Saturday 30th August – Charters Towers to Lake Maraboon

I left Charters Towers truck stop in the morning after a shower and egg sarnie.  Other than the unwanted car park guests I was pleasantly surprised by the laundry, hot showers and other facilities they had.  I drove about ten kilometres down the road prior to the oil light coming on in Bern.  At first I did the whole self questioning thing but after it did it a second time I decided it was probably a good idea to head back to get some oil.  When I collected Bern they asked if I had driven a van like him before.  Well, obviously they didn’t say like him but you get the gist here.  I said I had so they then neglected to tell me anything helpful such as how to access the engine.  Admittedly when they showed me Bernie’s engine I was thinking ‘why the hell are you showing me that, that’s the only time between here and your depot that that’s opening matey’.  But this time I actually needed to know.  I figured out it would be in the same place, i.e. under the passenger’s seat and then couldn’t lift the seat.  I tried every combination of levers and seats up and down and then gave up and smiled sweetly at a driver about to pull off.  He came to my rescue and lifted the seat so that I could pour oil all over the engine and a few drops into it.


So I headed off again towards Clermont on the A7, the Great Inland Way.  The driving was cool and at one point I saw two cassowaries right next to the road.  I presume they must have been a mating pair as apparently they are solitary creatures and don’t live in groups.  See, I told you they were evil!  Between Charters Towers and Clermont there was a single track section of road.  This proved quite worrying when a fifty metre road train came thundering towards you in the other direction.  You basically had to get off the road as quickly as possible and try to do so in a way that would neither involve you showering yourself with rubble or the passing roadtrain doing so.


The next place of note that I arrived at, well actually the next place full-stop, was Belyando Crossing road house.  I went in and got a drink and took a break – see the signs do work!  I was informed that there was absolutely nothing between there and Clermont and, as I left I passed a sign which stated there was no petrol for 180km.  I considered turning back but decided not to.  I then started seriously hoping that the petrol gauge was accurate and that the last quarter didn’t suddenly plummet to nothingness.  After some time, and a much lower looking petrol gauge, I began to get slightly worried about running out of petrol miles from anywhere.  I turned off the radio and the fan in order to save fuel and didn’t smoke as I read somewhere that having the window open increases fuel consumption.  So there I am bored with no music, stressed as I think I’m going to run out of petrol at any moment and as I can’t smoke and sweating profusely due to the lack of fan.  I decide to do positive things like figure out how much petrol is in the tank and how far this is likely to get me.  This soon becomes depressing as I realise I am very unlikely to reach my final destination.  The petrol light then came on with around 70km to go so I started remembering the number of kilometres and landmarks (like creeks and railways) in case I had to hitchhike to a petrol station and hitch back.  The van felt like it was juddering a lot but I wasn’t sure if this was running out of petrol symptoms or just the generally bumpy roads.  I figured out that right hand bends were good as the petrol light went off, although this wasn’t particularly helpful unless I wanted to drive around in circles.  Slightly more helpful was the discovery that the most economical speed appeared to be 87 kilometres per hour.  Stressed and hot I arrived in Clermont, praised Bern, momentarily considered extending his name in recognition of his feat and put some over-priced petrol in him.


I asked at the petrol station what there was to do in Clermont.  The guy looked confused, scratched his chin and suggested that I visit a dam some way out of town.  I decided that food was a better option and headed into the rather modest town where I had a jacket potato in a local cafe.  I decided that the prospect of a town whose star attraction was a dam which wasn’t even in the town was not too appealing and headed to Emerald.


I quickly became conscious that I didn’t have masses of petrol as, despite the fact I nearly ran out previously, I’m still a tight git and didn’t fill up due to the shocking prices at the garage.  Bern did me proud again though and I arrived in Emerald.  Emerald was a much bigger town but the town nor the caravan parks really excited me so I carried on to Lake Maraboon Holiday Village, 17.5 kilometres further.  I checked in and walked down to the lake which was huge and absolutely stunning.  There was water as far as the eye could see and, with the sunset, there was the whole infinite water and sky thing going on where the two kind of merge and you can’t differentiate between them any more.  There were also the most picturesque reflections of the silhouetted trees on the lake.  I looked at a pelican swimming serenely for a while and then it rather pleasingly flew off into the sunset.  I watched the sun go down before heading back to the park, in the dark, worrying about treading on strange creatures. 

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