Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 20

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Wednesday March 26, 2008 (diary, travel)

The Mitchell Motel

I wake up early in the morning, get things sorted, pack up and by 9.30 am after saying goodbye to Doug am on the road. About 600kms today to Mitchell, but the first three hours to Dalby (going via a shortcut, Beerwah, Kilkoy, Jarraman and Kaimbellenbun) are not easy. All turning and twisting country roads with a fair bit of traffic. I fuel up in Dalby, but find in Miles (128 km further on) an even cheaper discount fuel station (Choice), so I top up there again.

I arrive in Mitchell (85 km West of Roma) at 4.30 pm, all up 7 hours of solid driving. I heard on my previous stop here that there is quite a basic but clean motel on the other side of town. So I drive past the expensive one in town and check out this Mitchell Motel (Tel. 07 4623 1355). I am delighted, it is clean, freshly painted, newly tiled bathroom, compact but very comfortable. So I book in.
The Historic Courthouse Hotel Graham Allen, the Motel manager, recommends the Courthouse Hotel for dinner, so I go there. Again, fantastic, my favourite rissoles, done to perfection and washed down with a couple of beers.
On my way back I check with the little Cafe in town (with life size clay kangaroos in front of it) where I had a fantastic breakfast 3 months ago. The owner tells me she will be open tomorrow from 7.30 am. I have to travel 784 kms tomorrow to Winton, a long day, 9 hours driving, but I hope to squeeze that breakfast in if I can.

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Thursday March 27, 2008 (diary, travel)

Boab trees Yesterday was a day for smelling, lovely flower fragrances in the coastal hinterland, then the smell of hay and rain farther inland. Yes, of course, a few fuel fumes from passing road trains too here and there.
Today it is very much visual, and trees, trees, trees. I decide not to have breakfast in town but leave early before 7 am. It is 15° C as I leave, but gradually warms up during the day and about 30° at noon. The 500 km NW stretch from Mitchell to Barcaldine features many trees at places intermittend with grassy pastures. There are many trees with silver green leaves which look magnificent in the early morning light. Soon the Boab trees too start to appear.

I arrive in Barcaldine (108 km East of Longreach) at noon and have my big breakfast there in the Round the Bend Cafe, quite good, although not as special as the one in Mitchell (I will have one there on my return trip for sure!). Then on to Longreach where I tank up before the final 180 kms to Winton. From Barcaldine onwards it is all flat country, mainly grass with the odd bushes and trees speckled through it.

Tattersalls Hotel, Winton I book in at the Outback Motel in Winton (180 kms NW of Longreach). I stayed here before, unpretentious but with all the mod cons and good value at $70, also only a short stroll to the Tatts.
Dinner of course again at the Tattersalls Hotel, Fillet Mignon again, superb steak, good sauce, crisp chips, $19.- Nowhere else do you get value like that. I have a few beers and chat with one of the locals who also was in Bougainville in the 70s, but before me, in construction and also training as a pilot.   Back at the Motel I ring Freda my regular bridge partner in Darwin and let her know I am on my way back. We're on for next Thursday.
Tomorrow and easier day, only 650 km to Camooweal right on the Queensland- Northern Territory border.

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Friday March 28, 2008 (diary, travel)

My first day was about smelling, the second about seeing, this is my day of feeling. I wake up early, the skin on my arms, legs and body feel clean, soft and smooth thanks to the several Artesian water showers I have had these past two days. I breath the air, it too is very special, clean, crisp, absolutely wonderful. People living inland have to cope with higher fuel and beer prices, but their water and air is absolutely priceless.
Table mountain near Kynuna Living in a large city with all the air pollution, I realise for the umpteenth time, is just so unhealthy, I have been avoiding them for years. Smokers smoke only a limited number of cigarets a day, but breathing air is something you do 24 hours a day, every day of your life. The consequences of this have as yet not been studied sufficiently.

It is 22° C as I leave at 7.30 am, quite cool, but pleasant. Also overcast for most of the day, so ideal driving conditions. After an hour and a half I arrive at the Kynuna Roadhouse 180 kms North of Winton. I have a big breakfast. It is OK but no match for the Mitchell breakfast. I take 60 photos today of various features along the road, some from the driving car at 110 kph while holding the camera outside the window.

The initial landscape is an endless flat plane with remnant table top mountains of an earlier earth surface. The landscape here is millions and millions years old. It gives me a strong sense of awareness of time, the early earth and the universe. Every time I drive through here it infuses me with extra energy and a deeper spirituality. It never misses.

Think abut the Alps for a moment, imagine how long it will take before the Rhine, Po river etc. have eroded the Alps to a flat surface so that Switserland, Austria and the North of Italy are flat as a pancake. No need for those cute cowbells anymore, for you can see each animal in plain view from miles away !
That is the stage of what we have here in inland Australia. When you realise that the mind boggles. This earth surface has not been submerged by water or squeezed by crustal forces for millions and millions of years. What to the mindless eye may look as boring, is in fact something absolutely awesome. And it has happened twice, as the remnant table top mountains around the Winton - Kynuna area, which represent an even more ancient eroded flat earth surface at an earlier higher level, show us.

Post Office Hotel, Camoweal I arrive in Cloncurry (345 km NW of Winton) around noon, do some shopping in the Woolworth Supermarket I usually do here, phone the Post Office Hotel in Camoweal to book a motel unit, then go on my way to Mt.Isa. The landscape is totally different here with hard rock outcrops and hills, rich in extensively mined metals.
I arrive at Camoweal around 3pm and start sorting out my photos. I select 8 for the Blog, then go to the bar and have several beers, chat with a fellow traveler and share a table with him for my meal : sausages, chips, salad.

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Saturday March 29, 2008 (diary, travel)

After three overcast days I enter the Northern Territory (NT) this morning, the sun shines and I feel welcome. Just compare the Police road signs. In all Eastern States (Qld., NSW, Vic.) there are these huge Adverting boards along the road :

Every K over the speed limit is a killer!

Buckle up or wear the fine

Rest or R.I.P

Road in the NT, 50km W of Camoweal We are addressed here as would be criminals and I find this highly offensive. In such mood nobody is ever going to oblige and put their shoulder to the wheel. And of course the statistics speak for themselves, 21 dead this Easter weekend as compared to 13 the year before.

In the Northern Territory the approach is totally different, quite the opposite in fact. There is not a single offence sign on the roads here. Instead repeated unoffensive notices, friendly reminders, nudges to join and help out :

"Pull over when Sleepy"     "Plan your next Rest"

and at every Rest area : "Enjoy your Rest"     At the Rest area Exit     "Buckle up"

There are also humorous reminders to be careful with fire :

We like our Lizards frilled, not grilled"

or, next to a large boomerang sign :
"Not everything returns after a Bush fire"

These signs are repeated at regular intervals along the road and have a very positive effect on one's inclination, attitude and action. I feel I am being welcomed here, not abused like a potential law breaker. The other States can find a lot to learn in this outpost of Australian freedom, the Northern Territory.

First up a 440 kms drive West from Camoweal to Three Ways (25 km N of Tennant Creek), located at the intersection with the "Stuart Highway" which runs NS through the entire NT. I arrive there at lunch time and phone the Dunmarra Roadhouse, 325 Km further North to book a room. They have no mobile phone coverage there so I decide to have lunch at the Three Ways Roadhouse and pick up my emails there. They have savoury mince with toast on the Menu. I have not seen that for years in any Pub so have it. It is in fact delicious, with a hash brown and grilled tomato on the side. Reason enough for a minced meat lover like myself to bear it in mind and have the same again here in 7 months time.

Road in the NT, 150 km N of Three Ways I drive on, see a nice panoramic view and in order to take a good photo climb up a road cut to a higher vantage point. Photos taken I scramble back down but lose my footing and land with a smack flat on my face on the side of the road. My hands have braised my fall, but in the process I badly hurt my left shoulder.
I get up slowly and reach my car, climb in and drive away but when shifting gear my shoulder hurts so bad I almost pass out. I stop the car, let things settle down, drink some fruit juice, eat a banana. Slowly I am back to normal, sort of. I can steer the car with my left hand, but need to reach over with my right to shift gears.
Eventually I arrive at Dunmarra, the room is very basic, with noisy toilet, fridge, aircon, but cheap. The dinner is not bad, but there are many flies around in the dining room, eventually kept at bay when the waitress waves around with an insect spray can.
I go to bed early, sleep is painful, but eventually I find the least uncomfortable position and fall asleep.

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Sunday March 30, 2008 (diary, travel)

I feel much better as I get up, but still can't lift my upper left arm. I get on the way and phone my son Jeroen when within mobile phone coverage. I can't set up a tent with my hurt left arm, so will stay with him for a few days or so.

Back view of Jeroen and Lisa's home On my way I drop in at Kim and Andrew at their mango farm in Virginia (30km S of Darwin). Some other friends are there already in their caravans. The grass has grown enormously since I left 4 months ago and Andrew made good progress with the house. I will make photos soon. I look very much forward staying with them again.
In Darwin Jeroen and Lisa's place also has been improved. The garden looks great and they have built a lovely entertaining area underneath the house. We talk but all go to bed early.

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Monday March 31, 2008 (diary)

Bar Zushi, Casuarina, NT I have a good night sleep and my shoulder feels a bit better too. In the morning I ring my GP in Palmerston, but he is fully booked for the next few days. I have more luck with one in Casuarina and will see him tomorrow.
The chefs and staff at the Bar Zushi sushi train restaurant in the Casuarina Shopping Centre are all happy to see me again. Their Terriyaki chicken is as good as ever. I do some shopping and return home for a siesta.

Around 4 PM I hop back in the car and head for the Stokes Hill Wharf, a great spot to sit on the Darwin Harbour front. There are lots of eateries and I order a dozen Scallops Mornay as entree. I will have pizza at the Bridge Club later on. I bought at Casuarina Richard Dawkins' first book which made him famous, The Selfish Gene. Reading the introductions I realise that what I said in my Blog on March 22 fits in well with Dawkins' ideas.

It is good to see all the familiar faces at the Bridge Club. They have their AGM before play and to entice everybody attending there are free pizzas. Shortly after my bridge partner for tonight Mairead also arrives. We have a most enjoyable evening. I will play with her for three Monday nights and two Thursday evenings with Freda in Palmerston, before I leave for Germany.

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Copyright © 2008 Michael Furstner