An extract from the last missive mailed out three weeks ago when I returned from holidays.
It’s been a while between letter drops because we went West, into the outback, for the July school holidays, plus a week. The week and a bit I’d spent off social media prepared me well for leaving civilisation behind. The middle position of our time away was spent in the middle of nowhere, 1600km west of Brisbane.
In Birdsville we were closer to Adelaide than Brisbane. It was the longest I’ve ever been camping (all up 7 nights) and this was camping without any luxuries (no showers, toilets, running water or power!) But the firsts didn’t stop there. They included, first time:
- camped on a river bank and a channel bank
- eating a camel pie
- going to a camel race meet (these were mutually exclusive!)
- placing a bet at a race meet
- going without a shower for 6 days
- seeing Venus and Jupiter conjunct (in the dusk sky of an outback town!) as a full moon rose
- visiting places first trod by the ill-fated Burke and Wills and seeing some of the marks they left behind
- towing a camper trailer (the first tyre I didn’t blow but I was driving when the second one went!)
- writing my name in gibbers (small red shiny desert stones)
- visiting Stonehenge — post code 4730. Apparently it is close to one of the three bases of the ‘over the horizon radar’ defense system and we stopped for lunch here just after the gibber stone signatures.
- hugging a prehistoric tree that can grow to be a 1000 years old
- photographing windmills at sunset
- seeing solar concentrators (5 power the township of Windorah). I dare anyone to disagree with me when I say they are the most stunning future-looking structures. We also saw a coal fired power stations – it wasn’t worthy of a photograph (in case you’re listening Mr Abbott!)
- drinking beer at the iconic Birdsville Hotel
- visiting a modern-day ghost town. The pub closed its doors for the last time in 1998.
- climbing a sand dune, and a red one at that.
- and crossing the Qld/SA border
- eating breakfast burritos morning after morning and never getting sick of them (unlike a social media saturated existence full of food pictures, there is a pattern of having to tell rather than show about the food!)
Other highlights were:
- the Stone House and Museum in Boulia
- the sunset concert of ‘Lime Cordiale’ in Winton
- the amazing and ever-changing colours of the desolate landscape
- seeing tanks transported west on huge semis between Longreach and Winton
- the country west of Winton where films such as Nick Cave’s “The Proposition” were shot
- Wendy’s damper (again, no photo of this — was too busy devouring it after a day of horrific nausea — the precusor to the shingles I didn’t know were waiting for me upon my arrival home!)
- a camp fire every night
- travelling the stretch of road infamous for the min-min lights (but sadly during th ay so not lights!)
Despite the rough living, or perhaps in spite of it, I returned home relaxed grounded, focused and the most clear headed I have been in years. While running water, toilets, showers and other amenities like fridges are nice, I do miss the simplicity of living in a tent on the banks of a river the banks of a river.
.. and almost a month on, I still do miss the simplicity of it.