I woke before the alarm and went for a shower at 4.30am, I’d asked Domi the night before if there were towels in the bathroom and she’d said there were. She just neglected to mention one was a hand towel and the other a bathmat!
We set off after breakfast at 6.00am and with the sun rising in the rearview mirror we pulled over just a few kilometres out of town to take photos. On our way again we drove the first 150 kilometres to Julia Creek and then a further 130 to reach Cloncurry for a toilet stop and pick up one of the locally acclaimed sausage rolls from the Cloncurry Bakery for Ross. The toilets were in the Council Chambers and easily took the lead for the title of the best toilets in the outback. The only problem was that there was two ways into the Council Chambers and Domi and I were so busy talking we left out the wrong door and walked onto the street wondering (only momentarily thank you) where our ride was!
Another 120 kilometres down the road was Mt Isa and our lunch stop for the day. Mt Isa is situated among the ochre-red Selwyn Ranges, on the banks of the Leichhardt River. One of Queensland’s longest running mining towns it’s bustling with culture, industry and travellers like us passing through. We set up for lunch and people-watched as we ate. There was a man across the road mowing his Mother’s lawns as she supervised. At third glance we realised he, was in fact a she. Seems woman are built tough out here!
While Ross filled the 4WD with fuel we crossed the road to the bottleshop. It was going to be a long day on the road and at the end we wanted to celebrate our arrival with a cold beer. The woman who served us could have been the sister of the woman moving her lawns.
Once back outside Domi said thoughtfully, “It doesn’t seem right somehow, Mt Isa seems like such a feminine name.”
We both laughed and found Ross waiting for us around the corner.
Two hours later we stopped in at the Roadhouse at Camooweal. The explorer William Landsborough was the first European to pass through the Camooweal area. At the time (1862) he was looking for Burke and Wills and his reports led to the area being settled by pastoralists. Camooweal is now considered a 'suburb' of Mount Isa and The Barkly Highway between Mount Isa and Camooweal is the longest main street in the world at 188 kilometres long!
Wild boars, brumbies, cattle, lizards, wedged-tailed eagles, kangaroos, camels and emus - they’re all out here and we were on the look-out so as not to hit one of these local inhabitants. And then, what-do-you-know, we hit something. Was it a kangaroo? A wedged tailed eagle? No. No we had ploughed straight into a low flying… duck!
I could see it coming in from the right and it was inevitable that it would make contact, I had time to put my hands over my head and ‘duck’ down before the duck hit our windscreen with an almighty *THWACK!” It landed with such force that it made what was a small crack in the windscreen into large one and was cause for Domi look up from her Australia Lonely Planet to ask if we’d hit a kangaroo.
“DUCK.” Was all I could muster from the front seat.
The duck must have been on steroids or morbidly obese, I felt sorry for it of course but it was a shock and size wise it could easily have been a small pig. Pigs might fly.
We pulled into Barkley Station, just in time for happy hour having all earned a cold drink. We commiserated over the loss of Mr Duck and kicked back in the sun relishing the fresh air and sunshine. Soon after we remembered we still had to put our tents up so we wandered back to camp and got to it. Four pegs, two poles, fly over the top all secured, times by two - job done!
Then Maz arrived. Maz used to work with Dad on the Great Victorian Bike Rides each year in Victoria and is the cook at Anthony Lagoon Station just two hours up the road. Due to the floods and the subsequent detour I’d messaged her that morning and everything had just fallen into place from there. Maz arrived close to 7pm with another Station staff member, Lisa.
Ross kindly invited them to join us for dinner, it was our last night together as a group and we had more than enough to go around. He whipped up a chicken stir-fry and we sat around on camp chairs laughing and sharing stories.
Tip: When you line up a photo - double check your subject. The digital “FINDING NETWORK” sign was only showing for minutes before it changed to “CAUTION UNFENCED ROAD.” Not relevant!