It is part of the Sir Sidney Kidman dynasty and my daughter works there. Just before Christmas I drove up to collect her and back again. Its about 3400km round trip.
Seeing that I seem to be spending more time in the outback, it made sense to buy a new land cruiser and get it kitted with a few essentials- bull bar, side rails, UHF radio etc.
The trip involves familiar territory- Kurrajong-Bourke-Hungerford-Thargomindah-Innaminka and return.
The road heading from Bourke to Thargomindah is called the Dowling track. essentially following the Cobb and Co coach route it heads North west to the dingo fence and the township of Hungerford, then onto Thargo.
The track from Bourke varies in condition a great deal, and in some sections can be hard on a vehicle and its tyres. I strongly advise to carry 2 spares, extra jacks and wooden chocks, and run your tyre pressure at 50psi at least.
Fords bridge is the first town- More just a great pub and history. Yantabulla has a rural fire shed, public phone and looks like a scene from Mad Max- as if people just left yesterday.
Hungerford is my favourite spot. Population of 7, with a police station, a brilliant pub run by Grahame, and friendly locals. Its always a good place to stop for lunch and a beer. Its even better to spend the night.
The next 210km the road improves greatly as the Bullo shire are constantly working on it. However the numbers of emus, kangaroos, wild horses and cattle also increases, and keeping a vigilant eye open as well as keeping the speed down are essential. Its not a track I would recommend to drive on at night, regardless of how much money you spend on driving lights.
Thargomindah is a tidy town. There is a Toyota dealer, caravan park and general store as well as fuel.
I pulled in and topped the cruisers tank up and headed towards South Australia.
The road to Innaminka is called "Adventure Way". In the peak tourist season it looks like a conveyor belt with white goods on it- being caravaners. Its mostly a single strip of tar, with heavy rocky edges. The "Way" climbs through the Grey Range and it really does remind me of travelling on the bottom of a dry ocean bed.
My advise to travellers on this section is-tune your UHF to channel 40. Road trains ( trucks with 3 or more trailers), mining vehicles and nut jobs towing camper trailers too fast are a constant.
Communicate with on coming traffic, and get off the road. Simply sitting on 100kph and passing another vehicle showers stones everywhere. Road train drivers cannot stop, or pull over as their rig can become twisted.. so be courteous and pull over.
The final section of road is dirt and in poor condition on the South Australian side.
Innaminka, frankly, does nothing for me. There is a nice Pub, and a general store but thats it. I pulled in for a beer before driving the 3 km to the Cattle station.
Innaminka Station is at the pointy end of the cattle production in Australia. well run, well managed, it represents to best of the best and carries on a tradition spanning over 100 years. My daughters home is neat and tidy. The lawns are constantly watered. One day without and it dies. With temperatures in the high 40's the cool of the verandah was most welcome.
A stay over night, and an early start back to Sydney was in order. So I hit the hay early and the following day, repeated the trip back.
Vehicle report:- I meet a lot of tourists in my travels, and they all want to talk about vehicles and whats best. Many are critical of the Landcruisers, as they talk number of airbags, KW, NM of torque etc. Everyone is welcome to an opinion, and I am yet to meet someone who has invested in $50-$100,000 tell me they "got it wrong".
I like my Landcruisers. They are tough. The front end, with live axle needs little or no repair, ( i.e. bushes) for 100,000km at least. The V8 is lazy, good on fuel and the truck is happy to sit on 120kph all day with a load on the back.
There is no doubt that the V8 is not as good in the bush, as it has too much power for idling without wheel spinning, and I am not too sure the airbag dash board will last like the old steel one.
The wider tack at the front does make for interesting handling in sand.
However, it suits me. It has a big clutch, big gearbox and big diffs, and that is a formula for getting 400,000km out of it. Yes, you do have to keep onto the oil changes, and be sure the fuel is clean more than an older one. Sure, statistically an Amerok/Ranger/BT50 produces as much power and are more comfortable. But they are not for me. The front ends fail, ( as it did in my 2011 FJ cruiser twice!), and as an auctioneer in the fleet industry I see it first hand. The trim and fittings cannot stand the constant punishment of a life off road. Yes, I know mines are moving away from Landcruisers- But those who don't use roads ( Surveyors, cattlemen etc), still use the Landcruiser. And whats this business of having to change the oil in a BT50/Ranger 3.2 litre diesel in under 20 minutes or you stuff the motor?
So, I am delighted with my purchase, and look forward to many more travels!
Happy 2015 to all my readers.