So near and yet so far away...
8.5.17 - 20.5.17 16 °C
Memoirs of our Westward Wanderings
It pains me a bit to share this true tale of travel with you... it has been a rare thing for me to have something to say when I am lying on my back in a cosy, but damp tent with the rain splattering on the canvas. But, here's the truth. After weeks of fine, mild, glorious weather in Brisbane after Cyclone Debbie did her worst, we decided the dots had all lined up for a jaunt in the country in our trusty ASX packed to the hilt with our 'camping gear'! (More like 'glamping' really.. at last count we seem to be surrounded bu no less than 7 pillows.. who's the Princess?)
We found it really hard to make the move out of the life we have created in Brisbane since we retired to become 'grey nomads' if only for a couple of weeks! Our daily routine at home has been full of all sorts of pleasures and commitments as well as our beloved Muffie & Grace to love and cherish. But, the hankering to be close to nature and see the moon rise, the stars shine brightly, the peace of the great Australian bush and to smell the campfire burning drew us northwards... but not that far!!
First Stop: Camping by the Mary River near Kenilworth
Our plan was simple. Get to the Mary Valley and find a spot to camp by the Mary River for two nights before moving onto Hervey Bay to catch up with Angie's parents. We chose the first camping ground we came to: a Kenilworth dairy farmer has opened his stretch of the river to basic camping (just a few porta-loos scattered around the place). Being the intrepids, we didn't settle on a spot on the easy access side of the river. We found a beautiful grassy knoll high above the gently flowing trickle BUT, across the stream. Let's just say at this point, we hadn't checked the weather forecast. When the only other campers in this vast space packed up and left, we cheered. Then the rain started. Only drizzle really but a bit of drizzle all over the Mary Valley catchment causes the river to rise. We were more than happy to bunker down for the day with plenty of reading matter as well as access to the internet.
However, when it kept raining and we saw the banks of the river spreading, we realised that we had made a small error of judgement. We were only delayed for an extra day however and we managed to pack everything up dry thanks to the warm sunshine that we were blessed with on our third day of our jaunt.
Second Stop: in the Mary Valley but not camping
To try to understand why we have not moved on from this area of our state, one must realise that I grew up in these parts. I lived, with my dearly-loved adopted parents and my brother, Allan, high on a hill in Gympie. Dad was a dairy farmer's merchant and sold all things Dairy to local farmers. We were regularly regaled with Dad's insights into the life of the 'cow cocky'! 'Sold a milking machine to What's 'is Name from Brooloo today. You know, the one who's wife went off with his best friend!' 'Who's This from Calico Creek was in today.. sold him a new chain saw.. you know, he's the old bloke from Amamour's brother!' ''Got to go to Moy Pocket tomorrow. The old codger's got trouble with his irrigation pump!'
And if Mum ever asked for details about 'What 'is Name', 'Who's This' or 'The Old Codger' we would be given the family history of the bloke but still no name. Dad was terrible with names but great with local gossip.
In all the years we lived high on a hill in Gympie, we never went with Dad on one of his jaunts into the Mary Valley. It was work. I can only remember venturing into this undulating country for a church sports day or Sunday School Picnic. I just wanted to see this dairy country after leaving Gympie and never returning in 1968. The sad thing is that there seems to be very few dairy farms left which really hilights the plight of the dairy industry.
Third Stop: Camping in the Cania Gorge
I'm not going to make this a competition... BUT, who has ever heard of Cania Gorge??? Now that we have spent a couple of days there, we can now join the ranks of the 'knowers'! It is sort of in the same vacinity as Carnarvon Gorge and was probably caused by the same geological happening. It is worth a visit even though it is not a patch on the amazing Carnarvons. We had a great camp site (even hot showers and flush toilets) and the bird life kept us in good spirits. We toddled up a few cliffs to check out caves and views and stuff.
We were in Cania Gorge on Mother's Day and shared some loving reflections of the women who shaped our lives. How blessed we both were to have women who loved God and lived their lives to honour Him.
We have moved onto Barcaldine (over 1300 kms from home). Why? I hear you ask when you were just there last September when the heavens opened and the gutters were rivers. Well, we have a friend called Cheryl Thompson who we used to teach with at Wondall. She has moved back to her country where her mob roamed free. She is working to make a huge difference here among the disadvantaged students who live on remote indigenous settlements around the outback. She has set up a Hostel here in Barcy where she brings these wild, troubled kids and provides them with a safe home environment (including a house carer). She provides uniforms, meals and entertainment but the one thing they have to do is go to the local High School. She is partly funded by the Government but is always looking for more support. We want to help so here we are!
HOWEVER! Cheryl is not here so we wait...she's been at a Tourism Do in Cairns and we seem to have got our dates muddled. She is supposed to be back tomorrow night... we can only wait one more day..
In the mean time: we have DONE BARCY! We cannot believe the quantity and quality of things you can do in Barcaldine... the majority of the grey nomads that we have stumbled upon seem to manage to hop out of their rigs, read the signs, look at the amazing structure under which the poor dead tree once thrived, go to the public facilities and drive on. We are the exception!! (Not necessarily out of desire but rather need!) We have mosied into every shop (even bought some stuff such as local fresh meat, bread rolls to die for, magazines that you never see in the city, discount pants and the rest!) Did you know that this town once had 66 pubs during the shearing days? There are still 5 operating.. we have not imbibed in any of them!!
We haven't just been sucking in the Barcy atmosphere, we decided to drive out to Lara Station (45 kms south of Barcy) and pitch our tent beside the amazing Wetlands. We have not been disappointed! The photos tell the story. There are over 80 species of birds That have been identifed around here.. we have spied 14 of them.. going well!!
Look! We are sitting out in the Matilda Country beside a fire as the sun sets in the west where only the brave and the grey nomads fear to wander AND WE HAVE NBN!!! Three bands sometimes so we are going to publish this just because we can... more on the life of Cheryl when we find her!!