Tuesday 21 st July - 29th July
Part one was an insight into the beauty and joy of the rivers, skies and vast plains. They alone had made the journey wonderful, but there was so many other factors that made the trip sensational.
The kilometres were long, but didn't drag, as the drive was broken every couple of hours to explore a town, painted solo, watch wildlife and relax al fresco with a cuppa, cake or lunch.
Day one, driving only for an hour and a half, we approached Cunninghams Gap [787m] to cross the Great Dividing Range and enter the plainlands leading to the Outback. The Great Dividing Range is Australia's equivalent of the Rockies.
During our 10 days, we travelled the Warrego Way, Matilda Way, Adventure Way, Maranoa Way, Great Inland Way, Leichhardt Way, and Australia's Country Way, using the Cunningham Highway, Barwon Highway, Balonne Highway, Mitchell Highway, Warrego Highway and New England Highway. It got a little confusing, especially that, unless we were close to town, we had very little service. A fact of life 24 / 7, for the locals.
The roads were long and straight. I think it was day 5 when we became excited at the view of a curve, a crest and a knoll.
I don't thnk we visited one town that didn't have wide, wide streets. Not only that, cars were so infrequent that we got into the habit of just wandering along and across, without thinking.
Even the wallabies wandered!
Traffic was infrequent except for the road trains - triple headers. The majority of roads were wide enough to pass without leaving the tarmac, but when it wasn't, we slowed, waiting for the inevitable cloud of dust to swirl around us.
The sign says that we have offically reached 'Outback Queensland'.
This huge load of hay gave us concern. He was travelling reasonably fast, but weaving across the white line. Joc did an excellent job of overtaking.
Later in the day, these two semis without a load, were tail gating us at 100 k/h. Joc this time, calmly exited onto a truck layby at speed and they were gone in a flash. This incident was quite nerve wracking.
There is only one active railway line in this part of the west and of course it is as straight a the roads.
Our city petrol prices see-saw between $1.60 to as low as $1.10 per litre, over a three week period. There is no rhyme nor reason to the fluxation. We expected high fule prices in the Outback but the highest was $1.30 and as per below. It was $1.43 in the city on our return.
The many road signs kept us entertained. None of us had heard of the Ooline Tree, but we are now familiar with its beauty. As an hour later we visited an Ooline Forest Park.
The first five days of our journey parralleled the Queensland / New South Wales border, which was closed to the southerners. [Covid]
It wasn't until the last day that we saw any wandering cattle. We did however, cross many cattle grids and the more recent 'White Guard Dogs'. We would hear a 'zappy' sound, as we crossed these barriers replacing the grids.
On a number of occasions we did travel on dirt and gravel roads but in each case only for a kilometre or two to reach an historic spot, water course or forest.
Floodway signs were a constant, on both dirt and bitumen roads.
This dirt road was taken to find the school that Joc and Leanne's father had taught at and then met their Mother.
As I have just mentioned cattle were not a problem on the road until the last hour of our journey. Safely negotiated, I might add. It was the emus and kangaroos that kept us on constant alert but their numbers were far less than we had expected. With a good season, they don't have to graze on the roadside.
All properties both agricultural and catttle / sheep are huge. Station homesteads are not roadside. A sign like the one below, indicated the name of the station but another 10 or 15 or more kilometres may have to be driven to reach the station proper.
In February 1979, unable to find a position as a teacher on my return from my 3 year working holiday based in the UK, I took up a position as cook house keeper on a property near Cunnamulla. I went on the understanding that as soon as a teaching position became available I would leave. It was unbelievable that in just one week, the call came. I stayed another and worked extremely hard to get the homestead shipshake before I left. The owner was so grateful that he paid for me to fly back to Brisbane in a light aircraft, rather than taking the long 14 hour train journey.
I couldn't remember the name of the property of 20 sq miles, only that it was outside Cunnamulla. Eventhough I wasn't looking for it, the large sign below caught my attention and I quickly realised that Adgingbong was where I had worked. We drove back for a photo shoot.
There were many stud farm signs on our journey.
This was an interesting one.
Floods do occur out here.
This sign was regularly found at a property entrance. What a long day these school children have.
We loved the cute train image. Silos were regularly seen beisde the railway, most not used now.
We were not sure if these were dingoes or wild goats but not a pleasant sight to see beside the road and more than once.
CWA - Country Women's Association, the largest women's organisation in Australia.
Alas the sign is not very clear, but states that the explorer, Major Mitchell explored this area in 1846. We had many discussions of what it must have been like for these men and the early pioneers.