and rock 36 |


climbers and offer three distinct challenges: Red Rocks, North Cliff and Centre Cliff. There is a small area at the base of the tower with a hut, barbeque, table, pit toilet and room to pitch a tent. Inside the hut we were surprised to find a roaring fire. Campers had obviously spent the night and had left the fire burning for other walkers to enjoy; lucky us. The cosy hut was a welcome respite and difficult to leave. Not long after leaving Ben Nevis we took a right-hand turn to check out Red Rocks, a favourite place for hang gliders. There was no one to watch flying off the cliff, but nevertheless we walked out on the sheer rock face (very carefully) to enjoy spectacular views across to the volcanic plains of the Western District, the Grampians and Mount Langi Ghiran right through to the Pyrenees ranges. Coming down the mountain, we took a righthand turn off Ben Nevis Road onto Telephone Track and this is where the excitement factor ramped up a notch. Telephone Track is steep and very rough; a sheer two-kilometre drop downhill that leads virtually straight down to our campground. It was probably the slowest descent we’ve ever done. With big ruts and big rocks it’s a track best taken at a crawl. That afternoon we ventured into the adjoining Buangor State Park located about twenty kilometres west of Beaufort and accessed via Ferntree Gully Road from the Western Highway. The mountain itself (the highest in the area) is decorated with snow gums and looms majestically over the surrounding area. A web of walking tracks is strung between the park’s camping areas; walks such as Two Mile Circuit Walk, the six-kilometre Middle Creek

Walk (which starts from the Middle Creek or Ferntree Visitor areas) and the Waterfalls Nature Walk. This walk is nestled in a beautiful forest setting and begins in the Ferntree Picnic area. The track weaves through lush ferns and over bridges before descending to the beautiful falls. It’s definitely worth a visit. On our third day we drove to nearby Mount Langi Ghiran located between Ararat and Beaufort on the Western Highway. The mountain is an imposing sight from the highway and as we neared we saw wedge-tailed eagles circling as well as hundreds of wind turbines. The region has a number of wind farms including the Challicum Hills Wind Farm, which generates enough clean electricity to supply approximately 26,000 homes each year. Within Langi Ghiran State Park, the 6.3-kilometre one-way Langi Ghiran track leads to a picnic and camping area where there’s a track to access the Reservoir Track along Easter Creek. It’s definitely worth a drive to the main reservoir where we took the four-wheel-drive track that leads to the site of a stone water race. This old channel once carried the Ararat water supply to an amazing pipeline that still delivers water by gravity from Ararat Reservoir nine kilometres away to the west. It’s an interesting area to explore with a scenic lookout close by. On the way out of the park, following the Langi Ghiran track from the campground for about 5.5 kilometres, we stopped to have a look at the La Ne Jeering rock-art site. The Aboriginal rock art sits within a granite rock boulder and is a sacred site of the Djab Wurrung people. The walk there is easy and takes about thirty minutes.

In the bush, sometimes the stars are on the ground as well.

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On leaving Mount Langi Ghiran our plan was to venture through the state forest and check out some of the other tracks and campgrounds. However, we got thoroughly lost and ended up in Elmhurst! It turned out to be a good detour for a late lunch as we Harry our dog enjoyed the camping. Photo: Miriam Blaker. discovered a new recreation area and facilities available to the public. A new amenities block, hot showers, flushing toilets—just a shame we didn’t have our towels! On the last day I got my wish and we visited the vineyards of Mount Langi Ghiran nestled at the base of a 540-metre mountain cliff face. It’s an impressive drive to the vineyard and the Getting there wines are even more so. We tried many, including To get to Mount Cole State Forest take the Western Highway to Beaufort, a $100, award-winning shiraz, but didn’t over which is approximately 160 km from Melbourne. From Beaufort indulge as we had more off-road driving planned travel west on the highway through Buangor, turning right at the Warrak turn-off for the afternoon. (Buangor-Ben Nevis Road). Travel 12 km to Warrak. Turn right, after 4 km take the Leaving the vineyard, we had plans to left fork to Chinamans campground. visit Victoria Mill and check out Mugwamp campground, however much of the signage in the Where to camp forest seemed to have disappeared so it proved Mount Cole State Forest has four main campgrounds that are suitable for camper trailers: to be a challenge. Many parts of the forest contain Ditchfields, Richards, Smith’s Bridge and Chinamans. Campsites are free and on a firstold logging tracks and are so rugged they are come-first-served basis. Chinamans has pit toilets, fire places, water (untreated water) unsigned and not shown on any maps. and shelter. Drinking water is required in all campgrounds. Dogs are allowed in the state a d n We took a right-handnuturn up Sandy Pinch forest and firewood is allowed to be cut and collected. a M reasonable condition Track, which started in Darnick Petersteep, boroughrough but soon turned rocky. Ivanhoe Oakband Coo When ank Outs mbah to go tationWe M Terow oo La ie rn ke an Mi yah Lasomething Mount Hope ona season having eventuallyJame found Mill and the remote ke All year round is good withndeach to offer: stowVictoria n Pop iltah Lake Trida Mugwamp camp, Mulurulu Lake Mtboth Bryanbeautiful places to pitch Sept – Nov: Spring waterfalls, good bushwalking weather, abounds Traflowers, Willawildlife ndra vellers La ke 933 a tent, pull out a thermos and savour the sounds CreRoto Poonca rie ek and nights may still be cold. Cano pus of nature. Going back, we passed wallabies and Burra Canegrass Lake Cargel kangaroos and one roo decided it would escort Ga rn March – April: Great time for camping and bushwalking, pung Lake although streams may be dry. r us all the way to Victoria Mill as he wouldn’t leave Lake ive Hillston Lake Ballyrogan B Robertstown Winter to early November): Many ofBothe ree tracks Morgan Plains might be seasonallyRclosed. Victor(June the track in front of us. Naradhan ia La ke M Un R Check with Parks Victoria on 13 19 63. ungo Rankins E Bo Wai On our last night we felt as though we were oli keri ga e l We V ntworth Riverton I Springs n the only ones in the entire forest. This isR an RenmarkSummer: Warmer for camping and star gazing, most streams lare a dry, flies Goolgmay owi be a Merbein MILDU and fly tent. Kapunda with secluded Barmeracamps ch adventurer’s paradise Berri nuisance, take the repellent RA La and some 250N kilometres of forest tracks. Red Cliffs Loxton Meringur Yenda ur io Pitarp Beaufort is the closest town forun supplies food, information ga Lake and has fuel, Ma Swa n Reac o t p aof places Barm There’s no shortage toh explore; udesupermarkets, an G riffith Ha y centre and most services. The Beaufort market is held on the first Rob Balranald M invale Community DaSaturday rlington whether on horseback, motorbike, four-wheelMannum URR Alawoona of each month. Hattah Point Ard UM BIDG EE drive or onBrid foot.gew  ater Pee binga Leeton MALLEE RIV C Kul win Colea mbally ER Manangatang Further Karoonda Ouyen Underbool information Moulamein Narrandera RI Pinn VE Tailem aro o RI N A The Beaufort Visitor Information Centre is at 72 Neill Street, Beaufort. Lameroo Coolamon Bend Nyah West Murrayville Lake Tyrrell Enjoying an easy Lak walke to the La Ne Jeering Wanganella Ck Open 7 days from 9.00 am – 5.00 pm. Telephone: (03) 5349 1180. co Sw n an rock Ale art. xan Photo: Miriam Blaker. Hill Patchewollock drina Ya M Jerilderie Lockhart UR Email: Sea Lake Coonalpyn W ak oo l Hopetoun Meningie R Ur an a Deniliquin Oaklands Lake Albacutya Barha m AY Woomelang Tintinara Visit Kerang for more information on the area. He Fin Rainbow ley Culcairn Mathoura To Berrigan Birchip Mount Cole State Forest: Cohuna cu m Lak w e al Keith a Hindmarsh Cobram Jeparit wa g ong Mount Langi Ghiran winery: raw Coro owlon r Nu Bordertown a mu Nhill rkah H Y Echuca Wa rra cknabeal Charlton ALB Kyabram Ruth ergl en Kaniva Donald Dimboola Ro chester Padthaway WODONGA Lak WIMMERA We dde rburn St Arnaud O Lacepede Bay Murtoa Goroke Horsham Inglewood SHEPPAR ratta vens BeechworthTa Kingston SE a Rushworth TON g n Naracoorte Wa BenMalyrlatleMfoourdnt BENDIGO Dunolly Beauty Euroa Edenhope Mount Cole State Forest Robe M St Br aw ig ht ell Balmoral Castlemaine Hotham Height 19 h Penola g s Se u Rocklands ym our Mansfiel Ararat M a ry bo ro Kyneton Reservoir Om Lake Mdt Bu R Ale Kil xa m nd or e ra Cas Be Ei Col tert au era ldon1805 ller Wi on Da for ine llaura t ylesford Millicent Dunkeld G R E AT BALLARAT SUNB Mount Ga DIVID Lake Bonney mbier Hamilton URY tbridge s r u Ba H cc Darg hu Cape Ban ks H s ealesville Marsh Lake Bolac Warburton Penshurst M Derrinallum EL TO Bru Port Macdonnell GEE LONG N Heywood Mortlake Bairnsda Pa ke DISCOVERY Ter nham PORT Koroit ang Camperdown Maf BAY PHILLIP Drouairnragul fra Paynesvi Winchelsea y a Portland d B W Cranb y Cobden ourne M Colac L air t lan Sal La O tF oe Por n i Fo Traralgon e O rre st an Cowes Po B y v M Port Campbell orwell et Leonga thM A Y Lorne ay e a in OT W NA N R 38 | G O C A M P I N G A U S T R A L I A Fo P ster Yarra R Apollo Bay N m Cape Otway WA E R il l ST h E t P W v Corne n











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National Park Words & Images: Dennis Hayes

Southern Lost City lookout.


immen National Park on the western side of the Gulf of Carpentaria in the Northern Territory is one of Australia’s newest national parks. Although first proposed in 1996, formalisation of the park was not completed until June 2012. The park encompasses 12,000 square kilometres and takes in the St Vidgeon, Nathan and Billengarah Ranges. The Savannah Way bisects the park from Cape Crawford in the south to Roper Bar in the north. There remain several mining exploration leases within the park’s boundaries and there’s a haul road through the park to the port at Bingbing. Savannah actually describes a type of Australian vegetation and definitely does not mean a road of tar and cement! Depending on the time of your visit, drivers will encounter mud, dust, corrugations, rocks, washouts, deep creek crossings and soft sand in the 340-kilometre trek through the park. Careful dirt driving and a high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle is strongly advised. Limmen National Park complements the Limmen Marine Park and both protect the environmental diversity across the entire region. Senior Ranger at Limmen Ranger station, Stuart Woerle, explained to us that the park plays a pivotal role in protecting and displaying the diverse

habitats of the Gulf environment. From the inland wetlands, with its aquatic birdlife, and rangelands to the coastal fringes and marine habitats, this national park is a wonderful representation of the environmental aspects of the entire Gulf of Carpentaria region. The European settlement of the region followed explorer Ludwig Leichhardt’s expeditions of 1845 where he named the Limmen Bight and river after one of his ships. His party then crossed the Roper River at the site where the community of Roper Bar is today. Limmen’s ranger station is the site where early cattleman John Costello set up one of the first of the Northern Territory’s cattle camps at ‘Valley of the Springs’ in the 1880s. Aboriginal history of the Gulf region predates European occupation by thousands of years with the Mara people calling the Butterfly Falls area home and the Yanula, Alawa, Gurdanji and Binbinga people also having strong connections to the Limmen region. Although Woerle believes Indigenous art sites throughout the park are limited because of the harsh living conditions in the inland environment that meant the people moved to and from the inland to the more benign coastal fringes during long dry spells. Woerle says that in the early stages of the park’s development the majority of visitors travelling through the park were anglers. However,

as the popularity of the park increases, he says, more visitors are seeking out the diverse remote camping and sight-seeing opportunities. However, many travellers simply see the route as a means of traversing the Savannah Way and don’t allow time to camp in the national park and truly experience the region’s many fantastic features. Butterfly Falls campground in the park’s southern region is a highlight for many visitors and is one of the more popular camping sites. It is the only site for safe swimming in the park. Although it’s a permanent waterhole, by the end of the dry season it does cease flowing and the water quality deteriorates. In May, the sight of thousands of the common crow (or oleander) butterfly descending upon the cool rock face was a spectacular experience. Butterfly Falls is an idyllic oasis under the myriad of colours of the towering arid sandstone cliffs with Archer fish, striped and sooty grunter, catfish, long toms and perch all tasty morsels for the elusive and threatened Merten’s water monitor. The Southern Lost City is definitely one of the ‘must see’ places in the park with its ancient 1500-million-year-old sandstone pillars being the remains of an ancient sea floor uprising towering over the surrounding savannah plains. An afternoon 2.5-kilometre walk amongst the sandstone pillars is breathtaking. Waking up to GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

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Clockwise from top left: The Southern Lost City campground.  Boats at Limmen Bight fishing camp.  The Savannah Way at Limmen Bight River.  Southern Lost City sunrise taken from the start of the walk at the campground.

the golden glow of the pillars at sunrise is well worth the effort and provides some spectacular photo opportunities. The Western Lost City, which includes an Aboriginal rock art site, remained closed during my visit due to the flooded black soil roads. This spot features a 300-metre walk and short climb to views over the O’Keefe Valley. It’s usually only open later in the dry season and requires an access key from the ranger station for a limited period until the onset of the next wet season rains. The two accessible lost cities are only two of many that are scattered across the Top End. Most are located in remote and inaccessible regions. The onset of the wet season rains also herald the possible closure of the entire park. Visitors are advised to take extreme caution if travelling between October and April. The optimum time to visit is May through to September. This timing will vary from year to year depending on the extent of the wet season. Visitors wishing to see the park at its most vibrant should aim to visit as early as possible once the roads are open. Outside of these periods, not only the possibility of rain can cause problems, but also extreme heat makes walking uncomfortable. 40 |


Limmen Bight fishing camp, a basic bush camp with limited facilities along four kilometres of the Limmen Bight River just outside the national park, is a popular destination for travellers whose main aim is to land that once-in-a-lifetime barra. At the northern end of the park along the Roper River there are four camping areas. The newest is Munbililla (Tomato Island), which includes a boat-ramp access. These camping sites, although included in the national park, are leased on a concessional arrangement. The newly developed Munbililla campground is the only camp in the park to provide hot showers, water and flushing toilets. Visitors travelling through the park are advised to carry their own drinking water, although water can be obtained at the many creek or river crossings early in the dry. Water availability later in the season is unreliable. All other campgrounds throughout the park only have basic toilet facilities. Camping areas along the Savannah Way currently include the Southern Lost City, Butterfly Falls, Limmen Bight River and the Towns River campground. Travellers must also carry their own fuel, as there is none between Cape Crawford and Roper Bar. As for long-term future development plans for the park, Ranger Woerle says there are many

options under consideration, but how and if they proceed will depend upon finances and the finalising of appropriate approval processes between government and the relevant Aboriginal groups, including the development of and opening up of some traditional cultural sites. The Darwin bushwalking club, in conjunction with the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, are currently negotiating to develop a two-night, thirty-kilometre walk through the park. More walks, and the possibility of opening up tracks through the Tawallah and Costello Ranges, are also under consideration. Woerle believes the development of a number of proposed bird hides and picnic areas across the numerous permanent or semi-permanent wetland areas scattered across the park will open up visitor opportunities to experience Limmen National Park to its full potential. Because the Western Lost City is proving a popular destination, the development of a camping area along the access road may be another option. However, any or all of the proposals are not definite and visitors are encouraged to check out road conditions online or with local authorities prior to embarking on their journey. 

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FACT FILE Getting there The park is situated in the Gulf region about 275 km south-east of Katherine and 65 km from Borroloola. It can be accessed from the Stuart Highway via the Roper Highway (turn off 10 km south of Mataranka), or via the Carpentaria Highway that runs through the Gulf region from the Highway Inn (near Daly Waters) into Queensland. All roads within the park are unsealed and can be closed due to seasonal flooding.

From top to bottom: The mailbox at Nathan River Ranger Station.  Waterfall and pool at Butterfly Falls.  Common crow butterflies.  Water lillies on a wetland billabong.

Where to camp Short-term camping areas are provided at Towns River, Butterfly Falls, Limmen Bight River, Southern Lost City and Munbililla. Limmen Bight fishing camp (out of the park) is also popular. Swimming The rivers and creeks in the park are inhabited by saltwater crocodiles and the only safe swimming spot is at Butterfly Falls, although this is not suitable towards the end of the dry season. Services Visitors to the park need to be self-sufficient with food, fuel and drinking water. Campfires Campfires are permitted in the park, although it is recommended that fallen timber be collected on the way to the camping area. Chainsaws are not permitted. Generators You can use a generator but it must be turned off by 8.30 pm. When to visit May to September. (April and October depending on seasonal conditions.) Further information Parks and Wildlife Commission NT: Ph. 08 8975 9940 (park access information)


ARAFURA SEA Road conditions Ph. 1800 246 199 or Cape Croker Croker Island

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– Waa Gorge It’s definitely worth the effort. Words: Richard Kemp Images: Carol Kemp


his fiery landscape is a contrast between deep oranges and reds of the towering gorge and the soothing greens of the creek below... NSW National Parks. We were returning from a camping trip with friends to Gundabooka National Park via Bourke and, after a five-hour drive and an Aboriginalguided visit en route to the legendary fish traps at Brewarrina, we decided to stopover at Moree. The plan was to visit the Waa Gorge the following day as we had previously camped at Mount Kaputar National Park but had missed a visit to the gorge and we really wanted to complete our experience of the area. Waa Gorge is in the far north of Mount Kaputar National Park and can be accessed from Narrabri, Moree and Bingara. Up early, we freshened with a swim in the forty-degree waters of the Moree artesian pools before heading south through harvested cotton and wheat fields to the park. We passed through the Terri Hie Hie Aboriginal Area, which was once an important ceremonial and gathering place for the traditional Kamilaroi Aboriginal People. The area includes at least 240 axe-grinding grooves and the remains of a corroboree ground, a bora, several carved trees, scarred trees, and two Aboriginal cemeteries. Shortly after leaving Terri Hie Hie, the bitumen gives way to dirt and there are fine views of the mountains with the dominating Mount Waa forming a backdrop to the grazing land we drive through. We navigated a number of chained gates as we passed local homesteads and farm buildings, then it was through the official park gates and just a couple of kilometres to the parking area. Here there is a picnic area nestled into the bush at the base of Mount Waa. It has picnic shelters, a fire ring and a toilet. Mount Waa and the Waa Gorge are volcanic plugs and the adjacent rocks are volcanic flows 44 |


and ash, the results of geological activity over several million years. Both are a work in progress as they continue to wear down with infinite progression caused by torrential downpours and extremes of heating by day and cooling by night. The first half hour of the 2.5 hour return Waa Gorge Walk follows an easy formed track to the dark plunge pools of Mill-bullah Waterholes, (meaning ‘two eyes’) in the creek bed. The deep rock-walled pools, carved from solid rock, were formed by boulders, pebbles and stones caught in whirlpools under extreme pressure during heavy rain events. For the Kamilaroi people, these natural water tanks provided water; food in the form of fish, yabbies and crayfish; and attracted game that was hunted for food. Leaving the pools, you enter the Grattai Wilderness area where the track is less defined but still identifiable. It’s easy to get disorientated in the gorge, so pay close attention to where the creek enters. Climb the rocky hill on the left bank of the creek and on descent see the smooth polished arc of the rock that forms the creek bed at the top of the pools. Proceeding up the creek to the gorge, proper, yellow-coloured rugged cliff walls rise high on each side; a forerunner of what lies ahead. After negotiating creek crossings and fallen trees in the creek bed, there is no doubting that you’ve reached the gorge itself. Its vertical 100-metre-tall craggy orange and red walls on both sides and its wide, smooth, dark, giant slippery-slide rock bed provide a unique vista. A steepish scramble up a rocky bed leads to another level. We lunched in the gorge to take in the view until it was time to retrace our steps down the creek bed to the carpark; less effort on the return trip! We paused once more above the Mill-bullah pools to contemplate their beauty. Sure, it’s a bit of a hike and a scramble, but well worth the effort. 

THE NANDEWAR RANGES AND MOUNT KAPUTAR NATIONAL PARK Steven Booby, Aboriginal Site Officer, Cultural Heritage, Narrabri, who has responsibility for Mount Kaputar National Park says: ‘Certain areas within the Nandewar Ranges and the Mount Kaputar National Park are considered to be very special, sacred places to the tribal groups of the Gamilaraay Nation. In our cultural beliefs, the height of the ranges bring us closer to Baayami (Baiame – god) and Birrangulu (One Wife of Baayami/Baiame – goddess), to Gunagala (Balima – heaven), to our Marangalgaa (ancestors). By continuing our cultural practices and associations in areas such as the Nandewars and Kaputar, we strengthen and renew our connections and belonging to our creation, to our law, to our land, to our past, to our present and to our future. The sacredness behind some of these cultural beliefs and practices are safeguarded by cultural protocols and is only shared with men and women who have earned the privilege of that knowledge.’

Main: The magnificent Mount Kaputar National Park. Clockwise from top left: Mount Waa is seen in the distance.  The Mill-bullah Waterholes.  Helen is just a dot in the presence of the towering gorge walls.  The track beside the creek is less defined, but identifiable.

FACT FILE Getting there From Narrabri travel north along the Newell Highway towards Moree. Turn right into Killarney Gap Road, (Bingara Road). After about 21 km turn left onto Melburra Road (SR3 to Terri Hie Hie). After approximately 30 km you’ll reach a T-junction. Turn right on Allambie Road to Waa Gorge. From Moree travel east on the Gwydir Highway towards Warialda. After 6.2 km turn right to Terri Hie Hie. Travel about 35 km through Terri Hie Hie and take the left fork through the Berrygil portion of Terri Hie Hie Aboriginal Area. Travel 14 km and turn left onto Allambie Road. Allambie Road is dry weather access only and passes through private property. Travel 6.5 km to the park entrance. The Waa Gorge carpark and picnic area is a further 1.5 km.

Where to camp There is no camping in Waa Gorge. On Mount Kaputar, there are two sites: Bark Hut Campground half way up the mountain, 15 sites. Marvellous lookout to the west a few hundred metres from camp. Picnic tables, wood barbeques, BYO wood, drinking water, hot showers and flush toilets. Dawsons Spring Campground on the plateau just past the Mount Kaputar summit. Picnic tables, gas/electric barbeques (free), wood barbeques, BYO wood, non-flush toilets, hot showers, amenities block, untreated drinking water.

When to go Camping is good in all seasons although it can be cool in the winter. Summer can be very warm and possibly too hot for the gorge walk on some days.

Things to do and see Mungindi Art Festival Moree Plains Gallery featuring its Kamilaroi Artists exhibition Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre In addition to the spectacular views from the heights of the park, other special attractions are at the level of the plains. The soaring walls of the pentagonal basalt organ pipes at Sawn Rocks are easily accessible from the Narrabri/Bingara road after a short walk from the carpark.

Further information NSW NPWS for information and campsite bookings: www.environment.nsw. Narrabri Shire Tourism: Moree Tourism: The Kamilaroi People: Kamilaroi


| 45

Rocking the Wheatbelt At first glance there doesn’t seem much to entice a visitor to Meckering in Western Australia’s Central Wheatbelt district. But don’t put it in the ‘blink and miss it’ file, because this tiny farming town is the site of one of Australia’s biggest earthquakes and a gateway to a fascinating slice of history.

Words: Peta Murray


ulling off the Great Eastern Highway into the small country township of Meckering you see a service station, a general store, a school and get the feeling that this sleepy little place hasn’t seen much action in a while. But rewind the clock forty-six years and this quiet community was front row and centre to a whole lot of action; the devastating seismic action that put Meckering firmly on the map. Established in 1887 as a wheat-growing district, Meckering derives its name from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘moon on water’, a fitting moniker for these serene farmlands set between the major centres of Perth and Kalgoorlie. On the morning of Monday, 14 October 1968, even the promise of a public holiday didn’t rouse much excitement in Meckering and, apart from 46 |


reports by a local farmer who claimed to witness strange behaviour in his sheep, there was nothing to herald the disaster about to unfold. At 10.58 am, an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale shook the district for a terrifying forty seconds. One of the largest earthquakes recorded in Australia, the seismic shock was estimated to be ten times that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and reduced sixty buildings, comprising the entire town of Meckering and its outlying homesteads, to rubble in under a minute. Rail lines buckled under the impact, the Goldfields water pipeline burst and, according to witnesses, people were literally ‘flung through the air’. A resident of nearby Cunderdin was reportedly the closest to the fault line at the time of the quake and remembers the road rising 2.5 metres in front of

his car, while another driver, coming in the opposite direction, swerved to avoid the buckling bitumen and crashed into a tree breaking his arm. In all, twenty people were injured but, miraculously, no one was killed despite the quake being felt over a 700-kilometre radius as far afield as Geraldton to the north-west and Albany to the south. In Perth, more than one hundred kilometres away, the earthquake lasted twenty-four seconds, causing tall buildings to sway, the cross from the city’s cathedral to topple, and one lane of a major freeway to close. Aftershocks continued to rattle Meckering for weeks as local schoolchildren attended a makeshift classroom at the showground and church-goers held Sunday services in a tent. But, despite the devastation, legend suggests there were some light-hearted moments in post-

Clockwise from far left:  View from Cunderdin Hill Lookout. Photo: Peta Murray.  The Golden Pipeline devastated in the 1968 earthquake. Photo: Tourism WA.  Farmlands of the Central Wheatbelt. Photo: Tourism WA.  Earthquake memorabilia. Photo: Peta Murray.  Stopover and step back in time on the Great Eastern Highway. Photo: Tourism WA.

earthquake Meckering. The town publican, after watching his pub levelled in a cloud of dust, sifted through the debris and, in true entrepreneurial style, set up a new bar across the road, aptly naming it the ‘Quake Arms Hotel’! Local policeman Constable Skehan also retained his sense of humour, posting a summons to resident Don Casey, whose truck was flattened under the brunt of the pub, for the charge of ‘overloading’. Many residents, unable to return to their homes and livelihoods, left the township and moved elsewhere, leaving present-day Meckering with a population of 150, roughly half the number of residents living there in 1968. While the town itself has been rebuilt on a site south-west of the original township, various historical sites around the area have been preserved. A section of fault scarp, ten kilometres GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

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For a more hands-on experience, head twentyMeadow two kilometres along the Great Eastern Highway to Tamala n the Cunderdin Museum where a simulator recreatesNerren Nerre the frightening intensity of a 6.9 earthquakeStain tion Eurardy rri a 1960s mock-up living room. Once aKalbasteam Yow Tallering 443 Lake Noond Aja na goo Ida Valley Lak pumping station, the museum is also home to an NorthamptonCunderdinYalMuseum is open 10.00 am– e Youangarra Cashmere Pindar Downs Wydgee Mullewa impressive collection of antiques, memorabilia and 4.00 pm daily. Phone (08) 9635 1291 or e rle Kooky Lake Ba Group bi lla Wa Canna an visit vintage farm machinery from the area. Houtm Pindabunna TON Lake Ballard ngers os GE RALD t I Menzies Minge new Morawa MoLake Abrolh Pelsaer Riverina To put history into perspective, take a stroll Dongara TheThrEttamogah Cunderdin: ee re M oo one kilometre up to Cunderdin Hill Lookout, just Springs Carnamah phone (08) 9635 1777. Lake Ora Banda eabba Coorow Buntine south of the main street, for sweeping views of LeemaEnn Wubin u llin h Dalwa Lake Debora Beacon Mt Burges k East 554 Bonnie Roc rah Kalannie the surrounding farmlands. And, after working up Wa theroo Miling Koolyanobbing Lake Debost y We Jurien Ba Ballidu cubbin Seabrook Coolgardi e Ben Lak Cadoux Mukinbudin s nte rva Ce a thirst, you can brush up on a little more local an s Koorda Moora Bullfinch Danda rag Wongan Hill Meckering ing Tra yning rn Cross Cowcow kes Nungarin Southe Yellowdine Widg La knowledge over a cold beer or meal at the iconic Ne w Norcia Marvel Loc h hem atc Bodallin in alk Wy Lancel in ng rred alli Me om Go Bolga rt Ettamogah Pub (just look for the bright red roof). Gingin Muntadgin Cunderdin Toodya y Kellerberrin Yanche p k Northam Bruce Roc While surviving one of the largest earthquakes Two Rocks Wundowie O O La Narembeen Quairading WANNER H York Mundaring Avo in Australia has left an indelible mark on this closePt IslEanRdT Lake Hyden n n verley rigi Be Cor es Rottn E TL d for AN By M on R FRE Kwinana Brookt Peak Ch Kondinin Jarrahdale knit community, rural life has settled back to its Kulin Lake Tay Pingelly AM ROCKINGH H Wickepin p RA inin King ngu e DU Dud elli Lak unhurried pace. There hasn’t been much action in Dw AN n M Pinjarra Boddingtogin Lake Grace Newdegate Narro Wa roona L Grace g Yarloop Williams Dumbleyun Meckering for almost five decades now. And that’s Kukerin South Lake Ravensthorpe Harvey Magenta Darkan Wa gin Junction Nyabing Munglinu Collie Brunswick Wooda nilling just how the locals like it.  RY BUNBU ok


48 |


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south of the town centre, demonstrates the dramatic fracturing of the land at the quake’s epicentre. The Earthquake Gazebo displays the damaged Golden Pipeline, a section of buckled rail line and other memorabilia while The Big Camera Museum showcases historical photographs of the fateful day and The Meckering Memorial Rose Garden honours the volunteer efforts of locals who rebuilt the town. However, to capture a true sense of the devastation, visit the Meckering earthquake farm ruins known as ‘Salisbury’; an old stonewall homestead two kilometres north of Meckering. Home to the Snooke family, the farmhouse was reduced to a pile of crumpled brick and metal on that ominous morning in mid-October. A heavilypregnant Mrs Snooke, outside at the clothesline when the quake struck, climbed through a window to rescue her 17-month-old daughter from the collapsed nursery. A hand-written sign amidst the rubble indicates where the baby’s cot stood, eerie testament to the terror of the quake.


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| 49

Nulla Nulla Farm Retreat Words: Danielle Harvey


s the sun sets to the west, the pink and grey galahs chatter and the sky turns an interesting mix of purple, pink and red. ‘Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight,’ the old folk saying goes. For wheat and sheep farmer, Ron Goodhill, red sky at night means he has something to offer tourists; an amazing sunset and the farm experience. After being knocked around by consecutive years of unusually dry seasons and poor livestock prices, Ron and partner Laura started to consider alternative income options for this second generation farm; and Nulla Nulla Farm Retreat was born. ‘It was a nice distraction and something else to think about other than the poor state of farming,” says Ron of the process of setting up the farm stay. ‘And there is so much here to offer. The ancient 50 |


rocks, the pristine bush, native animals, farm animals. Why not share it?’ Being close to the Great Eastern Highway also adds to the appeal. Only seven kilometres from the town of Moorine Rock in the eastern wheatbelt district of Western Australia, Nulla Nulla Farm Retreat is just a five-minute drive off the main highway into the state and easily accessible for anyone heading east or west. Guests have access to a three bedroom farmhouse with two double bedrooms and a third room with two single beds, all with linen, towels and electric blankets supplied. There is a fully equipped kitchen and included in the cost of accommodation is everything you need to cook up a true country-sized breakfast. Bacon, eggs, bread, milk and cereal—it’s all there! The accommodation also includes a dining room, a comfortable living room, shower and bath, separate toilet and laundry facilities. For those hot summer

days there is airconditioning, and a wood fire, with firewood supplied, for those chilly winter months. Ron is currently in the process of setting up two eco-tents to be used by guests that are looking for a more ‘back to nature’ experience. Or, if you’re travelling past, there’s camping options and caravans are welcome. There are no powered sites, but Ron and Laura are happy to show you several hand-picked camping spots that overlook paddocks or ones at the base of the nearby granite rocks. There is a new ablution block and water is available from the homestead to fill tanks or jerry cans. The only conditions for camping are that you take your rubbish out and respect the environment. After settling into your accommodation you can go and explore the 600 acres of pristine bushland and ancient rocks. Ron and Laura are happy to show you around their property or you

Clockwise from top left: Harvest time on the farm. Photo: Ron Goodhill.  A beautiful sunset in the Yilgarn. Photo: Ron Goodhill.  Admire the colours of the Yilgarn. Photo: Ron Goodhill.  There’s lots of farm animals to help feed. Photo: Danielle Harvey.  One of the lovely rooms at the farm stay house. Photo: Danielle Harvey.  Exploring the granite rocks. Photo: Ron Goodhill.  Farm implements from a bygone era. Photo: Danielle Harvey.

are welcome to explore the rocks and walk trails at your own pace. There is an abundance of native shrubs, wildflowers and orchids during the cooler spring months and heaps of birds, wildlife and reptiles along the way if you are quiet enough. The farm’s granite rocks make for great tadpole hunts during winter when the rocky pools of water fill up with frogs and tadpoles. Then in summer, kids can give chase to the zippy little lizards as they dart across the warm rocks in front of you. When you’ve had your fill of nature and native wildlife it’s time to help feed the pet lambs and chickens and maybe get to see some shearing or walk across the gypsum lake or check out the old farm machinery from eras gone by. For dinner there’s an outside cooking option to crank up the gas barbeque and relax to watch the sunset while the sausages are cooking and you enjoy a nice cold beer. And, if you’re not in

the mood for cooking, pop into the local pub. The Moorine Rock Hotel offers true country hospitality plus cold beer and meals! If you are looking for something a little more fast-paced than farm life, then take time to visit the historical town of Southern Cross. Only a twenty-minute drive from Nulla Nulla Farm Retreat, Southern Cross is the major town centre of the Shire of Yilgarn, which also includes the towns of Bodallin, Bullfinch, Ghooli, Koolyanobbing, Marvel Loch and Yellowdine. The Yilgarn History Museum gives an insight into the early beginnings of the shire and how the two major industries, agriculture and mining, have influenced the area. So whether it is a long weekend away from the hustle and bustle of city living or a stopover for a night, the peace and tranquillity of Nulla Nulla Farm Retreat is well worth the visit. 

FACT FILE Getting there Nulla Nulla Farm Retreat is a working farm property located just five minutes’ (7 km) drive south of Moorine Rock off the Great Eastern Highway, along Moorine South Road. Phone (08) 9049 8010 or Ron on 0428 498 010 or visit www.nullanullafarmretreat. For caravan sites and camping, contact Ron for further information. For more information on surrounding tourist attractions visit


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– the lucky land Words: Peter ‘Spida’ Everitt

Sunrise, Wilpena Pound. Photo: Anthology Travel and SATC.


n e o f A u s t r a l i a’s g r e a t e s t fascinations is, of course, the unexpected. We are the lucky country. Not too many places in the world can you see so many ever-changing landscapes by simply driving from place to place with the caravan in tow or the camping gear packed in the back. We have travelled thousands of kilometres from state to state keeping one eye open in anticipation of what’s next to come. Therefore, the most difficult decision when travelling this great land is what to see or where to go next. This is what brought us to the Flinders Ranges, the largest mountain range in South Australia. The Flinders Ranges is great all year round, but many say the best time to visit is from late autumn until about early October. (Spring is 52 |


also rewarding with the most brilliant display of wildflowers.) The Ranges begin approximately 200 kilometres north-west of Adelaide and stretch for a whopping 430 kilometres. We started our Flinders Ranges journey in the small Outback town of Hawker. The main industries around here are tourism and sheep, although it’s hard yakka farming with the low stocking rate at about one sheep to every four hectares. However, in saying that, it’s a pleasant small town with a fantastic caravan park to either kick start your Flinders Ranges journey or use as a home base while you travel in, around, up and down this iconic South Australian region. Hawker was a thriving railway town on the famous Ghan railway line from the 1880s to about 1956 until the route was moved further

west when the line was upgraded. Today, you can see what it was like all those years ago by visiting the museum. And, with the consistency of the afternoon heat, be sure to rehydrate with a cold ale from the local Hawker Hotel; it’s an awesome little Outback pub. Also, while in Hawker take a look inside the Jeff Morgan Gallery. Local Hawker artist Jeff Morgan’s Wilpena Panorama painting can be viewed from the ground floor or from the staircase landing. It’s a complete 360 degree view of Wilpena Pound; a painting that is absolutely amazing! Hawker is fifty-five kilometres south of Wilpena Pound, which is the pinnacle of the Flinders Ranges, being a unique dish-shaped range of hills covering nearly eighty square kilometres.

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Clockwise from top left: A view from the top.  The Amorak didn’t miss a beat.  Sunrise over the campsite.  The area is arid and beautiful. Photos: Sheree and Spida Everitt.

We take off for a few days of camping, hiking and four-wheel-driving along a self-guided trek in the hope of making it through to Arkaroola. The first stop is Wilpena Pound and a walk from the information centre to the highest peak, St Mary Peak, which sits at 1170 metres. St Mary Peak is surrounded by a band of steep cliffs that rim the valley. Most tourists enter Wilpena Pound on day walks, but there are also some good overnight walks. The most popular, yet far from the easiest, is a circuit to the Peak. The navigation is easy, but the heat can be challenging so make sure you take plenty of water and go well-equipped for the elements. The walk is along a well-used track, but it has a very steep climb to a lot of amazing lookouts. As you walk, storyboards tell of the local history and are well worth reading. There is the old cottage, farm machinery and plenty of seats to stop and rest on. The difficult climb is well worth the 360 degree view of one of the most spectacular lookouts we have ever seen. The Flinders Ranges offers many hiking and driving options; The Heysen Trail and Mawson Trail stretch for several hundred kilometres along 54 |


the Ranges with long distance tracks for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. Always seek information about what is and isn’t allowed to be taken into the area because this is a highly protected national park. One self-drive journey, which comes very highly recommended, is the Skytrek journey, one of the Flinders Ranges’ most popular fourwheel-drive trips. If you’re like me and fly by the seat of your pants at times and your holiday partner has little faith in your true ability (when you have all the faith in the world), this is a great option. Armed with a self-guiding map, this tour was going to be an awesome experience, not a guessing game. Marked on the map is everything needed; from all the Aboriginal etchings, natural springs, historic pastoral points of interest and distances. Nevertheless, no matter what the extent and detail of the map, it’s what you find and see for yourself that makes the Skytrek so unforgettable. The ‘trek’ takes approximately six hours and passes windmills and mustering yards, but it’s the river red gum creeks and the beautiful black

oak over open rocky plains that make for ooh-aah moments as the four-wheel-drive climbs up the seemingly endless mountain range. Our next port of call is the famous Arkaroola. When talking rugged mountains, towering granite peaks, magnificent gorges and mysterious waterholes, this is one of Australia’s iconic destinations that I’ve always wanted to tick off my wish list. Arkaroola is home to the endangered Yellowfooted Rock-wallaby and more than 150 bird species, which makes it a mecca for bushwalkers and four-wheel-drive enthusiasts. The spectacular 4WD Ridgetop Tour is literally world-famous. It goes to the depths of ancient seabeds, across razorback ridges and the peaks of the Flinders Ranges’ most rugged mountains, to the magnificent climax at Sillers Lookout. Flinders Ranges is a place you may only visit once in a lifetime, but it’s by far a place you will never forget. Yes indeed, Australia is one of the most diverse and magical places on Earth and Flinders Ranges is a perfect example. 

Clockwise from top: The Flinders Ranges.  Spida after conquering the trek.  Wilpena Pound Station.  At the top, put your name in the box to confirm you reached it! Photos: Sheree and Spida Everitt.

FLINDERS RANGES TRAVEL TIPS & FAST FACTS Travel Tips ■ Always let someone know your travel plans ■ Take plenty of water as it can get very hot ■ Make sure your vehicle is well-equipped

Fast Facts ■ The Flinders Ranges is the largest mountain range in South Australia Watch The Great Australian Doorstep TV Show Saturdays @ 5.00pm on Channel 7Two nationwide or tune into our radio show every Sunday morning 7.00-8.00am AEST & 6.00am QLD/WA, 38 Southern Cross Austereo stations Australia-wide.

■ There are no dingoes in the Flinders Ranges


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Duned or

doomed? Five sins on the sand Words: Heather Grant-Campbell Images: Danielle Lancaster

Driving along Australia’s beautiful and remote beaches is often a holiday highlight.


riving along some of Australia’s magnificent and remote beaches makes for a holiday highlight. But as beaches become sandy highways, the very environment four-wheel-drive enthusiasts yearn to explore is threatened as Heather Grant-Campbell finds.

DID YOU KNOW? Cable Beach in Western Australia closes to four-wheel-drives from 8.00 pm until 6.00 am during the nesting season of the threatened flatback turtle (October through to the end of February). Vehicles are also banned two hours either side of the high tide when it is 9m or greater.

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Sun, sea and sand. Those three words together conjure up Australia’s favourite recreational backdrop: the beach. Contrary to popular belief, beaches are not marine deserts or sandy wastelands separating land from sea. They teem with life (and not just people crammed like sardines on Bondi or Surfers Paradise on a hot summer’s day). In our efforts to ‘get away from it all’—especially those crowds— increasing numbers of campers, anglers and beachcombers make their seaside escape via off-road vehicles. A growing body of scientific research, however, shows our love affair with the beach is killing these finely balanced ecosystems. Here are the prime off-road offences.

is trampled, the dunes become destabilised: exposed parts of the ridge are more easily blown away, redeposited in blow-outs that can keep migrating inland unless vegetation is re-established (or sand runs out). Dr Thomas Schlacher from the University of the Sunshine Coast points to World Heritagelisted Fraser Island with its 124 kilometres of ocean-exposed beaches, ninety-eight percent of them open to vehicle traffic. Schlacher says the 235 tracks cut across dunes on the island have effectively destroyed one-fifth of the foredune frontage. ‘Because foredunes are the first line of defence against storms, such vehicle-induced damage exacerbates erosion and shoreline retreat.’

#1 Blowin’ in the wind Coastal sand dunes are, by nature, dynamic and changing. The building blocks of a dune system are its salt-resistant grasses. They keep the sand from drying out and being blown away and provide habitat for birds, lizards and insects to live, eat and nest. Yet a single vehicle pass can cause lasting damage. The University of Western Australia’s Dr Ian Eliot says when a foredune’s vegetation

#2 Driving through flocks of resting birds It looks like a lark. A flock of birds clustered on the beach. What harm could it do to set the cat among the pigeons, so to speak, and scatter them? Plenty, according to a mountain of scientific research. Ballina-based Australian Seabird Rescue’s Kathrina Southwell explains: ‘Resting shorebirds migrate from the Northern Hemisphere to spend

Stick to established access tracks on dunes to minimise damage to habitats.

to dig their way to the surface because of the compacted sand. Likewise, it can be easy to miss bird nests nestled on the ground, camouflaged by grasses, when you’re driving across a dune.

the summer months in Australia. They need to rest as the tide rises to build up energy for the journey thousands of kilometres to their breeding grounds. Disturbances stop that rest and strength gaining. They may not build up the body weight to migrate—some of these birds already are listed as critically endangered. A South Australian government report recently recommended a legislated ban on all off-road vehicles from Gulf St Vincent beaches to protect sandpipers, curlews, oystercatchers, greenshanks and other shorebirds. Report author Chris Purnell wrote: ‘The disturbance [from noisy vehicles] is almost the same as a total habitat loss for these birds. They are on constant lookout.’

#3 What nest? Turtles and birds nest in the sand: turtles generally just above the high tide mark. Turtles bury their eggs under the sand, as both a form of protection from predators and temperature control and with as many as 100 eggs in a nest, that’s quite a nursery. Sand compression from tyres can crunch those nests. If some eggs withstand the crush, hatchlings may be buried alive, unable

#4 Invisible road kill The beach ahead looks clear. The destination beckons and there’s no-one and nothing in sight. Drive on… Invisible to most beachgoers are dozens of invertebrate animal species: worms, crabs, clams and snails among them, that live buried in the sand. Are they safe? Schlacher’s research findings are grim. On North Stradbroke Island he measured the kill rate of ghost crabs and found that ten vehicle passes resulted in one-hundred percent mortality for crabs in shallow burrows (5cm) and thirty percent (at 20cm) when run-over. Surf clams fared better with more natural protection from their shells: still, one in five was fatally crushed. In another study, on Noosa North Shore, Schlacher compared 3600 core samples of sand from the popular four-wheel-drive beach to two nearby car-free beaches. ‘Nine out of ten samples that we took on this beach had no fauna whatsoever. They were devoid of life,’ he says. But why, if these creatures are so tiny, is their demise significant? Schlacher explains: ‘Invertebrates are important in the recycling of nutrients and break down stranded algae, seagrass and animal carcasses.’ They’re also part of nature’s food chain; food for fish and birds. Their demise could play a part in poor fish numbers. #5 Rutted What do tyre tracks in the sand mean to you? That you’re not Robinson Crusoe; that your bit of paradise has already been discovered? Tim Austin from the University of Sydney’s School of Geoscience found that sand compacted in tracks could not be blown up as readily by wind to replenish dunes. That’s not the only problem though. While tyre ruts may not seem deep, they can be insurmountable barriers to turtle hatchlings trying to make their perilous journey to the water’s edge. And they’re not alone in feeling that the Great Wall of China has been plonked in front of them. ‘Often pied oystercatcher chicks will sit in the wheel ruts from a previous vehicle’s tracks on the beach and

the next vehicle that follows the same track will not see the chick hiding,’ says Australian Seabird Rescue’s Kathrina Southwell.

Making amends Some environmentalists would welcome a blanket ban on off-road vehicles on beaches— and it has happened in other parts of the world. Southwell, however, says public awareness of preferred driving practices and the impacts of dune bashing does make a difference; something she’s seen in the past decade around Lennox Head in New South Wales. Here’s how you can enjoy your beach and be kinder to it too: 1. Never park on sand dunes. 2. Only ever use established vehicle access routes onto the beach. 3. Keep to the hard sand below the high tide mark to minimise impact on dunes and beach. 4. Drive with care near the water. Vulnerable shellfish beds tend to be found there. 5. Drive around flocks of birds. They are resting to build strength for long journeys. 

DID YOU KNOW? Beach driving and dune bashing was banned in South Africa in 2001. Off-road enthusiasts were outraged. The government has not waivered, saying the restriction has had a positive impact on the nation’s coastal ecology. Meanwhile beach driving is prohibited on the majority of turtle nesting beaches in the south-eastern United States by law, regulation, management plan or agreement. Florida’s Dayton Beach is an exception. Famous for its hard, sandy, white strip, it’s now zoned with restrictions based not just on wildlife, tides and daylight, but pedestrian and sunbathing densities too.


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The boys loved crossing King Edward River.

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THE OTHER WOMAN I’ve been a happily married man for more than ten years, so I never imagined that I could fall so helplessly in love with another woman. Words & Images: Luke Perrier


e are five months into our ‘Doin’ the Block’ trip and have seen some of the most spectacular places that Australia has to offer, but none have come close to the incredible beauty of my new love: the Kimberley. Stretching from Derby in the west to Kununurra on the Northern Territory border, and from the pristine waters of the Timor Sea in the north, to the unique Bungle Bungles in the south, this is Mother Nature’s wild beauty at its best. Originally, we only planned to dip our toes into the east and west ends of the iconic Gibb River Road that traverses the Kimberley, having been scared off by the myths of the razor sharp rocks that inflict countless flat tyres on those game enough to challenge it. We tested the water by nervously driving the first 150 kilometres from Derby to Windjana Gorge like we were in a haunted house; tiptoeing along

the road, which was great, but waiting for it to reveal some nasty surprises. Two easy hours later and we’d set up camp with the towering walls of Windjana looming over us. The next morning we walked to the end of the gorge spotting crocodiles and other amazing wildlife along the way and eventually resting in the shade for morning tea where I touted the idea of actually tackling The Gibb. We were amazed by what we had seen so far and, from chatting with other campers, this appeared to be only the beginning of the wonders yet to be revealed, and the myth of the road was just that; a myth. By that afternoon we had done some research and made the decision to travel in, what I now regard to be, the most incredible part of Australia. People have written books on the Kimberley so it is unnecessary and not practical to give a detailed tour in this short article, but hopefully

you’ll be able to sense the affection I felt as I looked deep into her soul over the two-week tour. So, what is it about the Kimberley that made me fall head over heels in love? There is no doubt that the scenery is spectacular with the Cockburn Ranges, Mitchell Falls, Bell Gorge and phenomenal Aboriginal art sites, but having seen many other magnificent places like the Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon or the Swiss Alps there was something more—her beauty is more than skin deep. The Kimberley is one of the last great frontiers of Australia, with only a handful of million-acre cattle properties covering the 660-kilometre stretch of the Gibb. There is hardly a fence to be seen and many of the cattle have never seen a human, let alone been mustered into yards! I have always had a tremendous respect for the early explorers and pioneers and this was about as close as I would ever get to the experiences they had. The books that I like tend to romanticise our pioneers and I couldn’t help but have a sense of what they saw and felt, even if it was from the comfort of my air conditioned ute! There are two types of people that frequent areas like this: tourists, like us, and locals. The locals, bar none, are some of the most amazing people we met on our trip. Maybe it is a

Kimberley landmarks not to be missed: n

Bell Gorge – A great view from the top and even better one from the bottom! Take swimmers and lunch and stay for the day!


Mitchell Plateau – It’s a long, bumpy drive, but well worth it.

n n

Little Mertens Falls Mitchell Falls

Aboriginal rock art sites at Little Mertens Falls and King Edward River.


The lookout on the western side of the Pentecost River looking over the Cockburn Range.


Find a secluded spot; we had Adcock Gorge all to ourselves.


El Questro


Zebedee Hot Springs


Saddleback Ridge at dusk


El Questro Gorge

So much more!

The Pentecost River with the Cockburn Ranges in the background.


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Clockwise from top left: Zebedee Hot Springs at El Questro is great for a weary body.  Testing Izzy out on some of El Questro’s 4WD tracks.  Little Mertens Falls was great for a swim.  The neighbours made us a damper with syrup for dessert.  Some of the oldest known paintings in the world near King Edward River.

prerequisite for a person to decide to live in such an isolated place, where for nearly half the year they are stuck in one place due to the wet. From the Imintji store, to Drysdale River Station, through to El Questro, there was something special about the locals that made you feel that extra bit welcome; like you’re visiting a childhood friend. The other amazing group of people are the tourists. Whether it’s because all of us are ‘crazy’ enough to tackle the Gibb, or because we’re all isolated from the rest of the ‘world’ for a while; whatever it is, people seem to experience a change of outlook on life. I have heard that some families have to plan to turn off technology to reconnect. But there is no need to think about it out here as the Kimberley is the land technology forgot! No phones, no internet, no anything! Instead, each night is spent around the ‘bush TV’ (aka the camp fire), cooking damper and sharing stories and songs. We met a number of families along the way that started out as strangers, but finished up being friends, I am sure, for many years to come. I’ve observed that much of Australia has become homogenous: from town to town, house to house, there isn’t much that separates or identifies us as being different to one another. The Kimberley is certainly one place that has managed to avoid the tragedy of trendy pink shirts and grey leather ties to maintain its own personality and integrity. 60 |


She is what she is! In many ways humans have dominated nature; building bridges and tunnels over harbours, we can drive or fly almost anywhere, even into space. But this last great area remains herself; untamed by man or beast. I have always wanted to sail a small boat beyond the horizon to experience the feeling of vulnerability; knowing that I was under the total control of nature. The Kimberley is as close as I have ever come to experiencing that feeling; and it permeated me and influenced my outlook. As a family I found we relaxed more and forgot to worry about the little things that we so often got hung up on. Sam and Jack roamed freely, reminding me of my childhood. They chased goannas and built huts instead of running races or reaching new levels on their iPods! As it transpired, we spent two weeks traversing the Gibb instead of a couple of days. And the Isuzu ute and Montana caravan both received five stars for their performance. While the road isn’t as challenging as I had imagined, it is still not for the faint-hearted as there are plenty of corrugations to loosen the tightest bolt and, by the end of it, river crossings were no longer a novelty! However, the beauty of this magnificent lady cannot be easily understood. Like a teenage boy daydreaming about his first love, I know I will spend countless hours thinking about her—until we meet again! 

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Get Off Road with Phil


Driving Techniques Words & Images: Phil Bianchi

Always check a water crossing before driving through.


riving in on dirt roads with ruts, washouts, rocky areas, bulldust, mud and corrugations scares many four-wheel-drive travellers. Some outback gravel roads receive regular grading while others, such as the Anne Beadell Highway or Canning Stock Route, haven’t had a grader over them since construction or are self-made roads so there is gradual, long-term deterioration in road surface. Beware of road surface advice from fellow travellers. I can’t remember how many times my experience of a road surface is completely different from what I was told by a traveller. A few years back we were about to drive the Tanami Track from Halls Creek to Alice Springs and were told it was the worst and roughest road in Australia and they would never again drive it. When we got to Alice we were still looking for the rough bits! By all means take advice on board, but form your own opinion because one person’s idea of an easy or difficult to traverse road can be completely different from that of another.

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Dirt Roads In Australia it’s impossible to avoid dirt roads if you want to tour the back blocks. Using commonsense you should have nothing to fear when driving on them. Dirt road driving tips: ■ Reduce tyre pressure at least 4–6 psi and reduce speed as well. ■ Stay in the defined wheel tracks and avoid the soft or loose gravel. ■ Be prepared for the unexpected, such as dips, ruts, washaways, rocky areas and poor road camber on corners. ■ Always assume a vehicle is coming the other way, especially on hill crests. ■ If you’re in a convoy, stay back out of the dust to improve visibility and not clog your air cleaner. ■ Engage 4WD or stability control to improve traction and safety. ■ Have the headlights on to warn approaching vehicles. ■ Slow down when approaching animals.

■ Slow down or stop for oncoming vehicles, especially trucks with dust clouds. ■ Slow down when going through a floodway or dip because this improves vehicle control and reduces the risk of tyre impact fracture damage. ■ Keep the airconditioner on and switch it to fresh; this will help eliminate dust entry or keep it to a minimum.

Corrugations Driving on teeth-rattling corrugations would have to be one of the most unpleasant aspects of four-wheel-driving. You’ve got nowhere to go to get around them and the corrugations seem endless. The cause of corrugations is often disputed; I, however, feel that hard tyres and excessive speed are the main culprits. Some say increase your speed so that you skim over the top of the corrugations and you won’t feel the bumps. This practice is dangerous because you can easily lose control of your

For your nearest retailer contact 07 3865 9999 | GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

vehicle resulting in a crash or roll over. It also tortures your vehicle’s suspension and tyres; shock absorber failure in the back blocks can result in an expensive airlift of parts to your remote location. Also, don’t leave home if you have any suspect components on your vehicle such as exhaust systems, clamps, brackets, battery cradles, roof racks, fuel lines and so on. Corrugations will find any weakness and break or destroy components. You may be good at twitching with fencing wire, but that only goes so far. Wouldn’t it be better to make sure all fittings are up to scratch and bolts tightened before you leave home? You know the score; ‘A stitch in time...’ Reduce tyre pressures. Trial and error is the only way to find a satisfactory pressure, but don’t be frightened to go down to 25 psi. On one trip down the Canning I started at one end with pressures of 20 and 24 psi and left them there for the whole three-week traverse. Think of your tyre as a balloon, a soft balloon will spread over an obstacle, like a corrugation, more easily that a harder one. It is also more difficult to puncture.

Rocky areas, washouts and ruts Again, lower your tyre pressures to reduce puncture risk; softer tyres reduce: ■ Wheel spin and provide more traction. ■ Flicking rocks backwards into the vehicle’s undercarriage causing damage. ■ The risk of impact punctures. When dealing with steep ruts, rocky areas or washouts you may need to go into low-range and crawl over obstacles; always keeping your vehicle on the higher ground by straddling holes or deep wheel ruts. For deep washouts you should always get out of your vehicle and check if it is possible to cross and to choose the best line. You may need to shovel away some of the steeper banks to reduce the risk of scraping the vehicle’s undercarriage or being hung up. Also a spotter guiding you through the obstacle is a very good idea. Bulldust Bulldust is a fine talcum powder-like dust that appears to act like water when it runs down the windscreen. It often occurs when boggy areas dry up and vehicle traffic breaks up the track. Driving through bulldust at speed is dangerous because you don’t know how deep it is or if there are any hidden obstacles such as rocks or logs. Bulldust will readily clog air cleaners so regular checks may be required.

Counterclockwise from left: A threatening sky means washouts, water crossings and mud.  Make sure your vehicle is in good condition and you have the appropriate safety and rescue equipment when driving off-road.  This is the country we enjoy to explore.  Mud caked on the tyre—I detest it with a passion!  Choose your driving line carefully.

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Water crossings Water crossings, especially deeper ones, are probably the scariest type of driving that will be encountered by most off-road drivers. In magazines or on the internet you may have seen vehicles ploughing through water with it rushing over the bonnet and in some cases over the windscreen. These vehicles have been specially prepared with radiator blinds, snorkels, raised diff breathers and so forth. If you are an inexperienced off-road driver and the water level is above the height of the bottom of the bull bar/bumper it is recommended that you avoid such water crossings because they require special preparation and are best attempted after you’ve been trained or guided by an experienced person. Water can drown the engine, which may be catastrophic in the case of diesel motors, costing you a new engine.

Mud Sooner or later you will get involved with mud driving. Some may think it’s fun driving in and out of mud holes, I don’t; I detest mud driving with a passion. There may be hidden obstacles, deeper mud sections, it gets in everywhere, your tyre treads block up, inside your tyre rims get filled and when it dries out this can cause steering problems, you may get stuck and need to be snatched out resulting in mud inside your vehicle and so on. If you need to cross a muddy section, choose low-range second or third gear to reduce wheel spin. Start with normal tyre pressures to bite through the mud and hopefully to a firm surface below. If they don’t hit a hard surface, reduce the pressures to get a bigger footprint and a floatation effect and, in the case of mud tyres, the side lugs will provide more bite.

Stick to the main wheel ruts and avoid the temptation to go around the mud patch; the wheel ruts have had the most traffic and will be the most compacted. Hopefully this article hasn’t scared you off; just remember we were all novices once. If you’re still unsure book in for a four-wheel-drive driver training course, there are many accredited training companies or clubs that will assist. See you in the bush. 

Above and left: Getting bogged in the sand requires a shovel and some hard yakka.  Tyre preparation is paramount.

Photo ©


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Closer to the


Words: Matthew MacDermott and Andrea Ferris

Clockwise from top left: The Yulara takes a matter of minutes to set up to sleep in, but a few more minutes to peg out the guy ropes and set up the window awnings.  There’s plenty of cross ventilation to enjoy cool breezes—or simply hang out and enjoy the view!  Inside the tent there’s enough space for two to sleep comfortably. Photos: Andrea Ferris.

out. With this action, the tent itself automatically deploys and once the ladder reaches the ground it doubles as the support. If it’s windy, as it was on test day, a couple of tent pegs to hold the tent down over the ladder need to be banged in and you’re ready for bed.


ith its origins in South Africa, the roof top tent was born from the basic need for separation from the array of life-threatening local wildlife. If there was to ever be any semblance of sleep security for the intrepid safari camper, then getting up off the ground was imperative. Not surprisingly, the roof top tent has also been welcomed with open arms by adventurists in Australia, particularly those traversing deep into the northern parts of the country where snakes, crocs, spiders and endless other dangers are just part of everyday (and night) life. However, the roof top tent is about much more than just life and death. In reality, even in remote Australia, camping is not always that dramatic. Often it is just about getting a good night’s sleep with minimum fuss and enjoying the benefits of modern space-saving design. This gives the roof top tent wide appeal for campers of all ages, shapes and sizes, and levels of adventure. Sure, security will always play a part in providing peace of mind for the roof top camper, but convenience and comfort are also big drivers of the buying decision. TJM are pioneers of Australian four-wheeldrive equipment and their Yulara Roof Top Tent is the classic introductory model for adventurists 64 |


looking to take their camping experiences to the next level—off the ground!

Convenience Clearly it’s not practical to take home and test a tent that’s designed to be fitted to a vehicle, so the helpful folks at TJM headquarters in Brisbane kindly agreed to take their already rigged up four-wheeldrive for a short drive to a local bushland park to put the Yulara’s hassle-free claims to the test. Simple set up ‘in just minutes’ is an often overused and misleading boast that can be rightly met with healthy consumer scepticism. Despite having no clue about how the set-up worked and having no instructions to read, in less than ten minutes it was ready to sleep in—albeit without the window awnings out. Unzipping the protective cover is probably the most time-consuming challenge of the entire set-up process. Having the compression cover sealed tight keeps the tent free of dust and moisture on the road. The cover and zip can be reached from the ground if you’re a tall bloke. For the vertically challenged male or average female you’ll need to stand on the running boards or rear bumper or take along a folding step ladder. With the cover unzipped, it is just a matter of grabbing hold of the permanent ladder that sits on top of the tent and pulling it to extend the tent base

Comfort From this point, you can do as little or as much as you want to customise the tent set-up to suit the local elements and your personal requirements, particularly in terms of opening up windows to maximise airflow. The outside window cover opens with zips as does the fly screen window. Unzip both, slot in some light, bendy poles and the window awnings are in place. TJM has several accessories that can be added to the Yulara camping set-up, including a zip-on annexe for extra privacy and space beneath the roof top tent, and an extendable awning for the opposite side of the vehicle for shade and rain protection. This combination creates the perfect touring set-up of tent on top, shade at side and kitchen accessed from the rear of the four-wheel-drive. Having the tent permanently attached to the roof means the back of the vehicle is not cluttered with camping and sleeping equipment. There is an immediate sense of cosiness when climbing into the Yulara, particularly when it was cold and windy outside. It wasn’t flapping around and felt stable and secure. The tent’s raised climate cover sheet acts as a temperature control and reduces condensation and moisture. In the summer, any breeze that is on offer is further accentuated by the built-in dual pop-up window awnings that provide maximum air flow and ventilation throughout.

Left to right: The Boulia model is slightly shorter than the Yulara without the over-ladder extension.  Set up over the cap of a dual cab 4WD ute, leaving the cargo area free for more equipment. Photos: TJM.

Being high and dry certainly has appeal. It is not just the life-threatening animals that a roof top tent keeps you from but also many other minor camping irritants. Wet ground, leaves, sticks, rain, humidity, ants, midges, insects and other creepy crawlies are kept at bay by the elevation and fully-screened door and windows. On the flip side, the fresh air, breezes and views are welcomed in. It’s a win-win for comfort camping. The ladder feels secure, but it is a ladder and therefore requires some agility to ascend and descend (backwards). Once inside, the Yulara comfortably sleeps two people and comes with a high-quality, high-density foam mattress. Other bedding and sleeping gear can also be stored inside, so there is no need to lug things up the ladder each night. There are some handy pockets on each side for stowing watches, glasses and ‘things’ overnight and the frame would also come in handy to use with hooks for extra stowage. It is worth remembering that this form of tent is purely for sleeping in at night. It is not like you are going to be lazing around in it during the day, that’s what the downstairs annexes are for, and viewed in that light there is ample space for a good night’s sleep.

Comparison The Yulara is the larger of the two roof top tents in the TJM range as it features an extra sheltered canopy over the tent entrance that is not found in the Boulia model. Retailing at approximately $1500, it provides a competitive price point with a quality on-ground tent. The focus is on a lightweight design that is strong, durable and stable, deploys easily and delivers the convenience of self-contained touring

and camping. The Yulara is always with you wherever you go and in just minutes is up and ready for a safe, secure sleep. This style of camping is as easy as it gets at the end of a long day of travelling. There is no selfassembling, searching for pegs and poles and inflating mattresses. An instant set-up at the end of the day means more time for soaking up the wilderness you have travelled to enjoy. The Yulara fits neatly onto the roof of any fourwheel-drive and its roof racks. Its durable high quality poly-cotton breathable fabric is mould resistant and waterproof and the fully screened doors and windows keep the mozzies out. While the appeal of getting off the ground is strongest in hotter climates, to protect from the threats of animals and insects and to deliver muchneed elevation and ventilation, roof top tents are also proven performers in cold high country climates for getting up off the snow. The design is also strongly focussed on allimportant durability with any wear likely to first appear in the protective cover and zips, which can be replaced if needed. Additional features such as annexes and awnings can also be incorporated as desired. Collapsing the roof top tent was as simple as unpegging the guy ropes and pushing the ladder up. However, as a first-timer, I found it was fiddly trying to tuck the tent in and get the cover zipped up—definitely a two-person job. No doubt there’s a knack to it that is perfected with use! For anyone wanting to get out and explore Australia, the Yulara roof top tent is an attractive and cost-competitive option that empowers its owners to free camp with convenience, simplicity, comfort and security. 

FEATURES TJM Yulara Roof Top Tent Open size: 320 x 140 x 130 cm Folded size: 120 x 140 x 28 cm Fly: 420 D polyester pu2000 mm, 100% waterproof canvas (Ripstop) Inner: Polyester/cotton 280 g/m2 100% waterproof canvas (Ripstop) Pole: Aluminium pole 19 mm/ 16 mm/1.2 mm Base: Light weight, high strength aluminium base Ladder: Extendable aluminium ladder (optional TJM ladder extension also available for vehicles where sits above 1.9 m) Mattress: 65 mm high density foam mattress, 240 x 120 cm size; polyester 50%, cotton 50% Cover: 1000 D waterproof and rotproof with PVC coating and YKK zippers Mosquito Net fabric: nylon, fireresistant with YKK zippers Net weight: 60 kg Retail Price: $1595 (including GST)


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Gold to Opals The track from Milparinka to White Cliffs in New South Wales

Words: Russ Ryan Images: Russ Ryan & Bruce Graham


ackling a remote outback track in itself is a fantastic experience, but understanding the history and discovering interesting sites (and sights) off the beaten track is always a big bonus. Officially, our trip started from the Sturt National Park in New South Wales and headed down the Silver City Highway before we hit the dirt track to Milparinka and continued along a remote outback track to the opal town of White Cliffs. No visit to the NSW Outback can be considered complete without checking out the restored town of Milparinka. It’s such a surprise to come across this place where a small group of community activists succeeded in fulfilling their dreams by preserving a deserted town. Visiting Milparinka was a bit like being transported back in a time machine. First impressions of the settlement enable you to immediately envisage what life must have been like at the turn of the century where this place was once the centre of a busy mining district. After parking the Land Rover in what was town centre we followed the recommended Milparinka historic walking trail. This is a self-guided trail that gives a fascinating insight into the town’s past. The restored colonial buildings include a visitor information centre with numerous displays and photographs that give an excellent idea of what life was like in the area. The town was one of the westernmost localities in New South Wales with 66 |


the nearest settlement being White Cliffs, which is 170 kilometres away. Before Milparinka became an outback settlement, its first white visitors arrived well before the gold rush in 1870. In 1844, the explorer Charles Sturt left Adelaide with sixteen men and numerous horses, sheep, bullocks, dogs, wagons and even a boat, to search for an inland sea that was thought to fill the huge unknown and unexplored centre of the continent. By the summer of 1845, Sturt and his party, including his second-in-charge, surveyor James Poole, found themselves trapped by drought at a place he named Depot Glen close to Milparinka. This was a semi-permanent waterhole on Evelyn Creek. Because of the heat and drought, Sturt decided to rest the expedition near Milparinka for a couple of months. When the drought eventually ended, the Irishman Poole was very weak and Sturt organised for him to be carried back to Adelaide, but unfortunately it was too late. Not long after leaving Depot Glen, Poole died and was buried at the foot of a beefwood tree on which his initials and the date can still be clearly seen carved in the trunk. And that is why the area is now also called Poole County. Next stop, White Cliffs. After leaving Milparinka we headed north-west on the Mount Shannon road before taking a right at Milparinka Hawkers Gate and then onto the Silver City Highway. It’s blacktop for a while before turning onto the isolated dirt track known as the Kayrunnera/Cobham road, which goes all the way to White Cliffs, and offers plenty of

breathtaking sights in this rugged, remote outback country. We saw plenty of wildlife, including having a close encounter with a young wild boar that ran out in front of the vehicle; lucky for him I wasn’t driving too fast and he managed to escape into the scrub. In such an arid part of the world it was also amazing to see a salt lake full of water from recent rains, but the seemingly endless flat plains are a reminder that the region was once an inland sea. Millions of years ago the track and surrounding land was under water and home, in the Cretaceous period, to the habitat of the Plesiosaur and the Ichthyosaur dinosaurs. The Plesiosaurs were three to twelve metres tall with long necks and small heads, while the Ichthyosaurs were large marine reptiles. Their opalised fossil remains have been found in this area and at White Cliffs. This track also gives a real sense of how harsh early exploration must have been. It’s still important to have supplies with you, including plenty of drinking water, food and fuel. About sixty kilometres from White Cliffs is Mutawintji National Park, which was established primarily for the conservation and protection of the yellow-footed rock-wallaby, but is also rich in cultural heritage. The landscape surrounding White Cliffs gave me the impression of a man-made moonscape. I would not have been surprised if Darth Vader passed by in his ute or if Hans Solo was seen digging around for some of the land’s hidden

FACT FILE Getting there The once thriving town of Milparinka was built beside Evelyn Creek in north-west New South Wales situated about 650 km north-north-east of Adelaide and nearly 1300 km from Sydney. After leaving Milparinka, head north-west on the Mount Shannon road, then take a right at Milparinka towards Hawkers Gate before turning onto the Silver City Highway. The Kayrunnera/Cobham track heads towards White Cliffs. Not far from White Cliffs, turn right onto the Wanarig road and this will take you straight into the very unusual town.

Where to camp Mutawintji National Park Homestead Creek campground near the Mutawintji historic site. Suitable for tents, camper trailers and caravans with easy access. www.nationalparks.nsw. and search ‘mutawintji’. Milparinka Evelyn Creek is bush camping about one kilometre east of Milparinka or just over 40 km south of Tibooburra. Take the turn

off Silver City Highway onto Milparinka Road, heading south of Tibooburra. This is remote camping so bring plenty of supplies including drinking water. White Cliffs The White Cliffs Opal Pioneer Caravan and Tourist Park is located right in town and is suitable for caravans. It has play equipment for the kids and your pets will also be welcome. Phone: (08) 8091 6688.

Key contacts White Cliffs General Store and Visitor Information Centre: phone (08) 8091 6611. What to take On this trip you should be as selfsufficient as possible. It is always a good idea to carry drinking water, food and extra fuel. An off-road satellite navigation system is a useful piece of equipment when driving in the Outback. and go to the ‘Discover

Things to do Milparinka: Located about 40 km south of Tibooburra, Milparinka’s colonial buildings include an old bank, police barracks and cells and numerous other buildings that have been restored to a very high standard as part of the Milparinka Heritage Precinct. Nearby there are the ruins of a ghost town, Mount Browne, the site of former goldfields where you can try fossicking for gold.

Heritage’ page.

Don’t miss the grave of James Poole

Sturt National Park:

at Depot Glen who explored this region

When to go Winter or spring, as it gets pretty hot out there in summer. Further information Milparinka: www.outbacknsw. White Cliffs: and search ‘white cliffs’ Charles Sturt: www.outbacknsw.

in the 1840s. White Cliffs: Take the heritage trail, a self-guided tour around the town that

treasures—it really is like a set from a science fiction movie. The town thrives on opal mining, which began in 1889 when a couple of kangaroo shooters on the nearby Momba Station picked up some specimens that were sent to Adelaide and confirmed to be quality opals. Within a year the ‘boom’ was on and, at its height, White Cliffs was home to an estimated 5000 people and, in today’s terms, sold millions of dollars’ worth of opal. This bizarre moonscape has thousands of small hills that were dug up by miners, and the locals mostly live underground to escape the intense summer heat. If you’re planning a trip to the NSW Outback, log the details of this track in your planning folder. The experience of exploring the timeless gold mining town of Milparinka or driving through what was once an ancient inland sea and home to many dinosaurs millions of years ago was a surreal experience. The opportunity to experience where the opals in White Cliffs are painstakingly dug from the ground is a must see, the abundance of wildlife makes you feel very much alive in this unique environment, and the knowledge that Aboriginal people roamed these lands for thousands of years gives you a real sense of the unique history of this ancient land.  Visit for more images of the gold to opals track.

includes historic features, and visit the pioneer cemetery, dating from 1892. There’s also the old solar power station (hopefully to become a museum) that operated from 1981 to 2004. Because of the extreme heat in the summer, the local population started to live underground in the late 1800s and you will see a number of these dugouts that are still occupied throughout the town.

Main image The ancient sea bed; The experience of driving through what was once an ancient inland sea and home to many dinosaurs millions of years ago was a surreal experience. Above and below One of the many shafts dug in search of Opals in White Cliffs.  The information centre and café at White Cliffs.

Fuel and supplies This is outback country so it is important to be well prepared. Carry plenty of fuel and food, and take note that there are no fuel stops between Milparinka and White Cliffs. Fuel and basic supplies are available at White Cliffs. Road conditions There is a mixture of sealed and unsealed tracks between Milparinka and White Cliffs, mostly unsealed and rough in parts. It is important to check in advance to see if the unsealed roads are open. Parts of this track had stretches of corrugated and rocky road so it’s a good idea to drop your tyre pressure accordingly.


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Cutting Edge of Tools Perhaps the most underrated invention in history? Words & Images: Blake Muir

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Main: The knife kickstarted human evolution. Clockwise from left: Sharpening a knife on a whetstone.  Left to right: Karesuando 100 with homemade handle, Mora Companion, Enzo Trapper, Mora 106, Mora 120.  Four common knife grinds.  The anatomy of a knife.


rom humble stone beginnings to modern steel slicers. What to look for in a knife. In 1913, Scientific A merican asked its readers what they thought was the greatest invention of all time. Back then the top answer was wireless telegraphy followed by the aeroplane, x-ray machine and automobile. Even reinforced concrete made the top ten, crikey! These days the list has modernised and the internet and internal combustion engine are prominent features. I found one particular list that included the socket wrench, which I thought was stretching the friendship a little! Ironically, they didn’t include the nut and bolt … The ability to invent and utilise tools is believed by many scientists to be the catalyst for the rapid advancement of human evolution. It could be argued that the knife was one such tool fundamental to the process. The earliest cutting tools date back 2.6 million years. These were not much more than fractures of river stone that were used to chop, scrape and pound. Eventually, methods evolved and more suitable cryptocrystalline materials such as quartzite, chert and obsidian were struck at calculated angles to create blades suitable for sharp cutting. These primitive blades would have been utilised to create clothing, harvest food and make fire. Perhaps, most importantly, materials like bone and wood could be manipulated with greater ease to invent further advanced tools. The possibilities were endless and the human race sliced and diced its way into the future. Stone was the go-to material for more than three million years until 7000 years ago somewhere in the Middle East the world’s first blacksmith threw copper ore into a fire. The age of metallurgy was born and there was no looking back. Soon came bronze, iron and finally alloy steel. If our ancestors could see the knives we use today they would roll in their Palaeolithic graves.

Choosing a Knife When choosing a knife it’s easy to be misled somewhat by the commercial and egoistic tendency to ‘go big or go home’. When it comes to knives, simple is best and bigger is not better. The purpose of a bushcraft knife is to manipulate material via precise and powerful cuts. The most important aspects of a knife are the grind and length. Large knives are heavy, cumbersome and counter-productive from a bushcraft perspective. A ten-centimetre blade length is more than enough. A shorter blade enables greater power and control when in use and is also easier to manipulate for delicate carving work. The grind refers to the cross section profile of the blade if you were to look at it front on. If you look closely, you might notice that the knife has a very small secondary edge or bevel. This makes the knife more durable but also harder to sharpen in the field. Some common grinds include: hollow, flat, convex and scandi. The scandi or ‘scandinavian grind’ is very popular for bushcraft because it has no secondary bevel, which makes it very easy to maintain. For this reason it’s often called a ‘zero grind’. Another consideration is the tang length. The tang is the name for the rear portion of the knife that extends into the handle. A full tang blade is strong and durable, but is usually heavier and is finished either side with the handle or ‘scales’. Other common designs include the hidden tang, which is fixed inside the handle and may vary in length from a third to the full length of the handle. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars on novelty knives that won’t perform in the bush. You can buy a knife that will outlast you for around $30 from a quality manufacturer like Mora. If you’re after something a little more special, then other top knife makers include: Helle, Roselli, Kellam and Ahti. It’s no coincidence that these companies are all from Norway, Finland or Sweden. This part of the world produces some of the finest working blades on Earth in my opinion. Any

of these companies will produce a visually stunning knife that out-prices and out-performs anything the big camping stores will sell. Some of the family-run, independent camping and outdoor stores are starting to sell these knives, but you will need to shop around.

Knife Care Most quality knives fall under three different types: carbon steel, stainless steel or laminated steel. Carbon steel is terrific for knives as it holds a good edge and is easy to sharpen, but be warned, it will oxidise. Modern high quality stainless steel is arguably as every bit as good as carbon steel these days and won’t rust. Any non-stainless blade will oxidise if it is left exposed to moisture and will stain when it comes in contact with some tree saps. You will need to keep it dry and preferably oil it on occasion if you want to protect the shine. Some folk, like myself, enjoy the character that’s taken on by the blade over time that makes it a more personable item. You can force a patina on the blade to protect it by sticking it in a piece of citrus for a few hours or some hot vinegar. If you ask me, the easiest way is to just use it. Any surface rust can be rubbed off with a scouring pad. Never put a carbon or laminate steel blade in the dishwasher or use detergent. Stainless steel blades require little care to keep them shining bright. A simple rinse when dirty with hot water or mild detergent is all that is needed. If you live on the coast, in particular, you can get salt spots on the blade that can be difficult to remove. It’s always best to wipe or rinse the knife after heavy use and give it a light oil if you’re going to store it away. If you have a leather sheath, make sure the leather is dry before storing the knife long term. If you’ve purchased a knife from a quality maker such as those mentioned above then they will provide specific care instructions for your knife. GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

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Enzo Trapper with a homemade jarrah handle.

Ahti Vaara bushcraft knife.

Sharpening There is an old adage that says, ‘a blunt knife is a dangerous knife’. A blunt knife requires more force to cut and is harder to control than one that is correctly sharpened. Grinding or honing a knife that has lost its sharpness requires experience and care or you may do more harm than good. It’s critical to maintain the edge geometry that the knife maker intended, unless you know what you are doing. This is why a zero grind scandi is useful because it only has one bevel. It’s best to sharpen the blade with a fine whetstone or diamond sharpener. At home I have a set of Japanese waterstones and when in the bush I keep a small Eze-Lap diamond sharpener in my pack. To sharpen the knife place the knife bevel flat to the stone with the edge facing away from you. Work the entire knife, knife-edge first, gently along the stone by pushing it away. Eventually you should be able to feel a slight burr on the opposite side. Switch sides and repeat pulling the knife towards you until you can feel the burr on the first side. To get the knife sharp enough to shave hairs you need to remove the burr and straighten the microscopic imperfections on the edge. This can be done on a leather strop or belt. Holding the belt taut with one hand run the knife along the unfinished side of the leather, leading with

the back of the knife. Switch sides and repeat fifty times. The angle should be just above that of the bevel so that the edge is just scraping lightly along the leather. It’s best to avoid using any kind of s h a r p e n in g m a c h in e u n l e s s yo u a re experienced. If the metal gets too hot it will compromise the tempering of the blade. Also avoid carbide knife sharpeners where you draw the knife through a ‘v’ notch. They remove a lot of metal and will alter the bevel of the knife. If you aren’t comfortable with freehand stone sharpening, then there are very affordable guide-based sharpening systems, such as the Lansky knife sharpeners. Perhaps no other tool in human history has undergone more evolution than the humble blade. Over the years, its form and makeup has been tweaked, but it still remains essentially the same. It is the most simple of tools that has stood the test of time. With a knife the ability to improve our situation in the bush is limited only by knowledge of its application. Of all mankind’s creations the blade, more than any other, connects us with every single human who has walked the earth. It is perhaps the last nonbiological link that we have with our ancestors. In the next issue I will discuss various knife grips and show how they can be used to create some simple camp equipment. 

 For cars, 4WDs, caravans, campers & trailers  Guaranteed for life  Simple, safe & lightning fast to use  Suitable for all bikes from carbon lightweights to heavy electrics  Delivery anywhere in Australia

(03) 9466 2553 70 |



Capturing the

Feeling of Movement Words & Images: Danielle Lancaster


apturing the feeling of movement; be it a child on a bike, a racing car, or your path along the open road, are images we cherish. One way to do this is by a technique called panning. The idea is that you ‘pan’ your camera in line and in time with the moving subject. The resulting image will yield a relatively sharp subject with the background and/or foreground out of focus (blurred) and deliver a sense of movement and speed for the viewer. Panning seems to work best, especially when you are new to this technique, with moving subjects that are on a relatively straight trajectory. That is the subject is moving parallel to yourself in a straight line from left to right or vice versa. This enables you to predict where they’ll be coming from and moving to. If the subject is travelling towards you (or away from you) then you won’t be able to obtain the same look of movement. Objects that are moving side to side are challenging and can result in messy looking shots as the motion blur can be quite erratic unless you are very careful. As the subject goes past, the camera needs to follow it while you gently push the shutter button.

Those that have played golf or tennis know the ‘follow through’. We use this same technique here and keep moving our body while tracking the subject. The smoother the better. The closer your background is to your moving subject the greater the blur. And the more colourful this is the more dynamic it is. When first attempting, work with a wider angle lens: ■ Start with a shutter speed of 1/125th and decrease this as you perfect the technique— ideally to a 1/30th or below. There could be some camera shake on top of motion blur—they are two different things. ■ Be aware some auto focusing tracking works well but others have a shutter lag. If your camera doesn’t have fast enough auto focusing, try prefocusing on the area you anticipate releasing the shutter—I’ve found this works really well. ■ Remember to release the shutter gently to avoid any camera shake! Watch your background: ■ Single coloured or plain backgrounds often look awesome, while multi-coloured backgrounds, such as at football and other forms of sport and

parades can be equally special. It all depends on the subject. ■ Backgrounds that are close to the subject create more blur. Panning does take patience and practice, but it is well worth the effort. 

Danielle Lancaster is a professional photographer with Bluedog Photography. She loves sharing her passion of photography with others. Bluedog Photography runs photography courses, retreats and tours and provides a range of imagery for corporate and private clients. Contact: (07) 5545 4777 or visit Visit www.gocampingaustralia. to watch a Bluedog Photography video of a race car that includes the panning technique.

Clockwise from above: Panning is a technique to create the feeling of movement.  No matter if it’s a racing car or child on a bike, the effect is easily achieved.  The shutter speed and body movement contributes to the amount of blur.


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Proudly brought to you by

Be a little bit



Cooking the meat is all fine and dandy, but topping it with a sauce makes the meal extraordinary. Spend a little extra time and effort and be rewarded with WOW compliments!

Words & Images: Julie Bishop & Regina Jones

Creamy Mustard Sauce The success of this sauce will depend on the wine you use! We suggest a good quality favourite white wine either dry or sweet.

Ingredients:  2 tbl oil for frying  1 onion, sliced into rings  2 cloves garlic, finely diced  ½ cup quality white wine  200ml cream (long-life)  2 tbl prepared mild mustard

Haydon’s Mushroom Sauce Ingredients:  Oil for frying  3 cloves garlic, crushed  1 onion, chopped  500g sliced mushrooms (or dried reconstituted)  1 tsp stock powder mixed with ½ cup water

 2 tsp dried parsley Heat oil in fry pan and cook onion for a few minutes at medium heat. Add garlic and cook a further minute. Slowly pour in wine and cream and bring to the boil. When the liquid has reduced, add mustard and dried parsley. Simmer for a minute then serve. Handy Hint: If you have cooked meat in a frypan, use it to make the sauce as the pan juices add to the flavour.

 1 tbl butter  1 tbl soy sauce  500ml cream (long-life)  Salt & pepper Fry onion until brown. Add garlic, cook for another minute. Add butter and mushrooms, cook slowly until soft. Add all other ingredients. Bring to the boil, simmer gently uncovered for 20 minutes or until the sauce is reduced and thickened.

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Visit for an extra special marmalade gravy recipe.

Rich Red Wine Sauce Ingredients:  1 cup of your favourite quality red wine  ½ cup barbeque sauce  2 garlic cloves, crushed  Pinch salt  ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper  Pinch dried or fresh rosemary  2 tbl cornflour  ½ cup rice bran oil Mix all ingredients together in a shake ‘n’ pour container. Shake well, check that there’s no cornflour lumps. Store in refrigerator until ready to use. Pour the required amount into a small pot and slowly heat to medium temperature, continuously stirring. When thickened, remove from heat and place in a gravy boat or keep hot in Dream-Pot. Handy Hint: The success of this sauce will depend on the quality of wine used.

Real Mint Sauce Ingredients:  2¼ cups mint, finely chopped  2¼ cups boiling water  1 cup brown sugar  1 cup white vinegar Place all ingredients into a one-litre glass jug. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Place a plate on top of the jug to hold heat in. Allow to sit for an hour or until completely cool. Pour into glass sauce bottles. Makes one litre. Handy Hint: Use scissors to finely cut up the mint leaves.

A Woman’s Look at Camping & Cooking

THE NEW AWL COOK BOOK The new AWL Cook Book, featuring spectacular landscape photography, highlights heaps of happy hassle free recipes. It’s an outstanding picture book that’s a great gift your family and friends will love! Only $29.95 includes postage in Australia, plus we will personally wrap, tag and post to chosen recipient. Email: for bank deposit details.


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Compiled by Andrea Ferris

Kathmandu Softshell Bandana

Equinox Z – Night Vision Bushnell’s Equinox Z monocular has 6x magnification, 1-3x digital zoom and a 50mm objective lens giving users a viewing distance of more than 300 metres with outstanding optical clarity. Designed for day or night use, the Equinox Z includes a built-in infrared illuminator for long distance night viewing. High quality video recording capabilities have been added at 640x480 pixels per frame. Stills can also be captured and stored on Micro SD Card or by using the video output options.

Face off the frost and stay warm with this softshell bandana. Features waterproof, windproof and breathable fabric with a cosy fleece inner and durable water repellent finish. Ideal protection for your neck and face in the winter. RRP $39.98

With a rugged water-resistant housing, tripod adaptable and a picatinny style rail for accessory mounting, the Bushnell Equinox Z is versatile enough for a wide variety of outdoor applications. RRP $549 (6x50mm unit, carrying case, wrist strap, USB cable, video out cable, lens-cleaning cloth)

Vigilante Thermotech Baselayers The Thermotech Baselayer is comfortable, highly durable and designed to trap in warmth. Available in a long sleeve jersey style and as full-length leggings, the Thermotech Baselayer has 360° stretching capability without losing shape, is made with anti-microbial material; the perfect under garment for adventurerers. Thermotech Baselayer Leggings RRP $49.95. Thermotech Baselayer Jersey RRP $49.95 74 |


Williamson Popper Pro At a length of 130mm, this streamlined lure opens up a range of surface fishing options to all anglers. At 35g, the lure has natural buoyancy and maximum hook exposure and the rear casting mechanism ensures maximum casting distance. By incorporating heavy-duty oval split rings and VMC 7266 single hooks, Williamson ensures connection once the fish is hooked. The laser cut plate hook hangers and In-line hook design further enhance the Popper Pro’s swimming action, point exposure and hook set. RRP $19.95

Gerber Steady Gerber has built a gadget combining the ingenuity of a multi-tool with the added functionality of a tripod. The Gerber Steady is suitable for smart phones and compact digital cameras weighing up to 340 grams. Attach your gadgets with the adjustable screw-in mount or the nifty suction cup that is specifically designed for smart phones. The Steady also features two foldable legs that serve as the ideal tripod.

Just like the other functions and accessories, the tripod legs fold back into place so it can fit easily in your pocket or bag. The rest of the tool provides everything you’ll ever need in a multi-tool, with 12 vital components including a fine-edge blade, a serrated blade, three screwdrivers, a bottle opener, pliers and wire cutters. Gerber Steady RRP $120 or visit

REICH Caravan Weight Control Scale A handy scale device that measures the towball weight and overall weight of your caravan to ensure you’re not overloaded.

Osprey Exos Lightweight Packs The Osprey Exos is a rugged, lightweight luggage pack equipped with numerous space saving and weight reducing features. Equipped with AirSpeed™ ventilated suspension, torso specific sizing and ergonomic design with an improved harness and hip belt, the Exos is a comfortable fit. All members of the Exos family are fitted with a floating lid top and under-lid zippered pockets, mesh side pockets with InsideOut™ compression, zippered hip belt pockets, and cross functional and removable sleeping pad straps. Available in 38L, 48L, and 58L size and a range of colours. RRP from $189.95 to $269.95

Billman’s Foundry Camp Ovens Billman’s Foundry in Castlemaine, Victoria started making camp ovens in the 1980s and now makes ‘personalised’ ovens. Each oven is made individually with lettering placed onto the lid pattern by hand before a sand mould is made to cast the molten metal into. A blacksmith hand forges the steel handles on the base so each oven is unique. They make a great gift that will last many years. Prices range from $199.00 (9”) to $434 (18”). Add $48.00 for a personalised lid. Visit

Rust-Oleum® NeverWet This product causes liquid to form beads and glide surfaces to keep it dry and clean and protected. Suitable for canvas and lots of other materials, it is ideal to protect camping and sports equipment. 4WD wheel arches, tools and many other items. It is a temporary protective product and needs to be reapplied regularly. Available from Bunnings Warehouse and other hardware stores. RRP $29.95


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CRUISEMASTER® CRS Country Road Suspension Designed with protection and safety in mind, CRUISEMASTER® CRS is ideal for caravans towed primarily on bitumen or uneven country roads. It is not an off-road suspension, but a viable and efficient alternative to beam axle suspension set-ups.

It features a twin spring rate using tailored coil springs and patented polyurethane bump stops, shock absorbers with a 30mm bore and offers 100mm of vertical wheel travel. Available in single or tandem axle configurations to suit caravans from 1300kgs to 3200kgs ATM. or (07) 3624 3800.

RobeTowl™ The RobeTowl™ serves as a robe and a towel. It’s lightweight, compact, ultrasoft and soaks up to four times its weight in water then wrings out nearly dry. The antimicrobial treatment reduces odour retention and increases the life of the RobeTowl™. Machine washable and dryer safe, it comes in three unisex sizes and three colours, is calf-length with full sleeves, a hood and two generous pockets. RRP $119.95. Contact (02) 9966 9800 or for stockist information.

North Face Base Camp Duffle Bag The North Face’s Base Camp Duffle Bag is sturdily constructed and features alpine-cut shoulder straps, a D-zip with zipper flap, internal mesh pockets and four compression straps. RRP $139.95 Available from

Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler The Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler holds up to 18.9L and has a stainless steel lock protector that doubles as a bottle opener, four integrated cup holders in the lid and an extra-wide pickup handle. It is engineered with rugged polymer exterior walls, extra-thick polyurethane foam core, secure latches, and a freezer-grade o-ring to deliver extreme ice retention. Available in either Marine White or Outdoor Tan. RRP $279.95

Waterproof Nikon The Nikon 1 AW1 is the world’s first waterproof interchangeable lens camera. It’s waterproof down to 15m and shockproof to withstand a drop of up to 2m. It has an advanced hybrid autofocus system, high speed continuous shooting and 15 focussed frames per second, ideal for sport and wildlife shots. 76 |


bite away® Living by the water in Queensland it’s a sure thing that mozzies are going to plague your every outdoor expedition—


and I’m a target for the pesky little things. So I was intrigued about bite away®, which is basically a pen-like object that has a little heated ceramic disk on the end that you put on an itchy or stinging bite to take away the itch or pain. Apparently the insect poison is denatured by the heat and the release of histamine is prevented. It has two settings: three seconds and six seconds, depending on how sensitive you are, as it heats up to more than 50°C. I must be the over sensitive kind because the mozzie bite on the inside of my upper arm could only take a microsecond! Nevertheless, the itch did indeed go away instantly! Personally, I found the extreme heat sensation a bit scary and painful and could imagine it might be difficult to use on a child, however for those less woose-like, it’s a handy gadget for the camping kit. RRP $64.95


Helinox Cot One Outdoor Technology Turtle Shell Being a gadget-lover, I’m always excited to test

Sleep in comfort. No more sharp rocks, damp ground or crawling insects. Helinox Cot One weighs just 1.9kg and goes together in seconds. Available now direct from Helinox (Australia). RRP $298 (includes Express Post delivery). or 1800 925 525.

new products—especially when they have such a groovy name! While I don’t know if any waterdwelling turtle would like a bright blue shell, I certainly did and they come in lots of fun colours.

Redarc Tow-Pro

This small Bluetooth speaker is water-resistant,

The new Tow-Pro electronic brake controller offers the choice of engaging either inertia sensing or user controlled braking on trailers through the simple turn of a dial inside the towing vehicle. Inertia sensing, or automatic mode, measures the braking force applied by the towing vehicle and applies the electronic trailer brakes to a proportional degree. It is mostly used for highway towing. The new Tow-Pro meets ADR21 safety standards and is suitable for both 12 and 24 volt vehicles. It operates both electric and electric/hydraulic trailer braking. RRP $330

dust-proof and shock-proof, which makes it ideal for camping and travelling. Once extracted from the complex packaging, the speaker, which is small, but not micro, had to be charged for a few hours, then I easily connected it to my smartphone without reading the instructions—so it’s not complicated. The sound was as clear as what you would expect from a speaker of this size and it has the added bonus of a speaker to use for hands-free phone conversations. Another interesting feature is that it has a standard camera threading for ‘multiple mounting options’ and Outdoor Connection supplies a Turtle Claw that enables the speaker to be mounted on pushbike handlebars for example. RRP $169.95


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E G A K C A P G N I P M A C THE ULTIMATE valued at over $25,584

1. Oztrail Lodge Family Dome Tent RRP $799.95; Anywhere Bed Queen RRP $259.95; Outback Comforter Sleeping Bag RRP $159.95; Royale Arm Chair RRP $94.95


2. Honda Generator EU20iu RRP $1899 3. Evakool FridgeMate Fridge Freezer FM60 RRP $1199, with 240 volt; Adaptor RRP $139.00, Wireless Digital Thermometer RRP $39.00; and 100 Watt Solar Panel Kit RRP $599 4. Rapala 1 x Okuma Salina 3 16000 Spinning Reel RRP $399.95; 1 X Okuma Salina 3 PE4 Jigging Rod RRP; $199.95; 1 Sufix 832 80 lb 300yd Neon Lime Braided Line RRP $99.95; 1 Rapala Magnetic Tool Holder Combo RRP $99.95; 1 Rapala Sling Bag RRP $89.95; 1 Rapala Saltwater X-Rap 10cm Lure RRP $24.95


5. Thetford Porta Potti Excellence Electric Battery Flush RRP $319; Aqua Kem Sachets RRP $31.19; Aqua Rinse 2L bottle RRP $14.22; Cassette Tank Cleaner RRP $10.40; Aqua Soft Toilet Paper Pack x 4 RRP $27.72 6. Hema Hema HN7 Navigator RRP $799; Hema Explorer App RRP $49.99; 4WD Adventures Atlas RRP $59.95; Cape York Atlas & Guide RRP $34.95; The Kimberley Atlas & Guide RRP $34.95; The High Country Atlas & Guide RRP $34.95; Tasmania Atlas & Guide RRP $34.95; 4WD+Camping Escapes South East Queensland RRP $39.95; 4WD+ Camping Escapes Perth & the South West RRP $39.95 7. Zen 2 x Led Lenser M17R RRP $549; 2 x Carson 3D Series 10x42 RRP $700; 2 x Leatherman Wingman RRP $75; 2 x Boreas Bootlegger Packs (Brand New) RRP $325; 2 x PowerPot RRP $250; 2 x Smith’s Pocket Pal RRP $20; 2 x SteriPEN Classic RRP $99; 2 x Atka Dry Bags 20L RRP $35



8. Goal Zero Yeti Kit RRP $2,200; Solar Kit RRP $659; Tripod RRP $300; Shipping $100 9. Spelean 2 x Tikka Petzl Headlamps RRP $100; 2 x BaseCamp Therm-A-Rest Mattresses RRP $300; 1 x AusTour DVD Memory-Interactive Map Pack RRP $200; 4 x 1Lt SoftBottle Platypus Waterbottles RRP $60; 2 x PlatyPreserve Wine Preservers RRP $40; 1 x Tilley Hat Waxed Look RRP $150; 2 x Nesting Red Wine Outdoors Wineglasses RRP $30; 2 x Stemless Outdoors Wine Glasses $24


10. Yakima Yakima Skybox Pro 450L with Net and Cargo Pad RRP $889; Yakima Load Warrior Gear Basket RRP $349 11. Quickboats 3.7 Adventurer Quickboat, Premium Padded Bags and Non-Slip Flooring RRP $5,140 including freight and 9.8 Parsun 2-Stroke Outboard, 26 kg, RRP $1,575 12. Vehicle Components Hitchmaster DO35 Coupling RRP $393 13. DreamPot 3 & 6L Models/Accessory Pack/ Cookbook RRP $553 14. GripSport Hi-Ride Carrier RRP $500

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Yes, I want to subscribe/renew for my chance to win the 2014 Ultimate Camping Package valued at $25,584 Please:

■ Start ■ Renew my subscription ■ Send a gift subscription for ■ 2 years - 12 issues at $60 ■ 1 year - 6 issues at $33

NAME:__________________________________________________________________ PHONE: (_____)________________________________________ ADDRESS:_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ PC: _______________________


Please find enclosed my cheque/money order for $______________ made payable to Go Camping Australia or charge my

■ Card No:



■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■

Name and Phone No of Cardholder:_________________________________________________________

Expiry Date:_____/_____


Post this page (or a photocopy) with your payment in a sealed envelope to: Go Camping Australia, PO Box 8369, Woolloongabba Qld 4102 Note: All subscriptions start with the next issue and include postage and handling. Payment to accompany subscription form - Not refundable. FOR SUBSCRIPTION ENQUIRIES PLEASE PHONE (07) 3334 8010 FAX (07) 3391 5118 EMAIL Entries close on 29th August 2014. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. The prize must be taken as offered. There is no cash alternative.











Are you catchin’ any,


Engel Spotters are exactly what you need when you’re out fishing! - Paul Worsteling By Brian Langley

They’re not just for guys, the whole family can wear Spotters and stay cool! - Cristy Worsteling

Each time that I go fishing, I rarely have to wait Before somebody comes and asks, “Are you catchin’ any, mate?”

They don’t look in my bucket, They do not stop to see. I think it’s just because I’m there That they’re always askin’ me

I could be on a jetty, Or standing on the beach Or by some icy mountain stream That’s almost out of reach

That boring bloody question; It makes me so irate, They sing out from ten yards away, “Are you catchin’ any, mate?”

No matter where I’m fishing, It seems to be my fate That someone always comes and asks, “Are you catchin’ any, mate?”

So folks, if you’re out walking And you see me with my gear, Instead of asking questions Just bring along some beer

If you want to stay cool, you need to be seen in Spotters. Thanks to Engel they can be yours. - Ernie Dingo

ST U G U A F 1ST O 3 L I T N U NDED E T X E ICK! R E U F Q OF N I T E G FREE It might be in the afternoon, Or in the dark of night; Or just before the sun gets up In dawn’s first early light

And sit and share a can or two, I think that would be great And then perhaps I’ll tell you if I’m catchin’ any, mate.

Sometimes I’ve only just arrived; Not yet put on my bait When someone comes along and asks, “Are you catchin’ any, mate?”

Brian Langley – The City Poet


Brian performs at retirement villages, clubs, adult day care centres and the occasional caravan park. More of Brian’s poetry can be found at

GET YOUR FREE ENGEL SPOTTERS PACK THIS WINTER! There’s never been a better time to get yourself a new Engel fridge-freezer. During May, June and July 2014, when you buy any fridge-freezer from the Engel MT series, you get a free Engel Spotters Pack!* Valued at almost $350, the pack contains an Engel backpack plus your very own pair of Engel branded Spotters Fury sunglasses and a Spotters cap! *While stocks last. Engel reserves the right to substitute products with those of similar value if the need arises. All promotional items must be redeemed at time and place of purchase and are only available with purchases from participating Engel retailers within Australia.

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For stockists call 1300 302 653 or visit



Integrated luggage rack

Solar powered vents

Wind tested to 120km/h erected

At the forefront of cutting edge technology, James Baroud developed automatic opening systems for hard top roof top tents, taking just 8 seconds to erect and 25 seconds to stow. Of the highest European quality, meeting International standards (ISO certified), 100% waterproof and with a 5 year unconditional warranty.

Fully screened

High density mattress

The Explorer Evolution will release valuable space in your vehicle and provide a comfortable and secure sleeping space no matter how extreme the conditions. The unique design of the new Espace Evolution creates a better internal space allowing an adult to sit upright, while improving cross flow air circulation inside the tent.

4 x supporting gas struts

Espace Solar powered vents

Wind tested to 120km/h erected

Fully screened

High density mattress

Ph: 02 6646 1012

Distributed in Australia by:

Spring and Summer are just around the corner, it’s time to update your Camping Gear. Check out the great range of Outdoor Connection gear including Resort Range Tents

5 Star Swag

Premium tents with unique features

An innovative design for this modern swag

=Near vertical side walls =Ventraflow panels =100 Denier fabric =Large windows & doors

=Unique awning feature =Crossflow ventilation =Single or Double =Perfect all year round

(Weekender, Heron, Brampton)




Quality camp furniture designed & built to last

=Easy to use =Quality frames & canopies =Carry bag included =Range of canopy colours =UPF 50+ on all canopies

=Strong frames =Quality fabrics =Really comfortable =Practical, reliable & innovative

LED Lights

Breakaway Tents

= Super bright LED bulbs =Lanterns, strip lights & torches available =Perfect for camping, caravanning & 4x4

Entry level tents with great features

=75 Denier fly =2000mm waterhead =Practical & easy to erect

Quality you can see feel and trust. Tents



Solar Panels

12V Lighting

pms 348 - green pms 1807 - red/brown

Gas Gear

Profile for Vink Publishing

Go Camping & 4WD Adventures - Issue 92  

In this issue we get up close and personal with some turtles at Francois Peron National Park, explore the ‘other’ end of Mount Kaputar at Wa...

Go Camping & 4WD Adventures - Issue 92  

In this issue we get up close and personal with some turtles at Francois Peron National Park, explore the ‘other’ end of Mount Kaputar at Wa...