Tag Archives: Innamincka

Innamincka to Birdsville

fullsizeoutput_12abWaking up bright and early we ate breakfast and packed the car. I made sure Alec’s DVD player was fully charged and there were plenty of snacks on hand. It’s going to be a long day in the car. After a quick morning briefing we were on our way. The goal today was Windorah, 674 kilometres away.


On the road again.

Everyone settled in for a day in the car. Driving long distances without stopping spread the vehicles wide apart as were crossed the wide open plans of outback Queensland. Only stopping every couple of hours for breaks as the kilometres ticked over. A mixture of single lane bitumen and well maintained gravel roads saw us make good time. We covered the 674 kilometres in 10 hours. 7 1/2 hours of driving time.


A lot of the gravel road was wide and straight.

We arrived in Windorah late in the afternoon and set up camp at the council run camp ground. Nothing flash but a welcoming place to spend the night after a long day. Our tour leader got in contact with the local police officer to find out if conditions had changed. The news was mixed. The river had peaked with 600mm of water over the causeway. But the officer didn’t know if the road was closed or open. He would find out and let us know in the morning.

After such a big day, cooking dinner was the last thing I wanted to do. A short walk down the street to the local pub had Alec and myself tucking into a hearty county meal and perhaps a lemonade or two to get rid of the dust.


One of the locals showing Alec his dog that could do tricks. Alec loved it. One of his tricks was eating Alec’s left over dinner.

The next morning we had some good news. The road was not closed. As long as the vehicle’s could handle the water crossing we were fine to go. With a relative short drive of 400 kilometres to Birdsville, it was a much better option than driving another 1200 kilometres to loop around and enter from the south.


Discussing the water height with the local policeman.

With spirits high, everyone packed up camp and headed east. With a much shorter day of driving we stopped to do some sight seeing, but still made good progress. Again the road conditions were good. A combination of bitumen and gravel road. As we got closer to Birdsville we started to cross small dunes. A good sign since we were on our way to cross a desert.


Stopping at a look out, you start to understand how large this county is. It goes forever.


Having a rest stop. 


Indigenous artwork of a Dreamtime serpent.


One of the many small sand dunes on the way to Birdsville. 

20 kilometres from Birdsville everyone had to pull up. We had a water crossing to navigate. A small lake at the base of the dune had been made by the flood waters. The water wasn’t deep but did create a little bit of excitement. With the country so dry it was good to see some water around. Although it was a sobbing reminder of what might lay ahead.


It was a bit of a surprise to come across this water.

All the vehicles crossed the water without a problem. We then travelled the last 20 kilometres to Birdsville. Well almost. Stopping on the outskirt of town we got our first look at the flooded Diamantina river.


Welcome to Birdsville. Well almost. We still have to cross a flooded river to get into the town.


The groups first look at the river.

To cross the Diamantina river and enter Birdsville a bridge and a long causeway has to be crossed. There was no water over bridge only the cause way, in four different places. The first crossing being the deepest. One a time each of the group crossed the deep water. The last 3 sections everyone followed each other though as the water was not very deep.



Slowly but surely the group crossed the 4 sections of water to get into town.


The last crossing before town.


Sweet action shot.

It was with the feeling of triumph and relief as we all rolled into the Birdsville caravan park. Instead of camping, Alec and I decided to stay in a basic cabin again. It was a good choice. With all the water from the flooding the little blood suckers were out in force. Mosquito’s at night and fly’s during the day. Not the best for camping. That night everyone met at the Birdsville Hotel for dinner, happy to final arrive at this historic and famous town.


Alec enjoying some chill time after a couple of big days.

Alec and I enjoyed a sleep in and a slow breakfast the next morning. This was a scheduled day off. Allowing everyone to sight see and get ready for the desert crossing. We didn’t leave our comfortable cool quarters till midday. We both needed the rest. We then made our way to the famous Birdsville Bakery for a yummy but somewhat unique lunch. We then visited the information centre which had a small indoor play area, which Alec made full use of away from the fly’s and heat.


Yes Alec is shooing away the fly’s. This the best pic out of 4 others.


I was told when in Birdsville you have to try the curry camel pie. I had one and it was amazing. Alec prefers the more traditional sausage roll.


No trip to Birdsville is complete with out visiting the Birdsville Hotel.

Fuelling the car and performing final checks filled in the rest of the afternoon. Having early dinner and bed time allowed us to savour the last time in a bed for some time. Tomorrow we head into the desert.



While in Birdsville one of our fellow travelers had a birthday and a simple cake was organised. Of course Alec was front and centre for his piece of cake. Which of course was given more than his fair share.

This was a common trend for the trip. Our fellow travelers really toke to Alec and involved him in everything. No to mention a touch of spoiling. I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people to travel with.


Cunnamulla to Innamincka

fullsizeoutput_12a7The excitement was building as we toke care of the last minute preparations. Getting know the small town of Cunnamulla as the job’s was ticked off the to do list. Simpson desert here we come.

Day one of the tour arrived. However we weren’t actually going anywhere and nothing was planned till the afternoon. We spent the day getting to know our fellow travellers and in the afternoon we all had our first briefing as a group. Giving everyone a chance to meet our tour guide and to get a general idea of what to expect traveling in a tag along tour.

It was mentioned there were flood water’s coming down from Winton and Longreach. Which could make it interesting getting into Birdsville later on in the trip. Little did we know how interesting it would get.


Everyone having a chilled afternoon getting to know each other before the adventure begins.


Everyone was given a tour hat and stubby cooler. Alec loved his hat and wore it a lot during the tour.

Once the formalities were over we were then bused into town for a welcome dinner at a local hotel. A BBQ style meal with a fire pit and entertainment from an old bushy helped everyone relax and set the tone for the trip ahead.


Lets just say there was some interesting entertainment for our night out.

Day two was when the tour really kick off. Waking up extra early we dressed and had breakfast. Then packed camp up. Our starts were often earlier than the rest of the group as none of them were traveling with a four year old.

After a morning briefing everyone started their four-wheel drives and as a group drove out of town heading west. Our destination a bush camp on the banks of the Wilson river. An easy day of bitumen driving as everyone settled in to the rhythm of the tour.


We had a morning briefing ever day. This was our first.


Heading west into the unknown. Well for me anyway.


Alec settled in for the adventure.

Along the way we stopped in the town of Eulo. While the rest of the group wandered though the historic buildings. Alec and I found something more our style. A cool prehistoric creature and a park to have a play at.

The artesian mud baths were also visited. Alec was little confused with the concept, but he did like all the cool old bath tubs. Another stop at the town of Thargomindah had us looking at the first ever hydro-electric power plant in Australia.


Meet the Kenny the Diprotodon. The life size recreation of a skeleton found in the area.


This was Alec’s favourite bath. Next time we visit we might actually take a mud bath.

By mid afternoon we were at the historic Noccundra Pub. Only a few kilometres away from our camp for the night. I decided dinner at the pub was good idea, so after we had soaked up the history we pre-ordered our meals and went down the track to set up camp by the Wilson river water hole. Alec had a play by the water’s edge while some of the group had a swim.


Our home for the night and our first bush camp.

With an awesome pub meal and a couple of well earn drinks Alec and I had no problem sleeping that night. Even if my swag was a little hard. I must be getting old.

The following day we packed up camp and all meet at the Noccundra pub for a group vehical photo  and the morning briefing. The goal today was South Australian. More precisely Innamincka. Approximately 30 km from the Queensland South Australia border. Not an overly hard day’s drive but we did experience our first unsealed road as a group.


Everyone trying to get the perfect shoot.


A good looking 4×4 I reckon.

We had a couple of stops for the day. All centred around the explorers Burke and Wills. The famous Dig tree first. Then once we had crossed the border into South Australia we visited the site of  Burke’s grave.


I first time in south Australia for both of us. Not the usual way most people visit the state.

Not all went to plan for one our group when we were visiting the Dig tree. While taking care of business in a long drop toilet her phone fell out of her pocket and down the hole. With ingenuity, patience and some fishing gear the phone was recovered and return to the very relieved and grateful owner.


This lovely photo was taken while we waited for the phone to be recovered.


The famous dig tree. You can read all about the story of Burke and Wills here.

Arriving in Innamincka we set up camp in what is called the town common. A bush camp below the pub and general store. Which is pretty much all Innamincka is. While the group was busy making a home for the night our tour guide was trying to find out if we could get into Birdsville. Although the reports were a bit unreliable at best. The general conclusion was we weren’t going to be able to get into Birdsville. Not from the south anyway.


A place to fuel the car.


And a place to fuel the driver. Welcome to Innamincka

With this news in everyone’s mind we all gathered for dinner at the large dinning room attached to the pub. The dinner was organised by the tour company. We enjoyed a roast dinner as alternate plans were discussed. The decision to stay an extra day in Innamincka had all ready been decided. Hopefully the news would be better the next day.


Alec got well looked after. With his own special plate.

Waking up slowly the next day. I started to work out what Alec and I would do for the day. It was hot, dry and the fly’s could carry you away. How I was going to keep a 4 year entertained and keep my sanity. The answer a cabin. The pub and general store both had basic accommodation available. We got a cabin with air conditioning, tv, bathroom and an early check in. Perfect. We spent the day chilling in the room. Alec caught up on some TV and me computer work.


We did leave the air con for a wander. Not really what you want to see on a sigh.


Innamincka in all it’s glory. Well kinder.

In the afternoon we all gathered in the dinner room to discuss options for the rest of the tour. The bad news had been confirmed. If the tour was to continue and get into Birdsville, the start point for crossing of the Simpson desert. Then the only way in is from the north. A 1800km trip up to Longreach and Winton. Then across to Boulia and down to Birdsville. With a slight possibility of better news once we get the Windorah. Windorah to Birdsville is the usual route taken if traveling from the east. With little choice we went to bed early. Knowing we had some big days of travel ahead of us.


The group together to discuss the news and make new plans.

I was concerned how Alec would go. The trip so far had been tough on both of us. The heat was one thing but the fly’s were something else. I had trouble getting Alec out of the car and once outside it was uncomfortable and almost impossible to eat. Now with some huge days driving ahead of us things weren’t improving. Taking it day by day was the only option. The extra day in Innamincka had done us some good. Hopefully enough to keep us going.


Why a tag along tour.

Although I am happy to travel with Alec to remote destinations. With any trip or activity I always way up the risks. The Simpson desert crossing was a no brainer. The remoteness of the Simpson desert is extreme. Doing a solo crossing is taking a big risk. Taking a 4 year old is just outright irresponsible. So for us a tag along tour was the answer. These tours aren’t traditional tailored for families and definitely not for a single father with a 4 year old. The tag along tour company we went with didn’t take the decision to let us join the tour lightly. I had a couple of discussion’s with the company director to make sure I was fully aware of what I was getting Alec and myself into. The fact that Alec and myself had done a fair amount of remote touring already helped.

This decision making process speaks volumes for the professionalism of the tour company and we were happy we chose Tagalong Tours Australia.

Flood water

Now you might be confused about the flooding that is stopping the group from entering Birdsville. As no real rain had been reported in the area. Well here is my best attempt of explaining how the river systems works in this part of the world.

The town of Birdsville is located on the Diamantina river and in the geographically area know as the channel country. Which cover’s 150,000 square kilometres. The Diamantina river starts above Longreach and eventually flows into lake Eyre 900km away. With Birdsville approximately around 500km away from the start of the river.

The water that was causing the tag along group so much trouble was a result of flooding in Longreach and Winton 4-5 weeks before the trip. That is how long the water takes to get to Birdsville.

Oh course it very hard to pick precisely when the water will reach a certain point and at what depth. They are lots of variables that can affect the flow. If group had been day or two earlier we wouldn’t of had a problem. The river peaked just as we were planning to cross.