Caravan Log
Travel into Australian Outback

The following log was written by an Australian who traveled from Townsville, Queensland, to Port Augusta, South Australia, and then across Nullarbor to Perth, with his brother in a pickup truck with a caravan home (three meters wide and seven meters long) trailed along behind him. During their travel, they kept their log and flashed it to their relatives and friends by email.

As you can see in the map below, they traveled through many towns and villages in the "Outback," which means remote and usually arid, thinly inhabited inland districts. These towns -- quite different from Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth, which are well known to us Japanese -- are good examples to show us real Australian bush areas. So please enjoy the log which might let you want to travel like them.

Map of Australia

Caravan Log

Written by Neil MacPherson

2nd August Left Townsville 5.40am, did 520 km, we are overnighting at Clermont, it has been a long day after hibernating for 68 days, another 500 odd kilometres tomorrow.

Cunnamulla Oasis in the desert
Cunnamulla Oasis in the desert

3rd August Clermont to Blackall lots of kangaroos both dead and alive on the roadside, these outback towns are unique in their isolation and friendliness.

4th August Blackall to Cunnamulla our third day on the road, three long 8 hour drives in three days, 5am reveille, so tomorrow is a rest day, roads have been a mixed bag, several long stretches have been single lane sealed, needs constant concentration with a big caravan in tow.

Neil's F100 & Caravan home
Neil's F100 & Caravan home

5th August Cunnamulla is a town of 1600 people, the town seems to be self sufficient, it's very isolated, Charleville 200 km to the north, Bourke 257 km to the south, Brewarrina 96 km East, Thargomindah 195 km to the west, the Warrego river runs through the town, and provides some relief from the dry country.

6th August we did not get up till 6am, driving in the dark is too hazardous with the kangaroos so prevalent, got away 6.40am day was breaking just as well the kangaroos were feeding in their hundreds along the road side, I was driving and kept the speed down so I could slow down to avoid those crossing the road which was often.

It was heart breaking to see injured kangaroos struggling to get up as we approached, back broken I would say, we had nothing to put the poor buggers out of their misery, obviously recently hit, probably by one of the many road trains.

Bourke was a big surprise, orange orchards and vineyards line the road on the approaches to the town, the Darling River starts at Bourke, four smaller rivers join at Bourke to form the Darling.

Cobar our overnight stop seems quite busy, we expected to see a dead town as the mine closed down since last we stayed here, it hit the headlines as the miners got nothing out of the collapse. At about the same time the clothing factory managed by Howard's brother went into liquidation and the Government guaranteed the workers entitlements, which did not go down well with the miners who missed out.

7th & 8th August Broken Hill, took another rest day, although the town's population is falling because of the closure of the last big mine Pasminco, it still has 24,500 residents, was able to again get in some good long walks to maintain my fitness.

Jack & I are having another rest day in Broken Hill before tackling the long trip across the Nullarbor after some long days on the road, averaging 8 hours driving on narrow roads with lots of hazards what with Kangaroos, sheep, emus and goats contesting our right of way.

After reaching Port Augusta at the head of Spencer's Gulf and refuelling and topping up supplies we will still have 3600 kilometres to travel through the most remote country to complete our journey.

Port Augusta Spencert's Gulf
Port Augusta Spencert's Gulf

Between Ceduna and Norseman some 2,000 km distance only lonely Road Houses, up to 200 kilometres apart exist with fuel and food only available for travellers, no mechanical assistance is available over this distance, one must be self-supporting to survive.

With the drought conditions in the western parts of Queensland and NSW the kangaroos and emus and stock are all grazing on the roadside verges where there is still a little green showing, the rest of the grass is so dry and brittle it crackles as you walk on it.

It has been mainly new territory for us, we usually go home via Mt Isa Tennant Creek and Alice Springs but we were told that 600 km could be cut off the trip by going Charters Towers, Emerald, Barcaldine, Blackall, Charleville, Bourke ,Cobar & Broken Hill.

We were astounded at Bourke, you know "back of Bourke" but it is surrounded by Orange orchards and vineyards, as the Darling river starts there they have first go at the water and obviously don't spare it.

Several rivers feed into the Darling at Bourke and just below including the Culgoa, Barwon, Bowen, Mulga, Yanda & Warrego although at this time most are dry.

I hope these snippets gives you an idea of what travelling in the Australian outback is like, a bit different from the cities you have visited on your trips to Australia.

After reading this log, what kind of man do you think wrote this -- a job drifter or a hobo (I should use "swagman" here) always on the road? Is he an adventurer?

The writer is Mr. Neil MacPherson, an 83-year-old (in 2004) war-veteran who was captured by the Japanese Army and forced to work on the Death Railway in Burma for two years and then at one of those coal mines in Nagasaki, Kyushu, during the Second World War.

Neil and Jack, his brother, now live in a town near Perth in spring and summer, and travel to the subtropical northern part of Australia to stay there in autumn and winter in order to escape the bitter weather. They travel for weeks in a pickup truck and a caravan home, as depicted in the above, and along the way they send emails about their trip to their families, relatives, and friends. In addition to driving such a long distance, they make it a rule to walk for two hours everyday for their own sake. I wonder if I could do the same things in my 80's. I want to call them "Super Seniors," who set many good examples for me to follow.