ENGLISH SPOKEN HERE
|The Gem Fields of Australia|
Looking for a holiday where you may come home with a pocket full of gems, a smile as big as the Australian Outback and stories that will have your friends agape with wonder?
Then I’ll share with you my journey into a place named Never Never, Woop Woop and more commonly known as the Queensland Outback. I’ve driven the six hours along Route 66 from Queensland’s Capricorn Coast on two occasions. Each time it was during incredible droughts that brought dust devils and dry destruction to the cattle lands of northeast Australia. However, the wonders of that flat resilient land covered waist-high in a shimmering silver of spinifex grass is just a prelude to the treasures hidden just below the surface.
The scenery changed on this 576-km. drive from the Great Barrier Reef, from rolling hills to cotton fields, and then to flat nothingness. The only sound was silence as the car cut through the wind. Smells varied from earthy, to a dusty dry, to fragrant desert flowers—with a few unpleasant stretches of aromas from kangaroo road kill.
I also passed remnants of emus, kangaroo, feral pigs, foxes, and a few cows. The huge road trains that pull up to three trailers behind the cab ran the buggers over as they can't slow down to avoid them. The drought was so bad that the ranchers were mustering the stock on short grass adjacent to the roads and at one point I was surrounded by a herd of cattle grazing along this main highway and I could have touched the cows from inside the car. Bullwhips were cracking, horseman and horsewoman were cursing the beasts and dust was everywhere.
Passing towns called Gogango, Blackwater, Emerald and
Dingo, I arrived at the tiny crossroad that led to the Gem Fields. In
the towns of Sapphire and Rubyvale, I witnessed scenes straight out of
the Wild West with mining camps piled high with rubble, rusting digging
rigs strewn everywhere and characters with bent-up hats and bow-legged
swaggers wandering their claims.
Copyright 2003-2004 InsideOut Travel Magazine
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