So, here I am in Blackall, Queensland, on a Saturday night.† I wonder where the action is.† I am in the nicest motel in town, as far as I can tell, and across the street is a likely looking Hotel (that means bar, here in the outback).† They serve meals, and I think I will wander across the street and see what I can find.† I rarely eat out on my trips, but this seems like a cultural experience I shouldnít pass up.† Blackall on a Saturday night.† Could be the name of a movie.
So, I got on the road by slightly after 8 this morning, which was great.† On my way out to the road, I got my first trip bird of the day, and my 69th bird on Bowra.† Red-kneed Dotteral, a little shore bird that I wouldnít expect to find in that country, but they do live there.†† I had gotten his cousin, the Black-fronted Dotteral the day before, and I had been looking for this one.† Then, after I got to the paved road, but before getting to the main highway, I got my second trip bird of the day, a group of Black-shouldered Kites, a bird I see in California all the time, and one I had expected to see here before now.† As it turned out, I saw a fair number of birds along my route today, but those were the only trip birds today.† So, I still have not gone a day without adding a trip bird.† Maybe tomorrow?† We shall see.† Iím sure you are sitting on the edge of your seat, waiting to find out.
The drive today was very easy.† The road was wider and smoother than the one I came west on, and the speed limit was 110 kph (about 66 mph), instead of the 100 kph (60 mph) I had coming west.† The countryside surprised me, too.† It was much greener and much more wooded than I had expected.† I took a few pictures along the way, and Iíll post those eventually, I hope.† I saw some Brolgas along the road, too, and I hope I got some good pictures of them.† They are the large crane that I saw on Bowra yesterday, and that I expect to see up north.† Beautiful, graceful birds.† They flew over the road (four of them) in front of me, after I had taken several shots, and I wish I had gotten a picture of them.† I think I might have a picture of two of them, just after they took off, but it isnít composed well, I think.
As I approached Blackall, I was stopped by a policeman on the side of the road, for a random driverís license check and Breathalyzer test.† This is my third one over here, on my four trips.† It seems like evening checks might be more effective than ones at 2:30 in the afternoon, though.† So far, all of my stops have been between 9 AM and 3 PM.
Anyway, I got here to Blackall about 3 PM, which was great.† I got the air conditioning going, and I signed on to the internet.† I had paid Au$10 for two hours of access time, and they gave me a username and password to use.† But when I went to sign on, nothing ever asked me for a password or username, so I donít get it.† I suspect their system is broken, and it is giving free access when it is supposed to be asking for a username and password.† I think I wasted my 10 bucks, as I could have gotten on anyway.† I stayed on about an hour, uploading a Ramblings and Photos and instant messaging with a friend, and it will be interesting to see what happens when I next try to connect.† Maybe it will suddenly ask me for a username and password.
This is a pretty nice motel, with a big room and pretty good a/c.† And, internet access, which is the best feature of all.† I hadnít known about the internet access when I booked it, and I had hoped that I could use my dialup access, but the woman at the front desk said that dial up access didnít work through their phone system, which is something I have run into before.† In fact, I wasnít able to connect via dial up on this trip, in Toowoomba, through the motel phone system.† So, having the wireless access is a lucky break.† The motels over here are sure behind their American counterparts when it comes to providing internet access.
The water here is interesting.† They make a big deal out of it, with signs in the lobby and signs in the room.† It is artesian water, from a huge artesian pool, several thousand feet deep, under much of Queensland.††† They go on about how pure it is, and what great drinking water it is, and finally they warn you not to wear any silver jewelry in the pool or spa, as the sulfur in the water could tarnish it.† Yes, thatís right, it smells like rotten eggs.† Not too strongly, but it isnít a smell I look for in my drinking water, thank you very much.† They donít heat any water here in Blackall Ė the hot water is distributed in pipes, alongside the cold water, straight out of the ground.† It is already good and hot.† Of course, you might have to let the hot water run for 5 or 10 minutes, if it is a low demand time.† Anyway, I was willing to buy some more drinking water, rather than endure the rotten egg smell, so I went across the street to the local ďsupermarketĒ.† It was Saturday afternoon, so I wasnít worried about this Sunday-closing thing in small towns.† In fact, the market proudly had a sign that they were open 7 days a week.† What they neglected to say was that they close at 12:30 PM on Saturday and Sunday.† They got me again!† Small towns!
It was about 90 today outside, but I was in my car most of the time, and the a/c is adequate, I am glad to report.† I got out from time to time to stretch my legs, to take a leak, or to take a picture or two, but mostly, I just drove.† Thank goodness for cruise control, again.† It was about 6 Ĺ hours of driving, overall, I guess.† A walk in the park.† Tomorrow is a bit less than that, and I have a couple of birding sites to stop at, too.
It is 7 oíclock, time to go over and check out the Barcoo Hotel and see about some dinner.
As it turned out, I walked down the street to Sharkyís Fish Shack, which I had seen on my way into town, and ordered some fish and chips to take back to my motel room.† Pretty good fish and chips, but I missed the Saturday night experience at the Barcoo Hotel.† Oh well, maybe next time around.† Fish and chips in my motel room is more my style anyway, I guess.
I have ordered brekkie from the motel, to be brought to my room between 7:30 and 8.† Sausage, bacon, and eggs on toast.† What a life!
Barry Downunder, moving north
I slept pretty fitfully last night, maybe because the bed was too firm.† But, I was up at 6:30 and ready for another day of adventure.
I showered and discovered that the hot water, especially, has more than a slight odor of rotten eggs.† I have a sensitive sense of smell, and I was gagging as I took my shower.† It doesnít seem to be a smell that the nose gets used to, either.† Now I am wondering if it will be the same at my next stop, Winton.† At Bowra, they obviously got their water from a similar artesian source, but theirs really only did have a hint of the rotten egg smell.† It didnít bother me there, but I wouldnít want to live with the water here for long.
Brekkie is supposed to be delivered soon.† Then I plan to hit the road to Winton, after a stop at the supermarket to replenish my drinking water supply.† I plan to stay in a motel in Winton for two nights, in order to have a break from the driving, and also to look for birds at a desert type National Park near there, Bladensburg.† I have a couple of places to stop at on the way to Winton today, too, to look for birds.† Weíll see if I can add a trip bird or two today, or if today is my first day to get skunked.† Iím supposed to have broadband internet access in Winton.