Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Continuing westward

 Back on the road again between the I and Camooweal
After three days in Mt Isa we decided it was time to move on.  We did a leisurely pack up as we decided that we would only travel about 200 kms to Camooweal.  It was Sunday morning and we still haven't learnt about small towns in Queensland!  We wanted to do a major supermarket shop before we left town and headed further into the outback.  So after taking a second trip up to the lookout (as on Saturday night the sun was setting and it wasn't possible to take a photo of the mine) we headed to either Coles or Woolworths.  We soon found out our error - the shops in the centre of town were all closed!  As it appeared the "big" shop would not happen and we would have to be reliant on small town general stores with very few fresh products we decided we had nothing to lose from asking a local.  Just as well we did - the smaller IGA on the edge of town had seven day shopping so off we went.  We are always happy to see a supermarket with variety even if the costs are more than we are accustomed too.

We left Mt Isa taking the Barkly Highway (also known as the Overlanders Way) around lunch time and stopped at a World War II memorial and rest area for lunch then continued on to Camooweal which is known as a drovers area.  The town has a population of just over 300 as advertised and there is a general store, pub, fuel outlets and a couple of small camping areas.  We were surprised to see that the service station attendant had to come over from the pub to unlock the bowser before we could refuel.  The other surprise was the price - $1.45 litre for diesel in Mt Isa and $1.91 a litre just 200 kms west.  Still it is better to top up when there is fuel as you can never be sure where the next is.  I paid a visit to the service station toilets and had the pleasure of frogs in the bowl and clinging on to the side wall of the toilet as the water flushed.  I must try and get a photo at some stage but never have the camera with me when I go into a toilet!

We had been told about a great freecamping area just west of the township bordering the billabong/lagoon.  This was our stop off.  We followed the main dirt track for a short distance and then one of various tracks to the lagoon.  This is a large area and during the time we stayed caravans and campers came and went regularly.  It was so peaceful by the lagoon and the view towards the outback at sunset was just lovely.  The only annoying thing was that the last few days we have had wind gusts and these continued.

We stayed two nights at the lagoon and had a leisurely day on Monday.  I shocked Peter by baking - made apple and spice muffins, a chocolate cake (Aunty Billy's recipe for those who remember her) and then a gingerbread loaf.  It is a long while since I have baked without power so had to rely on the sun to soften the butter (I didn't want to melt it in a pot), use a wooden spoon and then adjust to a gas oven.  I know that many people who are on a caravan holiday don't have all the pantry items or utensils to bake but I came prepared.  Afterall I am the daughter of a great baker and can't imagine twelve months or so with no home baking.  Our mother made sure that each of her children were brought up with some of her skills.

There were a number of lagoons and these were the home to many birds.  We went for a number of walks and enjoyed the peaceful surroundings however we were surprised to be woken on Monday morning by the rubbish truck coming to empty the bins - some things never change.  We had thought we would stay a third night but it was still windy so we decided to move on westwards.  Just twelve kms from Camooweal we crossed the border into the Northern Territory - a first for both of us.  The road is quite boring to travel - basically straight, no hills, little variation in landscape, no animals (other than road kill and we don't know where these animals come from) and no towns.  The rest areas, which are available for camping, are all well advertised and there is one fuel outlet - Barkly Homestead.  As this was advertised as having the most expensive fuel west of Townsville (some 1300 kms to the east) we were confident we had enough fuel so didn't stop.

We travelled on to Three Ways corner which is where the Stuart Highway from Adelaide to Darwin meets with the Barkly Highway to Queensland.  From here our change of route took affect as we turned left towards Alice Springs rather than right to Darwin.  We also knew that we were back near some civilisation as the mobile telephone rang and the beeps on the I-phone downloaded emails.

We are now staying at "The Pebbles" which is just six kms of dirt road off the highway a few kms north of Tennants Creek.  The pebbles are large granite boulders of significance to the Aboriginal people.  The boulders are best seen at sunrise or sunset and we were fortunate to arrive not long before sunset and saw them at their best.  The colour variations were amazing.  There are only two groups of campers here tonight so we have parked in a separate camping area and feel as though we have the outback to ourselves.  Surprisingly we didn't seen any kangaroos at dusk.

We are going to stay a second night here at The Pebbles - it is so nice to experience the peacefulness of the area even though it is still windy today.  We will go on the walks in the area a little later.  Peter "worked" this morning - he decided that the roof of the caravan needed a wash down and in particular the solar panel so out came the extendable ladder, the bucket and the cleaning brush and the task is now completed.

History of the road

Some little hills that kinda seem to be dotting the landscape now
The big city of Camooweal
 Sunset taken from our Billabong by the river Camooweal
Day out to fill the tin's - come to think of it it's a first since
we have been on the road - baking that is!
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Camp site at Camooweal Billabong
Solitude at Camooweal
Billabong at Camooweal
 Birdlife on billabong
One of the billabongs at Camooweal
Stock grazing near the Camooweal billabong
Stock near campers at Camooweal
Welcome to the Northern Territory
Rest area at welcome sign - looks a little like ready steady go!
Dry flat ground for miles - Barkly Highway
No stock Barkly Highway
Three Ways Corner, NT
A sign we are unfamiliar with - not the speed for us

How far to go - 25 kms
Kunjarra (The Pebbles) sign
 Campsite at The Pebbles
 The granite pebbles at sunset
 More pebbles
The varying size and colour of the pebbles
The Pebbles
Large area at The Pebbles
Wild friend's home near caravan door

Recent Aboriginal painting on a pebble
  History of The Pebbles
Continuing history of the pebbles
Please respect the Pebbles area
 Kunjarra custodians keeping guard of the Pebbles
 Lizard sunning himself at the Pebbles

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