Wednesday, September 23, 2015

northern territory: kunjarra to avon downs to camooweal to mount isa

Kunjarra (Devil's Pebbles) was a beautiful place to stay the night. The family did the loop walk again in the morning (in the opposite direction) through the grass and boulders. 

Devil's Pebbles to Avon Downs 
From the Pebbles we used the dump point, water and fuel stop at Tennant Creek to restock the essentials before heading east at Three Ways to the Avon Downs Police Station free camp. 

As we drove across the Northern Territory border in to Queensland J remarked that this is the last state to visit. Whilst we will be returning to our home state of New South Wales in a few months, Queensland is the final state to visit on our trip around Australia. It is a milestone and a pretty big one. We're not ready to head home back to work. The kids could do with their regular school friends though as we've only seen a few travelling families briefly in the past few weeks. We are looking forward to getting settled again. There's something about a routine which is a comfort but there is one thing for sure - we are going to miss life on the road. 

I know J thought I'd never say that. There have been times when I've needed my own space and quiet but we've seen incredible things, forged stronger bonds as a family and made some wonderful friends.  

We met some fun people at Avon Downs. The couple are from Sydney and have grown up children and have purchased their first off-roader. We enjoyed a drink under the stars while discussing the complex and saddening issues that face Indigenous Australians. 

Avon Downs to Camooweal 
From Avon Downs we had a short drive to Georgina River just outside of the little town of Camooweal. What a delight this was. The billabong is drying now so the mass of pelicans fish in formation around the clock. It's a sight! 

There was playing in the mud... 

... whittling.... 

... the boys hanging... 

and Mr Whippy! I know, random! 

Brolgas were elegantly fishing along the bank too. J heard them courting overnight. Black and whistling kites flew overhead. The birdlife was remarkable. 

Brolgas at dawn. 

Camooweal to World War II Free Camp

I'll remember this day forever - not because of the late start - schoolwork, topping up water, baby's sleep. I won't remember it, necessarily, for the free camp we've pulled into and where the kids played cricket while I cooked bread, a cake and dinner. I'll remember this day for the moments on the Barkly Highway that came and went in a flash. Those were the moments that a road train was careering towards us on our side of the road as he overtook a campervan. 

I was prattling on about some review if read about a cafe in Mount Isa that we might visit while in town when I noticed (moments later than J) that the truck was in our lane. J calmly braked a bit while I held on to the glove box rail in front of me. I must say that a very rude word was repeated over and over from my mouth as I watched the truck closing in. I was eyeing up the road's shoulder and guide posts, thinking we'd be heading that way shortly. Fortunately it wasn't a drop off the side like much of the road is. 

I kept swearing (quietly) and J kept calmly assessing the situation until the road train finally pulled in to his lane and left our hearts back where they belonged. The truckie kindly acknowledged what had occurred with an apologetic wave and I waved frantically and thankfully at the campervan behind him. 

For a long, long time I couldn't talk. My heart was thumping through my chest and I had to lean my head on the dash. 

My thoughts were with our three little kids in the back of the car who were unwittingly listening to their audiobooks (and babbling - the baby). 

In an instant, life can be changed forever. We've seen some stupid stuff on the roads. Within half an hour later a car overtook us on a blind corner and seconds later a road train appeared. Every day on the road is risky business. There are many close calls and I don't plan to have another one. 

I was so proud of J. His calm manner served us well today and he assessed the situation as it came. Leaving the road while towing a three and a half tonne caravan would not have been ideal and we arrived safely at our destination, the WWII free camp just west of Mount Isa. 

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