The Wild, Wombat’s Wonderings!


Part 3



16 September 1999 – I began the day with a walking tour of BH.  There are lots of very neat bldgs. in BH.  In he afternoon I did the tour of Silverton which is about 30 km to the NE.  It was a mining boomtown before BH was founded.  However, everything ended up shifting over to BH once silver, etc. were discovered.  There are only a few bldgs. left, but the town & the surrounding area have been used for a number of movies including Mad Max II.  A few km to the west of Silverton begins the Mundi Mundi Plain which stretches away forever.


17 September 1999 – Up early!  The SUV picked me up, & we set off on the tour.  We stopped for tea before proceeding on to Mootwingee NP to see Aboriginal carvings, art & lunch.  From there we headed x-country to White Cliffs.  I didn’t get to sleep underground as my name had been left off the fax & the town was booked up.  There was a “fly-in” just then.  To say the least the ground covered was quite barren.  When Upfield first came to Oz, he worked on stations in this area.


18 September 1999 – Up much too early as my room faced east.  Had coffee with the tour guides.  After brekkie we visited a crusty opal miner, a character, who showed us about his home which was underground in an abandoned opal mine.  We then visited a few of the shops in the town which for some reason specialized in opals. :-)  This was followed by a walkthrough of the surface of where opal miners worked.  It resembled a lunar landscape.  One really did have to be careful of where one walked so as not to fall into one of the mine shafts.  From there we headed back, mostly x-country, to Broken Hill.  White Cliffs is every isolated in the middle of not very much.


19 September 1999 – It was a lazy, warm Sunday.  I walked about the town & spent part of the afternoon catching up on my email. 


20 September 1999 – Since I wasn’t going to be eating, I figured, I would keep busy.  I began the day with a tour of the underground mine.  While it wasn’t a working mine, it had been & I believe the tour guide had worked there before retiring.  It was most interesting.  Afterwards I headed out to Minindee Lakes.  This was land Upfield wrote about in his novels.  I took the scenic route along the river & by the lakes.  The narrow track wound thru brush that came right down to the road.  This made for some excitement when first a couple of roos & a short time later a couple of emus jumped out in front of me.  I didn’t hit them, but the incidences did raise my pulse rate.


21 September 1999 – I was up early as I was heading east.  It would be a long day.  From Broken Hill I went thru Wilcannia [petrol], Cobar, Nyngan, Nevertire, Gilandra to Coonabarabran.  A trip of about 830 km.  It was interesting to watch the landscape change as I drove thru it.  From desert scrub to wheat fields & grazing land.  Oh yes, the towns got closer together.


22 September 1999 – Up early to continue my mad dash across Queensland.  With a toast to Bilbo & Frodo on their birthdays I carried on.  Narrabri, Moree, Goondiwindi, Warwick to Ipswitch on the outskirts of Brisbane a trip of about 665 km.  The landscape continued to change as I drove.  From wheat & grazing lands to farm crops to, finally, semi-tropical growth.  I was able to find Vicki & Tony’s place without too much problem.  Rang up a few folk to let them know I had arrived in the area.


23 September 1999 – This was sort of a regroup day.  I took my car in for it’s 5K service, did some email & even got in an aerobics class.  Probably the only one I’ll do on the trip.


24 September 1999 – Another beautiful day. [Actually, almost all the days have been beautiful.  Chilly sometimes, but generally nice.]  I drove into Brisbane to meet Noel Jackson.  He had stayed with me a couple of Decembers ago.  After meeting his folks we headed out for a seafood lunch & a long natter.  It was a most pleasant day out.


25 September 1999 – Vicki & Tony were helping me host a small BBQ.  Of course, it was a little bit drizzly today.  I seem to have this way with BBQ’s.  However, the enclosed porch was more than adequate.  It was a most pleasant day.  The highlight for me was meeting Michael Finder.  We had a nice long chat.  We may or may not be related.  His family was RC as far back as he could trace.  However, families have been known to change religions in the face of bigotry.  I promised to keep in touch & try & get the Finder in Maryland to send family data to him.  One never knows.


26 September 1999 – Of to central Brisbane where EXPO 88 had been held.  I was meeting Delma & Dennis Stocks for lunch at Captain Snappers.  The food was excellent & the conversation more so.  It was good to see them again.  I believe the last time we got together for a meal was in London. :-)  We later wandered thru the park & the shops there.  After they headed out, I took in a very nice concert on the Green.


27 September 1999 – Off again on a slightly mad dash across Queensland.  I stopped in Toowoomba to try & ring up an acquaintance, no luck.  Then on to Miles, Roma & Charleville.  I was back in the bush.  I watched the landscape reverse the pattern of a few days ago.  Toowoomba is on a ridge.  The land was drying out until I got to the uplift.  Then it became very green & drizzly.  A short distance past the town it became sunny  & dry once again.  By Miles it was back to desert scrub & grazing land.  I was treated to a thunderstorm in Charleville.  For several hours in the middle of the night the rain rattled & drummed off the metal roof of the motel. 


28 September 1999 – I awoke to find brilliant sun & rapidly drying puddles.  No worries about flooding.  Up the Matilda Highway.  I noted the sign proclaiming that Tambo is famous for its Teddy Bears.  At Blackall I located the Black Stump & took a photo of it from the far side. :-)  I took lunch in the Witch’s Kitchen in Barcaldine where the Australian Labor Party started under the Tree of Knowledge.  I ended the day in Longreach, one of the 2 towns associated with the start of QANTAS.  The landscape was quite barren & the towns far apart, 100 to 200 km from one another.


29 September 1999 – I spent most of the day visiting the QANTAS Museum & the Stockman’s Hall of Fame.  Both are worth the effort to reach.  Then on up the road a mere 175 km to the next town, Winton, the other town associated with QANTAS  as well as with Banjo Patterson.  After dinner I took in a movie in a cinema with no roof sitting in deck chairs.  Old time films & cartoons.  It was grand.


30 September 1999 – I began the day with a tour of the Waltzing Matilda Museum.  It is dedicated to Banjo Patterson & the swaggie.  I could have spent more time there.  Afterwards I headed north to Mt. Isa.  My 1st stop was at Kynuna for a hike to the Combo Waterhole where Patterson came up with the idea for Waltzing Matilda.  A number of informative signs along the way.  It is set along the Diamantia River.  Usually dry, but can be up to 20 miles wide when in flood.  Said hi to a couple of roos as I walked along.  Next was a quick stop in McKinley at the Walk About Creek Hotel from the Crocodile Dundee Movie.  Then the push to Mt. Isa to meet Chris & Janet Fountain.  I had met them via letter & later email thru Ben Bova.


1 October 1999 – I lucked into the mine tour.  It was supposedly filled, but a seat opened up at the last minute.  It was a neat tour of a working mine.  Me in mining gear should accompany this.The Wombat and the Wombat  I later wandered about the town.  There was excitement as there would be a parade of the cars going on The Bash.  This is where a mess of weirded up cars, all pre-1966, head across country to the Queensland coast.  The object is to raise money for kids.  The evening was great fun.  I even got to do some backrubs. :-)  I bought a very tacky x-rated calendar from one car.  Anything for kids.

2 October 1999 – Out & about in Mt. Isa.  In the Info Centre I went thru the Riversleigh Museum, which described the area’s fauna & flora.  It was very nice.  In the afternoon I took an aboveground tour of the mines & the town in general.  We got a taste of its historical past.  It put some of what I saw in the mine yesterday in better perspective.


3 October 1999- Up early for a short trip to the nearby bush.  Janet was working on a painting.  Chris & I used the time to wander thru the brush.  We ran across an old Army training base from about 11 years ago.  Some neat rocks & hills in the area.  Later went in search of some Aboriginal art, but couldn’t find it.  However, we did drive thru some wild 4-wheel drive ruts.  During my stay with the Fountain’s Chris introduced me to the TV version of “Stargate.”  I was quite impressed with the series.  It felt rather like SF.  Amazing!


4 October 1999 – Time to head for the coast.  It was an easy drive over Cloncurry, Julia Creek, Richmond, Hughenden & finally Charter Towers, only 750 km.  From desert scrub to grazing land.  It was still very dry country.


5 October 1999 – The drive to Airlie Beach over Bowen went quickly.  The change in landscape was dramatic.  The dry forest with scattered trees gave way to tropical landscape with it lush greenery.  I was soon in the midst of sugar cane plantations.  I arrived about Noon.  I had no problem finding the abode of Eric Lindsay & Jean Weber.  After settling in Eric took me on a tour of the town.  We also arranged for a cruise out to one of the Whitsunday Islands.  It was the start of two exhausting, but fun, days.


6 October 1999 – The day started at 0530.  I joined Eric to go aboard an outrigger canoe to paddle about the harbor.  Well, I am on vacation.  We came back, had breakfast & then headed over for the cruise to Hayman Island.  I was only going to snorkel, but decided on going for a dive as well.  We went down about 11 m & was under for about a half hour.  It was great fun.  After a snack on the beach Eric & I snorkeled back to the boat.  On the way back I joined other in some boom netting.  We hung onto heavy netting while in the water as the boat rushed on.  Neat!  That evening Julia Hilton joined Eric, Jean & I for dinner and the trivia contest afterward, tho Jean declined to stay for the latter.  We, of course, won.  The prize was a 2 for one Rain Forest Tour.  Eric took a pass on this & Julia would meet me the next morning for the trip.  I finally got some sleep.


7 October 1999 – Up at the crack of dawn.  Argh!  The birds make a god-awful racket.  I met Julia at 1000 & off we went on the tour.  It was really neat.  The chap leading the tour knew his stuff and was very informative.  I still shudder at the plant whose leaves grow silica needles, not to mention the poisonous fungi.  After the tour I got a short breather before Eric, Jean & I went over to a restaurant where we were to meet Julia & Craig.   We had a nice nosh & natter before returning to Eric & Jean’s place for more chat.  Craig gave me a copy of his book about life in Coolie, WA & in the coalmines there.  I played spoilsport as I had to get up early & on the road.  Life in Airlie Beach is seductive.  Jean & Eric’s place overlooks the bay & ocean.  Rough life!


8 October 1999 – Back on the road again.  The road took me over Marian, Eton, Nebo, Clermont, and Emerald to Rolleston about 850 km.  Along the way I noted that I had cracked my windscreen.  Bugger!  Oh well, unless it was life threatening, I would repair it just before I sold it back.  The hotel was full.  I found  a small empty caravan in the nearby caravan park.  I’ve stayed in better.  No blankets!  It got cold that night.  I froze. Y!


9 October 1999 – I was up by about 0530.  No place to eat.  Oh well, I’m too fat.  I drove down to Carnarvon NP, the Carnarvon Gorge Section.  The last 40 km was over unsealed road & across floodways with water in them.  The hike up the gorge was about 12 km return.  It was fairly warm, & I worked up a good sweat.  However, the hike was worth the effort.  It was gorgeous.  I wouldn’t mind returning.  It gets booked out 6-9 months in advance.  Beautiful country.  I then carried on over Injune to Roma.  I looked forward to a good night’s sleep


10 October 1999 – This would be a very long day.  From Roma to St. George to Cunnamulla to Bourke [Yup, took a photo of the town sign from the backside.] to Nyngan to Narromine & finally Dubbo.  Only about 1120 km.  I pushed it a little bit.  As I was checking in, I took a look in the bar.  I was hailed by some lads & lassies who were drinking there.  We chatted until closing.  I gave one of the lasses a backrub.  One of the blokes had thoughtfully put 4 barstools together for her to lie on.  She thought is was “good shit!”


11 October 1999 – Up relatively early for brekkie & then off to the Dubbo Zoo.  It was well worth the trek there.  Rather than drive it, I ended up walking the tour of the zoo which is about 5-10 km.  No worries, I had all day.  A delightful walk.  Afterwards I dropped into the Dubbo Gaol.  It is a very interesting tourist attraction.  There are about 25 to 30 figures which “tell” their story of why they are there.  I could have spent a little bit more time there, but got thrown out when it closed.


12 October 1999 – This day was to be the start of a long period of frustration.  Up & out early.  From the almost desert scrub of Dubbo the landscape would turn into semi-tropical coastal forests.  My drive took me over Gilandra, Coonabarabran, Gunnedah, Tamworth [Managed to lose my credit card here.  Real smart!], Armidale to Coffs Harbour.  The last leg took me thru a small state forest where the trees met over the road to create a cathedral like atmosphere.  Beautiful.  At the hotel I realized I had lost my card.  I called & they would be sending me a card immediately.  Well sort of.  I had enough cash to carry on in any case.  The room was only $20.


13 October 1999 – Up & out early!  Down the Pacific Highway to Sydney.  Of course, I did have to make a small detour.  At Macksville I headed inland for Taylor Arm & the home of the Cosmopolitan Hotel – The Pub With No beer!  The town is set in an exquisite valley.  Hell, the drive down the valley was worth the trip.  Back to Macksville on to Taree, Newcastle & finally Sydney.


14 October 1999 – This was a short period of relaxation.  Today I didn’t do much of anything.  I worked on my diary, played solitaire & read. 


15 October 1999 – Up early to take my car in for the 10K Service.  Came back for a nice long natter with Anne Devrell & Susan Batho.  The promised credit card didn’t show up.  I called Citibank.  They didn’t know why it wasn’t there.  I would try calling UPS several times, but no one is there on weekends.


16 October 1999 – Worked on the diary, hoping the credit card would show up.  Spent the afternoon with Maryanne Finder & met her family.  It was a delightful afternoon.  We discussed the possibility that we were related among a host of other topics.  Michael Finder is her Brother-in-Law.  They are wonderful folk.


17 October 1999 – Went out with Susan & Graeme to the Norman Lindsay Museum.  It is a remarkable place.  Well worth a visit.  His paintings, sketches & sculptures are something else.  I appreciated the fact he appreciated the nude female figure. :-)