After our short time eating free and cheap fruits and veggies in the campgrounds of Childers we found a job via the internet site Travelers at work or TAW.com. A cattle station was looking for an extra hand or 2 for a short season in the Queensland outback. 1-3 months he said, so we were on our way. Skipping Fraser Island was a tough one since I knew we probably wouldn’t drive all the way back down and this guy wanted us to start asap, but we needed the work and the opportunity came a’knockin. So we started our first outback tour, driving west from Rockingham on the Capricorn Highway.
We drove to Sapphire and Rubyvale, where we stopped for a little gem fossicking (panning for gemstones) and found ourselves a few little emerald jewels. Then a few free overnighters in rest areas. The nights get pretty darn cold in the outback so bring extra blankets if you’re planning on a trip. One of the stops we noticed all the trees in the area were full of bats. And not little ones either, they were huge bats, millions of them, all clustered together in the trees of this town. When night fell the show began as the bats took flight in search of their nightly meals. Apparently they fly as far as the coast for a good eat then back again for morning. It sure was a sight to see the sky almost black with wings going this way and that.
The flat and barren outback is definitely alive. The Gidgie tree was introduced to us halfway there with the smell of a thousand dead kangaroo corpses. Seriously folks, if you smell dead body and there isn’t one around then you’ve just been hit by the gidgie tree. A tree so popular you can’t get away from it and so solid you can’t cut it down. In the mornings and evenings the smell it puts off will knock you dead in your tracks the first few times. Funny thing though, eventually it grows on you and a year later you’ll be driving through an outback area and bam you get hit, and you like it, it smells like the peaceful and beautiful outback. You’ll also notice the giant flocks of Galah birds with their pink tummies and grey backs and the odd Emu running around with their young. Kangaroos by the 100’s too. Big ones and little baby joeys everywhere. I come from Ontario Canada where we are advised not to drive at night due to the moose on the road, but here it is Kangaroos. In the evenings DO NOT drive. They not only flock to the roads but as soon as they see headlights, they jump into them with a death wish. It is very dangerous and the number of kills on the side of the roads are astounding. If you just do a quick drive through the outback you may not notice the life out there but if you stay awhile you will tune in to what is there and find so much beauty in that barren world.
To be continued…