So - mum sends her apologies for not getting online last night to do our Blog for #BadBettyOnTour - slacker that she is!
Did we tell you how warm it is? Its after 7.30pm and its still a balmy 18.8 degrees c - but only 2.2 degrees c back home in Murrumbateman..... oh yeah - think we have the right idea in heading north for the winter!
Yesterday we travelled from Cunnamulla to Blackall (where we stayed overnight) and went through Tambo to get there. Time for some honest truth here....if we come through this way again, we will transit Cunnamulla - no insult to the Riverside Caravan park where we stayed but seriously, that town has either not yet embraced, cant see or wants to ignore the benefit that travelers contribute to the community bottom line! Except for the information centre (and you had to pay for the Artesian Bore display), the local interest points were not obviously marked or well documented.... anyway - maybe we just got that impression compared to Tambo, Blackall and Barcaldine - communities that seemed to welcome travelers.
Tambo was a lovely little spot - there was the Tambo Teddybear shop, the local dam which provided a lovely spot for lunch and an excellent free display of historical artefacts from the past - including a lot of telegraphical equipment (old phones, switchboards and morse code equipment (for telegrams - for those old enough to remember them!)). We were entertained by a lovely local lady who had been born there, gone away for a few years and then was back - her local knowledge was fascinating but a couple of times we had to interject as she presumed we knew which family from which sheep station she was talking about!
We finished up Day 5 by coming into Blackall - what a nice little town and how incredibly welcoming to travelers - especially cheap travelers like we are - we gotta stay within our $100/day including petrol budget - blown it out our butts to start the tour with all the km's we have travelled but hopefully we will rein it back in over the weeks ahead - otherwise mum night not feed me anymore or she might hire me out for photo's with OTHER tourists!
(Seriously though - some of the tourist stuff is just too expensive to do when you are on a small budget so we have to aim for the cheaper stuff instead and skip some of the more commencial stuff).
Blackall - wow, I got to be in some great pics today! Check out the picture of me on The Black Stump - like, the real "Black Stump" and Jannine - mum wanted me to make special mention to you & "Stumpy-Daisy" as we thought of her when we got the pics!
Did you know that most the houses in Blackall don't have hot water systems? They don't need them - Blackall was the site of the first drilling into the Artesian Basin in the late 1800's - the water might smell like rotten eggs but it comes out at 58 degrees celcius - perfect temperature for a shower! We even visited the site of the first bore (The Pioneer Bore) and the current bore stand is next to it and the overflow from that is incredible - Blackall is just like a green oasis in the middle of the scrub since its got access to so much water.
All the landmarks were so well marked and had lots of info and you could wander around and see them as you wanted to, along with all the local artworks - we scooted around on the bikes again and I got to ride in style in the saddle bags!
The local info centre had an amazing historical display - you could wander through all the buildings yourself (for free) and touch the exhibits - handle the bottles, play with the old fashioned scales and just generally pick stuff up and not get in trouble - that was fun! We also got to see the site of the first "union meeting" - a meeting of Shearers in the late 1800's - fascinating stuff!
We didn't spend long in Barcaldine but we got to see the stuff on mum's list - regardless of which side of politics you are on, this was more Australian history - the Tree of Knowledge memorial was incredible - bigger than we thought and the site of Shearers strike and the formation of the Australian Labour Party - all the monuments were well marked and documented too. Other buildings were documented for historical reference and it was a fascinating visit.
We then headed for Longreach where we are spending tonight in free-camp Grey Nomad Central - OMG - there must be 100 caravans etc here - wow - and there are a couple of resident Chooks (Roosters)! Its 4km out of town and tomorrow its another bike day to explore Longreach.
We hope you enjoy our pics below, along with Simon Says.... and don't forget, we would love your comments and feedback!
Blackall - the Pioneer Bore
Blackall - The Black Stump
Blackall - First Union Meeting
Blackall - General Pics
Barcaldine - The Tree of Knowledge
Barcaldine - The Shearers Strike
Barcaldine - General Pics
The grey nomad phenomenon has to be seen and experienced to be believed. A migration of white haired, wrinkly old people moving North to warmer climates - they are everywhere like flies in summer. Every town, every road there is an endless procession of caravans and motorhomes of all shapes and sizes.
As I pilot the Bad Betty bus down the long straight roads, an endless string of large four wheel drives and enormous caravans come hurtling past me, piloted by old men hunched over the steering wheel hanging on for grim death. Scares me, these are the types of people I expect to see in nursing homes and retirement villages, not piloting a massive rig down outback highways heading for remote locations. We are not talking about people in their sixties but seventies and eighties and I swear I have seen the odd ninety year old.
As well as being scared I am also in awe but mostly overwhelmed by the sheet number. Feels competitive too - some of their setups cost as much as a house with every modern convenience you could possibly think of or want.
Everybody loves to save a dollar and the free camps are packed to the hilt with cashed up nomads saving a few bucks.
Saving a dollar is my love language and Lyne will concur that is the truth, a dollar saved is a dollar made is my mantra - we are aiming to only spend $100 a day in total. Last night we camped in Blackall at the Council economy camp for $8 a night with free showers which used free water from the artesian basin exiting the ground at 58 degrees celcius but smelt like rotten eggs - the camp site there, like the one tonight outside Longreach is packed with cheapskate nomads just like us.