(Written by Dave)
Good night sleep in the hotel. Nice to have a bed, there was some music from somewhere in the middle of the night but you have to expect that on a Friday night in a mining town. We had cold cereal for brekkie, nice change from the oatmeal. Speaking of food, several have asked about the meat pie in Dingo yesterday – was it dingo? That’s the beauty of a meat pie in Australia, they call it meat because it is meat – what kind of meat is never spoken – I’m quite certain that it was not Dingo but what it was we’ll never know. As my father used to say, “if you can’t stand the answer, don’t ask the question”.
We were out the door and riding before 8AM. We had a tailwind right from the start – nice. There were lots of clouds about and at one point we rode over a wet road, but we didn’t get any rain all day. The light in the morning with the sun behind us was great – but it is hard to get a good photo with everything being pretty flat. I did climb in the Coal Centre “big shovel” for the obligatory shot before we left Blackwater.
More Boab trees today. They just make me laugh when I see them. The healthy ones really are Dr. Seuss material. They suffered a lot over the past 9 years with the big drought. This year with all the rains and flooding, the ones that didn’t die are really growing well.
We made great time to Comet – a town not on most of our maps. They had a caravan park right on the road where we got a second brekkie – egg and bacon burger of course. We got to chatting with the owner. She refuses to take on mining folks and really is trying to make a go of it on the grey nomads – that’s us folks (well okay, maybe a bit older), but with caravans. We could have made it to Comet last night had we known. Too bad the information folks in Blackwater were so lacking in information!
The Capricorn Highway continues to be a nice road. Of course, the tailwinds help but there is a nice shoulder most of the time. And today we rode mostly Saturday AM – meaning almost no traffic for the first few hours. After Comet we came across cotton fields, the region’s first major industry (mining is now taking over).We rode for many kilometres with little cotton balls all over the side of the road. Made me want to stop and pick them up for later use – but I could think of no use – I like passing sweet potato farms better.
We rode into Emerald around noon. Pretty early but we had covered 80ks so we stopped – it is 40k to the next town. The information centre was very helpful – with information for the next couple days. They also have a massive “painting” based on a famous Van Gogh work. I guess they also grow sunflowers here, in addition to the cotton.
Emerald is the start of the gemstone fields – there are several north of here where people go fossicking for sapphires, rubies and other gemstones. There is a famous story about a 14-year old kid who picked up a sapphire from behind the post office that turned out to be one of the largest sapphires in the world, worth millions of dollars. Perhaps we should have looked around on the ground a bit before we came over to the park.
The caravan park is nice. We were met on arrival by a group of parrots, another new bird for us. They seem to be roosting in the tree right near our site. They can fly but seemed to be pretty happy hopping all round our sight. Overall the park is nice. We have done laundry and are working on dinner. Tonight we will compliment our couscous with snags from the butcher, zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes. We stopped at the grocery store and two bakeries before we came over to the park so we are not lacking for food tonight.
Tomorrow we are not sure how far we will go – we have heard of a free rest area where we can get water that is about 80k from here so we may try that one. We will check with the information centre in Anakie, the next real town, to see what they know about it. Hopefully the wind will continue to be at our back!