29th Oct – Menindee to White Cliffs, the world’s first commercial opal field

Another beautiful morning. The hot sun in the blue sky masked a little by high, fluffy white clouds. There’s talk of rain in the next few days. After breakfast we pack up and leave the campsite within an hour – record time so far!

Today’s route mainly unsealed along red dust roads, with vast flat scrub plains stretching to the distant horizons all around us.

Stopped for elevenses of chilled orangeade from the Land Cruiser onboard fridge (good thinking, thanks Toyota) and Lemon Sauce Cake, cooked over the campfire in the campoven last night. We had most of it for afters, warm from the oven. If you want to know how to make this at home, here’s the recipe for Lemon Pudding:

In a smallish round metal bowl (mine is part of a scales-set), cream about 6oz (2/3rds pack) of butter with about the same quantity of sugar. Beat with a wooden spoon or electric beater until no lumps remain. Add about the same quantity of self raising flour, 3 eggs, a grind of sea salt and the grated rind of a lemon or 2. Combine with the wooden spoon then finish by folding all together with a metal spoon – this helps keep the mixture quite light. Wipe the top sides of the bowl clean and grease with the butter paper – helps it to rise and the bowl easier to clean! Squeeze the juice from the lemons into a cup, add any remaining zest and stir in a bit of sugar. Top up the cup with milk then pour onto the top of the mixture.

If you’re cooking over a fire, pour hot water into your campoven which is already slung from the tripod over your open fire – the water will sizzle satisfactorily as it hits the hot cast-iron. Lower in your dish and put the campoven lid on securely. Put hot coals over the lid and leave for about 20 mins or so while you eat the main course. In your kitchen at home, preheat a deep roasting pan in a 180 degree oven, put the dish in the middle and pour in boiling water to come about halfway up the outside of the tin. Cook for about 20-30 mins, or until a knife stuck into the middle comes out clean. Best enjoyed warm from the oven or can be saved and eaten as Lemon Sauce Cake, especially in the desert, chilled straight from the fridge  🙂

Back on the tarmac and we’re just passing through Wilcannia. Abject and semi-desolate with several tumbling down houses and shops. The beautiful stone built post office, now closed, proclaims it was constructed in 1836. People hanging out on the street corner idly watch us pass by. It’s 32 degrees. A huge yellow mining machine rumbles past on the back of an artic. truck; I don’t think mining’s been here for many years.

Wincannia seems pretty bereft of people. Every aspect of life is only as good as the people around you –  compatibility, shared experiences, conversations. My Father’s advice has always been to “just get people around you”, which is the maxim by which we live.

Have had such interesting introductions to people living here. Believe we’ll have further introductions and recommendations as we travel this month in NSW and QLD. Let us know if you’ve friends here?

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