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The Tree of Knowledge - Barcaldine

Stopped at Barcaldine

– birth of the Labor party on the back of a massive shearers strike in 1891. Donna - the political beast - loved it of course!! Fascinating bit of Australian History.

Lara Wetlands

Then a fantastic couple of days at Lara Wetlands – out in the middle of nowhere, we camped around a lake full of dead trees with birds fluttering all around the place. Wandered around the lake, camp oven over the fire, a relaxing kayak across the lake, and enjoyed the Hot Artesian Pool. Great great hidden spot.

Back to Illfracombe, where the host tells a few jokes and poems – very talented and funny lady!

Then onto Longreach and the famous Qantas Museum. Fascinating and very well done (although they could do even more with it … WIP). Lots of info in the Museum re the early days of Qantas – tough times back then and its amazing what they really had to do to get Qantas established … and to survive !!!! Then went out for a tour of the planes inc a Jumbo – however because of some works being done we only got half the tour – the outside – as the interiors of the planes are closed off for a few months while they build a roof (… although to be honest I could have probably run the tour of the interiors myself I have been in them so much!!) … amazing nonetheless. Also toured the original hangar, with a couple of the older planes inside, and a movie made years ago by the Founder – Hudson Fysh.

That night, we went on a river cruise along the Thompson River, followed by a camp oven dinner and show. Bit touristy of course, but really well done.

Stopped at the Walkabout Creek Hotel - a la Crocodile Dundee.

Then onto Winton – the scenery has changed now, from sparse empty rocky plains, to sparse empty grassy plains …. Mitchell Grass to be exact.

Never heard of it – but you can’t miss it out here – very good for the cattle apparently. Sent Donna off on a tour of the Dinosaur Stampede at Lark Quarry – the only one in the world – she loved it … footprints of a spot where one big dinosaur cornered thousands of little dinosaurs and had them scurrying – 90 million years ago. Meanwhile, I went to the Waltzing Matilda Museum …. Which was actually very good – Banjo wrote it about an incident a few Kilometres down the road, and first performed it in the North Gregory Pub in Winton – so of course I had a beer there also. Not a bad little town.

Then onto Julia Creek – past lots of cattle, a few Emus, a Wedgey, and a ‘flock’ (16) of Brolgas. Julia

Creek is a great little town – astoundingly neat – probably the nicest town we have come across. Had a bath in the beautiful Artesian Bath-house accompanied by a few wines and nibbles, wandered down the very neat main-street, lunch in the very neat café, and back to the very neat Caravan Park with its very neat facilities. Also joined the ‘famous’ camp over dinner and sat around with a few oldies … and youngies by the very neat camp fire. Great spot!!

Drove north and camped at Cacoory Ruins – an old stone cottage built 140 years ago and abandoned 120 years ago – and actually in remarkable condition – good chance for a few night star photos!! The ruins are just near some old artesian ponds – with scalding hot water rising from the ground – very strange.

Then north to a nice little town called Bedourie, with a neglected pub – and stayed next to Cookaminchicka Creek. Long drive across big wide open flat gibber plains towards Windorah.

Amazing thing is that whilst it looks flat and featureless, the nature of the scenery changes over the kilometres such that you end up driving past big red sand dunes, green pastures, woods, waterholes with Emus, flocks of Budgies, huge Wedge-tailed Eagles, Brolgas, and a few Kangaroos.

Ended up at Coopers Creek (again!!) near Windorah … awesome spot … planned to stay as an overnighter, but loved it and stayed for 3 nights – sitting across from a bunch of Pelicans - who make life look peaceful and easy, as well as spoonbills, many Kites gliding above, and hundreds of Martins, Budgies, and wood swallows flying through the trees. Night-time was a star-spectacular.

The highlight though was the cattle drove that crossed the creek just below our caravan. A ‘Cowboy’ told us they were coming through with their horses …. but he forgot to mention the 2000 (?) head of cattle they were bringing with them, all being funneled across a small creek crossing like sand through an hour-glass. It was amazing to watch as the 4 drovers hustled the cattle across the creek. 3 cattle got bogged in the mud – so they freed one by dragging it out with the 4 wheel drive … but the second died whilst being dragged out, and the third had passed away before they could even try and rescue it.

After a fantastic 3 days by Cooper Creek – we headed north towards Longreach – past a couple of small outposts, and through some grazing country – the highlight being the emus – who seemed to not be fazed by us at all.

Stayed at Illfracombe, a lovely small town with an awesome pub – where we feasted on the Sunday Roast followed by a game of pool.

A long, long drive from Innamincka to Birdsville – 550 slow kms across 2 days - the toughest drive of the trip – by some way – through big open Gibber Plains across the Sturt Stony Desert.

Gibber Plains

Apart from a small number of birds … there was essentially zero wildlife – or anything else for that matter.

Stopped at Deon's lookout overnight – with awesome views across the desert – and a stunning sunset to boot.

Population Zero!!!

Then drove through Betoota - with a population of Zero - this joint was pumping!!! Bit sad really - the pub had simply been abandoned. Amazingly though, they (whoever 'they' are???) still hold an annual race meeting ... which we may even get to.

Then we flew into Birdsville (.... flew … birds(villle) …. sorry!!) – great spot – very very remote. Of course – Burke and Wills had wandered through here. Beers and dinner at the famous Birdsville Pub – loved it.

Had a picnic watching the sunset over Big Red – a huge red sandhill on the edge of the Simpson Desert (where the Big Bash Concert is held each July), wandered down to Pelican Point on the Birdsville Billabong, and took a look at the Race Track, where the famous races are to be held in a couple of weeks, and a few more beers at the Pub. We are a little bit too early for the races – but hope to come back specifically in a couple of years. The only disappointment was that the famous Birdsville Bakery has temporarily (?) closed – so no Curried Camel Pie!!!!

Loved Birdsville!

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