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    Big Red Bash - Queensland and South Australia 2021 - Part 2
    Click here to read the first part of the trip.

    Day 15 – Wednesday 7 July 2021 – Big Red Bash

    Weather: Minimum of 4.5ºC and fine

    Last night was again fairly warm and when I get up at 8:05 am it has warmed up a bit more. I have breakfast and then try to help some ladies in a rental campervan who moved in yesterday afternoon. They have no 12 volt power at all as the battery is not charging. I can find nothing obviously wrong, but the system is very complicated and hard to follow where the power goes.

    A panoramic photograph of the crowd from our spot

    In the morning the drag races are on (blokes in drag racing from the top of Big Red to the concert area). We watch from our campsite. At 11:15 am I walk to Big Red and check my phone. I find out a friend is in quarantine lockdown at home as she went to a supermarket at the same time as a Covid positive person. Back at camp I make lunch and pack drinks etc. At 12:30 pm I carry my chair and one of my neighbours to the concert area and grab a spot we decided on earlier. They bring the eskies, food etc in trolleys.

    We end up moving forward a bit to be in front of the disabled area which has plastic matting. This is on the left side of the stage and pretty close to the front. While waiting for the show to start, I go and get a pepper pie ($7.50) from Smiths Pies, it is great. First on at 1:00 pm is Vika and Linda (great), then Brian Cadd (he got better once he warmed up), Russell Morris (great), Chocolate Starfish again, brilliant and Glenn Shorrock (also great).

    Brian Cadd on the stageRussell Morris on the stage

    Once again at 6:00 pm there is a break so I go and change into warmer clothes and get some beers. I also buy a beef curry and rice for $15 for dinner. At 6:30 pm Paul Kelly comes on. He is absolutely amazing, does about 30 songs. He also recites Banjo Paterson’s Clancy of the Overflow. He does most of his well known songs. He finishes at 8:20 pm. I am so enthralled, I totally forget to take any photographs.

    We go back to the campsite and again sit around the fire and have drinks. I go to bed at 11:20 pm. It is a warm 14⁰C.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 23ºC
    Arrived: N/A Time: N/A Distance: 0 kilometres

    Day 16 – Thursday 8 July 2021 – Big Red Bash

    Weather: Minimum of 3.5ºC and fine

    After listening to the 7:00 am ABC Brisbane, I read till 8:00 am and then get up. I cook a bacon sandwich, nice to have something different to muesli for breakfast. At 10:00 am I go to the top of Big Red to check internet etc. While up there the world record attempt on the Nutbush City Limits is held. I walk back via it and then they do a world record attempt at The Twist. Both end up being new records. I get back to the campsite at 11:05 am, having walked 2.0 kilometres.

    Nutbush City Limits record attempt underwayDaryl Braithwaite on the stage

    I have morning tea and then a shower. It took even longer to warm up the water today. I also put the shower all away as I will not have another one here. At 12:40 pm we take the chairs to the concert area and get the same spot as yesterday. I go back via the food vendors and get a slinky potato, basically a potato made into a spiral, battered and then deep fried with peri peri and salt. Really nice.

    The concert starts at 1:05 pm. I read at the campsite for a while but also listen to Katlyn Shadbolt from here. At 1:35 pm we go to the concert area. Next on is Wendy Matthews who is okay, then Thirsty Merc (very good), Daryl Braithwaite (great) and Ian Moss (excellent).

    I start work at 4:30 pm and today we have a fourth person with us (as we were supposed to have had all the time). There is a lot of work at first but as most food vendors are low on food or closed, there is not as much rubbish to be collected. In fact, for the last couple of hours we spent most of our time sitting and listening to the concert. While I was working John Williamson was on, he was brilliant. The last act (after a break) is Bjorn Again who really had the whole crowd rocking. So much fun.

    Me and the crowdBjorn Again on the stage

    The concert ends at 8:50 pm and we have to remove all the garbage bags, then do an emu bob across the whole concert area picking up any rubbish on the ground, very little actually. I finish at 9:35 pm and go back to the campsite where we have drinks around the neighbours’ fire. They had brought all my stuff back too, very nice of them.

    I go to bed at 11:30 pm. It is a cool 7⁰C.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 24ºC
    Arrived: Big Red Bash Time: N/ADistance: 0 kilometres

    Day 17 – Friday 9 July 2021 – BRB to Cacoory Bore

    Weather: minimum of 1.1ºC and fine

    A very cold night and at 4:15 am I am awoken by cars starting to move. Considering you cannot leave till 7:00 am, I cannot understand why they do this (same thing happened two years ago). More started moving at 4:35 am. I sleep fitfully till 7:00 am. I read till 7:35 am, finishing off the Clive Cussler book I am reading. When I get up it is still only 1.3⁰C.

    There are so many cars already queuing to leave and it is very dusty. I put away my fire wood and solar panel and then have breakfast. After eating I walk up to the top of Big Red and to take some photos, especially of the dust being stirred up by all the vehicles leaving. I also check my phone messages. Once back at the camp I pack up and am ready to leave at 10:10 am. I leave at 10:25 am after saying goodbye to my neighbours.

    The dust being stirred up

    It is slow to the main road but once on it I sit at 70 or 80 km/h. I stop at the garbage tip to dispose of my rubbish. I had planned to fill up with water at the saleyards but there were quite a few caravans there. I go into town arriving at 11:10 am. I refuel, 69.5 litres at $1.65 (10 cents less than last week), $114.59, 19.3 l/100 km. There was no queue. I then go to the town common to fill up with water. This takes a while as there are lots doing this.

    I then head out of town to the north and stop on the outskirts where I have a cuppa and read the paper. I leave at 12:20 pm and then phone my mother as it has been over a week since I have spoken to her (she is in aged care and due to Covid has had no visitors since just after I left). She is doing well.

    The road north of Birdsville approaching the waddy treesA huge line of vehicles passing the junk pile

    I pass the rare waddy trees 12 kilometres out of town and the tar ends three kilometres further on. There is 22 km of dirt road and I am reduced to travelling at 40 km/h in spots as there are a dozen or more caravans ahead of me putting up a huge dust storm. At 12:55 pm I stop at a spot where there is a bunch of junk from a homestead on the side of the road. There are stoves, fridges and more. I have travelled 90.5 km today and am about 52 km north of Birdsville. The road is tar here. I have lunch here.

    It is nice and warm now, 22⁰C. Dozens of vehicles pass me while I am stopped. I leave at 1:10 pm and 20 minutes later I arrive at Cacoory Ruins. These are the remains of the old homestead, stone walls and not much else. Well worth stopping for a look.

    Cacoory RuinsDrone shot of the Cacoory Ruins looking towards Birdsville. Look at the cars and dust!

    I spend some time looking for a campsite near the hot artesian spa and pools. The actual Cacoory Bore is on the other side of the creek. There is a spot to camp there but I have a look closer to the ruins. I find some nice spots but there is no apparent shortcut across to the artesian waters. I end up at the back of the bore and find a nice spot there. There is space for a few vehicles and later a caravan, a camper-trailer and a car come in and camp here.

    I set up camp and then have walk around to see where I can swim in the waters. The bore water is extremely hot, well over 70⁰C close to the bore. It flows down a channel into a pool. This is still way too hot. It then flows into another pool. About half way down this pool the water drops to 40⁰C or so and then past here it is cool enough to safely enter the water. At 2:05 pm I go for a swim.

    Drone shot of the Cacoory Bore with the ruins in backgroundDrone shot of the Cacoory Bore looking towards my campsite. I swam in the lower pool.

    It is a little difficult to get into the water as it is very muddy and you need to carefully step into the water or else you will slip and end up all muddy. The same getting out. I can spend only 15 minutes at the most in this water as it is so hot and you start to feel a bit woozy. I go back to the car and have a cuppa and read. While I am doing this, I take a count of vehicles going past the bore. I extrapolate this to be about 200 vehicles an hour! Certainly is busy.

    At 4:55 pm I go for another swim. After this I start a fire and the neighbours come over for a drink. They are from Dubbo, Gympie and Gisborne (near Melbourne). After this I make curry pork and rice using meat from the roast I cooked almost a week ago. Later I listen to Souths play the Cowboys, Souths kill them 46 to 18! Pretty good considering Souths had 7 players out due to the State of Origin game next week. It is not too cold when I go to bed at 10:30 pm.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 22ºC
    Arrived: Cacoory Bore Time: 1:40 pm Distance: 124 kilometres

    Day 18 – Saturday 10 July 2021 – Cacoory Bore to Bedourie

    Weather: minimum of 2.5ºC and fine

    Yet another cold night. I am awake at 6:10 am and read a bit, listen to the 7:00 am ABC News and then get up at 7:30 am. I learn that Sydney went into an extended lockdown yesterday, with only two people allowed to be together outdoors and only when exercising and a maximum limit of 10 km travelling. Glad I am not at home. I go straight to the bore and have another swim. After this I have breakfast and leave at 9:35 am.

    At 10:00 am I pass the Cuttaburra Crossing on Eyre Creek, 38.7 km along. This is where I camped in 2010. A bit further on there is a camping area which I do not think was there in 2010. As I come into Bedourie I talk with Ron on the phone. They arrived not long ago and have found a camping spot at the Bedourie Racecourse. At 10:55 am I arrive there and find them easily. I have travelled 110 km this morning at 12.0 l/100 km.

    Eyre Creek at Cuttaburra CrossingMy campsite at the Bedourie Racecourse

    We set up camp on the left side of the road before the actual entrance into the racecourse. It is not the best spot but it is adequate. I have a cuppa and then at 11:35 am we walk to the racecourse. We are here for the Bedourie Camel and Pig Races, something totally different, that is for sure. It is very crowded and there is a long queue to get in. We have tickets, but the funny thing is, if you did not have a ticket you could walk straight in on a separate short line. In the end they relax the processing and we finally get inside.

    The camels are racingThe pigs are off on their lap of the course

    There are only two places to get food and there are extremely long queues for both. There are queues for drinks, but it only takes a few minutes to get something (you buy tickets and then swap a ticket for a drink later). Beers were $6 each (XXXX and Great Northern varieties). We watch the camel races, have a bet or two but win nothing.

    We buy tickets in the Calcutta for the pig races but do not win a pig. The pigs are little piglets which race around a maze to get to some food. So much fun! They auction off each pig and people pay hundreds of dollars to get one. Half the money goes to prize money and the other half to charity. I cannot believe that people are willing to spend that much money on a pig.

    Me and Fred BrophyDonna on the Fred Brophy tent stage

    Other things to do are watch the wood chopping and the damper making. We end up going back to our camp to have lunch as the queues are just too long. When we return I go to the Fred Brophy Boxing Troupe Tent and introduce myself to Fred. His daughter, Chrissie, is married to a mate (Paul) who I went to school with. I take some photos with Fred and send one to Chrissie. She tells me to say hi to him and say she is setting up for her 50th birthday party. Fred very nicely gives me a free ticket to his show which is on after the races end.

    At 5:00 pm we go to the boxing tent but we have to wait till 6:10 pm to get into the tent. This is the last boxing troupe in Australia. Basically his boxers (male and female) are challenged by locals (or in this case, visitors) and have three rounds with them. Despite boxing being a pretty awful sport, it is a lot of fun, especially when one of the challengers goes crazy and has to be dragged out of the tent, fighting all the staff and some of the public.

    Fred Brophy spruiking up some challengersInside the boxing tent

    We go back to the camp at 7:40 pm. I have some left over curry from last night with nann bread. We have beers around the fire. I read the SMH and go to bed at 10:15 pm.

    During the night I wake and listen to the radio as Ash Barty is playing in the Wimbledon Tennis Final. I don’t hear it all, but she wins, the first Australian female to win since 1980 when Evonne Goolagong won.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 22ºC
    Arrived: Bedourie Time: 10:55 am Distance: 110 kilometres

    Day 19 – Sunday 11 July 2021 – Bedourie to Dajarra

    Weather: minimum of 1.4ºC and fine

    Another very cold night. I wake early as people are leaving all over the place. I go back to sleep eventually and wake at 7:00 am. I get up at 7:45 am after reading the SMH. It is now 3⁰C. We have breakfast and then leave at 9:20 am.

    The Royal Hotel, BedourieInside the hotel.
    Me, Donna and Ron in the Bedourie spaThe oldest house in Bedourie, built 1891 from mud

    We go into town and have a look around. The information centre is open but when I go to buy something, I discover that they only take cards and, as the internet is down, you cannot purchase anything as they will not take cash. Hopeless, as apparently the internet goes down regularly and they do not have a contingency plan.

    Ron and I walk down to the Royal Hotel which was built in 1886. It has been owned by the same person, Jim Smith, since 1971! We have a sausage sandwich from there, $5 and quite nice. We end up getting the key to the swimming pool which has an artesian spa. This costs $10 for up to four people. We got it from the caravan caretaker as the internet was still down at the information centre. We have a very nice hot 40⁰C spa. We leave town at 11:05 am.

    Vaughan Johnson Lookout
    Panoramic photograph look to the east from the Vaughan Johnson Lookout

    There are lots of cars heading north. It is all tar (south of town to Birdsville is now mostly tar). We sit on 100 km/h. At noon we stop at Vaughan Johnson Lookout. We have travelled 93 km at 14.6 l/100 km (very strong northerly wind). This lookout is on a hill (which says no caravans for some strange reason, no problem getting up there or turning around) which has great views to the north, east and south. We have lunch here.

    Vaughan Johnson LookoutTropic of Capricorn
    The Vaughan Johnson LookoutThe Tropic of Capricorn marker

    There are some information panels here about a lot of things. One shows all the properties and I discover that the owners of the property where the Big Red Bash is held also own Cordello Downs (in South Australia) as well as one near Bedourie and one more. There is also a toilet here with a view! We leave at 12:52 pm.

    At 1:15 pm we cross the Tropic of Capricorn (126.5 km) and quickly stop to take a photograph. We arrive in Boulia at 2:05 pm, 204 km from Bedourie. I have averaged 12.7 l/100 km since lunch, much better as the wind has dropped a lot. We go to the supermarket but there is no bread. Most cold things are also sold out. It is not normally open on Sundays either. I get some hot cross buns, chips and buy each of us a Magnum. Nice to have an ice cream after so long on the road.

    The road north of Boulia, single lane tarThe closed Dajarra Hotel.

    We leave at 2:30 pm. The road north towards Mount Isa is tar and mostly single lane. We look at a campsite we found in WikiCamps called Paradise Sunset, but it is very average. We end up in Dajarra, a small town. We arrive there at 4:10 pm. There is a free camping area in the main street and we set up camp. Power sites are available for a donation. There is a new toilet block but it is dirty and the garbage bins are overflowing.

    We go to the western end of the camping area away from the caravans which are all together. The town’s hotel has closed down unfortunately, it looked nice. We start a fire in my firepit (as the ground is grass) and we have drinks. I cook pork fillet and potato slices on my skillet.

    Our campsite at Dajarra

    There is a lot of entertainment as there are many cars coming and going from the houses opposite, we suspect some drug dealing might be going on. Later after dark a car comes in from the Mount Isa direction with not just a flat tyre, but no tyre at all. It is just running on the rim with sparks coming from it. We go to bed at 9:30 pm.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 23ºC
    Arrived: Dajarra Time: 4:10 pm Distance: 354 kilometres

    Day 20 – Monday 12 July 2021 – Dajarra to Clem Walton Park

    Weather: minimum of 2.4ºC and fine

    I wake at 6:00 am and then sleep till 7:05 am (my alarm did not go off). I read the SMH till 8:00 am when I get up. Ida rings, she and Ray are in Winton. We have breakfast, by 8:30 am it has warmed to 7.5⁰C. We leave at 9:05 am.

    We stop at 10:15 am for morning tea. We did not see any vehicles for the first 40 minutes and then lots. It is single lane tar with only two overtaking sections. There are lots of dead kangaroos and plenty of wedge-tailed eagles. We cut some firewood here before leaving at 10:35 am. The countryside from here to Mount Isa is quite spectacular, with small hills and mesas, very rocky in spots and huge boulders. Near Mount Isa there are valleys and smoke from the power plant is visible for miles.

    RoadMary Kathleeen
    The road coming into Mount IsaA water fountain in the main square of Mary Kathleen

    I ring my ex-father-in-law Tomas for his birthday (two days ago) as well as another friend (today). We arrive in Mount Isa at 11:12 am. We have travelled 156 km at about 12.9 l/100 km. We go to Woolworths and finally get some bread as well as other things. I also buy some port and wine. I go to the toilets in the mains street, disgusting condition, very poor for a city.

    A panoramic photograph of Mary Kathleen township, this is the main square

    We leave at 12:30 pm. We stop at a rest area at 12:50 pm for lunch. We leave at 1:10 pm. At 1:40 pm we arrive in the deserted township of Mary Kathleen. This was built for the workers for the Mary Kathleen Uranium Mine. This is quite fascinating, there used to be a supermarket, bowling club, wet canteen, ANZ bank, post office and more. The streets are all in place still and you can camp here.

    A panoramic photograph of the Mary Kathleen mine, now full of water

    We then go to the mine and get there at 2:07 pm. It is about 8 kilometres to the mine, a much rougher tar road. We walk to the mine and I fly my drone. The water is a blue colour, it would be interesting to scuba dive in it. We then go to the tailings dump and eventually back to the township to see the rest of it. We leave here at about 3:20 pm.

    Mary KathleeenMary Kathleeen
    A drone photograph of the Mary Kathleen mineThe footings of an old building in the Mary Kathleen township

    We enter the Clem Walton Park which is on one side of Corella Dam which was built to supply water to Mary Kathleen. There are hundreds of caravans here, all along the water’s edge. We go right in and past all the caravans to a section which is not accessible to them due to the road and the lack of a turning area at the end. We camp in the second last section, a really nice spot on a small creek.

    Clem WaltonClem Walton
    A drone shot of our campsite at Clem WaltonAnother shot of our campsite at Clem Walton

    We set up camp at 3:40 pm. I fly the drone and then we have showers. We put the fire on at 4:00 pm as we are having a roast chicken Ron is cooking. Later five vehicles come in and camp in the last camping area, very cramped as some have to park on the road. There is lot of wildlife here, shags, blue-wing kookaburras, parrots and cockatoos.

    The chicken takes 90 minutes to cook and we eat at 6:30 pm. We have with a nice bottle of sparkling wine I purchased in Mt Isa. Afterwards some port is consumed before bed at 9:40 pm. It is a warm 15⁰C, by far the hottest evening we have had on the trip.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 25ºC
    Arrived: Clem Walton Park Time: 3:40 pm Distance: 255 kilometres

    Day 21 – Tuesday 13 July 2021 – Clem Walton Park to Mount Isa

    Weather: minimum of 2.4ºC and fine

    It was warm during the night till about 3:00 am when it got much colder. I wake up at 6:50 am and get up at 7:40 am. I have breakfast overlooking the water which is mirror calm. We pack up and stop by the toilets (which are a long way from where we camp) on the way out. We leave at 9:30 am. It is now a much warmer 13⁰C.

    We arrive in Mount Isa at 10:27 am. It is 70 km from Clem Walton to the town centre. We stop at SupaCheap Auto as Ron needs to purchase a new D-shackle for his tow bar hitch. He lost this somewhere in the Simpson Desert, we looked for it on the way back but never found it.

    Clem WaltonMt Isa
    A photo in the morning of the water next to our campsite at Clem WaltonNot a great view as you come into Mount Isa!

    We go to the Sunset Caravan Park which is a little out of town. We have booked this weeks ago and we are quickly checked in, costs $64 for two nights unpowered. We end up camped near a creek, dirt ground and not the greatest spot, but the facilities are clean. I put a load of washing on, including my sheets ($4) and then have a cuppa. After I hang these up I put another load on.

    In between, I try to find a place where I can get my second Covid vaccination. I got my first at home and the second was planned for the week I return from this trip. I have now decided there is no point going home as everyone is stuck at home except for exercising. I use the Australian Government website and contact the Royal Flying Doctor Service who are shown as doing vaccinations in Mount Isa. However, they advise that they do not (we had met people who got from RFDS in Broken Hill) and they give me a phone number for the Queensland Government vaccination centre.

    I phone up and ask if I can get my second AstraZeneca does in the next two days. They say to come in right now. As I have to wait for my washing to finish, I book in for 12:45 pm, 45 minutes from now. I go there and quickly get my shot, very efficient and what should have been set up all over Australia way back when they started vaccinating everyone.

    Clem WaltonMt Isa
    Our campsite in Sunset Caravan ParkPart of the mural on the large water tank in Mount Isa

    After this I head to Woolworths to buy some pegs (I don’t have enough) and Coke cans. I then refuel, 116.3 litres at $1.459, 13.3 l/100 km. I go back to the caravan park for a late lunch. After this I go shopping again, Woolworths once more, some beer (Tooheys Extra Dry 30 pack of cans, $59). I am back at the caravan park by 4:30 pm. Most of my washing is now dry so I collect it from the clothes line. I put everything away and then have another cuppa.

    I then have a shower, the first really good one since the first night. So good to be able to stay under the water for more than a minute! For dinner I was going to have chicken breast but it smelt off so I threw it out and had sausages and a rice packet. I go to bed at 9:30 pm and read till 10:10 pm.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 25ºC
    Arrived: Mount Isa Time: 10:40 pm Distance: 99 kilometres

    Click here to read the next part of the trip.

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