Travelling Australia - Journal 2013
28 May 2013

Inca Creek to Soudan Bore - Barkly Highway
location map
Leaving Inca Creek Rest Area we continued west on the Barkly Highway with Camooweal as the immediate destination for fuel before continuing into the Northern Territory. The road remained good quality running mainly through eucalyptus woodland with patches of grassland becoming more common. Cattle were often grazing in some numbers on the grassland areas.

A few kilometres before Camooweal the woodland ended fairly abruptly to be replaced by open grassland. At Camooweal we refuelled then, crossing the bone dry Georgina River with grass growing in the river bed, continued towards the Northern Territory border where we stopped briefly for photographs. On the Territory side of the border the road deteriorated so badly that major repairs were in progress with detours for five kilometres at a time so the original road could be completely rebuilt. But even the repaired sections were not of particularly high quality and a speed of about 85 kph (sometime slower) became usual as the most comfortable speed. This lower speed was also good for fuel consumption which was helped by the steady tail wind. We didn't realise quite how strong the wind was until we passed a lone motorcyclist going in the other direction and having to work hard to control his bike in the wind.

grassland Mitchell Grass plains near the Queensland/Northern Territory border. The line of trees marks a watercourse.

The road is in long, straight, nearly flat sections running through grassland with few features. Kilometre markers show distance to the Stuart Highway; the first one we noticed was 390. Passing a camel towing a small jeep with another camel walking alongside provided some light relief and a few unanswered questions.

Roadkill was mainly kangaroos and wallabies, often with birds feeding on the carcasse. Twice we saw a wedge tail eagle feeding on road kill with ravens. We noticed that eagles left a carcasse when the ravens left so they were well clear by the time we passed. It looks as if eagles feeding with ravens take their cue from the ravens to leave the carcasse; this is a good move for the eagles since ravens have a well-developed sense of road survival but eagles feeding alone show little road sense. We have been wondering how there can be any eagles left when they persist in remaining on carcasses too long while a caravan or truck approaches. But if they feed with ravens and vacate carcasses when the ravens leave then the eagles will survive. There is certainly enough road kill for all the birds so there is no need for competition between them for carcasses.

After 80 or 90 kilometres of grassland, intermittent scrub returned to line the road for a while then there were patches of grassland or woodland or scrub.

Traffic was very light all day, mainly caravans and road-trains going the other way; we haven't seen a semi-trailer or B-double since leaving Mt Isa, it is all road trains on this part of the Barkly Highway. A number of road trains were empty and several had one or two trailers folded up and carried on the first trailer. Cattle road trains were seen in some number, all heading towards Mt Isa full of cattle being taken off dry pasture.

Inca Creek to Soudain Bore - page 2
At midday we turned into Soudain Bore rest area which was our goal for the day. Being first in we settled in a good spot. Today was not hot (about 28°C at midday), nor was it humid, but flies were bad.

In Winton we had purchased fly repellant based on rosemary and cedarwood which was rubbed into bare skin leaving a faint perfumed smell. Flies couldn't tolerate it; they would buzz furiously but as soon as they touched skin covered in the repellant they flew away. They buzzed annoyingly but, provided the repellant was fully applied, flies didn't land on faces, necks, arms or legs.

The afternoon was spent looking around the rest area, later in the day several caravans and motorhomes came in for the night.

cattle road train The leading trailer in one of many cattle road trains on the Barkly Highway carrying stock away from drying pasture as a drought makes itself felt.

daily map