After Longreach I headed for Winton, and then westward to Boulia across the “Channel Country” and then south to Birdsville. Once you start heading west you know you are really “outback”, the country soon changes to endless flat plains broken only by the dry creek beds meandering across the countryside. It is so flat that when it does rain the creeks make numerous channels flowing every which way, there is no distinct downhill, so there are channels everywhere for a few kilometres, and then open plains again. The road is mostly single lane, but you can see the road trains coming with plenty of time to pull over !
About halfway to Boulia is the Cawnpore lookout at the only real hills :
After an overnight stop at the Boulia caravan park it was southward to Bedourie and Birdsville, and if I thought the road could n’t get any flatter I was wrong. The creeks and trees soon disappeared in my rear view mirror, while the road stretched out in front of me ….at least it was still bitumen for most of the way, and in good condition.
Eventually I could see some hills on the horizon, but the horizon is a very long way away in flat country like this so it took a while to get to a rest area and lookout at this hill.
According to a map in the Bedourie Visitor Information Centre , there are only 14 stations (cattle ranches/farms) in the entire Diamantina Shire, but they are big ones !
The look out is on a cattle property of just over one million hectares, so this is just one part of somebody’s backyard.
A quick stop in Bedourie to stretch my legs and then back on the road. Just south of Bedourie the road skirts the edge of the Simpson Desert, and you cross a few sandhills to break the monotony, then the road flattens out again.
The road was bitumen for a few kms, then gravel, then back to bitumen, but the gravel sections were in good condition …they must have graded it ready for all the race week traffic perhaps ?
Camp that night was at the ruins of Carpoory Station, which used to be part of the Kidman cattle empire before it was abandoned after many years of drought ….even the biggest and best of the cattle kings could be wrong.
Sometimes when you are driving outback you come across something that just makes you say to yourself ..”WTF ?”
Why would anybody do this ? Driving towards Birdsville are 3 examples, at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere you see something in the distance, then when you get close you realise it’s a collection of household items …a washing machine, an air conditioner, an old wood fired stove that must have weighed a ton, a fax machine and lots of other stuff, including a lawn mower that would not have got much use out there!
Then a few kilometres down the road, on a flat gibber plain, was a garden setting …a table and 2 seats.
Then a few kms farther was a sign festooned with shoes, from tatty old sandals to a set of heels.
Another 20 minutes or so and I was driving in to Birdsville at last, and the legendary Birdsville hotel was doing a brisk trade 2 days before the races started, thousands of people were in town already. The normal population of around 100 had increased considerably, there thousands of people already camped in the bush outside of town, the caravan park was almost full and the tent city had tents so close you would hear anybody snoring 5 tents away. I’d rather put up my tent in the bush …water was on tap, Portaloos across the road and rubbish bins nearby. So, tent up and walk back to the pub it was !
More pics for now, more to come later: