Don made an early trip to buy fresh bread - shops aren't open here on Sunday's - remember when it was like that everywhere? We had planned on leaving at 8.30am and we were all ready to go when Ian was locking down the boot of the van, and one of the locks broke. Bother! He fiddled, and Don had a look, but they were unable to repair it, so out with the gaff tape for a quick fix to hold the door shut, and on our way about 8.45. 15 minutes is nothing when we had a 400km drive ahead of us.
The day started out a little cooler and cloudier than we've been used to over the last week, but the sun did eventually come out for most of the day.
We passed a big free camp at Fletchers Creek, north of Charters Towers, where you can stay up to 4 weeks. There were lots of people there, and it was a huge area.
There weren't many official Rest Areas, so pulled off the road at what looked like a now disused Council gravel storage area for our morning cuppa, when Don surprised us with a cream bun each he'd bought with the bread. Good man! Our lunch stop was at The Oasis Roadhouse, which really was like an oasis in the wilderness - nice green lawn and gardens, and outdoor tables and chairs. Fuel there was cheaper than in Charters Towers, which was surprising, but there was a $2 surcharge on Credit Cards. Don & Ian had hamburgers and Pam a sausage roll for lunch, but none of that appealed to me, so I made myself a vegemite sandwich with lovely fresh bread.
On our last leg for the day, and a few clouds appeared in the sky, and not the nice white fluffy ones. As we approached our destination, Mt. Surprise, we had a few drops of rain on the windscreen. We checked into the small caravan park behind the BP Service Station, just got set up, and the rain bucketed down for about 30 minutes. The water was blowing under the awning and we got wet as we sat enjoying a cuppa and hot scones, but we're tough! Puddles formed, but once the rain stopped, it didn't take long for the water to soak into the ground.
The countryside was different today from what we've seen over the last week. It seemed relatively untouched, thick with green trees, mostly iron bark, and undergrowth. There were lots of conical shaped ant hills probably 1-1.5 m high. We passed numerous wide, dry river/creek beds, but also quite a few dams with lots of water in them. The cattle around the dams looked very healthy and contented. The 'white' Brahmans really stand out against the green, and it looked like they were ready for market. Generally the road was good, with just a few sections of one lane, and of course, it was then that we met 2 triple road trains going in the opposite direction. Fortunately, the roads are pretty straight, so we could see them coming and get off the road in plenty of time. It was like we were in a dust bowl after they passed. The road seemed to be climbing gently for most of the day, but then, we are at Mt Surprise. For the first time this trip, we saw 4 kangaroos bounding away from the road. A dismantled rail line ran beside the road for many kilometres. Near Greenvale, one of the few tiny towns we went through, was a property sign - Upson Downs. I like that - I think that tells a story.
There was practically no mobile reception for most of the day until we neared Mt. Surprise. A couple of times the phone would ping, but by the time you had a look, we were back to out of range. We survived though!!!
We said goodnight early and had dinner in our own vans. Ian and I played Sequence, a board/card game, and he had a massive win.