Destination: Longreach – Part 1 (Roma to Mitchell)

21 04 2009

Our morning unintentionally started at 0:Dark Hundred, thanks to the oil contractors staying in the hotel room next door. The men, themselves, were extremely quiet – until they turned on the TV. Why anyone would want to watch American Current Affairs shows on regional Queensland TV at 3.30am is completely beyond us, but in the wee hours of the morning, we endured stories about Fluffy the cat, who enjoys an pre-work morning surf with its owner, and some woman living somewhere in the United States of America that had a fascination with collecting coloured paper clips. We could only imagine the visual footage that accompanied these stories… Plus wonder why Americans found these sort of stories so engaging and newsworthy…

The oil contractors departed shortly after 4.30am and we settled back in to sleep-land until we were woken, once again, by a local rooster at the more civilized time of just after 6.00am. Hearing the rooster, Tan’s brain went into overdrive in the kind of way that only Tan’s brain is capable of. Whilst Dodge had all types of romantic thoughts travel through his brain, Tan could only think of Ferdinand the Duck from the movie ‘Babe’, and his daily routine of imitating the rooster in order to remain useful (and thus prevent himself from being eaten). Tan visualized the scene where Ferdinand ‘tackled’ the rooster as it began to crow and thus stifling the rooster’s wake up call, then immediately imitating the rooster before it could regain its composure. Tan’s thoughts then fast-forwarded to the end of the movie, when Ferdinand had learnt to imitate the new alarm clock is his relentless pursuit to remain useful.

So, Dodge awoke and immediately turned to romance, and Tan responded, echoing the words of Mrs. Hoggett – “We need to do something about that duck.” Dodge saw no other alternative then to get up and start preparing to leave.

We departed not long after.

We left the motel, turned left and saw our first real sign of country living – a gentleman taking his pet Shetland Pony for an early morning walk down the street. Not an Irish Wolf Hound, Border Collie, Chihuahua, Great Dane or any combination of dog, but a real live Shetland Pony. We quietly wondered whether the Shetland played ‘fetch’.

From Roma, the Warrego Highway took us towards Muckadilla. Muckadilla was once a thriving community, but nowadays, the only sign of life (at 7.27am at least) was at the Muckadilla Pub. The pub itself is a typical country pub – very welcoming and aesthetically very attractive. And it provides free camping – or if you prefer, a small fee for powered sites. The outside verandahs of the pub are lined with the bottle trees that are customary in the region, and two bench seats are positioned on either side of the entrance. One is named the ‘Bench of Bullshit’ and the other is called the ‘Seat of Knowledge’. Dodge was not exactly welcome to the photo opportunity the seats presented, as he knew he’d be relegated to the Bench of Bullshit whilst his beautiful, angelic wife naturally claimed the Seat of Knowledge.

From Muckadilla, we headed towards Amby. Somewhere along the 22 kms between Amby and Muckadilla, Dodge broke into song and invented the tune and the lyrics to “I’m too sexy for my underpants.” It’s a country-style tune in a similar style to John Williamson meets Colin Buchanan kind of way. In other words, Tan turned the iPod up to try and drown him out. You probably won’t hear his tune on a radio station near you in the foreseeable future…

We arrived in Amby. Dodge was captivated by the name of the place and kept reciting possible tourism slogans referring to the ‘ambience of Amby’. Tan let him ramble on, as the more he thought about promoting Amby to the tourist market, the less inclined he’d be to reprise the “I’m too sexy for my underpants” song.

Travellers should note that the Amby Pub also offers free camping!

Next stop: Mitchell. We needed petrol.

Although we’d only travelled 107 kms from Roma, we’d noticed that as we headed further west, the vegetation had already began to change. Between Amby and Mitchell, fewer bottle trees could be seen the odd Ooline tree was now noticeable. Mitchell was somewhat larger than both Muckadilla and Amby, and in addition to the  thermal spring baths, the town featured a large number of historic buildings (including several pubs!). More importantly for us, Mitchell marked the Eastern border of Western Queensland! We were well and truly on our way!

We chose to fuel up the car at the local BP Service Station. And it was a service station – not used to the traditional operations of a such a petrol station, Dodge was pleasantly surprised when Gary, the owner, insisted that Dodge step away from the pump and allow him to fill the car. Not content to stand by and watch Gary do the work, we got chatting. Gary was not quite a local in the Mitchell district – he’d married a local Mitchell girl 42 years ago and been living in town ever since, but was not yet considered to be a ‘local’ himself. We headed in to pay for our purchase, and as Gary continued the conversation, another ‘not-quite local’ (whose name shall remain anonymous in case he is ‘run’ out of town) proudly stated that if it wasn’t for people like himself and Gary, all babies born in the town would have 13 fingers and 15 toes by now.

With that comment, we decided that it was time to leave Mitchell before we were called to appear as witnesses at any possible public lynchings that may be held in the near future…


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