Birdsville trip August September 2013
Last updated 20 September

On our previous trip we did the clutch of the motorhome and we thought that two weeks would be plenty of time to fix it but the clutch got fixed 5 PM on the day we had planned to leave. Everything we needed was already set aside in the house. This was the quickest packing we have ever done and arrived in Charters Towers around nine where the fellow travellers were just about to go to bed. Next morning off to Kooroonya falls which is about 80 KM south of Prairie. The country is very dry as we are in the middle of a very severe drought. The campsite was not very special, no grass but they had a toilet and shower. All this is put in place because they have a horse race here once a year. We stayed here two nights. Reading during the day and stargazing around the camp fire at night.

          Meeting point in Prairie                           Kooroonya gorge                                      Stargazing under a fool moon
23 August. On the road to the next camp. Stopped in Hughenden for fuel and supplies and drove another 100 KM to the Corfield hotel in the middle of nowhere and planned to have a meal there but the place was closed. It looked like the pub is just a part time business. The houses you see on the photo is all there is.
On the way down there we saw more emus than cars. 24 August via Winton to the next overnight camp. 25 August Longreach. We had difficulties finding a camping spot beside the Thomson river because there was a fishing competition on that weekend bu we managed to find something suitable for all of us close together so we did not have to carry our chairs too far for happy hour. Spend most of the morning in Longreach because from here on there are no towns for the next 1000 KM. The only place where there is mobile phone contact is in Birdsville. There will be fuel and very expensive corner stores with very limited supplies. 26 August found a beaut spot beside the Thomson river near Jundah. They told us that there is a lot of fish in there but we did not catch any. 
Corfield hotel overnight stay   Winton Banjo Paterson Composer of Waltzing Matilda                  Beside the Thomson river
28 August Windorah. We have run out of sealed road but luckily the surface is fairly smooth but very dusty as we found out when we stopped the next day and found our bed covered in red dust because we left the window slightly open. The nights are getting warmer and we don't have to close everything anymore. Daytime temperatures are reaching the high 30s and night time 16C. 

All five of us on the way to Betoota taken from Deons Lookout

In Windorah we stayed in a caravan park. Last chance to fill up with water before we reach Birdsville. The overnight spot that was planned for the next day turned out to be in the middle of nowhere and we decided to press on another 80KM to Deons lookout. This was a fantastic spot which the flies and wind spoiling it a bit. 
30 August Betoota. All there is here is the race track with a few buildings around it and an abandoned pub. But for the races they brought in demountable toilets and showers and you could buy food and of course plenty of beer. $30 entry for the weekend with plenty of parking space. Again the flies and gale force wind spoiled it a bit. Every now and than a big cloud of dust in the bus.
The race day was on Saturday, only six races but the main thing for the locals is the fact that they can have a social outing. Remember we are in the outback where your next neighbor can be 200KM away. The farms have to be big. They have not had decent rain for two years and there is very little grass. This is all beef country. Before that the towns downstream were severely flooded. We do cross plenty of bridges but not a drop of water in site apart from the major rivers. 
                             Betoota camp ground                                                                           Betoota race day
1 September and fathers day. Susan is cooking soup for 12 people. The wind has settled and it is a beautiful day. I had not looked outside for a while and just noticed that nearly everyone is gone. On Monday when we just wanted to fill the water tanks the water was disconnected and we are still 150 KM from Birdsville with a near empty tank. Only did 90 KM and and had a relaxing day which we shared with the flies. Next day 85 Km to Birdsville. There were a few rough patches in the road. So far with the group we had two ruined tires, one destroyed wheel  and I lost my drain hose which was in a plastic pipe under the bus. We still have about 90 KM of unsealed road to go. The races in Birdsville are much bigger than the one we just visited. The normally sleepy town of 150 swells to 7000. We are camped in a large open area close to town where you just find your own spot. The council provides toilets and there are water taps every 100 meters along the road. The whole organization can not be faulted. We camp only 15 minutes walk from town which we do regularly. I had the compulsory beer in the Birdsville pub. On race day it is nearly impossible to get to the bar too busy. The race carnival is over two days but we only went to the last day. As far as I am concerned every race looks the same and I do not gamble. We had to do a lot of unsealed roads but hundreds of people fly in and people with their own plane sleep in a small tent under the wings. The whole atmosphere is fantastic. I am not a boxer but went to Brophy's boxing tent. This is for Jo Blo from the public who wants to fight with the circus boxers. There is mobile phone in Birdsville but because there are so many people the internet is not operational. This means 3 weeks without phone or internet. A few days before we left Rita and David Leach decided to head home and we had a send off dinner for them.
                                             Birdsville pub outside and inside                               Send off for David and Rita.
                         Fred Brophy's boxing troupe                                                           Campers on the tarmac
8 September. Went for an early morning walk. A lot of the stalls had packed up already. People are leaving and the flies are coming back. Also the wind picks up again and there is a fair bit of dust around. Went to the bakery for lunch and had a camel curry pie. Camel meat must be a bit stringy or otherwise it might have been something else.
                        Birdsville races                                                     Artesian bore campsite near Cacoory ruins
Left Birdsville on monday heading towards Boulia but first a weekend in Bedourie for the rodeo, races and ute muster. Only 40 KM out of Birdsville we stayed three days beside a hot artesian bore. In the middle of dry country a large billabong fed by the bore. One day there was a plane circling overhead and a few four wheel drives came in and said that it might get noisy and it did, they shot five wild pigs only hundred metres away from us. On the way to Bedourie I nearly hit one with the bus. Luckily it stopped just in time because I could not brake on the gravel road. Bedourie is the shire capital but is far smaller than Birdsville and also far more expensive with whatever they sell here. We are getting a bit blasť about the horse racing because to me it all looks the same but at least they had the rodeo as well. We camped beside the racetrack and especially where there is life stock there are flies and plenty of them here. Every now and then the wind picked up and we had a sandstorm in the bus. We spend five days here. Bedourie was another place where there is no mobile coverage but luckily Boulia has and we can catch up again with friends.
                   All the participants of out Birdsville safari                                                     Bedourie bull riding
When you ever pass trough Boulia go to the min min light center. They have a very good display about the mysterious lights which occasionally appear in this part of the world. Only one night in Boulia and we are slowly heading for home. Three days to Winton.
The landscape changes constantly. Especially the Sword Ranges are spectacular. Wednesday night we park all day beside the Middelton hotel or as the travel guide states the Hilton Hotel. 2 people run the place 200KM either way from a town. It takes a special person to live in this part of the world where you live often with only a few people 500KM from a shop and the shop is not as you know it. They normally sell anything and a very limited range.
 Sword ranges half way between Boulia and Winton                            Middelton hotel previous a stopover for Cobb and Co
                               The pet pig in Middelton                                             Australian age of dinosaurs museum 
Middelton hotel is only for people with a strong stomach the pig in the photo is allowed to wander wherever it wants to including the kitchen and has to be chased away from the table when you are having a meal. The pig was actually in front of the exit of the bus when we got there. It took me a while to pick up the courage to step out of the bus but the thing is harmless.
Thursday and we are back in Winton. The only thing we had not seen was the dinosaur preservation display. Only twelve KM of unsealed road but when we came back the bus had a flat tyre which took till the following day to get fixed. This time we had a meal in a nice restaurant. All there is to do now is follow the road we had taken on the way to Birdsville back to Townsville.  We met up with fellow travellers from our motorhome chapter in Hughenden who were on the way to the Winton festival. The last night was spend in a gravel pit.  One last happy hour with the group and a lot of flies we are home again till the next time we take the bus to explore Australia.
Total Km driven 3212 of which 350 Km gravel road.      604 L diesel used.        One flat tyre and lost my drain hose.
The plan is to go to Tasmania for four month in 2014