Disappointing news for Fiona

Saturday:

After a great first night at the Tara Lagoon we left early Saturday to look at Fiona’s land. After checking the property out on Google it looks like it was once a large property that was subdivided into many 30 acre blocks. Fiona’s is one of these. Most of the properties are still virtually bush though there are a few house’s, weekenders and cabins dotted around the area. Fiona had a caravan on hers and a shipping container with generator, chairs, toilet etc. She plans to develop and build on the block in the future.

Ae we headed into the entrance to her property the first thing we notice is NO CARAVAN!

Our gut feeling is going into overtime. We try to ring Fiona but it goes straight to voice message so we leave a message. Then we notice the shipping container is open and not secure as we believed!

We feel for Fiona. She finally rings us back. She thought we may have gone to the wrong property and had phoned a friend out here to check. He confirmed the bad news; the caravan had been stolen and the container broken into and everything of value taken.

We had taken photo’s of inside the container for her to check what was missing. After ringing the police she found there had been a number of recent robberies out there. They wanted the paper work on the generator and anything else but alas that was all in the caravan.

Fiona's vacant block

Fiona's vacant block

 

No caravan and shipping container open

No caravan and shipping container open

 

Another lesson for us, copy paper work for the caravan and everything and leave at David & Lacey’s. Hopefully never needing it.

There are 2 ladies staying in the camp ground with us. Both have Motorhomes and have been on the road full time between 2.5 – 4.5yrs, and never planning to stop. They belong to a single travellers group based in Bundaberg. This way they can travel together for safety and companionship but not be in each others pockets. They plan to separate in NSW for a while as each want to see something different but will catch up at the groups’s annual muster later.

Everyone we meet has a story and it has been enlightening to find out the reasons behind this lifestyle change. One had an old Queenslander home in Bundaberg but the upkeep was too difficult on a single pension. She had a quote just to paint the outside a couple of years ago, over $24,000. She sold up, bought the camper and can now even save while on the road. The other lady always volunteered at Museums, information desks etc., and thought why should everyone else have stories, so she bought her camper and is never stopping. The funny thing is she used to live around the corner from David & Lacey’s place at Wurtulla. Her children went to Currimundi school. She left there in 1996.

We’ll stay our 3 days here and then move on to ???…haven’t decided yet. This is the way to live.

Morven to Tara

Friday:

We had walked into town yesterday morning, early, before it got too hot. By 9.00am the air-conditioner is on and it’s heading towards 36 deg.

Chris was after a piece of hose, as we have been having trouble filling the water tank to full as it gets air blocks and spurts the water back out. This is OK when you are using a hose but if you’re filling by hand you don’t want to waste the container full of water. Chris has an idea to have a piece of hose with a smaller tube attached to go all the way into the tank and therefore the air can escape around it. He will also add a regulator on so instead of bending the hose to slow the flow we can regulate it at our end.

At the local grocery/everything else store there was a truck there selling everything you could think of to the shop owners. The modern “Hawker”. It was funny to think that we have been reading about the old hawkers and how much they made a difference to the towns out here. Even starting towns like Isisford. The shop owner was in the truck deciding what would sell and the dealer was pushing products that were new.

We didn’t venture out much yesterday as it was still 31 deg at 7pm. So when we woke to day and it was blowing a gale and still just as hot we decided we were moving towards the coast and hopefully cooler weather. On the weather sites even just as far as Miles was 10deg cooler than out here. We must admit we are getting tired of eating dust.

I know we’re woosses.

So we pack up and head off. The scenery is changing from vast empty cattle properties to crop fields. What we originally thought was barley we have now found to be wheat. They grow a smaller variety that is suppose to put all it’s effort into the head instead of the long stem’s. The colours are magical. The fields are now golden where only a few weeks ago were green and gold. You see more signs of life in houses and cars. Where before you could go 80km before seeing a car or house now it’s every few kilometres.

Arrived at Roma for an early lunch. I have been looking forward to coming into a town big enough to have a sign advertising Mc Donald’s. But as usual the reality never matches the dream. Drive around until you can find a park, 2 TVs blaring in the restaurant, kids screaming. I couldn’t understand the staff as most of them were Asians. It doesn’t take very long after living in very quite places to notice the noise and confusion around you. Oh and remember to look both ways when crossing the street or you get run over.

We hadn’t been to Roma for about 6yrs. Man was it busy. I don’t know if it was being a Friday and everyone was in town but I don’t remember it like this. The servo had every browser full with cars waiting. Coffee shops were full. The shopping centre was busy. I had to stop in at Rockmans and had to wait for 3 people in front of me to be served. Then at the chemist there were 8 people in front of me. Roma is NOT a town that is dying.

So on we went. From about Miles we have noticed the river’s are full and some water lying around in the fields. They must have been getting the rain out here that has been hitting Brisbane. We did stop at a weir just out of Miles but decided to keep driving to Tara. We wanted to look at a block of land a friend (Fiona) has out here. Fiona’s 30 acres is about 20km from Tara. Because we weren’t sure exactly what it was like we decide to stop at the camping ground in Tara and go out Saturday morning. The camping spot is beside  “Tara Lagoon” – a pleasant spot right in the town.

 

Tara Lagoon is a great spot to add to your travelling list.

Tara Lagoon is a great spot to add to your travelling list.

 

It’s in the Camp 6 Book. It has power, water, toilets and a hot shower. It costs $5 for the first night, and then the next 2 nights free and after that they charge you $20pn for a max of 14 nights, (same as the caravan park). The managers of the caravan park come around at night to collect your money. They understand a lot of people don’t want to camp with permanents in the van park. So for 3 nights it’s under $2pn WOW!

Overlooking the river

Overlooking the river

 

Meeting up with Candy

From Blackall we drove to Charleville Monday. Out here there is not much between towns except for the occasional homestead in the distance, or when you come to a town.

Now every town has “something”. The oldest town in country Qld, the oldest pub etc In every tourist brochure they have a little bit about the
towns on the route. I love reading about them and try to know something about the towns we will pass through. So Tambo is ‘outback Teddy capital of Australia’ http://www.tamboteddies.com.au/geninfo.asp?infoid=1#compare

Then came Augathella known for its fascinating history of bushrangers, bullockies and bullock teams.

Remember there is about 100km between these towns so any change in scenery is exciting.

We arrive in Charleville and stop at our 3rd Caravan park in a month. Usually in peak season they have camp oven dinners and Yabby racing for the amusement of
the travellers but as we are out of season we don’t get to enjoy these activities.
Now I have a friend out here. Candy and I worked together at ACU when we both did a stint in Timetabling. Candy works in Finance at ACU and I knew she would be out here staying with her son and daughter-in-law for the birth of their 4 child. Jason is a police officer here.

So a quick trip to the Police station and the usual verification of “who am I” and we had organised to go out to the RSL for dinner that night.

Then the usual grocery buying at one of the 2 IGA stores in town (proved a little cheaper than Isisford) and back home to air-condition comfort.

One of the ideas of stopping at a caravan park is to do the washing, but alas it’s a rule that because there is no sullage here you have to use their washing machines not
your own. Think it’s more of a money thing as again, it’s artesian water and sprinklers are going all day and night through out the van park.

Dinner was a lively catch up with Candy and her family. Got to hold a 2 week old baby who at 9lb 15oz born was a shock for his Mum Peta, who is stick skinny and already has her shape back. I even managed to put Nat to sleep so maybe I haven’t “lost the touch”.

Tuesday:

Tuesday was cleaning morning, washing, scrubbing vacuuming. Anything to try to remove some of the red dust that has taken over the inside of the van. Now hot and sweaty I
was looking forward to a nice cold shower..no, again hot or hotter.

On Tuesday night Candy, Chris & I went to the Cosmos Centre. Here with guides you get the opportunity to view the night sky, an entire roof is rolled off to reveal 3 powerful 12
inch Meade telescopes. We got to see Jupiter and 3 of it’s moons as well as other interesting facts. Every night is not the same stars to look at.

Cosmos Centre at Charleville

Cosmos Centre at Charleville

The different months of the year as well as times through the night it’s all changing. We couldn’t see the Southern Cross as that disappears from Oct – Jan out here.

Wednesday:

Today we are heading only 90km down the road to Morven. There is a “free camping” ground in their recreational park that has electricity and water. They ask for $5
donation a night for up keep.

So again we have air-condition comfort to work in.

The “Camp 6” Book and the others we have paid for have well and truly paid for themselves in allowing us great camp spots along the way. There is a toilet block and showers at this spot also. There is nothing less here than at the Van parks we have just paid $30pn at.

 

Off to Blackall

We left the little town of Isisford and the riverside camp spot that we had so loved and headed for Blackall.

We are certain we will return here again one day.

As soon as we were 100 metres from Isisford the vast empty country side once again wrapped around us.

It is only 120 km from Isisford to Blackall but in the first 80 km we only saw three properties, Isis Downs, Thornleigh and Gowan Downs.

Isis Downs Station is not far from Isisford and was once a sprawling sheep station of over 200,000 hectares boasting the largest shearing shed in the world.

The shed was open the public but is now closed until it can be reopened with all the health and safety paraphernalia fulfilled. The shed is leased by Hans the owner of Clancy’s pub in Isisford and he hopes to run bus tours out there from Isisford when he has all the government requirements in place.

Isis Downs Station's shearing shed reputed to be the largest in the world.

Isis Downs Station's shearing shed reputed to be the largest in the world.

Isis Downs was reduced to 1,277 square kilometres after post war land resumptions and is now owned by Consolidated Pastoral and runs only cattle.

As we got within 40 km from Blackall a few more properties appeared signalling our pending arrival at the town.

We decided to stay the night in a van park and spoil ourselves to unlimited power, (enabling us to use the air con and watch a movie on the media player), and unlimited water. This is only the 4th night in a van park in 4 weeks so we’re quite excited.

We walked up to the town after parking in the Van Park and on the way came across this statue which we thought was quite striking.

It depicts Edgar Towner who was a farm hand from Blackall and was awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War.

This remarkable statue captures the image of the farm boy about to exchange his clothing for an army uniform and leave the beloved bush to fight and perhaps never return.

This remarkable statue captures the image of the farm boy about to exchange his clothing for an army uniform and leave the beloved bush to fight and perhaps never return.

A lieutenant in the Australian Imperial Force during the First World War, Towner was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1918 for his actions during an attack on Mont St. Quentin on the Western Front.

Leiutenant (later Major) Edgar Towner - most decorated Australian born soldier and Victoria Cross recipient.

Leiutenant (later Major) Edgar Towner - most decorated Australian born soldier and Victoria Cross recipient.

On the night of 10/11 June 1918, Towner was in command of a machine gun section during an attack to the south of Morlancourt, (France). One of the first to reach the objective, he deployed his section and got its guns into action “very quickly”. By using captured German machine guns he was able to increase his section’s fire and provide support to the company on his right as it advanced, seized, and consolidated its position. During the morning of 11 June, one of the posts held by the Australian infantry was blown in by German artillery; braving machine gun and sniper fire, Towner went out in daylight to help reorganise the post. He was cited for his “cheerful and untiring attitude” and for “setting a conspicuous example”. In September, again commanding a machine gun section, he was involved in the Allied counteroffensive that broke the German lines at Mont St. Quentin and Péronne. Fighting for thirty hours after being wounded, his “conspicuous bravery, initiative and devotion to duty” earned him the Victoria Cross, which was presented by King George V in April 1919. Towner was also awarded the Military Cross for his actions. He remains the most decorated Queensland-born soldier.

We found the water supply in Blackall interesting. It comes directly from the Great Artesian Basin under its own pressure. We wrote about the Basin here.

It’s hot and smells of sulphur until after it is cooled and has sat for a short while.

It’s the purest water in Australia with no contaminates or chemicals of any kind. It’s bottled and sold around the world.

This abundant supply of pure water probably explains why Blackall has a large number of green lawns and lush private gardens even though the surrounding country is very dry.
There must also be a high level of personal pride contributing to this as well as great gardens don’t just appear because water is available.

(From Kerrie)

Blackall and it’s artesian water…I know I’m a city girl but I found this amazing.

It comes straight out of the tap at 58 deg.

Now the Brisbane council has set the regulation temp of your hot water system to 60 deg. (We know this because Barry & Christine had a new hot water system and they were not allowed to get it any hotter when the electrician installed it.)

So you don’t need a hot water system here. Take that off your electricity bill.

What they have to do is cool their water. They have tanks to collect the artesian water then allow it to cool before it comes back to the cold water tap.

I found this all out after connecting the hose to the caravan and making HOT cordial. I know I’m not quick, so not yet learning anything,
I go for a shower (in the van of course, all my stuff is there). Turn on the tap and the only option I have is hot water or really hot water from our now heated hot water system. I’ve had plenty of cold showers over the years but never had to rinse my soapy hair with hot water.

I did think of Lacey and Christine who both love long showers to wash their hair. Apart from the initial smell no one would ever yell at you to get out of the shower and it would never go cold.

Now after reading all about the water I saw they had a Aquatic centre with a massaging artesian spa, off I went. Walking down the street everyone has a sprinkler going all day. The yards are beautiful and green and the colours of the bougainvillea are spectacular. Some of the sprinklers are on the footpath. You brace yourself to walk through them waiting for the usual chill of the water and quickly  realise that it’s hot. No running through the sprinkler for these kids.

The aquatic centre (cost $2.50 adult) has a spa with straight artesian water, nice and hot with bubbles. That then overflows into the baby pool, shallow and warm. It also overflows into the 50m pool. They have fountain guns around the entry of the pool, the ones kids can aim at each other. These are shooting cold water. Thank goodness as swimming a couple of lengths you need to cool down under these.

I went home relaxed and for the first time in a month with really clean feet and nails. But I have learnt my lesson now and when I went for a shower I used the amenity block with cold water.

(Back to Chris)

Blackall is the place where sits the famed “Black Stump”, as in the old saying, “Beyond the Black Stump” or “…This side of the Black Stump”.

The Black Stump - Painting shows how it was used in 1886 to set surveyor's theodoplites which enable accurate surveying of the State.

The Black Stump - Painting shows how it was used in 1886 to set surveyor's theodoplites which enable accurate surveying of the State

Like most places the stop at Blackall and the surrounding area has a rich history that we would love to explore more and maybe will one day.

Still at Isisford

We’re still happily camped at Isisford on the Barcoo River.



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This morning is cool with a breeze blowing through the trees forming a background sound to the hundreds of bird calls.

An early morning sparring match to get the juisces flowing

An early morning sparring match to get the juisces flowing

The sun’s shining without a cloud in the clear blue sky, giving us all the power we need as it strikes the solar panels.

The Barcoo River awakens

The Barcoo River awakens

Two more vans arrived late yesterday.

I’ve not fished much yet nor even bothered to put the Redclaw traps in as we are concentrating on work.

I’m very proud of Kerrie. She’s started to grasp key concepts in the workings of the programmes and has already almost finished her
first custom made application.

I’m hoping to have our first fully web based application on the cloud by the time we leave here.

We had a minor incident yesterday as I unhooked the car from the caravan to go get some fuel for the generator.

I jacked up the jockey wheel to release the van from the car and the mount that holds the jockey wheel to the chassis snapped off bring the van down with a thud.

Thankfully we had the front stabilizer legs still wound down, (something I don’t normally do when releasing the van from the car), and the van came down on these.

I changed the jockey wheel to the second, (more secure), bracket and all was ok but if those stabilizers weren’t down
it could have been quite a mess.

We took a drive out to the Oma fishing hole about 17km out of town. This is a place well known amongst fishermen and is the centre of attraction for the huge annual fishing competition. It’s renowned for it’s abundance of Yellowbelly.

It’s dirt road all the way and once out of the tiny town area you are immediately back in the outback environment and you get to realise just what a little oasis Isisford is.

There‘s free camping at Oma as well but we are pleased with our current spot.

I discovered some old photos of this area and one of them was this photo from 1915 from the Portland Downs station showing a man firing the very same steam engine that was on the roadside museum that we saw a few days ago at Ilfracombe.

This steam engine is on the roadside museaum at Ilfracombe

This steam engine is on the roadside museaum at Ilfracombe

There was also this one of the Barcoo River in flood in 1930 and shows the town as it was then.

The Barcoo in flood in 1930 - Isisford in background

The Barcoo in flood in 1930 – Isisford in background

This one shows an artesian bore on the Portland Downs station in 1919.

An artesian bore on the Portland Downs Station in 1919

An artesian bore on the Portland Downs Station in 1919

The discovery of the Great Artesian Basin, was the saviour of most of the Western Queensland properties around the turn of the century.

The largest and deepest underground water source in the world, the Basin covers 1,711,000 square kilometres and is 3000 metres deep in places. It underlies  23% of Australia.

Over 3200 of these bores were sunk around here, most still exist although many have fallen into disrepair and continue to release tonnes of uncontrolled wasted water into long uninhabited properties.

There is a program currently underway to find and cap these old bores.

We met the people from the motor home parked near us. They have been permanently living on the road for 41/2 years and they love it and have no intentions of stopping.

She’s worked in the local café for the last 2 months but they are now ready for a “coast fix” and will be moving to some seaside location soon.

Later in the day we met a couple passing through who were farmers from Ballarat.

They had a Trayon Camper – so many of them around.

They had travelled over 200,000 km with the Trayon and this trip they’ve stayed on the back roads to explore out of the way places.

They told us they found a similar small town to Isisford at Yaraka about 100km down the road – dirt road.

Looking at their Trayon I couldn’t help thinking of how much Barry and Christine would love exploring this part of the world.

After seeing a Fold a Bote at Theresa Creek Dam we’ve been thinking that maybe we would look at eventually getting one. They are easy to carry, not being as bulky as a canoe or as heavy as a tinny.

Where we are on the Barcoo River would be a great place to fish in one of these sturdy craft using a small electric motor such as the one we saw used at Barcaldine.

I think one of these with a 5hp 4 stroke and electric motor would give us great all round options for taking to the water wherever we go.

We cooked dinner outside on the little portable stove last night and ate outside watching the evening appear bringing all the sights and sounds of night with it.

It was pleasant and peaceful.

We find a Gem in the Outback

The afternoon’s travelling from Ilfracombe rolled on through the wide spaces of outback properties along the narrow road where for the most part we were the only inhabitants.

We passed no more than 4 cars and a truck the whole way giving a sense of the isolation of existence out here.

Late in the afternoon we came upon the first indication that we had arrived at the tiny town of Isisford. It was a sign which read “Welcome to Isisford – YELLOWBELLY COUNTRY”.

We’d heard about a free camping area here near the Barcoo River which runs beside the town and we were intending to stay a night maybe two.

What we found was an absolutely beautiful spot right on the river amidst magnificent Gum Trees and an abundance of wildlife.

The wildlife abounds - a true Aussie image

The wildlife abounds – a true Aussie image

Only one other mobile home was set up in the whole area.

It was completely free of the dust of Longreach and was cool and breezy without the harsh winds we had experienced in the last few days.

We picked a site that had us facing a little further south than we’d have liked – we try and face east west so the sun doesn’t blast fully on the side of the van. Facing south means the sun is on the non annexe side and not only heats the van up in the afternoon but puts a full frontal heat attack on the fridge. Also, facing east gets the sun on the Solar panels early if there are no trees.

...ONCE A JOLLY (Grey Nomad couple)...CAMPED BY A...

…ONCE A JOLLY (Grey Nomad couple)…CAMPED BY A…

...BILLABONG....

…BILLABONG….

...UNDER THE SHADE OF...(the largest Gum tree ever).

…UNDER THE SHADE OF…(the largest Gum tree ever).

We soon discovered that this site has more than just natural beauty it has good toilets, a dump spot and fresh water.

This means we only need to empty our toilet every 3 days or so and we can top up with water as required. It takes about 3 – 4 days, with both of us enjoying a good hot daily shower, to use our water.

There’s also free use of hot showers just a short walk to the Council building in town, further stretching our water supply if we choose to use them.

To top it off we have a full 5 bars, (full), Internet service and TV reception.

The peace and tranquillity and the adequate resources lead us to decide to stay a week or so here to get some work done.

Peace and tranquility beside the Barcoo River

Peace and tranquility beside the Barcoo River

After setting up and soaking in the pleasantness of the spot we walked up to the little town only, 5 minutes away, to find the locals friendly and helpful.

We were told that Clancy’s Hotel serves a mean steak meal so we decided to eat there on Tuesday night. True to the reports it was a delicious steak.

Clancy's Hotel - Hans the owner cook knows how to cook steak!

Clancy’s Hotel – Hans the owner cook knows how to cook steak!

Many of the small towns we have encountered on our travels give the appearance of a place in its death throws.
Usually this is due to a general lack of basic maintenance of the buildings and a lack of attention to gardens and yards. Nothing makes a town look unprosperous and uninviting as the majority of properties looking neglected.

Isisford is NOT one of these towns.

The majority of residents still appear to take pride in their gardens and yards and even at the tail end of the dry season many of the lawns are watered and well kept. Some fine houses in great condition still grace the towns few streets and many residents have greatb vege gardens and fruit trees.

Most of the remaining old shops, although most are disused, are kept in good repair and a few are opened daily to the public with the interiors unchanged since they ceased to operate.

One such shop is the Bakery, still much the same as when they made fresh bread here daily, and the Café almost exactly as it was when its doors closed for the final time in 1982.

The old Bakery - No bread no more!

The old Bakery – No bread no more!

Sightless eyes and mute mouth of the serving sdummy no longer welcome bread buyers.

Sightless eyes and mute mouth of the serving sdummy no longer welcome bread buyers.

Manequins no longer sweat to mix and bake dough

Manequins no longer sweat to mix and bake dough

The mixer will convert flour and yeast to dough no more

The mixer will convert flour and yeast to dough no more

The thousands of golden crusted loaves have ceased to bake in this oven

The thousands of golden crusted loaves have ceased to bake in this oven

The Cafe - Just a monument now to past prosperity

The Cafe – Just a monument now to past prosperity

The old scales once weighed a wide range of produce

The old scales once weighed a wide range of produce

These milk shake machines turned out hundreds of icy cold shakes

These milk shake machines turned out hundreds of icy cold shakes

Meat slicer would give a safety officer a heart attack today!

Meat slicer would give a safety officer a heart attack today!

The Cafe owner lived here in back of shop long after he had closed for good

The Cafe owner lived here in back of shop long after he had closed for good

The Cafe owner's simple bedroom

The Cafe owner’s simple bedroom

Like many small towns around Western Queensland Isisford is just a shadow of its former self.

It shows a glimpse, for anyone caring to look, into a time when Australia was much more reliant on its rural production for its prosperity.

That rural production was much more labour intensive than it is today requiring larger groups of people to live closer to where they were needed.

The tyranny of distance helped protect these towns from mass migration to the cities since it took so long to travel, especially with loads of produce, to the large centres of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

When high quality highways were built and road transport became efficient and reliable, the writing was on the wall for the future of theses towns.

They started to die.

The imagination and the old black and white photographs dotted around the town are now the only way to see the bustling and busy thoroughfares that the now mostly deserted streets once were.

Relics of a hard working town are preserved in the park

Relics of a hard working town are preserved in the park

The old Picture Theatre is rarely opened now but it once held up to 275 joyous souls per sitting and as the evenings entertainment ended the crowds would move to the Café for ice cream, milk shakes and other refreshments requiring up to 6 staff members serving at the counter till after 10:00pm at night.

The old Picture Theatre often sat 275 people a show

The old Picture Theatre often sat 275 people a show

The towns four pubs were all busy and the Bakery made 100’s of loaves each day.

One shop owner had 700 fruit trees and vines growing fruit to sell to the townspeople.

This is all gone now.

If you happen to be a bit of an old romantic, like me, it’s hard not to feel a sense of sadness for the passing of the town as it once was. There is a desire to have a brief glimpse of that past again but it can never be.

I hope that the proud and committed people that have worked hard to keep this little part of our heritage alive continue to do so for many years to come.

The main life blood of the town is the Grey Nomad.

Perhaps it’s us that will enable these towns to cling to survival.

Up to 70 caravans can be parked here in our spot during the winter, mostly Victorians and Tasmanians, and the local Barcoo fishing competition in July attracts 700 people from all over Australia each year.

We are so taken by this lovely spot that we’ve decided to stay for a week or so using the peace and quiet to get a large volume of work done while enjoying each minute of the day.

Moving on from the Lloyd Jones Weir

No matter how many times I experience it I’m continually amazed at the absolute stillness and calm of the country mornings!

I love to stand in the silence in the period Just before the birds wake. There is no breeze at all and the leaves on the surrounding Gum trees are so still they could be frozen. The trees are clearly visible even though the dawn hasn’t yet broken because a large orange moon gives sufficient light to see almost everything.

The moon in the early morning.

The moon in the early morning.

 

I think the moon is orange because of the strong winds of the last couple of days and nights. There seems to be a light cloud of red dust high in the air through which the moon is shining giving it this colouring.

One by one the bird species stir, often the Kookaburras first. Their laughing breaks the silence but is strangely in concert with the atmosphere.

As the waking bird life adds more sound to the scene the first rays of the sun appear as a red glow through the Gum trees the reflections on the still water begin to appear.

The first rays of sunlight over the Lloyd Jones Weir.

The first rays of sunlight over the Lloyd Jones Weir.

 

A large White Egret glides ever so gracefully along the river just as the sun blazes red through the trees.

It is still calm but now all the colours appear; the contrasting of a hundred different greens of leaves and grasses, the whites with
streaks of deep brown on the trunks of the Ghost Gums, the red dirt and the blue sky.

Even some of the man made features such as the broken down old fence in the distance have a place in this picture that no artist can quite capture perfectly. Even the camera cannot fully reveal what only the senses can feel.

Last night it wasn’t quite so idyllic.

The peace of an almost perfect evening was shattered by the next door neighbour firing up his generator!

He had it running full throttle till 9:00pm proving that no matter where you are or how ideal the surroundings there’s always someone or something to make it less perfect.

And now just as we were enjoying our last morning in this pretty place the neighbour fires up the genny again!

They are such lovely people you don’t want to shatter their enjoyment by doing something like chopping their power cord; even though you feel like it.

We packed up amid the noise and then went over to bid the neighbours farewell. The conversation turned to generators and solar power. I think he knew that the generator was a pain but since he had built his great little unit himself he did not include solar or anything much in the way of batteries for power storage. This meant he had no choice but to run his generator long and often.

I was able to explain to him the benefits of solar power.

After leaving the weir we drove the last couple of hours to the goal of this trip – Longreach.

The harshness of the outback properties gave us a respect for those rugged souls who have made a living from this unforgiving landscape.

We were elated to have made it and since neither of us had been to Longreach before we quite excited.

Unfortunately the weather was set to make it a less than perfect stay.

It was blowing a gale and it was hot!

It was 36 degrees and the wind seemed to make it hotter.

The dry dusty surrounds and the wind coated everything with dust and we could even taste it with every breath.

We made it to the free camping area by the Thompson River amid the swirling dust, flies and heat.

After setting up we decided to relax for the rest of the afternoon and this went ok until the Bain of country living – DIRT BIKES – rudely and abruptly put and end to any hope of a peaceful afternoon.

As the dropkicks rode up and down past the camping area they intently watched for the expected hero worshipping reaction from all of us parked there, honestly believing the mosquito like sound abomination was the coolest thing a man could do. The presence of a couple of young ladies close by only made their delusions of coolness greater and we were treated to the most absurdly moronic performance of buzz bike cretinism for the afternoon.

The evening finally bought blessed relief from the noise but it stayed at 34 degrees till after midnight when the wind picked up to a howling dust spitting roar, rattling the Aussie Wide, filling it with dust and making sleep almost impossible.

The early morning was strangely very cold after such a searing hot day. The air was still thick with dust, so much so that the morning sky was completely hidden.

We decided that we would pack up, go to the Stockman’s Hall of Fame then head off.

After filling up with diesel we parked at the Stockman’s Hall and went in as soon as it opened at 9:00am.

The Australian Stockmans Hall of Fame.

The Australian Stockmans Hall of Fame.

 

We spent 3 hours there and it was a wonderful experience.

Inside has different levels all showing different aspects of life in the outback.

Inside has different levels all showing different aspects of life in the outback.

 

Traveling wagons with all the neccesities of life and also their desires.

Traveling wagons with all the neccesities of life and also their desires.

A well built cottage that would have housed a family.

A well built cottage that would have housed a family.

 

Although Longreach wasn’t particularly our sort of place we have nothing but the utmost respect for the people who settled out here and not only survived but prospered.

The outback legend of toughness, innovation and sheer guts is alive and well out here.

The Hall of Fame had thousands of stories – too many for one visit – of heroes, (both famous and unsung), villains and just ordinary people who had a dream and were prepared to give their lives for it.

I personally find stories of people who persisted with their dream no matter what the cost uplifting and motivating and the people out here, both past and present, certainly fill that bill and some.

We learned of Stockmen who drove cattle and sheep over some of the harshest country on earth, sometimes a hundred miles between water holes, and of property owners who laid everything on the line for an impossible dream to finish up owning million hectare holdings. Miners who staked everything on a gut feeling, hawkers who travelled for months between towns and isolated
stations selling their wares, merchants who set up shop in the harshest of environments and tradesmen such as blacksmiths, wagon makers and saddlers who started from nothing and made it.

The history, the stories, the artefacts – all made the whole visit to Longreach absolutely worth it.

We headed back east along the Matilda Highway and stopped at the little town of Ilfracombe.

 

The Ilfracombe General Store - Note the original fuel pump.

The Ilfracombe General Store – Note the original fuel pump.

This tiny town of only 350 or so people is a snapshot of Queensland’s outback history.


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Before the integration of the Ilfracombe Shire into the Longreach Shire a few years ago it covered 6500 square Kilometres.

It is set amidst massive cattle and sheep stations.

These stations where once home to up to a hundred people.

They sometimes had their own school and church and Ilfracombe was a vital social and life support for these stations as well as
providing a centre of transportation from where wool and cattle where shipped to the world.

The largest of these stations was Wellshot.

Wellshot station was once the largest sheep station in the world supporting over 450,000 sheep.

It was so big the town of Ilfracombe was often called Wellshot.

We saw the homestead of this massive station a little later in the day.

There are many historical milestones in this area but for me the fascination was to look into a snapshot of a bygone era in the hundreds of pieces of machinery and other items collected from the district.

A snapshot from a bygone era

A snapshot from a bygone era

This snapshot was of an era before health and safety laws governed invention and innovation, before political correctness got in the way of free speech and before government intervention devised laws dictating how almost every step a person takes can be trod.

Machines of every sort are lined up long the road and in those machines you can see the innovation and inventiveness of the past.

Like this harvester that the owner drove over a rock and wrecked the wheel so he cast a new wheel out of concrete and it is still as good as the original wheel 100 years later.

Harvester with a concrete wheel - still good 100 years on!

Harvester with a concrete wheel – still good 100 years on!

Graders and furrows, pumps and fire tenders, water bores and saws, dam clearers and a huge assortment of machines that helped carve prosperity out of a place that is deadly to those that lack adaptability.

Grader - concept is still used today

Grader – concept is still used today

This Dozer was used to build the Longreach to Winton railway in 1925. Then it was used to pull fire break ploughs on properties.

This Dozer was used to build the Longreach to Winton railway in 1925. Then it was used to pull fire break ploughs on properties. Only 3 of these exist in the world.

Homemade Water Carrier

Homemade Water Carrier

Home built circular saw - Keep pinky's away from this beast!

Home built circular saw – Keep pinky’s away from this beast!

There is even a World War 2 Stuart tank that has had the gun turret and machine guns removed and a blade attached to the front to make a bulldozer.

World War 2 Stuart Tank revamped into a bulldozer

World War 2 Stuart Tank revamped into a bulldozer

This was a common practice after the war and there was even a company formed by an inventive soul who bought surplus tanks from the army and rebuilt and sold them as farm machinery.

There is an old house which has a room full of what must be a sample of every glass bottle ever bought into Queensland and another room full of almost every firearm from the two World Wars.

Just a few of the hundreds of firearms from both World Wars

Just a few of the hundreds of firearms from both World Wars

We left Ilfracombe and turned off the Matilda Highway onto the very narrow but excellently maintained Ilfracombe to Isisford Road.

Wide open spaces - mile after mile of them

Wide open spaces – mile after mile of them

It was on this road that we passed the Wellshot Homestead.

The vastness of the landscape sweeping for miles in every direction was awesome especially when dark storm clouds started brewing in the distance back over Longreach way turning the view into starkly contrasting colours.

Storm Clouds back towards Longreach

Storm Clouds back towards Longreach

Lone travellers on an empty road through vast open country

Lone travellers on an empty road through vast open country

We eventually pulled into the small town of Isisford and as we found the free camp site we had heard about beside the Barcoo river we realised we had stumbled upon a real gem in midst of the vastness of the outback.

Leaving Jericho on the Jordan

We watched a dark sky form over the little lake area on Thursday evening bringing thunder, fork lightning and a strong wind. We even got a few splashes of rain but the storm circled around us and the only effect we experienced was a very welcome drop in temperature making a pleasant, cool evening.

We tried hard to get the lighting but couldn't.

We tried hard to get the lighting but couldn’t.

 

We sat outside by the light of a couple of candles after Kerrie made a delicious evening meal.

I got to bed early and left Kerrie sitting up watching TV as I needed to get up for a webinar from the United States at 1:00am. It was dead still at 1:00am except for the night sounds of crickets and various other animals. The moon lit up our little area and the sky was ablaze with stars.

I could not sleep after the webinar and ended up listening to Chuck Missler on the iPod for a couple of hours. He’s been doing an in depth study of the Book of Luke for a few weeks on his radio show and this last week’s climax I’ve found provocative and fascinating.

We had breakfast as the sun rose through the trees and the myriad of birdlife started the daily ritual of finding food.

We were a bit reluctant to leave this wonderful spot and it’s hard to come up with something that could have made the stay here more perfect – except maybe the arrival of an old, white Ford Ranger with a Trayon camper on the back, its beloved owners to share in the beauty of the place.

In fact sharing this special spot with any of the family or friends would have been the only improvement to this experience.

Skippy and Leslie are currently picking up their new van from Melbourne – very similar to ours – and I’m sure they would find the same peacefulness and tranquillity here as we have.

We decided it was time to ditch the bikes as we’ve rarely used them and the mounting is worryingly unstable. I get horrible visions of the mess that could be caused if the bolts sheer off again leaving the bikes to embed themselves into the back of the van or worse cause a serious accident at speed on the highway.

I stripped the bikes down to make it easier to carry in the Ute to a dump spot while Kerrie made ready for moving on.

We hit the highway again heading to Barcaldine as the heat came back into the day.

The long straight road unfolded before us and the country became more harsh and unforgiving in appearance, yet still beautiful.

In 80 kilometres we passed just one old house, the only sign any one lived in this part of the world. Of course there are many homesteads along this route but none are visible from the road giving a feeling of remoteness.

 

Barcaldine post office

Barcaldine post office

 

We pulled into Barcaldine, took a drive around the town and then parked and walked around to explore this historical old place.

Barcaldine is the birthplace of the Australian Labour Party which was formed out of wild conflict between the local shearers and landowners over wages and conditions.

The centre of the town is dominated by The Tree of Knowledge memorial.

The wooden structure is a replica of the original trees size.

The wooden structure is a replica of the original trees size.

 

This is a unique structure set upon the site of a massive Ghost Gum tree known as the Tree of Knowledge. The tree started dying, poisoned in an act of vandalism with Roundup 2006. An arborist declared the tree dead on 3 October 2006. The ALP offered a reward of $10,000 for any information that will help identify those responsible.

The solid "leaves" knock together giving a lovely sound underneath.

The solid “leaves” knock together giving a lovely sound underneath.

 

The remains of the tree were removed on 29 July 2007. The tree has undergoing a process of wood preservation and now sits as the centrepiece of the monument. The tree was successfully cloned in 2008 by workers at the former Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

We explored the town’s six pubs and marvelled that such a small town could support them all. There were 11 pubs but a fire in 1909 claimed most of them. Some were rebuilt only to experience another fire in 1966 and these 6 were the survivors.

After topping up with a few groceries, a very nice coffee and fresh bread from the bakery we headed for the Lloyd Jones Weir about 15km out of town situated on the banks of the Alice River.

The Weir proved to be just as lovely as the riverside spot we had left.

It is perhaps even more peaceful as even the highway and town are a long distance away.

There’s no TV but there is phone and internet coverage.

Thick stands of Ghost Gum trees line the banks of the river and there’s a rich diversity of birdlife.

Kangaroos come down to the river to drink and although we have not sighted one yet Wombats are frequent visitors.

 

Kangaroo's gather for a drink.

Kangaroo’s gather for a drink.

 

We cooked dinner on the portable BBQ outside and enjoyed the tranquillity as night fell .

The early evening was very hot with not much change from the day temperature until about 8:00pm when a cool breeze sprang up making it easier to sleep.

Rising early again before sunrise I decided to rig the rod and try some early morning fishing.

I soon had a just legal Silver Perch and a Catfish after landing and returning a host of small ones and some undersize Yellowbelly.

After sunrise we surprised to see a couple of locals in small alloy punt with an electric motor drifting by.

Catching fish as they silently travel up and down the weir.

Catching fish as they silently travel up and down the weir.

 

Every few minutes they would haul in a Yellow belly that they needed a landing net for.

They drifted over to us for a chat and explained that it was quite rare to catch Yellowbelly from the bank and that prior to the heavy January to August rains this area had not fished well.

Since the rain they were able to get their quota of ten almost every time.

I continued to try for a while with a lure after they left but came up empty handed.

Later as we sitting in the van working the same two blokes pulled up beside us in their car with the boat on the back and asked if would like some fish.

They gave us two beautiful Yellowbellys and told us how to fillet them being sure to remove the bands of fat round the gills and along the dorsal fin.

Take out the fat or you won't enjoy the fish.

Take out the fat or you won’t enjoy the fish.

 

If this is not done they said they taste like s*&t.

If this IS done they taste as good as or better than any saltwater fish.

We shared these lovely fish with Warwick and Anne our next door neighbours who are from Cairns.

It’s amazing; every spot we stop at we are in awe of the place. In most of these places nobody seems to care in the slightest how long you stay, in fact quite the contrary we are constantly being asked to stay longer.

Sapphire to Jericho

We had the whole area to ourselves for the last night in Sapphire as all the neighbours moved on early in the day.

A roast dinner on the weber. And yes Lacey we are getting better at it.

A roast dinner on the weber. And yes Lacey we are getting better at it.

 

It was a peaceful night and a brilliant morning as the sun rose over the sapphire mines all around.

I settled in to a few hours more work before leaving. We had to finish a job in Melbourne and email it through as we weren’t sure if we would have an internet connection in time to meet our promised deadline of that afternoon.

While I worked Kerrie continued with her goal of developing a database application by herself as part of her process of learning the business and I must she is doing so well at it, much better than I ever did when I struggled through about 15 years of self learning.

We were amazed to see the Child care centre with a sizeable number of children in it!

After meeting some lovely people from Brissy who were just one week into their new “on the road” lifestyle , and after filling the van with cool sweet water that cost us 20cents, we got under way at about 11:0am and headed toward Anakie and the Capricorn highway.

We decided not to call in at Anakie but instead head straight to Jericho about 140 km away.

We were amazed to see the landscape changing yet again as we headed up the fairly steep Drummond Ranges in the outer reaches of the Bowen Basin.

Climbing the Drummond Ranges

Climbing the Drummond Ranges

 

All through the ranges the sheer ruggedness and the harshness of the country side made us think of the toughness of the people who initially chose to call this part of Australia home.

We stopped for a cold drink beside a lonely little cemetery seemingly in the middle of nowhere. A sign read “Bogantungan” and a little further up the road we came upon this town of Bogantungan. There were only 3 very old houses and an old railway station. There was an old outhouse with a sign reading “Public Toilet” standing uninvitingly beside the station.

This is the "public toilet" at the railway station stated in the camp 6 book

This is the “public toilet” at the railway station stated in the camp 6 book

As usual we loved stopping here as we could imagine what this town may have looked like in the early days of the railway coming through the area.

The landscape changed to a less hilly terrain with a distinctly more “outback” appearance of red dirt and sparse vegetation.

Wide open spaces and red dirt.

Wide open spaces and red dirt.

 

We eventually came upon the little town of Alpha where we filled up with diesel at a surprisingly reasonable price for out here and made for Snow’s Bakery in the little main street. We had heard about this place and were told it was a “must stop” place as the bread was supposed to superb.
The bakery has won awards in Brisbane Sydney and Melbourne for its pies and so we sampled one of these award wining delicacies. True to reputation they were delicious and as was the bread.

Alpha is a quaint and thoroughly pleasant little town with all the streets named after poets such as Tennyson, Byron and Shakespeare.
Kerrie went to the Information Centre, as she usually does, and found a lovely elderly lady whose knowledge of the area was vast.

Heading out of Alpha the long, straight highway stretched before us to the horizon and once again the vast, sparsely populated cattle country fascinated us.

We use to think about the straight roads when we were in Tassie. The longest straight of road there is about 1km

We use to think about the straight roads when we were in Tassie. The longest straight of road there is about 1km

 

Coming upon the town of Jericho we made a quick round the town circuit as we always do and then made for the free camping area beside the Jordon River.
This site is truly wonderful and we’ll stay her for a couple of days at least.

Free camping along the Jordan River

Free camping along the Jordan River

We are right beside the river in this quiet peaceful spot. There are about eight other vans here but it’s like we are alone. The Ghost Gums and Willows line the banks and the place is teeming with bird life.
There is water, toilets and you can start campfires.
We love this place.
The Redclaw traps went in as soon as we were set up and the fishing rod was in the water moments later.

Now this is the way to fish...well it would have been better if we caught one.

Now this is the way to fish…well it would have been better if we caught one.

Bites came almost immediately although after sadly catching two turtles we decided to stop fishing.
We had no dinner tonight as we were both still full from the Alpha pies so we sat and languished in the sights and sounds of this wonderful spot till darkness fell.

Not as many Red Claw as we got in Theresa Creek Dam.

Not as many Red Claw as we got in Theresa Creek Dam.

We arose just before sunrise to a symphony of sound.

A gentle morning breeze rustled the trees, small fish created splashes in the river and the birdlife created a symphony that although it was random, without music sheets or conductor, was like a perfectly integrated orchestra with no off key instruments.

Birds are everywhere and watching them search for food was fascinating.

Some like the white Great Egret would walk stilt like along the edge of the river often stopping dead still for minutes on end patiently awaiting a fish to come close.
Others like the Kestrels and Eagles waited in the surrounding trees and swooped down on the surface of the river to pluck out an unsuspecting surface swimming fish.
Pied Herons waited in the treetops also while a constantly changing variety of finches and other small birds flittered amongst the rushes and trees adding their soprano tweets to the symphony.
Pied Cormorants and unknown dark raven type birds appeared and disappeared constantly and ducks glided seemingly effortlessly on the water’s surface.
Also appearing was what appeared to be a Male Hardhead or White-eyed Duck which is the only Australian member of the worldwide Pochard or Diving Duck family. These little ducks would head for the centre of the river and repeatedly dive under the surface often staying for 30 seconds or so.

This was the idyllic morning scene in which we revelled until we decided to go for a walk into town before the projected 36 degree heat came upon us.

(From Kerrie)

Chris and I took a walk around the town this morning.

We had picked Jericho to stay at because the campsite sounded good in the “Camp6” book.

When you stop at a place you get to know a bit about it and this is why I visit the local information stops.

This Jericho town has residents who know the biblical story of the Battle of Jericho. It doesn’t stop there “Queensland’s little Jericho” is built on the Jordan Creek, south of Lake Galilee.

The local residents with the help of artists have constructed a feature the “Crystal Trumpeters”.

The feature "Crystal Trumpeters"

The feature “Crystal Trumpeters”

This is a reconstruction based on the Biblical story where the Israelites marched around the walls of Jericho for 6 days and blew their trumpets on the 7 day, watching as the city walls collapsed.(Joshua 18-22)

Double click to open then double click again to enlarge to read about this memorial.

Double click to open then double click again to enlarge to read about this memorial.

 

Moses striking the rock for water.

Moses striking the rock for water.

 

Egyptian Pillars - Passover

Egyptian Pillars – Passover

Isn’t it wonderful we live in a Christian country where residents can show this wonderful piece of art work. I wonder how long before some Muslim or other religion sues to have the town removed or renamed because it is against their beliefs, and us “laid back Aussie” bends over to meet the request.

Jericho also has one of the smallest Drive-in theatres that holds only 36 cars plus walk-ins. It’s in the middle of town and if you can’t fit your car in, there are canvas seats to use.

36 car Drive-in

36 car Drive-in

 

Canvas chairs to sit in.

Canvas chairs to sit in.

It shows once a month and it happens to be this Saturday night. Chris has said “NO” to the request to stay for it. It might have something to do with what is showing. I think both movies would be great to see (again).

You might have to read the blog "The ongoing Nissan saga" to know about "Red Dog" movie

You might have to read the blog “The ongoing Nissan saga” to know about “Red Dog” movie

 

Moranbah

The 35 degree heat of the previous day was well on the way to repeating itself again as Pete and the girls arrived to show Marilyn the caravan.
We arranged to meet later for dinner where Marilyn promised to cook one of her Pancit Canton meals that we had so much enjoyed years earlier in Brisbane.

We were able to get a couple of hours work done with the air conditioning turned on in the van. It was quite pleasant and as we hadn’t used the air conditioner much since purchasing the van it was good to know it worked so well.
Marilyn was hard at work cooking when arrived and as expected the food was delicious.
After dinner the girls had more questions about our childhood and our lives and were fascinated by the endless stories of our antics and the trouble we caused as kids growing up.
Peter’s stories were interlaced with his many experiences travelling in some of the worlds rough spots including Somalia.
It was good to see the wonder and disbelief on the young faces as they tried to relate these experiences with their own life at school and play in Moranbah.

Peter at the back (where else would he stand) Thalia (nealy 14), Marilyn, Haley (12), Chris & Kerrie

Peter at the back (where else would he stand) Thalia (nealy 14), Marilyn, Haley (12), Chris & Kerrie

It was quite hard to say goodbye knowing it could be a while before we see them all again. It was a truly rewarding experience seeing this part of the family again.

Monday morning found us heading toward the Gemfields area. We’ve heard of a free camping spot in Sapphire so once again the open road became a familiar companion as we drove mile after mile past the Peak Range again and its wide fertile downs.

We stopped at the pleasant little town of Capella on the Gregory Highway for lunch.
Sixteen Bowen Basin coal mines operate within a one hour drive radius of Capella and for its size has a lot of activity.

We turned off the highway at Capella after lunch and headed down the Rubyvale Capella Road.
There was an abrupt end to other traffic expect for the occasional road train and the road itself, although only a subsidiary road, was of exceptional quality. It was a pleasure to drive this area an once again the landscape took on a different much drier, more isolated appearance.
There were large properties but few residences and the surroundings gave a strange aura of isolation and peacefulness.

We eventually came upon the town of Rubyvale and we were fascinated by the small mining leases with their vast array of different accommodations. From very rudimentary tin shacks to large caravans the properties each had a common addition – the homemade machinery for extracting Sapphires from the round mine shafts visible on each property.

We loved the area because even though it was a mish mash of strange buildings and machinery it gave the impression of a place of pure private enterprise with few of the normal barriers that are the product of parasite infested councils and local governments.
Of course this may be in appearance only but it was good to imagine.

We were fascinated to visit the Rubyvale Gem Gallery and see the beautiful gems for sale as well as inspect some old machinery from an old mine probably left over from the 1940’s or 50’s.

The old miners used their heads without the use of the machinery that is available today.

The old miners used their heads without the use of the machinery that is available today.

This would go with the car and do the sorting of the dirt.

This would go with the car and do the sorting of the dirt.

These tough individuals obviously made these remarkable machines to extract the treasure from their pits from anything and everything and the innovation of that era was great to see.

Wonderful shop wth gem cutters, stones of every kind and a underground mine tour.

Wonderful shop wth gem cutters, stones of every kind and a underground mine tour.

 

The signboard outside the Gem Gallery had a painted picture of an individual mining operation which allowed us to imagine what the scene must be like beneath the surface on these hundreds of small mining sites.

This is a common site on everyones property, their own mines.

This is a common site on everyones property, their own mines.

We moved on to Sapphire and found the spot we were aiming for in the middle of the town.
The town consist of nothing more than a general store a few permanent houses, a swimming pool, (new and not yet open), a Rural Fire Brigade Building and a long disused but very well constructed child care centre, (A CHILDCARE CENTRE – HERE?).

The camp spot was nice with a water machine available, that when you placed coins in you got your measured amount. 10c for 20lit, 20c for 40lit, $1 for 200lit & $2 for 400lit. It is quiet but interesting and seems a bit of a Mecca for miners coming to fill up tanks with water using every conceivable type of vehicle.

They also had good toilets. But remember to close the gate to the toilet area as live stock roam free in the “Common Gemfields”

There was a van similar to ours here when we arrived and the friendly bloke who told us of some great free camping spots between here and Longreach. He also showed me a couple of neat ideas that he’s implemented on his van that we’ll definitely look at.
One idea was a booster that can be clipped on to the Winegaurd antenna that improves TV reception particularly for digital channels. It cost $60.00.
He also had an ingeniously simple safety catch to stop the weight distribution bars from ever letting go which if ever was to happen would be catastrophic for the van.

There were also a couple of small campervans with foreign tourists.

We decided to stay in this nice spot for a couple of days as it is quiet yet interesting and once again we have great mobile phone and internet coverage, good TV reception and we can easily work all day with two computers permanently working. Even with the inverter switched on all day to supply the laptops the solar panels are easily replacing all the power that we use.
Admittedly there is plenty of sun to maximise the charge from the solar panels but even without as much sun we can work as many hours as we need to and we haven’t even needed to use the generator yet. This will change on a cloudy day of course but we’re amazed at the efficiency of our electrical system.

We’ll head off tomorrow morning, Wednesday, and head for maybe Jericho or one of the other free camping spots we’ve learned about.