With the weather cooling and an opportunity to head west, I thought, "why not encompass a couple of National Parks that I love, some birding, and time spent in my favourite place, Hungerford.
The trip was simple- 7 hour drive to Willandra National Park with an over night stay. A relaxing drive to the Horse and Coach camp site beside the Darling River via Ivanhoe. A leisurely drive through Louth, across to Wandering and up to Hungerford then back to the new national park Tooralie, and finally Gundabooka.
The idea was to avoid the major towns, spend some time and money supporting the local businesses, (by paying a lot for fuel! lol!), and simply relaxing.
It was a journey that had its highs and lows and before I detail the trip, I really need to get a couple of things off my chest:-
National Parks NSW needs a better management plan. Advertised in their blurb is the latest National Park- Tooralie. Described as a place of camp sites, toilets, amenities...
Reality? Some nice signs, some stupid "copper art" thingos, a few park benches but no other facilities what so ever.
Now I will be clear- I can camp in the back of my land cruiser in a swag, dig a pit toilet and light a fire, however Nat Parks frown upon that sort of thing. So, when they say they have the facilities and don't, well its a stuff up. Simple.
The second thing is- no mention, what -so - ever, of Tooralies pastoral history. Are we ashamed of it?
Finally- It should never have become a national park- I have been to plenty and this one is a dud. Its a total contrast to the Horse and Coach which is in a beautiful location, the facilities are superb, theres plenty to see and soak up.
Tooralie has clearly been a highly productive cattle and sheep operation...and should have remained so. Its clearly a political purchase. Yes, its on the Darling and Warrago River, nice, but so what? The Looping drive is a drive to nowhere, and then you are out the back of the park. There is a small viewing platform on a hill at the south end of the park with lots of signs, but really?
We were the only people in the park, and we did not stay, We pushed on back to Louth.
Vehicle observations. GX/GXL land cruisers. I have always had land cruisers and they are best suited for me. This is the first one I have had with the Toyota alloy wheels, and I don't like them.
The wide wheels don't track on the roads in Western NSW as well as split rims do, and the amount of rock they throw up is huge. The V8 Cruisers one point of irritation is the track at the front is wider than the rear, and combined with a wide wheel pack, well, the front wheels sit well outside the original bodywork. It also exaggerates the "tram lining"effect. Whereby the front wheels struggle to track and the back tries to follow the front. If you are not used to it, it can be distracting.
I never had an issue with the previous models, i.e. those with split rims. So, the result is- the tray and back of cabin has been sand/rock blasted to the under coat.
Toyota convinced me to fit a genuine winch bar. Its no good for my application. The plastic inserts and buffers damage very easily, and the Toyota badges fall off. They are $80.00 each and the plastic inserts are$200-300.00 each. We hit an emu at Xmas, at moderate speed the bar pushed out of shape.
One thing I did do was Fit a Water Watch additional filter system to it. Common rail diesels don't cope with water or sludge and by the time the original filter warning goes off, it can be too late. The water watch system works a treat, and with an in cabin buzzer it gives you plenty of warning.
So, as a result of these observations I have ordered a new Workmate, with a TJM Outback Bar (no plastic bits). The new vehicle will have a heavy duty tray fitted as well, as the standard Toyota heavy duty tray is pretty ordinary and sits up too high.
I want to stress its "Horses for courses" when it comes to vehicles and everything its a compromise.
Now the trip! We had a fantastic combination of staying in managers cottages, tents and the pub.
Arrival under the Pepper trees .
Willandra is looking dry and a bit run down, the bird life was low but we did get a good look at Mistletoe bird which was nice. Quite a showy little bird in the afternoon sun. The walks are great as too the pastoral history.
I wonder if Nat Parks should re -stock with a small number of sheep to assist the Plains wanderers habitat? just a thought. They are doing it with success in other parks. The income off the sheep could go somewhat to pay for infrastructure upgrades, and maintenance.
Horse and Coach- On the banks of the Darling River, at a bend, its where the old Horse and Coach Inn was, and is a Cobb and Co stop over. About 50km North of Wilcannia on the eastern side of the River, its both beautiful peaceful and a credit to the National Parks. Great facilities for sure.
Camp site. The Oz tent screened enclosure was all we needed.
Louth- What a top spot to stop. Clean fuel, good food and cold beer. A good chat to the owners, and we realised they knew most of the people we know in the district, which was good. Here we chose to cross the river and head to Hungerford Via Wanaaring. A good choice albeit the road was rough in some sections.
Our accomodation at the Hungerford hotel! Quite luxurious in fact!
Hungerford- Population of about 7 and on the banks of the Paroo. The Royal Hotel has good food, cold beer and good company.
Some old vehicles on my cousins cattle station.
You can chat to the locals and I find it a really good spot to relax and see life from a different perspective.
Tooralie- ( not worth a photo). Save your fuel, time and effort. Its simply not worth the trip or detour.
Gundabooka- We had the park to ourselves, there are good facilities and the walks are fantastic. By this stage we had lost a rear number plate so a beer cartoon and a texta was used to get us home. I love the red soils and camping in amongst the mulga. This is one place where you can see just how the aboriginals used various trees for medicine, for food to make flour or to sleep on, etc. You will get a fine education if you put on your walking boots.
So, all up a fantastic trip.
Birds seen- ( to follow)