Sunday, 14 September 2008

Sircling Stralia - Week 4

Kilometres travelled – 1702
States visited – 1

Week 4 begins with out return from the SV Whitehaven to solid ground and after pulling our bags out of storage is it was time to hit the road again and head North once more. After discussing it with several people we had decided to give Townsville a miss and head straight to Magnetic Island, a lovely little spot just off the coast. We booked into a hostel called Bungalow Bay and left the car on the mainland.

When we got to the hostel it was a lovely little place, the owners have combined a wildlife sanctuary with a hostel and done it very well. From the wallabies that run around outside the cabins, the possums who come to the bar in the hope of scrounging food to the wildlife park with Koalas, crocs and parrots it was great. We even got a photo with a Koala. The picture I had done showed a very alert slightly shocked looking Koala in my arms. Turns out he was looking shocked as he had just pissed himself on my shirt but hey sometimes you have to go to extremes to get a good photo! Also turns out the Koala was called Dexter and is on Facebook, he is now one of my friends, no really, look up Dexter Koala and you will find him.

Baby Echidnas, snakes, parrots eating seeds out of your mouth, bush walks and gorgeous weather finished off our time on the island and we headed back to the mainland in high spirits and headed towards Cairns, our last stop on the East coast.

Cairns was more of a practical stop than holiday stop for us, there is heaps to do here but we needed to repack the car, get it cleaned, serviced etc. get all our washing done, etc, etc so we spent a couple of days doing this, hitting the shops and so on and prepared for the long hard drive inland to get to Mt Isa in time for the annual rodeo, in its 50th year in 2008 it is in the biggest rodeo in the Southern Hemisphere.

The trip began well, we found a rout from Cairns that by using a 300km long dirt road we could get there without doubling back on ourselves. So we headed off with the plan being to stop at the top of this track for the night and then drive it the next day, sometimes it is a good idea to stick to the plan!

We took one look at the roadhouse/caravan park we had planned to stay in and figured we were better to keep going, this would mean driving about 200km in the dark but we decided to give it a go! Turns out the dark was not the problem, it was around sunset that tragedy would strike! We saw the first four and dodged them easily but the fifth kangaroo to jump out on us was not so lucky and despite my claims that he might be ok, honest, I think he is hopping in a better place now. After this we checked the car over and figured our roo bar had done its job and that we were good to carry on. We made it to the end of the dirt road without any more animals meeting there end despite a few close calls and pulled in to a little town called Hughenden. Here we found a motel for the night and discovered how lucky we had been. The dirt road was pretty much straight the whole way but turns out our roo bar was bent in to the point where left and right turns were not really and option! If there had been a couple more bends our tyre would undoubtedly blown out in the middle of nowhere. A couple of chains and a tree later we had pulled the roo bar out and were back on route!

We pulled in to Isa and were instantly relieved that we had planned ahead and booked our campsite 6 weeks in advance, the whole town was full! We kicked off with a tour of the local lead mine, had a mooch round the shops then went to the opening parade of the rodeo. It was great, local tractors and trucks done up to make the floats and a really great atmosphere, reminded me a lot of a local St Patrick’s Day parade I saw on a quick trip to Ireland earlier this year and I loved it. The rodeo was great, bare back horse riding, bull riding, wild horse races, barrel racing, beer, fast food and heaps of cowboys and we have a great few days here to finish off week 4.

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