NT to Emerald

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November 20th 2014
Published: March 20th 2015
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Finally left at about 1100 not in any hurry as first planned stop for the night was Mataranka. Picked up supplies in Katherine and stayed the night at the caravan park just near Bitter Springs where we were greeted by a very friendly young joey, you could sense he expected some type of food from us – this as always was not to be the case. If people do feed these critters they start relying on it and it becomes difficult for them to fend for themselves or they can get a bit too pushy when they don’t get their way. After setting up we went for a short stroll and took a dip in the Thermal Pools.

Cooked up a couple of nice fat rib eye on the bone steaks for dinner – Yummo! Chatted to a young couple from The Netherlands who had been working and travelling around Australia for 12 months they were headed to Darwin and surrounds for a bit before heading back over to the West where they had started. Of course I suggested Litchfield Tourist Park as the perfect place to stay whilst exploring the magnificent National Park just down the road.

DAY 2 Headed off at 0700 we had planned to do a fair stint today and the Barkly Homestead was our goal 9 hours on the road should just about do it. We did arrive at Barkly Homestead about 1630 and topped up the car with diesel as we were planning to get an early start the next morning, fuel cost $2.05 a litre. We chatted with a couple from Queensland who had been away for a few weeks fishing but who were headed back to work in Gympie, they had a business that catered for all things caravanning we promised to give them a call to sort a few things out.

It was a pretty warm day and so by the time we set up and put dinner (roast pork) in the convection oven it was time for a cold beer. It is not like me to err when it comes to beer but I pulled a couple of stubbies out of the Engel and thought “well they’re not so cold” so when I looked at the temp on the fridge she was reading 16.4C. Now I’m no climate expert but I know for a fact that that is way too warm for a beer to be palatable. An investigation lasting approximately 3 seconds revealed that the idiot who had pulled out the lead from the 240V that morning had not plugged in the 12V meaning the fridge was turned off for the duration of the day. Spewing! And guilty your honour!

No big deal we’ll just head inside and have a nice coldy in the bar while the oven works its magic. The beers inside were definitely colder than 16.4 but I’m guessing they were maybe somewhere between 4 & 5 making them effectively 3 – 4 degrees warmer than what I and many other beer connoisseurs consider ideal. One was enough so we thought we would have a dip in the swimming pool. From what we’d been used to I expected the water to be warmer but it was pleasantly refreshing. 4 young Italian blokes were also enjoying the pool they had been here in Australia for about 12 months and had seen a lot of the country but were planning on returning home in the next couple of months. One of the poor buggers was determined and I mean very determined to release from his nasal passages an irritation that was causing him some obvious grief. I admire determination when it is used in the correct manner so after just a brief frolicking in the pool we decided it was time to bail just in case old mate succeeded.

Some feedback but this is purely my observation. The Barkly Homestead is located in such a place that they can and do charge whatever they like. Fuel prices are about 25 cents a litre dearer than the previous servo at Three Ways and at the next servo in Camooweal QLD. The bathrooms were immaculately kept but do require a hand soap dispenser, a mirror, an addition to the one hook they have in the showers (of course it has no shelf or seat etc) and you do need to walk around under the shower rose to get wet.

DAY 3 Another early start and we hit the road at 0630 as you head East the sun gets up early so we decided to take full advantage. We stopped for a brief lunchbreak halfway between Mt Isa and Cloncurry at about 1315, the thermometer I carry in the car was reading 43C. As I pulled into Cloncurry I noticed the indicators weren’t working (this is in fact a very unique observation as most Queenslanders don’t in fact use or know what indicators are for). I thought the most obvious reason was a blown fuse or dodgy flasher box so I pulled over to investigate. My knowledge on auto electrics and mechanics could be written on the back of maybe 4 or 5 stamps but my first line of attack was under the bonnet in search of the fuse box. This was located with relative ease but once I’d removed the top I was unable to remove any fuses and the fuse box was not marked with a description for each fuse, a little unusual I thought.

Being 430 I quickly decided it was time for an expert to try and rectify the problem. We happened to be parked opposite a 4 wheel drive repair business so in we went unfortunately the 2 blokes working there were flat stick but the operator directed us to another business down the road a little. This other shop only had 1 person on duty and they were also flat out but an auto electrician from elsewhere happened to be there working on another vehicle. I explained our predicament that we were on the road and hoping to continue on our way as quickly as possible. To cut a long story short he came outside and opened the fuse box under the dash – hmm I wish I’d known that was there and located the blown fuse. Five minutes and a miserly $5 later and we were back on the road. The Aussie spirit is alive and well.

Just after 1700 we pulled into the tiny town of Kynuna basically you have two accommodation options either the roadhouse or the pub. I had done a little research and favoured the historical Blue Heeler hotel. As we did not stay at the roadhouse I cannot give an opinion but we had a great time at the pub. With the night temps hovering in the high twenties we needed to stop at places with electricity so we could run the air conditioner in the van unfortunately Liz struggles with the heat.

The caravan park at the pub was actually closed but they were happy for us to set up out the back next to the accommodation. We enjoyed a beautifully chilled beer (the Engel was sitting at -10) we got organised and with the temp sitting at 380, tonight we would buy dinner in the pub it had been a long and tiring day. They have two pet Brolgas just cruising around the place but the birds were a little reluctant to allow me to get too close. Dinner commenced at 6 but we got in a little early to hopefully enjoy some wonderful outback ambience and hospitality. As we were enjoying a pre dinner bevvy a bloke staying in a room for the night came in for dinner also, he was amazed to discover that despite leaving Darwin on his motorbike around the same time we left he had arrived at this destination only about 2 hours before us having travelled a distance of around 1,900 km’s.

Three local farm boys came in to buy some grog and we had a great chat they were friendly, funny and very welcoming just what you expect from rural Australians as was the Kiwi girl working in the bar. The tucker was good! The famous Aussie RM Williams built a fireplace in the pub in 1989 to commemorate the centenary of the pub and the walls are adorned with graffiti (encouraged by the owners) and loads of pubobilia. I have posted this link so you can read about Banjo Paterson’s association with the pub and other general information http://www.australianexplorer.com/kynuna.htm

DAY 4 Up early at 0520 and on the road an hour later another hot day lay ahead. We have done this journey and written about some of the places along the way a couple of times so no need to repeat myself except to say if you’ve not been to these parts give it a crack. Winton, Longreach among others so enjoy. Stopped for the night at Emerald around 1630. It’s funny you know, not haha funny though. When towing a van other vanners, motorhomers, campervanners and drivers in general are happy to give you a friendly wave as you pass on by – maybe 50 k’s out of Emerald this changes not just on this occasion but the same as in the past. My belief is it comes from mining industry workers they are everywhere in these parts, as to why I have no idea but not a single driver in a mining vehicle will acknowledge you. You’ve gotta feel sorry for these poor buggers it’s a tough life earning a hundred plus a year. It’s not just Emerald but from my experience it is any town where mining is predominant.

Emerald weather was very pleasant as a storm was brewing. We had lightning, thunder, a little drizzle and plenty of wind a respite from the heat was most welcome.

Take care travel safe and remember it’s nice to be important but it’s important to be nice.

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