Oz Wk 6

Monday 17th April

We set off early this morning and see our now familiar site of Kangaroos and Emu's. The road to Goondiwindi, our destination for tonight is mostly straight and very quiet. In fact we are passed by a motorcycle and two trucks all going the opposite direction to us in a 75 km journey. I told John it must be the Easter rush!!!

We arrived here at a free camp site in Goondiwindi and have booked a trip on a cotton farm tour for tomorrow which should be fun. We met a couple of Australians from near Melbourne in Victoria who invited us to sit with them for a beer and a chat which was really nice.

On the way here we were halted by some cows being herded by two guys on Off-road quad bikes, each with two dogs hanging on the back. Now this isn't exactly unusual to see a farmer herding cows along a road even in England but this was a whole lot different, we reckon there were about a thousand head of cattle.

Tuesday 18th April

At last the Easter break is over and the children are back at school so hopefully things will get back to normal. 
We get picked up from our site at Redmond Park in Goondiwindi but the little tour bus that will take us and two other couples on the tour we booked. The lady driver was also our guide and she was very good and knowledgable about the cotton industry. She took us out to a cotton farm and showed us the gigantic machinery that marches up and down the millions of acres of cotton shrubs picking the cotton at a rate of ten acres an hour with just one man on the tractor. I managed to collect some amazing samples to bring home so I can show you. 

She also took us to the Cotton Gin where all the bits are taken out to purify the cotton wool which is baled high. The name Gin is short for Engine - I didn't know that! The seeds are taken out and used for cattle feed, soap and lanolin hand cream so everything is used. The inferior cotton which happens if the weather is too wet or the flowers don't fluff open enough is what is used to make denim.

The tour took over 3 hours and included a visit to their shop at the end with damper and syrup plus coffee for $40 each. Not cheap but I'm glad we did it. 

Australia exports 90% of its high grade cotton mostly to China who turn it into useable fabric and dye then make the garments which they then ship back. The shop had lots of beautiful items but a plain cheap looking cotton shirt had a label of $146 that's about £132!!! No wonder home sewing is making a comeback.

Staying at out Redmond site are another couple we met back in Richmond few weeks back and we remarked what a coincidence it was to meet up again. We ended up inviting them into our tiny space and sharing a bottle of Merlot swapping tales of our adventures.

Wednesday 19th April

Today didn't start too well as our electrics have all failed again. We have called the Rental company and agreed to continue on to Tara for tonight where we should get power to charge everything up. Then tomorrow we'll drive on to Dalby where they will arrange for an engineer to meet us and check the electrics and batteries.

On our way here we see an Echidna [pronounced Eh-kid-na I believe] which is similar but smaller than a porcupine with sharp needles for protection. It wasn't flat so we don't know whether it was alive or not but at least it was another Australian first. 

Shortly after I pointed to something attempting to cross the road way ahead of us which once we got closer we realised was a tortoise!! I mentioned this surprise to the lady at the Tourist information office in Moonie when we stopped for fuel and she just said that there were a few wandering about at the moment. Of course we also spotted more Emu's in the fields and so many more kangaroo casualties on the road. We've been very fortunate to see so much of the Australian wildlife while we've been here.

There is a sign in Moonie which states that the average sized land owned by the population of Moonie is 5,000 acres or 8,000 hectacres. What a lot of mowing!!
Look at that sky, this was taken at 8:30am and it's 22 degrees

We have now arrived in Tara and are parked beside a lagoon with about 1,000 white cockatoos flocking around us making a heck of a racket but they'll go quiet by dusk.

It's not too clear but the flock of white birds aren't seagulls, they're noisy Cockatoos
This lagoon was mud until cyclone Debbie dumped 9 inches of water a few weeks back which is why it looks muddy.

Thursday 20th April

We are now at Dolby Tourist Park and have done a large load of washing which will dry quickly in this heat. We take the van to the Auto repair place and it seems our solar panel is faulty and the cause of our issues. We're not sure if they can get a new part to fix it or we face yet another changeover.

When we were shopping in Coles here in Dalby, the lady on checkout told us there were often Koalas to be seen by the river at the back of our campsite so we plan to take an early morning stroll to see if we can spot any.

Friday 21st April

We set off early along the river but didn't see any Koalas. We did however see some bottle trees and a few wading birds hunting for food in the shallow, muddy waters.

Today we are driving to Nanango to await yet another van to swap with ours as they can't find anyone locally to fix the solar panel. It was supposed to arrive at 2 pm but didn't actually arrive until after 4pm so by the time we'd moved everything across the day was nearly over.
We are parked behind the local RSL club and will be eating there tonight.

So now we are in van number 4!!! At least everything seems to be working in this one!!

The meal at the RSL club was a great Roast Beef dinner although not a patch on Jeanne's. We are planning to visit the Bunya Mountains in the next couple of days as we are told it's beautiful there with lots of birds and Wallabies etc. It's an Aboriginal Reserve so we are keen to go.

Saturday 22nd April

The day has dawned in a cloud so after a walk through Nanango town where John gets a haircut, and I manage to buy some fabric in the shop across the road, we decide to move on to Kingaroy which is a bigger place. We are going to stay at the Showgrounds and will have power and showers.

Tomorrow is looking better weather wise so we plan to drive back to Bungay Mountain then.

Sunday 23rd April

The sun is up bright and early so we're going to drive 55 km south again to visit Bungay Mountain. The drive to the main parking spot is an adventure in itself. Very steep and winding and no caravans or trailers allowed as it would be easy to jack-knife along here.

We are the only vehicle here so we lock up and begin our hike through the walking route to Big Falls which is over 2.5km along narrow, rocky and sometimes treacherous pathways but the atmosphere is totally awesome. It is so quiet here in dense jungle with very little sun able to penetrate the canopy. When I say quiet, I mean from human noise, no traffic, dogs or humans but the birds are calling to one another over our heads. The noises are alien to us and we can't even catch a glimpse of them but we can here them and the noise surrounding us is very strange.

By the time we get back to our van there are several other parked vehicles and we were passed by other walkers as we returned. I'm so glad we came here early enough to experience this to ourselves.

We eventually break free from the mountain and set off along a narrow road which was unsealed in some places until we were driving through Kingaroy again where we stayed last night. Our destination tonight however is Murgon where the camp site is almost in the centre of town and free. We will be having Roast Lamb at the local hotel tonight for $14.95.

On our way here we stopped at a weird lagoon place where all the trees were dead it was very eerie.

In Murgon we do a bit of food shopping as we'll need to have enough to last until Wednesday next week as Tuesday is ANZAC day and all shops will be shut.

The park here could be great however to get a key for the toilets and showers you need to give a $10 refundable deposit to the information centre in town but they close at 13.00hrs on a Sunday so no access for us.
By late afternoon there is a big black cloud over us, the first we've seen in days. The heavens open so we decide to drive the short distance to the Australian Hotel and manage to get a parking space right outside their door (you wouldn't get that in the UK).
We had a roast lamb meal and then a magnum that we had in our freezer back at the camp site.

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