“Tibooburra” has a population of about 150, and means “heaps of rocks” in the local Wangkumara & Maljangapa language. We pulled in to refuel from our jerry cans using the very clever siphon hose that Paul insisted we buy. No more sucking on garden hose and gagging as the fuel arrives before poking the hose into the tank (not that we’ve had to do this, but you know what we’re talking about!). These siphon hoses with the “jiggler” are simple physics at its best.
Being Sunday, the town was quiet, though we knew that would change, with 350 people due through town as part of a rally event headed to Cameron Corner. The turn to Cameron Corner is actually before the Tibooburra township, so we headed out, excited to finally be on the road to the corner marking where South Australia (SA), New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland (QLD) meet on the map.
Harsh gravel roads, littered with rocks of all sizes, made for slower going than on the black top or dirt. We could hear the “tink! tink!” of the stones hitting the underside of the Legend and the Cub. A “crack!” changed that in an instant, with Paul declaring that we had lost a window. Kirstine was horrified and turned to see one of the rear door windows transformed into an intricate jigsaw of tiny safety glass fragments. Poor Cooper had tears pouring down his cheeks, as his beloved Patrol was “broken”. We pulled over, as the window began to collapse, and Paul pondered a bush mechanic fix to keep us going. Kirstine climbed onto the Cub to access cling film from the kitchen tub. Chequerboard gets HOT in the sun, did you know that?? 15 minutes later we had a new “window”, several layers thick and secured with gaffer tape. Had we had clear contact on board, that would also have been useful.
Arriving at Cameron Corner, we opened (and closed!) the Dingo Fence, and entered SA from NSW. Tow minutes later we were in QLD at the Roadhouse, before finding the bollard which marks the geographical union of the three states. With one finger, the kids were transported in an instant to different locations and time zones. Our eldest daughter found herself in QLD, youngest daughter back in NSW, and Cooper remained with us in SA.
We’d originally planned to camp at Cameron Corner (the camp site itself is in QLD), however with 350 people and vehicles due, we decided to continue on to what would have been our stop for the next day – Montecollina Bore.
The track from Cameron Corner out to the Strzelecki Track, affectionately known as “The Strz”, passes through pastoral properties and is a beautiful drive over continuous crests and the accompanying valleys. The day became overcast, and there was a cooling wind as we stopped to make quick sandwiches, observed by several cows resting in the shade of a nearby tree.
There are so many colours in the outback landscape. We’re sure most city dwellers think of the outback as desolate, flat and bland, but we guarantee you this is not the case. Some of Australia’s largest properties are in these remote areas. Millions of hectares to run their cattle free range, and water available via bores sunk into the Great Artesian Basin.
Montecollina Bore is one of these. Sunk in 1903, this 114 year old bore has created an oasis in the outback. We arrived late in the afternoon and set up camp. This was also the first tine we set up our mesh room, nicknamed “The Palace”. This room would become our sanctuary from thousands of flies, and provide us with ventilated shade in the heat of the day. After cooking a quick tea, we sat in The Palace, and following sunset, sat in silent awe of the clear night sky and its blanket of stars. Kirstine commented to Paul that she had never that known the constellation of Orion was so detailed. All most people ever see is the focus points – belt, head and the major stars indicating head, arms, bow and legs. But Orion came alive in the Outback! The figure filled out from stick figure, to human form, and was truly a wonder.
It was such a liberating sensation to sleep with all windows open on both the Cub Camper and 3Dog Camping roof top tent. It was a first for the kids, and after a few nerves about see-thru walls and dingos, they embraced the night vision and outlook as they lay in bed.
The next morning was windy! Fine sand from the surrounding dunes filtered through the mesh windows and walls, leaving a layer over everything, and making it ridiculously frustrating to try and boil water on the cooktop to make coffee for Paul and Kirstine!
The wind died off in the early afternoon, and the heat remained. We ventured over to the bore pool, and spent a blissful couple of hours swimming. We have no idea how deep the pool is, but the water was unexpectedly chilly about 1.5m below the surface, so it must be deep! Luna was thrilled to be in water again. We do work to keep her cool, and water is an easy way to achieve this.
The heat got to Paul that evening. A nasty side effect of the medications he needs to take. He retreated to the Cub, and slept under the light breeze created by small 12V USB fans purchased in Wagga for these conditions. Sometimes all you need is air moving, to keep you comfortable in hot weather. We managed to cook a roast pork, complete with crackling, in our Weber Baby Q, so at least Paul had a good tea before falling asleep.
Our last day at Montecollina Bore was a bit rough. No wind this time, but as we sat in The Palace and played card games, we measured the temperature at 46.5C. Kirstine had already taken the kids for a dip in the bore pool, and everyone was under strict instructions to drink water and electrolytes. When Paul was working as an ambulance officer at the remote Olympic Dam mine site in SA, the instruction was 1L per person per hour. Paul set up our 240V pedestal fan in The Palace. How could we run a 240V appliance without being connected to power? we hear you ask.
Redarc provided us with an additional solar blanket, meaning we have combined 262W of potential power generation, allowing us to run our Redarc 2000W inverter for our 240V appliances. We ran the fan for about five hours, and the solar blankets had no trouble maintaining the battery voltage. Trust me, the fan kept us all sane in very uncomfortable conditions! Without it, we may well have had to sit in the Legend with the AC running.
After another swim, we set up the popup ensuite and Smarttek 6 hot water system shower, to rinse off the fine algae from the bore pool, which stuck to any fine hairs on the body! The five of us showered, switching the water off/on, using the shower head, to rinse. We used the 20L water in our reserve jerry can, and didn’t need to heat it up. It was already over 40C!
The next morning Kirstine woke everyone just after 6am, so we could pack up before the heat of the day. Unfortunately, the flies were already awake, so we experienced pack up while wearing fly nets! Dishes were washed in the hot water running direct from the Great Artesian Basin at the bore, and three hours later we were sitting in air conditioned comfort, and on The Strz again.
We left our oasis, and wonder how many people can say they’ve camped there. In late Spring, not so many we’re sure, but in Winter it must be a cracking place to be.
Go see it for yourself!