Thursday, October 22, 2009

Up at first glow of morning light to break camp and see the caves. This area is flat and in geologic terms has been stable for 540 million years. The caves were formed by changes in the water level from year to year, wet to dry seasons over a millennium. The park has numerous dramatic sink holes that create openings to the extensive caving system. Unfortunately you need ropes to enter the caves so we contented ourselves with peering down.
Leaving the park we came apon this large bird. It didn't seem to be afraid of us. If anyone know what what kind of bird this is please let e know.

Lots of road trains, all with serious cattle guards. I can see why, kangaroo road kill, almost every 100 feet. Truckers don't swerve and kangaroos don't have a chance. Need to be careful especially at dawn and dusk.

Went through Mt. Isa. Large mining operation with processing plant. Smoke stack in the center of town had to be 500 feet tall. Country side really changed from flat to rugged with dramatic rock outcrops. Road is good now and truck is handling well at 100 kph. We're asking a lot from this truck so we have to keep the heater on high, full time, to keep the heat gauge below red. And it isn't cold outside.

200 km more to Camooweal. Long straight road. Went fast, but seemed a long time. Must be tired. Picture of alex fueling up at sunset.
Turned down a washboard, 22 km road to Caves National Park to camp. Annette created another fine meal. Great stars, all new constellations, could only recognize Orion. Went to sleep as soon as the head hit the ground.

Up at first light. Quick breakfast. Only another 1000 km. Didn't have time to stop in Longreach. They have Stockmans Hall of Fame and Qantas museum. This is where the airline started. (Qantas = Queensland And Northern Territories Air Service). Would have been a great stop but it will have to wait till the next time we are by.
Stopped for fuel in Winton. Both cars started to have problems with fuses. We've been running our inverters to charge up computers, cell phone, radios and any thing else we can find. With all the engineers on this caravan getting a fuse changed took almost 1 1/2 hrs. Had some fun chatting it up with a longhaul trucker that was delivering these huge tires to the copper mine in Cloncurry. I could understand about every 3rd word with his Aussie brogue. He was amazed that we were driving this big trailer with our Toyota. "Ther' tough rigs that yor can get 500,000 km on a straight 6, but ther' really slow without a turbo. Couldn't yor' get a Ford". We waved good bye after passing each other 3 times that day.

Long drive to Barcaldine. Passed many open range cattle with water tanks filed by windmill pumps. The sunsets bring a welcome relief from the heat are are beautiful to see on vast expanse. Stayed at a caravan camp (trailer park). It had Internet, good showers and open kitchen. Another good meal by Annette. Slept outside with a brilliant starry sky with no moon. The local herd of kangaroos wandered through camp, keeping us company all night.

Up early, adjusted the trailer weight again. Headed west to Barcaldine. Road is flat but rough. Saw our first road train. That's a semi with 3 trailers that can be 50 m long (160 feet). A little nervous when they pass and doing a 120 kph. This is big country. Huge wheat flieds and cattle country like the mid west. Had lunch at a road side park. There were a dozen emus hanging out not paying us any attention. Kind of like the deer in Jacksonville.

Bruce warned us about the kangaroos and emus around dusk, they will be eating at the road edge and jump back into the bush or just as easily leap in front of you. Saw lots of “flat roos”, then finally saw a “round” one watching us go by. Arrived at the motel 10:30 pm, 15 hours later.

Wednesday, up early. Needed to rearrange weight from trailer to the rental truck. I think the team brought every tool they had from their shop. Still feel the trailer weaving while towing but had to get on the road before morning traffic got heavy.

There were 3 choices, head north following the coast or the inland New England Highway or go west directly to the Outback which is flat and straight. The coast road had too much traffic especially with Australian spring break. Bruce recommended the Outback because it was the quickest and a straight drive, best for the trailer. But it seemed it would be just too boring, so we took the New England Highway. It only added 300 km and mostly rolling hills. Plan was to drive 900 km to Toowoomba which should take us 8 hours. Trailer wasn't handling well and quickly realized the truck was under powered. It could only go 30-40 kph up hill and maximum of 100 kph down hill with the trailer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We been unable to update the blog because of access to Internet. This was last Wednesday of last week
The trailer electrical wire was too heavy for the connection plug. Had to make up our own connection, using speaker wire. The existing trailer wire was so mismatched that we had to take everything apart to sort it out. Got everything working except the running lights. Found out later, they haven't been working for years.

The hitch was a problem, the trailer is set for a 2 and 5/16 inch ball (or 58mm). The only ball size in Australia is a 2 inch (50 mm). And the hitch won't stay on with a 2”. Option was to change the hitch on the trailer but no time to do this. Or shim out the guides on the locking mechanism and gray tape they to keep the shims from falling out.

We didn't get away from customs dock until 4 pm, headed for Bruce's house. First thing I noticed, there are not any 20 foot trailers that are as wide as the road. So here we go, still figuring out driving from the right seat on the left side of the road, stick shift on the left, turn signals and wiper controls reversed, pulling this over weight trailer through Sidney with 5 o'clock traffic. I don't know if Sydnians are polite or just knew enough to give way. We made it back to Bruce's with only an occasional horn and wind shield wipers going off instead of turn signals.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

First look inside the trailer

Pulling the trailer out to get ready for Customs inspections. There are two inspections. First is to check for things that you should not bring. the tough one is to make sure the trailer is clean. They are very serious about this. We had to pull all content out and vacuum the floor of the trailer. This was a lot of work for Alex.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pictures in the park.

We enjoyed the sunset and found a good place to eat. Walked back through Hyde park. There was a display of large scale photograph that were quite interesting. Nice way to end our first day.

Went downtown to see some of the sights. Sydney is a beautiful city. Walked through the park and had to see the Opera House at sunset.

Good flight to Sydney thanks to Qantas. Meet Alex to pick us up and go to Bruce Gordon's(Anne Barry's brother) house. Short walk to Coogee Beach in the afternoon. Annette instantly got her shoes off to walk in the Pacific.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Camera packed, ticket in hand, bags stuffed and zipped. Lets go

Friday, October 2, 2009

We have created this blog so that our family and friends who have been great supporters, can journey with us on this adventure to Australia as we follow Rachel to the World Solar Challenge. Stay tune as we share our adventures in the down under.