As expected a cold start, but it is a sunny morning and not too much wind. Breakfast on the picnic tables by the lake and we pack up slowly and enjoy the environment. While the location is great, I think if we came back, I’d probably pick one of the non-powered sites further around the lake that are more secluded.
Up until now the Telescope had on their web site “we are planning on opening on the 4/7”, but no update since, well this morning it says they are open from the 6/7, so that’s damn good timing and I’m glad we didn’t try and get there yesterday. We drive the 10km over to the array. On the way in, we see a sign saying that all mobiles and wifi devices need to be turned off, boy it amazing how many of the damn things we have!
The Array is 5 dishes that are movable on large rail tracks, and there is meant to be a 6th stationary somewhere nearby. By moving the 5 they can change the size and resolution of the details they get. The visitor centre is ok, but the theatrette, which would have been good, is tiny and there are already 5-6 people in there so it’s a bit too cosy for our liking. While we’re outside, about every 5 or so minutes the dishes move just a little bit, we assume so they are still looking at the same bit of sky as the earth moves. It remind us that science is still going on.
About 70k on towards Burren Junction, or more specifically the Hot Springs that are just outside of town. There is a freecamp here, but all that I’ve seen suggests it is just a flat dirt patch, and it can be very busy. As we arrive, that proves to be an bit of an understatement. There must be 40 or 50 vans. We find a place to park and Justine and the Kids go for a dip (I’ve got an open cut, so don’t want to run the risk of an infection). It’s a concrete round pool, not the absolute nicest, but OK. The water is hot, apparently about 40° It takes Caitlin a few minutes to get fully in. They all enjoy themselves and given the number of campers, it is surprisingly, a lot less busy in the pool than I expected
Lunch at a rest stop, just the other side of the now, very small Burren Junction.
Another 100km on some backroads till we reach a freecamp on the banks of the Barwon river just outside of Collarenebri. The land out here is just so flat, most of the farms seem to be growing wheat or some other grains, although it would seems a lot of cotton is grown out here and there are quite a large number of turkey dams.
We pull in to the freecamp, and it is just a dirt area, with some camping bays fenced out. But there are toilets and showers. We find a spot and setup, a bit close to the highway for my liking. With the kids on bikes we take a walk to find the river, which ends up being only 200mts away over a slight ridge. As we walk in we see another 5 or 6 vans parked up right on the river. There still seems to be a spot large enough for the van between two others with out crowding in too much. I ask the guys on both sides and they are ok with it (if we don’t camp here, someone else will come in so it may as well be us). While a pain, I race back, pack some stuff up and re-hitch the van. We’re now right by the river, what I kinda though it might be like when planning, What a difference 200mtrs makes. Absolutely beautiful here.
Unlike last night, there are no firepits here, so I grab out our new portable one (I’ve been itching to try it). There are about 6 campfires up and down the river. The fire is not quite as good as I hoped, but the kids enjoy poking the fire, and after dinner some toasted marshmallows.
After several attempts, I can’t get the diesel heater working, it is complaining about not enough power to get the glow plugs going. So it’s going to be a frosty night in the van, fortunately we have enough blankets to not freeze. I’m going to have the work that issue out over the next few days.