Camooweal is one of those places that makes you feel sad to your core. Driving in to town, there are all the signs of a failed community, barely propped up on the business that highway traffic brings in winter. Before you get to the pub there’re a couple of blocks of houses. Most are dilapidated, damaged and graffitied. There are a couple of cars that have been torched, an attempt at a museum is boarded up and vandalised and there are kids roaming the streets during school times. I dodge a couple of mangey dogs in the middle of the highway, which cuts straight through town, and pull up at the pub to see if they’ve got space for a couple of swags on their dirt out the back.
For the last three days, the chicks behind the counters in pubs and servos have all been foreign. They’re mostly English, working out here in the middle of no where for their working holiday visa. The woman behind the bar in Camooweal is Eastern European, possibly Russian. No, ze don’t have any spare dirt, she says, but try ze BP.
So we end up camped on a patch of grass next to the Camooweal truck stop, behind the servo. We’re set up next to a handful of miners, who have forked out 60 bucks to sleep in a couple of sad looking dongas. And of course the truckies, who have their own designated shower and toilet. In this shit hole of a town, it actually feels comforting to have a bunch of semi trailers and Kenworth road trains right next to us. They’re the Big Daddies of the road and they’re watching over us and old mate Corolla, the small fry on the Barkly Highway.
The sunsets have been getting better and better, and this one was a ripper. I was actually stressed out trying to take photos, because the colours were changing so fast, we were making dinner and I was having a bit of a conniption trying to watch the frypan and the horizon at the same time.
We’d had a bit of a break from the straight dustiness – just before Mt Isa the country becomes rocky, hilly and a whole lot more green (don’t get ahead of yourselves, though… Think sparse and scraggly). I likened it to that scene at the end of the Lion King when Pride Rock turns from dead and dying to green and growing.
If it’s possible, the country out the other side of Camooweal became more flat, but less drought stricken. The stock routes are also alive and kicking out here, and they still muster on horses. Mum thought this was the next best thing (after the Wellshot), and whenever possible requested we pull over to have a chat to the stockmen. She looks something like this when trying to make friends with bushies:
Anyway, these encounters don’t last long, as neither party has much to say to the other.
How’s it going?
*tips his akubra*
So we’re officially in the Northern Territory, bound for Tennnant Creek and Karlu Karlu (the Devil’s Marbles) which are believed to be the eggs of the Rainbow Serpent. This is red dirt country, and remote enough that most drivers raise a finger, a couple of fingers or a whole palm if you’re lucky, just to say hi to fellow nomads.