ORIGINAL plans for Drive 4 Life’s (D4L) annual charity drive had multiple convoys travelling through western New South Wales, the Corner Country and into South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, but border closures and travel restrictions forced a rethink.
Many participants planning to attend from states other than NSW were forced to cancel and the D4L leaders restructured a route that stayed within NSW for a single convoy of eight 4x4 vehicles.
Drive 4 Life is a not-for-profit group that organises 4x4 trips to different locations each year. A $1000 donation to a registered charity gets your 4x4 on the trip and it’s always a lot of fun with a great bunch of people. So much so that many participants are repeat attendees, coming back year after year.
The 2020 crew met up at the IGA at Warren in the Central West of the state where there was some last-minute stocking up of essential supplies. IGA Supermarkets have been long-time supporters of D4L events and along with other sponsors – ARB 4x4 Accessories, Hema Maps and 4X4 Australia Magazine – make the trips possible.
After a briefing from the trip leaders Noel and David, the convoy headed off on its Western NSW Outback Road trip, and it wasn’t long before the group mascot, Sammy, an 18-month-old Cavoodle, made himself well-known with a swim at Billybingbone River.
It was a great drive to Brewarrina where we saw the Aboriginal fishing traps reported to be one of the oldest man-made structures in the world. We had a great camp, with a good social campfire on the Barwon River for the first night.
BACK O’ BOURKE
THE next day took us down the back roads to Bourke, where we did some sightseeing at the Back O’ Bourke visitor information centre and saw the old steam engine on the banks of the Darling River. From here we followed the road down the eastern side of the Darling, checking the irrigation dam, which we couldn’t believe how full and big it was at the time following recent rain. Camp that night was at a farm-stay at Rose Isle Station.
On day three we drove through Gunnabooka National Park, where we hiked along the gorge and took in some amazing Aboriginal rock art. Farther down the track we came to a recently abandoned homestead where we were able to walk through the old buildings, which had some old farm vehicles. A walk across to the other side of the road came to an old shearing shed with the old-style equipment still hanging on the walls.
Lunch was enjoyed on the banks of the river behind the Louth Pub, and a drive west took us to Tilpa where we all quenched our thirst with a nice cold ale at the iconic pub and camped across the road in the paddock. To our surprise the Royal Flying Doctor Service opened up the amenities, to which we all chipped in a donation to this essential service.
Due to heavy rain the previous week closing the road, we had to take the western side of the Darling River down to Wilcannia to top up the fuel tanks and grab a coffee. Then we were on our way to Menindee, where we stayed at the Menindee Lakes Caravan Park and enjoyed the most beautiful sunset.
While we were in Menindee, D4L took a group on a day trip through the nearby Kinchega National Park to see the historic and beautifully restored woolshed and machinery, the boiler that flew out of the paddle steamer, and the colourful wild flowers. The park is a magical place to camp along the river if you’re ever up that way.
We headed to White Cliffs via Paroo National Park (Perry Lakes) and stopped in the middle of the desert for some lunch, before arriving in White Cliffs to spend half a day exploring this must-see opal mining town.
It was dinner at the pub for some and an outdoor barbecue at the caravan park for others, until we all joined up again. A special shout out to Brian and Cindy for their magical campfire.
ON DAY six we were in Milparinka, where we had a walk around this historical township, taking in the court house, Milparinka pub and campground. Then it was on our way to Tibooburra where we saw some abstract creations along the side of the road, which included a man on a toilet made out of metal parts, and a pink clothes line with spanners and shovels hanging off chains.
Cameron Corner, where NSW meets South Australia and Queensland, was the farthest west we could travel due to the restrictions. We were being monitored by the police on the Queensland side of the northern border, but were able to have our photo taken on the famous plaque that marks the junction.
We thought we might camp near a dry creek bed until we pulled up and saw a snake, so we decided to head back to Tibooburra. From here, the group attempted the alternate gravel tracks south to Broken Hill, only to be turned around due to water over the road and a soft road base, so it was back to the recently sealed highway.
There was time for everyone to tour Broken Hill and explore Silverton with its art galleries, Mad Max history and great outback pub. Following a farewell dinner in town, everyone went their separate ways the next day.
Despite the planning hiccups due to travel restrictions, it was another fun and successful trip for the Drive 4 Life team which has raised $894,000 for charity since kicking off in 2006.
For 2021 D4L hopes to run a trip to the Victorian High Country early in the year for all the Victorians who couldn’t make it on this NSW adventure, before a bigger trip in September which will leave Alice Springs and venture to Cocklebiddy on the Nullarbor. Keep an eye on the website www.drive4life.com.au for all the details on the 2021 trips.
Drive 4 Life would like to pass on our heartfelt condolences to Chris Bates, director of D4L, on the passing of Raylene his wife, at home, in her sleep, while we were on this trip.