Winton was the next stop on our journey. We met a lovely couple also from Brissy heading in the same direction so decided to convoy with them for a few days. Kim a chef was great as he cooked us some lovely meals whilst we were travelling with them. Including a Pork Roast with all the trimmings. Thanks Kim! We decided to stay at the Matilda Caravan park in Winton as it come highly recommended. One of the highlights of our time in Winton was the free entertainment at the caravan park each night. Susie and Mel 2 Aussie bush poets. They were a great laugh and very talented and entertaining. Winton is a nice country town with 4 pubs for its small pupulation of only 900. The Bledisloe Cup was on in Auckland whilst we were there so we decided to head down on Saturday arvo and watch the game. Unfortunately no other Kiwis were in sight and not much of a turnout to watch the game but a great result for the mightly All Blacks in the end.
We decided to head off the beaten track a bit for our next stop as we were told of a
great scenic drive south of Winton. A town caled Boulia. It was a very hot blustery day and the roads were very narrow not ideal for passing road trains. Luckily we did not come across many. The scenery was pretty spectacular with large rock formations in the middle of very flat landscapes. After around 6 hours of driving we arrived in Boulia with our trusty Camp 6 book in tow which listed a great free camp spot that we decided to stay in that night. We drove through the town about 4 times before deciding the site did not exist or the directions were incorrect and decided we would have to stay at the caravan park for the night. It was a nice caravan park right next to the river. I got the shock of my life when in the early hours of the morning I decided to go to the toilet. With my mini-maglite in tow off I headed. Before i had even stepped 1 metre from the van I let out a huge scream as a massive rat ran past my foot. I probably woke up most of the camp but it did give me a bloody fright.
I managed to flee in terror to the toilets and just worked up enough courage for the return journey during which I saw an even bigger rat and it was waiting for me under our caravan. I shone the mini-maglite on him and he scampered away during which time I scampered into the van vowing to not go outside again until day break.
Mt Isa was the nxt town in our sights and as we drove into the town the first sight is of several large chimneys. You definitely know you have arrived as the large mine almost consumes the town and can be seen from a long distance away. We did not stay in MT Isa as the rodeo was on and the all camp sites were booked out so we headed futher along the road to a free camp just outisde of town. Unfortunately the free camp was a red dust pit which Roxy loved rolling in and she managed to get it all over her and in the caravan. We were glad to get out of there in the morning.
Today is the day we cross over into NT how exciting. We decided to spend
the night at Barkly Homestead a caravan park about 5 hours from Mt Isa. As were were getting closer to the Homestead theb sky was very hazey and after getting closer we realised it was a bush fire. The thick black smoke seemed to go on for miles. It was terribly windy and quite scary to think it may have been heading our way. We went to bed that night under a glowing red sky hoping the fire was not coming for us. When we woke it was great to see a nice clear sky and no wind which obviously helped to put the fire out.
Banka Banka Station was our next stop and what a fantastic place it was. Lovely grassed camp sites and memorabilia from the old station all around. They also had a lovely fire for the guests to enjoy. We arrived at camp around 1pm and it was fairly empty. From around 1.30pm the rush of Grey Nomads began to descend upon the place. It was caravan after caravan right up until nightfall and the place was chockers. We had a few drinkies with some of the Grey Nomads that night who are a mind
of information as most of them have been around Australia a few times or more. If it was not for the Grey Nomads a lot of the regional small towns would no longer be in existence as they bring a lot of money into the areas. We went to bed that night listening to a drunk Grey Nomad singing around the fire he sounded more like an opera singer to me. Dave loved it!
We pulled into Daly Waters around lunchtime and had heard if you do not arrive before midday the place can get booked out. Luckily for us there were loads of free camping spots left to choose from. Just after we finished setting up, the camp manager advised us there was a bikey gang who were going to be camping next to us. We heard the rumbles of the Harleys as they pulled in and luckily to our surprise they were the Ulysses Motorcycle Club so nothing to worry about. They were on a charity ride from Mackay to Darwin and back raising money for the Royal Flying Doctors Service. They were a great bunch of people and lots of fun. That arvo we headed to
the pub, chatted to the bikers and watched them do burnouts. We booked in for the famous Barra N Beef dinner at Daly Waters pub. Neither of us being big fans of Barramundi we thought as it was recommended we had to give it a go. We were pleasantly suprised how nice it was, it was absolutely lovely. They also had free entertainment at the pub that night so definitely a great spot to stop off at. Next stop is Mataranka Springs for a few days of relaxing then onto Darwin bring it on!
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