While at the Back o’ Bourke Information Centre we picked up a brochure ‘Bourke Mud Map Trails’. We drove out to the Fort Bourke Stockade over very rough, corrugated roads.
Incredible to think the hardship these men endured to explore the country.
When we arrived back in town, Lesley pointed out a metallic pinging sound that was coming from the back of the vehicle. Upon investigation I found a rear shock absorber hanging down, hitting the road occasionally instead of being attached at the bottom. Being a Sunday, there was nothing we could do but to drive gingerly back to the caravan park. The owner of the caravan park had a quick look at the problem and found the bolt attaching the shock absorber had come out and obviously had been lost. He remarked ‘this must have come off quite some time ago’. Considering we had the car serviced by Toyota less than 2 weeks ago in Tamworth, it couldn’t have been that long ago. We certainly never heard the sound before and I am sure I would have noticed the different behaviour of the car with a rear shock absorber missing.
First thing Monday morning I drove out to the mechanic that was recommended to us. I waited some 45 minutes for the workshop to open at 8:30. I was in my shorts and t-shirt and it was very cold this morning. The mechanic confirmed the missing bolt and said when he had a hoist free he would replace it. When he was ready to do the work he came to ask me for the keys. I said I left them in the car for you. “I wouldn’t do that – that would make me very nervous”, he said. Admittedly the car was very close to the footpath, but within his premises. Another sign that people are very cautious around here, which is not something we expect out in the country. Once on the hoist he fixed it within a short time. He was also of the opinion that the bolt had been off for quite some time. I can’t figure it out. I certainly would have thought a service would include checking of various bolts.
By the time I returned to camp it was getting a bit late and rain seemed to be near. We decided to stay another night – we don’t want to be on a dirt road when it is raining. We did a bit of shopping. It is great to have the Engel fridge in the car – it means we don’t have to rush back to put cold stuff in the van fridge.
In this case we decided to go to another few sites from the Mud Map Tours. First stop was close to town; the reconstruction of a wharf as they had them to load/unload boats that followed the trade routes on the Darling/Murray rivers. Nice views of the Darling from the top level of the wharf.
We proceeded to the other side of the river (this was some 15km away) to drive along the Darling where we learned quite a bit about the river, early explorers and life in the 19th century. First stop was straight across the river from the above wharf. Here you can see the 3 levels that were built to accommodate the various flood levels of the Darling.
We returned to Bourke via a new bridge. The original bridge next to it now serves as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge. The draw bridge part was imported from England, whereas the wooden construction was built in Australia from Australian hardwood. I was surprised that something like this needed to be imported all the way from England. The transport cost must have been enormous.