Cloncurry (Qld) : 19th July.
Normanton , Burke & Wills Roadhouse (Matilda Highway) 440 k ms
About 2:30 am, a change passed through Karumba, resulting in moderate south easterly winds hitting our campsite. Given the sandy nature of the park and the lack of trees of any consequence to break the wind, this meant some unpleasant conditions blowing in from a very unprotected corner and bringing with it large amounts of sand.
As a result, I was up and about at 3:00 am, resetting pegs along the floor line and closing down the
windward side of the tent. Ever since a freak willy-willy had knocked the original back wall out of the large tent at Tambar Springs, winds have made me nervous. In the big tent, we are setting a substantial amount of canvas against the wind and this change in direction had caught us with the largest profile of canvas exposed to the incoming blow.
By morning, a sand induced sinus attack and the memory-jangling flapping canvas had combined to give me a fair sized headache and the thought of packing up in these condition did not exactly thrill me. Here the crew rose to the occasion. Apart from an early outburst from Sam regarding the whereabouts of his shorts, they combined in a unified team against the elements and the pack up was achieved in about our normal time.
There were difficulties.
At one stage, Sue misheard a request from me and the tent was sent crashing down about my ears. As the wind caught the slack canvas, a roof pole tried desperately to reconstitute my brain and I was sat upon my seat, whilst still inside the collapsed tent! This aside, it was great work under trying conditions and all were splendid. On this morning in particular, Chris had been the perfect helper everywhere at once but not interfering. He coaxed and encouraged the others and sought to keep the peace when tempers looked like fraying. I was proud of him and made sure I told him so.
Tent packed, nasal passages cleared and sinus tablets swallowed, it was down the Wallaby Track to
Cloncurry and an overnight stop prior to our stay in Mt Isa. On the way, we stopped to record the ubiquitous termite mounds, not long after the Dang Bang Jump Up. In one particular field, they appeared to extend back as far as the eye could see and ranged in height from the knee to the shoulder. They made an eerie sight, standing like gravestones on me flat plain, under a brilliant blue sky.
This was our worst fuel consumption of the journey so far, mainly owing to the south easterly winds, which alternated between head wind and cross wind. The last leg from Burke and Wills Roadhouse saw the car consume 35 litres in travelling 188 kms !
Cloncurry was reached at 3:15 pm and the dome tent was soon erected and camp set for the night. A trip into town procured the evening meal - two large, freshly prepared and cooked before our eyes pizzas for only $11 - and a fresh store of groceries. We were impressed by the excellent service and customer relations of the store.
We were glad to hit the hay after a long - at times unpleasant - day, but as Sue had inflated the air mattress, I didn't sleep well. She continued her trend of under inflating and I was beginning to suspect a deliberate ploy intent of relieving herself of the task!