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Blue Snoopy is a 2012 Nova Vita Caravan pulled by a 2012 Nissan Navara ST Dual Cab Ute.

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21 September 2010 – Lightning Ridge to Bourke NSW

It is amazing how quickly the ground dries. Our camp area that was a bog 48 hours earlier is now virtually dry hard dirt. We also have “wall to wall” blue sky.

Whist having breakfast, we learnt that the side trip to a nearby opal field had been cancelled as there was concern with the number and size of our vehicles being able to exit from the site. What was not cancelled was a gathering of all the vehicles for a photo shoot at an abandoned building in the opal fields that was once a church. It was an amazing sight (photo later) of 17 motor homes lined up on a road ready to head into the opal fields for the shoot. The site chosen has been used in the past for a movie and it was amazing to walk through this part of Lightning Ridge and look at the old opal leases.

We were on the road by 10:00am for our drive to Bourke, a distance just over 300 kilometres.

Today was a very pleasant drive. We saw an abundance of wild life including frill neck lizards, kangaroo, emu, goats and even several pigs. NSW is certainly and amazing place after rain with the contrast of colours something to be seen. We also saw the result of a very recent road kill involving a small kangaroo, very sad. We are now well into the “outback”.

We had intended to stop at Brewarrina at the aboriginal fish traps but the area was closed off. Several of us did park and have lunch. It was at Brewarrina that we had our first glimpse of the Darling River.

Bourke is only 90 kilometres from Brewarrina and that part of the drive took just over an hour.

After refuelling we set up camp in a local caravan park that unfortunately is not one of the better places we have stayed. Whilst the grounds and the camp sites are fine, the male amenities do leave a lot to be desired. Fortunately they are clean.

As we were having a river cruise in the evening, we decided at 3:00pm that it must be 5:00pm somewhere so we had an unofficial happy hour. We were collected by bus at 4:45pm and transported to the departure point for the PV Jandra. Our driver provided us with information about Bourke including the cost of homes and population information. Bourke has lost one third of its population due to drought. He also mentioned a house purchase where the purchaser paid $6000 for a property and then received the First Home Owners grant of $14,000. End result was a renovated house, all legals covered and a couple of dollars in the bank.

PV Jandra operates tours on the Darling River. The vessel is a replica of an early paddle wheeler from the times when the majority of transport took place on the Darling River. The old steam engine has been replaced with generators and electric motors. The vessel can operate in less that a half of metre of water.

Our skipper William, provided heaps of information regards the Darling River which is currently at around 5 metres. We were told that in recent years there were floods in 2002, 2007 and so far two this year. Normally Bourke is entitled to 10% of the passing water during a flood, they only needed to take 2% during the most recent flood. We saw several species of birds and experienced an outback sunset during the cruise. This trip will live in our memories for a long time and we have a large number of photographs to remind us of the experience.

Whilst returning by bus to our camp site, the driver mentioned that he had spoken with the owners of the Louth Hotel who advised that the road to Louth was “better than good”. It does appear that we will be able to complete one of thee highlights of the trip. He also mentioned a dinner at Louth that was to have been a surprise.

Upon returning to the motor home we emailed our friends at Trilby Station confirming that is was now very likely we would be seeing them tomorrow.

The temperature is warming and we ran our air conditioning to cool the motor home. “He” will unpack shorts and a tee shirt for tomorrow.

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