WEDNESDAY 14 JUNE MT ISA TO TENNANT CREEK 693kms
Our alarm went off at 6am, because we had a long drive ahead, today. We left the park at 7.20am.
There was some cloud. At times, we could see light rain falling from the clouds, but we only collected a couple of small spits. It was not too hot.
Initially, out of Mt Isa, was interesting range country, then it flattened out into grass and scrub lands.
The road was not great. It alternated single width strips of bitumen with normal two width road, all the way to the NT border. There was a lot of chopped up areas beside the single width sections, and tyre ruts, showing where vehicles had to pull over for oncoming traffic, in last week’s rain. I remembered hearing that a road train carrying cattle had run off on one of these sections last week, and overturned, killing a lot of poor cows.
We encountered a number of road trains – too many! Also met the occasional wide load and were very glad that the verges had dried out!
Camooweal did not look to have much of interest. We topped up the fuel there, to get the last of the supposedly subsidized Qld fuel prices, before crossing into the NT. The Qld government had recently announced that it was scrapping the fuel subsidy because the companies were not passing it on; they planned to reduce registration costs instead. There had been much yelling and screaming about this from various interest groups. The proposed changes would not benefit interstate tourists like us, in the way the fuel subsidy did, which would be fair enough when we come from other States.
At Camooweal we paid 99cpl.
The road improved greatly once we were into the NT.
We were crossing the southern part of the Barkly Tableland, but not the true grass plains of a bit further north, because there were still some bushes about. The mulga was in flower, and all was very green, with still some surface water about. We were lucky to see it looking so good. There had been quite a lot of flooding of these northern parts of Qld and NT from a cyclone a couple of months ago.
We stopped at the Barkly Roadhouse to eat lunch and buy a cool drink. We could have overnighted here at their caravan park, but opted to do a long day instead.
At the intersection of the Barkly Highway with the north-south Stuart Highway, at Three Ways, we turned left for the run south to Tennant Creek. It would mean a short back track when we headed north again, but we wanted to explore Tennant Creek. We’d also asked K to send mail here, thinking it could be a while before we would be near a Post Office again.
Reached there at about 3.30pm, Central Standard Time. We’d “gained” half an hour as we travelled west. So it took us nearly nine hours to do that leg; we seemed to have a tail wind.
Booked into the Outback Caravan Park for three nights for $17 a night. It was on the edge of town. It had nice big sites – dirt and gravel, of course, with cement slab. It was all very spacious.
After setting up, we drove back to the town centre to try to get a paper, but they were all sold out. “Those tourists…” the man said!
Tea was soup, cold pork, salads.
We were very tired and went to bed soon after tea.