At last: it’s time to head off across country to the Red Centre! We seem to have been on the coast for ages… and much as we love the water, we’re really keen to see the Red Centre.
Charters Towers was our first stop: we didn’t have a lot of time to explore (because we had a deadline to meet the film crew at Alice!) which was a bit of a shame, because we’d heard about the Dinosaur Trail around this area, and thought it would be a bit of fun to chase this up. The trail is roughly a triangle between Winton, Richmond and Hughenden where you can check out fossils and find out a lot more about the rich history of the area. At Winton you can join a tour to see the Fossil Preparation Lab. There is an excellent website with a suggested itinerary here: http://www.australiasdinosaurtrail.com/ – which we have bookmarked for another time!
However, at Charters Towners we were lucky enough to find a group of four palaeontologists tucking into their meal in the communal kitchen, so we got an impromptu lesson on fossils! We soon found out how much we had to learn. They proudly showed us a large rock with various markings on it which was, evidently, a really special find. I am embarrassed to admit that to me… it just looked like a rock. (Guess I really need that tour to find out some more!)
From Charters Towers we headed on to Mt Isa (with the countryside getting hillier as we approached): we were really looking forward to this, because we’d organised to catch up with Doug and Glenda from the C&M forum! They live at Mt. Isa, and know it well, so they chose the Buffs Club for our dinner out. Good choice. We sat and spent a few happy hours chatting about caravan life (now I bet that surprises you… caravanners talking about caravan life???) and hearing about Doug and Glenda’s plans for their next trip.
We passed some humungous great pieces of mining equipment (well, we surmised it was mining equipment, so close to Mt Isa!) taking up ALL the road on huge trucks. This was a case of all traffic having to pull right off the road: no room at all to share! It was quite a sight.
A Bit About Waving….
Now, our plan is that I should take the wheel from time to time, although Rob will do the lion’s share of the driving. However, if I should be in the position of having to drive for some reason, I want to have a bit of practice under my belt. And when I’m driving, I expect Rob to give a bit of advice… and he did. But not what I expected.
Did he talk about my driving?
Did he talk about handling 4WDs?
What did he pick on for his sage advice?
The way I WAVE to people!!!!
Here’s Rob, sitting beside me, saying things like “You don’t have to lift your whole hand off the wheel to wave. You can just lift a finger. Or two fingers. Now, see how he did it…???” and so on. I just smiled sweetly and kept waving just the way I felt like it.
One of the places we stopped for the day was the Ti Tree Roadhouse, happily equipped with a nice bar and good filling meals. This is a place where travellers often choose to overnight on the way through (although if you’ve stocked up ready to free camp, you can stay at the Devil’s Marbles just a bit further down the road). The caravan park at Ti Tree is small but adequate for an overnighter, and there are a few motel rooms as well.
Rob got talking to someone in the bar at the roadhouse (as you do) who said that Aileron, just a few k’s further south, was a ‘must’ to visit. He further confided that there was a time capsule in the male statue’s left gonad. Now, we had no way of checking whether this was true, but it makes a good story!
The statues at Aileron are immense: the male statue on the hill dominates the landscape from either direction. We didn’t go right up on the hill to see this one up close, but you can judge the size of the statues from the photo below where someone is standing looking up at the females.
And next… we finally arrive at Alice! We have been looking forward to this for such a long time.
The question is… what will we find? We’d read plenty about it; we’ve seen documentaries and movies set around this area…but that’s not the same as visiting in person, is it? We’ll keep you posted!