The Simple Things

Trip Start Jul 10, 2010
Trip End Sep 17, 2010

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Where I stayed
By the side of the Barkly Highway

Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

They say the simple things in life are often the best.  The events of today only serve to reinforce this adage.

Picture this.  You are driving down the Stuart Highway, you've been driving south for the better part of 2 days, nothing but straight road, white lines, waving caravan drivers, oncoming road trains and the odd dead kangaroo to keep things interesting.

Ahead there is something you know is going to change all that, albeit momentarily.  It's a little spark where previously there was none.  It's a glimmer of hope in the face of doom.  50kms out, your heart starts beating a little faster, that nervous energy you get as you are about to start a race or play a game of some sort.  It's like those last few seconds before they bounce the ball in the grand final.

The countdown is on - 20kms, then 10kms, finally 5 kms - it's nearly here, you can smell it.  Finally it is upon you, that release of nervous energy as you enact what you've been contemplating for so long now.  It's happening - you really are changing direction.  You flick the indicator on for the first time in about 2 days and about 1000km, you rotate the wheel, you feel yourself turning left - can this be real?  You hear the click of the indicator as you've rounded the corner and know that as soon as it was upon you it was gone - the climax has been and gone but you move forward now with renewed vigour.  East is a direction you've not travelled for some time, and surely things will be different in this direction.  The sun will be in your eyes early in the morning for one thing.  The wind will blow across your car instead of in to it...

And so the trend of the day continued.  After putting away another 600kms, we pulled over at Avon Downs - a little wayside stop across the road from what looked like an unmanned police station on the Barkly Highway, about 50km west of the Queensland border.  Contemplating pushing on to Camooweel, I surveyed the surroundings while Wendy and the children visited the toilet (Mitchell now an expert on a 'good' and 'bad' drop toilet)

Strolling along there were probably 7 or 8 others who had set up camp and had decided enough was enough.  They looked relaxed.  It was around 4pm.

A nice enough spot, no power but with a water tank, toilets, a few sticks of firewood left over from some good samaritan last night, a couple of decent spots to set up in - I was sold.

Selling it to Wendy wasn't all that difficult, and the children had already made themselves at home, Mitchell discovering the hard granitic rocks which had some interesting patterns in them and keeping him content for a good 30 minutes, just playing on the ground.

Within an hour we were set up, I had assembled the makings of a fire, Wendy had prepared dinner and Courtney and Mitchell had adopted their new damper recipe passed on by Jack, Jessie and Lachie.  All was in readiness for a peaceful night of dinner, billy tea, damper cooking and marshmellow toasting with a spot of star gazing to boot.  

Ah, the simple things in life ARE often the best.

* Happy to report that after much frustration and "why can't I see one?", Mitchell finally did spot his first 'shooting star'.

** Renner Springs proved to be a wolf dressed in sheep's clothing.  We managed to talk ourselves in to a beautiful grassed site right in front of the 'vacant' motel rooms and away from the 'peasant' caravan park sites with only gravel and dust under foot.

By midnight we realised we'd been sold a dud, with the boys coming in off the mines for their week's break and settling in for a few beers out the front of their motel room, only metres from our van.  Needless to say we now know a lot more about blowing stuff up and which bullbars work best for driving in to kangaroos at night.

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