Most of the trip from Sydney to Burketown was on Highway 1, variously called the Pacific Highway in NSW, the Bruce Highway along the Queensland coast and Savannah Way inland from the coast to the Gulf. At times an eight lane motorway, it is mostly a two lane highway but becomes a single lane road between Georgetown and Croydon and then just a dirt road from Normanton to Burketown. I cannot quite imagine explaining to visitors that the National Highway No 1 is a dirt road in parts! Fortunately, when it was dirt it was a good dirt road and we passed very few other vehicles and, luckily, no road trains.
Our trip home of 2,900 km took four days, a lot of kilometres in Goldie in a short period of time we must say. Firstly 800 kms to Winton and, as we left at 7am, the initial 100 kms were driven with great care as we saw road-kill every kilometre or so on the road. Both driver and navigator were on the look-out for wallabies on the verge. Almost as big as the wallabies were the eagles enjoying their breakfast. At times the eagles would simply sit on the carcass unmoving and stare us down! So we had to drive around them!
Road trains were another potential obstacle to avoid!
Arriving in Winton, and after a swim, John went out for petrol but somehow ended up in the North Gregory Hotel (the biggest in town) nattering to a couple of caravaners who, would you believe it, own an MGB!
As we prepared to leave in the morning a ratatat on the door offered a surprise: a family of brolgas had come for breakfast! We were tempted, but remembered the rule of the outback – don’t feed the wild life as that makes them dependent on you.
A shorter drive to Tambo the next day but with a sop off at Longreach for a visit to the Stockman’s Hall of Fame.
This is a fascinating place to visit. It provides an insight into the lives of many people who have made, and continue to make, the Outback their home. You learn not just about the stockmen, who pioneered much of the outback as they moved huge herds of cattle to rail heads or the coast for transportation to market, but also about the lives of the Afghan cameleers, the women, the missionaries and of course the Flying Doctor Service which brought medical help right to the station door. As well, the individual stories of the people who served the people of the Outback were fascinating. One such individual was Tom Kruse, the mailman who drove the Birdsville Track from Maree to Birdsville bringing not just mail but essential supplies to isolated homesteads and stations. His story is well worth reading, or watch the movie, The back of Beyond, made of his life in 1954.
Then on to Tambo, a must stop place for a visit to Tambo Teddies. Tambo Teddies was begun as a local initiative during the downturn in the wool industry. It was set up to help the local wool growers and also to help activate the local economy. Tambo Teddies are completely hand made in Australia from local (and New Zealand) wool. Each bear comes with its own name and number and details of the child owners are kept on file by the store. Each bear name has at the beginning the name of one of the local sheep stations and then a ‘personal’ name which can be chosen by the purchaser.
Ros had wanted to buy our grandchildren a teddy but did not want to buy one made in Ch… She heard about Tambo Teddies from meg, her sister, and realised that our return trip from Burketown would take us straight through Tambo. A stop at the Tambo Teddy shop was a must! (The bears can be bought on line but such a treat to have a cuddle to determine exactly which bear to buy!) As it was late Saturday afternoon when we arrived, Alison came and opened the shop specially for us. Country service! Two teddies duly joined the family. I was very tempted (Ros) to buy one for myself!
And, by chance, the Tambo Rodeo was on that night which we found fascinating as blokes rode bare back broncos and steers. To qualify for consideration, the rider needed to stay on for a full eight seconds and then skill determined who won the three top spots. Actually, if I remember, of the 20 riders only about 3 or 4 made the 8 seconds! As interesting as watching the riders was watching the team who then steered the beast out of the ring. The bulls were pretty aggressive – don’t stand too close as a tonne of beast crashes into the fence!
Overnight in Tambo and then on to St George. St George has a beautiful river setting and, of course, a winery. So, first stop the Riversands Winery. An ‘interesting’ ‘sommelier’ as he liked to call himself who took us through a tasting. We did buy a couple of bottles as I was collecting local produce etc as a thank you to our dog sitters.
Overnight in St George and then a long drive back to Sydney – over 800 kms and not nearly as easy as the driving we had done to date. There were other cars on the road! [Driving into St George on one long stretch of 140 kms we passed only 7 cars coming towards us and overtook no one.] Form St George to Moree, no vehicles and then we were in the traffic all the way to Sydney. It didn’t help that both the road and railway from Moree to Narrabri were being rebuilt and the road then to Gunnedah had numerous flood ways.
The final comment: we could not believe the amount of water all the way back to Sydney: flood ways over the road, lying beside the road in paddocks, even in Narrabri there were roads closed by water.
It was good to back in Goldie and back on the road again. Where to next?
Welcome back. A great trip with such wonderful descriptions and stories. I don’t need to do it myself. Brenda