The Mighty Murray River!

The Mighty Murray River!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Winton to Hughenden

Winton to Hughenden = 216km (Winton to Corfield = 85km, Corfield to Stamford = 68km, Stamford to Hughenden = 63km)
Cummulative total = 3694km

I decided to do this part in one whole blog rather than 3 individual day ones.
We left Winton early Sunday morning and Sunday is generally a good day to ride on the roads as there tends to be less traffic - well there was hardly any traffic on this Kennedy Development road not only on the Sunday but also on the Monday and Tuesday that we were on it! It was great as Neil rode most of the way alongside of me rather than behind me! As for the road well it was a nice road up until just after Corfield or when you changed from the Winton shire to the Flinders shire and then you had to negotiate through the pot holes and broken bits of road - they are doing major roadworks just before Stamford and heading towards Hughenden. One thing that I noticed that was very popular on this road was the use of grids, particularly in the Winton shire on the first day we had 5 of them to cross and then up to the shire boundaries we had another 4 on day 2 ... I hate going over these as you have to stop and get off the bike and gingerly walk over them!
The road is 2 lanes wide and relatively flat but I would say between Winton and Hughenden there were 100's of floodways! Up until about 30km from Hughenden the floodways were easy and very gentle but nearer to Hughenden they became more undulating but okay to cycle. From Winton they are beginning to pull up the railway line that runs alongside the road and on the other side they have dug a trench (started from Hughenden) and are laying the cable for the National broadband network.
Up to the first Telstra communication tower out of Winton the view is very scenic...

...and then once over the crest at the top you are confronted with a wide open expanse just like between Longreach and Winton - the road is straight and deviates very little!
Below is a photo of were we have been ...

... and below is a photo of were we are going!!!

The wind fortunately for us was a cross to tail wind for the first day, by the 2nd day it was just all over the place anything from a cross to head to tail wind as the day progressed and on the third it was back to a cross to tail wind!

On our first day we did a long day (85km) and it was also a hot day too so we were relieved to get to Corfield Rest Area.

And to our surprise there was a sort of local pub opposite which opened it showers to the travelling public free of charge! Now this shower is just typical for out here in the middle of nowhere - a corrugated tin shack with a concrete floor and a shower head poking through the wall - the plumbing is a slight chip away from the concrete floor near the side of the shower! very rustic but loads of hot water so it was great at the end of the hot day! Corfield rest area is very small and just after we got there there was 5 other caravans that turned up (4 were part of a caravan club from Bendigo), one was already there, and one that came later had to park just outside the rest area so it was a very crowded place! but we got the best spot as we are in the tent and were the only ones that could get there!

It was behind bouganvillea bushes and under a tree and gave great afternooon shade, there was also this wire seat there that we could use! It is probably the best camp spot we have had this trip whether it is in a caravan park or on the side of the road or in the bush! The only downside to it was the other people in the caravans! I tell you normally we don't mind some people and their very blinkered views but at this spot they all were just obnoxious, opinionated and irritating people and since the rest area was just so small you couldn't escape from them! One guy was just down right rude to Neil when giving his racist, ignorant views on politics, society and life in general when he realised that Neil didn't agree with him on everything he said and basically because the guy couldn't understand why Neil had opposite views to him he just said that Neil had nothing up there in the Library (pointing to his brain) and I just thought oh my god what an ignorant little person he was! Anyway that really upset me and I dwelled on that all night and most of the next day! But that is not all! In the morning while packing up (we had slept in and didn't leave until 9am!) the Bendigo caravaners (the men) decide to be pompous obnoxious prats and basically leaned on the fence making (what they thought were) funny snide comments about the metho bottle we were carrying and how it looked like water and how we maybe drinking that instead of the water and all we could do was just ignore them and continue on packing up - they soon got the message and walked away - I don't know just sometimes you really get sick of the people you meet - hence why we enjoy camping in the bush to escape them! Anyway day 2 while riding we discussed our friends back at the rest area and we're slowly coming to the opinion that there is not much compassion in the people we are meeting and that is very disheartening - back to a previous observation we have noticed that (compared to our last tour 12 years ago) that we don't get offered a cuppa or anything (except for fruit way back just before Roma) not that we expect it but just a little thought or consideration that we may not have all the luxuries. It seems that they are willing to chat to us and make us listen to their views but not offer us water, coffee, tea or biscuits! In fact one thing that really surprises me that they don't even consider that we may not be able to pick up water along the way and to check to see if we need some and offer us any (not that we need any we carry more than enough!) - in the past people have always asked us if we have enough water. Not far from Stamford we did have a white ute with 2 very young women in it pass us, then stop and turn around and come back to us and asked if we were okay for water - we said we were okay and had enough and thanked them profusely for just coming back to check! see and it was the young generation that asked not the older generation that have yet to offer us anything over the past 3 months!
Also just before Stamford we saw something that freaked us out a whopping great fat snake in the middle of the road - it was dead off course! but it was short and about as thick as Neils forearm - and it was freshly killed, we also saw 2 small freshly killed ones just before we got to Corfield the day before so we will have to keep an eye out for them now since we are in a warmer climate!
We got to Stamford mid afternoon and it was hot and in the camp 5 book it says the roadhouse has camping etc. well it doesn't now as the road crews that are repairing the road are staying there in prefabs so there is no room for caravans - there was room for our tent but we opted to pitch next to the tennis courts for a little peace and quiet and paid the roadhouse $5 to use their shower and toilets, then went over to the road crew to ask if we could fill up our empty water bottles from their rain water tank - they said that was okay!

There was a beagle dog at the roadhouse and it decided to stay with us for the afternoon - it was a young girl dog and all it wanted to do was play with Kouta who in the afternoon after cycling all he wanted to do was sleep and got rather aggrevated with the beagle dog when she kept annoying him! So she tried to play as much as possible but decided to join Kouta in sleeping!
The next morning the sun took a while to get to the tent so we were freezing for a while and were ready to start by 8am (a little earlier so that we weren't cycling in the hot afternoon sun too much!) While packing up the Beagle dog came back to play with Kouta and since Kouta was well rested he played with her but after a while she got really rough and he was beginning to snap which just encouraged the Beagle even more to play so we had to put him in the trailer to rescue him!
At 15km we had to stop as for the first time Kouta jumped out of the trailer while cycling along and I was very lucky not to go over as I could hear what sounded like his paws being dragged along the bitumen and I knew instantly what he had done and had to quickly pull over (I almost forgot to unclip by shoes from the cleats too!). We couldn't figure out why he jumped and I looked in the basket and he had done a whoopsie again - he had diarrhea! So we had just passed a water bore 500m back so Neil took the basket back to rinse it out! We continued on cycling and it was slow going as we kept stopping to let Kouta out when he whined thinking he needs to go to the toilet again! he did a few times - we did manage to see these lovely flowers alongside the road and sometimes in the paddocks.

We had a cuppa around the 32km mark and while packing up Neil decided to get up from the ground too quickly and next thing you know he falls flat on his bum in the midst of fainting! crikey between him and Kouta I have 2 sick little puppies with me! It has happened a few times this trip but this is the first time he has fainted - he needs to get up from the ground slower with his blood pressure!
We got to Hughenden and Neil is really excited but he can't explain why! I think it has something to do with that how far along we have come from Melbourne but I am thinking we still are going further north!!! Maybe the fact that we are now in very familiar territory for him as he has been through here alot - and I can only vaguely remember Hughenden but Neil can remember alot even the caravan and that it has become bigger. It is a nice caravan park, full over night, and the camp kitchen is good - bbq, fridge, sink, microwave, tables/chairs, cook top, hot water urn but no toaster!
We will rest here today and will continue on to Charters Towers which is 243km away - not sure if we will do that in 3 or 4 days - 3 days of hard cycling or 4 days of easy cycling! - it depends on the strength of the winds - the prevailing wind is a headwind coming from the east direction so that will be in front of us all the way to Charters Towers

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rest day at Winton

Gosh it is hot up here! ... I know I was complaining it was cold only a few weeks ago! Today the wind was alot less than what it has been so we assume a change is coming and believe it or not when we looked at the forecast for the next few days - there is a change coming and tomorrow we will have a tailwind when we thought that since we will be changing direction and moving in an easterly direction that we would be getting head winds!
The town of Winton is small but quaint and I reckon it has alot more charm than Longreach and out of the 2 I think I prefer Winton. I took a few photos of in and around town.

The above photo is a tribute to Banjo Patterson and below is a photo of a windmill and some wagon that I forgot to go over and read about it - but I am sure it is off some important significance to the town!

The main street has at least 3 pubs and here is one below!

Below is a photo of the main street

And all along the main street the rubbish bins are inside these dinosaur feet moulds! I suppose since dinosaurs are one of the major tourist draw cards to the town.

Tomorrow we head up the Kennedy Development road to Hughenden and I am rather excited to be going on this road as it is not exactly a major highway and according to Neil there will be no road trains - the campground is on the corner of this development road and I just had to point out every road train that came from Hughenden on this road and every road train that is going to hughenden on this road! It is a narrower road - basically it is a single lane road and we have to get off the road whenever a truck or car or caravan comes from either direction! so it will be a 3 day ride to Hughenden.

Crawford Creek Rest Area to Winton

Crawford Creek Rest Area to Winton = 46km
Cummulative total = 3478km

Only a short day today to Winton and again we rejoined our continuous straight road with a very barron landscape - for some strange reason although it is really barron and repetitive I don't seem to get sick of it ... and I suppose we are going so slow that really it is not that repititve ... one tuft of grass is different to the one 100m further on!!! Now I am beginning to fear as we begin to get closer to the coast (1000km away) that I won't enjoy the cycling along the coast - I remember when I cycled from Darwin to Adelaide that from Port Augusta down through the Clare Valley and towards Adelaide I didn't really like the scenery and that I was pining to be in the outback! But the bonus is that once we hit the coast there will be alot more Woolworth supermarkets and I think I get more enjoyment from seeing and waundering through a Woolworths supermarket than seeing and waundering through any tourist attraction!!!
Along the way this morning we could see a slight mountain range and we assumed it was part of the Bladensburg national park. Looking at the range it was a nice change from the flat landscape.

Our ride to Winton was not exactly on the straight road there were a few bends along the way! We did come across a herd of Camels and we stopped to take photos of them.

Coming into Winton you get your usual 5km stretch of what I like to call 'junk mail' which are a series of billboard advertising for tourist accomodation, attractions and services. Winton promotes Banjo Patterson and Waltzing Matilda, Dinosaurs and the home of the meetings where Qantas was started. While at Longreach I read the comments and reviews about the caravan parks in Winton and they weren't very promising (then again for some strange reason nearly all caravan parks out here in the outback have negative reviews so I am wondering just what people expect out here!!!) so I wasn't really looking forward to being in Winton ... but I was proven wrong - it is a really charming little town, full of character and charm - alot better than Longreach!
The campground was nearly empty when we got here around midday but by the evening it was chockers! It is a dusty campground but which outback campground isn't so you sort of get use to dust and dirt getting into everything. Like alot of outback campgrounds they offer a roast beef and vege meal for $15, an outback slim dusty type singer and bush poetry - but the bush poetry is a little different to the ones advertised in other town campgrounds - it is 2 women Susie and Melanie. So since our camp spot is right next door to the area where they do all the entertainment we decided to go along and watch the bush poetry. Not really knowing what to expect as we hadn't really seen the ones at Blackall, Barcaldine and Longreach we had really only heard them and it was the same ole thing - harping back to the ole ways type thing so we thought the 2 women might have different perspective. Earlier on we met them as we booked in as they couldn't believe that we were cycling and had a dog!
Anyway we stood at the back while everyone sat down at tables and chairs and one begins by welcoming everyone and picking on certain places that people come from and generally everyone had a good laugh (not only do they promote the show as bush poetry but also comedy yarns and stories) and then next thing you know she is beginning to mention that 2 special people are here and standing up at the back (and I look and see it is only Neil and I standing!) and tells them all how we are cycling and we have a dog and then she is telling everyone to give us a clap etc - I am just going bright red and Neil and I are just gobsmacked and don't know what to do but just stand there! Then she begins her poetry and it is great and then the other one does hers and that is really good to - they were really entertaining and it was a combo of bush poetry and comedy. There was a fair bit of Banjo Patterson and they did a Banjo Patterson poem with children where they act and quote the poem about the christening of McGuiness (I can't remember the name of the poem). One of the last poems is 'the man from Ironbark' and they got 2 men in to act that out as they quoted the poem and that was absolutley hilarious! At the end they ask for a donation as this is there livelihood and I tell you alot of people put money in the hat as it is well worth it because it was such a great show - and yes as much as we are on a budget we did blow it completely and donated just as much as everyone else (most put in $5) and I tell you you couldn't get a more entertaining show in the city! Tonight they are on again and every night they change their routine - I suppose to suit the crowd.

Morella to Crawford Creek Rest Area

Morella to Crawford Creek Rest area = 67km
Cummulative total = 3432km

It was warm last night so sleeping was a little broken with waking up hot and sweaty. While packing up this morning an empty cattle train passed by us and tooted! We wondered if there would be any trains throughout the night as the road is following a train line up to Winton ... since it was empty we guessed that it was going to pick up cattle at Winton and come back down ... and we were right as we saw it later on in the day around 1pm going back towards Longreach ... and he tooted at us again - he must have recognised us! Speaking of recognising us ... we are beginning to think that the road trains are the same ones every day! as they are begining to toot at us and wave alot more - so either they are chatting on their radios and telling the other drivers about us or they have a set run and every day they see us!
This morning I saw something that really surprised me, albeit it was dead, and that was a small orange and white striped snake. It was in the shoulder and I looked down and there it was - it was killed that morning as it looked glossy and fresh - so it must have been warming itself on the road and a car ran it over. We haven't seen a snake for a while and thought that we should be seeing them soon as it is very warm up here.
The wind today is yet again a very strong wind coming at us from the side. Again the road is still straight with no bends or turns. It also doesn't have many places to pull off the road to take a break so when the opportunity arose to get off the road and lean the bike against a fence/gate we took it!

Since Neil is carrying the spare wheel we can't get at our chairs when taking a break so we now sit on Koutas blanket to have a cuppa!
We came across a new rest area that is close to the road and has toilet it was about 115km from Longreach but our next rest stop was still another 20km away so we continued on to Crawford Creek Rest Area (which had a tick in the camp 5 book which means that it is highly recommended!) and the road actually had a bend in it to get to the rest area (but then it curved back to resume its straighness!).

It is a huge rest area and had toilets and bore water (so we could have a British bath again). The council had ashalted the entire area or else it would have been just dust and with the amount of caravaners there last night I can understand why it is important to have it asphalted! At count the next morning (allowing for late comers last night) there were 18 groups in total and we all had ample space!

Neil and I even grabbed one of the many sheltered tables there!
In one of the shelters up inside the roof some finch birds had made there nests

When I went to take a photo I managed to scare one of the birds (unintentionally) so it began to flitter away from the nests so if I had treaded a bit more quietly I may have got it at one of the wee small doors in the nests!
Off course being cyclists and travelling with a dog that sort off attracts a fair bit of attention from passerbys and this evening we had quite a few wanting to chat to us - and off course they all mentioned that Australia now has a new female prime minister and off course everyone has their opinion about her! Even on the ABC radio the whole nights show was talking about what had happened and how she really wasn't elected and how nasty the party had treated Kevin etc ... blah blah blah!!!

Longreach to Morella

Longreach to Morella = 70km
Cummulative total = 3365km
We left Longreach early this morning and we had very strong cross to tail winds today. We knew that we were going to get cross winds to Winton as the wind was swinging from a south easterly to a predominantly easterly and continuing swinging to a north easterly. And like any wind here in the outback it is strong anywhere from 20 to 30km per hour! To add to our woes of servere cross winds (at least it wasn't a headwind!) which continuously threw us about with regards to road trains and caravans the traffic was horrendous for the first 30km, I suppose everyone leaves Longreach at the same time! It is also school holidays and there are alot more cars towing trailers at the moment. But it seems to be that there are a few NSW caravaners that just don't want to give us room on the road and continually come up along us very close or are just plain dumb and squeeze past us when another car is coming in the opposite direction instead of just slowing down - I reckon the caravaners that do that are the ones that are not retired and are actually on holiday as they seem to have that "I have to get past fast these cyclists as I only have 4 weeks holiday until I have to get back to work" attitude!!!
But Neil and I go merrily along away and take it in our stride with these risky drivers and just curse and get over it! But one thing I HATE about cycling out here and fortunately we have been very lucky in not seeing this is the injured wildlife (it is bad enough seeing the dead wildlife) and during the busy time on the road we came across a small feral kitten that had obviously been knocked by a car (a truck would have killed it) and was stranded in the middle of the lane and as we cycled past we realised what it was and that it was still alive and I saw its' eyes and I nearly burst into tears and it was too busy to go and finish it off with a rock (and there wasn't any rocks about!) so we had to continue on in the knowledge that a road train would eventually finish it off. But those eyes haunted me for the rest of the day and night ... man I hate this part of cycling.
After about 30km the road just goes in 1 straight line towards Winton and there is not much deviation from that straight road (no kinks or turns or bends!).

It was a hot day and our information showed that there was no water between Longreach and Winton so we left Longreach with 15 litres of drinking water and the knowledge that there was to be no British baths along the way! Although the information did say toilets there is no guarantee that the water tanks for the toilets will have bore water in them for us to wash - but that didn't worry us.
We got to Morella which is around the 68km mark and just before it we could see a small QCWA building (Queensland Country Womens Association) and thought we would try there instead of the Rest Area which was close to the road and would be busy with road trains stopping through the night. So we camped outside the fence and we managed to get water from their rain water tank so we could have British bath and could restock on drinking water which was an absolute bonus!
It was a lovely spot and as soon as we set up tent Kouta was in the tent asleep!

We left the 2 doors open so the breeze could blow through as it was quite warm around 29 degrees so I think Kouta was just hot and knackered! So we had a relaxing afternoon of just sitting back listening to the radio and hearing the announcement that Australia may have a female prime minister tomorrow!
In the evening it cooled down a bit and it was pleasant enough - dinner tonight was weetbix, banana, dried fruit and yoghurt! we have decided that it is easier to repeat the breakfast for out dinner rather than carry tinned fish, burritos, tomatoes etc as I was finding that that meal just wasn't enough or it wasn't filling so since I enjoy my breakfast I thought why not have weetbix again!

We waited for the sun to set so I could get a photo and I have to admit it was a lovely sunset - very peaceful!

Rest days at Longreach

After a very long break at Longreach due to waiting for my back wheel which in the end didn't end up coming - unfortunately Stu from Tuckers Cycles in Rockhamptom ordered the wheel from their supplier but still hadn't paid for the wheel to his suppliers by Tuesday so we cancelled that order and Neil managed to find just a normal cheap rear wheel at a BP station that had bicycles and accessories so we bought that wheel and had decided to keep my wheel on until around Charters Towers and then maybe have to put the new wheel on. We didn't really want to put the new wheel on now as we still have nearly 1000kms to go cycling through the middle of nowhere and since it is only a cheap wheel the wheel may not last so at the moment it is our back up!
So on Monday when Neil kept going back to the Post Office and again on Tuesday morning and again it still wasn't there Neil was becoming very stressed and feral and when he found the cheap wheel ... he was happy again. I don't think he wanted to spend any longer in Longreach! But while we did have our enforced rest we did manage to do a few chores namely putting visors on our helmets ... Neils' is held on with velcro dots while mine is held on with a velcro strap on one side and elastic string on the other! We were both happy with the results!

We also managed to give Kouta haircut as the weather is really warm now! so now he looks like a giant rat!

On a cloudy day we cycled out to Thomsom river to have a look at the free campsite out there, the night before it had rained a bit so after looking at the campsites and deciding that it is not suitable for a tent as it is a giant dust bowl we rode across the river on a bridge that was clearly under the water when this area flooded earlier this year and not paying attention to anything really we soon realised that the sediment on the bridge was beginning to build up under the mudguards and covering the tyres and soon you couldn't pedal at all for all the mud that was stuck under the mudguard. Mine was the worse as my mudguards are alot closer to the tyres than what Neils are!

It took us ages to get the mud off in the end I had to lift my bike over the bridge as the wheels wouldn't spin anymore due to the clogging!
Around the river the area is very lush due to the flooding and like most rivers out here they are still flowing.

On Tuesday evening there was alot of people camping around us and believe it or not we had 3 European cyclists turn up - the couple was Danish and they were travelling with a Norwegian guy. The Danish couple started off in Brisbane December last year and were heading back there in another 2 weeks - they had cycled around Australia (130000km!) and I missed where the Norwegian guy had been and was going to. Anyway they had been fight headwinds since Darwin so they were very sick of it by the time they got to Longreach!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ilfracombe to Longreach

Ilfracombe to Longreach = 33km
Cummulative total = 3295km

It was only a short day today - we woke and I felt very tired this morning because last night we didn't get to sleep until around 10.30pm due to all the noise and hype from the game!
We got to Longreach really early - around 10am and we were undecided as to which caravan park to go to - looking at the internet both didn't really have great reviews and although everyone has different opinions of caravan parks the reviews can be quite helpful sometimes. The first one (Discovery CP) is very big and an ex Top Tourist park and has been described as a dustbowl - we had a look but the unpowered section was grassed and didn't look too bad. We had time so we went to the other side of town to look at the other one (Longreach CP) and it was described as small and cramped - as soon as I saw it I said 'no' as it looked like nowhere for tents and I had visions of the Goondiwindi one where the guy was freaky and the tent section was on their front lawn. So we came back to the Discovery one and believe it or not it costs us $27 pernight for unpowered and that is with a Top Tourist discount (despite not being part of the Top Tourist group I think they still give their discount!). I was shocked at first but once we set up tent and saw that there is a communal power point near the shaded table area, a camp kitchen and free BBQ, good toilet, showers and laundry and most importantly there was a big tent area (normally used for coach tours) and only 1 other tenter ... I really started to like the place. It was the fact that we had our own big area away from the caravaners and people. Sometimes we like to be by ourselves (hence why we favour bush camping) and get sick off the same ole questions and saying the same ole thing! In a caravan park we cannot get away from that and sometimes we just want to be left alone - off course people are not aware of that and we don't expect them to be aware of it so it is a relief that when we are in a caravan park and it is huge that we actually do have our own section being hardly any tenters! So we may even take a long break here despite the cost but I think it is worth the money because it contains all the facilities that we need - even power for the computer! this is our ideal campground so really our review of it will be different to everyone elses. The caravans are on very dusty sites (and that is the main complaint) there are no slabs or grassed areas for them and when they drive around the dust is kicking up and blows everywhere ... but in the unpowered section!

Again it was a warm day and a strong wind which is beginning to come from the north. Longreach is a big town and there is alot to see if you are willing to pay! It has the Stockman hall of Fame, Qantas museum, Thomson river cruises and fishing etc. But they all quite expensive and a bit beyond the budget and some reports say they are a waste of money (with the exception of the Stockmans hall of Fame). Neil says to me that I can go despite the cost but I said the one thing I would like to see is the Banjo Patterson Waltzing Matilda museum up in Winton so I might go to that when we pass through.
Tonight we had our first good meal for quite a while (I suppose the hamburgers at Tambo and Barcaldine are okay!) we had Tandoori chicken and rice - the Tandoori came from a jar! it was lovely and tomorrow we will have chicken and rice again as the chicken only came in packs of 2!
At the moment it is 6.15pm and I am getting bitten alive by mossies - I was a bit too late in putting the deet on!
Tomorrow we will go to the post office to see if the wheel has turned up and if it has we will decide if we will stay here over the weekend. I am in 2 minds - I would like to stay if the wheel turns up but I would also like to go if it turns up as there are 3 days of south east winds which means tailwinds all the way to Winton!

Barcaldine to Ilfracombe

Barcaldine to Ilfracombe = 82km
Cummulative total = 3262km

We had a disappointing start to the day - some one had taken our food that was in the fridge in the camp kitchen - I was very disappointed and was initially shocked that it could happen in a park like the top tourist ... but I suppose it could happen anywhere really. But what really pisses me off is that fact that they took the cooler bag which fitted perfectly in my panniers and the container used for the margarine - it was perfect and had a good strong lid that didn't leak ...but they did leave the ice pak in the freezer part. Well whoever took it I hope they choke on the 4 pottles of mark down yoghurt and become overweight because they ate the 12 Bega processed cheese slices that were also in the cooler bag!
Once we had a our dismal breakfast we began to pack up and usually everyone decides to talk to us the and this morning was no exception - so we didn't get away until 9am. Lucky we had a tailwind! and it was a very strong wind too. Just out of Barcaldine we came across a not so friendly local.

It is a cane toad way out here in the outback ... and he is not alone! Now for those that don't know, ie. the kiwis, cane toads are a menace to Australia - initially they were bought in by Queensland sugar can growers to eat a bug that lives at the top of the sugar cane plant while they (the cane toads) live down the bottom ... go figure that it didn't work and the toads soon multiplied to a population that couldn't be controlled and eventually the toads began to spread to north and across Australia and here they are now in the Outback!
The road itself to Longreach is not too bad but there are a few holes here and there and caravans have to be careful and keep an eye out for them. The tailwind was very strong and at times be cranked it up to the big chain ring and and could sit on 24kph until we came to a crest and then we had to drop back down to the middle chain ring! But by the time we got to Ilfracombe we averaged about 21kph shich is our fastest day yet! It is also our warmest day too - it should hit around 25 degrees so it is lovely and warm and even the nights are unseasonably warm - around 10 degrees.

At the 30km mark there was a rest area and I just happened to look at my rear wheel and saw that the back wheel was starting to go like Neils wheel and I could see small thin stress fractures! So we were meant to bushcamp tonight but we had to get to Ilfracombe to ring either Emerald (again) for another wheel to be sent to Longreach or we would have to try Rockhampton.

We got to Ilfracombe which was a small, crowded but very friendly park and the only place for us was on the corner of a grassed area near the toilet block! basically I had an ensuite (I was about 3 strides away from the womens toilet!) that I had to share with every other woman! Neil rang the Emerald shop again but he didn't have any in stock and the soonest he could get a wheel to him was on Monday so it wouldn't be at Longreach until Wednesday and Neil didn't want to stay at Longreach for that long (the reports on the only 2 campgrounds there were not great so we didn't want to stay the long in Longreach). So he tried a Rockhampton and they also had to order one in and reckoned it could be in Longreach by the weekend (we had our doubts about that) so we ordered it from the Rockhampton guy. It is getting delivered from the Brisbane supplier to Longreach rather than via Rockhampton so hopefully it will be here by Friday.
After we sorted that all out we went for a walk into town. The town is small and it has one side of the road devoted to the historical aspects of the town ... namely the old machinery used in farming so I took some photos and I am sure Ray if you look at some of them you will recognise quite a few!

the above is a photo of a series of old style fridges!

even Neil knew what this one was! apparently Ray use to drive one of these - it is a Blitz

Once we got back from looking at the machinery and plugging the computer into a power point at the local park and ringing Ray and Flo we returned to the tent in the dark and had our dinner of curried tuna and cheese sandwiches - we were both famished and finished the loaf of bread off with honey mmmmmm!
Tonight is state of origin and the campground has gone mad with this game - They are showing the game in the communal area and it has decked out the communal area with maroon and white and blue and white balloons and streamers and everyone from Queensland is wearing maroon and everyone from NSW is wearing blue and the Victorians and Tasmanians just come as they are. We thought that tonight might be a bit noisy to sleep early so we reside to the fact that we will watch the game with a room full of drunk pensioners!!! can you imagine a room full of drunk pensioners? ... let me tell you it isn't pretty!!!
We went and sat in the neutral corner and just watched the game, couldn't hear a thing for the commentary and I tell you Queensland was obviously going to win and if you think Collingwood supporters are feral ... well wait until you see Queensland supporters!!! feral with a capital 'F'!!!
Anyway Queensland won!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In and Around Barcaldine

A nice warm day here in Barcaldine and Neil managed to fix his wheel successfully. It was just a relaxing day lounging around the tent but we did manage to do a quick ride around the town looking at a few of the sites.

This is the Masonic lodge - it is a really strange building made out of corrugated iron and it stood out in the street!

Above is the main street of Barcaldine
One thing Barlcaldine is famous for is the 'tree of knowledge' which is outside the railway station. It is a memorial to the men who fought for workers rights back in 1891 and formed the basis of the labour union movement and eventually the formation of the Labour party.

The tree (which was killed in 2006 by some form of protest) sits under this somewhat 'eye sore' of a box and from a distance you think .... yuck! but when you stand under it you soon realise that it is actually quite cool!

these wood spears hanging down are meant to represent the shears used by the shearers in the workers struggle against the pastoralists.
It is quite a nice memorial just a bit of an eye sore if you don't know what it is initially!