Moree, Munglindi, St George, Surat, Roma (Carnarvon Highway) 436 kms
After our wonderful evening with the Richardson's, we took our leave - with difficulty - and headed to the shops to stock up for our time ahead in Carnarvon Gorge NP.
This was to be one of our longest days on the road for the entire journey and was necessitated by the desire to put some of the long stretches leading to the places we wanted to see, behind us. Our path took us roughly north, through the border town of Mungindi and over our first real dirt road of the
trip. The car was already showing the legacy of road works on the southern outskirts of Moree: a fact that was made the more galling by the cleaning I had given it the day before departure.
Mungindi nestles on the Barwon River and looks like "just a place". I had heard many tales about it, but the fact that a colleague had once taught there seemed to be more than it deserved in terms of a reputation and we passed through without giving it as much space in our day as this paragraph.
Lunch was had beside the Balonne River - fittingly we had processed cold meat on our sandwiches - in the namesake of my favourite football team, St George. The town is the centre of a rich cotton growing district, as the roadside litter would indicate. On the southern approach, the large cotton gin was an intriguing sight, with the yards liberally littered with the large "bales" of cotton that are collected in bins and road transported to the gin. The extensive irrigation system surrounding St George has led to this success with cotton, but other crops such as wheat, barley, oats and sunflowers are also important cash crops from the locals. With sheep and cattle also having important roles to play in the local economy, the area has many similarities - in land use only - with Tambar Springs.
The children were excited to see signs indicating the bag limits allowed when fishing in the Balonne, but those wise sages among us saw too close a relationship with the sign, to the implied nature of the river, as indicated by its name. We passed on, without serious temptation to dangle the lines !
After our lunch break, it was on to Surat, where we had a stretch of the legs and then put the head down for the final leg to Roma.
Our overnight camp was at Roma Villa Caravan Park. Our powered sight was $3 cheaper than expected because the proprietor declined to charge for all of the children. He commented that costs sky rocketed when travelling with kids and as he had done it when he was younger, he liked to help families out who were staying together and seeing their country. Thoroughly decent of him, really. I guess it just goes to show that you don't have to be a pensioner to get the odd discount!
We pitched the overnight dome and each busied ourselves with chores towards the common good.
Our evening meal was a very palatable stew courtesy of Sam and Sue. Each of the children began their journals, as did I and we settled off to sleep as the cool of the evening descended upon us. The only bummer of the evening was my tardiness in turning on the phone, which meant I missed a call from Dad by about five minutes. The switch-on was accompanied by an immediate page from the electronic mail box and a message from Dad complaining that he had wasted his eighty cents in an attempt to do us a good deed!
The very pleasing aspect of the two days driving had been the fuel consumption, which appeared to be much less than on previous trips with the trailer. We have previously found that our range was only about 400 km, but we traveled well in excess of that on this day and still have not reached the final 10L warning light. Tomorrow's fill up will tell a story, but the change to a higher tow ball seems to have the car sitting in a more balanced posture .