Leaving Emerald, on to Barcaldine.

day 5 photo

This morning’s 9:00 picture is about 25 km west of Emerald heading into gem country. The towns are called Emerald, Rubyvale, Sapphire, etc. You can fossick for the gems just about anywhere and evidently people do still make “finds.” (not men – women. Men look. Women find.)

“Mr. Big Rigs” pulled in late last night before we left the campsite. This dude, his wife, and their dog had a huge elaborate truck to pull his caravan.  It looked like a small semi and with the custom built silver bumpy metal back thingy that had a special drawer or a holder for everything you could think of, it was as big as the caravan.  He has a hydraulic lift thing to help get the dog out of the truck but the wife had to climb down on her own. At least she had proper mountain gear.

He had all kinds of contraptions to do magic.  He would got and fetch one from the back of the truck and then point it at the caravan and press a button or something and things happened.  Then he would turn to make sure we all were watching and saw it.   He strutted around like a peacock, talking loudly and waving his arms.  He parked right next to “hall monitor” and “hall monitor” suddenly seemed very small and very sad, despite his having red plastic flowers in the window of his caravan. “Hall monitor”did not rush out to direct “Mr. Big Rig.”  That was it, I made Derek work on his peacock strut.

“Hall Monitor” had a very lengthy loud conversation earlier while he walked back and forth among the caravans.  His ex was stalking him and he was on the run and would never be able to have a home because she would just show up at the door.  She had found his phone number and was texting him endlessly and he needed everyone in the caravan court to know it.  What do you do in that case?  Is there a Hallmark Card?  A card from a stranger to a stranger, expressing sadness over something you really should not know anything about but do and now you have all these emotions and they aren’t even yours?   I am not sure how his ex could miss that he did not want to see her.  He was running away in a caravan with plastic flowers in the window and 2 birds as companions.  He was hiding from his own children,.  He no longer had a home.  I got the message in the first 10 minutes of his yelling about it.  The next 3 hours were overkill.

He hung up on whoever he was talking to – could have been the police.  He was not getting the support he needed to be upset.  Then he got in his truck and went for breakfast.  He was back in an hour with beer and two men came to visit with him.   I think they might have been from other caravans but they might have been Mormons.  I am not sure, but they stayed and cheered him up.  I think it is really awesome when “Happy Meals” really do live up to all the hype.  When magic happens like that it is just awesome toast.

Back to “Mr. Big Rig.” The really interesting thing was that his wife was not his wife at all. He had clearly kidnapped her.  She was actually our friend Carol. She had the same hair, the same face, the same body, the same mannerisms. She even walked like Carol. I ran up to her and told her, “you are Carol you know.  Maybe something has happened to you and you don’t know it, but you are Carol.  You have to fight this black magic that has brain washed you.   You have to go home to Gympie now! Keithy will not be able to survive without you.”  I am not kidding, she had everything exactly like Carol, except for one little thing,  She had a gun.  Carol does not have a gun.

Anyway, after they got all set up and finished strutting, they put their chairs so that they could sit and stare at us. Seriously. There was nothing to see where we were except for us. I mean I can clog a little bit and Derek can spin on a good day, like those whirling dudes, but without the colourful coats.  Sometimes, if he does it really fast his shorts flare out a bit, but that is all.  Neither of us were clogging or whirling that night.  There was lots to see elsewhere. We even had to go inside, pull the shades, and dim the lights. I had to get dressed cowering in the bathroom.  In the morning, they were having coffee and watching us again.  “Carol” just sat there, without even a tether or a chain around her ankle.  She was willingly participating in her kidnappedness.  She was having Scottish Snowglobe or whatever that thing is called when people fall in love with their captors.  I cried when we pulled out. I took the license plate number though so I could tell Keith where Carol was.  I yelled out the window, “Bye Carol, I promise we will send Keithy for you.”  THEN they decide to go into their caravan.

On the road we had a good sail. Had to pass a bunch of slowpokes again but we aced that stuff. We are getting into truck train country.  Some of those loads … and the speed they go!  Would hate to get hit by one of them.  Not a hope.

I love the ghost gums – they are so stark against the landscape, standing out on the landscape with their seemingly impossible white bleached, bark free trunks. Sometimes they are just near to the deadened dark trees with all their gnarled fingers twisting angrily towards the sky and sometimes you find a ghost gum and the blackened dead tree growing in what seems to be a lover’s embrace, intertwined together, the starkness of their end of the spectrum illustrated by their contrast to each other.

I also love the bushes or trees that appear to grow a certain height and then loop over back to the ground. Right now they are all without leaves and they have many spindly little branches that grow close to the trunk or main branch, and in the same direction. When I saw them at first I thought someone must be training them to curve that way so they can do furniture weaving like we do in North America with the branches from willows and poplars.  But then I saw them again so it appears they grow like that naturally.  I have to find out what kind they are and why they grow like that and if they are ever used for furniture.

We decided to make an early day of it and ended up at a weir just outside of Barcaldine that took us off the main road and down to dirt and into the bush. I am pretty sure we passed a place that could be the new home of the Wolf Creek guy. There were decayed old cars and trucks and farm machinery everywhere in the yard and his old garage/house was back in the trees. There was even an old man with a broken down old ute on the side of the road and he waved at us and I told Derek to speed on because he might have a tire iron in his hand and want to hit us with it.   We eventually came out at a dust bowl yard, a couple of toilets and a weir with some incredible gums and other trees around it. Very pretty but wayyy to close to weird broken down, possible Wolf Creek Man.

Despite being early, there was already quite a few rigs outlining the banks of the river but we pulled into a spot that seemed too good to be true. Derek tried his best, back and forth, moving and realigning. He knew what he was doing, we were just trying to get it level enough to be able to leave the caravan there. The gas has to be level in order to work in the stove and the 4 corners of the caravan can only be jacked and manipulated so much. He meant to pick up a leveler (a hard piece of plastic that you drive up on that helps raise your wheels more than you can do with drop down corner doo-ma-hitchies). Again, all the technical terms are mine that I made up and may or may not resemble the real name of the thingy. In the end we had to abandon the perfect spot.

It was shady and right by the water, it had its own picnic table and fire pit. We were totally private. I so loved it.  It would have been perfect for a couple days sitting there writing while Derek fished.  Obviously, everyone else in the campground also knew the spot was impossible but said nothing as they sat there watching us, letting us be the day’s entertainment. I should have known when none of them came over to offer advice or help – which is basically the Australian way. I was pretty pouty when we had to turn from that beautiful campsite to the dust bowl yard and realize our only option was to find a spot in the middle. Several of the people sitting out in their chairs, their faces brown with dust, the white of their teeth flashing in the sun as they spoke, had smart ass comments to make about our efforts. One guy told Derek where the nearest gas station was. I started to tell him directions to this other place but Derek stopped me mid gesture.

We set up and then walked around and Derek asked about fish .  They all looked at one another like he spoke some alien language.  Derek tried again … “fishing?”

“Nuh, all dead, too much algae in the water.”

Alrighty then. Great conversation. Hard to tell whether they were being truthful or just did not want us fishing in their weir. I have to say, of all the places we have stayed, this was the first one where I felt uneasy.  It was also the first one that I would not have left the caravan locked up and gone into town. It was just a feeling, a vibe that we got. There were people who walked around, walking right into the unspoken “private zones” around people’s set ups and appeared to be checking everything out. Others made trips to the bathroom making wide sweeps looking at everybody’s camp without talking at all to the owners. We would not be staying for a couple of days.

To add to the lovely end of this part of our journey, the water was still not pumping, the lights died during the night and we had no idea what was happening or why. It meant a possible stay over in Longreach (picture me jumping up and down in excitement). The wind was pretty strong, the branches of the trees over us made it sound like someone was trying to break in all night and everyone who needed to use the bathroom took one of those 5 million candle flashlights with them and shone them around at each caravan to make sure everyone was staying in there and not coming out. Several birds dropped from the trees above us, what hope do they have of finding dogs small enough to help them maneuver their ways blind through life? It was a very long night. And then I got up and noted the light in the fridge had gone out.

To wake Derek and tell him or wait till morning? Live now, die later.