Well, our short sojourn in Mt Isa is over and we are now camped on the green grass of West Leichhardt Station. There were several reasons to stay for a few days in town the most pressing being the rather alarming noise from the left front suspension of the Minibago.
As recorded before, it first became apparent after a fairly innocuous-seeming bump in the road outside Binnaway and persisted until we arrived in the Isa some three days and a couple of thousand kilometres later. Closer inspection did not reveal the source of the noise and there was no change in the handling or the steering of the van in the process so the whole thing was quite mysterious.
As we now know, the culprit was a broken clamp that secures the anti-rollbar rubber on the left side. Amazingly both the broken clamp and the rubber remained in place until we got here so, on Monday, the other end of the bracket was removed, it was welded back together and order was restored. We also took the opportunity to have the wheels rotated front-to-back as there are still many kilometres to travel before we get home.
Our hosts in Isa are wonderful people, a young married couple with a gorgeous one year old daughter who is quite the charmer. Staying at their place, sitting around the fire pit and telling stories each night was indeed a pleasure and the time passed much too quickly. The repair job was finished late on Monday afternoon so we stayed an extra night before taking the short 33km drive out to the station.
This required a 12km drive back down the highway towards Cloncurry and then a 20km or so run up a freshly-graded red gravel road to the station. Did I say frehly-graded? I have confided here many times before how much admiration I have for plant operators who know how to do their job, well I now have experienced the work of the best grader operator I have ever seen. The road was wide (wider than the highway, actually) smooth as a baby’s you-know-what and quite the best gravel road on which I have ever driven.
That said, it was still dusty and we arrived at the station with the van covered in red dust and dust inside that had gained access through the many, many holes and crevices that the T4 has.
And, speaking of dust, what I thought was a major problem with our solar setup proved to be merely a product of the red dust coating the panel and reducing its ability to charge. A quick clean and we are now pumping out 13.5v in the Queensland sunshine. Lesson learned; keep the solar panel clean.
West Leichhardt Station is huge, around 145000 hectares. From any point on the station, even from the top of its many hills, it is impossible to see its furthest extemities. It runs 12000 head of cattle some of which only get seen once a year at muster time. The homestead and surrounding outbuildings are shaded by a myriad of native trees and constant watering from the natural spring just to the north of the homestead means that the whole area is covered with lush green lawns, another astonishing feature which I was not expecting.
At present the campsites are all filled, mostly with caravanners; some grey nomads like us and several younger families with children who seem to not be suffering at all from being unable to access the internet. The days are spent in reading, relaxing, talking walks around the campsites and exploring further afield as guests of Ron, the station owner, who, though in his 70s, still seems as sprightly as a man many years his junior. All that good hard work and exercise, I guess.
The mornings are cool and the days sunny but bearably mild. Ideal holiday weather, in fact. As there is no internet access here I am taking the opportunity of nevertheless writing every day or so and will publish when we get back on the road and have some signal.
As a result of not having access to the web I have no idea what is happening in the outside world and am content at this stage for that situation to continue. I did catch the results from Assen and was pleased to see another Australian win in the premier class. I am not so carried away with Miller’s win as to indulge in some of the histrionics exhibited by many journalists, however. A win is a win, yes, but in the rain and in a shortened race makes it atypical and hardly a foretaste of many more to come. The list of riders whose GP wins total one is long and,while each win is meritorious, many of them have been scored in similar unusual circumstances.
It was pleasing to see again that MM93 kept his head and eked out a very important points advantage over JL99 who hates riding in the rain and could only manage 10th and Rossi who once again DNF’d. I wonder if the pressure is starting to become a bit much? Anyway, a 24 point gap over Lorenzo (almost one win) and a 42 point lead over Rossi, will do very nicely, thank you very much.
On a personal note I am experiencing considerable discomfort, if not to say pain, in my right leg and it is showing no signs of improving. I am resting up but it doesn’t seem to be getting any better and I am becoming just a bit concerned. I think I will have to go and see my doctor for some expert advice when I get home, that is if it doesn’t improve by itself in the mean time.
Oh, and I learned a new term this week. While looking at the Minibago, “The Professor” remarked, “I see you have two whizz-bangs.” When I asked for an explanation he said that a whiiz-bang is a sliding door. Whizz-bang. Clever.
If you’re looking for a great place to spend some time on your holiday, I can highly recommend West Leichhardt Station.
Moving right along. I have had no internet access for over a week so this post is by now well and truly out of date. Since writing this we have travelled back to Cloncurry, north to Normanton and Karumba, then south again until hitting the highway east. Today we travelled all the way to Mt Surprise where we booked into a lovely caravan park ($12 per night for an unpowered site) and we are presently camped down in the back corner under the trees (bad for the solar, good for the shade.)
I am hopeful that, when we get closer to the coast, we will have more regular access but, in the mean time, I am keeping a written diary and will update the blog copiously when time (and Telstra) permits.