Goodbye smog city, goodbye……Sorry all going abit luney; could be the pollution or because we have been on the road for more than 6 weeks now. We depart to the south of Mt Isa and the scenery is just as spectacular, if not better than before we arrived in Mt Isa. This outback countryside is starting to feel quite remote and even the wildlife is scarce.
Approximately 150km out of Mt Isa we arrive at the town of Dajarra (a predominately Aboriginal community of approx 180).
The kids have been so good in the car, not that the drives are long distances (approx. 320km today). Also, no nagging from mum so far regarding homework as the kids are more than happy to undertake homework, colouring in, drawing, etc on their fold down desks that are attached to the rear of the front seats.
Montagu Downs is approx 140,000 acres however surprisingly, and most likely due to its proximity to town, it does not feel as remote as you might imagine…or perhaps this is because we have been in the outback for several weeks now. We are very thankful to our hosts, Charlie and Ange Elliott, that we are able to stay with them for several days. We are also grateful to our great friends, Anna & Wes Foster, for arranging our stay with the Elliotts. Well, Liam was in heaven, Brahmans everywhere and farmland as far as the eye can see. We are greeted by Ange and her nanny Clare as we settle in for the afternoon. Liam and Michael wandered over to the cattle yards and watched on as 42 weaners are unloaded from a cattle truck.
The following day Charlie arrives home in his helicopter…another tough day at the office. Charlie works with a company that predominately musters cattle by helicopter and is fortunate to have a 2 seater R22 as his mode of transport; it sure beats having a company car. Charlie was also born and bred in Boulia. A few days later we were all priveleged to have individual rides in the helicopter and Mike tells me some of the manouveres he experienced were pretty awesome although I quickly reminded him that I too experienced these. There were the 180’ and 360’ turns, sideways, backwards, a very agile and responsive helicopter and obviously a very capable pilot. The aerial views over the property and Boulia township were fantastic. Liam and Yasmin seemed to take it in their stride however were clearly thrilled to have experienced their first chopper ride. We were obviously very grateful to Charlie for affording us this great opportunity.
Over the next 5 or 6 days we had a nice and relaxing stay. The kids assisted Charlie in grading the road on the giant grader, had motorbike rides, walked and drove around the property and notably we all went to our first camel races.
The famous Boulia camel races were a lot of fun and aside from the races (these camels are incredibly slow) they had various other contests including the camel tagging competiton where competitors go one on one with a wild camel in a bull ring. The object of the game is to tag the judge (near the fence), take a piece of masking tape and place it somewhere on the camel, then tag the judge once again, then try to remove the tape from the camel and once done, tag the judge for the final time. The quickest person was the winner and unbelievably there were 4 guys that did this under 30 seconds. Out of approx 12 contestants I think there was only 1 or 2 that didn’t cop a kick or two; and they really do kick hard and from all angles (the first contestant almost lost his teeth). Thankfully nobody was seriously injured and an ambulance was on standby throughout.
We also visited a couple of attractions in town including the Min Min Encounter. The Min Min light is a phenomenan that has apparently been witnessed by many people over the past 100 years or so and is supposedly a large ball of light that initially can look like a headlight in the distance yet can all of a sudden come roaring towards you and either stop right in front of you or continue past at an incredible speed. There are varying versions however regardless it is meant to be an incredibly scary experience. The Min Min Encounter tourist attraction recreates some of the various versions of events using very realistic talking mannequins and scenery. For a town of approx 250, this is a very well done little tourist attraction and was a lot of fun.
Like the surrounding regions, Boulia has some great scenery and whilst there was very little grass about, and certainly none green, Charlie showed us photos of the area after floods and during good seasons and it is quite incredible to see the countrytside when thriving.