Thursday, 19 December 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different!

After Australia I have two plans, one is to go and live in France for a while and the other is to do this trip (possibly extended!)
This would tick off 3 of my other must visit countries (Russia, Mongolia, China)

The order  on opportunity and money (the money side of things isn't exactly awesome at the mo but hey, the only way is up!

If anyone wants to come then let me know!

Monday, 16 December 2013


A few weeks before I left Bowthorn I started to wonder what I was going to do next.  Basically it boiled down to this, getting from Bowthorn back to any major city that I had interest in visiting was going to cost between 300 and 400 bucks! Damn thought I! Then Kelly pointe out that there was an add on Gumtree asking for someone to do a road trip from Cloncurry (about 1.5 hours drive from Mount Isa, through the Outback back to Cairns! YES thought I!

At this point I feel like I should point out I am not a total nutter who will take rides off of any old person who advertises themselves on the internet.  This was a woman in her early 30's, named Becca, who had a campervan and just wanted company on the trip.  We exchanged a few emails and then, for good measure met up in Cloncurry for coffee when I was passing through there on the way back from Mount Isa with the family.  I took Olivia with me as Kelly and Eleanor had a doctors appointment and Becca was nice to both me and my tag along toddler, which I took to be a good sign!  having assured ourselves that neither of us were mass murdering psycos we arranged to head off on our trip 10 days later!

The last week or so on Bowthorn was kind of hard because I had exciting plans and was all ready for the off. However I didn't end up having to wait as long as anticipated because of the Melbourne Cup.  The Melbourne cup is a horse race and it pretty much shuts down Australia for the day as people rush to watch it.  We went to a village event at Gregory, about 2.5 hours from Bowthorn to do this.  The event was held in a sort of village hall (painted that kind of weak greenish colour that village halls the world over seem to share).  Apart from the weather which was much hotter than you would find in the UK (though colder than Bowthorn) The day was very like a village event at home.  There was a buffet, bar, people that had known each other forever, lots of children and lot of chatting and drinking as well as a best dressed competition and obviously the races themselves which people bet on.  I am trying to remember if there was a raffle and I honestly cant remember one way or the other!

That night I stayed at Gregory Out-station, part of another cattle station run by Kelly and Micks Friends, Meegan and Munch.  In the morning Kelly Mick and the two girls left to go back to Bowthorn and I stayed put so that I could get a ride into Mount Isa the following day with Meegan.  Meegan and Munch had who children and I enjoyed my day with them and my chats with meegan in the car on the way to Isa but, long story short I was very Glad to get back to Isa and chill out for the afternoon before getting the bus to Cloncurry the following day!

The following day arrived and that 7am time that the Greyhounds like to leave with it.  I got on the bus and this time slept most of the way to Cloncurry (I had seen enough Outback to last me by that point and was going to see a whole lot more before I was done!

Becca came o get me from the bus, but with last minute preparations to make and goodbyes to say (Becca had been in Cloncurry 3.5 months, which is an age when you are travelling) it took us a few hours to get going.  This meant that we drove through the hottest part of the day, only stopping properly and the Burke and Wills Roadhouse (where they had run out of washing water and the British waitress told us how much she ad been looking forward to the shower that evening that she wasn't going to be able to have). We did stop a few other times but only briefly to let the engine cool.  This first day was probably the longest and was the only one we drove through the heat of the day. No mean feat in an old van with no air conditioning!

A map of the Savannah way, which we drove part of!

On that first day we drove to Normanton and then on to Karumba on the Coast.  There we stopped at a pub that Becca had had recommended to her and had a really brilliant seafood meal!

starter from the meal of awesome

we ended up chatting to these two guys, one of whom had grown up in Australia and his father who was from Britain.  Conversations like that are one of the highlights of travelling and much wine was drunk and quite a few hours passed before we went our separate ways.

From here the exact running order of towns and people gets a little fuzzy in my head.  I should have written this bit up sooner but as already mentioned I suck at getting round to blogging!

But anyway, we drove back to Normanton and joined the 'savannah way'.  I remember seeing a sign at this point that said that we had 902km to go to Cairns.

to be continued...

I still owe you 3 blogs:
This one
and Amber Ridge Woofing

Jess Sucks at Updating Her Blog!

ok so it really is weeks and weeks since I updated this now! I have been focusing on trying to find a job and then given up on that and gone woofing so haven't felt like I had time for blog updating anyway and mostly had nothing to say other than that I was stressed which nobody wants to hear!

I'm happy again now having given up the panicked must find a job and resorted to woofing with a lovely family in their garden centre and cafĂ© business.  There are other woofer's here too, Emily and Darrel from England, Mina from Japan, Kersten from Austria and Memona from France so it is all pretty sociable!

But that's enough about now, I can write about that later.  I still have most of the last few months to bring you up to speed on.  I am going to try and do this pretty quickly because it doesn't feel fair to be using the family's computer for long periods, but there is no wifi!

So the last think I remember writing about was getting to Mount Isa.  I think I finished writing about that, but if I didn't then you haven't missed out on much.

From Isa I got on the post plane which would drop me off at Bowthorn Cattle Station.  The Australian Government thinks that it is every Australians right to receive post so they put on these weekly flights out into the middle of nowhere so that people  living in the middle of nowhere can receive bills and buy things off Ebay and stuff like that! The plane was small, but not so small as I had been expecting, with 8 or 10 seats I think and space for all the post at the back!

Post Plane

Inside of post plane

Pictures taken from Post plane

I think the pictures give a pretty good idea of the flight so I am going to move on.  My stop was the 4th one of the day, so by 11.30ish I was meeting the family I would be working for.  They were nice (luckily!) and the kids were gorgeous, a 3 week old named Eleanor and Olivia who was 19 months!

Olivia wearing my hat and trying to put my sandals on (she loved earing adult shoes and hats!

Eleanor and Olivia (Olivia loved her little sister and was v sweet with her, though sometimes also a little over enthusiastic!)

The house was all powered by solar panels (makes sense when you are somewhere that insanely hot).  There was also a generator, the only problem was that sometimes it was so hot the generator and panels overheated and the power cut out! we were left in the dark a few times! There was a pump which dragged water up from a waterhole next to the garden so that this water could be used by all the sprinklers they had set up in the garden.  This pump was battered looking and temperamental and required tinkering often!

solar panels and a lot of dirt

Every few days someone would have to drive 10 minutes or so from the house to start the boar pump which provided the washing water.  You started an engine and left it with the amount of fuel in it that corresponded to how long you wanted it to run.  The water was pumped up into large tanks on a slight hill near the house so that gravity could provide water pressure.

Drinking water was rain water which was collected by a bit container on the side of the house.  Many places in Australia seem to do this for drinking water.

The house and garden (yes that is a cow on the lawn, we found it there when we got home one day!)

The family also had a walk in Fridge as they need to be able to stock up and be stranded there for months at a time if needs be. 

My work there was pretty easy, I go up with Olivia around 7 each morning so that mummy could have a lie in (if Eleanor permitted it) and helped with general care (playing nappy changing feeding Olivia and taking her outside to play in the garden! The good was good too (lots of steak and home baking!)

I was here for 5 weeks in all and in that time I also got taken to Doomadgee which was the nearby (ish) aboriginal mission, got to take a trip to mount Isa, got to go cattle mustering (where they round up all the cows and count and sort them and got to go up in a helicopter! The last two things were particularly awesome.  The helicopter was on the station because it is used to find and also to help herd the cows. I got to go up in I one morning when it was being used close to the house.  it was amazing but very strange, especially the take off, you are on the ground and then suddenly you aren't, you are hovering as if a giant hand just picked you up.  I felt like I had just defied gravity!


Musterers come to the station to work during the muster and they ride horses or quad bikes or motorbikes and help to round up and then process the cattle.  I went out with them one day, though I was just there to watch and rode in the truck at the back!


So that was pretty much all for cattle station times, think I ad better leave it there for now. Next time: jess goes a road trippin'!!