The never-ending plain
We rolled out of Winton at about 8am, having decided the local bakery (the only shop open in town) didn’t offer much in the way of breakfast. Kynuna was only about 175km away. A couple hours drive. While Pete hosed down the Pajero at the truck stop I got a few photos of the pink and grey galahs gathered for the morning warmup before heading out to forage.
The general feeling hereabouts is a big lot of nothing. The horizon is soon flat in every direction, the ground a rocky pale red, covered with mounds of spinifex, the tough, spiky native grass which epitomises the north. No road kill, no black kites. Mind you, there’s life out there; it’s just that the animals are small, hiding from the sun in the spinifex. Every now and then we’d encounter a greener stand which included ghost gums. There’d be sure to be a creek or river – a dry bed. But the water is there, down below the surface.
The sight of a range of hills on the horizon is a major distraction. It’s sobering to think that was once a mountain range, worn down by eons of weather. Once or twice the road goes through one of those ranges. That’s where the road kill is, in areas where the kangaroos have some shelter and feed. Naturally, the kites and crows are back, too.
Kynuna turns out to be a road house and a caravan park. It seems 600 people used to live there. Now, the population is 12. And three tame brolgas, tall birds of the crane family. The look down sharp beaks at the human visitors and examine their reflections in the road house door. Breakfast was true trucky-style – poached eggs on toast was on the menu. Three eggs, thick chunks of tomato and two slices of toast arrived. (I didn’t eat it all) I’m glad I didn’t order steak and eggs 🙂
Driving from Cloncurry became much more interesting, through the rugged hills of the Seymour range. This is a mining area. Mt Isa has a rich silver/lead/zinc mine right in the middle of town. The abandoned pit of the Mary Kathleen uranium mine is off to the right. Road trains of coal get in the way, slowing the traffic down between the overtaking lanes. On the radio we hear about a gold processing plant being set up in Cloncurry, which will spark a mini-gold rush around the Cloncurry area. Don’t do it in summer. It gets hot hot hot out here.
So here we are at Mt Isa, a large and bustling mining town. We booked in to a nice motel, did a spot of laundry and I washed my hair.Then we went to a local club for dinner and a quick flutter on the pokies. Pelican Pete paid up for me, and I turned $5 on Sumatran tiger into $35. It’s a mug’s name, but a bit of fun isn’t bad.
From here we’re venturing into the Northern Territory.