Continued with our arrival into Quilpie where we made a fairly brief stop to have lunch, do a little stores replenishment and CONNECT TO THE INTERNET!!!
Whilst we did not have any specific plans for a school visit here it was a great pleasure to have students from St Finbarrs school brought to Bassy’s 9g to touch and feel our old machine and learn from us all about it and what we are doing during our trek. Thanks to Mr Litchfield and students.
On leaving Quilpie we headed south to Toompine known as “The Hotel without a Town” (another fondly remembered stopping point for our trekkers of 2000). These small hotels in the outback now rely largely on the tourist trade and with the offer of free camping; including piping hot showers to boot it is hard to resist the sign pointing to them.
Greg Datz who is the licensee of the Toompine Hotel along with his ‘bright light’ Jonesie behind and in front of the bar and Marise a delightful German back packer who is working at the hotel for a few weeks offer such wonderful hospitality to all who enter. We all enjoyed a great meal that evening as well as a breakfast with the works the following morning. During the evening we met up with Di and Roc from Falls Creek who said they had been behind and in front of us since Alice Springs and who we then continued to meet up with at various points’ right up to Nindigully where we said our last goodbyes. Thanks for your company folks.
Following our breakfast at Toompine and some more enjoyable time spent with Jonesie watching her tend the vast menagerie of animals housed behind the hotel including camels, donkeys, lamas, goats, ducks etc etc, it was time to say goodbye and be on the road again. As we travelled along we (the 2000 Trekkers) remembered a very special night in 2000 when we were hosted, by Randall at Bundoona Station, to a wonderful camp oven dinner (for all 120+ of us) and we were thrilled to suddenly hear him come on to our radio channel asking if we were the Chamberlain 9g Tractor Club who had just passed by his property. That was one of the very special moments of our trek just to be able to bring him up to date on where we (the Club) have been and what we have done over the years. It was also special to know that he is going well and still enjoying life on his station. Having determined that he had not seen the 2000 trek DVD we organised to leave a copy for him at the Cunnamulla Post Office.
Eulo was our next stop for a short break with time to check out the Date shop with their great products including the Date Liquor and Wine again remembered from our 2000 trek.
Then it was on to Cunnamulla. After some more meet and greet time and taking the opportunity to deliver the DVD for Randall we were ready to continue on when a journalist, owner, operator of the Warigo Warrior, stopped us and asked about catching up with us at our campsite the next morning for interviews and photographs. This was organised and we then took to the road. A campsite was chosen about 30k’s East of Cunnamulla.
Day 48 – 18th August, 2010–
Dawned beautifully amongst the trees. This day had a special significance to the group (as it has done on past treks) being that of Long Tan Day when we take time to remember the Vietnam War and our Veterans. Even being a small group we intended for it to have the same speciality as ever. As birds chirped in the bush surroundings and soft Australian music played in the background a very moving service was held. Allan commenced with a few words then followed with the reading of a poem “Lost Youth” by Lachlan Irvine. Harry James (a Vietnam Veteran) recited the ODE and a silence was observed. Allan then read another poem (both poems were chosen by Harry) called “He was a Mate” again by Lachlan Irvine. After this Harry spoke a little about Men and Women in the Services, Post Traumatic disorder and the support offered and returning to Australia after service. We then remembered the Australian Forces of today wherever they may be serving.
Following this we enjoyed a lovely bacon and egg breakfast together and took time to enjoy the surroundings for a little bit longer. Our reporter ‘friend’ James Clark then arrived for the interview about us and our Club etc and a photo shoot before we continued our travels on the Ballone Highway in to Bollon and on to St George. During our stops at these centres we really did hear some amazing stories of the floods which took place as recently as March, April – there were certainly some incredible happenings. Even being shown photos still makes it so hard for us to believe. Whilst in St George we all took the opportunity to cast our vote for the forthcoming elections. After St George we travelled some 40k’s to the famous Nindigully Hotel where we set up camp in the grounds and again enjoyed the offer of hot showers before another night of ‘fine dining’ and hospitality. Overnight there were a few rain showers but all was well in our camps!
Day 49 –
Everything was fine when we woke up and once we were packed and ready to leave, we lined up in front of the hotel for a photo shoot as requested by the licensee ‘Burnsie’ (the company name being “Bindrinken Pty Ltd”!!) and other travellers camped in the grounds. Burnsie then made a generous donation to our fund raising and requested details of becoming a member of the 9g Club. So we look forward to hearing from him in the not too distant future. Thanks for everything Burnsie. By 9.30am we were on the road and heading towards Goondiwindi where we had booked a campsite at the Gundy Caravan Park – it was time to catch up with washing etc again!! Harry met up with friends on arrival into Goondiwindi and arranged for all of us to join them at the local RSL club for dinner. An enjoyable night was had by all. Also whilst in Goondiwindi some of the group were approached by a young lady who was asking about the tractors and our treks and mentioned that she and her family had seen the Tail End Charlie rally pass through in 2007. Her name was Terri-Anne and she said that her parents lived at Wheatvale on the Cunningham Highway and she was sure they would love us to choose their property for a bush camp after Goondiwindi. Calls were made and we were welcomed by Jim and Marion O’Leary further down the track.
As we have travelled highways and byways during these past few days we have enjoyed seeing lush crops, healthy stock and generally a great looking country. At various times we have been amazed by the amount of ‘road kill’ along the way, not only the poor old Kangaroo which often seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time but also goats, pigs, cattle, sheep, lizards, emus and birds to mention a few.
At times we still say we just do not believe how few sightings of wildlife there are but then in saying that, there seems to be times when they are everywhere.
We travelled from Goondiwindi through Inglewood and on to Wheatvale to the O’Leary property. Jim and Marion provided us with a great camp spot near their home with a readymade campfire pit where we all prepared our evening meal. Jim’s brother Paddy and his wife Ann-marie called in to meet us and have a look at the Chamberlains. Also Jim and Marion’s daughter Nicole came along with her son Harry. The evening was chilly but most enjoyable around the campfire!! Thanks for the wonderful hospitality Jim, Marion and all family.
We went in to Warwick then took another slight detour from the original 2000 trek. We headed north east and in to some of the most beautiful country again with hill climb’s and down gradients that we all enjoy so much. We made our way to Aratula where we were met by Don and Marion Kratzing (friends of the Bass’s) and guided to their property at Mt Alfred. Here we enjoyed yet another great stop over with beautiful views from their balconies and great hospitality. Marion served us all a lovely lunch on our arrival before we settled in to our campsite then Don (with Marion’s support) supplied delicious pizza’s from his pizza oven for our evening meal. A highlight for all of us was meeting their four Irish Wolf Hounds (averaging 80+ kilo’s each) – they are certainly a loved part of the family. Thanks Marion and Don for a wonderful stopover.
An early morning breakfast with Marion, Don (and the dogs) was enjoyed by all before we headed off – in a shower of rain – for day 52. The drive from the Kratzing home to Rathdowny was again beautiful and adventurous with up gradients of 19% through the Border Range National Park (we all loved it). At Rathdowny we had morning tea then remained ‘off road’ and headed in the direction of Kyogle. We had thought we may go to Nimbin but time was a bit short so that was left for another time. From Kyogle it was on through Lismore after which the adrenalin started to run as we drew closer to our final destination at BYRON BAY. With the excitement came the reality of being really back in civilization and on the highway with everyone else.
Our arrival into Byron Bay was a little later than we had hoped and unfortunately in a slight shower of rain but nothing could dampen our spirits. To us it was a fabulous achievement with some of the most exciting experiences behind us. We can now look back on these experiences (and our many photos) in days, months and years to come, with the greatest of pleasure. A celebration dinner was held at the Balcony Restaurant where we were joined by some of the Bass relations who had travelled from Atherton, Brisbane and Armidale in NSW to welcome the whole group in after completing such a mission.
With almost 6,700k’s on the GPS from Steep Point WA to Byron Bay NSW what a great feeling!!!!!
Whilst in Byron Bay we of course took the tractors to the Lighthouse to complete the journey and we also emptied a bottle of water collected at Steep Point into the Pacific Ocean as well as collecting another bottle to take back to Dongara where it all began.
Our story will continue as we now make our way back to the West but for now –
WE MADE IT, WE LOVED IT AND WE ALL FEEL SO VERY PROUD AND PRIVILEGED.
One very last thank you goes to our ORANGE MACHINES
you all did us proud.
The 9g trekkers of 2010