|Not exactly back of Bourke, more alongside.....|
The Balonne Highway is a pretty boring drive. It's as straight as a die, the scrub lacks variety, and the only aspect providing the occasional surprise is the wildlife.
I've seen everything from pigs to goats to camels along here. Yesterday was a big day out for families of emus. I saw four groups (each time a hen and three chicks on the road).
The 298 kms gives you time to think. Working and living large chunks of my life West of the divide has probably given me an atypical view, but I confess to getting irate at the ignorance of elementary geography displayed by many of those who dwell on the coast.
Years ago I was in a job at Mt Isa where I had to organize travel for teachers for a variety of reasons.
I booked one young teacher from Longreach to travel to Brisbane on a Sunday afternoon for a Monday conference. She phoned me at home very upset because there was no seat on the plane when she tried to board. The booking agency had stuffed up. I phoned their after hours number and asked them to help.
The sweet young thing at the other end of the phone said "Tell her to get on the Mt Isa flight. There's one leaving at 3.30pm."
It was 2pm, and Mt Isa is about 600kms from Longreach. She obviously didn't have a map in her office.
On another occasion I was driving a Toyota Land Cruiser from Boulia to Winton on the back road. I hit a badly maintained cattle grid a bit hard, a rail flew up and ripped half the rear axle assembly out. The car had an RFDS radio setup (mandatory on our vehicles for safety before the days of Satphones) so I was able to call the RACQ.
My plan was to get on to the garage in Boulia - they had a tilt truck. The operator wouldn't depart from her script which started with "What suburb are you in?"
It took a while to persuade her that that the man with the van wasn't available out there.
There was a move instigated by the whiteshoe brigade on the Gold Coast to introduce daylight saving when I lived in the Isa.
The trial was bizarre. Putting on a hat and sunscreen to go for a walk at 8pm with the sun high in the Western sky was a strange experience.
For quite a few years I was recruiting teachers to work with disabled kids in the North West. Phoning new graduates with job offers was hilarious.
In the space of one morning of offers, I heard that Cloncurry was "near" Caloundra, Hughenden just down the road from Broadbeach, and that Dajarra was in Wide Bay. There was much wishful thinking in evidence, and little success in filling positions.
Burke and Wills proved a long time ago that Melbourne is walking distance from Mt Isa, providing you keep heading North.
If you're in any doubt, look at a map.