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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

From Barky to Mt. Isa

Wednesday Sept 18
It’s interesting how quickly we get into a daily routine. We are in a “on the road” routine right now. Waking up at 7 AM when the campground comes to life. We wash and dress in the toilet/shower building, make breakfast of granola, milk and yogurt - or sometimes eggs and toast - with a cup of tea. By 8:30 we are on the road.
Drove about 500 KM each of the last few days. From Emerald to Barcaldine (“Barky”) to Winton (“Witton”) to Mt Isa (“the Isa”).
Each town is an isolated dusty place with wide streets, a few pubs, a school and a handful of other buildings. Many have a pub or hotel in a colonial style with a wide veranda with lacey white trim. We buy groceries here, a bottle of wine there. Today we got diesel (“petrol”) in a one house town. And two coffees to go.
The speed limit is mostly 110 KM. We share the road with other caravans but also with the famed (or infamous...) outback road trains. These trucks pull up to 4 enormous trailers of freight and can be as long as 55 meters! They hog their lane and you better watch out when passing them. Once we had to overtake one and it takes a lot of time to get by one. 
We’ve finally seen our first wild kangaroos now, small groups in the shade of a tree. But we also see literally hundreds of dead kangaroos and wallabees along the road.  At times it looks like a slaughter house of road kills. I assume the animals come to the warm asphalt when at night the temperatures drop sharply and then get hit by passing vehicles.


By 10:30ish we both want coffee and either pull into a rest area to make our own, or buy a “tall black” in town.
Around noon we try to find a tall tree in any town that will give us some shade. Not much chance of a shade tree once you’re out of town. So we park in front of a post office or school and make our own sandwiches.
By 3 PM we arrive in the town where we will spend the night and find a campground, again with shade being the main attraction. A pool is next. Since buying a SIM card in our iPad, wireless internet is less urgent and it’s hard to find anyway. And never free. 
Our camper is a large van  with a raised roof. It has two good seats up front. The sliding door opens on the left side. There’s a tiny bathroom with a hand held shower, which we haven’t used yet but is good to have - just in case. Then there’s a counter block with 2 cupboards with pots and pans, a toaster, a kettle etc. and a small fridge on the left side. On the right is the counter with a 3 burner stove top, microwave and a small sink. They both close with a nice glass lid. There are food cupboards and quite a bit of storage throughout.  There’s also a TV and air conditioning. The back of the camper is a horseshoe shaped dinette set, with a bookshelf (!) and more storage both along the walls and under the seats. This folds into a KINGSIZE bed at night. We rented an extra package which gives us 2 plates, 2 cups, 2 glasses, 2 bowls, cutlery, mixing bowls, large utensils, as well as 2 towels, 2 pillows, sheets and a nice kingsize duvet. All this was either brandnew or spotlessly cleaned when we received it. There’s also 2 lawn chairs and an outside table. The camper has a pull out stove outside on which we can even grill steaks. We rented this camper from Britz (http://www.britz.com.au/) and, so far, we are very happy with it. It drives well and is comfortable.

Each campground (here called a caravan park) has pull through stalls and, hopefully some eucalyptus trees for shade. I can’t believe how quiet each one is. Not a sound at night even if it’s full. Most have very clean toilets and sh0wers. And all have a special camp kitchen: a large shelter with counters and a sink for dishes, a cookstove, an electric kettle, often a toaster. And almost always a bbq for grilling outback steaks!
By 9 PM we’ve had our evening coffee and read books for a while, then we undertake the giant task of making the bed, before falling into it and sleeping like a log.
Under the full moon (right now) and the southern cross, the temperatures plummet rapidly.

What I Learned Today: that emus live in the wild in Queensland. I had no idea there would be so many here. We spot them along the road, roaming the sunbaked land. 



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