Brisbane to SA & Back. The Journey was just as fun as the Destination
We were planning a trip to South Australia for some time now and decided Christmas would be the best time. After the Christmas festivities we loaded up our Toyota Coaster and headed south, first stop was at Stanthorpe on the Granite Belt. Stanthorpe is famous for its wineries and visited several for wine tasting sessions, notably Castle Glen & Ballendean Estate Winery. While at Stanthorpe, we recommend dropping into the Jersey Girls Cafe (Cheese Factory) which is run by Rosco and Karen who have been farming dairy and beef cattle collectively for over 60 years. Also if you like natural Goats Milk & Olive Oil Soaps, we recommend a stop at Soaperie. They stock a fantastic range of soaps & natural products.
Departing Stanthorpe, we headed south to the beautiful free camp area on the Dumaresq River in Texas on the Qld/NSW border. It is also known as the Les (Jingles) Myers Rest Area and it is a day and overnight rest area and fishing point. We were surprised by the fairly lower temperatures even though it was so close to home. Over a camp fire we roasted the regimental marshmallows on sticks including a happy hour of course. We counted 12 others enjoying the lovely setting. The free camp is huge but so very private. So if anyone is travelling near and to Stanthorpe, we recommend a break here. We rate it 9 out of 10 while most free camps we rarely rate above 5.
From there we jumped on the Fossickers Way and to Bingara on the Gwydir River. We stopped for a coffee at the Roxy Theatre Café and we were glad that we did. It is a totally amazing Café - recently restored to its former glory; a step back in time to the 1950’s when milk bars were a meeting place. It should definitely be a must do on your agenda. We camped at an awesome pretty free camp on the Gwydir River right in town with huge weeping willows (we rate it 8 out of 10) and thereafter at another fantastic free camp few kms east of town on the Myall Creek (Again rating of 8 out of 10). After that we passed through countless towns and free camped throughout our way south. Pretty ordinary camps and we rate them 2 - 4 out of 10 so we do not want to go into details with these.
Once on the Barrier Highway it was obvious we were getting deeper into the desert. The highway is very remote, sparsely settled and everything was turning brown and dusty everywhere. We started seeing wild goats and emus including many dust devils (mini tornadoes) running over flat farmland in the distance. A town definitely worth a visit is Cobar. Cobar is literally the centre of NSW and after the discovery of copper in 1870, boasted of the Great Cobar Copper Mine which became the largest copper mine in Australia. To our amazement we literally found an “oasis in the desert”; a free camp at the Cobar Water Recreation Area (We rate it 10 out of 10; they do not get any better than this free camp).
If you are ever on the Silver Highway to Broken Hill, you must try the Little Tobar Roadhouse in the middle of nowhere. The road from Cobar to Broken Hill is a dusty one, so the outback roadhouse is a welcome break. Ask for their famous “Steak Sandwich”, it is scrumptious!
When we arrived in Broken Hill, NSW the mercury was at 45.4 degrees. It was terribly hot, thank God for the air conditioning on our Coaster, works like a charm. Walking around town was like playing musical chairs, darting between the shady areas. We paid a visit to the Living Sculptures about 9 kms out of town. The Sculptures comprise 12 sandstone artworks located on a majestic hilltop within the centre of the reserve, completed in 1993 by artists from around the world.
We then headed north towards Silverton, NSW - where Mad Max & Priscilla Queen of the Desert movies were filmed. Silverton is an old silver mining town. Very few of the original buildings still stand. It looked like one of the American old west ghost towns but great for walks. We highly recommend visiting the Mad Max 2 Museum with its collection of Mad Max memorabilia and old photographs. You will not miss the Mad Max VW parked outside. We also highly recommend the food at the only Café/Antique Wares - everything fantastically home baked with prices from the dark ages (we went back twice) and the pub with its fantastic character and friendly locals. We free camped in Silverton that night, literally in the desert with the mercury hovering around 47.3 degrees and with the addition of a few dust storms. It was so hot the wild donkeys were sheltering in the shade under the verandas of some of the old buildings.
The next day, we pointed our Coaster towards Port Augusta, South Australia. Read more of our story in the next issue of “The Journey”.
- Crazy Rock aka Cranky Rock
- Short and Sweet: Our Mazda Gekko
- Innamincka and the Back O Burke
- Travelling Oz - Part 1
- Travelling Oz - Adelaide to Eyre Peninsula and Return - Part 2