1 – Dressing up termite mounds is a ‘thing’ in outback Australia. We started seeing them west of Alpha, and they just kept on coming. Apparently some mine workers leave their work clothes on termite mounds when they finish their last shift, but if that is the only explanation there are some mighty weird miners out this way.
2 – Ghost towns are a great way to see what isn’t there anymore, and their cemeteries tell some amazing stories about ways to die in the outback. Mary Kathleen, Duchess and Kuridala were all fascinating, with tales of miners falling down shafts and being dragged into machinery, but it was the countless graves with no names, or broken and decaying headstones slowly making their way into obscurity which I found fascinating.
3 – The outback is full of sharp things, like spinifex grass which takes forever to work its way out of your skin if you happen to fall into it, pandanus points which do the same, burrs which give you constant flat bicycle tires until you buy tire liners. Oh, and dead crocodiles – but at least the crocodile at Lawn Hill National Park gorge didn’t actually prick me with its sharp bits, only causing psychological trauma when we discovered its rancid floating body AFTER I got out of the water into which it was slowly decomposing.
4 – The landscape may be mostly broad and flat, but there are some challenging exceptions. The ride up the town lookout may only be two minutes long, but it got your heart rate right up. And Telstra Hill, 8 kilometres out of town, was a 15-minute challenge by bike, half an hour on foot. The old granite mine was exceptional fun for riding with its undulating sandy tracks and huge rocks, for photography and just going ‘oh, wow’ at.
5 – There are a lot of dead cars abandoned out here, from every decade since there were cars.
6 – The heat is mostly bearable. It has been above 40 most days and although we quickly abandoned taking the camper trailer on overnight trips, we have still gotten out at the weekends. Note: riding a bicycle in 45 degree dry heat is like riding into your hairdryer when it is set to “hot”.
7 – Flies. See image to right.
8 – Tourist attractions – don’t expect to see many open in summer after the end of October. So we didn’t get to see the endangered dunnarts at Julia Creek, the drovers display at Camooweal, and a heap of other things. But, there were so many other things to do that it didn’t matter. And we were so grateful for the lack of tourists as we kayaked and bushwalked at Lawn Hill National Park. We could have done with a few more tourists to share number 7 with at Riversleigh fossil site though. See image above. Moondarra dam attracted us four times, with bike rides and photography, abundant birdlife including peacocks and a beautiful water-filled vista. And cows. Lots of cows.
9 – The people at my workplace at the Mt Isa Hospital, I-med Radiology, were lovely and made the challenges of doing my first locum surmountable.
10 – We want to come back. Preferably in winter. There is still so much to see and so here. Until we meet again, lovely lady Mt Isa.