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Published: September 21st 2017
We had a wonderful four weeks in Darwin catching up with our daughter, old friends and making lots of new ones but are now heading south to finish our circumnavigation of Australia after 5 years on the road. We explored, for the first time the Barkley Highway and have now left the Northern Territory after over three years and have crossed the border into Queensland. We stopped at Mt Isa where the mines there produce lead, zinc, silver and copper. The town is very much an outback town in the middle of nowhere but has lots going for it due to the mining boom and tourists passing through.
The route to the East Coast takes several days and we have spent the whole of the last two days traveling over the Mitchell Down plains which are as flat as the eye can see with just short tussock type grass and nothing else. (The downs consist of 22 million hectares which is the size of Switzerland to put it in some kind of perspective).
Yesterday we had a drink at the North Gregory Hotel in Winton where Banjo Patterson first performed the song Waltzing Matilda and were fortunate enough to
hear one of the locals read out some of Banjo’s bush poetry too. Then to raise money for charity, the publican each day organises a chicken race in the Garden bar where each table of customers can, if they wish, bet on a brightly coloured chicken which has previously been gently bathed in a warm bath of water with food colouring added! It was hilarious watching the chickens chasing a remote-control car with a box of wriggling worms attached to it around a wire fenced racing track and skidding everywhere!
Today we are camped just outside Longreach along with at least 50 other vans in a free campsite and were thrilled to see emus and two Brolgas in the grassland behind us. Brolgas are huge light grey birds with long legs, necks and beaks with a scarlet stripe on their heads and I was so happy to entice them very very close to me by feeding them some crumbed fish. Pete was, however, not impressed as it was part of the evening’s dinner!
We visited friends at Hervey Bay on the East coast who have chosen to live in a lifestyle complex with its bowling green, swimming pool
and recreational centre with fully stocked bar! We were very impressed and now considering something on a similar style for ourselves when we do come to settle down somewhere. Hervey Bay has a very even climate all year round but we are also considering Cairns before we commit to anything just yet.
Heading south we have passed through many many rural towns such as Goondiwindi (what a lovely name) famous for having a Melbourne Cup winning horse! Then on to Coonabarabran, (try saying that on quickly), Gilgandra and then spending a lovely night by the river in Dubbo (another lovely name).
Yesterday we were at Parkes, famous for its January Elvis impersonator festival that goes on for 5 days and we definitely plan to experience the event one day!
Last night we free camped at a place called Snowtown in South Australia and on Googling the place discovered that the town is famous for 12 grisly murders several years ago when the bodies were found in barrels of acid hidden somewhere in the local bank! The town is very small and run down and it was very quiet with hardly a person around even though it was
5.00pm on a Saturday night when we went to explore the main street. Naturally we only spent the one night there!
We have moved quickly through Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and finally into Western Australia and have now finally arrived in Bunbury once again. We could have taken a lot longer but basically, I think, having travelled over 20,000 kms in the last 5 months, from Bunbury to Darwin, France through Spain and Portugal and then Darwin to Bunbury via Brisbane we are just slightly over travelling and looking forward to settling in New Zealand for 6 months. We certainly have had a wonderful time but it is going to be such a treat to walk around our own house, hop into a small car once again and for Pete to potter around the garden etc!
However, I do have 4 months in Bunbury, and am seeking casual work if possible as Pete will be heading back to New Zealand before me in mid-November. Time will tell as to whether or not I, (now being of a very mature age, to put it kindly) can find work! Otherwise I will be quite happy to fill my time
taking long walks, reading books and taking up Rock N Roll again, line dancing and maybe even yoga or Pilates!
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