If you want to see what Kakadu looks like, check out ironbark's photos. I would have liked to go for a flight over the area.
That night a full Darwin Monsoon rolled in, complete with lightning display and rolling thunder. It was Very Impressive Indeed but had cleard by the time we left at Early O'Clock.
The road to Mattaranka was open, but there was water on both sides of the road and indications that the road had been covered at some time. All the way to Three Ways the radio was full of flood warnings and road closures, but the people at Tree Ways said the road was clear to Mount Isa. We decided to head that way and see what the road to Longreach was like when we reached Isa. The lush tropical bush shrank until either side of the road was just miles and miles of very green flat paddocks. On the horizon clouds built into thunderstorms, dropped their rain and vanished. I make it sound like the place ran on "time exposure" time, but it's just that it took a really, really long time to drive to Camooweal on the Queensland border.
"That cloud's going to turn into a thunderhead."
an hour later:
"Yeah, see how it's flattening out?"
and hour later:
"It just let off some lightning."
"Is it raining there yet?"
twenty minutes later:
azhreia knows how chatty I am in the car.
About an hour out from Camooweal Dad was reading the lable of the packet of lollies we'd been munching since Barkley Homestead Roadhouse, when he went "Oh."
"'Over consumption may have a laxitive effect.'"
"Oh. Um... do you have a laxitive effect?"
"Not yet." But he did at Camooweal.
The bloody lollies used a modified carbohydrate called "isomalt" as a sweetener. The thing about lollies and driving is that I have automatic teeth that crunch anything that goes in. I like hard lollies because they last a while, and tend to pop one in as soon as the old one is gone. These ones were very hard, but I'd been crunching on them for hours. I'd almost had Over Consumption, but I lasted until Mt Isa.
At the QLD/NT border the road goes from unrestricted speeds on a good surface to 100kph on a crap surface. The road was just 2 lanes wide, but if anything larger than a 4WD approached I had to hit the gravel shoulders, difficult when you're crossing a creek on a floodway. The road improved as we approached Isa, and we pulled into town about an hour after sunset.
Using Spud's Roadhouse score of 3 as a benchmark (a/c +1, fridge +1, good beds +1) the Central Point Motel we stayed in scored 7.
good beds +1 (+1 bonus for the double bed +1/2 for having 3 beds)
TV+1 (+1 bonus for cable)
Bathroom partition goes to the roof +1 (+1/2 bonus Bathroom has a door, +1/2 bonus shower has door, -1/2 for noisy fan)
-1 for annoying flickering light outside window.
Mt Isa, like Broken Hill, is a mining town. The only reason there is a town here is because this is where they dig out vast quantities of lead, zinc, and nickel, and the slurry left over from the ore concentration process is about 50% silver. The town is dominated by the huge chimney in the mine area.
We left Mt Isa at Horrible O'Clock in the dark, so I never really had a chance to see the town. The first two hours was spent at 80kph, all the better to dodge those big red roos that leap at headlights. The sun rose as we passed through Cloncurry and I got to see my first Ikon road train. These run ore from the Cannington gold mine up to Mt Isa. The trains consist of a 500hp semi pulling 5 trailers on 96 wheels. While they're rolling you can't ask them to pull over to take a photo.
Not far from Cloncurry is the town of McKinley, not famous as McKinley but really famous for being Walkabout Creek in "Crocodile Dundee." The McKinley Hotel still has the Walkabout Creek signs up. In the movie Mick Dundee left the pub, jumped in his truck and went off into the Kakadu wetlands. The reality is, Kakadu was 1800km away and the only thing Mick Dundee would see outide the pub is a treeless plain stretching 360 degrees to the horizon. But since when did reality feature in a movie?
The car needed filling so we stopped at the Blue Heeler Pub in Kyuna, the venue where Waltzing Matilda was first performed. I got to see a pair of borolgas up close, and fed them and a peewee some bread. Between Kyuna and Winton I saw some bustards, a turkey-sized bird on the endangered species list. They are only found in this area and are treatened by habitat loss. Recent rains have made the area green and given the bustards a break. They might even breed.
As we neared Longreach signs of the recent flooding began to appear. Debris in the trees showed the creeks that were usually 10 feet across had risen to 3 metres deep and grew to 500m wide. Once again they were muddy little streams. The Thompson River at Longreach was almost 4km wide. It was bigger a few days ago and had covered the road, but it was on the way down now. I Longreach I got a photo of the Tropic Of Capricorn again (but at a different place) and took a photo of the original office used by Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Services. I bet you thought Qantas was a made-up name. The company gave a decommissioned 747 to the Qantas museum there and flew it in to the Longreach airport. Another thing on the To Be Looked At In The Future list.
The sun had set by the time we reached Cunnamulla, and we had a few kangaroo incidents that were rather too close, but at least the Country Way Motel was an 8 1/2
A/c +1 (+1/2 bonus for being remotely controlled)
Good beds +1 (bonus +1 for the double bed)
bathroom +1 (+1 bous for having walls to the ceiling, +1/2 for door, +1/2 for shower partition door)
There is a lot of water laying around. Cunnamulla has a 10" average annual rainfall. 2 days ago 6" fell in 4 hours.
Today, not much to write about. The Mulga Creek Hotel at Byrock does a really good breakfast. At Nyngan we finally crossed the Barrier Highway, the road to Broken Hill. We reached Dubbo at 12pm.
And that's it. Photos and Maps later.