(Pics to come later – when we get coverage again)
Mt Isa brought back memories for me. Back in 1978, I joined a band in Mt Isa for six weeks. Only a month before I flew to Mt Isa, I had met Julz in Townsville (Julz was holidaying) whilst performing bass in a band. I was touring with a band from Hobart (who broke up in Townsville). The band I went to join in Mt Isa, had a residency at the local Mt Isa Hotel four nights a week. The guitarist, Greg Shaw, I had met briefly in Townsville, where he managed a local group, Skintite. Greg and the other two members were more interested in water skiing on the Mt. Isa lake, Lake Moondarra than writing songs or learning new ones.
Also, Mt Isa is a mining town, established in 1923, known for zinc, silver, copper and lead now with a population of around 22,000. I remember the bad treatment of local indigenous people in 1978 and the effect that alcohol was having on them with their own drinking house, called “The Snake Pit”.
I left the band after six weeks and returned to Brisbane and wooed Julz to come and live in Hobart, Tasmania (Julz and I were both 19 at the time – and yes, 38 years on, we are still going strong).
Greg Shaw and I reconnected ten years later, as he was running a music agency/management company that went on to assist in establishing Keith Urban into Nashville USA. When I think of Mt Isa, I think of Greg Shaw and also wanting to leave the band to connect with Julz in Brisbane.
We stayed one night in Mt Isa, and early morning we picked up fresh fruit and veggies and were off on the road again. All I can say is that this part of “The Outback” in central western is dry and lifeless. We saw very little in wildlife, cattle or sheep. We noticed the landscape was now a yellowy gold grass. It is obvious that the long drought is really affecting these regional areas of Australia. We drove 478 kms and arrived mid afternoon in Winton – Australia’s capital of Dinosaurs. There is a triad of regions, Hughenden, Richmond and Winton that have an abundance of dinosaur fossils and footprints in stones etc.
The whole central western part of Queensland has been suffering from extreme drought and as we left Winton it started to rain, in fact, it poured down for two days. The area of Longreach got a good soaking too, so much of our driving was in the drizzle.
We passed through Barcaldine, which was the birth place of the Australian Labor Party, and viewed the tree of knowledge, which remembers the struggle of the first shearers strike back in the late 1800’s.
We stopped three more sleep stops along the way home. First was the tiny little ‘cutey’ town of Tambo. Looks like the Teddy Bears have invaded the town, and maybe this is a way for them to recover from a devastating experience with wild dogs who have obliterated (we were informed by a local) the sheep industry in the area. Apparently it has had such an impact that they have started making Teddy Bears in the Main Street to balance the future of this town – scary!
Second stop over was the Chinchilla Tourist Park. We decided, for fun, to get a courtesy bus to the local Chinchilla RSL for dinner. The amount of small demountable homes at the Tourist Park (easily 100) and another area with a few hectares of sheds was amazing, therefore, we asked the bus driver why so many? She advised that Chinchilla is a coal seam gas area. Fracking? Yes, loads. She said that the upside for the agricultural area was that more water is available, through better irrigation for crops to grow. Only going on what I have been told, CSG can have devastating effects on the land, over the longer term. Anyway, not to get into a heated discussion, we went to the RSL, and experienced some local activity before the first State of Origin game. Which we have zero interest in, so we caught the courtesy bus and went back to camp.
Third and final last stop was in Toowoomba. Julz mum, Bet, has two brothers living at Highfields and Meringadan, on the outskirts of Toowoomba. One of Julz uncles, Lex, is battling with cancer, and it was great to spend some quality time with him. Her other uncle Jim and Aunty Marge are the parents of Jamie, who we stayed with at Carmel, Perth. It was great to have a big family catch up with Julz relations, as our final night away. Julz and I stayed with her Uncle Jim, whilst Bet and Ron stayed at Lex’s property with the caravan and Gypsy, the dog.
We arrived home around midday on Friday 3rd of June after 68 days around Australia on our adventure. We have so many great memories that we have made along the way, and have a real respect for our beautiful country. For Julz and I, we really do now love the coastlines of South Australia, Western Australia and the ancient and modern, natural world of the Northern Territory. We have a real appreciation, and better understanding, of the First Nation People of this land and their ongoing issues with the land rights.
We have about four weeks before we depart on our overseas four month adventure, so we have decided to put a mattress in the back of our Hyundai iload van and head away up to the sun and beaches of the central eastern coast of Australia. (Maybe one blog about this in two weeks time).
This traveling adventure, for us, is still underway – life is great, and we are so grateful for this wonderful opportunity to explore our country and then abroad. Thanks for reading our journal and giving us such lovely positive feedback, we really appreciate it!
We also thank “the outlaws”, Ron and Bet, for joining us (or allowing us to join them) on this safe trip (no one got eaten by Orcas (killer whales), Crocodiles or wild Dingoes – and we also survived each other….. Um, almost….. Hooray!!) 😜✌️