SUNDAY 21 JULY BARCALDINE
The road noise in the night, that I’d feared, didn’t eventuate. Or, if it was there, we slept so soundly in our well-sound-proofed Bus that we didn’t notice it.
Our site was fairly dusty, and Couey was making it worse. She so liked rolling in dust!
Went out sight seeing, being mostly interested in the wonderful old buildings of Barcaldine.
John was really impressed by the Heritage Listed Masonic Temple, which was like nothing we’d seen before.
From the front, it seemed rather incongruous in this very Aussie setting, but less so when seen with its corrugated iron sides and back. It really was a strange hybrid of a building, dating from 1900.
It would have been interesting to see inside, and see to what extent the decorative theme carried through in there, but it was locked up tight.
I loved the old Radio Theatre building. Its Art Nouveau style also really didn’t seem to “fit” the town, but was wonderfully imaginative.
We saw houses with much character and hotels that would have plenty of tales to tell, could they but speak.
The town grew up from the 1880’s to service the surrounding pastoral district.
At the Information Centre, I bought postcards and a polo shirt – got to support the local economy!
Somewhere at home I had a photo that I took in 2000, of the Tree of Knowledge at Barcaldine, back when it was still a living tree – a ghost gum. This was noted as the site of workers’ meetings during the great Shearers’ Strikes of the 1890’s, that led to the formation of the Australian Labor Party. So Barcaldine is regarded as the birthplace of the labour movement in Australia.
Around 2000, some moron poisoned the tree, and it died. The trunk was taken to Brisbane for preservation treatment, returned to Barcaldine, “replanted” in front of the railway station, and a symbolic structure erected over it.
From a distance, this unusual structure looks like a rusty tank on props, or a large box – rather ugly, and somehow out of proportion. But. close up, looking up into it, there are hanging wooden shapes representing abstract leaves and it is strangely attractive.
I was really pleased to read that cuttings taken from the tree when it was still alive, are successfully growing in various places. The tree lives on in its descendents.
We went into the railway station to look around. I saw that the signals were set for a train to come from the east, then had a look at the timetable displayed. This indicated that the Spirit of the Outback train should have stopped, briefly, at Barcaldine at 9.30 this morning, on its way to Longreach. I asked a man working around the station about that, and was told it was late and due at any time. It was nearly 1pm! So we stayed, and in a few minutes saw it pull in, where it disgorged several very disgruntled looking passengers.
Went back to the bakery to get another loaf of the great Turkish bread for our lunch. Sold out! When I said how much I’d been looking forward to it, the lovely lady sold me a half loaf she’d been using to make sandwiches.
After lunch, drove to a place we could park and take Couey for a walk along the Lagoon Walk. She managed to have a wallow in a swampy area beside the track, that she saw before we did. Obviously she likes the way this makes her smell! We don’t.
When we got back to the car, there was a very friendly labrador/retriever type dog hanging around some other travellers parked near us. I opened the back door to try to persuade the reluctant Couey to get in, John opened the driver’s door, and we suddenly had an extra dog. So we had to persuade it out again, whilst keeping Couey in. It didn’t belong to those other travellers, as I’d thought – must have come from one of the nearby houses. It was well fed, tagged, and just super friendly, looking for some new company.
I didn’t go to happy hour back at camp. It seemed a strategic time to hit the showers, instead.
Then it was the usual evening – tea of stir fry honey pork and rice, watching TV, reading, taking dog outside, briefly, every hour or so, until we went to bed.
I didn’t really think dog needed to go out that often, but the treat she got for “performing” as expected, was a great incentive – and she was a fast learner…..