Tag Archives: big country

No room at the inn? No room in town

big country

The road goes ever on and on…

We started day two with breakfast at Macca’s – raisin toast and a flat white, hoping to get onto the internet. No such luck. Wifi worked, but not internet access, so I guess their ISP had a problem. Bugger. So we were reduced to printed maps. How last century. We decided we’d stop at Longreach before we headed off to see the dinosaur stampede outside Winton. That way, we could do it all comfortably.

Australia, guys, is a biiiig country, with not much in it. You don’t really realise how big until you do the drive. I’ve included a few photos. Outside Emerald we didn’t encounter much traffic – but plenty of road kill. Roos, mostly but also some pigs and smaller, unrecognisable squashed bodies. The vegetation was very dry – much of Queensland has been declared in drought which is remarkable after the last few years of floods. But that’s Australia.

colours

termite mounds and forest colours

The country broods under a brilliant blue sky in muted shades of grey, eucalyptus green, silver, palest gold. Dried grass shimmers in the breeze and raptors circle in the updraughts. I’ve never seen so many birds of prey, and not just in ones and twos. They’re in flocks, wheeling around above the towns, gathering around the fresh road kill. Life’s not hard for the meat eaters out here.

road kill

Road kill

Of course, I managed to get some great pictures. But that isn’t a wedgetail. I’m hangin’ out for that.

We stopped for lunch at Barcaldine on the way to Longreach. It’s pronounced bar-CALL- din. Its claim to fame is that it’s the birthplace of the Australian Labor Party, ostensibly created by a bunch of blokes gathered under a tree now known as the tree of knowledge. Some low-life poisoned the ghost gum a few years ago, but the town worthies have attempted to preserve the legend by creating a monument around its dead remains. This is a dead tree surrounded by a wooden box affair which is supposed to represent the canopy that no longer exists. You don’t want to know what that bit of madness cost – especially when they’re closing hospitals. I thought the whole thing was downright creepy. A bit like a mummy, but without the class.

Lunch (a salad sandwich and a pot of tea) took about 25 minutes to arrive. Ho hum. They only had white bread but the salad was fresh.

hawk

Up to a dozen birds like this circle in the air

And then we arrived at Longreach, home to the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Qantas museum, complete with Boeing 747. We’d been to both of those on a previous visit. Longreach this time was just a port of call. Except it wasn’t. The town was fully booked. Honest. Not a vacancy to be had. It seemed Longreach was hosting a Government Conference, and somebody of consequence had died and the town was packed out for the funeral. So we looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and headed for Winton, about 175 km up the road.

Forsyth range

This is where we’re going to see dinosaurs. Ancient, ancient hills

I’m typing this up in a little motel right next door to the RSL, where we’ll have dinner and a drink. Tomorrow we’ll visit the dinosaur stampede, something which will be a highlight for me. And you never know, sometime I might be able to post this.

Oh. Update. The RSL was closed!!! Up for sale. Places like that are the life blood of tiny country towns. But we got a great steak at a local pub. Winton actually has a few things to brag about. I’ll write about that this evening. Dinosaurs first!

Walkabout Day 1

sunsetDay one – aaaaargh. It was supposed to be a simple little trip up the road to Emerald. Easy. Australia’s main highway north, west at Rocky (Rockhampton), arrive Emerald around 3:30, 4pm.

Wrong.

Childers

50kph through Childers – the A1 northbound

The problem, you see, is Australia’s main highway north. The Bruce Highway is a six laner out of Brisbane but well south of where we live, it dwindles down to two lanes each way, then it’s just an ordinary old, two lane suburban road. It’s still the A1. But it carries all the heavy traffic – B doubles, oversize loads etc etc – and the grey nomads and young camper vans – from Brisbane up to Cairns and beyond. Frankly, dudes, it’s a goat track. This is the A1, crawling at 50km through the town of Childers. Yes, folks, this is the main highway north.

It doesn’t help that the road was devastated by floods in the last few years. So they’re fixing it. Sort of. Fill in the holes, widen the shoulders. I reckon we spent 30 minutes and more sitting at lollipop points for something like ten sets of road works, and crawled through kilometre after kilometre of 40, 60, 80 kph speed limit stretches on a 110km road. Why they don’t bite the bullet and make it a dual carriage way right up the coast is… another issue. They spend their money in the cities where there are more cars, more voters. Don’t get me started on the road toll on the Bruce. End rant.

Windscreen

Just what we need – a cracked windscreen

Hey ho. An hour and a half into our Wonderful Adventure, our brand new Pajero copped a rock in the windshield. I hoped it was going to be a gouge we could fix. Until the zip zip. Here it is. Let’s hope it lasts until we get to Broome (sigh).

Train

Coal train on the rails, military vehicles on the road

This is coal country, mining. Here’s a coal train, 50 wagons between the locos, two locos up front, two in the middle, 100 wagons of coal. Dozens a day, from bloody great holes in the ground, loaded on ships and sent to China and India to help produce stuff to send to America. And the army was going home. They’d had a joint exercise with the Yanks, whose carrier group docked in Brisbane harbour the other day. USS George Washington, for those interested.

Anyway, here we are in a motel in Emerald (booked in 6:30pm). I would have posted this but the WIFI connection is pathetic. So I’ll do it when I can.

Cheers, mouseketeers. Tomorrow we’re seeing dinosaurs.