The caravan park at Alpha turned out to be delightful. It was quiet, relaxed and had clean facilities with excellent water pressure in the showers. I was refreshed when I woke up; ready for another day on the road.
From Alpha we climbed the last vestiges of the Great Dividing Range; all 440m in altitude that it was. As soon as we crossed it everything became drier. Where to the east the rivers and creeks still held water, here they didn’t.
We stopped in Barcaldine to look at the Tree of Knowledge. When I was a child it was still an actual tree but it has since died and has been replaced with an artist’s interpretation, which is pretty cool. As we stood there I noticed that the only buildings along the highway were five pubs and a petrol station. That’s so Outback.
After Barcaldine the country opened up even more. There was now nothing but wide open plains on all sides. The road seemed to go on endlessly in front of us.
After another 100km we reached Longreach; the birthplace of QANTAS airlines. We stopped for morning tea and a rest from the heat.
I also had a chance to take a photo of one of the road trains that have been thundering down the road towards us. These trucks generally have three trailers and can be up to 53m long. For me the worst are those that carry liquids or cattle because they displace a lot of air so coming across then at 110kph is like hitting a solid wall of wind.
From Longreach it was a long hot 180km to Winton, famous for Banjo Patterson’s Waltzing Matilda. It was 180km of almost dead straight highway under woolly skies. Not that there’s any chance of rain out here. The clouds that form from moisture taken from these soils will drop their bounty further east after they hit or cross the Great Dividing Range.
We decided to make for Kyuna; a tiny town at the intersection between the highway and a secondary road to Julia Creek. The road was again long and straight. As had been the case since Barcaldine there was little else around us but open cattle fields. The floods a few months ago have left everything green, making it beautiful riding despite the increasing heat.
I was glad to see a rest area 100km after Winton because I needed a break from having the sun burn what little skin was exposed to it. My nose and cheeks are quite sun and wind burned. These rest stops are relatively new and a welcome addition to the highways.
66km further down the highway we entered tiny Kyuna. According to the sign at the entry to town the population has decreased from 25 a decade-and-half ago to 12 a decade ago. It has a ? mark for the 2014 population. The town has a gorgeous pub, The Blue Heeler Hotel behind which we have set up camp. It looks inviting so we are going there for tea tonight. There’s a petrol station and another caravan park up the road but I have to say the proprietor didn’t seem too welcoming when I stopped for fuel so it was an easy choice about where to stay. And that’s all there is here.
I’ve had a fantastic day. We’re finally out west object the never-ending plains where towns are tiny and far-flung. It’s where I most love to travel and must make time to come more often.
Now I need a shower so we can go get a steak!