I have a good excuse - well, I think it's good. I was out of range of internet coverage while travelling through the Northern Territory and when I got to Mt. Isa, I bought a new laptop. Didn't think to test it while I was in town and headed south towards Birdsville. The very first time I tried to log on to the internet - the bloody thing wouldn't work. Turns out that the Big Pond dongle I had wouldn't work with Windows 7 and there is a distinct lack of Telstra agents in SW Queensland. I finally found one in St George and they got me back up and running.
As a consequence, I am now 3 months behind in my reporting and this may be a fairly lengthy post, although I have been stopping for extended periods at some places, and a lot of the ground I have covered hasn't really been all that interesting.
To those people who responded to my question about whether anyone was reading my posts, thanks for your responses, it's nice to know I'm not just shouting in the dark.
I know I had decided to not work at all unless I had to (otherwise what's the point of being retired), but I think there may be an opportunity for me to hire myself out as a RAIN GOD. So help me, it hasn't stopped raining on me since April. I cut the Tanami Track, flooded out the Birdsville races and most recently managed to cut all of the highways in southern Queensland.
Anyhow, the last time I posted, [20th July] I was in the Northern Territory heading for Tennant Creek. The Story continues . . .
Saturday, 25 July 2010
Arrived in Tennant Creek only to find out that my brother and his family, who were also on the road in NT had passed through Tennant Creek the night before. I gave him a ring and he had already made it through to Alice Springs. I was hoping to catch up with him as we haven't seen each other for a couple of years, Oh well, gives me an excuse to go down to Tasmania in the summer.
Had a small problem with my van. I was packing up, ready to head off, and I couldn't lower the roof. I rang Jayco in Adelaide and they told me that the nearest accredited repairers were in Darwin, 1000 kms north, or Alice Springs 1000 kms south. They gave me enough info to work out what the problem was, and after about two hours struggling, bashing knuckles and swearing, together with a cup-head bolt I bought at the local hardware store for 20 cents, I fixed it and was able to head off.
First stop was Wonarah Bore, about 250 kms east of Tennant Creek. Nothing there, just mulga and spinifex, but I love the desert and went for some great rambles. A lot of spinifex snakes around so I dug out the boots which haven't seen daylight for a year or more. Fantastic sunsets while I was here.
Wednesday, 28th July 2010
Biiiiiig Troubles. I decided to give the van battery a good charge, so I pulled it out of the van and connected it directly to the 12V outlets on the generator and gave it a good boost for a few hours. When I put it back in the van I made a B I G mistake. The van, for some strange reason has black and white wiring instead of what you would expect, red and black. When I connected the battery I cross-connected and it has absolutely fried the wiring in my car where the wiring loom for the van cuts into the car's wiring. This will be a job for an auto-electrician when I get to the Isa.
I fuelled up in Camooweal and headed down the Urandangi Road to the Camooweal Caves National Park. Crikey! the road was nearly as bad as the Bungle Bungle track. Bit disappointing, the caves are not really caves, but just big sinkholes and there is no access to them. The campsite is on a big billabong, but it was very muddy and no birdlife to speak of, bit of a waste, but only 20 kms or so out of town. Mark that one down to experience.
Saturday, 31st July 2010
Into Mt. Isa - Baaaad idea, the rodeo is on and there must be 20,000 vans and mobile homes in town. All of the caravan parks have been booked out for weeks. I back-tracked about 10 kms out of town and found a gravel pit off the side of the road which will do me until Monday when I can see a sparkie.
Monday, 2nd August 2010
I guess I must be lucky. The electrician fitted me in straight away, didn't charge me an arm and a leg, and had me on the road again by 2:00 pm that day. Made a bush camp that night at Galah Creek, only about 40 kms south of Isa. Nice creek, well off the road, plenty of shade and some interesting walking by the look of it.
Sunday, 8th August 2010
Another 200 kms today, through to the Peak Creek rest area, about 40 kms from Boulia. Nice spot. The rest area is quite good, toilets and drinking water, it is right on the roadside, but there are plenty of nice parking areas behind the rest area, well off the road, so this'll do for a few days. I haven't been taking many photos, because to tell the truth, the landscape isn't all that photogenic. Mulga, Wattle and spinifex and that's about it, but I like this sort of country and the birdlife can be pretty amazing.
Friday, 13th August 2010
Big run today, 330 kms through Boulia and Bedourie and I have stopped at Nyama Creek. I'm on the dirt roads now but they're in pretty good nick. There has been some heavy rain through this area recently as the creeks have all got water in them, but the road surface is not to bad. This area has the first flocks of budgerigars that I've seen in my travels. I thought I'd see lots of them, particularly in the Northern Territory, but these are the first. They are the most incredible shade of green - they look almost luminescent. Also literally hundreds of hawks (or Kites I think they may be). Probably plenty of feed for them after the rains. I'm getting close to the channel country now and the land is as flat as a pancake. Every now and then, there is a pile of gravel for roadworks at the side of the road and no kidding, you can see them for 15 or 20 kms before you get to them.
I was tempted to head for Birdsville, but the races are on in a week or so, so the place will be full of tourists and the weather bureau is forecasting rain for the area. I don't fancy getting stuck in Birdsville when the rains come, so I'll give it a miss this year.
Thursday, 19th August 2010
237 kms today of abso-bloody-lutely nothing. The Nullabor Plain hasn't got a thing on this country except for grass. Not a tree or bush for hundreds of kms. Most of the creeks are dry, so with no shade and nothing interesting to see, there is not much point stopping anywhere. However, I did get to meet a mob of the locals as I was crossing the Diamantina River.
The book (Camps 5) shows a rest area at JC Hotel Ruins and my map indicates it as a point of interest, so I have made that my destination. What a disappointment. The hotel was originally made out of mud-brick and hasn't been conserved, so the ruins consist of a big pile of dirt with a couple of old wooden posts sticking up. I had a wander around the area and found an old cemetery about 1.5 kms away from the ruins. there were only about 20 headstones, dating from about 1885. So sad to see the number of graves of little children 1 or 2 years old. Must have been a bugger to survive in places like this in those days.
Friday, 20th August 2010
Through to Windorah today. Nice little town, only has a population of 60 but the local council has a caravan park with powered sites for $10 a day!!!. There is no park office so a lady from the council (the policeman's wife I'm told) comes around each day to collect the fees. I stayed two days and then decided to stay for another two and she tossed in one day for free. Commercial caravan parks, please take note. The information centre in town has free internet access (it's bloody slow, but it's free, so who cares). They reported that the roads are all open at the moment, but they're expecting quite a bit of rain.
The town boasts the first solar farm in Qld which produces 180kW of electricity and will theoretically save 100,000 litres of diesel a year, but I took three or four trips into town during the next two weeks, and never saw them pointed at the sun anytime I went past. Great idea, but I wonder why they're not using it???
Saturday, 28th August 2010
Well, the rain has come, right in time for the Birdsville races. All the roads are closed, the races have been cancelled because the track is under water, and the black mud around this area is (a) as slippery as oil and (b) as sticky as glue. I went for a walk and within 20 metres I had 3 inches of mud on the sole of each boot. A thirty minute walk and it took me an hour to get the mud off my boots.
I'm camped on the bank of the Cooper's Creek. There has been an incredible amount of traffic coming through, Mostly camper-trailers, although there were three greyhound buses through on Wednesday. All going to the races naturally, but now the rains have come, they're all trapped. They're saying on the radio that the roads won't be open for at least a week, so I'm squatting here until things dry out. The Cooper is only 10 kms out of Windorah, and it's a sealed road, so I'm able to get into town every couple of days to have a shower at the caravan park and buy bread and milk etc. They sure know how to charge out here, a loaf of sliced bread (frozen) is $4.75
Wednesday, 8th September 2010
Finally packed up and moved on after two weeks (and three separate lots of rain) at Coopers Creek. Lots of people fishing, although I didn't see too many catching fish. Fishing is one thing that has never interested me. I know a lot of people give me a strange look when I say that, but it just seems like a waste of time to me, especially if you're gonna throw 'em back. If you do catch one, you've got to scale it, clean it, fillet it, and so on - It just seems easier to buy it already prepared. People have told me that it's not the fish, but the activity - doesn't seem like much activity to me!!! Lots of sitting around doing nothing, I'd rather be walking through the bush scaring the crap out of kangaroos.
Rather than make this post too long to read, I'll close it off and continue catching up in part two.
See you then.