One of the nice things about retirement is being able to go when and where you want to – provided the weather is conducive, your health is up to scratch, the people you want to visit are going to be home around then, and it’s what you feel like doing at the time. It took a while for all the imponderables to line up, but after much faffing about we drove out of the driveway on a sparkling bright day in late August to take a trip across Australia to visit friends and relos on the other side of this vast continent.
We kinda sorta planned a route, taking roads through outback Queensland over to South Australia to visit a couple in Adelaide we’d worked with when we had to do that sort of thing. Then we’d take a look at South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula because we never had, pop over to the Eyre Peninsula and Port Lincoln to sample the much-vaunted seafood, and then head west over the Nullarbor. We’d stop for a few days at Esperance, then spend a few more days in Perth before heading North to Karratha to visit other friends. After that, it was up to Broome, then across the top to Charleville to see the waterfalls around the Atherton Tablelands, then home. It sounded like a plan.
One thing we found out on the first day – don’t let your GPS work out the road to your first stopping point. It’s nice to know the time and distance to your first stop – but the bitch will take the fastest route, not the scenic one you’d chosen. So we missed a few places of interest early on. To be precise, while eating breakfast at at the Curra roadhouse, which we hadn’t expected to see. Oh well. We learnt our lesson and didn’t do that again. But the breakfast was lovely, and cheap, too. You can’t lose ’em all.
First stop for us was St George. We’d never been there, but the name sticks in my memory, especially as we neared the regimented cotton fields, flat except for the irrigation levies at each end. My brother died in one of those fields, sixteen years ago. I wrote an anniversary blog post about that in 2010, for those interested.
Like most Australian towns, St George is on a river. Often there isn’t much water in them, especially this far into the middle of the continent. There’s no flow, but usually the water is held in deep pools, which keeps the animals going until the next rains. As it happened, they’d had some very welcome relief from the long drought up here a few weeks ago, so the Balonne was pretty full, if not bursting its banks.
We stayed the night at a family-run motel and ate breakfast at a local café, so at least we contributed to the town’s economy.