Many eyes are watching though ..
Dust in our noses ~ and the desert wind
Longreach to Kynuna, just south of Cloncurry
Capricorn Highway becomes Landsborough Highway to Mt Isa ~ ~ 12-13 August 2014
Out of mobile and internet range for over 24 hours - now back online at Cloncurry >>
It’s just one month ago today that we bought “NFA” (No Fixed Abode is the name of our caravan) from Jayco dealership in Coffs Harbour. We have enjoyed every minute of it, despite some early hiccups with a slashed tyre, a split windscreen, the door that first wouldn’t open and then wouldn’t lock, a leaking water tank and a few other minor things which D has always managed to have fixed or to fix - thankfully. His toolbox and WD40 is always handy!! So a glass of wine celebrated this.
Tonight we are almost hidden in the Blue Heeler caravan park just off the Landsborough Highway in the tiny hamlet of Kynuna, about 360 kms north west of Longreach. We notice with interest tonight and especially those vans arriving at Longreach, that so many have boats on their car roof. It’s a long way to the ocean from here, and not too many rivers either, so we do wonder where they have been as most are heading south … or rather east!
To the motorist driving this distance, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of buildings or human habitation of any kind, but we know for sure that many many families live out here – their station names are actually on the map and have attractive road signs at their road end that we pass as we drive along at a comfortable 90kpm! However, the only creatures we have seen today are live sheep and cattle and then mostly road kill – literally thousands of dead sheep, kangaroos, emus and birds on the road side. The cull is obviously underway!
Grey clouds farewelled us from Longreach this morning but no rain expected here until the rains from the cyclones in the north get here possibly in January. However, very heavy rain is forecast for central Qld, and the Cape York peninsular and there’s a few folk we know on that route so hope they don’t get bogged.
We tried tuning our car radio today for the first time in this area and successfully found ABC local radio and even Radio National. We smiled as the first song we heard was the Beatles “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, so as we drove over that beautiful Thomson River, we were singing loudly and waving to yet more caravans driving into Longreach from the north. It’s good to know that mobile phone reception, internet too and the ABC radio and tv have reception out here. However, when we are watching the telly the commercial stations are coming from both Alice Springs and Darwin – not at all local!
McKinlay was our intended destination tonight as we didn’t plan to stopover in Winton. Like the rest of our plans they change as we travel, and instead we stayed for lunch in Winton, had a look around the Matilda Centre where Banjo introduced “Waltzing Matilda” to the world, then drove out to the dinosaur country for a look around there. We didn’t drive the extra 90km though to see the remnants of the dinosaur stampede, as it was convincing enough to see the countryside where they roamed all those millions of years ago and to note the size of the bones that had been found and now displayed in glass cases. What enormous gigantic animals some of them were – quite astonishing and we never considered being amongst their bones! I did get a little toy dinosaur for Gracie – for her collection of animals.
And here at Winton, virtually in the middle of nowhere, we were also lucky enough to catch Tim on Skype for the first time in quite a few weeks and it was good to see him and hear his voice again.
He’s busy – what else – but very happy to hear from us. It’s expensive to Skype right now, so it was a very special treat for us all.
There are so many road trains thundering past, and they usually have three or four trailers crammed full of cattle on their way to Rockhampton – a very long way away to the east. The only other vehicles we see are 4-carriage road haulage trucks, and huge mining equipment for which we have to pull over to the side. We do get covered in a lot of red dust too and sneeze a lot – something we are now getting used to as there’s always dust up our noses.
We stopped later this afternoon in the very middle of the Landsborough Highway, for a comfort stop and an orange and drink of water (we are carrying 180 litres in our tanks) and we have lots of bottles too. It was there we decided not to get to McKinley tonight, but stop over instead at the bustling outpost (one pub, a caravan park and one building) of Kynuna, and are now enjoying a truly spectacular outback sunset which is by far the very best we have seen so far. And we are snugly parked in the tiny caravan park at the back of the Blue Heeler pub. Earlier we had enjoyed a beer in there – must have dated back to the late 1800s but recent guests had written their names and messages over every bit of the inside walls and ceilings of the pub. Great place to meet other travellers – and enjoy a cold VB – what no Fosters.. no, not here!
The dust too is not always visible and not always present, but at night time it too rolls across the outback to remind us that it is part of life out here and no one really seems to mind. Some of the vehicles are appearing with very red dust on them – we’ve yet to collect some!
Banjo Patterson wrote Waltzing Matilda out here at Winton, long after the dinosaurs had gone, and the huge cattle trains keep on running. The train service from the east stops at Longreach, although the line is there until Winton but no longer used. The Very Big Rigs rule out here!
The dust in our noses is continuous and we have almost become used to the taste of it and our never-ending sneezing. The water quality since leaving the coast (it seems months and months ago but is only two weeks) isn’t too bad but we have a filter fitted on our water pipe from tap to van and boil every drop we drink.
We eat our evening meal around 6 each evening, read a bit or watch some telly when we get reception, listen to the radio or our CDs in the speaker/radio fitted in the van – and usually go to bed around 8 or 8.30 - I know it’s a bit early and it’s astonishing but no newspapers, no telly and not a lot of cafes or friends to visit, we do sleep a long time and quite often 9 or even 10 hours – something we have never done!!
The desert wind at night is almost soothing, it’s come from somewhere and going somewhere, and we don’t feel alone. The desert is a different place in time for us. There is much room for thought and wonderment too – and it’s the stuff that Australia’s history is built on – pioneers, isolation, hard work – cattle, sheep, no crops though but lots of mines – and the wind!