Archive for October 4th, 2010

156. Sunday 3rd October 2010. Where we experience the beginning of the outback…

04/10/2010

Monday.

Thought I would include a photo of when we were at Melissa’s Horse Stud, after repairs were completed and waiting for the rain to stop.

Here we are in the shed between the horse float and the tractor.

Our site at Theresa Creek Dam.

Our first sunset at TCD.

Sunny and bright and quite warm, nay even hot. We walked around looking at the birdlife then took a trip into Cleremont for a bit of a shop. The town is not well endowed with shops although it is more than well represented with pubs. The selection of fresh meat and vegetables is minimal and of poorer quality. We know that as we progress further West the choices will diminish even more. On our way home we stopped to have look at historical Copperfield general Store

Historic Copperfield Store taken with Donnis mobile phone.

and the Copperfield Chimney. Strangely neither site, although within a few hundred metres of each other have any information of their history. Certainly there was a lot of information about who owned the land and donated it to the heritage council and who paid for the restoration etc there was nothing else. On Sunday, Glenise welcomed us with a roast leg of pork cooked on her gas Weber bbq. Tonight we did dinner of Tandoori Chicken cooked in our heat bead Weber bbq.

Tuesday was another delightful day and although the temperature, according to our weather station was 37◦, there was a breeze blowing all day and under the shelter it was pleasant. It seems we spent our day preparing for, then eating, all day. Donnis

Donnis swimming among the lilly pads. Hmmm. There were no lily flowers to be found. Either they were souvenered or washed away. The general store had some on display.

and Erick went for a swim while Glenise went for a walk in the water up to her waist while I stayed dry. According to everybody who went in the water, it was cold. Hmmm. Hot outside temperature seems to produce cold water. Later in the day we got the bike off the rack and had a ride around camp. We also discovered the rack hold down plate is bent. On reflection it was because of the way I put the bike on the rack in an unbalanced position.

After a dinner of leftovers and a spectacular lightning display in the distance we called it a night. As we planned to leave here in the morning I brought in the awning and put the mats away. Good thing I did as a strong wind moved in during the night followed by  lightning, thunder and heavy rain. When we woke, the water level has risen in the lake and the ground is slippery. The lightning display was worth being woken during the night. The good news is there are no leaks! Our water view site became a waterside site during the night. If the level rose any further we would be in the water!

Wednesday. This site has no power and no mobile or wireless signal so communication has to wait until we go into town. I have discovered my 300 watt inverter is not capable of charging the laptop. It will charge the phones and the iPad and will power the TV although we have not used the TV since leaving home. We tried last night but could not find a signal. That was not a surprise as the radio reception is pretty poor. Only two stations and both have background static.

The water level has risen considerably since we went to bed last night. In fact one campsite shelter has water running through it. After breakfast we were packed and ready to leave. Another camper walked over to tell us the three creeks between here and Cleremont are in flood and are impassable even for 4WD with snorkel. We checked with the camp store. Yep. Water is a metre over the road in at least two of the crossings but the levels are going down. So…like quite a number of others, we are parked near the store, sitting around and waiting for news that we can cross. Apart from the depth of water the current is swift and conditions are dangerous. We have not seen another car come into the dam area this morning. We took the opportunity to see the spillway… spilling.

Almost a metre of water going over the spillway. Note the large log falling in the centre of the photo.

After midday we headed out of the dam site to our first flooded crossing and waited for a few hours for the water level to go down.

Oh, well. There can be worse places to be stranded. The sun is out, it is hot, there is almost zero breeze and incredibly in this arid area we are in the middle of a flood!

Later… the water level went down enough for us to get through.

Waiting for the water level to decrease at Douglas Creek.

Donnis, driving the Subaru, tailgated behind Erick to take advantage of his bow wave, once they were safely on the other side, I started across, followed by Glenise. Once we were all on the other side we drove a few klms to the next crossing and did it all over again. Then on the road to Cleremont we encountered water over the road but we just kept on going. From Cleremont we drove to Capella where we elected for a caravan park for the night. I was tired and sunburned so was glad of the rest – as we all were. We woke to a chilly 16 degrees and a cold wind blowing.

Hmmm. Could be an interesting day!

Thursday.

Donnis and I went into Emerald for a bit of shopping while Glenise n Erick went direct to Alpha where we agreed to meet up for lunch. When we finally left Emerald, decidedly poorer, it was after noon. One of the items we bought was a filtration cartridge, plus fittings so we can filter water going into the fresh water tank. We are going into area’s where the water will be OK, it may have a smell and a taste which may not be to our liking. There will also be places where water is really scarce and could be suspect. So…filtering the water before it goes into the tank and filtering the drinking water which comes out will be the safest course.

The drive was interesting for a number of reasons.

Most creeks were running swiftly which is a far cry from their usual sandy, rocky dry, state. We could also see where creeks had closed the road on Wednesday.

By the time we reached Alpha it was after 2pm and surprise, surprise, we bumped into Glenise n Erick who had been looking around and found some good prices at the local butcher.

We had a pie from the local bakery. Now get this. Two pies and a vanilla slice cost $6.90. Gads. A pie at a bakery on the coast would be at least $4.20 for a plain pie and about $3 for the vanilla slice!!!

We arrived in Barceldine just before 5pm and headed out to Lloyd Jones Weir when we got a call from Glenise to say they had decided to stay at the Show Grounds with power for a few nights as she wants to watch the AFL Grand final on Saturday. After a dinner of lamb stew and a couple of bottles of bubbly we retired around 10.30. It will be great to sit still and just veg out for a few days.

I think a few words about Erick is in order. Erick arrived in Australia from Switzerland in 1956 as a 20 year old working on a cargo ship. He jumped ship in Hobart and went fruit picking for a month before going to the “authorities” who were waiting on him. Very soon he had his immigration papers (it was easy in those days). He only jumped ship so he could see the Olympic Games in Melbourne. After working around and seeing the games he decided to stay and became a citizen. Amongst his many talents he makes and sells stock whips from Kangaroo hide. He also plays the didgeridoo,

Erick playing his electrical conduit didgeridoo.

one of which he made himself out of electrical underground conduit.

Friday.

Woke to steady cold breeze blowing through camp which needed us to have layers of clothes but as it warmed up during the day we were soon back to shorts, tshirt and sandals. We went downtown to the business centre of Barcaldine to visit the Tree of Knowledge and a few other local attractions. I was last here in May 2007 at which time the tree was well and truly dead. In July that year the tree was picked up, roots and all and taken to Brisbane where it was treated for pests and then preserved. It was then returned to its original site where it had stood for 150 years. It is now covered by a huge timber “box” which, when I first saw it, considered it an ugly eyesore.

Tree of Knowledge Memorial by day. Look carefully and you may be able to see the shape of a tree.

However looking at the box from inside I soon found timber boxes of Ghost Gum ( the original tree was Ghost Gum) suspended on steel cables. The boxes blow in the wind and bump against each other making a clunky music along the principles of a windchime. The area around the tree has a glass floor where you can see the roots of the tree. The whole structure is lit up at night. Various outback towns are noted in the paving with lights pointing in their geographic direction.

Later, about 10pm Donnis n I went back to see the structure lit up at night. I was gobsmacked by the ingenuity of the artist/designer of this structure. The lights, the slats and the hanging boxes are positioned in such a way that, at night, it looks like a …TREE. The breeze blowing through the slats moves the hanging boxes and it is like the leaves moving in a breeze.n

Memorial by night. Click on the photo to enlarge it and you can see the shape of the tree.

I was impressed.

We also looked at the huge windmill which was the original 27ft diameter windmill installed  as the “First Free Flowing Bore” in Queensland at Back Creek Barcaldine. This windmill was manufactured by Sidney Williams in 1917 and is a C Pattern model. It was moved to Barcaldine about 30 years ago and now pumps water into the nearby fountain.

Oldest hotel in Barcaldine, the ARTESIAN built in 1887.

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For dinner tonight I cooked up a pile of Chinese omelettes using 10 eggs. I shredded a couple of carrots, sliced up the green part of a leek, added a generous couple of handfuls of mung bean sprouts, a cup of frozen peas and stir fried them for a minute. I beat the eggs with a cup of water, a generous slurp of sesame oil and the same of oyster sauce. Then using a small blue steel omelette pan on the outside gas stove, I added some veggies to the pan then poured the egg mixture to fill the bottom of the pan and let it cook until the edges started to lift, turned it over for a minute then repeated the process until I had cooked 14 omelettes. Each was given a small drizzle of oyster sauce then put on a plate in the oven to keep warm until I was finished. Meanwhile Donnis cooked up a pot of rice. They devoured the lot – no leftovers. It was filling, tasty and satisfying meal. We fed 4 people with a healthy meal for around $10.

Glenise n Erick have decided they want to move on to Longreach as they have a bit of a timetable to reach Brisbane before the end of the month and there is still a lot of sightseeing they want to do on the way. We will travel to Lloyd Jones Weir for a couple of days. If we can get a TV signal we may be able to watch the NRL grand final.

Saturday.

A bit overcast but mainly sunny and a cool breeze blowing from the East. Almost a duplicate of yesterday although not as cold.

We took our time packing up this morning and were down the main street by midday. Glenise and Erick had decided to push on to Longreach for a couple of days while we wanted to go to Lloyd Jones Weir on the Alice River.

We stopped downtown so Donnis could buy some embroidery thread. While waiting I watched a road train mosey through town. We have seen a couple of these in our travels, thankfully going in the other direction and on a sealed two lane road. I do not want to meet one of these monsters on a narrow single lane road or gravel track. There is the prime mover which tows three trailers. The overall length is 53 metres. Can you imagine that? Take 53 long strides and that will give you an idea of the length of these things.

Next stop was the weir. Donnis was unprepared for the sight which greeted us. The water was flowing, near enough to a metre over the spillway and rushing away in a mad torrent downstream.

Spillway at Lloyd Jones Weir.

There were probably another 20 campers already here. We found a near level site with a view of the river out of our rear bedroom window and the side bedroom window.

Our campsite at LJW overlooking the Alice River.

There is a lot of birdlife here including a flock of cormorants who seem to be doing OK on the fish. One lady told us she watched people scooping fish with hand scoops out of the turbulence below the spillway. Lots of Bony Bream seems to be the main catch although Yellow Belly is also taken. This place was known as a Redclaw haven but with the floodwaters, perhaps they are off the menu for awhile. The temperature was around 30 today but with a lovely breeze and sitting beside the river under the shade of the river gums it was somnambulistically cool.

The sound of the river convinced us to dig out our boogey boards and go for a dip in the river. We had to be careful where we swam as the current was very swift particularly below the spillway. Thank goodness for the flooded trees we could grab onto otherwise we would be away downstream, bouncing over rocks in no time.

Below the spillway where we swam carefully.

We have mobile reception but only with the use of an external aerial. We still have the problem we cannot run the laptop on the inverter. When we get to a big city we will have to look at getting an update to a 1000 watt inverter.

This is a lovely delightful spot and we will stay a few days.

Looking at tourism material there are lots of attractions in the district so we may base ourselves in Longreach for awhile and use the Subaru to explore the area. Of course nothing is set in concrete and plans can change quickly.

After dinner of fettucine and creamy bacon n mushroom sauce we sat outside, under the stars in our recliner chairs until about 10pm when we went to bed. Still no TV or radio (well I did listen to a bit of radio today but turned off when the Saints were getting slaughtered by the Pies) we also heard the news and about the terrible tragedies of the road deaths in NSW.

Sunday 6am. Brilliant blue sky not a cloud in sight. Perhaps a lazy day of reading under the trees beside the Alice River.

Sigh.

As it turns out, the day was hot hot hot. Donnis spent most the day sitting in a recliner on the waters edge under the shade of a Coolibah tree., embroidering.

Donnis embroidering at the Alice River under the shade of a Collibah Tree.

She got a little sunburned.

I spent some time with her but also socialised around camp. I knew the NRL grand final was on at 5pm and made a mental note to listen on the radio. Well, NSW 5pm is our 4pm so by the time I remembered to turn on the radio it was all over. Besides we had a wonderful happy hour with a couple of campers nearby.

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