So this is the (much delayed) end of the story – for the moment anyway. The faster pace of travel and the discombobulation of our arrival home – with the million things that needed doing and people to say hello to – meant that it has taken a long long time to get the rest of the story told.
1st September, 2021 – The thing about travelling non-stop is that there’s no time for provisioning or washing, cleaning the windows or staring into space. Mt Isa is a welcome break, but we can’t wait to get on the road again – after all, we’re in Queensland now, my home state and keen to see Birdsville again, so it’s off into red dirt country again.
In Dajarra below, huge ‘roos hop through the green spaces, Llamas come to the fence to say hello and every rusty ‘dozer or truck from the past is displayed in an open air museum in the Post Office yard. Over the road in the street where I walk the dog early morning, the public rubbish bin is a totally incongruous penguin, and past that is nothing but red dirt expanse to the horizon.
4th September, 2021 – Dajarra is just the kind of country town we love to stay in – population 191, one main street consisting of the Pub, the Post Office and a fuelstop/grocery store.
5th September, 2021 – to Boulia, Bedourie It’s a day heading south into the Simpson Desert. No images can convey the immensity of the yellow desert. When we see the dust ahead we wait for a car/truck/roadtrain to appear, but it’s just a dust storm. Bedourie (which means ‘Dust Storm’) is our overnight stop, a meal at the Royal Hotel, good morning to a camel called Priscilla, cross Eyre Creek and we’re into the hard yellow stonsy desert again.
Now there’s hardly a bush or tree, ever rarer and rarer until it’s like something we last saw in the Red Sea.
6th September, 2021 – to Birdsville.
Finally we’re here. I hadn’t been here for 40 years, Ted for 20. We wander the streets, amazed at the growth of the town, which used to be not much more than the pub alongside the airport. Now there are shops and houses all around the airport, with the tiny town behind.
8th September, 2021 – to Betoota, Windorah
The path is dry but we’re finally on our way home, the sooner the better!
Betoota boasts being the smallest town in Australia – well actually, it’s just the pub. Their iconic Tshirts proudly shout: ‘Where’s Birdsville?… Near Betoota!’
10th September, 2021 – Windorah to Quilpie Rest stop
11th September, 2021 – Quilpie to Cunnamulla
On the banks of the Warrego, in the Shire of Paroo, Cunnamulla is the best of sleepy towns
14th September, 2021 – From Cunnamulla via Dirinbandi to Mungindi
In Mungindi we are to cross into New South Wales and find that the only camping river spot seems to be past the checkpoint. We have our Covid declarations ready, but the police seem irritated – in the nicest possible way – about being interrupted. “No, no passes, don’t want to see them, just go through.” It’s not the same the other way though, as they are manning the road into Queensland with a burly presence.
15th September, 2021 – Mungindi to Bundarra
We’re across the border now, into New South Wales and home is in striking distance
16th September, 2021 – Bundarra, Forbesdale to Dungog
Suddenly we’re in never ending green-ness – we drink greedily the familiar sights of the lush New England Tableland countryside
…and, believe it or not, after six months on the road, we’re HOME!
So I wonder what it next? Was that enough? Well, we haven’t been to Tasmania or crossed the Strzelecki Desert, or travelled the Birdsville Track. Maybe next year…
So that’s it for 2021 – here is a photo of the much used map we used all through our journey, showing where we went – all 18,347 km of it:
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