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  • Writer's picturePete Jonson

In search of goats

Our arrival in Birdsville was on that famous day of record September temperature. Our car said the external temperature was 44 degrees, a slight exaggeration according to the ABC news. Next day was just as hot and the plan was to travel east to Windorah, a trip of almost 400 hundred kilometres on State Road 14. The first 250 to 300 kilometres was on roads that were mostly unmade and quite rough in places. Our new more careful driving style served us well but we sighed with relief every time we reached some madcadamised road.

For some reason this was a regular teasing event, and Mrs T opined that the road building authorities must be gradually improving things. Henry's view was more cynical. 'They are probably putting the tarmac in front of the properties of political supporters'. Despite having been disappointed many times, we took care to agree each time we reached tarmac that we had 'no expectation that we have finally left the alternatively rocky and sandy road.'

We arrived at Windorah by 4 pm and decided it was too late to continue. We booked into the Western Star Hotel a place we later learned was once awarded a prize as best outback pub in Queensland. We were lucky to obtain one of its well appointed brick cabins and later ate a hearty dinner of steak, salad and chips Before that Henry went to the information centre that advertised 'free wifi', the first for several days. The lady in charge was a pleasant indigenous person who offered a cup of tea or coffee, a kind offer gratefully accepted. She provided a map to the best place to see Windorah's famous red sandhills.

Early next morning needing advice on tyre pressure and well as filling the fuel tank, we met Trudi again, cheerfully giving advice and checking tyre pressure. Mrs T noted as we drove off that as well as Trudi there was another indigenous gal working the cash register and in the highly professional looking workshop two older indigenous ladies were apparently being helped by children of both genders. 'Where are the blokes?' Mrs T asked. Henry was unable to offer a concrete answer but suggested 'sleeping in'.

The next day's drive was to Quilpi, slightly under 250 kilometres traveling South-east again on State Road 14. The temperature had eased and the road was, wait for it, fully macadmanised. We ate a brief lunch of biscuits and cheeze and headed on to Cullamurra where we planned to buy provisions and rest for the dash to the goat farm. Again the relief of lower temperature and tarmac road so new it was not on our map, which was not so modern. Here we stayed at the Country Way Motor inn, run by two chatty blokes, named Ross and Bill who are sure to be voting 'yes' in the plebiscite currently underway. This motel satisfied its promised award winning properties but had the smallest room Henry has ever stayed in, and a bathroom Henry had to move sideways in.

Dinner was at the pub down the road recommended by Bill and was another supreme feast of steak, salad and chips. We walked through the twilight to get there, accompanied by incessent barking of savage dogs, accompanied by loud curses of their male owners. The town itself has a racecourse and a lot of shops and nice houses and gardens and is laid out in a slightly unusual but charming manner. The Australian newspaper arrives at 11 am, and next morning we were able to acquire it and a great store of provisions for our visit to see the goats. Our hosts had driven from Melbourne and arrived at noon the following day to accompany us to their property, as Mrs T, a gal from the bush herself, assures me is no mere 'goat farm' and I must not use that term. Our next article will explain the excitement of getting there and adventures whilst there.

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