Our investigations around Quorn took us some time. We had discovered great place to camp, the Warren Gorge. Thus we explained it too our base camp. But after a few days we had to leave our base camp because of water scarceness. We afforded one night on the expensive and unfriendly caravan park of Quorn. Only in order to then state that there was also no water there, in order to fill our tank.
We finally got a container full of good rainwater from the friendly information centre in Quorn. The people on the camping were not helpful at all. But such experiences are rare. Most Australians are extremely friendly and helpful. The rural population is often rather shy opposite strangers, above all the recent generation.
Now we were again "on the road" in direction Menindee. Around 1860, this place was Bourke and Will's last stop in civilized area and therefore very important to the history of the well-known interesting and tragic Story of Bourke and Wills. We were curious, how this historical place would look today .When we arrived there, we discovered that not much from those glorious days was remaining. Today one sees only a few buildings referring to the high bloom of the city. Thus it divides the fate of other historical places all over Australia. Many are abandoned.
Our next goal was Mildura. There we wanted to refurbishour supplies, refuel and wash our clothes. That worked well. Mildura is a very nice city, where we got easily everything. We then drove towards the Mungo Nationalpark. Which is famous for its large, white sanddunes and the erosion areas. One finds there unbelievable formations, outrageous impressive and beautifull.
Unfortunately the park is however rather touristic. Therefore we went soon to the Murray Sunset national park. There we could enjoy again more outback feeling. There were some interesting tracks, which were partially very sandy. That made fun, although we got bogged while driving on the smallest track we could find! Our car is simply too heavy. It weighs over 3 tons! one day we saw a smoke column into the sky suddenly rising. That had to be investigated immediately more exactly. Would that be our first bush fire experience!? We drove towards the smoke, which became larger soon. The huge smoke column was extremely impressive, even if we could not see flames. Finally we drove further, it is not comfortable to stay in the vicinity of a bush fire. And then we discovered that the fire-brigade had ignited this fire and it was not at all natural. The fire-brigade always burns firebreaks at the beginning of the summer into the shrubs, in order to extract the food from the natural bush fires. What a disappointment! Everything only half as exciting. Later we heard that the fire went out of control and the fire-brigade was a little bit sweating.
We almost spent one week in the Murray Sunset national park. Everything ran calmly and we were pleased with the tracks, and the Kangaroos.
But then the fridge gave up its ghost. That was already nearly a tragedy. No more cold beer! Though we decided to drive back to Mildura, in order to let it repair. But unfortunately no one could repair it, not in Mildura and also no one in Australia! Our model doesn't exist in Australia, and the warranty of Switzerland does not apply. The repair of the Australian would be exchanging everything but the case and would cost about as much as a new refrigerator . There did not remain many possibilities: either a new refrigerator or none! But nobody wants to really travel in OZ without refrigerator. That was then minus 700 unplanned dollars. An expensive Christmas present! We were something frustrated, since the refrigerator had lived only 6 months. We bought specially an expensive Engel model before the journey . And we were angry on the Arab, who had sold us the equipment. The specialists in Australia explained us the fact that this model surely already some years old and that to it was possibly screwed. With the new refrigerator and a loaded budget we then went south.
We wanted to meet a
friend from Switzerland, which
was coincidentally also in Australia. He himself was visiting his Australian
friends. Short hand we were invited likewise there. First for a cuppa, then for
tea, then for staying overnight and then for the
rest of the week, since the weather had become very bad. The family
possesses south of Melbourne a beautiful holiday house and it explained it for
impossible that we stayed overnight on the camping, if they had so much place.
Thus we lived in this mansion with breath taking view to the sea, a Spa, a pool
table and a home cinema. We were overwhelmed. Finally we
were invited also to stay with the family in Melbourne, where we lived a further
week. We were speechless. We had rarely ever experienced so much generosity. We
could extend our visas without problems and enjoyed the city.
Briefly before Christmas we left Melbourne, to travel around Tasmania. After a calm passage our journey started towards the east coast. We wanted to spend Christmas at a beautiful calm beach, completely for us alone. We found then also a nice place and celebrated nearly without anyone else.
Soon we discovered that Tasmania is somehow like Europe with quite a high population density. There was not so many off road possibilities and it became a little bit boring for Marianne. Anyway we made some interesting trips, like for example Port Arthur. This was one of the first convict camps and therefore the beginning of Tasmania's white history. All the fates of the convicts were interesting to discover. It is a completely special part of Australia and we learned many facts.
As Tasmania is perfect for hiking, we made many exciting and beautiful walks. We were surprised by the variety of the flora and fauna it fascinated us, how different Australia can be.
We landed at the southernmost place of Australia, Cockle Creek, and walked to the South Cape. Standing there, we were closer to the Antarctic, than to Darwin! This thought was impressive.
We met many other Australians, mostly people from Tasmania. They love it to go fishing and they get with pleasures all edible from the sea. From that we could fortunately also profit and we extended our culinary horizon by various seafood.
We managed it to see the penguins on Bruny Island after two hours of waiting period on the cold damp sand . But it was worth to wait. The little chaps were cute! We tried to climb the highest mountain of southwest Tasmania, Mount Anne, and had to give up. But we made it up to Mount Eliza, where we had a beautiful view on Lake Pedder. We visited the base camp of the Greenpeace activists in the Styx Forest and learned more over the big issue of clearing the Rainforest.
In Strahan we booked a river cruise on the Gordon River, lived two nights in a Suite and enjoyed once luxury in full. After three days Marianne longed herself again for something new , because the Adventure was missing to her. Then we finally found an opportunity, where we needed the four wheel drive! It was the track to the Montezuma Falls. At the beginning of the way stood: hard grade track – 4WD only! And we were not disappointed! The narrow, bumpy track led us through coldly damp rain forest. Originally was a logging railway running on those tracks. Therefore the track generally was not so steep, but from time to time there was a bridge missing , which made it naturally more interesting.
After 2 - 3 hours travel time we arrived at the falls. It is one the highest in Tasmania. We decided to stay overnight there. It was a beautiful place, but we could not easy fall asleep. When Marianne was dozing off, Peter whispered suddenly: Do you feel that, too? - that is an earthquake! And really, our car shaked as from spirit hands. We had both a strange feeling in the belly. The next morning we tried to explain our nocturnal experience again. But nobody, who we asked, felt something similar. Was it perhaps a haunted ghost train, with all the poor souls, who died of the hard forest work? We camped on the former railway embankment... Very spooky! We made ourselves quick on the way back, in order to leave the place. The way back was even more provocative, because we took an other way back down. The Toyota worked again perfectly. We drove over steep, again narrow tracks, through a river and mud - 4x4 from the finest.
After an exciting travel we had a shower and a comfortable evening. In the morning the search for further 4x4 tracks continued. We soon found one. In the meantime we had reached the wild west coast, which almost offers itself for adventures. We decided to drive from Trial Harbour to Granville Harbour along the coast.
We could complain about this track . It contained everything that made fun for driving. Steep rises and steps, sand, narrow passages, log bridges and curves. In low range gear, the Toyota climbed over steps and stones, and never disappointed us. Sometimes we thought that it isn't driveable, but we always came through. Later on we were at a point, where turning was worse than drive on.
Then it started to rain, which made the soil more slippery. But after some hours we reached, quite exhausted, a nice camp spot. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset and a colored sky.
The new day welcomed us with beautiful weather and the second part of the coast track expected us with more sand. The weight of our car became apparent, like always. And sand boards and shovel were all time ready.
We soon reached Granville Harbour. Along the coast to Pieman Head and back to Granville Harbour, we drove then to the north. Our time in Tasmania comes the an end. The last two days were particularly stormy. Therefore we were pleased about the calm passage back to Melbourne.
Our trip will lead us across the Nullarbor Plain into the west.