Friday 10th August to Sunday 12th August: Mount Isa to Normanton

This morning we said goodbye to Mount Isa, heading toward Cloncurry and then on to Normanton.  We were among the few travellers leaving town, most traffic was heading into Mount Isa for the Rodeo weekend, which we believe is the 3rd largest rodeo in the world – the town was pumping!

The drive to Cloncurry included sighting a dingo at Dingo Creek, the Burke and Wills Memorial tree and the terrain had changed to pale apricot rock, dominating the surrounding ranges.  I have been unable to find the population of Cloncurry (no internet for a few days), we were surprised at how substantial the town is.  At least 4 hotels, 10 dine-in or takeaway cafes, restaurants and 4 banks, 6 fuel stations and 2 supermarkets; we had a walk around the main town and suggestion tourist sites and then back on the road we turned left onto the Matilda Highway, which would take us to Normanton and Karumba.

Our camp for the night was the Terry Smith Lookout, which was half full by the time we arrived so we were found a spot to suit our rig and although we needed the levellers for the van we had amazing views over the bush to a deep purple mountain range which filled the horizon.  The sunset was amazing, our camera could not capture the crimson brilliance of the evening sky suspended over the purple range, we just sat and watched in privileged awe.

Saturday morning we left camp around 9ish our first planned stop being the Burke and Wills Roadhouse.  From speaking with other travellers from here to Normanton would be a single lane road, with gravel shoulders for passing; thank goodness it is Saturday and hopefully we would not see too many road trains.  To our surprise the single lane road did not start till 50 kilometres north of the roadhouse and then switched between single and double lanes about every 5–10 kilometres and for about the same distance, so nowhere near as bad as we were expecting (and no road trains – so far).  However we did need to be wary of the huge flocks of white corellas and cattle which both seemed to like to graze on the side of the road; the cattle just wandered out onto the road as and when it took their fancy.

We arrived at Bang Bang Rest Area, our stop for the night at lunch time, and for a change we were the first van to set up camp.  So we think we have the best spot, Derick has set up the satellite dish in the hope that we may get to watch some football and tonight New Tricks.  The rest of our day I am updating photos and our travel journal and Derick is having a beer and reading a book.  It’s a tough life, but someone has to do it and I am so glad it is us :).

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