Wilcannia And The Darling River Run

With the summer holidays fast approaching I found this one gathering dust in the vault (so to speak). First written during last summer with reference (even further back) to the previous summer. It is quite interesting to see the differences in the great Darling River…

Here’s the Post I Drafted About 10 Months Ago…

Last year at Bourke we were unable to drive the Darling River Run due to the closure of the unsealed roads. Unable to drive downstream from Bourke I headed to Wilcannia where I could head back upstream towards Tilpa and then downstream to Menindee. It meant a long detour via Cobar to get to Wilcannia (on the major roads) and a night’s stay in Wilcannia. Not exaclty the most welcoming of towns… More on that later perhaps.

The Darling River Run

One of the iconic outback driving adventures is the Darling River Run. More than 700km, 9 hours, of driving on unsealed dirt roads from Bourke all the way down to Wentworth where the Darling pours into the mighty Murray river.

There are three parts to the Darling River Run. Firstly – starting upstream – there are routes either side of the river between Bourke and Wilcannia passing through the small settlements of Louth and Tilpa.  The second stretch runs from Wilcannia, southwest to Menindee, for around 150km. Then the third run goes from Menindee, south to Wentworth where the Darling river joins the Murray. This one is a 250km drive that takes in the small town of Pooncarie on the western side of the Mungo National Park.

The roads heading downstream from Bourke were closed, just as they were the same time last year. However I had heard that the road heading upstream from Wilcannia to Tilpa was open. The plan changed from Bourke to Wilcania (via Louth and Tilpa) to Wilcannia to Tilpa then back south to Menindee. It was basically a case of making the most of what was available.

Last January there had been rainfall. Enough to close the river run roads. Yet the river itself remained fairly low. This year was very different. Some of the roads I wanted to drive were again closed (mainly out of Bourke); but the Darling was like a completely different river.

What a difference a year makes…

The old bridge crossing

This is the same stretch exactly one year on in January 2022… More or less taken from the exact same spot.

The Darling crossing at Wilcannia, January 2022
The Darling river was a trickle of the 11 metre depths it can reach (according to the water markers).

Only one river height pole still showing…

The water markers I photographed last year were all but submerged this year. Incredible what can happen when it actually rains in a part of the world renown for having several years of continuous drought.

Likewise for the Darling river at Menindee. This was the scene in January 2021 at the railway bridge just before the station…

Bridge over the Darling river.

And this January 2022… Quite a change eh? I do believe that is the same bush (more or less bottom left).

The railway crossing at Menindee, January 2022

This part of the river lies about 10km downstream of one of the contentious schemes on the Darling river.  One of the large weirs that have been built to control the flow of this important river scheme.

Upstream of the main weir near Menindee
Downstream side of the weir.

As the photos above show the weir has made little difference this year. Such was the amount of rain that has flowed through the Darling river basin. All the lakes upstream of this weir have already been fully replenished and yet so much of the river flows over the weir.

They say you don’t need a four wheel drive vehicle for this river run but I was driving one anyway. The road was quite rough in places and I would not have wanted to be in a low profile 2-wheel drive vehicle that’s for sure. There were no real tricky wet and muddy sections but it was bumpy at times. It was also lonely. I saw only four other cars in a total of  four hours of driving. That’s an average of one other soul – per hour!

Along the way there were a few kangaroo corpses. The fresher ones being picked at by birds including a few large birds of prey. Another corpse was being pulled apart by some very large lizard type animals. As I got closer it looked like what was left of a sheep. By that point the reptiles had scurried off into the low lying bushes. They moved so quickly I had no chance of taking a picture but they looked like large goannas/monitor lizards.

Wedge Tailed Eagle?

The river run just north of Wilcannia passes through part of the Paroo-Darling National Park. Along the Wilcannia to Tilpa road I spotted this big fella…

Just like the movies… Spotted at the side of the dirt road from Wilcannia to Tilpa
Zoom in on what I think is a wedge tailed eagle…

I believe this is a wedge tailed eagle but I am no expert. So, if you know for sure what type of bird this is then please write a comment on this post and share it with us.

I was just in time. Immediately after I had snapped the close-up, the bird took off…

Around the Menindee Weir

The small lakes upstream of the weir, fully replenished.
The river level had dropped slightly from its peak but the weir was almost covered
High water levels upstream of the weir
So much water still flowing downstream of the weir
No shortage of water downstream…
An abandoned catch? Or washed up in the floods?

The Moose and the Porridge.

Well, it’s exam week (apparently) so here is a look at something school related…

As part of his schoolwork Dani and his class have lessons in public speaking every week. A good thing to do at that age. In fact, the kind of confidence that class can instill will probably do much more for the kids in later life than most of their academic learning. Not just for the confidence of speaking in front of other (often older and presumably more experienced) people. He also seems to like it. You will probably see why later in the example below. For me this is a great opportunity to record the work he brought home. I am sure he will enjoy reading it when he is older as much as I did the other day.

For the rest of you… Well, you may find it a little bit daft, if not stupid. It’s typical kids stuff. Boys stuff to be more exact.

A little bit of bullshit goes a long way (in life)

The saying used to be; “It’s who you know, not what you know”. I am sure that still counts for a lot when trying to make your way in life especially as an adult. But another thing definitely comes into play these days. The subtle (or even not so subtle) art of bullshitting can take you further in life than real skills. I have witnessed it so many times in the many and varied jobs I have had.

Make no mistake. For all the positive or obvious benefits of practicing public speaking at their age, these kids will certainly also be better equipped to bullshit their way through many situations later in life. Although right now that additional benefit will be very much in their subconscious. And they are already busying themselves with some complete nonsense. Below is a great (and funny) example.

This is an exact copy – word for word, spelling mistakes and all – of the typed transcript Dani brought home. He did this task with his classmate Jarvis.  The aim of the task was to write and read out a “fragmented fairy tale”. It is completely ridiculous and it is definitely no Oscar-winning script, but it did make me laugh. What great fun to be that age. I can almost remember it myself…

The Moose and the Porridge.

Narrator 1.(aka Jarvis de goat)

Narrator 2.(aka Dan da man)

The moose.(aka Jarvis de goat)

Baby porridge.(aka Dan da man)

Daddy porridge.(aka Jarvis de goat)

Mummy porridge.(aka Dan da man)

Narrator 1:  Once upon  time, there was a  Moose who was called Moose. He got sick of eating leaves so he looked for something else to eat.

Narrator 2:  He had a long stroll down the woods until he came across a massive bowl of porridge.Outside came a Baby porridge, a mummy porridge and a Dad porridge.

Daddy porridge:  I am going to leave for the milk now  remember baby porridge and mummy porridge. I kind of like you.

Baby porridge:  I kind of like you too but deep inside my heart I feel like becoming Daniel and eating you for breakfast.

Narrator 1:  The moose comes up to the porridge family.

Narrator 2:  The moose let out a loud fart and said:

The moose:  MMmmm!! Something smells like my armpit hair. Yummy!

Baby porridge:  Stop the caaapp! Your armpits smell like rotten eggs and bacon! Look at you!You are just ugly Racoon Pig!Is that not a thing? Dont care Its you!

The moose:  I want to eat that baby porridge with ugly rotten teeth. 3.2.1 CHARGE! oops! I broke your fridge with da empty milk containers

Baby Porridge: Nooo! The fridge! My Doritos! My frozen Doritos! That’s it. Fight me!

The moose: You want some, I’ll give it ya you wet oat!!

Narrator 2:  Baby porridge leaped in the air and corrected the moose. I’m dry!

He smashed down on the moose and.POW!

The moose:  Ow! you oat . i’m gonna belt to the milky way

Bam! Slap! Slash! bang!

Baby Porridge:  Wow Dude! That hurt! But I’ll give you a good thumping and a spanking AND a good hiding to even it out.SMASH!

The moose:  BRO!What in the world! OUCH! Time for Plan B …We are calling a ca130 on mr and mrs Porridges home bang! smash! boom!

Baby Porridge:  Clap Clap Clap. What an airstrike! You blew up the chimney! Now how do I get presents from the Fat Man?

The moose: You mean Santa-Claus? The guy that comes into your room and looks at you while you sleep?

Baby Porridge:  Wow! I didn’t know Santa was so sussy Jamal!

The moose:  All so cool but didn’t your dad leave for the milk?

Baby porridge:  Oh yeah! He’s been gone for 3450 years!Waaaaaaaaa!

The moose:  That’s sad LMAO!

Mummy porridge:  Get out you rotten head with a horn!

The moose:   How dare you call me that!I’m the most beautiful moose in the world!

Baby porridge:  True but all moose are ugly! So u suck!

Daddy porridge:  Son, I… Have come back with the milk. I realised… That I still kind of like you!

Daniel: Yum! Yum! Porridge! Let’s eat the big one! Jarvis! Look!

Jarvis:  Let’s also put the moose in the crock pot!


Daniel: We hope you enjoyed This story by Oatmeal and horn- head productions.

Jarvis:  Also sponsored by Raid Shadow Legends.

Daniel: It’s done!Go away now.

Dani is Nine

Today is Daniel’s 9th birthday. He got a fair few presents and all the usual attention a kid that age enjoys. But I thought I would do something a little different this year. A kind of musical birthday card for my son. A montage of photos (mainly) covering part of his first two and a half years here in Australia.

He is getting to that age where he is easily embarrassed by his parents so I may not get much thanks for this right now. Hopefully though he will come to like this birthday card video in years to come.

A Musical Birthday Card for Daniel
Song: El Universo Sobre Mí by Amaral

There are plenty more recent pics of course and lots of other places not shown; but there’s also too many. I had to start somewhere. Maybe next year I will bring it up to date and pick up from where this video leaves off (which was about April this year).

Sculptures by the Sea

This Sunday was the final day of the ‘Sculptures by the Sea’ exhibition. It is an annual event   but of course the last two years this free outdoor exhibition was cancelled (not saying that “c” word). The artwork is placed along the coastal walk between Tamarama Beach and Bondi Beach. We just caught it this year so here are some of the sculptures we saw and liked. There were plenty more and the 2km coastal walkway was packed with people.

Statues on Tamarama Beach…

The large disco ball was (perhaps understandably) very popular…

Bondi Beach was the busiest we had seen it for some time.

This coastal walk is normally fairly popular but this was a whole other level. Totally packed out. Well it was Sunday, it was sunny and this was the final day of the (free) ‘Sculptures by the Sea’ exhibition. And, judging by the way the weather has been so far this year, this time next week it will probably be raining (again)…

This was a good one. It all depends on the angle…
This one was called “Collossus”. I always thought the one carrying the planet was Atlas but hey…