A Travellerspoint blog

Sibling invasion

Canarvon Gorge

The other day Rod woke up in one of his cranky moods, you know the one when you do not get the cuddles in bed. I was just trying to remember if he taken his tablets. MMmmmmm well he is missing a thyroid so I have to give him his cranky day every so often. It must be hard for him we are never more than 2 meters from each other at any given time and I am sure I am not that easy to live with under normal circumstances - like going to work an 8 hour day and not seeing your wife during that time. I even kiss him goodbye when I go and shower as we will be separated for at least 30-40 mins. Anyway we did a Dr's check-up and apparently the boob ache is nothing to worry about and Rod's heart skipping a beat when he is relaxed in bed is also no problem. He said we will live long and healthy lives.....

Anyway this was the week that the daughter and future son-in-law joined us so we were in disarray and excited to show them some of Central Qld. We decided to join the grey nomads (65 years and over in caravans) in the more obvious sights Carnarvon Gorge. We were packed in like sardines like a Coles car park, with one designated area for fires, unlike the usual bush camping with great big bon fires we do as Rod has the chain saw and puts it to good use with a surplus of wood always on the roof.

I chased everyone out of bed early as there are some big walks to be done, I made this usual 7am coffee, they just had to get out of bed to drink it. Surprisingly we still only got started at 10am. After making packed lunches and doing the breakfast thing we finally left the camp with a map of the area and decided that we would do the 21km walk viewing the alternative sights on the way back as Cathedral cave with the aboriginal paintings was supposed to be magnificent. After walking for 4 hours Rod checked his GPS and gave us the good news, "We are in unchartered Territory" the bad news is we have walked up the wrong gorge and need to turn back.
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The point we realised we were lost...
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The wrong turn mmmmmm I wonder whose fault that was...

We were never going to reach Cathedral Cave the way we were going, so a U-turn was made and we eventually started seeing the red arrows that we were supposed to be looking for - before the detour. We were not sure how the grey nomads navigated the 20km track with hearing aids and walking sticks and no GPS but we obviously needed more assistance then they did.

We eventually made it to the cave which was everything they said it would be and more, we viewed some of the other magnificent sights on the way back, Moss Gardens, Wards Canyon where 5 meter ferns are held up straight with water flow and not much else. We also viewed the amphitheatre which was very spiritual for the old black fellows it was a place of mens business and even the aboriginal warden had only peeked there once as he did not have the status to enter the Amphitheatre. I however decided to do the plank and Rod of course did the usual. All and all Carnarvon Gorge was amazing to see and we walked 40km in 2 days, 27 the first (including getting lost) and 13 the second.

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On the way to Cathedral Cave
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Finally we got there..
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Admiring the art work expected to be 3500 years old (Rod did not believe it)
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Moss Gardens
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Wards Canyon with 5m ferns
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Amphitheatre closed in cave with a hole in the roof
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Leshe is there somewhere - it was massive
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It was truly amazing...
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We decided to go off the beaten track and re-enter the same National Park from the other side "Salvatore Rosa" 220km drive but 50km as the crow flies. A few less grey nomads and 4WD vehicles only. A lot less to see except spy glass peak which we decided to climb to with full safety gear e.g. 2 x crocs and 2 x bare foot. Half way up Terry started saying with urgency "Leshe come here" "Leshe come here" "There is a snake." Well Rod walking behind me in a less then manly dignified manor screamed and nearly jumped on my back, Leshe leapt into Terry's arms and I turned around to see a magnificent 2 meter snake with a 10cm thickness. At least Rod did not scream "MOMMY" like our friend Patrick Little. We had no idea what kind of snake it was but it demanded respect. I was wondering how I would get to the satellite phone and if a helicopter could land here should there be a need. We decided that maybe we should be more sensible and if we were going to attempt a No. 18 climb (Difficult climbing wall ratings) we should at least be a bit more prepared, e.g. climbing harness and a snake bite kit.
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Half way up...
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Can you see us
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The monster snake

All and all we had a wonderful time with the kids a lot of laughter and a lot more chocolate but good times had by all. By the way the snake was a black headed python...... truly remarkable.
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But most of all we still miss our friends....

Posted by airbornenemo 05:26 Comments (1)

Better late than never...

Taroom - first fishing success of the trip so far and not a photo to prove it...!! Juicy three pound yellow-belly (maybe 2 1/2 pound, but definitely at least 2). It was either that or another HALF portion of rump @ 350g and a the look from the barman that said 'only half a rump... don't be a girl!!' Caught in the Dawson River which claims it's fame by being one of the only easterly flowing rivers that boasts Red River Gums lining it's banks. Running way behind schedule, we resisted the urge to stay another day or two and headed for the hills. Well, not really the hills, but the gorge...

En route we were treated to a close-up sighting of a family of Brolgas (for the record: not that I have become a birdwatcher or anything, but Ang was really excited about this...)
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and stopped in at Lake Murphy for a quick look.. A beautiful spot that could easily have justified a few days, however we're on a tight schedule now to be in Emerald in a few days to meet Leshe and Terry who are joining us for a week.
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Ang, not to be trusted (for obvious reasons) changing a wheel, undergoes supervised training in tyre deflation for the rougher roads
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Why would you choose to travel through some of the world's most sparsely populated countryside, with huge distances not only between towns, but between roads and... well anything really? Then when selecting a method of transport, you choose... a bicycle! Oh, and then when selecting the bike, you choose a 1980's model steel frame something with no suspension - anywhere!! ..and just to make it really interesting, opt for no chammy either...

After three hours of kidney loosening bumping along a dirt road/track scarred by the recent QLD floods, trying to match maps and GPS to detours and temporary tracks (while roads are being repaired), we finally crossed the creek that brought us to our overnight stop in the Expedition National Park about 3 hrs south of Emerald (where??). Already there, were two unlikey travellers for this terrain, Stuart and Thomas. No high-clearance 4x4 as suggested on the websites, just two bicycles as described above.

After agreeing to share a fire for the night, Ang set off in true 'Ang fashion' to cook for our newest friends. While the lamb curry in the camp-oven (or potjie if you prefer..) simmered over the fire, we set about finding out what makes these to 'weirdo's' tick. I say 'weirdo' in the nicest possible way having spent a truly memorable evening with two truly inspiring individuals and feeling confident they would not take offence to the stereotypically placed label. (We are mindful that we did email the link to this blog to our new friends).

It turns out this trip is nothing abnormal to these guys, but rather, being from Melbourne and Hobart and not very partial to the winters back home, embark on an annual winter bike tour around the warmer latitudes covering off three or four thousand kms each time. The distance or destination however seems irrelevant as is the achievement or accomplishment. Is it just the hours spent submerged in one's own thoughts? Is it to get in touch with ones environment? Who knows, but it does seem like it will all happen again next year.

Thomas spends the lonely hours on the bike devising new ideas and goes back home to Melbourne with new ways to minimise his environmental impact. Already he has disconnected himself from the power grid - his fridge runs 9 minutes in the hour at 60 watts, lights are at a minimum and it all runs off three solar panels - everything else runs on natural gas... but stay tuned... TV has long been thrown out, replaced with radio, podcasts and online to remain informed. When not riding his bike he runs a tile roof refurbishment business - 'but who wants to be on a roof during the Melbourne winter...?'. We loved the story of goat hunting by bicycle on a lonely QLD dusty track somewhere..

Stuart, a retired parks ranger, and trip navigator now devotes much of his time searching for older Aussies with a history of folk music and arranges festivals to show off these hidden talents in our our older citizens, hoping to ensure this culture is not lost forever. At 60-something still finds the energy for cross country skiing, digging snow caves for overnight shelter and generally putting all us younger (kids) to varying degrees of shame. Ang is still to try the recipe for the date & coffee damper.

So it leaves us wondering who is weirder (if there is such a word) - these guys or the rest of us spending the best years of your life being a cog in the almighty wheel, chasing all the goals society has carefully placed in our peripheral sights that - lets be honest - we are never going to fully achieve.

We hope to bump into these two nomads somewhere along the way and get the latest update of their adventure... and also to have dubious pleasure of meeting Rob, the third member of the team (not currently present), we got the feeling he was the instigator of all this and the true hardcore traveller.
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Robinson Gorge in the park offered some spectacular views of sandstone formations, especially the aptly called 'Cattle Dip'. The mountain bikes were put to great use as the walking trails to all the sights turned out to be great bike tracks too.
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The campsite - Starkvale in Expedition NP (I guess 'Starkvale' was the inspiration...)

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note to self: when roasting peanuts, one should not engage in any other activities, especially distracting ones such as tea-brewing.
2nd note to self: when running out of diesel, simply fill tank with raw peanuts

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'when jumping, please do so head first..' (possibly a diagonal line through this would reduce accidental suicide)

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Its ok, we have 000 on speed dial

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Ang actually riding the bike...

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We've grown the M7, Pacific Hwy (apologies for the damn M4 - we had a malfunction that day..)

Now off to Emerald airport to fetch Leshe and Terry for a week in Carnarvon Gorge - should be fun! (Well, blog is late to be posted, so Leshe and Terry have come and gone... but that's another story)

Posted by airbornenemo 22:40 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

a little hidden magic

Caliguel Lagoon

We stopped off at Caligual Lagoon
where you watch the sun set and the rise of the moon
the peace and serenity are amazing to see
and you hear the sound of night, in the closest tree

The day breaks with squawking as the corellas take flight
hoping to scare all other birds from there sight
An eagle flies by and the chase has begun
as it swoops down to the lagoon on his morning run

The egrets do a dance, the male shows his pride
she takes one look but keeps her stride
as the Willy Wagtail boogies all over the beach
and the spoonbill finds the fish just out of reach

The babblers bark hungry waiting for mom to bring feed
and the noisy Minors chase them, it must just be greed
So do look and listen before you see the moon
as the day is astounding at Caligual Lagoon

Posted by airbornenemo 06:14 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Crossroads

what a pub.....

Ok so we finally left Texas after 5 days which again was only a stop for a photo and then move on. Oh and by the way Texas has an internatinal airport. "ONLY IN TEXAS!!!!!!!!"
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We proceeded to Goodniwindi pronounced Gundiwindi after the legendary horse” Gunsynd” which did not make much sense to me even though they gave me the comparable word Bundaburg is now Bundy same thing. Well it has nothing to do with that as it is not spelled Boondaburg, it is actually spelled with a “U". Anyway we parked our trailer in a caravan park as there was no free camping areas in Goondiwindi and to the east we had the Newell Highway to the North we had the Leichhardt Highway, and to the west of us was a railway line and some smart alek decided that this was a great spot for a caravan park. Well the industry there is mainly cotton farming, but they also do sorghum, wheat and cattle. They have had a bumper crop this year with all the rain so they are averaging 15000 road trains on those two highways at that junction next to our caravan park every 24 hours. I have never in my life seen so many road trains in such a short period needless to say we did not sleep at all. If it was not the road trains going past it was the railway trains it was a loose loose either way. We did do a cotton tour and we saw 27 black kites on the oval but the best thing about Goondiwindi was the damper. Everynight at the park they served damper and hot tea or coffee, it was the best damper I have ever eaten so all in all it was worth the stop.

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Beautiful black Kites
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Me checking out my new business venture
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Road Trains
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And more road trains
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And even more
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Rod's new hobby
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Yip it's really him

Here is the damper recipe for all you wanna be swaggers with your billy and camp ovens give this a try Rod did and it was delicious.

GERRYS FAMOUS DAMPER

3 Cups of flour
1 teaspoon of Salt
2 tbl spoons Marg
1.5 Cups of milk
1 Cup water
Blend in salt with flour, rub in the marg, mix in the milk and water with a spoon (like a cake mix) place in a greased tin. Smooth the top with the back of the spoon damp the top with milk and sprinkle flour over. Cover with foil and bake in a hot oven 180-190 degrees for 1 hour. Then uncover for a further 15 minutes.
Variations:
For fruit damper mix in 2 cups of dried mixed fruit or dates.
For cheese damper mix in 2 cup of 5mm cubed cheese (you can also add sun dried tomatoes and or olives)
For onion and garlic damper add 6-8 cloves of garlic and 2 large onions.
Yummy, enjoy, let me know if it tasted good.

We then came to a crossroads literally a crossroads in fact it is called Moonie Crossroads and it is a Xroad in the middle of bloody nowhere. It is a pub and petrol station with not a single house in sight, but you stand in a queue to get a drink or a coffee and the cb radio is going non stop with all the truckies placing there tucker orders. People come from out of the woodwork to this little spot. It has the most amazing art work and there is a poem that kinda says it all so I will leave it up to the experts then…….

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On a lonely Leichhardt highway
Where the moon shines full and bright
There is a pit stop called “the cross roads”
that comes hurtling into sight
where the truckies pause for tucker
and the locals and there likes
saddle up to hear the bull dust
as the Moonie Madness strikes

Men will gather in the bar room
dipping whiskers in there beers
as the women circulate and soon
proceed to bash there ears
while the car lights keep on buzzing
just like moths they flutter in
zapped again by Moonie Madness
as the nights events begin.

When you are struck by Moonie Madness
all your troubles slip away
with that pack of feral grunters
you caught grazing yesterday
where the crops grow big as bean stalks
and the rain pours down in flood
and the madness like a steam train
goes rattling through your blood

You can taste it in your beer there
you can smell it in the dust
all the cattle chew upon it
it is the one thing you can trust
to be waiting at the cross roads
when your horses need a blow
like a pig dog Moonie Madness
gets a grip and won’t let go

It will rise up like a black snake
and bite you on the arse
you’ll be hailing cars to pull in
and cursing those who pass
as they disappear together
with that monster cool (the swine)
that inhabits Moonie waterholes
where madness snaps your line

So climb aboard the bar mates
lets see who who’s riding time
go cross eyed at the cross roads
not to stop would be a crime
lay your swag and boil the billy
rest your sole and park your wheels
and hit the road with Moonie Madness
snapping at your heels….
byMarco Gliori

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Sheer Moonie Maddness I say....

As you can imagine a good night was had by all and we did manage to get some sleep….. I did anyway not sure what happened to Rod…… he must have been struck by Moonie Madness.

Posted by airbornenemo 05:42 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

only in TEXAS

QLD/USA... same-same

This was going to be simple quick stop, snap a photo of the town entry sign to send to Greg Cole who wrote this destination on one of our t-shirts at the farewell party (which meant, we agree to actually go there), then head off to look for an overnight stop somewhere real. Well, this is day three parked on the banks of the Dumaresq river which doubles as the border of NSW and QLD, on the fringes of Texas and still soaking up the fascination of this small town of just 600 people.

After moving around for about a month now and making nest in numerous camping grounds, caravan parks and national parks, imagine our surprise to see, by far, the most campers, caravans, motorhomes in one place we have seen so far - and this in a 'not a campsite' campsite with no facilities, ablutions, etc at all. So we pulled in to see what the occasion was... as it turns out... nothing... this is quite normal for TEXAS!!

But wait... there's more...

ONLY IN TEXAS will the sign be so big you cannot even touch it;
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ONLY IN TEXAS will you be fined $30 000 for keeping rabbits when it was one of the biggest rabbit breeding stations in QLD;
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ONLY IN TEXAS will you go to a luncheon and the theme of the day is “tea towels”;
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ONLY IN TEXAS will you win a lucky door prise and it is a koala fridge magnet;
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(not even caramel!!!)

ONLY IN TEXAS will you be pulled over by the police for not wearing a helmet and he lets you off;

ONLY IN TEXAS will you have to push your bike home as punishment for not wearing a helmet;

ONLY IN TEXAS will you ride your bike through a paddock full of devil thorns trying to avoid the policeman who has just told you to walk and get 2 punctures;

ONLY IN TEXAS will you spend half an hour looking for baby ducklings only to discover it was a cricket;

ONLY IN TEXAS will you go out for dinner and get enough food to feed half of Ethiopia on one plate;

ONLY IN TEXAS will you find a cultural diversity second to none... true-blue Aussie outback hospitality with the local pub serving chinese food, the largest employer, Oakey Feedlot (more on this later..), owned by the Japanese, the second largest employer, Alcyone Silver mine, rumoured to be Greek owned (named after the daughter of a Greek god anyway..) and most of the few hundred thousand head of cattle wondering the local paddocks will end up in Japanese steak-houses. Oh, yes and I'm reminded there are 3 Zimbabwean farmers roaming the hills too.

ONLY IN TEXAS does the tourist 'lookout' sign actually mean LOOK OUT!!! when turning right into the 'lookout' on the crest of a blind corner from where you can see all of nothing (so... no photo - no point..)

So why called 'Texas'? In a nutshell, yes it is named after the one the US. The McDougall brothers, who owned the land, went off to find their fortune on the goldfields and upon their return found squatters on their land, so called it Texas after the somewhat larger land dispute between Mexico and the US which resulted in 'Texas USA'.

Spurred on by inside information from one of the locals and having a day of mild relationship skirmish, Ang opted for tea (and tea-towel) with local ladies and I headed off to bust the Japanese Feedlot scandal...

Oakey Ltd Feedlot is the largest feedlot in Australia (ONLY IN TEXAS). Ok, let's dispell the anticipation, as I'm sure I am not the only one who did not know what the hell a 'feedlot' was. In short, this is where they turn that $30, 450 gram rump at you favourite steakhouse into a $45.99, 650 gram, 120 day grain-fed 'roll me to the car' feast. Well, you would have to be a steakhouse in Japan to enjoy Oakey's feast, but the there are others with a more local destination.

Take Molly, an average 300kg cow minding her own business grazing in the fields, but looking tastier by the day. On her way to the slaughterhouse, Molly gets a new lease on life... well for 3 or 4 months anyway... she gets led into a pen with hundreds of friends and fed a variety of grains - mostly corn, wheat or barley which unfortunatley is not what Molly and her friends are used to as 95% of their diet, so after a few weeks her liver starts to malfunction and collapse. Happily though we have an antibiotic just for that, so we pump Molly with some and her liver lasts for another 120 days.

Then another baddy comes along called e coli... You see, with Molly now very closely aquainted with her new few thousand friends and all sharing the same ablution facility, things get a bit risky... and you don't want thousands of cows on 'e'. Happily, we don't give Molly an antibiotic for that, cause that would be a bad thing. So instead we wash the meat from Molly with Chlorine to make sure no 'e' gets to us humans... yum!

The good news is that Molly weighs 480kg when she gets nuked at the slaughterhouse - bad news is that Mollys meat also contains 400 to 500 percent more saturated fat! Perfect for that big Mac!!

The great news is that you get to pay the extra $$ in your steakhouse to fund all this and then get to spend even more time in the gym or riding that bike.

The BEST news is that the marketing geniuses that got us to swallow this ...pun fully intended!!... are rolling with laughter on a beach in the Bahamas**

Well after spending the afternoon hunting down this 'farm' (the link to the 'where are we' map on their website directed me to 'page can't displayed'), I did finally find it, read the appropriate 'do not enter on pain of seppuku' sign on the locked gate, and then proceeded to drive completely around the 5800 hectares of the place trying to get a view of these feeding pens. I was able to find a slightly unlocked, locked gate which got me little closer before encountering a 'we mean it!!' locked gate, but managed to take a covert photo of the grain silos with the feeding pens in the forground for exclusive publication in this blog only - you've seen it first right here...
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(it wouldn't be covert if it was in focus...)

After dinner (of grass fed beef) and after our newly acquired knowledge of the beef industry, we felt it appropriate to have a warm chat with some of the locals...
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So as the suns sets on the plains of Texas we retire early and with excitement in our hearts - we can only wonder what Texas has in store for us tomorrow. Investigating a silver mine maybe...?

  • * This paragragh is pure speculation

Posted by airbornenemo 06:39 Archived in Australia Comments (6)

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