1st September, 4am, we meet Rob and Jo at Maryborough South Matilda ready for our journey to Birdsville. We head via Goomeri where we meet the sun for breakfast. Only a quick stop and we’re back on the road. Our intended first night stay is at Charleville where we fuel up and continue to our camp site on the appropriately name Ward River. We discovered this camp site in the Camps Australia Wide 6 book and found it to be a hidden treasure. Situated approximately 20km’s out of Charleville we turned off into the bush via a track that ran along a fence line until we met the river. There are a number of open camp areas to choose from and bins setup to assist in keeping it clean, however, we support the “Take out, what you Take In” motto so our rubbish came with us. Setting up along the river we gathered some fire wood and the kids got the camp fire going and we were set for the night. Yabby pots were put in and the lines dropped in anticipation of a catch for breakfast, unfortunately not this time!
With another early start, we hit the road again the following morning. With the sun still a long way from being awake we were reminded of the possible disadvantages of travelling so early. The stretch of road was littered with road kill, never have we seen so much animal carnage on a road.
Catching a glimpse of the sunrise in my rear view mirror, I just had to stop for the photo opportunity, the outback sunsets and sunrises are just amazing and you can’t miss out on the opportunity to go snap happy. It’s also a time when to wildlife become a little more active and what was interesting, is the change of animals as you travel west. Kangaroos, they go from the usual grey (Eastern Grey) to bigger and redder than we see along the coast, and the birds, well we saw plenty of Crows lining the roadside after a feed to Hawks and Eagles dominating this behaviour. I was in absolute awe when we stop to try and snap a shot of a Wedge Tail Eagle perched up on a Roo corpse. I raced out of the truck with camera in hand and just couldn’t capture the majestic creature in time; I knew there would be other opportunities, but not sure if I’ll get another like this one.
Windorah exhibited a little technology with their Solar Dishes, something new for us all to see, these dishes are unlike a satellite dish but rather than capturing communications they are designed to capture the suns energy and power the same town. As we approached the town centre we caught up with one of the locals doing a fine job, the Police officer after doing his random Breath Test on us informed us of the track condition to Birdsville and warned us of the traffic due to the races being on. The track from Windorah to Birdsville was a little unforgiving to Rob’s tyres, with a puncture from the shards of rock that sit in silence along the tracks awaiting for the right time to rear it’s point, anyway, we all helped change the wheel as more hands make light work, Joseph removed the spare as rob jacked up the trailer and I loosened the hub, the change was done in great time, Thinking of putting us in as a pit crew for formula One Racing Team.
Arriving in Birdsville the town was abuzz with punters and party people, the races had already started and it was hard not to get into the excitement that radiated from everyone. We setup camp as it was pretty late again and had an early night. Saturday our initial intentions were to hit the track and check out the races, but I had other things on my mind, “The Simpson Desert” more importantly, “Big Red.” We did go through the town’s display of food stalls and Races memorabilia before going to the local Tyre store for Rob’s wheel and the bakery so we could try, well, so, some of us could try their famous Camel Pie, mmm, it was something a little different, but worth the try. After our fill we hit the road to conquer the dunes the road to Little Red was detoured due to the water still preventing traffic heading direct to the dunes, This detour took us an hour off our path (one way) so there was very little chance of us hitting the track at all. We got to Little Red and gave it a go, not having done sand dunes before I soon found myself stuck only metres from the top, time to bail, everyone got our to walk the rest as I reversed down to give it another go, second time successful.
The views from on top of the dunes are absolutely breathtaking, water on one side, desert bushes and sand the other. We then went to give Big Red a go; this was only a small trek along the dune. Everyone was out for this one; Rob and I were keen to give it a shot. First attempt, metres away from the top, second attempt, a little closer, third time lucky as they say, and I was up, Rob took a different line that assisted him in getting over on his second attempt, I won’t mention it’s called the “Chicken Track.” There we were, in all the glory of the desert rays, the two of us on top of the largest Dune entering the Simpson Desert, in Lyn’s words, “There’s a Hilltop Testosterone Moment.” It’s great to say we are now part of the Big Red Club.