14 December 2011

Pasta a la Burke in Boulia

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Steve: "So, Miss Ellen, what did you learn about Burke and his expedition so far?"
Ellen: "He died today."

A fair assessment after all, it really sums up the history lesson we were listening to as we were travelling from Mt Isa to Boulia this afternoon.

But from the start: Yesterday afternoon, after stopping in Tennant Creek to stock up on Imodium to fight the tummy bug that had afflicted itself on the members of the exploration party one by one, heading further up to Threeways. Turning onto the Barkly Highway, crossing the NT/QLD border, we took yet another gamble and drove out to Camooweal Caves National Park, about 21km south of Camooweal, as our travel guide suggested we would find a suitable camp site there. We don't ask for much, can go for a few days without powered sites, we have plenty of water on board, potable as well as for showers, plenty of food in the two fridges (one has turned itself into an esky temporarily but will eventually be fixed).

It was still a bit boggy in a few places after the recent heavy rainfall and I made a proper mess of the car and trailer driving through muddy puddles and boggy holes to the designated camping area on the Nowranie Creek.

We had the site to ourselves -- after the cattle had passed on the outer side of the grid. River Red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) on the banks either side of the creek and the birdlife going off!

The family was still struggling to find their appetite, so it was an early night.

I'm not sure what screeched like a a strangled cat up in the trees above our heads -- but it kept me awake for quite a while... But apparently I did snore last night, so I must have got some sleep eventually.

The dawn chorus of birds was just unbelievable! So many different species I couldn't tell them all apart. The Brolgas trumpeting definitely stood out, they're still my favourites. And it was kind of entertaining to see this family of Woodswallows fend off an Eastern Barn Owl -- in broad daylight by now! I bet the owl really didn't want to be there...

After packing up we went round to the caves. For entering the caves you need a permit and judging by carefully peeking over the edge -- some experience in abseiling and caving wouldn't go astray. Water soluble dolomite rock, sink holes, recent rainfall... I suddenly didn't quite feel that comfortable any more standing on the edge of those deep, dark holes in the ground...

On the outskirts of Camooweal we stopped as Steve had spotted a Thorny Devil sitting in the middle of the road. But it must have toddled off before we could spot it in the shrubbery either side of the highway.

Eventually we rolled into Mt Isa. While mining is an economic factor not to be neglected in this country, let's face, it's a pretty ugly affair, too! We did the washing in Mt Isa, we stocked up and fuelled up -- and then we were on the road again.

Steve had called the Diamantina Shire Council in Bedourie and also the Birdsville Hotel to find out if heading south from Mt Isa was a safe option at all. Rain is expected from Saturday onwards in the Diamantina. While the Council officer's advice was ranging on the cautious side, Gus at the Birdsville Hotel put our  minds at ease. Dig Tree, here we come!

We made it to Boulia tonight. The caravan park is situated in the eastern side of the Burke River.
Nobody in the office when we came in, an honesty box next to the front door.
Boulia. Burke River. Limited amount of firewood and a rather awkward little fire place that doesn't really allow for cooking on the coals. We did what the explorers did, we improvised!

No Nardoo for us tonight though, pasta with a beefy tomato sauce a la Burke, all cooked in the one pot.
Turned out alright...I'm sure it'll keep us going...

More on Nardoo over the coming days!

Boh boh!


Wendy said...

Sounds like a great adventure - hope the Imodium worked and the rain stays away. Cheers, Wendy

Anonymous said...

Great to hear you can make it to Dig Tree.
I love your photos.
Enjoy your trip.