We woke to a warm sunny day with clear blue skies. Again!
This place was simply overflowing. There was a small patch of grass beside us that somehow a van and a tent had squeezed into, and another rig with a roof-top tent parked at the side. There was a young family in the van, barely a metre from our slide-out, and the kids were in full voice at 6.30am. So we had an early start too!
The very first thing on our agenda today, after packing up, was to ring ahead and book our next several nights’ accommodation. We definitely didn’t want to be stuck in an overflow area again.
That done, we drove into town for a bit of a look around. We stayed at Winton for a few days five years ago, and things hadn’t changed that much. Winton is renowned for its hotels and they are still as popular as ever. There is a very distinct old world charm about Winton that sees heritage buildings retained as heritage buildings, and farmers from the bush quite happily mingling with the tourists. It’s a very friendly place to visit and stay.
The amazing Waltzing Matilda centre in Winton, which we loved last time we were here, burnt down several years ago and was a great loss to the town. Significant progress has been made on rebuilding it and it looks as though it will be bigger and better than before.
The extended drought in the Winton region has been very tough on the local community, so it is good to see the town buzzing with tourists, spending on everything from food to fuel to tours, and so on.
Back on the highway headed south, road conditions were remarkably variable. One minute the road surface was a pleasure to drive on, and then next minute had teeth rattling and was very unpleasant. There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason as to where the good and bad patches of road are.
Along the way we saw several families of emus by the roadside, although very little in the way of cattle or other stock. There was quite a lot of smelly roadkill though – mainly kangaroos – and today there were birds out feeding on the carcasses.
We also saw a train approaching along what we had thought was perhaps an abandoned rail track – it was a very long train.
Again the rest areas appeared to have been upgraded and were great for short stops by cars, caravans, motorhomes or trucks. Unlike yesterday, however, we did notice that there were campers at two of the rest areas noted in Camps 9. Perhaps there is a very specific reason why free-camping isn’t allowed on the stretch of road between Cloncurry and Winton in particular?
We arrived in Longreach around lunchtime and after a quiet drive around town we stopped and had lunch in Bertha in a side street – there are specific areas set aside for caravan and motorhome parking which is great!
We then went for a walk around town and visited the tourist information centre for maps etc before driving the short distance out to Longreach Tourist Park, where we have stayed before.
As we had approached Longreach the clear blue skies gave way to dark clouds, and as we parked and set-up Bertha we had about 50 spots of rain on our windows. Not even a sign of raindrops after a couple of minutes!
After setting-up we went for a walk around the park to stretch our legs. We noticed that the Woolshed Bar was open so cool refreshments were in order.
Back at Bertha we sat out in our chairs to catch up on some reading. The sky was still cloudy and we actually felt a few more drops of rain. This time the rain was accompanied by a rainbow!
Dinner was cooked on the BBQ beside Bertha and we ate dinner under the stars (well, clouds anyway). There was a delightful cool breeze blowing as we lingered outside with our coffees until it was time to finally go inside.
Another great day in the Australian outback!
As we will be staying in Longreach for a few days, we won’t be posting daily updates but will report on specific highlights as they arise.