Day 8 | Longreach to Blackall
First stop, the dump point, then the Visitor Information Centre for some fly nets for our hats, that’s the best $13 we have ever spent! We support the local foodworks store and stock up on supplies before heading out to the Stockmans Hall of Fame. I’m offered a pensioner discount, I wasn’t sure whether to be insulted or pleased for the discount on the ticket… I decided that as we’re on a budget the discount is welcoming. We decide to lash out and buy morning tea here – there goes the saving on the ticket!
This is a “must do” attraction if you’re travelling in central Queensland. It’s rich in Australia’s history of some of our famous explorers, stock workers, pastoralists and Aborigines. The centre bought back many memories of outback trips to cattle properties in the gulf of Queensland when dad and mum would travel in the school holidays. Dad was a mechanic and he worked on a lot of the machinery at the stations. It was always an exciting adventure travelling to Koolatah and Dixie Stations. Staff in those days were Aboriginal families, living and working on the properties.
The landscape is changing as we near Blackall, it’s red dirt country, the poor sheep don’t have much to eat and it’s bloody hot.
Wildlife: 1 Emu, wild budgies galore, dead kangaroos.
Day 9 – 10 | Blackall
We’re parked up at the Barcoo River Camp, it’s a low cost camp at $8 p/night run by the Blackall Shire Council. Plenty of shady trees and several taps around the park and one toilet. It’s called a windy loo! This is a small progressive township welcoming caravanners and campers to their community. The site is by the Barcoo River and the sprinklers go all day long. The river is basically dry apart from a few gullies with stagnant water. No swimming for Cinta here.
One of the local council workers Stewart Benson turns up on his ride on mower first up in the morning and then again at lunch time, moving the sprinklers around. Stewart’s a real character, he’s a true blue Aussie bloke and gives back to the township like you wouldn’t believe. In the season he puts on a show for the tourists with his horse and pony. For many years he did the show for free until someone suggested he pass the hat around for donations. Now days the donation money is used to feed his animals. You can read Stu’s story here.
Walking around the township we came across many murals on the buildings and the creative photo street display #betterinblackall. A project in 2017 involving the whole community encouraging them to share their Instagram images to show everyone what a great place it is to live or visit Blackall. The images have been printed and were placed around the township and launched at the Blackall Heartland Festival in that year.
We decided to stay for 3 nights, we loved the peacefullness of the park and it gave me an opportunity to catch up on some more work. The 3 way fridge is not coping in the heat (over 40 degrees) so we’re supplementing it with the esky and ice!
Wildlife: Kangaroos, king parrots.
Day 11 | Blackall to Charleville
We’re heading into Santa Gertruda cattle country and the road is straight and the landscape is flat, not a hill in sight and trees adorn the highway. 42 degrees today. We stop at Tambo for a cuppa in a lovely green park with plenty of shady trees and a great area for kids to play. Further on in Augethella we see 2 emus standing in a small waterhole beside the road. Lunch break at the Meat Ant Park and there are plenty of black ants around our feet.
We arrive at the Bailey Bar Caravan Park to escape the heat of the day and book a powered site for 2 nights. It’s the most expensive site we’ve had at $76 for the 2 nights, but we are desperate for a reprieve from the heat and the fridge is in need of 240 power. We’re parked up under the trees and enjoy a glass of red while watching the sun go down.
Wildlife: dead kangaroos, one lonely pelican, dead goanna, frill necked lizards, 2 emus, santa gertruda cattle and did I mention all the ants & flies?
Day 12 | Charleville
Excitement is building as the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners from the sunny coast arrived at the showgrounds last night and the caravan park put on a dinner for all the volunteers. We were so buggered after our trip that we fell asleep before 8pm and missed all the action!
We’re not missing out today though, we head over to the showgrounds and meet some of the amazing truckies who have given up their time and their trucks to transport hay out to Quilpie to help our drought affected farmers. 180 in total are meeting up at the Puma Roadhouse just outside of town and they’ll create a convoy out to Quilpie for Australia Day.
It’s one of those times when we are both proud to be Aussies. We have both volunteered in numerous capacities at home so we can appreciate what these guys are doing. We take a drive out to Graham Andrews parklands and wander the park while we’re waiting for the convoy to arrive. Cinta manages a swim after frightening all the ducks out of the pond.
The convoy has arrived and I’m madly filming it and waving to all the trucks as they blow their horns as they’re passing by. It’s quite an overwhelming feeling and one that will last in our memories forever.
It’s Friday night and we’re missing our regular Friday night dinner crew, so we decide to lash out and buy fish n chips for dinner.
Wildlife: Wild ducks
Day 13 | Charleville to Miles
We decide to change our course, instead of continuing south, we head east to escape the heat. We are off on the road again after picking up supplies, heading for Miles for an overnighter. The landscape is becoming hilly and we are now in grain and crop country. We pass a lot of silos – no artwork on these ones yet. I’ve been following the Silo Art Facebook page and I’m keen to tick off as many as I can on my bucket list.
There’s a weather event happening in the gulf and I receive an urgent call for some website work. Nearest town is Mitchell, so we have a late morning tea stop at the park. I’m busy set up with the laptop on the picnic table and Andrew is deep in conversation with an old local who spots us in the park and wonders what the heck we are doing. He’s deaf as a post so the conversations are loud and I’m trying to concentrate on my work…
Andrew’s a bit of a social butterfly when it comes to conversation, he’ll talk to anyone, anywhere. It’s hot and my work is finally done after an hour or so, back on the road and into the Miles Showground for the night. We explore the showgrounds and find a friendly horse. Note to self; bring him a carrot or some bread on our morning walk.
We settle in with a glass of red and head over to the old showground seating in the paddock and watch the sun go down. This is the life!
Wildlife: Dead pigs, lizards and kangaroos.
Day 14 | Miles to Goondiwindi
A similar landscape to yesterday and the road is very bumpy. We have to sit between 80-85k so our short trip of 224km takes us longer than expected today. We notice that there are not as many dead kangaroos along the roadside and we suspect because we have left the freight route along the Warrego Highway and are now on the Leichardt Highway.
The landscape changes to fields of green and then brown. Crops of sorghum, corn, wheat, barley and chickpeas, they go for as far as the eyes can see.
We pull up at the Goondiwindi Showgrounds in 40 degree heat, it’s a large area, red dirt and not many shady trees. The facilities are relatively new and they’re lovely and clean. We seek out a site that has water and power and set up in the scorching heat. The caretaker calls around dusk and tells us that there’s plenty of shade under the pavillions if we’re staying a few nights. We decide that we’ll move in the morning to escape the heat. The wind picks up in the afternoon and a whirly wind takes our neighbours mat and carries it over the top of the buildings a good 500 metres away.
It’s stinking hot and in the middle of the night the wind is roaring through the grounds. Andrew is up and it looks like we’re pulling down the awning or it’s going to be ripped to shreds in this wind. We both sleep in and miss sunrise…
Wildlife: 3 Emus, dead snake, lazy lizard crossing the road.
Week 2 total expenses: $909.17 (just under budget) Almost double last weeks expenses and I’m going back through my book and receipts. Light-bulb moment; we left home with a caravan full of food and full tank of fuel that I didn’t account for. We also had some entertainment and attraction expenses that we didn’t incur last week as well. Challenge for this week; halve the budget Marcia!
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That’s a wrap for Week 2 of the Lap of the Map.