We left the Bunya mountains and spent a few days in Kingaroy looking for work, with no success. We did manage to catch up with Francis, whom we met at the Lone Scout Camp in September, and have lunch together. It was most enjoyable.
After Kingaroy, we headed north (staying off the highway), and checked out the gorge in Auburn National Park, before stopping for the night at Lake Wuruma, between Eidsvold and Monto. We did manage to satisfy Daniels’ craving for dirt roads by finding a back way through the forest and fields, for about 80km.
The next day, we travelled north and west via Biloela, Moura, Rolleston (where we had to drive past the Carnarvon Gorge turnoff AGAIN! as everything was too wet to consider a visit), Springsure and into Emerald. We had planned to stay the night in Emerald before heading to Karens’ uncle in Ilfracombe, but the weather had other ideas.
We renewed a friendship with Len and Michelle who had moved to Emerald a few years ago, and they offered us a place on their 20 acres to park the trailer for the night. That was when the weather turned really bad, and the road to Longreach was cut in 4 places. We weren’t going anywhere! Daniel set about looking for work again at the local electrical wholesalers, and met with no success again.
During that week, Groves Christian College held their annual awards night in Clermont, just 100km north of Emerald. All 4 children were given an Award for Excellence, to recognise their achievements throughout the year, obtaining a consistent A grade in two or more subjects. By then the roads had cleared, and we headed west again, past Alpha, Jericho, Barcaldine, Ilfracombe and into Longreach.
Remembering that the plan was to visit Karens’ uncle in Ilfracombe, he rang and said he was going to Brisbane for a couple of weeks, and would catch up with us upon his return. Daniel rang an electrical contractor in Longreach and secured a job for a few weeks, so we set ourselves up in a local caravan park.
This is the ‘big town’ near Muttaburra, where Karen had grown up. The family would come here to do their grocery shopping, put the kids on the bus to boarding school, go to the doctor and that type of thing. It was fantastic taking the kids to Anzac Park, where Karen played as a child, visiting old family friends, like the MacDonalds, and showing everyone around this very small town (population about 4000).
Our first visit was to the QANTAS Founders Museum, with a tour of the 747 jumbo jet. WOW! This was the first time Rosa and Connor had been on an aeroplane, and it didn’t even go anywhere. What an excellent tribute to the people who began the QANTAS airline, and to the persistence of the people of Western Queensland. Despite many setbacks and harsh conditions, they prevailed and today we have a large international airline as a result. The museum is informative, fun, interactive, and well worth the day spent.
The caravan park and tourist attractions are most populated during peak tourist season, during the winter, so being here in summer has allowed us to have more space for ourselves and time to wander slowly around the attractions. Our QFM tourist guide told us she was used to taking up to 40 people through the Jumbo, and some people didn’t even get a chance to see the cockpit. Our children hung out in there for about 20 minutes, and everyone had a turn of everything. Excellent, even though this time it a bit warmer than most tourists would choose, we enjoyed the extra space.
Our next visit was to the Australian Stockmans Hall of Fame. This showcases the history of the outback, across the entire country, with particular emphasis on the people who discovered, settled, and industrialised outback communities. It is a very interesting museum, and we spent a few hours wandering among the displays, explaining what different items were used for in days gone past. We had to include the telephone display with a phone like the one Karens’ parents had when she was growing up, complete with corded mouthpiece and winding coil at the side. The kids did not believe that such an old telephone would still have been in use, such a short time ago.