‘What are you going there for? You know there is nothing there, right?’ said the café owner in Mildura, referring to Broken Hill. After having spent a couple of days in Mildura, this seemed a little bit like the ‘pot calling the kettle black’. It was then that we realized that there are degrees of nothingness and that nothingness is in the eye of the beholder.
After a weekend with the Adelaide Bohms, it was great to be back on the road again. We headed northwest to the ‘Riverlands’ of South Australia and one of Australia’s great food bowls. Vibrant green grape vines and fruit trees span out from the Murray river.
When we arrived into Adelaide it was 14’C and drizzling. However, when we arrived into Berri on the Murray four days later it was 35’C. To manage the heat, we divided our time between the pool and the winery (for medicinal hydration only).
From Berri we headed eastwards following the Murray to Renmark and Mildura. We took a paddle steamer a couple of hours up the Murray to Trentham Winery Estate for lunch (I know, there seems to be a theme here). The kids entertained the grey nomads on the cruise with their travel tales, which invariably starts with Thomas saying ‘I had a shower with a tarantula in Wilpena Pound” before moving to stories of swimming with crocodiles in the Kimberley and finishing with a detailed list of the best water slides in caravan parks around Australia.
With the café owner’s words further lowering our expectations, we made the long trek up the Silver City Highway to Broken Hill. This is big sky country. Here, there was nothing but open plains where, if you’re lucky, the kangaroos, emus and goats will share a small part of the road with you.
Broken Hill was a real surprise. We had a great few days exploring the area – heading out to the old mining town of Silverton and then taking in the Living Desert and Sculptures. Visiting the Pro-Hart Gallery inspired Sienna and Thomas to do their own art works. We also really enjoyed a visit to the Royal Flying Doctors Service Museum.
Ironically, it was in Broken Hill that we experienced our first serious rain. A thunder and lightening storm lashed the town and uprooted trees and brought down branches in Silverton. Zizi enjoyed the rain – washing off some of the red dust we have accumulated over the last 28,000km.
Having now travelled across all mainland States and Territories, NSW has the dubious honor of holding our ‘Australia’s Worst Roads’ award. From Broken Hill we bumped and bounced our way east to Cobar and then on to Dubbo. Halfway between Broken Hill and Cobar you find a new kind of nothing – real nothingness: low, dense scrub stretching over arid plains for as far as you can see.
We spent a couple of days in Dubbo. We really enjoyed the zoo and the kids had a ball in the waterpark at the caravan park (with temperatures still hovering around the mid-30s). Just to show how small the world is, we bumped into a family in Dubbo who we had last seen at Home Valley Station on the Gibb River Road in the Kimberley four months ago.
From Dubbo we turned north and made our way up through the cotton country to Narrabri. From here we stopped in at the artesian baths in Moree before dropping into Goondiwindi, where we played soccer, rode our bikes and just chilled out in the artesian pool.
Our next stop was the town whose name was described by Billy Connolly as sounding like an elephant farting underwater - Toowoomba. Here we caught up with friends and family. First up, we visited Aunty Sandy and Uncle Bruce and the kids spent the morning ‘hooning’ around their backyard on the same petrol-powered go-kart that Karen used on the farm out near West Wyalong when she was their age.
We also caught up with Simone, Rachel and the adorable Asha. Having only just moved up to Toowoomba from Bathurst a week before, we joined the congo line of friends and relies dropping in to say hello. For the first time, our kids were responsible for looking after 18-month old Asha as they played throughout the house and backyard.
After a great couple of days in Toowoomba we headed down the Range to Brisbane where we would spend the next few days with Grandma, Grandpa and the Vadlas before heading further north to Hervey Bay and Fraser Island.
Adelaide and Berri