Once a jolly swagman

There’s a point when travelling west of home when I really feel away. A certain grevillea tree with beautiful silver-grey spiked leaves and scarlet flowers  starts to appear, one that doesn’t grow near home, and then I feel it. Today I’m away; it’s the first day in a two week road trip to the red centre of Australia. Already I am relaxed.

Day one is always interesting as we roll along and remember the things we’ve left behind and add them to our shopping list for the next town stop. Today was no different, with my most amazing feat of forgetfulness being my camera tripod. That one we did turn around for, luckily not far from home. Other than a few things though, the day was a smooth run.

650km later, we picked a campsite just outside Winton. As we pulled in Dog Days are Over shuffled onto our sound system to herald our arrival, and Florence herself couldn’t have picked a better soundtrack. The campsite was a picturesque spot beside a large waterhole, with doves, bustards and other birds fluttering about. Not a single other person was there.

Conn Hole campsite

We got out and investigated a bit while brolgas circled overhead, their bugling call distinctive in the quiet. My mind bounced between feelings of elation at winning the campsite lottery and that of suspicion at whether we’d missed some kind of impending disaster alert. I decided even if I was about to die that I should at least enjoy this lovely spot in the meantime. Ignorance is bliss after all.

Winton is where Waltzing Matilda was written and it felt lovely to sit by this billabong on our first night, musing over whether this was the setting for Banjo Patterson’s poem. I certainly felt it could be and let its outback charm wash over me while the campfire warmed my toes. And it was only day one.

Start: Townsville

End: Conn Hole, Winton

Seen: brolgas, cockatiels, budgies, galahs, bustards, no other campers

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