Diversions Inland

Trip Start Dec 11, 2002
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Trip End Sep 07, 2003


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Wednesday, June 11, 2003

DINGO CATTLE STATION
Hankering for a bit of variety we headed inland to try and sample some of the real Oz! Only we ended up at a tourist cattle station with hordes of 18-20 year olds off the backpacker bus, Oz Experience. It was fun though, as we learnt to crack a bullwhip, throw a boomerang and blow a didgeridoo. The cattle rancher also kindly drove us around the 45,000 acre farm - the size of Belgium!! (and this is a small one; the biggies in the Northern Territory are 6 million acres!!). He drove us around the bumpy dusty tracks as we stood with 20 others in the back of his cattle truck. Now I know how those poor cows feel! Then we rediscovered our youth as we drank dodgy cheap beer with those 18 year olds - I even got chatted up by one!!

RUBYVALE AND SAPPHIRE - THE AUSSIE GEMFIELDS
Out west even further, we arrived at the Mad Max type nowheres-ville towns that exist purely for the pretty glittery jewels beneath their fields. We went fossicking in Sapphire - looking for - yes, you've guessed it - sapphires. Well we cheated really - instead of heading out to the baking hot gemfields with a pick and shovel, we went to a "fossickers park" where they'd dug the dirt for you. I was nursing a raging hangover (see above!) so quickly lost interest, but Marcus diligently fossicked for 2 hours - and the sum total of all his efforts? One pathetic sapphire that was worth $60 if we paid $30 to have it cut. Maybe not!

EUNGELLA NATIONAL PARK
So far on our travels round Oz, we'd seen in the wild: kangaroos, wallabies, pademelons, koalas, cockatoos, lorikeets, rosellas, lyrebirds, echidnas, whales, dingoes, sharks and dolphins - so greedy for more, we headed to Eungella - home of the duckbilled platypus.
First though we had to spot a "feral" (beardy Aussie hippy, particulary prevalent in Queensland), so we headed to "The Platypus Bush Camp" run by one such feral. It was excellent. We camped in the rainforest, swam in the waterhole (freeeeezing), met some really nice Dutch people and showered in an open shower right amongst the trees.
And yes, we did spot a platypus - well actually 3 of them. At the top of the mountains of Eungella there's a creek where loads of them live, and all we had to do was walk on to the bridge, peer over into the water and there they were, bobbing around blowing bubbles on the surface. Freaky things!
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