At last we are back on the air. Our Big Pond Gateway Elite Wireless Modem stopped working at Ilfracombe halfway through this particular week. We had to wait almost two weeks for a replacement to catch up with us. This is being posted on Tuesday night 19/10/10 at 9pm sitting on the banks of the flooded Moonie River. So here is our post, somewhat late.
Monday 4th October.
This started out as a cool morning and got hotter as the day progressed ending up as another 36◦ day. Because it was cool, Donnis decided to do some baking. Before we left she managed to bake an apple pie and a batch of savoury muffins.
Somehow I managed to get bitten on the legs by what I can only think of as sand flies or midgies Normally, I am not affected by them but by mid-morning the urge to itch was overpowering but I still managed to ignore the urge.
The trip to Lonreach via the Capricorn Highway was straight forward until we pulled up at the tourist information centre. Donnis car was really making some terrible noises as she turned. We took it to a local mechanic who had the same problem locating the fault as the Ultra Tune man and the Airlie Brake & Suspension man in Airlie Beach. However they believe it is gearbox related so drained all the oil to look for metal in the oil. They found some. Not large peices but small amounts such as in iron filings. We have always had a gearbox problem so left the car with them to pull things apart tomorrow. We went to the local pool for a swim in the artesian heated water, a hot shower then off to the campsite near the Thomson River with Glenise n Erick. By now my legs felt like they were on fire and the itch was unbearable.
I put some cortisone cream on them as well as ice cubes in a cloth and took an anti histamine tablet and went to bed. Eventually I fell asleep with a cool breeze wafting in through the window.
The campsite here is disappointing in that it looks like a giant gravel carpark and no view of the river. I guess it was only intended as an overnight stop.
Tuesday 5th October
I woke to itchy legs this morning and the bites have turned into big red angry looking blisters. Donnis announced it was too hot and no longer wanted to go any further West.
We drove into Longreach to find the car was almost ready. It was a worn front wheel shaft and by luck the mechanic had one in stock. While he was finishing up we drove out to the Qantas Museum
and the Stockmans Hall of Fame.
Due to the expense of the car repairs we decided we could not afford the entry fees. (on a side issue Donnis feels she cannot afford to go to Canada early next year. This is despite receiving an email from Centrelink to tell me I have been granted a small pension and a Health Care Card. On that note I went to the Dept of Transport to ask for a discount on the registration which I paid on Monday.
Yeeha. They agreed.
The car was ready late in the afternoon so we headed to Ilfracombe a short distance back towards the coast. Setting up in the van park so we could have some aircon I discovered we have no wireless signal and the TV signal is patchy. While on the phone to Telstra (who have diagnosed the modem is faulty and they will replace it) Donnis found a tick on my neck and removed it. Later in the shower I found another tick. This one had really dug into my thigh, near the crotch. Donnis tried to remove it but the head remained buried. After digging in my thigh for several minutes I asked her to give up as I was feeling faint.
We need to fix the hot water or replace it. The nearest agent will be on the coast nearer Brisbane.
The toilet seal needs replacing or a new unit. The nearest agent will be on the coast nearer Brisbane.
I need to see a doctor about the tick still in my thigh and the sandfly bites which are looking worse each hour.
Wednesday 6th October
Another bright and sunny day. Also HOT.
We drove back to Barcaldine where we went to the hospital to have the tick and sandfly bites attended to. The hospital was nice and modern and the staff friendly. Nothing they can do for the sandfly bites except apply Calomine Lotion.
Which they did.
They injected the tick site – upper thigh, groin area – with lignocaine then used a scalpel to cut into the flesh to remove the tick head. We were in and out of the hospital in about one hour.
After a lunch whilst parked in the main street we decided to head south to Blackall.
Although only 106 klms away via the Landsborough Highway, it was not long before I was feeling drowsy. We finally found a day rest area so pulled in and I went to sleep in moments. Donnis sat up and slept at the kitchen table to catch any breeze through the door and window.
After arriving at the Blackall info centre where they told us their low price camp is closed due to the recent rain and the ground is too boggy. The next freedom camp site is at least 42 klms away and we are too tired to travel further so decided on a caravan park for the night.
The Barcoo River runs through town and there is a flood warning issued for the river and more rain is predicted over the next couple of days.
Thursday 7th October
We drove towards Tambo, still on the Landsborough Highway and found a nice roadside rest stop. Amazingly it had very clean pit toilets as well as fresh water hand basin. We had coffee here before taking the final 80 klms to Tambo.
The drive was across mainly flat ground which is green as far as the eye can see. Sometimes the scenery changes to include some mulga scrub. As we got closer to Tambo we can see an escarpment in the distance. After talking with the Tourist Information Centre I am now aware this is the Western end of the Carnarvon Gorge and can only be accessed by 4WD. I also discovered another interesting place to visit is closed due to the rain and floods.
Tambo is a pretty town with a nice park and a lakeside picnic area. Clouds began to build up later in the morning with some clouds looking decidedly like thunderheads. We spent the rest of the day relaxing by the lake
then moved on to the freedom campsite at 5pm.
The fridge has been struggling in the heat and is not keeping the beer cold. Everything is cool but some things need to be cold.
Hmmm. The site was beside the Barcoo River and has a signpost noting the area is prone to flooding and a slippery surface when wet. The ground was a mixture of gravel and some black soil. We decided that if it rained heavily during the night we should be ready to move out quickly. We went to bed about 9.30 and a light rain had already begun.
Friday 8th October
During the night the rain got heavier. On waking at first light – 5.45am – it was raining heavily and small rivulets of running water were already formed.
Time to move.
Just as we were about to start the motor a big lightning flash lit the area followed by an almighty thunder clap. We drove back to yesterday’s picnic site and water was already running across the road. We drove back to town to look for a caravan park. With the rain which has been falling it will not be long before the roads will have water across them or even closed. The lady at the tourist info place advised the road is open at the moment with care. Meaning, there is water over the road in several places.
We found a caravan park which will give us a chance to ensure batteries, laptops, phones, vacuum cleaner and so on are fully charged. We might even be able to get a TV signal and watch the Commonwealth Games. I guess the only things we will see today is the regimented tiers of campsites in the caravan park grounds. As predicted by the lady at the front office, as it starts to rain travellers will begin to arrive rather than taking the chance on driving further in the rain and potential road closures.
The first three days of this week were around 38° C while yesterday it was around 32° with 42% humidity. Today, at noon, with heavy rain falling the temperature was 20° and 63% humidity. It is positively cold.
Sandfly bites are still itchy.
It is now just a little before 6pm.
All roads are closed. The Barcoo is running a banker. Where we stayed last night would be underwater. By 2pm we had 5 inches of rain and more is predicted. The motel is full but there are a few caravan sites still open.
There are quite a number of stranded trucks in town
and one we can see on the other side of the river. He would have come in from either Alpha or Springsure. While we were watching, a helicopter arrived on the other side near the truck and a couple of people
If this rain continues and so far it has, we will be here for at least another night.
We have turned the bathroom into a drying cabinet by hanging damp clothes and towels and turning on a little heater we have. Even so, outside there is a cold wind blowing (we watched a woman cross the road with an umbrella and the gusts turned it inside out) – which is turning my feet blue despite the fact I am wearing socks.
Hmmm. Time to dig out my furry slippers.
Donnis is relaxed and spending her time embroidering.
Saturday 9th October.
The rain stopped last night and when I woke this morning at 6.45 I heard a road train grind through the gears as it passed through town. I took a drive downtown. The road to Blackall is open – with care – while the road to Augathella is open – also with care. The road to Alpha is still closed by the rushing Barcoo floodwaters.
After a hearty breakfast and everything packed away we are on our way to Augathella or Charleville. The decision is made for us. Augathella is off the highway so we continued on to Charleville. Today’s drive was also with care as there was water over the road in a couple of places. As well, several groups of kangaroos came onto the road but thankfully moved off before I was close. There was plenty of fresh road kill lying around and the birds of prey were having a feast. At another location a group of sheep moved away from the main flock and onto the road. Thankfully, they also moved off the road but I was a bit concerned the main flock would follow after them as Donnis was driving behind me. We rolled into town and found no evidence of the huge flood which tore through the town earlier this year. The Barcoo River is running, muddy and swift but a long way from being a threat although the area has also had a lot of rain this week. Donnis wanted to see the Cosmos Centre but with the cloud cover they are not open tonight. We caught up with Glenise n Erik who will be here until Monday as a vital part of his hitching system has been lost so he cannot tow the camper trailer until a replacement arrives on Monday.
I really should say something about the roads after all we are spending quite a bit of time driving on them. Mostly, the roads out in this neck of the woods, umm err not woods really, more scrubby umm err scrub. Anyway, the roads out here are mainly flat and straight with a few humps tossed in to wake you up. The roads are beginning to fall apart due to the flood rains earlier this year and normally reapirs are carried out in the dry but and early wet and more flooding rain means those roads are now worse and the repairs cannot be carried out due to those frequent rains. One moment there is grass, yes green grass stretching in all directions. Next there are grey green mulga trees about 4m in height then grass again. We are told the green countryside only comes after heavy rain and it has not been green since 1990. The sides of the road are crumbling in many places which makes driving interesting especially if you want to cross the white line to avoid the potholes and there is a giant road train approaching you. At least there are two lanes and we can share the road although some roads are only one lane wide and road trains rule. OK? Of course the Mitchell Grass grows brown even in good conditions. The other interesting thing we are seeing are lots of roadside wildflowers. Please do not ask me to name them but according to the caravan park lady there are at least a dozen, not counting flowering trees and shrubs. Like most Ozzie plants which flower, they tend to be subdued and you have to look carefully for them. At the moment there are carpets of purple, lilac, yellow and white flowers along the road. Again we were told we are seeing the outback desert edge at its best. The red sand is everywhere and plays havoc by getting into my sandals when walking. Probably that is why all the locals wear jeans n cowboy boots. Pity, I threw out my cowboy boots before we left.
We had a happy, happy hour with them. Glenise opened a bottle bubbly and added her trademark frozen strawberry sorbet to the glass. We finished the bottle easily although one glass of that stuff makes me the life of the party – according to Donnis, Glenise n Erick – personally I think I am just being…me. Besides I can only drink one glass before I become light headed. Donnis n I then retired to WWWGO to cook dinner and watch a movie. On her return from the showers Donnis asked me to look at something near her groin. Damm! A tick is well and truly having a feast. We have no idea how long it has been there. I managed to get the tweezers near its head and by levering side to side, removed the tick, head and all. My tick site is still a bit itchy and the scar area seems to catch on my underwear. Annoying.
I fell asleep during the movie. We were in bed by 9.30.
Sunday 10th October.
Hmmm. Strange day indeed..It was about 90% overcast all day and we had booked to the Cosmos Centre to see the stars through the $30,000 12 inch telescopes. They told us the event would go ahead with 20% cloud cover but would call us if the event was cancelled.
We had a lazy morning doing very little, except Donnis was hard at work embroidering. After lunch we drove 20 klms out of Charleville to look at a freedom campsite at Ward River.
The site was fabulous, on the banks of the river with huge gnarled river gums on the banks or growing out of the water. However it was really a campsite for 4WD vehicles and the soil is black. That means if it rained we could not get out as the black soil turns to clinging slippery mud at the first hint of rain.
Early on in our trip our hot water service stopped working. Thinking about it from time to time I wondered if, maybe, the gas tap got turned off. Sure enough, in the hold where we keep beer, books and other things not often used, the gas tap to the water service was off. Wow! A new heater would cost more than $800 plus fitting.
After dinner we went to the Cosmos Centre and viewed 4 stars through the telescopes and were fed a few astounding facts and after an hour we were on our way home. I was disappointed as I once had a 2 and a half inch reflecting telescope and could see much the same thing.
The caravan park we are staying at is a bit rough around the edges. For example all caravans and motor homes use a 15amp connection. This park is set up on 10amp connectors. So… they have made lots of illegal 10amp to 15amp extension leads for campers to connect with. Trouble is the connection is always turned ON. It could be a disaster for somebody trying to connect in the rain.
Talking of rain, there is more predicted this week. On Monday we are heading East to Morven or perhaps Mitchell.
The sandfly bites are still itchy and I have gained a few more these last two days. The locals tell us the rain has brought them and the mozzies out so always wear long sleeves and pants and wear insect repellent. I am repellent to using repellent but if it helps…