Monday, September 06, 2010

Rocks, crocs and waterfalls

Rocks, crocs and waterfalls - this has been our catch cry for the 
 past 10 weeks.

  • 10,000 kilometres
  • 2 flat tyres
  • 1000's of litres of petrol
  • countless rocks
  • many waterfalls
  • 100's of rock pools
  • some crocodiles
  • wild pigs
  • 2 aeroplane flights
  • several cruises
  • gorges galore
  • 1 less kangaroo to view (I hit it! oops!)
  • 1 echidna
  • 1 bustard
  • many brolgas
  • millions of corellas
  • rivers with and without water
  • jabirus (black necked storks is now the official name I believe)
  • magpie geese
  • lakes
  • 100's of dead kangaroos
  • many more live ones
  • cormorants
  • brilliant blue oceans
  • estuaries
  • beaches
  • endless plains
  • bright blue skies
  • rain
  • wild flowers
  • boab trees
  • clouds
  • wind
  • etc, etc
............. it's about time I put pen to paper, well, started typing :-) and recorded a little of what's been happening these past 10 weeks in Ross and my life.

27th June saw us finally setting off on our trip around Oz.
"The big lap", many call it. 
And a lap it surely is, but not one that goes for a few hundred metres but 1000's of kilometres.
Six layers add to my already cuddly figure! :-)
We didn't leave home til about 5.30pm that Sunday afternoon, but bravely set out in our little Toyota Hi-Ace anyway and headed off into the night towards Dalby. We got as far as Yarraman and experienced our coldest night for many years. We found out the next day temps had dropped to -3C overnight. I had 6 layers on and survived ok.

We woke to a brilliant new day, experienced cooking brekkie on our little gas stove, securing everything so nothing rattled and off we set. That day we got to within 60 kms of Roma and stayed in our first 'freebie'. To the uninitiated a 'freebie' is a spot somewhere along a road that you don't pay for. Hopefully there will be a toilet of some kind there, a fireplace or a picnic table, but in many places in Australia, there is just a semicircular curve alongside the highway where you can park for the night. Or you travel a kilometre or so down a track to find a level spot.
This freebie was devoid of any of the above but was situated under some big trees along a running creek. Two vans were already parked there and that gave us confidence to also pull in. It's never a good idea to park on your own, so traveling with others in that way can be good.
We set up our camp, cooked dinner and then wandered over to a good fire at which a lone bike riding camper was cooking his dinner. He invited us to bring our chairs and he picked up his guitar and began to strum, then sing. Piano Man, Bridge over troubled waters, Country road soon filled the cool night air. What a great start to our camping adventure.

Now here, I have to mention a very important part of the journey.
Unless you have zillions of dollars you don't quite know what to do with and you have a fabulous caravan or 'fifth wheeler' which has all the mod cons of on road travel, the word 'toilet' is a VERY important one. Especially for the female of our species. It can become something that consumes your thinking. When, where and how will I find a toilet? What will it be like? Clean, dirty? A water flushing one, or a  deep hole in the ground? Will it have loo paper? etc etc.
What if I have to go when there are no loos and no trees?
Well this can become all consuming and really never changes whilst you are on the road.
Subconsciously you get geared up for the nights that you park in places without such luxury.

That first night in the freebie we set up our little shower tent complete with bucket. Of course the next morning it had to be emptied. Ross said he would do the deed. After he worked out (with my help) how to get the folding shovel to become straight and stay that way, he dug a hole well out of the way and covered things up nicely. 
He then decided to go down to the creek to wash out the bucket. Unbeknown to me, he got stuck down the bank, in the mud and couldn't get back up again. He said it was no use calling out to me, because of the running water and the distance from our van.
Luckily he got out finally, or our journey would have been terminated right then and there! :-) Luckily we could laugh about it and put it down to experience! :-)

So, drama over, we headed off across western Queensland. Kilometre after kilometre rolled by. Through tiny little towns of just a servo and a pub to bigger ones. like Dalby, Blackall, Barcaldine, Longreach, Cloncurry, Mt Isa.  

We were playing catch ups with friends who had left 2 weeks before us and were meeting us the other side of the Qld/NT border, so we didn't spend much time looking around in all these places. We did manage to see the tree of Knowledge in Barcaldine. The Black Stump in Blackall, the Hall of fame in Longreach and stopped at the bare patch of land that the small mining town of Mary Kathleen had become. Mt Isa was freezing - 14C at midday! We rugged up against the bleak winds and on our way out of town stopped at the last road house for many kms to have a well deserved shower. Then to Cloncurry across the endless plains and then the windswept roads to Camooweal at the NT border. Kangaroos littered the outback roads and we had to be careful as dusk is a dangerous time to drive, as kangaroos jump out without warning. 
Hall of Fame, Longreach
Our first flat tyre just before Mt Isa

We finally arrived at Wonarah Bore, a gazetted 'freebie' along the Barkley Highway after dark at about 8pm. We hugged our friends who had come down from the Gulf of Carpentaria to meet us. It was so good to see them. I cooked dinner and then, dog tired,  we curled up in our
little home on wheels for a good night's sleep, ready for the rest of our adventure.

Mary Kathleen no more  
On the empty plains NT

Our camp at Wonarah Bore 'freebie'

Sunrise at Wonarah Bore, Barkley Hwy NT

Click on the pics to enlarge them.


ultramarine said...

This is SUCH good reading. Can't wait for more! :-*

Tricia said...

Thanks Hillie. I always appreciate your comments.