NEWSFLASH! My book hits the road! Did you miss my Channel 7 Weekend Sunrise 'Downunder Dunnies' appearance? Watch the Video HERE!

Tuesday

RED Alert #4 - Adventure Before Dementia goes WEST!

WARNING: My RED Alert #4 guest has photos that'll make you turn GREEN! Don't believe me? Well … read on and see if I'm right!!

Diane's wonderful 'Adventure Before Dementia' blog has MANY great shots – but I was particularly interested in her RED photos from places in Western Australia (WA) and South Australia (SA) I've yet to see!

Pindan Country, Gantheaume Point, Kimberleys, Western Australia


RED: Diane, welcome and thank you for being my 4th RED Alert victim visitor! I'm SO jealous of these magnificent shots – are the rocks really that red?

Diane's mates at Gantheaume Point, Kimberleys, Western Australia
Diane: The rocks and earth in this area are extremely red! It is called Pindan Country, from the local language. The red is accentuated against the pearlescent aquamarine water, but I must confess I did hit the ‘enhance’ button on my iphoto program!

RED: Haha, I know I could do with a bit of enhancement! Does ALL the west coast look this good?
Diane: Pindan Country is restricted to the south west of the Kimberly Coast. However, all the beaches that I saw near Fremantle and south to the southern tip of WA all have this beautiful coloured water.
RED: It looks amazing. Were you on a tour?
Diane: We were on a 4WD bus tour from Broome to Darwin. There were 8 of us friends from Brisbane on board with another 16 poor souls who had to put up with us senior larrikins.
RED: Haha! I'm sure they appreciated the entertainment!! Is this area as remote as it looks?

RED Rocks at Gantheaume Point, Kimberleys, Western Australia


Diane: This part of the Kimberley Coast – Gantheaume Point – sticks out into the Indian Ocean only 6 km south of Broome.
RED: HHHMMMmmm... I could be there by tomorrow afternoon … Sorry, just fantasizing!! I know the Kimberley region (northwest WA) is HUGE, but what's your best Kimberley memory?
Diane: Too hard, too hard. It took us 15 days to travel across the Kimberley only stopping one or two nights in each exciting place. It is like nothing else in Australia.
RED: So everyone keeps telling me!
Diane: Sometimes you even think you could be on another planet the rock formations are so different, especially in the Bungle Bungles (Purnululu National Park). We flew over the Bungle Bungle Range in a helicopter and that was one of the best memories, but I also walked into them and that was like being in a magical world.

Super Pit, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia
RED: I look forward to seeing it for myself! This hole in the ground looks massive – AND RED! Where is it?
Diane: The 'Super Pit' is in the town of Kalgoorlie in the middle of the desert in the middle of WA a LONG way south of the Kimberley.
RED: The distances are SO great in WA, aren't they? How big is the pit?
Diane: 3.6km (2.2m) long, 1.6km (1m) wide and 512m (1,680 ft) deep. Can you see the little trucks in the bottom of the pit?
RED: Yes, they look like insects!
Diane: They are actually huge mining trucks. It takes them 45 minutes to drive the round trip from the top to the bottom.
RED: Not a bad day at the office, huh?! What's the pit for?
Diane: Since the 1893 gold rush, gold and nickel have been mined here. The concentrated area of gold mines is known as the 'Golden Mile' – the richest square mile of earth on the planet!
RED: If only some of that would rub off …
Diane: Recently a number of the underground mines were bought and the Super Pit made.

Lookout, Coolgardie, Western Australia


RED: Another item for my 'must see' list! The view from this lookout is quite different to the Super Pit. What's at Coolgardie?
Diane: It was a gold mining town from 1892 to 1963, now it is a historical tourist town. The buildings are beautifully preserved and the museum is a must. This town reeks of gold mining history and opens ones eyes into the harsh life they lived in those days. They also make a super sandwich at the Gold Rush Motel!
RED: So, no bakery then? Only kidding! Is it as remote as it appears in your photo?
Diane: It's a few hundred km from Kalgoorlie but both sit on the edge of the Nullarbor Plain, a huge expanse of desert stretching across the southern interior of Oz. It sure is remote.
RED: Is Coolgardie the home of the Coolgardie safe?
Diane: Yes! One challenge for prospectors was how to extend the life of their perishables. So the low-tech refrigerator was invented by A.P. McCormick in the 1890’s. He used the same principle as canvas water bags, which were adapted from the way aborigines carried water in skins.

Salt Pan with water at Lake LeFroy, Western Australia

RED: Aussie ingenuity strikes again! But here you've got RED AND White! We know the white can't be snow – so what is it?
Diane: Salt! Lake Lefroy is a salt pan so we were lucky to see it with water. It is 510 m² and used by land sailors from all over the world.
RED: That'd be cool to watch! What made you choose to visit Lake Lefroy?
Diane: That’s easy, I didn’t, the company organising the 'Western Wildflower Wonderland Tour' did! That is one advantage of a tour company – they know the good places and you don’t have to do the research.
RED Road, Western Australia
RED: Do you ever get tired of seeing the endless WA REDS?

Diane: I was astounded at how much RED is in WA. The soil, rocks roads and just everywhere. It is beautiful but I wouldn’t like to clean it out of my house everyday.

RED: I SO get that – cleaning house isn't one of my strengths either!! As a contrast, let's slip into South Australia for a moment – how is SA's Lake Eyre different to WA's Lake Lefroy?

Diane: They are both salt lakes but Lake Eyre is much bigger. Its water has RED patches caused by a bacteria. It was amazing to see.

Lake Eyre from the Air! South Australia


RED: I LOVE that photo!! Are you a 'nervous flier' like me?
Diane: I used to be nervous but not as I’ve got older. Experiences I’ve had and seen from small planes over the mountains in Papua New Guinea, over the Swiss Alps and Alaskan glaciers; and in a helicopter into the Grand Canyon make me forget any fear and I just soak up the beauty of the world.
RED:  Is it hard to get good aerial shots?
Lake Eyre surrounding countryside, South Australia
Diane: Extremely difficult! First you have to dive for a window seat not obstructed by the wing. Then you have to deal with reflections on the glass, which isn’t really glass and causes a discolouration. Besides all that you have the vibration shaking the camera and when you use a telephoto lens every little vibration causes blur. Bla bla bla – kick me off my soap box. All in all if you get one good shot you are lucky!

RED: Well, you did it with these great shots of Lake Eyre and the surrounding countryside! Especially in a plane like the one below – my worst nightmare!! Where did it take you?

Diane: The Lake Eyre tour included a flight over the lake then we flew north to Cowarie Station, one of Australia's biggest cattle stations – as big as a small country. It's in central Oz where 3 deserts – Simpson, Tirari and Sturt – meet.

Cowarie Station, South Australia


RED: Could you live in a place like this?
Diane: NO! NO! NO! I would not like to live there, but I sure do admire those who do; like the station owner and the ranger, both women.
RED: They must think us 'fair weather' tourists are such big girls! This sky is magnificent. Is it a sunset or sunrise?
Diane: This sunset was taken from my neighbour’s deck in Daisy Hill, Logan City, QLD. We get these skies mainly in September/Spring.

Brisbane Sunset


RED: So you made it safely back home then! You’ve travelled extensively in Australia and overseas. What’s the best thing about travel in Australia?
Diane: I know the language and money! But most of all the countryside is so unique.
RED: Do you have a favourite destination?
Diane: The Kimberley!
RED: What's good about travel overseas?
Diane: Experiencing different cultures and landscapes and the ancient history of other countries compared to our young country.
RED: And a favourite overseas destination?
Diane: The River cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest.
RED: Do other countries you’ve visited have as much RED as Australia?
Diane: I have never seen RED anywhere like in Australia ... but I haven’t travelled in Africa yet.
RED: Looks like there's plenty there if RED Alert #1 is anything to go by!! Is blogging a big part of your life?
Diane: I have been blogging for several years. I like reading travel blogs, photoblogs and humorous blogs. I also like Journal type blogs and life stories and I sometimes get travel ideas from other blogs.
RED: What's your biggest blogging turnoff?
Diane: I’m not very interested in Political or religious blogs or blogs with loads and loads of writing and no photos.
RED: Note to self – cut down on the writing and hope Diane hasn't noticed … Do you have any final RED words of wisdom for my readers?
Diane: Thank you so much for having me as a guest on RED Alert and, by the way we have two RED cars!

Thank you Diane!
So was I right? Are you GREEN?? Don't forget to go visit Diane over at Adventure Before Dementia to see where else she's been! AND ... watch out for the FAAAABULOUS Scenic Public Toilet pic Diane sent me - SO great, it deserves its own post!
Got some RED pictures from your corner of the world? Then YOU could be my next RED Alert guest! Email me through my profile and we'll talk! It's painless – just ask my RED Alert guests:
Finished this post and wanting MORE RED?  Well ... just head on over to Ruby Tuesday 2  and get your fill ...

Friday

Only in OZ #20 - Steel Wings, Jerilderie, New South Wales

Steel Wings, Jerilderie, New South Wales

After the thrill of finding a bread tin tribute to Aussie bushranger Ned Kelly at the bakery, downtown Jerilderie could hold nothing further for Aussie explorers like us. Could it?

Unique to Australia, and largest known working model!
But according to the Jerilderie official visitor's guide, as well as the Ned Kelly connection, this small New South Wales Southern Riverina town is also on Billabong Creek – longest in Australia** – and its Riverina plains are recognised as the best merino country in the world. World first 'Lone Pine' Poll Shorthorn stud originated in the area – also a significant Australian agricultural region.

But walking through Luke Park on the banks of Billabong Creek, I looked up through the flashing silver blades of the giant 'Steel Wings' as they smoothly clacked through the blue sky above – and was immediately in windmill heaven!

HHHMMMmmm... is there a word for 'windmill fetishist'?

Originally built in the early 1900's for nearby Goolgumbula station, this monster windmill – 17 metres (56 ft) high with a fan 9 metres (30ft) in diameter – was one of only six produced by the Steel Wings company in Sydney.  Now the larger of the only two* known working models in the world, they're unique because, according to Wikipedia, 'the fan is contained and spins within a fully pivoting frame'.  So now you know ...

Steel Wings in Luke Park with Jerilderie lake and Billabong Creek in the background
Relocated to Luke Park in 1979 and restored to working condition 10 years later, Steel Wings is tethered to prevent damage, and pumps 9 litres (2.4 gallons) per revolution. Its distinctive shape and size gives visitors another reason to stop in Jerilderie. Other than Bread tin Ned, and other Kelly gang memorabilia that is!
Skywatch at Jerilderie! The SKY and Steel Wings - a winning combination!
Regular readers will already be aware of my penchant for the ubiquitous windmill – but especially with the waters of Australia's longest creek in the background, this one is the best yet!

Don't you agree??!!

Want more information?
Watching the sky through Steel Wings giant blades is a fantasy come true – for me, at least! YOUR Skywatch fantasy may come true by visiting other participants in this week's Skywatch!!

Go on! Give it a go - click HERE!!

*the other is in Taroom, Queensland

** Edit 25/02/12 A number of comments question my statement that Jerilderie's Billabong Creek is longest in Australia.  As stated above, the information in the paragraph comes fromthe 'Official Visitors' Guide Jerilderie' pamphlet produced by the Jerilderie Shire Council.  They couldn't possibly be wrong, could they?? Now, after some internet research, I'm not sure!  Here's what I found - make up your own mind!
  • Information about the Billabong Creek Salt Inception Scheme on the NSW Department of Primary Industries website claims it to be the longest creek in the WORLD!!  It then reports the creek to be ~320 km long
  • Wikipedia's Billabong Creek entry doesn't give its length, but cites the above article to support its claim as the longest creek in New South Wales
  • A map of the creek can be found HERE - although the length is not mentioned, the scale is consistent with the above claim (the dark section on the map shows only the mapped part of the creek).  But are there any creeks longer than Billabong, yet shorter than Coopers?  My search didn't go that far ...
  • Wikipedia's Cooper Creek entry gives its length as 1300 km, significantly longer than Billabong Creek!  But is Cooper's Creek really a creek?  In name, the only place in the world where two rivers merge to form a creek, the entry indicates that the creek is sometimes known as the Barcoo River and is part of that river system.
  • Cooper's Creek is found in a list of Australian rivers.  But then, so is Billabong Creek ... the definitions of 'creek' are many and varied (see HERE for a general google search) - so provide limited clarity, although there are some that arguably place Cooper's Creek into the 'river' category.  
SO ... I'll leave you to make up your own mind!  I'm happy to accept that Cooper's Creek is the longest in Australia and that Billabong Creek is likely the longest in NSW - but I won't be betting on that anytime soon!!!

Tuesday

Australia's Scenic Public Toilets #22 – Perry Sandhills, Wentworth, New South Wales

Amenities Block, Perry Sandhills, Wentworth New South Wales

If time travel and/or tele-transportation leave you stranded at the Perry Sandhills amenities block, you'd use your deductive powers to interpret the clues around you. Blue sky, tall sand hills and arid-land vegetation - that'd be the desert, right? RIGHT?? Or somewhere in the Outback at the very least!

Sandhills, Perry Sandhills via Wentworth, New South Wales
After all, dunes don't normally feature in an area where, say, a confluence of two rivers forming a massive river system is found, do they? DO THEY??

Actually yes. Just out of Wentworth, where the Murray and Darling rivers merge, the Perry Sandhills are a geographic anomaly. Thought to have developed by wind erosion in the wake of the last Ice Age, they're a geological and historical (but happily not literal) mine field!

We're not in the desert, are we?  Perry Sandhills, Wentworth, New South Wales
Take that teletransportation back to the distant past and roam amongst (or maybe run from!) the now extinct megafauna – kangaroos, lions, emus, wombats and goannas – that once wandered the dunes. Time travel device not working? No problem!! Head for the Wentworth Pioneer Museum instead to see replicas based on the skeletons found in the sandhills.

Head towards the present from the megafauna era and you'll find Aboriginal tribes camping and hunting in the area. Wind and shifting sands are still uncovering evidence of their presence in the sandhills – who knows what a present day visitor may discover after a storm?


Still life with Pilchard (1990's), Perry Sandhills via Wentworth, New South Wales
Fast forward to World War II and DUCK! The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) used Perry Sandhills for target practice – so the 400 acres covered by the dunes was off limits to civilians for good reason.

In the more recent past – about 18 years ago – you might have been lucky enough to spot the rare Pilchard amongst the dunes as I did ...

But move to the present, and the Pilchard has made another appearance! You'll also find the Perry Sandhills far more sedate than their turbulent past would suggest.

According to the Wentworth Heritage Drive trail notes, they're used as a site for film and TV productions and local drama and music presentations as well as family outings – with abandoned 'sleds' made of cardboard and sheets of iron at the foot of the dunes a dead give-away to another popular recreation pursuit!

Back at the Perry Sandhills conveniences the ground water indicates that we're not really in desert country. Who says dunes are just for deserts anyway?



Water at the amenities block, Perry Sandhills

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Saturday

Only in OZ #19 - Moon Rock-Throwing World Championships, Richmond, Queensland

Moon Rocks in Main Street, Richmond, Queensland

I've yet to meet a Calcareous Concretion I didn't like.

Although there's some confusion about exactly where that magical Moon Rock meeting is likely to be. My first sighting in Outback Queensland's Richmond was supposed to be 'unique to the Richmond Shire' according to the town guide.

BUT … I'd clocked up several hundred Moon Rock sightings before heading a few hundred kilometres south-west, where a data sheet from Boulia's Stone House Museum outlines the geological forces that formed – yes, you guessed it – the BOULIA Calcareous Concretions!

Moon Rock detail
Richmond's dubious claims of Moon Rock uniqueness are weakened further by calcareous concretion presence in the Gogo formation of the Kimberley, Western Australia. Happily, my razor-sharp mind immediately resolved this discrepancy!

Calcareous Concretions are a feature of the Toolebuc formation, left when Australia's vast inland sea dried up after covering much of what is now Outback Queensland – including both Richmond and Boulia!! QED ...
Fred Tritton Lake, Richmond, Queensland
Of course the most common form of calcareous concretion is the pearl – I therefore stand by my opening sentence – but other than formation method, the pearl and the Moon Rock are completely dissimilar ...

However, although Moon Rocks can be seen in Boulia and the Kimberley, the fossil fossicking grounds of the Richmond shire, where FOSSILHUNTER once roamed (and shall roam again!), is their heartland.

Ranging in size from tiny to immoveable, you can't throw a fossil-bearing rock without hitting some evidence of Richmond's widespread exploitation of the Moon Rock's decorative qualities.

Commemorative Cairn Plaque
The commemorative cairn, a grim or happy reminder (depending on your politics and point of view) of ex-Queensland premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen who opened the Flinders Highway that bisects the town, is made of various smaller sized Moon Rocks.

But there's no evidence that they in any way resemble the pumpkin scones made famous by Sir Joh's wife, Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen ...*



A scattering of larger Moon Rocks lurk in the gardens below the Lakeview Caravan Park around the wonderful Fred Tritton Lake (above), a feature of Richmond's ingenuity and an understandably popular local gathering spot.
Moon Rocks Cambridge Crossing, Stawell River via Richmond, Queensland
But if you want to see Moon Rocks in their natural habitat, drive out to Cambridge Crossing on the Stawell River, 40 km from Richmond.

The riverbed, mostly dry on our June, 2011 visit gave no clue to the forces that pushed these Moon Rocks up against the crossing bed when the river flowed.

Inside a Moon Rock ...
Luckily, the temptation to crack open a Moon Rock's hard casing and cut through the limestone layer to discover the fossil or crytal that formed its nuclei was thwarted by the absence of a rock pick. Well, actually a jackhammer …

So here's one someone prepared earlier!

A pile of Moon Rocks cleared from the riverbed and crossing didn't look THAT big – until I stood next to them!

And remember I'm not a small person … although I'm still wondering how Pilchard's photo of me and the Moon Rocks (below) was mysteriously photo-shopped to make me look fat ...

While I salivate at the memory of top notch Bakery goods from the mysteriously named Moon Rock café at world class dinosaur fossil museum Kronosaurus Korner … they've really got nothing to do with the rest of this post  Just put it down to Moon Rocks in my head ...

Red ROCKS Moon Rocks ...
Richmond residents clearly come by THEIR Moon-Rocks-on-the-brain obsession honestly because it's here, during the biennial Richmond Fossil Festival that the World Champion Moon Rock-throwing competition is held!

SO … if you've got the $AUD5.00 entry fee, and can throw a 23 kg (50 lb) Moon Rock more than 5.04 metres, you just MIGHT topple reigning World Champ David Ievers in May 2012 and grab yourself a world championship title!!

Me, I think I'll take my chances with the pearls ...

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* Forgive me the indulgence of this gratuitous history lesson - Although Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen and his wife, Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen were Queensland's first couple 1968-87, these controversial and colourful figures were well known throughout Australia. He for his policies that allowed controversial development unsullied by such considerations as standard approval processes, and allegations of corruption; she for the fabulous pumpkin scones for which she will always be remembered despite later becoming a senator in her own right.

For an utterly serene start to your weekend, Saturday Sareeenity's fabulous collection of shots from around the world is just the thing!!  Click HERE to go there ...

Wednesday

Weird Stuff #7 - Three Aussie Hearts


Under the green pole ... Uralla, New England, NSW
It's ironic that my desire for the fickle trappings of Valentine's Day stopped when my personal life stabilised after the serial connections of my youth.

Scheduled romance on a day with no personal significance to us just wasn't necessary when we already had random surprise gifts, regular mini-breaks and enough disposable income for dining out.

BUT … I'd still get pitying looks upon replying 'nothing' to the usual office what-did-you-get-for-Valentine's-Day post-VD competition. No one got that I really WASN'T secretly peeved at 'missing out' on heart shaped helium balloons, stuffed toys inviting me to be their Valentine or red satin underwear.

Or that what I already had was so valuable I'd gladly forgo a vomit-inducing card unaccountably depicting two teddy bears in the final throes of consumption or a pair of fluffy handcuffs and a tube of chocolate body paint.


Nearly 21 years later, I still don't need a Valentine's Day present. Not when we can find romance like this on the open road!
Old Stone Retaining Wall, Uralla, New England
The significance of the heart placed by an unknown stonemason, creator of this retaining wall outside an old cottage in Uralla, is unknown.  But it's easy to miss and with no identifying markings he (or less likely, she) clearly wasn't looking for recognition.

I'd rather speculate than find a perfectly ordinary explanation!

Puddle, Lake Pamamaroo, Menindee Lakes



Pilchard first spotted this oddly shaped puddle, a leftover from the summer floods of 2011 at Lake Pamamaroo, part of the Menindee Lakes system Surrounded by a sea of dried and cracking mud, it's perhaps significant that despite its muddy water, the puddle reflects the surrounding landscape. Or perhaps not.

Valentine's Day Leaf


Then yesterday morning – perhaps no coincidence it was February 14th – a gust of wind shook a random array of dead or dying leaves from the nearby gum trees and swirled them onto the front porch where we were having breakfast. This one landed at my feet.


Leaf shown actual size
Maybe there's something in this Valentine's Day business after all!!



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Friday

7 ½ Minutes in Paradise – White Cliffs, New South Wales

White Cliffs Waterhole, Outback New South Wales

Think of 'Australia' and 'Paradise' in the same sentence and I'll bet you're thinking tropical. White sandy beaches, palms and and clear blue sea. Colourful fish, corals and lush rainforest. Balmy, moonlit nights and cocktails under the stars.

Welcome to White Cliffs + Kestrel!
But that splendid vision – while undeniably fabulous – is only one of many versions of utopia in this country of diverse delights. We never know where we'll find it next – so we keep our minds AND eyes wide open!!

Even so, to discover the ultimate paradise in remote Outback opal mining town White Cliffs was a surprise, even by our standards.

But to find it lasted for exactly 7 ½ minutes was completely unexpected!

In the depths of the remote New South Wales Outback, White Cliffs isn't the sort of place you stumble across by accident, unless you're lost or maybe on the run. But whoever you are, and however you arrive, there's a paradise for everyone in this small (~200 population) community's many attractions.

For a start there's the scenery. The endless blue skies over the vast moonscape of the opal mines, pocked with slag heaps and scattered with genuine Aussie dunnies. The colours and light unique to this archetypal outback landscape have inspired more than one artist and photographer! But this lasts WAAAAAAY more than 7 ½ minutes!

Fossicking Fields, White Cliffs, Outback New South Wales


50,000 'Stubbies' and counting ...
Then there's the opal. The first commercial opal field in Australia, and the only place in the world where 'White Cliffs Pineapple' opal is found, the unbelievable landscape left by thousands of abandoned mines still attracts opal hunters.

But we didn't even have to leave the excellent Opal Pioneer Caravan Park to find it – a few questions about the town's attractions and the manager was pressing bits of opal into my open and willing hands! Even our amateurish fossicking field foray was 'successful' – even though the few bits of 'colour' we found didn't amount to a hill of beans in the REAL world of opal trading!! Paradise could be a chunk of high quality black opal – but I'd want a bit more than 7 ½ minutes worth for the kind of money I'd need to get me one!
50c for an above-ground mine tour - Bargain!

But it's almost worth NOT finding your own opal when the local dealers offer world class experiences. The 50,000 stubbies* from which Joe's Opal Showroom is made house fabulous opal jewellery, gifts and artwork, for example. And (arguably) the cheapest above ground opal mine tour in the world is on offer at the Red Earth Opal Showroom and Cafe!

A fine substitute for those (all right, ME) too gutless to follow Pilchard's lead down a 45 ft shaft on a shaky iron ladder into the depths of the owner's mine …

Home on the White Cliffs Opal Fields, Outback New South Wales


And there's more unique experiences up for grabs on the self-guided White Cliffs Heritage trail tour. The interpretive signs give fascinating snippets of local history and the tour takes you through all the town's vantage points – and the colourful array of opal field dwellings. Ironically, despite being the first of its kind in Australia (and possibly the world), the innovative White Cliffs Solar Power station is no longer operational, with town power supplied from the grid.

White Cliffs Gold Course
But the golf course IS functional – and provides a unique challenge to those more accustomed to conventional courses. But enticing as these attractions are, do they comprise the ultimate paradise? No way! And even the most experienced golfer needs more than 7 ½ minutes to get round THIS course!!!

We didn't need the helpful ranger at the eco-friendly Paroo-Darling National Park Visitor's Centre to tell us we'd landed in bird watcher's heaven! The Nankeen Kestrel on the 'White Cliffs' sign at the town entrance did that! As did Orange Chat, Stubble Quail and Horsfield's Bushlark feeding in the gutters on the Tibooburra road, and Chestnut-crowned Babbler and ChirrupingWedgebill rampaging in the scrub around the fossicking pits.

Dam near White Cliffs


The early morning splendour of this water-bird filled dam and sightings of dry country nomad White-fronted Honeyeater made up for the tyre-shreddingly rugged road to massive Lake Peery – full on our June 2011 visit.

Meaning we didn't get to see the artesian mound springs on the lake bed that provide a habitat for the rare salt pipe wort (eriocaulon carsonii) when the lake is dry! Paradise, yes. Ultimate? Not quite ...

Lake Peery, Paroo-Darling National Park via White Cliffs, NSW


So what DOES the ultimate 7 ½ minute paradise look like?

Before we got to White Cliffs, the magnificent setting of our campsite at Lake Pamamaroo made up for the nearest loo being ~1 km and the nearest fresh water ~16 km down the road. And after 6 nights of severely curtailed ablutions also due to a) low temperatures; b) the absence of a shower block; and c) minimal gas and water? Well … you figure it out!! The excitement of having possibly the only Milo-swigging, bird watching, pyromaniac, fisherman partner on the continent was starting to wear off ...

Still life at White Cliffs

So as darkness fell on our first night in White Cliffs and the temperature plummeted, Pilchard and I headed for the caravan park amenities. Where for the absolute bargain price of $1, a wondrous heart-stoppingly blissful geyser of HOT water poured through the shower. For exactly 7 ½ minutes!!

That's what I'm talking about! Paradise!!

And not a palm tree in sight!

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* One stubby = one 375 ml beer bottle

AND ... even though it's cheating 'cos I've got WAAAAAAY more than one photo, I'm linking to 'Saturday Sareenity'!  For a relaxed and enjoyable start to your weekend, why not click HERE to see what everyone else has posted this week?!

Thursday

Signs #19 - Where's the Ocean?

Eromanga - How far from the sea can you get?

There's only one town in Australia furthest from the sea – in EVERY direction!

Surprisingly, to me at least, it's NOT in Central Australia! Australia's weird continental shape means the geographic centre is relatively close to the Great Australian Bight to the south, and the Gulf of Carpentaria to the north.

No, the title of furthest from the sea currently belongs Eromanga, a small Western Queensland Outback boulder opal mining town.  Ironically Eromanga was once the site of a vast inland sea - a feature that's replicated every now and again when the Cooper Basin is in flood ...

But the title isn't all there is to Eromanga!!
Detail of Opal at Miner's Monument, 'Opalopolis Park', Eromanga, Queensland
Outback Fuels, Eromanga
Eromanga is also the site of the largest dinosaur fossil remains yet found in OZ, and produces the most oil of any Australian region. Combine this with 'Opalopolis Park', a beautifully maintained picnic area right next door to the excellent local museum (get the key from the pub down the road!) showing a well produced video highlighting town and regional attractions and history, and you just might be tempted to stop over in the caravan park for the night.

I'm not sure who actually triangulated the map coordinates to bestow this title on Eromanga, but I'm not about to argue.  Others have - but so far no alternative site has been identified.

Nor is it likely to be without a lot more work and research.  So until the title is bestowed elsewhere, I'm not going to rock the boat.

Not when I get such a thrill out of telling people I've been to Australia's furthest service station from the sea!!

Want more information?
For more weird and wonderful signs from around the world, visit this week's version of Signs, signs! You won't regret it ...

Later edit (21/02/2012)

Here's some additional information and clarification in response to some of the comments below!

1.  Julie queried my claim that Eromanga was the largest oil producing region in Australia.  Certainly, Barrow Island production appears to be greater, but I was convinced I'd seen a claim for Eromanga, so I returned to my source documents where I found the following:
'Eromanga is the largest oil producing area in mainland Australia ...' (from the 'Quilpie Shire "simply unique" pamphlet available from the Visitor Information Centre).

So Julie - we're kind of both right!  But my bad - I left out that vital word 'mainland'!! 

2.  Grey Roamer gave the generally accepted position for Australia's geographic Centre as Lambert Centre.  While this isn't in dispute in this post, the details may be of interest to those who, like me, want to know these things!

The Australian Government Geoscience Australia official website gives a number of interpretations for how to determine the geographic centre.  Interestingly, it also gives an interpretation of how to find the furthest point from the coastline ... and it's NOT Eromanga!!!  But it's not a definitive science as you'll see from the website ...

Thanx to both for your information, and apologies for any confusion caused by my post!!
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