Sunday, March 18, 2012

Australian Adventure: Log 13

As we fight our way west, headwinds are getting stronger and stronger, challenging our forward momentum. We arrive in the town of Longreach, it’s a small town of maybe 2000 people however, we’re taken back as the tail-wing of a 747 looms over the hangars at the airport just out of town. Glenn gets a shot of adrenaline shoot through him as he flies over what is listed as a rural airport, the sight of a 747 on the tarmac making him search around for equally frightening air traffic. However, not to worry, it’s only part of the Qantas Museum; placed here because this was the town the company began its operations.

It was a quick launch this morning, well before the sun even came close to breaking the horizon, and my stomach is arguing with me over the lack of breakfast. As we pass by the massive 747, we find a Road House to get fuel, and I take the opportunity to grab something to eat, the only thing available is a nasty little sausage roll that looks as though it’s been sitting under the heat lamp for days. Back on the road, I’m not quite sure if what I’m eating is actual meat in the centre of the sausage roll, as we race to catch up to the lone remaining pilot. Mark is sitting in the back of the truck, not making much sound as the reality hits that his dream of a world record has come to an end. He’s doing his best to now concentrate on the charity side of the expedition, however the pain is obvious.

Soon, we’re passing through the town of Ilfracombe. It’s a quaint little village that has a display of farm machinery running the entire length of town on the left side of the highway. It looks like a great place to stop, a couple nice little café’s look quite inviting, however, Glenn is nowhere in sight and we need to catch up. To our surprise, we find him just on the outskirts of town, sitting by the road side, the mid-day heat and thermals forcing him to call an end to the morning flight sooner than expected. However, this does mean that we get to make use of the café.

We truck Glenn back to town, straight to the café, where he wastes no time ordering up a proper eggs, bacon and sausage breakfast. Having already chosen my breakfast purchase, I had to make do with a Flat White as Glenn works a proper meal. We’re in town for several hours before the winds calm for an evening flight. I do a couple laps of the town getting pictures of the machinery and giving myself yet another sunburn before it’s time to leave.

Glenn is back in the air and heading for Barcladine. We’ve already planned to make an early landing here as there is a storm front moving in all around us, and we’ll have to make a decision in the morning whether to fight on east towards Emerald, or cut south to bypass a certain halt to wait out the storms. He makes to the outskirts of town just as the sun slips beneath the horizon, a perfect landing only minutes from a Caravan Park.

Setting up camp with the luxury of electricity, water, toilets and showers, we set about filling our stores and getting a much needed shower in before treating ourselves to a pub dinner. No cooking or dishes tonight.

The Caravan Park manager suggests a good bar to try, the Shakespeare Hotel and to not miss getting a photo of the “Tree of Knowledge.” Not quite sure what he meant, however, we packed along the cameras anyway. A walk into the centre of town soon displayed a rather modern piece of art centered in what is really a classic old Outback town, the contrasts where huge as a large green lit structure enveloped a dead tree. Inside, spires of wood streak down from the top creating a magnificent display of light and art, the dead roots in the ground on display through a glass floor. It’s something we really were not expecting. According to a plaque near the site, the tree was an icon that proclaimed the start of the Labour Party in Australian politics. The Aussies sure take their politics seriously to keep the tree on display with such extravagance. After some meandering around the area, our stomach’s beckoned us on to the Shakespeare Hotel, where I made the mistake of ordering the seafood platter, receiving a massive plate of deep-fried objects of varying shapes and sizes, all tasting the same, of grease. I knew I shouldn’t have ordered it and the after affects wood sit in my stomach well into the morning.

Despite the shower before bed, the nights heat brought gave me little chance of sleep, and the scream Gallah’s made their annoying return at four in the morning. Despite the luxury of a Caravan Park, the night would bring little rest as finding sleep is still a challenge.

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