We were up at sunrise but the station workers had been active for a while. Two cattle trucks came in last night and I think they were moving the stock on this morning. We were very surprised to see a Shetland Pony checking out the campsite, it quickly discovered which campers had tasty snacks.
At 8:20 we were on our way, it was 220 kms to Tobermorey Station where we planned to spend the night. The Plenty Tyreway” certainly deserves its reputation, a truck collecting them would fill in no time. Along the way we passed a sign to Marqua Station 47kms off the Plenty, now to us that makes for a very isolated spot! Alex remembers the road surface being rocky but the most vivid thing in my mind was the deep red bulldust, both are still part of the “highway” and the corrugations, of course.
I think we arrived here at about 2:00, a tiring day. We were puzzled that nothing seemed to be as we remembered it from 20 years ago then we chatted with the “Handyman/Barman” from Wodonga who told us that the original place was wiped out by floods in 2019. I love the way they have constructed things not simply for function but to delight as well. In the evening we went over to the Bar where we chatted with other travellers and enjoyed the ambience of the place.
Rather than pack up and move on we decided to stay another day and take Peter-the-Fossiker up on his offer. We followed him out to the Fossicking Fields which was just as well because there were so many tracks in and around the area we would never have found the right place. I’m so glad we decided to stay, no paid fossicking tour would have been a patch on the time we spent with him. What you won’t see in the photos are his socks which is a real pity. While he’s out fossicking his wife spends time at camp knitting and quilting, his socks were unique, made from Australian wool processed in Germany.
As I walked around the camping area this afternoon a young boy asked, “Have you seen any interesting birds?” We started to chat and he pointed above my shoulder, two Galahs were sitting in a tree there. We talked about the different birds we’d seen around the campgrounds. I’ve been surprised at the relaxed way some kids will initiate conversations eg “What have you done today?” or “How is your day?” If a stranger had spoken to me when I was a kid I’d probably have struggled to answer them let alone initiate a conversation myself.
Walking around the camping area there are interesting things to see.
Alex has received his border pass for entering Queensland but I haven’t, that’s cheeky since he used my laptop to apply! Tomorrow we’re hoping to stay at Jervois Station.
Lots of people were moving this morning, our newest neighbours were moving to the unpowered sites area because they could only get a powered site for one night. They had a caravan so didn’t have heaps to pack up but it’s still quite a palaver, disconnecting power, water, towing connections, winding up the stabilising legs etc. We had a couple of things to buy in town before we set off up the Stuart Highway. One thing was a “gadget”, I suppose, it’s a power bank we can charge up then use to recharge the laptop when we need to. There are so many things that need charging- phones, cameras, a light and torches as well as the laptop.
After our shopping we had the “Special of the Day” again at the cafe then drove out of town and up the highway towards Ti Tree until we left the main road and took the one towards Queensland. (Last night we completed our Qld, border pass application) We saw our first Termite Mounds but they were only about 30 csm high. Sections of the road switched between 2 lane bitumen to a single strip of bitumen with dirt shoulders and some was only dirt but the road was fine.
Parts of Gemtree look just the way they did when we were last here about 20 years ago but there is now a modern hot water system backed up by the wood fired “donkey”, electricity to some sites as well as a new cafe. We went on the 3.5km loop walk on the property, there was an excellent guide booklet made by one of the owners but the images were taken after good rains and at the moment many of the plants look dead. The Golf Course also had met its demise. Fergus had to wear his boots for the first time, we don’t want anymore expensive surgery to remove grass seeds.
Back at camp there were little birds looking for water. We also needed refreshments and we chatted with a man who has been coming to Gemtree for 17 years staying for weeks and fossicking for Zircons from 10:00 until 4:00 every day. When he goes home he cuts and polishes the gems. He’s invited us to join him fossicking tomorrow and encouraged us to stay until Wednesday at least. Why? Because the cafe makes ROAST DINNER on Wednesdays and Saturdays.