WARNING: Lengthy Post!!!
Barcaldine was a great little place. The main street was lined with (4) big country pubs all in a row. It certainly makes a pub crawl an easy option for a night out.
It is a bit hard to not feel extremely sad when visiting the Tree of Knowledge. It was a very famous historical Ghost Gum that died, thought to have been ‘poisoned’ in 2006. Frank and I were fortunate enough to see it in it’s full natural glory in 1990. Back then it would have been more than 100 years old.
“During the 1891 national shearers strike the tree was a ‘Silent Witness’ of the momentous struggle between Shearers and pastoralists’ over wages and working conditions. This and other events played an integral part in the formation of the labour union movement, the establishment of the Australian Labor Party and the formation of the Pastoralist Union”.
The Barcaldine Regional Council has constructed the most amazing memorial with the remains of the tree. It is an architectural feat.
(Jules I gave it a rub especially for you)
I nearly had a heart attack when Charlie started to try and climb it. Particularly when you look closely at it and there are bits glued together and wire suspended from the ceiling to hold up the branches. Ummm sorry Mr. Mayor!!!
The van park we stayed had FREE UNLIMITED WI-FI!!! This is true GOLD!! The devices got a work out that night.
Another wonderful happening here at Barcaldine was that we met a family of Brolgas……James named them Geoff, Tracy and Todd. They visit the van park every morning scabbing for treats. They especially loved Weet-Bix so they hung around us for a fair time.
They were huge and a bit scary when Geoff and Tracy felt you were getting to close to their baby. Geoff was as tall as Ella to give you an idea. Their wing span was 2.4m!!!
Another caravaner said it was a real privilege to see them as they are very ‘flighty’ birds in the wild.
A momentous family moment happened in Barcaldine—Charlie ceremoniously threw his training wheels in the bin!! They have been on and off for a while now but finally they are GONE! We have nicknamed him BANDIT as he is zooming around the caravan parks with gusto!!
|Off to Longreach....|
Longreach felt like a HUGE thriving metropolis compared to previous towns. The van park was a huge sprawling dirt bowl. We enjoyed an on site ensuite for the first time ever.
The van park had the best mailbox I have ever seen:
We naturally headed to the Stockman’s Hall of Fame. This was a bit of a nightmare outing- overtired crazed children in a museum setting didn’t come off well. This place is amazing don’t get me wrong but I think you need a lot of time (without children) to read all the information to truly appreciate it.
Today we celebrated Ella and James’11th birthday.
Meeting them both for the first time 11 years ago is a moment I will never forget. The disastrous overcomplicated pregnancy I do however, try to forget. I was telling them that I was so relieved when they finally came out safe and sound (and huge).
They are polar opposites in so many ways, rarely fight and generally have a good time together. Hopefully this will continue……
|Happy Birthday kids!!!|
They have 25 teachers and 169 students ranging from primary school to Grade: 10. The teachers generally have 12 students each and are on the air with six at one time. They use phones and web cam to provide lessons. The Teachers do home visits out on the Stations where the kids live. The kids and their families also come in for ‘camp’ at the centre several times a year. They seem to really enjoy this as they can socialise with other kids their own age.
They hold swimming carnivals, athletic carnivals and school camps like every other school.
|Charlie in the very well resourced library at Longreach School of the Air|
|A Teacher giving her lesson in the Studio..|
Boy it was one finally oiled machine, exponentially impressive!!
After Longreach we headed off to Winton.
100km down the road at a rest stop Frank noticed that our bike rack holding (3) bikes was GONE! Yep gone!! No more bikes! No more bike rack!
Not good! Had we caused someone else to have an accident at the time? Were they still lying in the middle of the road about to cause someone else to have an accident?? Bad, sick thoughts!!
Oh the dilemma it was….driving back 100km was very unappealing!! After a bit of thought Frank decided to hail down the next car and ask if they had seen the bikes…..a country chap had not seen them thankfully. So that was that…no more bikes!! Drive on family!
|Bikes on bike rack|
As you can imagine the BMX Bandit of the family was extremely relieved that his red devil bike was not lost. Poor Ella was quite upset. Her previous bike was stolen from a van park. The insurance company will be very suspect of this family I’d say!!
More danger that I am thankful that my Mother won’t know about. Just tell her the good stuff I say, nothing to worry about here Mum!
Well Winton is another fascinating little historic town. This is where Banjo Patterson wrote “Waltzing Matilda” in 1894 at Dagworth Station!!
The first board meeting of Qantas was held at the Winton Club in 1921. The saying goes that Qantas was conceived in Cloncurry, born in Winton and grew up in Longreach. Amazing!
As you can imagine the excitement was fever pitch as we headed down a dusty road and climbed up the ‘Jump-Up’ (like a tableland) to visit the big shed that housed the fossils of Matilda and Clancy the dinosaurs!!
The fossils were found by a local pastoralist on his property in 1999. He then spent (3) months putting the bits of the puzzle together to discover Clancy’s forearm. The beginning of something big that gained world wide attention.
They only dig for fossils (3) weeks every year in the cooler months. You can pay for the privilege to help them dig (not for me).
The newly discovered fossils are wrapped in plaster (same plaster used for human’s broken bones).
They look like cocoons stored here just waiting to be opened up.
|Years and years of work here!!|
The employees and volunteers spend hours and hours delicately removing the surrounding rock from the fossil. They use very fine dentist type drills to remove the rock. Very very patient work!!!
|The dentist's drill|
Clancy the carnivore:
Matilda the herbivore:
|The top picture shows the bones of Matilda they have found and the bottom picture is an artist's impression of Matilda.|
|All the precious fossils are stored in big glass display cabinets.|
The amenities at Winton were somewhat unusual. Charlie really enjoyed the showers that smelt like EGGS!!
The boar water is really soft and is lovely to wash your hair in…plenty of shine. I am surprised someone hasn’t bottled it with a bit of perfume. “Sulphur so Soft” it could be called……?
On leaving Winton I visited the Police station to report the lost bikes and bike rack. Met a lovely Police Lady and we had a nice chat about living in Winton. I bought a police hat for the ‘little Policeman’ of the family (dibber dobber as Ella and James call him).
Suits him doesn’t it?? She also gave the kids some Police rubbers, tattoos and rulers…….love the men and women in blue!!
We arrived in Mt. Isa last night, 32 degrees at 5pm. It is so hot and dry, desperately in need of some vaseline intensive care for the crocodile skin.
Off to see the sights of the mighty Isa...thanks Craig for the sightseeing tips!!