About 5 or 10 minutes after we hit the road we saw another nineteen-eighty-something Hiace Poptop Discoverer by John Terry Campers coming towards us
. As we passed them we gave them a big smiley wave and as we were doing it we noticed they had seen us from a distance and were giving us the same warm hello. They looked just like a similar fun-loving adventure couple just like us, who knows, they may have been from overseas - or they may have been from Sydney too. We continued on to Cobar where we stopped for an early lunch and coffee (the bakery is always good, but the cafe over the road and down the street a bit sux), then headed down to the visitor's centre to find out about road conditions to Trilby. They also had a tap with excellent town water which they said we could use to top up the tanks. From there we went to the Cobar mine to check it out. It (as expected) was a big crater in the ground, still pretty good to look at though. There were some interesting abandoned old buildings around the mine too which appeared to be water supply or something like that.
We were now on our way to Trilby, 132kms which was mostly dirt. We soon found out that the sealed sections were the sections which were too rocky or gibbery and caused damage to vehicles, or the sections that washed away every time it rained. The dirt sections were so rough that at times we were going under 20 km/h and were shaking violently. Drawers love to work their way open on corrugated roads. Other sections were made up of fist sized rocks and then we'd see the occasional short sandy section
. We saw lots of feral goats and wild pigs around this area, followed by sheep. It must be weird when a group of pigs meet up with a group of goats in the middle of the night, I'm sure they'd go nuts and make a racket. Not a native Australian racket either. It took us a few hours to get to Louth but the scenery was still good and there were still plenty of wrens, wedgetails, goshawks and honeyeaters keeping us amused.
Louth is primarily a farming locality with only a pub and a shop or two. The town appears to have based itself around the pub which was established last century to service the river traffic as well as the Cobb & Co coaches travelling to Bourke and QLD from VIC and SA. There was no need to stop in Louth so we continued over the bridge across the Darling River to the Western side. From Louth it is only 20-something km to Trilby Station. The road on the Western side is nothing more than a track and since it had been flooded numerous times in the lead-up to our arrival it had spent much of the past few months closed. This afternoon is was a scenic but rough drive into the sunset - so we were heading West in the late afternoon. We got to Trilby at around 4pm and had no problems in finding the homestead and Liz, the owner/manager.
She recommended 3 or 4 different campsites all with something different on offer
. There were some campsites by the billabong and some by the river. All were a good distance from each other and required driving to in order to check them out. Since the billabong campsites were a little bit closer to the homestead (and shearer's quarters and powered sites) we figured we'd go for the quietest spots by the river. Once we were properly inside the property, it was apparent that this is an old, well cared for station. All along the river were parcels of old river reds and other eucalypts. Some were easily 100 years old or more. All the riverfront sites are fantastic, due to the river's directional changes some of the sites were SE facing, some were South facing and some were SW facing. We chose ours based on ease of access to the river bank and we were SW facing so we got some of the sunset. As we got there the sun was already going down and it was getting cold. Rather than set up straight away, we decided to drive the 3km back to the shearer's quarters but not before we pulled out the camping chairs and enjoyed the serenity of our own chunk of the Darling River at sunset.
The wading birds and fish-eaters get quite active around dusk, there were plenty of "cacaws" and "meek meek meek"s followed by a splash. Once we couldn't see any more and were shivering, we went for a drive and looked for the shower block in the dark. We didn't realise how dark it had become so we pretty much had to pull up right next to the caravanners who had set up at the powered sites
. (Who on earth would travel this far into the outback and then camp at a powered site next to a toilet block)? Anyway, we had been wandering around in the dark when said caravanners yelled out "Ya's lookin for the shyowa block?", we replied yes. "yih, jist round the back there"....we thanked them and found the shower block. We were surprised at how clean and well organised it was, apparently it was recently fixed up a bit. Inside there was a laundry, several shower cubicles and toilets. We took a cubicle each. It had been 3 days since our last shower and we were filthy, when we turned on the taps and saw the amount of steam we knew it was going to be nice.
A few seconds later the metallic smell of bore water filled our noses - bugger. No amount of soap or shampoo could get our skin feeling or smelling clean. We decided that we could probably use moisturisers and oils to remedy that once we got back to camp so we cranked the hot water and tried to get hot so that we'd be warm for a while afterwards. Once done, we jumped back into the van and made out way back to the campsite. It was a quick and easy set up and before too long we were enjoying our riverside oasis. The first thing we had to do was to try and stop smelling like bore water. We covered ourselves in moisturisers, baby powder and perfumed oils which only seemed to combine with the bore water smell. After a while our skin was bearable but our hair still smelt like bore water
. Oh well, can't win, never mind. Since we had just endured a couple of hard days driving, it was nice to have a relaxing evening where we could prepare ourselves a nicer dinner than usual.
The birds that made the riverbank their home didn't stop their activities after dark, the splashing sounds of birds calling and fishing was continuing non stop. Surprisingly, we were able to receive Next G so we had internet, this was a pretty amazing and unexpected luxury, even my mobile worked intermittently - I could get SMSs in and out - calls weren't brilliant but hey, we were at the bottom of a hill. A short walk gave me plenty of bars to make calls.
We were too exhausted to do anything after dinner so we listened to some music and did some emailing to family and friends then called it a night.
Woke up feeling surprisingly well-rested. Since we were only 400m from the highway we thought that trucks might keep us awake all night but just before bedtime the traffic thinned right out and we heard nothing all night, then at 8am it started again which was fine as we were excited about going to Trilby Station. After a 2-course breakfast of cereal followed by toast, we packed up all our stuff and were on our way. We thought we'd have a look at how some of the other campers were going, some looked like this was their holiday, some were packing up to leave and some had already departed early. A quick lap confirmed that had chosen the most ideal campsite the previous night in the fading light. We laughed at the 2 or 3 people waiting to use the toilet block as we have now perfected the art of tour-toiletting and no longer require the use of public toilets (say no more), we exited the rest area and turned right (East) on the Barrier Highway.