We're at the coast, almost
16.06.2011 - 18.06.2011 21 °C
No more zooming flocks of budgies. No more lumpy termite mounds. No more endless flat plains of spinifex on red dust. We're not in Kansas, sorry, the outback any more. We could see it coming. The road trains got shorter - two trailers instead of three or four. There were more cars, mostly 'normal' cars, and fewer grey nomads in 4WDs towing caravans. Bigger hills started happening. We even saw a sign that said 'Great Dividing Range' and the highway got some actual bends in it. The trees got bigger and started casting shadows across the road.
Before we left the outback we got one last swim in. Sounds weird when the outback is lacking in water but Ilfracombe is one town that found its water underground. We swam in an Artesian Spa with prehistoric water coming up from a kilometre below. We borrowed keys for the pool from the council offices across the road. The water was so warm the kids asked if we could stay there forever! The Great Artesian Basin is under about one-fifth of Australia. It supplies water to Winton too. When you have a shower there, the bathroom smells like Rotorua as the hydrogen sulphide from the water fills the air.
En route to Rockhampton (or 'Rocky') we've travelled through cattle stations, cotton farms and collieries. We made a stop at Westwood for some sweet local mandarins ($7 for 20 - we ate half of them in one go) and Mt Hay for thunder eggs. Tonight we're off to the Heritage Grill to try a good steak. Rocky got flooded in January. We're doing our bit to put the economy back on its boot-shod feet!
P.S. Heritage Grill had a shiraz on the wine list from a winery in Victoria. Its name? 'Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch'.