After exploring the Red Centre the Nortons turn East towards the Queensland Coast in search of sun and warm weather
If you have been following us on Facebook at ‘A Fanatical Sabbatical’, you would know how far behind I am in updating this blog with where we are currently at! It has been so hard to find the time to ensure we have power to the laptop combined with reception and a free minute off from kid-wrangling and sight seeing to stop and think about writing a blog! This touring gig is go go go. If you are planning a big lap, shelve those ideas of having idle time to learn the ukulele or take up painting. Especially if you only have 12 months to spare and the kids schooling to squeeze in. It’s just not going to happen!
On departing Alice Springs, our intention was to turn right somewhere off the Stuart Highway to cross to the East coast and travel north to the tip of Cape York. The Plenty Highway looked more interesting than the Barkly but having just spent some dollars in Alice Springs on repairing the camper trailer electrics after some stone damage, we wanted to stay on the blacktop for a while. In addition to that, we needed to head to a Mazda dealer to get the next required service and that ended up being Mt Isa. So, Barkly it was. Onto The Overland Way.
Seeing as we had such a short lead-in time before departing on our trip, the plans as to what to see and do and how to get there have been vague and last minute to the max. Flying by the seat of our pants! We really didn’t have much of an idea what was out there in outback QLD so we were deciding where to stay and what to do very much on the fly. Ah, nothing like a bit of spontaneity I suppose!
It’s a bloody long drive with a lot to see along the way. It took us 5 or 6 days with mostly single night stop-overs. There’s so much more than just horizon to horizon cattle stations. We were kept busy trying to fit it all in. Dinosaur stampedes, Crocodile Dundee’s pub, termite mounds, fossicking fields, the Tree of Knowledge, Banjo Paterson country, the birthplace of Qantas, mining heritage and current industry, the Stockman’s Hall of Fame…to name a only a few attractions to spend your time and money on. Sprinkled with classic outback pubs and bakeries serving a mean vanilla slice at every turn, this drive was worth the effort.
Mark and I found it to be a really educational route, particularly for us as adults putting together a lot of the country’s pioneering developments and political history. We did find it hard to suddenly be away from all the families we had met coming up the centre and there didn’t appear to be many other children traversing this route at this time of year. We started to suffer from the isolation, further compounded by moving on each day and only staying in free camps, generally populated by an older crowd, and without the kids making friends, it was harder to come across new acquaintances in a short time frame.
As we travelled across this huge state, we came to the agreement we were also over being cold all the time. Whilst it was oftentimes warm enough to wear a T-shirt in the day, as soon as the sun went down the cold set in, and at night we were all wearing beanies and winter bedding. There were reports of ice on the fence lines as far south Brisbane. So, eastward we headed to the coast to get a bit of sunshine, as fast as we could. Up and over the ranges and out we popped in Mackay where the eastern coast finally greeted us for the Tropical Queensland section of our exploration to begin. The caravan park in Mackay had bananas dripping from the trees, ripe for the kids to pick and eat as they wished. What a change from the inland!
A Fanatical Sabbatical
‘Mark, Kim and the kids are leaving behind their home in the Adelaide Hills to jaunt around the country side while they manage their arborist business remotely. Normally enrolled in ‘bush school’, they thought they could push the kids outdoor eduction experience a little further by living outside for a year.
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The Devils Marbles
Crossing over into Queensland
Bananas for the taking