Barkly Homestead 4,871kms

May 26, 2009

We were awoken by beautiful birdsong this morning. This has been a particular delight of mine for the whole trip as it changes slightly everywhere we go. The only 2 times that didn't happen was in Brisbane (high rise apartment) and Mt Tambourine (a shock this one surrounded by lush palm vegetation and not a bird to be heard). The bird life has been rich since before Longreach and continues here. Great numbers of little birds right through to my favourite soaring eagles. What a treat to watch them soar as I ride then see their majestic shadow cross the road in front of me!

The temperature was comfortable as we rolled out of Mt Isa so we had our padded liners out of the jackets then shed the waterproof lining at Camooweal. We didn't need the water protection just the extra warmth. Two thirds of the way from there to here I ditched the long sleeve T top as well and the ride remained comfortable but my goodness, each stop for a drink or walk and finally fuel and to get our cabin key the temperature increased. Even got a T shirt shorts and thongs on as I write this. Norm is trying to find some pop rivets and some tin to reinforce my front mudguard. Can't find the
100 mile an hour tape we thought we packed so we'll either find that when we unpack at home or we took it out to use before we left. The guard had a slight split in it when I bought it and I had it repaired and painted. About half way here this morning when I slowed to stop for a break I noticed a tinny rattle. Norm checked and found the crack had opened up again. By the time we got here after a lot more bumpy road surface (also evidenced by a headache for me) it has opened much more so needs some repairs so it doesn't get worse. And as you may have guessed once dismantled the split is much worse than initially thought. Bugger!

The bike in bits.

The roads have been largely long and straight with no overtaking lanes, not that they are needed as there is ample opportunity for passing. An awesome sight was both the approaching traffic in front and the receding traffic behind forever disappearing into a heat shimmer as if melting into glassy sheets of water, so it wasn't just us feeling hot, the road did as well.

The terrain today gradually changed from rugged red stony outcrops and hills with reasonable tree cover to rolling hilly plains with more grass and fewer trees. By the time we got to Camooweal this had opened up to vast flat (near enough) well grassed country which continued way beyond the Northern Territory border. There were vast stretches with not a tree in sight then there would be an occasional one but mostly it was empty of trees other than an often distant green line snaking the outline of creeks and watercourses. Awesome. This gradually changed to a combination and variations of grassland with low growing eucalyptus and acacia trees and other scrub and termite mounds from a few inches to a few feet in height. The density varied from then to here.

In areas which hadn't been burnt in the last year or so and where the acacia was in full bloom the fragrance was deliciously sweet. We also found a small shrub we thought was a flowering grey leafed eucalyptus but on closer inspection the leaves are like a squat holly shaped leaf complete with small spiky bits on the leaves and the flower was like a miniature drooping collection of sturt desert pea type flowers without the black bit. Quite exquisite. Also found some pretty little succulents.

Still a couple of hundred kms from the north south highway so will get to there and head north tomorrow.
Till then take care.

Our cabin at Barkly Homestead. A relief to find it clean and comfortable inside including the en suite after our experience of the old donga at Derwent Bridge in Tassie.