Waking up bright and early we ate breakfast and packed the car. I made sure Alec’s DVD player was fully charged and there were plenty of snacks on hand. It’s going to be a long day in the car. After a quick morning briefing we were on our way. The goal today was Windorah, 674 kilometres away.
Everyone settled in for a day in the car. Driving long distances without stopping spread the vehicles wide apart as were crossed the wide open plans of outback Queensland. Only stopping every couple of hours for breaks as the kilometres ticked over. A mixture of single lane bitumen and well maintained gravel roads saw us make good time. We covered the 674 kilometres in 10 hours. 7 1/2 hours of driving time.
We arrived in Windorah late in the afternoon and set up camp at the council run camp ground. Nothing flash but a welcoming place to spend the night after a long day. Our tour leader got in contact with the local police officer to find out if conditions had changed. The news was mixed. The river had peaked with 600mm of water over the causeway. But the officer didn’t know if the road was closed or open. He would find out and let us know in the morning.
After such a big day, cooking dinner was the last thing I wanted to do. A short walk down the street to the local pub had Alec and myself tucking into a hearty county meal and perhaps a lemonade or two to get rid of the dust.
The next morning we had some good news. The road was not closed. As long as the vehicle’s could handle the water crossing we were fine to go. With a relative short drive of 400 kilometres to Birdsville, it was a much better option than driving another 1200 kilometres to loop around and enter from the south.
With spirits high, everyone packed up camp and headed east. With a much shorter day of driving we stopped to do some sight seeing, but still made good progress. Again the road conditions were good. A combination of bitumen and gravel road. As we got closer to Birdsville we started to cross small dunes. A good sign since we were on our way to cross a desert.
20 kilometres from Birdsville everyone had to pull up. We had a water crossing to navigate. A small lake at the base of the dune had been made by the flood waters. The water wasn’t deep but did create a little bit of excitement. With the country so dry it was good to see some water around. Although it was a sobbing reminder of what might lay ahead.
All the vehicles crossed the water without a problem. We then travelled the last 20 kilometres to Birdsville. Well almost. Stopping on the outskirt of town we got our first look at the flooded Diamantina river.
To cross the Diamantina river and enter Birdsville a bridge and a long causeway has to be crossed. There was no water over bridge only the cause way, in four different places. The first crossing being the deepest. One a time each of the group crossed the deep water. The last 3 sections everyone followed each other though as the water was not very deep.
It was with the feeling of triumph and relief as we all rolled into the Birdsville caravan park. Instead of camping, Alec and I decided to stay in a basic cabin again. It was a good choice. With all the water from the flooding the little blood suckers were out in force. Mosquito’s at night and fly’s during the day. Not the best for camping. That night everyone met at the Birdsville Hotel for dinner, happy to final arrive at this historic and famous town.
Alec and I enjoyed a sleep in and a slow breakfast the next morning. This was a scheduled day off. Allowing everyone to sight see and get ready for the desert crossing. We didn’t leave our comfortable cool quarters till midday. We both needed the rest. We then made our way to the famous Birdsville Bakery for a yummy but somewhat unique lunch. We then visited the information centre which had a small indoor play area, which Alec made full use of away from the fly’s and heat.
Fuelling the car and performing final checks filled in the rest of the afternoon. Having early dinner and bed time allowed us to savour the last time in a bed for some time. Tomorrow we head into the desert.
While in Birdsville one of our fellow travelers had a birthday and a simple cake was organised. Of course Alec was front and centre for his piece of cake. Which of course was given more than his fair share.
This was a common trend for the trip. Our fellow travelers really toke to Alec and involved him in everything. No to mention a touch of spoiling. I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people to travel with.