Burton's Perth to Cape York Carnarvon Gorge to the Gold Coast Day 25-26 - 24 & 25 April 2011

Friday, Apr 27, 2012 at 17:45

Red Dirt Australia


That rarely seen substance rain drops threatened for the first time in a long while last night. The wind started, nuts and branches collided with the canvas and then fortunately it all went away. The Quantum owners, Jason and his wife came over to say goodbye as we managed a reasonably fast packup for a spread out three night stop. We said goodbye to a wonderful spot and enthusiastically hit the dirt again with two small water crossings added as a bonus. This would probably be the last dirt until we hit the Cape. The roads to Roma, Miles and then Dalby were a bit of nightmare. Lined with the fluffy cotton balls from the local crops, the road was rough, damaged, busy and littered with roadworks for miles. This appeared to be from a combination of recent floods and more likely upgrading for the coal seam gas activity. Heavy, wide loads were frequent forcing us right off the road. Pipes, electrical equipment, skids and other gas infrastructure was on every truck. Halliburton and Baker Hughes logos on most vehicles. Reflective work clothes, mine spec vehicles and long delays indicated the feverish industrial activity, certainly making it difficult for us tourists. With some distaste, it reminded me of the Pilbara in WA. From the signs and posters it would appear the drilling and downstream processing is not popular with everybody. Land is being resumed, limited water supplies used up and damaged. We were halted regularly by traffic controllers, bounced often over semi trailer damaged bitumen and then swerved for our lives as huge trucks with over width signs bore down on us with out any concessions. On two occasions blue police cars with brightly flashing lights, headlights flashing alternatively ( wish mine could do that LOL) came right at us, on our side of the road, in a parody of some bizarre game of chicken. Naturally we obliged and moved off the road rather quickly as a huge haul pack truck looking ridiculous, perched on the back of what seemed to be a tiny semi trailer came hurtling towards us.

Roma was busy and appeared as another unattractive medium sized city. Graffiti, broken mirrors in the restrooms and mediocre service without a smile.

We were pleased to finally arrive at Chinchilla, a town I remember from an engineering job last year. More reflective vests, mine spec vehicles and semis. I wonder what the locals really think? The lady from TomTom whispered directions to the local weir via my iPad and in very short time we arrived at a beautiful lake surrounded by tall trees and a scattering of grey nomads.

It wasn't too crowded however all the obvious spots and most of the 12 power points appeared to be taken. Sniffing around, we spotted a long corridor carved out backing into the lake. Was there something wrong with this spot? Are we missing something? We backed in the Oddy under the overhanging trees, doing rather well and only taking 20 goes. The King Goannas were placed at the rear of the trailer and facing the lake. The kids collected some sticks whilst I raided our precious jarrah supply and we soon had a small version of a roaring fire. Unless we were missing something, aside from power, this appeared to be the best spot in the place! Right at the end, facing the lake, quiet, secluded, no ants, no mossies and no damn flies. The old boy on the other side was quietly fishing and had a couple of nets tethered, trying to lure whatever version the local fresh water crustaceans are. Bellies full of Amanda's delicious camper trailer tuna pasta, followed by peaches and ice cream , and washed down with some fruity NZ sauvignon blanc. As darkness fell, the flickering fire illuminated a couple of big eyed possums peering at our rubbish bag no doubt.

I find it hard to adjust to the long nights. Dark at around sixish and light around sixish means a long time in bed. I'm up around 5 am, pottering around in the cold dark, feeding the embers of the fire until they burst into warming flame. Bare feet on the cold dark soil has me huddling in front of the fire, cup of hot tea in hand, watching the first rays of dawn bursting over the glistening surface of the lake. Occasionally there is a splash as a fish makes its presence known, a deep drone as a truck on the nearby main road engine brakes. No one else is up as I enjoy the peace, read my book, now on a strong coffee.

Eventually the camp starts to wake, one nomad off on his adventures, headlights blazing. After cereal, we pack up smartly and head out to Chinchilla, Dalby and then Toowoomba, in our bush softened minds, a raging metropolis with traffic lights and everything.

Queensland seems to like roadside signs. Signs are everywhere, a startling array of visual pollution that is quite distracting to the driver. Some defy logic with speed limits dancing all over the place - 100 then 40, then 80! God was big, many billboards proclaiming his greatness, followed by hundreds of trade and business advertisments. Very ugly. Driving required intense concentration, navigating the Cruiser and Oddy with raging city lunatics all around trying to kill us. Unbelievably Miss TomTom wanted us to go to Brisbane to get to the Gold Coast. This made sense when we understood the motorway thingy. She kept wanting to know about toll roads. What are they? It being Anzac day, the roads were relatively free and we made good time right into Treasure Island with no real mistakes. Cars, shops, traffic lights everywhere. The kids were excited to spot Movie World and other attractions on the side of the highway - I wasn't! Oh well, this visit was for them. They have endured a lot, putting up with 4 months away from school and their friends, so what are a couple of days of roller coasters and ghost trains?

Treasure Island turned out to be an institution. We almost required an induction before being allowed in. I was handed a Visitor's Pack, told this, told that. I'm sure the very efficient receptionist thought we were odd. Me dancing around, only wanting to find a toilet after a long drive and consequently not being able to think very well, dirty shorts, dirt under my finger nails from last night's bush camp and us all smelling of eau de campfire. I really think they should market a cologne based on bush campfires, they smell delicious and I like nothing more than entering the camper trailer or donning a shirt when it is embedded with that smoky gum leaf essence.... Yes, this place is not for camper trailers. Chalets, a couple of vans, not very many at all, clean people in Barinas, wearing pastel shirts and trainers. I felt out of place in my thongs. The bays are manicured and fitted with some astroturf - unbelievable. I wonder how they would feel if I lit a campfire tonight? Unfortunately we are right next to a walkway and some basketball courts. Yes, you guessed it, there appears to be a couple of teenage basketball camps here, so not only did some bastard switch off our power in the night, they were up on a darkened court very late screaming and yelling! Earplugs for me tonight! We soon felt better when a huge semi trailer cab, towering over the chalets drove by, it's huge engine roaring. The driver parked in the spot next to us blotting out the sunlight. Chatting to him later revealed that he was a long haul driver and couldn't get a backload to return to Perth, so he decided to pick up his kids who lived in Brisbane and treat them to a night here. We yacked on about the road and places we had been before heading off to the restaurant, giving Amanda a well earned night off. Hopefully the school kids will be gone tomorrow as holidays are over (for them heh heh). Tomorrow we have bravely agreed to tackle Movie World, and the kids are beside themselves with excitement! Me, I can't wait to head for Cape York!
Mike & Amanda
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