We lingered at Mount Isa long enough to listen to our interview on the ABC while cooking back & egg rolls for the journey. While packing up, we were visited by a couple who’d just heard us on the radio! Instant recognition! They thought it sounded great and said they’d follow our journey online. Taking a moment to drag Peter in front of the camera for a photo, we bid farewell to our hardworking host.
The landscape from Mount Isa to Cloncurry is beautiful – rugged hills and valleys, dotted with ant/termite mounds. Those mounds create quite the impression of being in the Outback, or indeed another planet!
We passed many caravanners towing varied units. Some indicate when it’s safe to pass, and we always wave and/or thank them on the UHF radio. Ours is always switched on and at CH40, so if you see us, call us up and say hello!
We love seeing travellers who put their names and UHF channel on their caravan – Leon & Julie CH40, Mike & Mabel CH40, Gypsy Tess CH40… not only does it put a personality to the vehicle you’re travelling behind or passing, but it shows that they have an alternate form of communications on board. In our opinion, and Paul’s experience, this is vital if you are going to travel away into rural/remote areas. Phone coverage is often non-existent outside of towns, so how else do you make contact in an emergency? We have a Hytera UHF radio which was supplied by Future Systems. Kirstine can use it, and also knows that CH5 (unless otherwise signposted) is for emergencies, CH40 for truckies or travellers, and CH18 for caravanners. We also have a HF radio supplied by Barrett Communications (it’s the giant antenna on the front of the Legend!). With this, we can reach 1000s of kilometres depending on the weather/atmospheric conditions. By way of example, when we were at Bordertown in South Australia, we listened to a radio sched where a couple were bogged in the Northern Territory. Other travellers had already checked in and were within a day of that location, so were able to make their way there to assist. VKS737 and HFOz have given us access to their radio networks, so regardless of where we are, if something goes wrong, we can contact someone somewhere.
On the way to Cloncurry, we were travelling behind a 5th Wheeler, who for some unknown reason, had two empty plastic tubs ratchet strapped to the top of the caravan, except that one had worked its way loose and was about to fall off from a great height onto anything behind. Paul tried to raise the vehicle on the UHF. Nothing. Tried again. Nothing. When we were able to safely pass, with Kirstine trying to gesture to the driver about the tubs, Paul noticed that there was no UHF radio fitted. Considering the immense dollar value of 5th Wheeler caravans, why not spend a couple of hundred dollars more to fit a UHF? The driver was oblivious to anything, and also any information being relayed ahead by pilot vehicles for oversized loads. The mind boggles!
In a moment of phone reception, we received a call from our wonderful Platinum sponsor, the Nissan Australia Foundation. Kate was calling to confirm receipt of a report we’d written for her, but also to do a “welfare check”. She understands that talking to people about his illness can be very emotionally taxing for Paul, and wanted to make sure that he was coping. It’s easy for people to forget that Paul is trying to recover from his illness as we travel, because he tries hard to be positive around people. It’s Kirstine who sees the façade crumble in the evenings after a long day, and tries to keep Paul’s demons at bay. It means the world to us to have sponsors who understand the dynamic of our trip and the pressure it puts on us, and that CARE about our health. Kate always keeps an eye on media we don’t get to access very often, and points us in the direction of useful tools, inspirational people, and ideas. Thank you Kate, and the Nissan Australia Foundation!
The Lakeview Caravan Park at Richmond, along the Dinosaur Way, was our destination after a long day of driving. Lyn had offered us a powered site for the night, and it was large, grassy and in a prominent position. Paul was excited to see that there was Free WiFi, and Lyn pointed out that the password was on the back on the map amongst the Terms and Conditions. She said that if Paul had to come back and ask about the password, she might have to get out her ruler and and give him a smack for not reading the form properly. Kirstine suggested that Lyn might want to give Paul a smack anyway, so that Kirstine could watch and have a giggle. Paul was a spoilsport and said he’d read the form instead – Boohoo!
We had a lovely chat with a couple of campers and set to work feeding the kids so we could get them to bed. We had lots of blogging to catch up on! Kirstine has taken to writing the draft for the blog as we drive during the day, however with some of the roads we are on, deciphering the chicken scratch at the end of the day can be rather amusing!
You, dear readers, have the easy part – following our story in a simple typed font! LOL!