Day 31 - Menindee, Kinchega Nat Pk, Menindee Lakes

Trip Start Apr 17, 2012
Trip End May 27, 2012

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Where I stayed
Bush Camping by the lake

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Thursday, May 17, 2012

Woke up absolutely gobsmacked by where we were. It was already looking like a glorious day outside with the sun shining over the lake, the ochre sands adding to the colours. We immediately made the decision to stay another night, preferably in the same spot, however we needed to check out some of the area's offerings so there was always a possibility we might see an even better campsite during the day. We wolfed down our breakfast and took our time to just enjoy the place by taking photos and going for a wander around. Once we were ready to go, we hit the road.....or dust to be precise.

Firstly, we headed in to Menindee to get coffee, I thought I saw a Coffex sign yesterday whilst doing our recce of Menindee. We drove around a bit and couldn't find it (later research showed that it only opens 1 or 2 days a week and is run by the local Hospitality Students - it's meant to be quite good so please try to visit if in the area). We then tried the general store but their coffee machine was broken! At this point we gave the coffee a miss and made our way to the visitor's centre to find out where we could load up the camper tanks with drinking water and have hot showers. They said the best showers were at the Kinchega Woolshed Visitor's Centre - perfect, that's exactly where we wanted to go.

Driving into the National Park was rough at places but mostly soft sand, it got a bit deep at times but with the tyre pressure reduced from the day before we never lost traction. We were the only 2wd there though. I just had to bear in mind that 4wds have only been around for 40 years - before that everyone out here had 2wds. I drove with care - which I always do anyway but kept it under 30 km/h throughout the park. Some interesting water control devices and water channels were going bananas with the amount of water flowing but the birds and fish seemed to be having a field day. The woolshed was about 10 or 15km into the park and we noticed that many of the roads were closed as they were still under water. Luckily all our roads were open.

The Woolshed and Visitor's Centre were interesting, just like at Mungo, this place was once a sprawling cattle station so all the photos and relics were there in the museum. Back in the day, the major stations were like mini townships, usually with more people around, more money and even their own telegraph stations. The showers were the best showers we have ever had, we had just gone for three days without showering and it felt awesome. There was no way I could keep my shower to under 5 minutes - I did a triple shampoo and had to wash a few pairs of socks. Besides, if the roads are closed due to flooding then surely there is too much water to properly harness - as a result, we were making the most of an over-abundance of water, a rare occurence out here - but pretty damn cool to experience.

After showering and having a look around at all the old engines and things we continued on our tour of Kinchega. We wanted to check out some campsites at Lake Cawndilla but the road was inside the lake (and closed) so we did the Emu Lake loop, as you would imagine there are plenty of emus. Being birders, we always love to watch emus, they have so much character but the best thing is when they have some babies following them. We also saw some wild boars which I imagine all the locals would love to shoot, but they also had a few younguns with them. I have to say we thought they were pretty cute too - that is, until you realise the harm they do to native wildlife.

Since half the park was still under water, most of the roads were closed so once we had done the Emu Lake loop we were almost back at the entrance again. This probably was a good thing as the track was pretty horrendous with either deep, soft boggy sand or bone-jarring corrugations. There was plenty of evidence of the roughness of the road too, we found several car parts on the road. As we were got toward the exit of the park our hunger kicked in, it was 3pm and we needed lunch. Kinchega is only a few kilometres from the township so 5 minutes after driving out we were at Menindee Take-Away ordering fish & chips. We stuffed our faces all the way back to the campsite.

It was now after 4pm and the afternoon was getting shadowey and colourful so we made the most of the campsite - quite possibly the best one of the entire trip. We relaxed, played with our cameras and just enjoyed the place. As it got darker the colours just got better and better, this sunset was even better than the previous night. We took too many photos and recorded hundreds of GB of video. It seemed like a lot but it's always worthwhile in the end. We stayed outdoors until the last bits of sunset had completely disappeared and it was getting too chilly to stay outside. Oddly enough we were starting to get hungry again so we prepared a salad. I threw a bit of grilled chicken breast on mine and we re-heated the leftover chips from lunch which turned out quite nice.

I was able to position the TV antenna and cable to the same exact spot so that ABC TV was clear and we were set for the night. We were also now getting into the final week of our holiday so we did some careful planning and calculating routes, distances and priorities. We were starting to realise that although we have done heaps on this trip, we would still have to put a fair amount off until the next one. We made the decision to keep following the Darling River northwards until we were completely out of time. Tomorrow we would press on and say goodbye to Menindee, so we absorbed the atmosphere of our campsite and went to bed once the nightly chill began to set in.

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