Long Reach, Part 4.


The next morning we were off. Just a short distance to Long Reach and we would there for a couple of days. We found a great place to stop for lunch under a spreading old tree. We got into the caravan and VOILA, no power AT ALL. NO GAS, NO SOLAR PANELS, NO NOTHING. Our internet connection was running out, the phones were running down. Oh my gosh, the pamphlets, the glossy magazines, the movies were all right. Caravanning was the best freaking time ever! I started dancing right on the spot. I was even getting ready for an ancient ceremony of gratitude that involved getting naked and dancing in the woods but Derek locked the caravan door until I put my clothes back on and promised to at least investigate other religious possibilities that endorsed more dignified ways of saying thank-you.

I LOVE not having any power and being stuck in the middle of nowhere. It is just like camping, with a tent, only instead of a tent and few things, you haul around this room with all these electric gadgets you get to look at, at night, in the dark, eating raw lamb chops because you have nothing to cook them on.

I suggested again that Derek call the manufacturer. Don’t faint here, big breath. He finally did. And guess what? They could help us. And they LOVED it.  (please note the sarcasm in my typing) We found a wire that was off. We put it on. We had power.

The list of things we needed to pick up at the next town was growing. Caravanning seemed to me to be an endless shopping trip done in little towns that did not have anything you were looking for and trying to make do with cheap nasty stuff that broke down and when you got home you had to replace anywhere. I tried to convince myself it was a giant scavenger hunt and we were winning. I think my ability to imagine complete fantasy is ebbing. I also have noticed I was not really into the costumes we brought along for the fun in the evening portion of our caravan life. Pretty sure that is on one of those lists you click through on the internet, that tells you the symptoms of some incurable disease. I probably have that. Whatever “that” is.

Who could believe that we could have forgotten anything? We may not have had that wire but we sure had an awesome arrangement of kitchen utensils, if needed, like if we ever could use the stove or oven.

I think one of the things I love most about caravan parks is the animals people bring with them. I get that people love their dogs and cats and I-have-no-idea-what-that-was-but-it-looked-even-ickier-than-a-rat-and-no-it-was-not-cute.  I really do get it, but they have to stay in that confined space with the people. That is, all those dogs and cats and whatever-that-was and their hair and their slobber all over everything. And that is trusting they all are very obedient and intelligent animals that can transfer, in their minds, the concept of “house,” as in “house-broken,” to a caravan. Let’s just say, I do not plan on “coming over” for coffee to any of those caravans.


We travelled further and further away from civilization, and I began to drop bread crumbs from the window of the truck, and eventually . . . whole buns. I was starting to get worried and had this eerie feeling in my stomach. Did anyone really know where I was? I know that guy from Wolf Creek was still on the loose. What’s to say he did not move to Long Reach?

Look closely at the last picture above, of the highway .. those were dead kangaroos.  See them all up the way?  Sometimes there would bodies on top of bodies in all stages of decay.  Miles and miles of it.  I eventually said,  “I have really had my eyes opened on this trip.”

“About what?”

“Mainly that Australians are just really bad drivers.  Look at all the dead roos.”

“You have deer in Canada, just like we have the roos.  Same problem, just a different animal.”

“Yes but we can avoid a lot of the deer, you guys look like you just plow through them.”

“We do, there are that many.”

What seemed the most strange to me is that the kangaroos came right up to and grazed around and sometimes through the dead bodies.  You would think all those remains would speak to them about not going on the road, but they do anyway.  Unlike the deer, they come at the vehicle and then turn to jump alongside.  They get ahead just a bit and think they are clear and jump across and that is it.  Why anyone would drive those roads in the early morning or the early evening, is beyond me.  It made me feel really sad and added to the growing sense of isolation.

We finally made it to Longreach and I understood it was one town appropriately named. We found our son’s home, parked in the yard, waved at all the neighbours who suddenly needed to walk or bike by and see what we were doing, and settled in.
I looked around as the wind blew the dust masquerading as grass in the yards, across the miles of nothingness and took in a deep breath. Yes! This was exactly the picture that played in my mind when Derek was talking about how awesome it would be and how we would travel and see some of the most incredible places I could ever imagine. The beauty of it all would be unreal. Unreal. Yup, this was it.

I should tell you that dust and wind completely blow your cover when you are crying. I pretty much had tear tracks stenciled on my cheeks which could have explained why people were staring but is pretty damning that my husband was clearly ignoring his cue to break out the compassion.

It is always fun to explore new little towns and see the stores and some of their unique items. I found the most awesome purse in this little store where a woman chatted with me. She wanted to know if I was American. I told her no, I was Canadian. She told me that a woman was in there earlier talking about the Egypt plane that went down. The woman said the Americans had offered help and she told the woman that seemed odd because it was a Canadian that was on board, not an American, it should have been the Canadians that were going to help. And the woman asked what she meant. The store owner explained again and the woman said, “well they are the same country, Canada is part of the US so of course they are going to help,”rolling her eyes that the woman did not know better. I laughed. Then the store owner told me she set her right and told her that Canada was actually part of Australia.

I started to laugh again and realized she wasn’t. She was dead serious.

Hello … people … CANADA. We are our own country. We are 1 of 3 countries that share North America, and one of the those is the US. We are bigger than the US. AND I DO NOT SOUND LIKE AN AMERICAN. And while I am at it, if I have one more person argue with me about what Canadians do or how things are there, telling me they know more about Canada than I do because they have friends who went there once, I may start punching people.

Hubby had to redirect me to look for a coffee pot. And no, they did not carry any coffee pots in the hardware stores nor the “seed and feed.” Go figure. But they did have a nice selection of T-towels, plastic bird tweeters, and some lovely satin pumps “suitable for weddings or grads.” Of course they did.

So the activities for the day? Let’s go to Muttaburra to see where they found the dinosaur. Whoot, you bet.

Off we went for a 100 km+ trip to a little town where we would have lunch. We started out on bitumen. Our son told us there was about 30 kms of dirt road which we left almost immediately. Dirt road with gravel gave way to dust roads, to dirt tracks, to field imprints. And no other traffic. No animals. No birds. Nothing. I was worried we were just lost in the middle of nowhere but wow we ended up coming out at Muttaburra and went to the pub to have lunch. Same kind of menu. We bravely stepped up to the counter and the waitress looked at us said, “Actually, if I were you, I would go get my lunch next door at the hardware store and then come back here and get your alcohol and eat.” We did. When the owner warns you not to eat their food, you listen.

The hardware, ice cream shop, tractors and lunch grill store lady was only too glad to fire up the hot plate and offer us a chicken burger or a hamburger, but she had no chicken left. We chose the hamburger but she told us she was out of bacon and pineapple. We had to eat something as we were not sure we would make it home without food. In hindsight, starving probably seemed the better option.

It is amazing how much grease can come out of one clump of hamburger. She had told us that we would love her hamburgers, everyone did. She talked like she really put some personal love and effort into them. And then she pulled out the box with the formed patties in it and slapped a couple on the hot plate. We kind of knew then.

As we ate them it might have been the first time since coming here that I was looking for the Ibis’s. I would have happily shared some of my burger with them. I may have even tried to eat one of them raw.

So we found the big dinosaur everyone goes to see.  I am not sure what I expected but it was a disappointment when you consider I grew up just down the road from the Royal Tyrrell Museum, you can understand my feelings.  Still I loved the artwork.

We took a different road home. I made chilli, we ate, we talked, we went to bed.

In the morning I had a shower! YAY. It worked. I loved it.

The next day I had the whole day to myself, parked in the dust yard in the middle of Longreach suburbia, while Derek and his son spent some bonding time. It was awesome. First intelligent conversation I had almost the whole way. I watched an eagle try to lift one of the smaller dogs from next door off for his dinner, and fail, dropping it outside the yard after a number of other birds attacked the eagle making it impossible to him to hold on to the dog. I tried to call him back. I would have held up some of the other yappy dogs for him, but he was gone . . .

We went out for dinner, supposed to be the most amazing food ever. I have to say, everything in life is relative. Compared to the hamburger, it was amazing. Compared to the chilli the night before, not so much. We had some drinks, talked, walked the streets of Longreach, survived, and then we were done. I have absolutely no idea why anyone would choose to live there.  The wind and the dirt and heat would drive me mad.  I tried to see the beauty of it all but it was stark and desolate and a reminder that we are only visitors here on mother earth and she can be as cruel as she can be gentle.  It felt powerful but the power had a strange sense of foreboding and maybe even warning to it.  I am glad to have seen it, but I have no need to go again.

Come morning, we were starting the journey home.