Blazeaid 2016

22 February. This time I am on the road by myself. The aim is to volunteer again at Blazeaid, but this time in Victoria after the bushfires.   
After stocking up on a few supplies headed towards Bowen. Stopped for the night at a roadside stop where mainly backpackers camped. I am not hurrying to get there and intend to see a few sights where we have not been for a while.
Next stop Lake Elphinstone. We were there last year and it is a beaut spot. This time it is not as busy. Spend two nights here. On Thursday down south via Moranbah, Middelmount and spend the night in Emerald. This is the first time there was none else when I got here. On the way to Roma I passed the Carnarvon National Park. We had been here years ago but missed out on a few walks. The last 20 KM is still as bad as it was 12 years ago. It is still very hot and out of tourist season for that exact reason. Not a lot of people walking. It is a magnificent park. Impressive rock formations and aboriginal paintings.
Spend two nights here.
             The way in to Carnarvon National Park                                   Art gallery                    Entrance to amphitheatre
28 Feb.  On the way to Roma. Just filled the tank and spend the night besides the Ballone river in St. George. Next stop Lightning Ridge. This is an opal town. The best opal in the world comes from here. Drove around for a couple of hours and went in to a museum mine. On the road again via Walgett to Dubbo and Parkes. In Parkes is the largest radio telescope in Australia. The film The Dish is shot here and it played an important role in relaying images of the first man on the moon. In Parkes is also a yearly Elvis festival. One day I have to visit this. Tuesday and the last day travelling via Forbes, Wagga Wagga and Albury to Barnawartha where the Blazeaid camp is. 
          All the diggings in Lightning Ridge                                                            Radio telescope in Parkes
We are on the sports field. When I got there most volunteers were still out working. Got myself settled. It is still very hot but there is not enough power to enable us to turn on the air-conditioning. There must be at least 50 volunteers here but the turnover is fairly high. Day one putting up a new fence. The weather is hot but very little humidity. The work is light compared to last year. Day two pulling up burned fence posts and star pickets. The work is still light but you look like a chimney sweeper after a few hours. Only halve a days work. The posts are pulled up with the help of a tractor. You wrap a chain around it a few times, pull the chain and out it comes. 
Slowly volunteers are moving on. The camp closes on the 19th of March. It was no good going down south to escape the heat. At the moment it is 10 degrees hotter here than in Townsville. The temperature sits around the 38 degrees mark. When I get in the bus after dinner it is 40 degrees in the bus. Only after 9 PM it get's below 30 degrees. Every morning we are going out with a team of four and do whatever the farmer want's us to do. If no one  has been there before the first thing is taking all the wire and mesh off the fence and rolling it up. Next pulling up all the fence posts  if from timber could be burned or star pickets. Next step is to put in the star pickets. Blazeaid has a machine to drive them in to the ground. After this the plane wire and barb wire has to be put in place. There is a tool to tightly pull the wire and fasten the ends.
I have not put any mesh in place but everyone here put them in to keep out the rabbits, kangaroos and wombats. This is done with limited success.
     Ned Kelly has been hiding out in here.                            There used to be a shed here                     Clipping on mesh
On one of the properties there was a spot where Ned Kelly had a hiding spot. There was a cave for shelter, they could see for miles if the police would be approaching. On the photo myself and some volunteers and the owner of the property.
9 March. My day off. Went for a drive around Chiltern, Howlong, Albury Wodonga, Beechworth, Wangaratta and home again. A lot of old homes are still standing in Beechworth. Also a famous bakery and I just happened to be there at lunch time.  In Wangaratta I visited Bill and Phill van Ruth. We have seen them in several places in Australia. 
A normal day consists of the alarm going off at 6AM. Have breakfast and make your lunch. You are assigned to a team which is three or four people. On the road by 7.15. Most farms are close by. Work on a fence till 10AM. Have coffee and a biscuit. Work till 12 PM and have lunch. Work till 3PM. Sometimes earlier or later if it finishes a job. A lot of farmers offer you a beer after work. 
14 March. Our numbers have dwindled to about twelve.  There are only a few farms remaining. The days are still hot but it is slowly cooling. The last couple of nights we are invited by farmers where we have worked for drinks and nibbles. Wednesday the last fencing work. Thursday cleaning up and Friday on the road again.
19 March.  First night I had to camp beside the Murray. Only a small freecamp and a lot of people there. During the night we had a lot of rain. When I got out of bed the place was practically deserted. Off to Wangaratta. I had an appointment with Vienna and Robert Bross. We met for the first time in WA and they looked after our house for two month while we were in Europe. I only made it just in time. Heavy rain an the wind nearly blew me off the road. Lovely to see them again. Another nice freecamp where I spend two nights. On the road again to Glenrowan, this is where Ned Kelly was captured. I expected it to be busy because this is a small tourist town but the place was nearly deserted.
            Ned Kelly in Glenrowan                        Camp on the Murray near Cobram                       Ettamogah pub
From Glenrowan to Shepparton. It is still very hot but slowly cooling down. Spend a few days here and moved on to Cobram. Over the next few weeks I will be following the Murray river. I expected it to be very busy here for Easter but not so. It is advised not to swim because of algae which has turned the river green which must have put a lot of people off. When I got to Yarrawonga I found a beaut spot beside the Murray. Initially planned to stay a few days but this extended to nearly a week. The weather is perfect, a bit chilly in the morning but not bad enough to turn on the heater.

Murray river near Yarrawonga

1 April.  Just on the other site of Yarrawonga. On the internet everyone gave tis place the thumbs up. It is lake Mulwala. It is still the Murray but because they put a weir in it formed a lake. Found a nice spot but someone decided to turn on a loud generator. Time to move a few hundred metres. Two nights here and decided to spend another night at Howlong. Sightseeing the next day. First to the Ettamogah pub which is just north of Albury. A bit of shopping and next stop Bonegilla. We did not start in this Migrant centre but know a few people who have spend time here. We have been here years ago but there was not much to see. Now they turned it in to a museum. This was the largest migrant centre in Australia, 7000 at one time.  
    Huon Reserve 8AM   and  8 degrees                                   Burrowye Reserve                              Top of mount Kosciuszko
6 April.  Drove only 20 KM to Huon reserve. This is besides the Lake Hume. As hot as it was the day before the diesel heater is getting a workout. 8th of April. Only drove 50KM to Burrowye reserve. This is one of the best spots I have been to besides the Murray. The temperature has really plummeted at night. At 8AM it was 5 degrees outside and not much more inside. But de days were glorious. A few friendly campers nearby so happy hour was organised. Victoria has provided a lot of freecamps along the Murray river. Some with toilets but most for self contained RVs. 10 April. Off to Jingellic. We have been here a few times before and always busy. This time fairly quiet and the prime spot was vacant.
12 April. A very winding road to Thredbo. All I wanted to do here is walk up mount Kosciuszko. But I got there too late. Found a nice camping spot and when I woke up the grass around the bus was frozen and it was 3 Degrees inside. The heater worked overtime. I got pulled up by the ranger that I did not have an park pass. I had seen a sign that pensioners do not need to pay but I still had to get the pass before I could walk up the mountain. It was the best day for a walk. Crisp weather and a clear sky. Still a four and a half hour walk. Found a nice camp spot near Jindabyne beside the lake. Next Bega and this place is famous for it's cheese. You can't visit the factory but they have a information centre/ museum.  The coastline from here on is very nice. Also because I am near the ocean the temperature has risen drastically. Batesman Bay is a tourist destination. I am here on the weekend and it is very busy. In Townsville we have a problem with bats but that is nothing compared to what they have here. Even during the day there are thousands flying around close to houses. Last night the first time in a month that I had some rain. More rain and more forecast. Only drove 50 KM to Ulladulla. A quiet fishing village. There are a lot of touristy villages along the coast to Sydney. Followed the coast as far as Port Kembla and that is the last of the ocean I will see till arriving back home. Around Katoomba there are several attractions. Wentworth falls the three sisters and Jenolan caves are the most famous. Especially the three sisters one tourist bus after the other arrived. I am getting close to Bathurst where the rally is and found a beaut spot at the edge of a lake 50 KM away. A few days here and to the CMCA rally.
                                                                       Three sisters Katoomba
                                                                      Bathurst CMCA rally. I am in there.
Two nights beside a lake near Lithgo, one night in Bathurst in a free camp and on the 24th of July queuing up to get into the rally site. This is the site where the most famous V8 car rally of Australia is held. We have taken the bus over it years ago. On the first day I have met already a few people from Townsville and others I had not seen for years. Day seven and time to leave. I could have stayed another day but the weather tuned for the worst. After some shopping and fuel did a few KM. Mudgee, Dunedoo, Coonabarrebran and an overnight stop at Narrabri. From now on it is all driving to go home. Moree, Goondiwindi for an overnight stop. On to Roma and an overnight stop in Emerald. This time there were far more overnight campers than on the way down. Next direction Charters Towers but I only want to drive about 300 KM a day. So the next stop is  Cape River, about 100KM south of Charters Towers. This was the last overnight before hitting home.
6 May. I got home early afternoon and everybody was glad to see me again offcourse.
Total KM  7500.  Diesel used  1400.  Cheapest fuel  98.5 C/L Albury.   Dearest fuel  113.9 C/L Walgett.