Great Keppel Bay to Longreach
Moving from Great Keppel Bay to inland to Longreach means that the caravan parks have got cheaper and the petrol has got more expensive. Today was probably our longest day of driving so far. We probably should have stopped at Emerald but decided to do 700+ kilometers all the way to Longreach. We drew up a rough timetable for our trip before we left Sydney and we planned to be exiting Queensland on Monday. We were held up a little on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane and this means we are running a little behind time so we did the long drive. I think it is the first time I have spent more than $200 on petrol in day.
Great Keppel Bay
When we bought the camper trailer it came with a bonus portable fridge that we have been using as a freezer. The only downside of this fridge/freezer is that it takes up a lot of space in the camper trailer. So on a few nights we have left it in the car, plugged in by the 240v. Ambitiously I decided to see how it would go on the car battery last night. And it did fine. The freezer was minus 17 degrees when I checked it at 8am and the jeep started perfectly. But by the time we were ready to set out at 9:15 the battery was flat and we had to ask a fellow camper to help jump start us. (I think he rightly thought I was a bit silly!)
John Williamson and the Apostle Paul
I did a bit of work cataloging some of the John Williamson songs over breakfast. As we headed out of Rockhampton we listened to 'Longreach is praying for rain' and another one about Mount Isa. I have decided to try and listen to his songs that relate to the place we are visiting that day.
Then we started to listen to a talk on Philippians 3:12-4:12 where Paul spoke about his struggle for godliness and that he hadn't attained this and held himself us an example of someone who was working in the power of God's spirit to be more godly but didn't expect this work to be completed until he got to heaven.
We kept stopping the mp3 to count coal cars on the trains. At one point we saw guys working on the train track. There were six coal trains held up by the track work. Each train had an average of 100 coal wagons on. Easily the longest trains I have seen.
The hamlet of Blackwater seemed to be the place where the coal was being loaded. And we presumed that was why it was called Blackwater - because the coal made the water black. But really we had no idea.
But probably most memorable for our kids was that there was a very large lizard in the women's toilets.
We set up the laptop for the kids to watch Superman in the backseat. This movie seemed to go forever.
Jericho on the Jordon Creek
We stopped at Jericho. The sign in the center of the little town said that there was a lake called Gallilee nearby, and a creek called Jordon Creek, so it only seemed fitting to name the little town Jericho. The main park had a public exhibit telling the story of the Biblical Jericho.
We would have liked to have stopped here. Barcaldine was the birthplace of the Australian Labor Party. Workers united into a union during the initial flurry of coal mining in the area. There looked like some very interesting museams on the history of the Labor movement in Australia. But given that it was 5:30pm when we drove through, they had closed everything and we just kept on driving.
The highway from Rockhampton to Longreach is called the Capricorn Highway. It's named Capricorn because it runs due west on the tropic of Capricorn. (Points for anyone in the comments field who can tell me why the tropic of Capricorn is called tropic of Capricorn?) The plain is extremely flat. And driving due west looking directly into the sunset for 90 minutes was very difficult.
We were thirty kilometers from Longreach and pulled into Ilfracone for a toilet stop (and because at last we had mobile reception we could ring ahead and book the caravan park. I was sitting in neutral outside the toilets when the car overheated. In it's defence we had driven for seven hours at high speed with a trailer and then put the car in to neutral
without turning off the air conditioner (Sorry Peter!). We waited for 15 minutes to cool down before heading to Longreach.
As we drove into town we saw the signs for the Qantas history museam and the Stockman's Hall of fame, so it should be an interesting day tomorrow.
We arrived just after dark and as I sit on the bench in the park jotting down these notes I am struck by how different the park is to the coastal parks - biggest difference - no grass - all dusk. John Williamson was right. Longreach is praying for rain. But there is one similarity with the majority of the coastal parks. You don't park the campervan on the concrete! :)