(Written by Dave)
You can tell that we are getting further “out west” as the towns are less and less eventful. We slept in, lounged over brekkie and still had time to see pretty much everything in town by 2:30. There are many things we didn’t see outside of town but we didn’t have a car to get us to them, nor the burning desire to do much more than stroll about. Highlights of the day included the following.
We had a second brekkie at the bakery in town (yes we do really say things like “brekkie” and “kindie” to each other – the later being short for kindergarten. You see, that’s how it’s done here in Australia, everything gets a shorten nickname. I can remember when we first moved here thinking how odd when a I heard an adult male co-worker say “kindie”. Wow, do grown men really use those words? Now to find myself years later using the same slag all the time, you can’t help it. On this trip we’ve picked up “Rocky” for Rockhampton and “Barky” for Barcaldine. The first time I said Rocky, Nancy mocked me, as all good wives would – only to hear her using “Rocky” only days later – again, it just grows on you.)
Anyway back to today. After the bakery went into an opal shop called “Winton Opal Company”. It was run by a couple named Phil and Denise. Now you might thing, “buying rocks on a bike trip does not seem very smart” and I would completely agree with you. It never hurts to have a look. We ended up in the shop for 45 minutes. Phil and Denise were great to talk to. They had owned a working mine and have sold their stones all over the world. They are semi-retired and now just own the shop. We learned so much about opals and the trade in general – They brought out the old pictures of their mine, and told us all about how they found and developed the property. Phil himself cut nearly every rock in the shop and let me tell you, there were a lot of rocks. Eventually we drifted off opals and onto other topics. I even got to use my IT skills to help Denise forward an invoice to someone in Germany. Easy stuff, but I’m sure they were thinking the same when they were telling us about opals – I guess everyone has their own thing.
We finally made it to the information center in time for lunch – yes, I know, we eat a lot! We got the skinny on some of the roads ahead and had great sandwiches. I had an egg and bacon roll (of course). I do promise a detailed write up on E&B rolls in the near future, there is definitely a science to them, of which we are becoming quite experienced.
After lunch we wandered more of town. Winton claims to be the birth place of Qantas and to be the first place that “Waltzing Matilda” was performed. We saw the Winton club, where Qantas held their first board meeting and saw many different Banjo Paterson plaques. We also strolled through the Gregory Hotel – where the first performance took place. As noted in the opening, it doesn’t take much in these outback towns to generate a reason to put up a plaque.
Eventually we made it back to the bakery for a coffee and then wandered back to camp. We are now in the process of getting ready for dinner and tomorrow’s big ride (170k). The roar you hear (or at least I’m hearing) is a four trailer road train going by – should be fun tomorrow. While we were out, over the course of the day a small army of ants have invaded the tent so I am writing this update while Nancy goes on the warpath. Good thing we don’t have any Raid as I’m sure that Nancy would take out all the ants this side of the dividing range, she likes to spray. I’d better go help with the clean up before I go the way of the last ant in the tent. Wish me luck tonight and both of us luck tomorrow – hoping for tailwinds…