Day 7: Saturday 3rd June – Ayrshire Hills to Mount Isa 

From: Ayrshire Hills bush camp off the Old Landsborough Highway

To: Mount Isa, north-west Queensland

Distance: 403 km

Time: 4.5 hours

Well not every day can be perfect, and this was one of those. Some time during the night, what started as a niggling headache evolved into a full blown migraine, which made the 403 kms quite a challenge for me, feeling hot and cold, shivering with stinging, streaming eyes and pounding head. I was not the best of travel companions.

Thankfully it was a ‘relatively’ short drive to Mount Isa, where we pulled in to a very basic caravan park and set up under a tree. I collapsed in bed feeling awful while the very patient Mr A set about doing our washing and cycled into the city centre to find me strong drugs and stock up on supplies. Our next two nights are going to be bush camping, so we needed to ensure we were well stocked with water and food for the trip.

Mount Isa is here because of the mining (lead, silver, copper and zinc) with a large Aboriginal community and substantial poverty and crime. Much of the mining population is fly-in, fly-out. It was slightly disturbing being warned as we entered to ensure we lock our car and van at night. We were amused when the park owner asked us whether we had an address – many of the grey nomads coming through here have sold up their homes and are living as gypsies, wherever they park up being their home.

I was last here 18 years ago, when I called through via coach on the way to Darwin. I was given 2 hours to explore, and my lasting impression of the town from the lookout was the metallic taste of the air here. I am guessing the pollution levels have been decreased now, as I don’t notice that today.

Hoping for a good night’s sleep tonight, in preparation for more long hours and distances over the next couple of days…fingers crossed!

And finally, back by popular demand, the top three things learned from podcasts today:

  • There are two types of artists (including musicians, painters, writers) – the Picassos – those who can pen a song/paint a finished masterpiece in 15 minutes (eg Bob Dylan) and those who take years – the Cezannes (eg Leonard Cohen, Elvis Costello)
  • The Toyota scandal in the USA in 2009 (accelerator stuck to the floor, brakes don’t work) cost Toyota billions in court costs and recalls, but in reality was caused by human error (foot hitting accelerator instead of the brake in an unfamiliar car)
  • The Challenger space shuttle disaster, while horrendous, improved engineering and NASA’s business processes exponentially

Day 6: Friday 2nd June

From: Cooper Creek

To: Ayrshire Hills bush camp off the Old Lansborough “Highway” (dirt road), an hour south of Kynuna, central QLD

Distance: 560km

Time: 7.30am  – 4pm = 8.5 hrs


Leaving Cooper Creek in the dawn light we headed north again on a single lane road (tarmac) and playing

1.  Spot the road train coming

2. Spot the suicidal roo

3. Hold your breath until the next bend (about 130km so we lost that one!)

We arrived at the birthplace of Qantas, Longreach, and resupplied with the de rigour huge Queensland bread rolls and a few other essentials for the road trip still to come. A series of podcasts and before we know it we are eagerly trying to find our camp for the night. WikiCamps again delivers – we turned off at some low lying hills along the Old Lansborough Highway (the first hills we have seen for days) and follow a dirt track around their base. I manage to drive a bit too close to a washout and the road collapses, the car dropping about half a metre into it! Low range is enagaged and reverse gear backs us out safely…phew…

We then pull up to our camp for the night facing the setting sun. A quick clamber up the low hill behind us and the view opens up. The sandy plain is covered in footprints from camels, kangaroos and goats, plus shows us evidence of snakes and lizards which had passed by during the day.

It’s wine o’clock and what a sunset.  It has to be a spag bol with a delicious red from our wine cabinet after a show like that!
The evening continued with a fabulous moon and starlit night – the lack of light pollution allows us to try out some more star photography…and yes, we can still wear shorts at 10pm!