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Stage 3 – Mt Isa

Today we had a later start, as we had some sightseeing to do – The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame. Not alot of time unfortunately and quite alot to see, all very interesting however, i do note that its the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and there was pretty much only QLD stockman, stories and memorabiliaa – what’s with that, NSW had stockman and i’m sure the other states did too !! A little disappointing considering my family are from farming background but otherwise it was quite good.So after the Hall, we headed on our way to Mount Isa. The temperature today – about 30 by 10am, just lovely but thankfully it didn’t go above 38 for the day thanks to some lovely cloud cover – phew!

Our route Longreach to Mt Isa has us heading along the Landsborough Hwy and Barkly Hwy via Kynuna, McKinley – a settlement doomed for extinction if not for being used a location on the movie Crocodile Dundee; Winton – a cattle and sheep-raising centre, and also the rail head for transporting cattle brought from the Channel Country by road train and two major claims to fame – inspiring Banjo Paterson and the founding of Qantas airlines in 1920 and Cloncurry – the centre for a copper boom in the 19th century, the Curry was the largest copper producer in the British Empire. Today it’s a pastoral centre, and the town’s major claim to fame is as the birthplace of the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS). It has also recorded Australia’s highest temperature in the shade 53.1 degrees in 1889!

Once again lunch proved to be problematic, all the towns are small and due to our later start the ‘eateries’ were few and far between – unless Smith’s and Cadbury were going to make the lunch menu – so we starved till Mt Isa when we yes we are sad to say partook in McDonalds, for no real reason then we knew what we were going to get (unlike the last few lunches), that it would be open and it was quick and we were starving !! Mind you this is the first Macca’s we have come across since leaving Roma which is rather refreshing.

Our scenery – well it really did change we went from wide open plains, to grasslands that reminded me of the Savannah, to a lunar like landscape, termite hills reminding us of the Nevada/Utah landscape to parched sunburnt land – Banjo really did know how to describe this country.

Our animals for the day, not really that different though happy to report far far less road kill, which may have something to do with us moving away from the stock routes and into very dry creek bed territory. The usual bird sightings – crows, pee wee’s and what we think are wedge tail eagles, a few Emu’s and two or three little mini Emu’s – we don’t think they are baby Emu’s but don’t know what they are so stay tuned for that one.

Of all the creeks/rivers we passed/drove over (which there really were quite alot) there were maybe five that actually had water in them. One in particular stood out, Cloncurry. It must have been the same size as the Hunter river at Hexham – so not small by any shape or size – but it was bone dry for as far as the eye could follow it – it was just unfortunate that we were on a bridge with other traffic (seriously how rude), no real place to turn around and go back but more pressing was getting to Mt Isa before nightfall – we did not plan on adding to the road kill tally! It really was a sight to behold particularly given the sign when we entered the city limits –“water is a precious resource in Cloncurry, please use it wisely” – they ain’t kiddin !

Mt Isa is a town of stark red ridges and olive-green clumps of Spinifex that owes it’s prosperity to to rich underground lead, zinc silver and copper ore bodies west of the city and is home to Australia’s largest Rodeo and our home for the night is another hut slightly bigger and possibly slightly better where we crashed in front of pay TV – love the travel channel 🙂

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