Guyra, Glen Innes, Deepwater, Glencoe, Sandy Flat, Boonah…names of small Australian towns we’d rolled through in the last week. I couldn’t conjure up an image of a single one. Just as package tourists on 10 day/ 14 country European vacations, all the places had blended into one.
There were tumble-down general stores and tidy parks. Grey nomads pulling caravans and weathered cowboys working the range.
There were leisurely mid-day picnics and long, cold nights huddled in the tent. There were misty mornings of impossible beauty and successive hills of minimal merit.
At day’s end there was the usual hunt for a safe place to sleep. A nearby creek meant water for washing up. A bush camp meant a silvery moon and a million stars.
A night in the town park meant a sturdy picnic table and real toilet facilities. Locals never complained, not like in New Zealand where freedom camping is frowned upon. Or in the US where the local sheriff might pay you a visit if you pitch up behind the local ballpark. Nope, Australians are down with wild camping.
This is not the Australia of postcards and travel brochures. Kangaroos bouncing along or, more commonly, flattened as road kill, were the only sign of Down Under.
We are, in fact, making our way up the Great Dividing Range. What Australia’s mountains lack in elevation, they make up for in length. The range stretches more than 3,500 kilometers from the northeastern tip of Queensland, runs the entire length of New South Wales and into Victoria before it peters out into the plains.
Sure, it isn’t the Rockies or the Andes. We topped out at an elevation of around 1,200 meters. But after week of rough gravel roads, we’re ready for some rest.
Life’s become one big blur and that’s a sign to skid to a halt. For awhile, at least.