Day 25:

22 July 2010

I feel I must start today's blog posting with a quote from Bill Bryson's Down Under:

"This was my fifth trip and this time, for the first time, I was going to see the real Australia - the vast and baking interior, the boundless void that lies between the coasts.  I have never entirely understood why, when people urge you to see their 'real' country, they send you to the empty parts where almost no sane person would choose to live, but there you are.  You cannot say you have been to Australia until you have crossed the outback."

This is so true.  REAL Australia is the guy running the Free Zoo at Larrimah with his sun-tanned wife or the guy at the Juno Horse Centre with his weathered cowboy hat and dusty jeans giving the advice of chilli juice for dehydration as he checked us in, right after chatting away in a deep Aussie accent on his mobile in the middle of...well "the empty parts".

We have been driving through "real" Australia for about a week now.  It means red dust in the sheets, bugs on the windscreen...but, not just little it was full on locusts - and thousands of them.  It means seeing so many dead roos on the side of the road that when you see a live one it makes your heart race even though you've seen them many times in the Taronga Zoo in Sydney.

Today, it meant speeding along the Barkly and Flinders Highways (514 kms from Mount Isa to Hughenden, QLD), passing oversized loads, double-decker cattle road trains (with three trailers full), and a semi that had tipped over due to the instability and curvature of the roads.  Tomorrow ends our time in the outback as we will be reaching Townsville and meandering the remainder of our trip down the east coast.

Jenna, Sydney Rachel and Devon at the Riversleigh Fossil Centre in Mount Isa


Little Archaeologists and a sign from the Riversleigh Fossil Centre in Mount Isa, QLD

Hard Times Mine near the Riversleigh Fossil Centre in Mount Isa

We started our day realising we parked across a dirt road from the actual rest stop that had a large sign saying "No Camping".  Ah, well, we love the thrill of free camping.  After breakkie, we headed quickly into the town of Mount Isa to see the Riversleigh Fossils Centre.  Admission was $35 for the family, so we paid and Rob and the kids went in while I braved the streets of Mount Isa to find a laundromat in the campervan...solo.  It went well.  I quickly got change at the bank across the road and loaded up the machines.  Meanwhile, this chatty older gentleman who was waiting patiently for his washing started talking to me about a plethora of topics...the fall of America, the Roman empire, how kilts aren't actually Scottish, but from the Greeks.  It was very interesting.  My mobile rang 15 minutes into the wash cycle and I had to abandon the washing and the nice man and sprint back to the fossils centre so I wouldn't miss the laboratory tour.  Turns out, the laboratory tour was far too informative for our age of children and I ended up herding them out of there as quietly as possible.  The museum was small, but interesting and the kids got a chance to be little archaeologists, which they enjoyed.

After our fossil adventure, we did more maintenance - emptying the black water tank, refilling the water and the diesel tank, dumping the rubbish, collecting and folding the laundry, buying a few more things at the supermarket, etc.  We got lunch at KFC (again) and then were finally off on our trip to Hughenden.  Rob basically drove straight through, bless his heart.  We only stopped once to refuel along the way.

The landscape changes continually along our journey

An Oversized Load along the Flinders Highway

Matterhorn of Oz

Krocosaurus Korner in Richmond

Double-Decker Cattle Road Train - with three trailers full of cattle

A train paralleling the Flinders Highway


At precisely 6:35p.m., we pulled into the Hughenden Allan Terry Caravan Park.  We quickly hooked up to power.  The kids and I showered while Rob grilled up steak, potatoes and corn on the cob.  After straightening the campervan and re-making the beds, it was 9:00p.m. Oiy!  We are far from pros at this caravanning thing.  :-}

Tomorrow, we are booked in at an eco park at Magnetic Island - a 20 minute car ferry ride from Townsville, QLD.  Then, we rest and play!  :-D

Thankfully, I feel 100 percent better today.

Sunset in the rear view mirror - Flinders Hwy