Travelling Australia - Journal 2013
14 May 2013

Douglas Ponds to Winton
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Rain continued until after midnight but had stopped by two o'clock. The morning was calm with mid-level cloud, scattered sunshine and very little sign of rain. The rain gauge I had put out just after three p.m. yesterday showed six millimetres of rainfall by morning which couldn't be classed as drought-breaking. The creek through the rest area was still sandy and dry.

We were soon out of the rest area onto the nearly deserted Landsborough Highway heading north towards Barcaldine. The road ran through a mixture of grassland and extensive patches of mulga/gidgee trees. In Barcaldine we joined the lines of caravans in the road when we stopped briefly for coffee.

barcy blob This structure built over the site of the Tree of Knowledge in Barcaldine, allegedly a crucial place in trade union history, certainly attracts attention but whether it improves the streetscape is another matter. The windmill is beside the information centre.

Leaving Barcaldine our next destination was Longreach about a hundred kilometres west. The road is pretty well straight for that distance with only slight kinks, it is also close to level. Extensive road works were in progress on what looked like a major project intended to bring the highway between Barcaldine and Longreach up to a good standard. The work involved building a sealed bitumen detour alongside the existing road, diverting all traffic onto the detour then ripping up the old road and completely rebuilding it. Each section of new work was about five kilometres long and we passed through six or eight work sites with work at different stages. Completed sections were pleasant to drive along.

cattle Cattle being driven along the highway stock route move at a very casual pace grazing the grass as they go. This is a small part of the herd.

Douglas Ponds to Winton - page 2

From Barcaldine we were driving across the open grassland of the Mitchell Grass Plains extending to the horizon in every direction. This is reputed to be excellent grazing country but the dry weather has forced graziers to de-stock so cattle are not as widely seen on the plains as in normal years. We did meet one large herd of cattle being driven along the stock route along the highway; we had to make our way slowly through a stream of cattle crossing the road; none of the animals seemed at all worried by the towing vehicle and caravan slowly moving through the herd.

Emus remained common in paddocks along the road, but we saw very few kangaroos. We also passed our first road-kill emu for the trip. Given their total lack of road sense it's surprising that more emus don't end up as road-kill.

At Longreach we reached the end of the sequence of road works. Traversing detours and slowing down to the roadworks speed limits of 60 and 80 kph had been a nuisance but the sections of new road had been so pleasant they made the inconvenience worthwhile. A notice sheet we collected in Winton described these road reconstruction works as "..the largest reconstruction effort in Queensland's history...". The project is jointly funded by the Queensland Government and the Australian Government with more than $511 million to be spent in the Central West, between Tambo and Winton. Money was being made available under flood repair programmes.

We refuelled in Longreach at a service station we knew from previous visits was configured for trucks and towed loads; we stopped again at a large rest area north of Longreach for lunch. Before the lunch stop we passed a family of wild pigs (one adult and five piglets) beside a paddock fence near the road; pigs are not often seen near main roads such as this although they are not uncommon near minor roads. Traffic on the Longreach-Winton road remained light with the majority of vehicles being cattle road-trains going the other way, most were empty and we presumed they were going to pick-up cattle to be taken away from the drought area.

Arriving in Winton we stopped at our regular caravan park and were allocated a comfortable site. After setting up with awning out for a week long stay we went into Winton for some shopping. Weather all day had been good, with mostly sun, no wind, and some cloud.

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