Day 15 - Camooweal to Urandangie, then Dajarra.

Friday, Apr 12, 2013 at 08:53

Member - Ossiejs (Qld)

Today I achieved one of the principal objectives of my trip. Leaving Camooweal fairly early, I drove the dusty and sometimes corrugated trail to Urandangi. Be alert to and go slow before channel and creek crossings, and occasional patches of bull dust. They can sneak up on you! Also, pay attention to cattle grids. I found several with ruts before and after the crossing which could do serious damage to tyres and suspension if hit at speed.

67 km South from Camooweal, my route passed 5.6km from Barkly Downs Station, currently owned by Land & Cattle Co. I called in to check on the gravesite of Hop Thomas - my Great Grandfather. The homestead hadn't changed since my last visit. I was here with other descendants this time last year to lay the headstone on his previously unmarked grave. After a cuppa and quick chat with John, the Manager, I visited the grave. Obviously, nothing had changed.

As testimony to the extremes in the West, I saw that an aircraft hangar had been flattened since the visit last year.John explained there had been a violent storm in December last year, crushing the hangar, and the station aircraft inside. Ouch.

Resuming my dusty route South, I paused briefly outside Headingly Station. From 1916, this was once home to and managed by my Great Grandparents Hop and AnnieThomas. Apparently, Barkly Downs Station was a sub-station of Headingly many years ago, when it was sub-managed by my grandfather, who later married the only female child of Hop and Annie, Marjorie - my grandmother. She would have been raised on Headingly.

En route, I noticed the innovative use of car bonnets - probably from the many wrecks abandoned and stripped by the side of the road. Used as landmarks, signposts, advertising and other information,they break up the otherwise monotonous journey.

After arriving at Urandangie, to dissolve some of the dust from Road Trains, wind gusts, and me, I just had to have an Ice Cold Beer (that's ICB to some of us!) in theDangie Pub. Now I can say BTDT (Been There, Done That). Had a good chat with Pam, the Publican (she had no choice as I was the only customer).

Having explaining the purpose of my visit, Pam and I had a fairly good chat about the history of the area, and the current position. I had heard many stories and rumours before and during my trip, and I must say, any safety concerns were allayed. Media reports researched before the trip were manifestly incorrect, and it appears there is now no problem with alcoholism amongst the indigenous community.

Pam drew me a good mud map of some of the camping spots on the Georgina River outside Urandangie.

But first, I had to say a loving "Gidday" to my Great Grandmother, Annie Mary Thomas (née Brophy) buried at Urandangie Cemetery. To have lived and died (in 1926) in this harsh and fairly extreme environment is a testament to toughness and durability of the women of the West. I have been unable to explain the spelling of Annie"s Chistian name on the Headstone as "Anne". Her official records, which I have seen, clearly record her name as "Annie".

Once I got my bearings, the mud map was very accurate and helpful. I did a drive around to explore the sites, and although relatively remote and nearly clean, I opted out. Preferring a hot shower (free) in a tidy toilet block near the Pub, Dajarra was not that far away!!

Refreshed for the dusty drive ahead, it was to be Eastly for the drive, until I hit bitumen when joining the Diamantina Developmental Road. Although only one lane, the level road was bliss after the dirt. Just on dusk, I pulled into the Dajarra Campground. An unpowered site was $5.00 handed to a backpacker behind the bar at the local Pub (no receipt mind you!) which I hope goes to Council as contribution to maintenance of the toilet and shower block.

Next stop, Boulia - just down the road South a bit.
To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root -- Chinese Proverb
John & Marie
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