This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2013 Travels July 21


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!

Couey’s dust patch

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.

The Masonic Lodge building at Barcaldine

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.

The contrasting materials of the Lodge building

I loved the old Radio Theatre building. Its Art Nouveau style also really didn’t seem to “fit” the town, but was wonderfully imaginative.

Radio Theatre building

We saw houses with much character and hotels that would have plenty of tales to tell, could they but speak.

Barcaldine house

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.

Tree of Knowedge – in 2000

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.

…….and in 2013

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.

Preserved skeleton of Tree of Knowledge outside Barcaldine Railway Station

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.

The Spirit of the Outback pulling into Barcaldine Station

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…..

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2013 Travels July 20


We got away, as normal, at 9am, after I’d phoned and booked us into a caravan park in Barcaldine.

The road – the Matilda Way – between Tambo and Barcaldine was atrocious. There were long sections that were extremely bumpy and bouncy. It was worst on the sections of Mitchell grass plains, not as bad on the rises. I seemed to remember from our times further north, that Mitchell grass grows on cracking clay soils – guess the seasonal expansion and contraction of these played havoc with the road structure.

Despite John dropping the speed to under 60kmh, I was having to brace myself not to get bumped up out of my seat, and was really expecting something major on Bus to break, at any minute, Like the suspension! The roadworks certainly needed to extend to this section of road, pronto.

We were passed by some caravans that were heading south. They were clearly having difficulties towing straight on the bouncy sections.

The summer coastal floods and road closures of the past couple of years, had caused much heavy truck traffic to divert to this highway, and that had certainly added to the road deterioration.

Whilst we’d been at Evening Star, we’d been told that the Roma-Charleville road was also bad.

North of Blackall, the road was somewhat better.

We refuelled at Barcaldine, at a small Mobil servo on a side street, that was cheaper than the one on the highway, and without the queue. $164.6cpl.

The annual goat races were happening at the Showgrounds. That was, apparently, a big event in the district, and there was quite a crowd, lots of noise – and lots of goats. I could see some motorhomes and caravans parked in clusters around the grounds – a cheap camping area. Today’s events would be quite an interruption to a quiet stay at the local showgrounds!

When I’d phoned to book us in to the Barcaldine Tourist Park, I’d explained, as I normally do, about the length of Bus and the need to park the car as well. They had allocated us a shaded site, with room to park the car behind Bus – but it was right next to the highway! We just hoped there was not too much truck traffic during the night. The park was just after the 60kmh zone started, and trucks were either changing down gears, or still changing up after turning onto this road. $28 a night.

Squeezed in beside the highway at Barcaldine

After we’d set up, I took the car down the street and managed to buy the Saturday papers from the roadhouse. Bought some very nice Turkish bread from the bakery, and some dips from supermarket, as well as some chilli and lime salami for (very late) lunch. The bread had some sort of black seeds on top. I didn’t know what they were, but they tasted great. The salami was for John – he wasn’t much impressed with this variation.

Hotels all in a row…..Barcaldine main street on a weekend afternoon

John spent the rest of the day making up for his WOW deprivation of the past few days – back on the internet again! I read the papers, played ball with dog on the dirt road that ran down the side of the park. Amused myself watching the park manager directing newcomers onto sites, some of which were quite small. John had parked close to the garden on our site and there was still only barely room to put the awning out.

We’d been so shook up by today’s awful road that John decided we’d stay an extra night here, before venturing out on the roads again. That was fine by me. Barcaldine was yet another town we’d passed through a number of times but never had time to stop and explore.

I ventured across to the happy hour gathering, which featured tea and damper, and enjoyed chatting with some fellow travellers. John remained attached to his screen.

The late lunch meant a light tea. Toast and chicken noodle soup.

Football was on TV at night.

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2000 Travels May 19


The day did not look promising.

We packed up, hitched up and got away alright, in the rain and mud.

It was a pleasant enough drive back through the range country and on to Jericho, where we stopped again to eat lunch.

Stopped again, briefly, in Barcaldine, to have a look at the Tree of Knowledge. This ghost gum was supposed, during the 1890’s Shearers’ Strikes, to have been the site of meetings from which grew the ALP. It was right outside the railway station.

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The Tree of Knowledge at Barcaldine

From there, we pressed on to Longreach, through mostly flat black soil and Mitchell grass country. The weather did not improve as we headed west.

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Threatening skies between Barcaldine and Longreach

Booked into the Gunnadoo Caravan Park, on the eastern edge of town, not far from the Stockmans Hall of Fame. Cost us $17 for a powered site. It seemed quite a slick operation and a fairly large park. Due to the day’s rain, it was rather muddy. We paid for two nights.

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Muddy caravan park at Longreach

As we only expected to stay a couple of nights, did not bother to put out the awning. We did have a cement slab where we could put the table and chairs, if it was fine enough to do so.

Tea was stir fried vegetables and rice.

I phoned K and left a message as to where we are.

About 8.30pm, we got quite a fright, when a big jet plane flew over us – very low! Only then did we realize we were right by the airport – and right under the runway approach.

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From Rubyvale to Longreach. Also shows the route when we went to Rockhampton.