Tom & Matt’s Four-State Road Trip
Day 3 — Friday, 29th July, 2011 — Charleville, Qld, to Longreach, Qld

 

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Red Face Time

It had to happen and today was the day it did happen. One of us, when checking out of the motel, neglected to check the wardrobe and left half a dozen shirts hanging there. We had gone along the road about 45 minutes when I got a text message on my mobile phone (voice calls were way out of range) from the motel manager, letting us know. There was nothing for it but to turn around and head back to Charleville. Oh the embarrassment! I’m not saying which of us was the forgetful one, but the other one is not likely to let him forget (until he commits the same error himself!)

So today’s journey, which should have been 516 km (about 320 miles) and six-and-a-half hours ended up being 660 km (about 410 miles) and around seven hours. Still, the weather was good (fine and sunny and about 20°C — about 68°F) and we enjoyed every minute of it.

We travelled in a general northerly direction from Charleville through Augathella to Tambo, where we stopped for lunch. Then we travelled roughly north-west through Blackall to Barcaldine, turned left and travelled due west through Ilfracombe (not the one in Devon but the one in Queensland) to our destination, Longreach. We plan to stay here two nights using tomorrow as a rest day but also as an opportunity to visit the Qantas Museum and the Stockman’s Hall of Fame. I will tell you more about therm in tomorrow’s blog.

Now to today’s pictures . . .

 

The road is calling 

 

As the road opened up before us, we could see already that it was going to a long, long road. But, for all that, it was a road that invited us ever onward. (Gee I’m beginning to sound poetic! Better go to a new pic.)

 

Low scrub bushes 

 

 

This is a fairly dry part of this generally dry continent and you can see that from the low scrubby bushes beside the road and the dry grass that is everywhere. I have had visitors from England express amazement that sheep and cattle can find sufficient nourishment in this country to survive.

Yet I need to tell you that, compare to drought times, this country is looking pretty good at the moment. The sheep and cattle we have seen are in good condition.

 

wide horizon 

 

But it is an enormously wide country. In this part of central Queensland the horizon seems to go on for ever.

 

Title 

 

 

Here is another wide horizon shot from another part of today’s journey. There are low hills in the far distance but, as we saw in northern New South Wales, the hint of a mirage. Australian viewers will, perhaps, remember the comedy character of the 1980s, Kylie Mole, played by the comedienne Mary-Anne Fahey: “It goes and goes and goes . . . it just goes!” The country here is very much like that.

 

Semi-trailer 

 

This photo is by Matt who is fascinated by the size of the semi-trailers we see on Queensland roads. English readers may prefer the term articulated lorry and American readers tend to call them big rigs.

This one seemed to be carrying earth-moving equipment and was certainly claiming every inch of its side of the highway! Several times we wondered what the drivers of these monsters thought about the two fellows squeezing past them in their tiny little German car!

 

Road Train 

 

When a prime mover (towing tractor or truck) is hauling just one trailer with no front wheels, it is known here simply as a semi-trailer. When it has two such trailers, it is called a B-double (I don’t know why). If a semi-trailer or a B-double is then towing one or more additional trailers with front wheels, it is known as a road train.

This is a road train. It has two towed trailers as well as the articulated one.

It is difficult to see at this scale but I blew this picture up to six times this size and counted the axles, there are sixteen of them and fifteen of those axles are carrying four wheels, the front axle having only two wheels. That is sixty-two tyres to fit out just one rig!

Passing one of them is one thing. Overtaking such a train when it is travelling at around 100 kph requires quite some length of road!

 

Roadside Dunny 

 

We stopped for a “wee break” at a sign-posted picnic spot (forgotten where) and found this impressive toilet block. I wanted to take a photo of it and, just as I clicked the button, Matt emerged. His moment of fame!

Such toilets do not use water (which is scarce in many parts of Australia) and are not flushed. This is not the place for me to explain precisely how they work but, rest assured, they do!

 

Graffiti 

 

When it was my turn to visit it, I discovered the most intriguing graffiti. I took this photo of some of it but noted several messages. You may not be able to read this one in the photo but it says:

“Land of the Gidja People. From deep in the Kimberley [north-western Australia] to Sydney. Thank-you to whoever cleans this dunny. Bloody great job, mate.” And it is signed “Blair, Marcus, Fluff & Chubby”

Other messages read:
“This is the cleanest roadside Dunny between here and Darwin. Good job!”   “Here here! Excellent! 4 star.” and “A pleasure to use. Thanks.”

I cannot recall ever seeing toilet graffiti that I could safely quote in its entirity to all and sundry! And yes, the toilet was in a very clean condition.

 

Picnic beside water 

 

Lunch found us in the little township of Tambo (which I had never heard of until we began planning this trip) where we found a delightful picnic spot beside a body of water. I don’t know if it is a lake or a stream.

Here are a couple of the grey nomads that are everywhere in this part of Australia. I am told I do not qualify as a grey nomad because, although I am certainly grey (white?) and seem to be very nomadic for these three weeks, we are not driving a campervan (mobile home) nor pulling a caravan.

You can also see a quite informative sign with pictures of many of the local birdlife.

 

Lunchtime birds 

 

 

As soon as began preparing food, the duck you can see in this picture came right up to us, begging for scraps. Matt felt quite intimidated, not being an “animal person”. We gave it nothing and it backed off. But later I tossed a spoiled slice of bread (it had fallen from the table) some two or three metres away and suddenly the duck descended upon it but so did a crow (left), a peewee (centre, a bit like a magpie only smaller) and a small brown speckled bird which you may be able to see over to the right.

 

Brown speckled bird 

 

The brown speckled bird (which I think the sign informed me is a Richard’s Pippin, though I can find no reference to such a bird anywhere. I think I must have remembered it incorrectly). Perhaps you, gentle reader, can enlighten me and I will insert the correct nomenclature?

But this bird showed no fear whatever and seemed mystified that we made no move to shower it with food.

 
[October, 2013. A reader has contacted me, more than two years after our road trip, to let me know this bird is a spotted bowerbird. Thanks, Sam Barnes!]

 

Cattle 

 

 

I have said that this is cattle country (though we have also seen sheep) and this small mob of Santa Gertrudis cattle were beside the road as we got closer to Longreach. They are particularly suited to he tropical climate and have the added advantage of being resistant to tick infestations.

 

The Longreach Motel (I have given up the idea of trying to photograph every motel) is clean and comfortable with large sized rooms and a co-operative staff. Our biggest problem is that it is next door to a hotel and tonight there seems to a strip club in full operation in the back yard of the hotel with a raucus announcer who has the volume cranked right up and is repeatedly exhorting the patrons to cheer on the performers and, of course, to part with their money. I don’t mind what they do within the confines of the hotel (nothing to do with me) but it is very noisy and making it almost impossible to hear my radio. Alright, I feel better having had a moan about it.

I am looking forward to toorrow’s rest day.

Oh, I mentionedon Day 1’s blog that Matt was producing videos of our trip. He has put two of them (so far) on Youtube and I have tried to embed them at the foot of the Day 1 and Day 2 pages. I have now tried them out and they seem to work fine. But give them time to load as it may take quite a few moments. Enjoy!

He is getting somewhat cocky about his skills as a video editor! Here is his Day 3 video:

Matt’s Video for Day 3

 

 

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