Well sometimes you’ve got to get lucky with timing, and today we did. We happened to be in Birdsville on day that the town’s famous bakery reopened! We were front and centre to get some supplies for our trip toward home before heading for fuel and then leaving town.
The sign told us 1,602km to home and we planned to spread that over another three days of cruising, with most of that on black top once we met junction of the Diamantina Development Road in 250km or so. But before even reaching that fork in the road we had some more iconic sites to visit.
During our travels it was easy to see how the Dreamtime story of the Rainbow Serpent could come to life, with the twists and folds of earth looking to have been moulded by a giant writhing snake. The modern interpretation of the Rainbow Serpent on a remote hillside nearing Betoota is a great landmark and well placed reminder of the story’s origins.
A little further and we took the intersection northward to the old Betoota ruins, but the road was underwater and boggy behind the racecourse so we didn’t venture that far. The Betoota Hotel however was still trading strongly, and couldn’t be missed with its ensemble of cool old vehicles parked out the front. Funnily enough they didn’t have any copies of the Betoota Advocate on hand…
Within 20km of rejoining the main road we pulled over for morning coffee on top of Deon’s Lookout, a wonderful spot with endless views to the north, and memorial of a tragic helicopter crash. The flies were manic which came as a surprise so far up on a hill top, so we didn’t linger long and were soon on the road again.
Our pace quickened once we aired up and rolled onto the bitumen, although it was still single lane wide and with rough shoulders. We got a few nice surprises through the day when UHF chatter picked up on the Patriot Camper in tow with favourable comments, and we were recognised by Ian towing his white X1 to a rendezvous at the Finke races, from where we had come.
A short side trip took us to ruins of the JC Hotel, a pioneering landmark that is now only stumps and debris in a paddock, but which was once an important coach stop and watering hole on the lonely road to Birdsville. We were well into the Cooper Creek channel country now, with a stop at Windorah for lunch and a break from driving. It is 35 years since I was last at Windorah, when doing some work here as an electrical apprentice and uni student, and while it has changed it sort of hasn’t either…
With a bit more time I would like to have swung through Eromanga’s natural history museum and its dinosaur presentations, but it will wait for another trip. Instead we continued to Quilpie, end of the western railway line that was source of its prosperity through last century. Only a little further now was our camp for the night at The Lake, just east of Quilpie on an old billabong of the Bulloo River.
The Lake is a gem of a campground, with powered sites near to the homestead and open range bush camping on banks of the lake itself. We had a glorious location, albeit with a few bugs at dusk and dawn. Definitely a place to keep on the list for future trips out this way.
Our outback adventure came to a rapid end the next day. The weather report foretold of a wet ending to our plans so an overnight camp at Roma was bypassed, and instead we pushed right through to Brisbane. It was a 950km 11 hour haul that saw us running through rain and fog with hardly a break to get blog worthy pictures, so apologies for the abrupt end of this telecast. 🙂
We had a most excellent trip, our initial disappointment at a cancelled desert crossing turned into a 7,500km mystery tour that is better than we could have imagined and which laid down life long memories we’ll share with a smile. Thank you for coming along on this rain chased ride through the red (green) centre of Australia, we look forward to you jumping onboard again soon.