|Travelling Australia - Journal 2006
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17 September 2006 - St George to Dalby
St George to Dalby was about 300 kilometres in a straight line across what used to be brigalow. The road is called the Moonie Highway, because it passes through the village of Moonie, but the title 'Highway' is applied to any road between townships and by no means indicates an above average route or carriageway. St George streets were deserted when we left on a Sunday morning passing the hobby farms and housing development with new houses under construction on the outskirts.The weather was bright and sunny, yesterday's sprinkle of rain is forgotten.
The terrain is flat, the road runs in long, straight, nearly flat segments. The native vegetation of brigalow scrub has been extensively cleared and the land is used for cropping and grazing cattle with brigalow vegetation left beside the roads. So much of the native brigalow scrub has been cleared that it's now considered endangered and Southwood National Park has been established to preserve part of this environment. This national park is adjacent to the Moonie Highway but has no facilities. We turned into the park at the access road for camping hoping to see some of the brigalow plants but the area was dominated by white cypress (just one brigalow species) so we didn't stay for long.
Raw cotton was sometimes spread along the road verges indicating that cotton has been grown nearby and bales have been transported along this road losing little bits as they go. Although this is historically a cotton growing area there has been insufficient rain this year for any to be planted. If there is no rain by mid-November there will be no cotton crop this year.
Road-kill wallabies are unfortunately common on most roads we travel on and Southern Queensland has been no exception. The birds benefit from all this fresh meat. We noticed today that bird populations have changed and birds feeding on road-kill are all Australian ravens. Further north, kite species outnumber the ravens and quite a few eagles feed on dead wallabies with the kites. We also saw groups of apostle birds foraging at the side of the road as well as several pairs of crested pigeons on the road. Pigeons have not been seen on the road before (they are common in towns though) and leave it a bit late to take off as a vehicle approaches them.
About 10 kilometres from Dalby we entered very flat land prepared for cotton planting and waiting for rain. Acacies were replaced by gum trees lining the road and edging paddocks. Using the GPS (putting the cursor on the caravan park then driving to the cursor) we found the caravan park easily and checked in. To my surprise the main part of the park was bitumen with sites marked out in white paint;it looked more like a car park or a netball court than a caravan park. We had a conventional grass site against the back fence.
I set up the laptop with the BigPond wireless card to check Internet throughput via Telstra. The service was not encouraging in Western Australia but at least it worked most of the time and, with patience, the Internet could be used. But data throughput in Queensland has been insufficient to do more than read e-mail; certainly not enough to update the blog. At Longreach I was getting an average data rate of 680 bits (not bytes) per minute over a 15 minute period; that was typical. The blog server usually times-out or, if a file is successfully uploaded the whole process takes so long at that bandwidth that files are corrupted. I had hoped there might be some improvement as we got closer to Brisbane but there was no improvement so we went to McDonalds and use their Internet Hotspot to connect the laptop - this worked well; I was able to upload blog entries to bring it up to date to yesterday.