Helen and Doug's Round the World Trip travel blog

A now very familiar sight

A roadtrain - scary!


After buying the biggest vat of water we could find and some emergency soup rations we left Townsville for the long drive across nothing to Uluru. We started off quite excited about the prospect of seeing what many people call the 'real' Australia and meeting some of the famous characters said to inhabit the bush.

Well, that soon ended. After the first 400kms of dusty brushland we reached the delightful town of Hughenden. What a strange place that was! We found a hotel (it wasn't hard, there was only one!) and embraced the air conditioning. We thought the pub would be a great place for a good ol' Aussie steak dinner and a few well-earned drinks but unfortunately it was a very unwelcoming, and almost hostile, place. We had to eat in the 'dining room' which was clearly decorated 50 years ago and left alone ever since. The food was ok but eating alone on orange tablecloths wasn't the best dining experience. After we finished eating we retreated back to the room away from the raucous shouts of mostly pissed bar occupants! The Outback will take some getting used to!

The next day we headed for Mount Isa thinking we had some nice little towns to visit en route. We passed through Richmond, Julia Creek and finally Cloncurry and nothing really jumped out as a reason to stop. It was Saturday and in the Outback everything closes at lunchtime on Saturdays, not to reopen until Monday morning, so there was even less life than there might have been.

We reached Mt Isa exhausted and found a nice motel run by a very friendly woman who sent us to the Buff's Club for a free drink, an interesting experience as all the locals were out on Saturday night. Mt Isa exists purely because of the mine and therefore men outnumber women 3 to 1. The club was like a mini Vegas with a sports bar, restaurant, cafe, kids club and of course, mini casino! We felt like we had definately found the Outback spirit alive and well in Mt Isa.

The day we drove from Isa to Tennant Creek was perhaps the most boring day of our trip! One nice thing about driving through the Outback, apart from some genuinely fine scenery, is that most people you pass wave which gives a real sense of cammeradery in a place where if you break down you'll certainly need friends! There was really nothing to stop for today except one roadhouse which we were getting excited about 150kms in advance! It was a great place called the Barkly Homestead run by friendly people who, in the middle of seemingly nowhere, have their own little community.

Arriving in Tennant Creek was a relief although sadly the town didn't seem open for business even though it's the only place for miles around, although it was Sunday. We were exhausted and stayed in the comfort of air conditioning again. We'll be passing through again on our way north so we'll give it another try in a few days.



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