|Brisbane to Alice Springs - Brisbane to Cawnpore Lookout||March 29 - April 1 2018|
| We aren't going to Darwin. Just that every day we go
shopping we pass this sign on the freeway. It reminds us how big Australia
is. Darwin is further away than we drove across Russia.
We are driving about 2,500 km to Alice Springs. To the beginning of our trip.
Instead of the shortest route, to Birdsville and straight across the Simpson Desert (last year's trip), or round the south through Broken Hill, we'll try a different route. To Boulia in Western Queensland then along the Plenty Highway. North of the Simpson Desert.
Its only when I write it like that I realise how geographically central the Simpson Desert and Alice Springs are in Australia.
| Once at Alice Springs we'll take a circular route. South
west to Uluru. North west to the Pilbara. North west to Broome and the
Burrup Peninsula. North east to the Kimberley. South (ish) to Purnululu
(Bungle Bungles). Then Tanami Road, with a detour to Wolfe Creek Meteorite
Crater, south east to Alice Springs.
We'll be travelling for 5-6 months. A big trip!
In the meantime, the further west in Queensland the smaller the roads and the bigger the road trains. Lots of tyres for mining trucks.
| We aim to travel about 400 km / day at around 80 km/h
until we are tired or find somewhere to stop for a couple of days or get to
Uluru. Whereupon we will slow down.
First stop Jedds Lagoon at Yuleba. A convenient couple of km off the Warrego Highway.
We remembered the bird book this time. Unfortunately this specimen isn't in it. We think a Muscovy Duck. We suspect a domesticated cross between chickens and ducks.
| The lagoon is a slightly muddy puddle with pleasant
surrounds which we shared with a few caravans and a tent ..... at least the
people who occupied them.
Apart from being big, Australia is our home. Which means we don't have to put the truck on a ship. We just have to drive long distances. But it means we can take annual trips. Australia is also hot in the north, and not so hot in the south. We are not ready to join the nomads that annually trek north-south with the weather.
So here we are. Travelling west. Wondering when the afternoon temperatures will fall a bit from their average 35 deg C.
|We played a bit of tag with this more than 50m road train. Travelling slightly faster than us we could watch for 10 - 15 minutes in the mirror then pull over to let it pass.|
| Night two. Next to a windmill and tank a couple of hundred
metres from the road. A few km south of Tambo on the Landsborough Highway.
We could hear birds, and occasionally see them disappear as we approached, but really need to stop for longer to really see them.
Perhaps its time to mention "the flies". Possibly because its rained recently. Perhaps its because the temperature is about 37 deg C max during the day. Maybe there are just lots anyway.
Technique is to park facing the sun, gather up stuff from cab, rush to house door, get in, open all windows, pull down fly screens, leave door with only fly screen. Then a quick dose of insect spray and our sanity returns. Every so often rotate the truck a bit to keep sun off the sides.
We've set off a bit early in the season. Before inland temperatures lessen. Another couple or three weeks.
| River and creek names are usually just names in a weather
bulletin when there are flood warnings.
Between Tambo and Blackall we cross an almost indescernible ridge. We leave the Murray Darling Basin and enter the Lake Eyre Basin. Both are vast catchments. However, the creeks and rivers in the Murray Darling Basin flow year round, exit to the sea is somewhere south of Adelaide. The Lake Eyre Basin flow occasionally and empty into Lake Eyre, to evaporate.
To put things in perspective, most of where we've been travelling is between 150 and 300m above sea level. Which is probably why it takes a couple or more months for water to reach its destination.
| Blackall has a "Black Stump". A surveyor's mark.
Anywhere past Blackall is "Beyond the Black Stump".
We assume westwards.
We didn't see the Black Stump.
Our original plan was a shorter route via Quilpie through Windorah and Bedourie to Boulia. However, heavy rain a couple of weeks ago closed roads. Particularly where the Diamantina River crosses the Diamantina Developmental Road.
But we did see the "Tree of Knowledge" at Barcaldine.
Etched into Australian history as the tree that provided shade for sheep shearers who formed a union and decided to strike. A bitter struggle.
Also where the Queensland Labor Party was formed.
Alas, the tree was poinsoned, and died. Preserved.
Railway station in the background.
Next through Longreach.
The tail of a Qantas Jumbo can be seen in the distance. There was enough runway for it to land, leftover from wartime Flying Fortress base. But not enough for it to take off. It was flown here to be a museum piece. Qantas started life just along the road at Winton.
After the rain roads were closed. Even our alternative route. They are
progressively being opened.
We are not sure what to be cautious about but we'll manage.
Acacia Tephrina. Common name Boree.
Whilst I tend to associate Australia and gum trees there are just as many, if not more, areas of acacia.
We are camped at Dingo Creek Downs. Well away from the road and rail line.
We tested our new hand held gps. A successful test. We walked round a rough circle and found our way back to the truck.
And so through Winton.
We've been filling our fuel tanks as we go.
After Winto we expect prices to be much higher.
|Our route is Winton to Boulia on the Kennedy Developmental Way.|
The rain has turned ground cover to green.
Which made this bit of road look like an avenue of acacias to us.
|After so much flat (it would be very difficult for anyone living out this way to think of it as anything but flat) we saw a few hills.|
Then crossed the Diamantina.
The rivers are very braided. Which happens when rivers flow slowly with very little fall.
The causeway crosses lots of little Diamantinas. A couple of weeks ago it would probably have been just one big shallow slow moving river.
|But now its back to being a shadow. Damp marks on the bank looks like its dropped half a meter in the last 24 hours.|
Surprise. Its not all flat after all.
We think "Carters Range".
The Kennedy Developmental Road is about 50% bitumen and 50% gravel.
The bitumen is mostly single lane.
The sign lied (there was an overtaking opportunity about 5km later) but we found it amusing.
If there had been any traffic trying to overtake us we would have pulled off the road.
|Brolgas. Playing in a sea of green.|
Its called the Lillyvale Range as its near Lillyvale Station. Probably on it.
We stopped (and camped) at the Cawnpore Lookout. We think there's a Cawnpore in India. There's certainly a Lucknow, just like the station a few km west of us.
Just like when we passed through Ilfracombe we thought there was an Ilfracombe in Devon.
|The view from the back window of the truck. The jumpup we walmed up to take the photos.|
|But later we climbed to the top a second time. To watch the sunset.|
|Presumably taking advantage of the rain.|
Looking east, from whence we came.
These are the colours of the outback that we came to see.
|And looking closer.|
|The colour of the red sandstone changes in the dying rays of the sun. Much more pronounced to the camera than the eye.|
|Brisbane to Alice Springs - Boulia to Black Hills||April 2 - 3 2018|