TUESDAY 4 JUNE BOULIA TO MT ISA 295kms
There was not much packing up needed this morning, and we’d stayed hitched up overnight.
We waited for the initial departure rush to get gone from the town, before we left.
Refuelled – the diesel at $1.07 a litre, was a bit costly for Qld, but there is no competition here. He had a captive market, given the distances between Boulia and anywhere else. We just put in 35 litres – enough to get us to Mt Isa.
The road north was a one strip bitumen one, all the way to Mt Isa.
It was an interesting drive with considerable variety.
There was a section that we thought was the edge of the Barkly Tableland of the adjacent NT – flat grasslands, but with some trees and bushes, unlike the true Tablelands, where the cracking clay soils prevent shrub and tree roots getting established.
There were some dramatic hills and ranges, especially after Dajarra, and as we approached Mt Isa. We crossed lots of dry stream beds – on cement floodways rather than bridges. I guess that in such a dry area, the times when these would flow and affect road traffic would be very few. The stream lines were better wooded and these areas of trees helped provide the variety.
At one stage, John pulled over and braked sharply, as a truck appeared, coming towards us. The radio made a severe static noise, which then persisted whenever the brakes were used – until we turned it off altogether. Then John noticed that the rev counter would stop working, below about 2600 revs, but jump back into action when they got higher. He was not sure what was going on, whether the problem was in Truck or via the connection to the van. Also uncertain was whether things would get worse! It was a rather inhospitable area in which to break down!
We stopped for lunch in a hot, open, area beside the road. John hadn’t managed to find anywhere to pull off near any of the several pleasant creek crossings we’d passed.
Whilst eating, I saw a man cross the road, on a crest in a cutting in the distance. This seemed rather strange, as there was no parked vehicle evident beside the road. I think I have become rather more alert and suspicious since the Lees/Falconio attack and disappearance, last year. So, I was not happy when John decided to temporarily disable our vehicle by taking out the fuses to inspect them! We eventually got going again, and then I saw that there was a road grader, parked up in a cutting – but now there was no sign of the man who we now presumed to be the driver.
Fiddling with the fuses had not fixed our problem.
We had not come into Mt Isa from the south before. It is not a town that seems to have any attractive approaches. All very utilitarian, with a dominance of power poles and lines, and all looking very dusty.
We went straight to the Sunset Caravan Park, where we’d stayed in 2000. I booked us in for five nights, at $17.10 a night, after discount.
We found the park was still only average, but better than most in the town!
After setting up, we drove to the Post Office and collected a bag of mail from home. There was little of interest in it, although the notes from the house sitter were amusing. There was nothing from our assorted offspring.
John checked out the Bowls Club. He booked in to play Thursday night. The reason I booked us in here for five nights was so he could play bowls on Saturday – but there is no game then. I can’t win! Now, five nights in this town seemed excessive!
I phoned Lawn Hill National Park, to the north. Was told that their camp area is booked out until July. That was OK as I had a preference for staying at the nearby Adels Grove campground, anyway. I phoned Adels Grove and booked us in there. I asked if M and H were there, thinking I could leave a message for them; was told they had been pencilled in for yesterday, but hadn’t arrived. I left a message anyway, in case they did arrive there.
We treated ourselves to bought pizzas, from a pizza chain shop. The anticipation was far nicer than the reality!