After shower and breakfast I took the Ute and topped up with diesel before hitching up. Just as well I did because I would have had some difficulty with the fiver at the local servo – no big accessible BP Roadhouse here!
Once on the highway we faced the same issues as yesterday. Initially the road conditions started out terrible but I have to concede that the road surface did improve as we travelled on. Not consistently mind you – there were still plenty of lumps and bumps and ruts – but there was an improvement. Perhaps it’s just the cynic in me but I still reckon that things are improving as we get closer to Townsville and “civilization”.
The other thing was that the flat boring grassland plains were replaced by areas of trees and we did a bit of uphill and downhill driving as well. There were some large areas of burnt landscape but it did appear that this was the result of a controlled burn-off along one side of the road. At one stage we saw a stockman droving cattle up the side of the road – the only slightly incongruous thing was his hi-vis safety vest. It makes perfect sense to us to run cattle down the “long paddock” as it not only provides feed for the cattle but reduces the fire risk at the same time.
Then there was the amount of road kill. Dead bodies every-where; and they stink! At one stage a headless kangaroo corpse was flicked up from underneath the caravan in front and bounced along the road towards us. However, with lightening fast reflexes and superb driving skills honed by many years of watching the Bathurst 1000 on TV I was able to avoid the potential disaster of having to clean blood and guts off the front of the mighty BT-50!
Our morning coffee stop was at the Pentland West Rest Area which was quite a nice set-up and one or two vans could stay overnight at a pinch, but basically it’s a day stop.
From that point on we were on the lookout for a free camp for the night, but after checking out and disregarding several possibilities, we ended up in Charters Towers. A couple of calls to caravan parks failed to find any powered sites available. The Aussie Outback Oasis Van Park did have plenty of unpowered sites and we were very happy to accept one. The chap here told us that the reason for a lack of vacancies was the State of Origin game tonight as the free campers had come into town so they could get TV reception. People were still coming into the unpowered area after dark.
We have a great site with plenty of room and spent the afternoon chatting to our neighbours including a chap who has just bought a fifth-wheeler and wanted to compare notes on a few things. As darkness settled in we put up the awning and I cooked pork steaks on the fiver’s BBQ, which we had with potatoes and sour cream and peas. Delicious!
As I am writing this the rugby match is being projected onto a giant blow up screen in the camp kitchen area and plenty of vanners are sitting outside watching the game – and there is a fair bit of yelling at the screen too. There is no point us having our TV on as the volume of the game is so loud – but I guess the game will be over at some stage! It’s a great atmosphere, even if we don’t really follow the game.