Yerranderie – Whispers from the past…

Standing amongst the wooden and corrugated iron buildings in the old silver mining town of Yerranderie, my mind’s eye could hear the whispers, the laughter of people long gone drifting on the breeze…

Yerranderie is a small bush town not too far from the centre of the bustling metropolis of Australia’s capital city, Sydney – at least as the crow flies.

In reality it is about a six-hour drive, depending on the route you take.

Recently, I travelled via Oberon, the Kowmung River and along the historic Colong Stock Route. A dusty, but scenic route, and I was sure to wile away some time sitting next to the Kowmung River with a mug of steaming black tea as black cockatoos passed overhead…

With a few days up my sleeve I decided to spend a couple of them exploring, photographing, and hiking around the wonderful bush surrounds the town is situated in.

My visit was mid-week and I literally had the place to myself, apart from the caretaker who lives on-site. And the only sound one could hear was the constant chiming of the bellbirds’ call, ringing as they flittered through the trees.

The town is nestled beneath Bartlett’s Head, an impressive rock that stands proud and from its vantage point provides a wonderful panoramic view of the surrounding bush and the Kanangra Boyd Wilderness Area.

The hike to the top is well worth the effort and takes little more than an hour.

And at day’s end there is a rich golden glow as the setting sun reflects off its cliff walls before it glides below the mountain peaks, beyond the horizon, heralding in nightfall as wombats awaken from their daytime burrows…

From Bartlett’s Head you can view the Burragorang Valley and backwaters of Warragamba Dam, which provides Sydney with its water supply.

Prior to the construction of the dam in the late 1950s the Burragorang Valley was home to a small farming community and it provided a more direct access route to Yerranderie from the township of Camden to Sydney’s south-west.

Yerranderie has a history closely linked to the people of Burragorang Valley…

On Easter Sunday a service is held in the local Catholic Church to commemorate the pioneering people of the valley and their association with the town.

An opportunity for old friends to “catch-up”…

Whilst it is a reasonable trek to get to this little gem in the Australian Bush, if you have an adventurous spirit, enjoy a freshness in the air that only the mountains can provide, and a day or two to spare, I encourage you to pack some camping gear and your favourite bottle of red wine to share with friends around the warmth of a glowing campfire – better still pack another bottle and stay one more night!

Photos: Baz – The Landy, Yerranderie, Australia…

 

Moreton Island – A different kind of sand dune…

Toyota 79 Series Dual Cab

 

Our touring vehicle “The Landy” is booked in for a major service tomorrow having done 100,000 kilometres of touring this great country of ours over the past three-and-a-half years.

Much of it in the sand and desert country that is a feature of our Australian landscape…

At the end of the week I will be heading off to experience another type of sand country – Moreton Island, just off the coast of Brisbane.

Despite having lived in Brisbane for a number of years, Janet and I have never visited, so Janet has suggested I head off and do a “recce” of it so we can spend some time there together in the future.

Perhaps she is planning some “girlie shopping” ahead of our trip to Devon, in the South of England, during June and July and needs some space!

Moreton Island, which is reached by ferry, has around 400-kilomtetres of sand tracks to be “Xplored”, pristine waters and wrecks that you can snorkel around, and a historic Light-house built in the mid 1800’s…and they say the fishing is great – well I’ll put that to the test at some stage, but knowing my track record the fridge in “The Landy” will be stocked with a few steaks, just in case!

And I will be leaving the TVAN, our touring camper-trailer, at home in favour of swagging it – simple and easy.

The camera gear is packed, so hopefully the weather will be kind on Moreton so I can get “Out and About” and experience a different kind of sand country…

Photos:  Baz – The Landy

 

A Termite Mound – You’re kidding me?

 

Strewth, how big is that termite mound, hey, and what about the spectacular colours of our parched southern land…!

Photo: Baz – The Landy, Plenty Highway, Outback Australia…

The Australian Outback – More than just a state of mind…

Australian outback

Deep in the middle of one of Australia’s remote desert lands at a place where perhaps only a handful of Australian’s of European descent have stood, if that many and not a soul in sight

Photo: Baz – The Landy

In-Vehicle Computer Mount (A Solution)

Panasonic Toughbook

A favourite catch-cry in the corporate world, of which I am firmly entrenched, suggests any goal needs a plan and a “road map” detailing how you are going to arrive at your objective.

But what about “road maps” when we are Out and About – Having Fun?

Exploring the OutbackI grew up wandering the bush with a compass in hand and a bunch of paper maps and in my flying days I had similar.

Even with the advancement of GPS technology I still haven’t been able to give-up my paper maps and compass.

Mind you, “The Landy” our Toyota 79 Series Dual Cab is fitted with a VMS In-Dash GPS running Oziexplorer mapping software. Although, I find the VMS lacking in functionality as it only runs a “light” version of the full Oziexplorer program and the screen size challenges even those with 20/20 vision.

On an outback expedition to the Gibson and Little Sandy Deserts I was able to review a Panasonic Toughbook in action.  A robust laptop, the Toughbook has its genesis in the US Military and could survive almost anything thrown at it, especially the bone-jarring corrugations found on many of our outback tracks.

Rest assured, this sort of toughness comes at a hefty price for a brand new unit, but on my return from the expedition I purchased a reconditioned unit from a Melbourne based dealer for a fraction of its new cost.

It can be turned into a “tablet” and I use it with a wireless keyboard and it has a solid-state hard-drive, which makes loading up extremely fast.

The challenge was where to locate the unit so it would be accessible to both driver and navigator in the front seat, but without comprising comfort and safety, especially if air-bags were activated.

I reviewed a variety of over-the-counter products, but concluded none were likely to survive the corrugations of our outback roads and a custom made mount was the only way to go.

I settled on working with the team at Industrial Evolution, a Sydney based company specialising in making computer mounts for police vehicles.

The owner, Brett Franzi, was pleased I made contact as he had not had access to the more recent batch of Toyota 76, 78, and 79 series vehicles and my request provided the opportunity for a design template to be made.

Why go with the in-dash mount?

It is centrally located and securely attached to the dashboard and whilst it does take up some real estate in the central dash location, the alternatives would have done so also.

Importantly, it meets ADR Standards and fitting is a straightforward process and is easily achieved by the most basic of handymen.

Mind you, the proof is always “in the pudding” and tests on all types of road surfaces covering in excess of 30,000 kilometres over the past couple of years has proven the Panasonic Toughbook, combined with the in-dash mount from Industrial Evolution, to be a great partnership…

A great solution that gets my vote, but hey, don’t leave home without a map and a basic compass – they have never been known to fail…!

The cost, well it will depend on what items you purchase, but don’t expect too much change out of $500.

Photos: Baz – The Landy

The Pink Lakes…

Murray Sunset National Park

Situated in the far north-west of Victoria is a park that showcases the rugged and spectacularly beautiful Mallee landscape of low scrubland and sand dunes, the Murray-Sunset National Park.

Murray-Sunset gives you a feeling of being Out and About in Australia’s vast outback without the need for travelling the vast distances usually associated with visits to “the interior”…

On a recent trip south to Kangaroo Island we took a couple of days to traverse parts of the park and view the Pink Lakes for which it is renown. Pigmentation caused by algae colours the lakes pink during the summer months and is quite spectacular to view later in the day.

Throughout the 1900s salt was commercially mined in the area with operations ceasing around 1975, but relics of this era can be viewed as you make your way around the lakes on the Pioneer Circuit.

Our starting point for travelling into the park was the small township of Linga where there is a well-signed and formed dirt road that takes you to the Pink Lakes. The Pioneer Track is a circuit that is suitable for two-wheel drive vehicles taking visitors on a tour around the lakes and can easily be accessed from the larger towns of Ouyen or Pinaroo for those wanting to do a day visit.

Being summer, we were cautious to ensure temperatures were not too high in the park before committing to travelling through it. Not that we are unaccustomed to extreme heat and humidity, after all, we grew up in Queensland and lived in tropical Papua New Guinea for a number of years. But at this time of the year the park sees far less visitors and despite being not too far from a number of towns it remains a remote area that should be respected.

Pink Lakes

 

After a short drive from the highway we arrived at the Pink Lakes and Janet took the opportunity to photograph numerous plants and flowers at Lake Hardy before we moved on to Lake Crosby, a larger lake with camping sites available.

For those travelling the Mallee Highway this would be a good overnight spot to take a break, or alternatively, a good base to further explore the park over a number of days.

Murray-Sunset is a large area with a seemingly endless amount of tracks that you can explore, but for the most part, this will require a four-wheel drive vehicle due to the many sandy sections that are encountered.

And come well prepared with plenty of water and basic recovery gear as you may be on your own. We did not see anyone else in the park during our short visit.

With only a limited time to explore the park we headed north along the Underbool Track with an overnight camp at the Underbool campsite, before continuing north the following day to the intersection with the Pheeney ‘s Track and a drive towards the western boundary of the park.

There is a campsite not too far from the western border of the park on Pheeney’s Track, however we headed northwards along the North South Settlement Road and had our second night in the park at the Shearer’s Quarters campsite.

This is a campsite set amongst the trees not too far from the Shearer’s Quarters. And there is a walk that you can take through the scrub, but this is best done late in the day during the warmer months. And if you are lucky you’ll be rewarded with a glimpse of some of the wildlife and wonderful display of wildflowers.  And not to forget, marvellous bark-art as we like to call the patterns found on the many types of trees one encounters when exploring…

After a pleasant overnight stay at this campsite, which we had to ourselves, we made our way out of the park at Taplan, a small town on the park’s western border, before making our way south to Cape Jervis, the stepping off point for our Kangaroo Island Adventure.

We had frequently looked at Murray-Sunset on our maps and had it penciled in our “places to see book”.

Exploring the Outback

This short visit gave us a taste of what the park has to offer and provided an opportunity for us to give our new Track TVAN Firetail a test in the sand. We had no doubt it would perform as well as our older TVAN Canning that it replaced, and it did, flawlessly…

We have vowed to return in the cooler months, although we suspect that in the depths of winter Murray Sunset would be a very cold place, but with changing seasons comes new perspectives, a warm campfire and the opportunity to XPLORE…!

thelandy.comPhotos: Baz – The Landy and Janet-Planet, Murray Sunset National Park, Australia.

 

A Call to Action…

American Jeep

This scene must have been played out every day during the Second World War, in either the European campaign, or in the Pacific…

 Photo: Baz – The Landy (circa 2016)

 Footnote: I was part of a photo shoot in the Blue Mountains this weekend past…