THURSDAY 25 MAY WINTON TO OPALTON 129kms
It took us a while to get away from Winton this morning. We had to get gas bottles filled, stock up on water, and batten down the van contents for somewhat rough dirt road travel.
Refuelled at the Caltex Depot – 83cpl. Also filled up the two jerry cans, which had been empty since last year.
Went to the Post Office and arranged for the mail that was awaiting at Cloncurry for us to collect, to be sent here to Winton. Apparently, there is a full bag!
Then we did a top up of groceries and went to get some meat from the butcher. Whilst I was in there, John came in and asked the butcher if he had any meat scraps suitable for yabby bait. A very attractive looking fellow customer asked him where he was going yabbying and John replied somewhere out around Opalton. She was interested by that; turned out that she and her partner have a claim near Opalton, at Devil Devil and she invited us out there to have a look at the operation. We arranged to meet her at the Outpost store next Thursday, when the mail vehicle comes in.
It was midday when we left Winton. We ate lunch in Truck, going along.
It took us over two hours to get to Opalton, taking it easy with the van. It travelled well and very little got disarranged inside. John noticed altered handling with the extra weight of the jerry cans on the van back – we have never had that before – and with the full water tanks.
M and husband B seemed pleased to see us – and maybe rather surprised that we had come, after all.
It took us a while to set up camp, with the van beside a bough shelter, under which we set up the camp gear – camp stove, Chescold fridge, table and chairs. We had the best of both worlds! There was a stone fireplace built nearby too.
There was some piped water to the Bush Camp – from a nearby dam, filled by a windmill pump. B told us it is heavily sedimented but that it can be cleared for dishwashing and the like by using ash from the fire to “flock” it. Maybe by tomorrow we would have some ash. It would be useful if we could conserve the better van water for cooking and drinking.
Our camping here cost the princely sum of $2 a night! There are amenities in an Atco building, with flush toilets and cold showers.
It was nearly dark by the time all was organized. There was enough of a breeze to prevent mosquitoes, but a cloud build up that could mean rain. On yesterday’s drive, John saw a long line of black ants crossing the road; he reckons that means rain is coming.
I cooked tea outside, on the new Coleman stove we had not used before – it was excellent to use. Tea was chicken noodle soup, hamburger in toast, and a pear for dessert.
We stayed outside to eat tea, sat by a small fire in the fireplace for a while, then went in and read for a while. The nights here would have to be early to bed, to conserve the 12volt power in the van. The solar panel does seem to be working but to date, existing for any time on the system is untried.
There were four other lots of campers here – caretakers M and B, a French couple who were here the other day and have been for over a week, someone in an older van who arrived after us, and a couple with a young baby who arrived last night and are camping in a tin shed here, who seem not at all prepared for camping out.
There were spits of rain early in the evening and heavy rain at times during the night.
We went to bed about 9pm. It was great to be camped out in the bush again.
The gidgee wattle that was in the bush around us was smelling in the rain – the “Stinking Wattle” so called.