Desert? What Desert? Just out of town on the Big Red road, looking west.
The third flood was a doozy. It came up much higher than the previous two, lapping at the grid that marks the edge of town and reaching 7.2 metres — the flood level sign disappeared altogether. The river flooded out all over the gibber plains behind town as well, so we were surrounded on three sides, and the Bedourie was completely awash about 30 km north.
We were totally cut off for a while because the only way in and out of the place, the MacAir plane, went broke and stopped flying. The government had to charter a plane, but there was no ticket-buying infrastructure and for a week or so you had to already have a ticket or be dying (literally) to get onto the plane, causing a great deal of frustration for people wanting to leave or come back. They then made tickets available through the council, and have since awarded the Birdsville route to SkyTrans for the next six months while they tender the contract. SkyTrans has been very reliable so far, they actually come when they're supposed to, but they've hiked up the price of tickets quite significantly.
The food truck from Adelaide wasn't able to get here either, they finally came last week after nearly six weeks, and had to stop on the other side of the flooding, about 5 kms out of town. The food was ferried across by a couple of the locals in utes with snorkels. We get a delivery from Quilpie on the plane previous to that, and I was able to get a supply of fresh fruit and veg, a good thing because I was down to cans and frozen stuff.
Finally after three weeks the water started to go down again, although the Georgina River/Eyre Creek system was still coming up. We went out to have a look at Eyre Creek, about 45 kms into the desert. The water runs down channels between the sand dunes — it was apparently about 16 kms wide but we didn't get past the first channel. Another weekend, we went camping out to Adria Downs Station, on the Eyre Creek about 100 kms north of Big Red. The normally dry Muncoonie Lakes are full and very spectacular. We camped on the dune south of the lake and had a relaxed evening around the campfire. In the morning we dropped in on the station owners for morning tea (Judy's delicious pikelets with jam and cream). Don had to come and get us in the tinnie, they were still flooded in. When the lakes dry out they will grow lush grass which will feed the cattle for the next couple of years, so they were very philosophical about it all.
This sign is on the fence of the grid at the eastern edge of town.
Annie and Georgina don't let the flood stop their morning walk.
Lauren and Paul in the floodboat, checking out the water.
The bridge out of town.
From the billabong (south side of town) looking back towards our unit.
Looking back across the gibber plain on the western side of town.
The first of the 16 km-wide channels of the Eyre Creek about 45 kms out into the Simpson Desert.
Whoops, could have done that better! The dunes are very soft after summer and no-one driving across them. And it pays to travel in pairs — it only took a few minutes to pull Neale out again with a snatch strap. Otherwise, it would have taken a long time to dig him out by hand ....
We passed this herd of 25 wild camels on the way up to Muncoonie Lakes.
The two lakes, separated by a sand dune.
Don arrives with the tinnie to take us across to the homestead for morning tea.
I quit my job as a Graphic Designer in Sydney and moved with my husband Evan to outback Queensland to experience what the other Australia is like. We have a lovely one-bedroom unit with a view of the desert.