Our next major town along the Matilda Way was Mt Isa.
Along the way there were a couple of outback pubs that called out to us. First up was the Blue Heeler hotel at Kynuna. as with a lot pubs out this way there is writing all over the walls, and for a small donation to the RFDS we added ours. Although it was only 11.30am we had a quiet Bundy before heading up the road to McKinley.
This town has its claim to fame the pub used in Crocodlie Dundee (the first one). The Walkabout Creek Hotel has indeed walked as it is now down around the corner from where it used to be! A quiet chat with some fellow travellers and another Bundy saw Jaks driving the rest of the way into 'The Isa".
We have been here before in 2005 but we didn't remember it much. As it was Sunday afternoon all of the supermarkets had shut by the time we hit town. We had heard good stories about the Overlander Hotel, and as it was walking distance from our camp we settled there for dinner. It turns it was managed by Jason Heares, a friend form the Royal Exchange in hobart, a few years back.
A noisy night of passing road-trains saw us pulling up stumps and moving to a new location a bit further out of town. More on that later.
We spent the morning wandering around a few 4x4 shops and finally found some solar panels that were at the right price. We can now camp out for several more days without worrying about flat batteries. Excellent.
Our new park promised much and sort of delivered. it is like most in the mining areas and has turned itself into a camp for the workers. Travellers now seem to be more of a burden and not as much of a money maker so they are pushed aside. Still, after changing sites because our tent would not fit on the first one we spent the afternoon playing with panels and doing grownup stuff on the computer.
The miners returned form their shifts and we thought that things would get rowdy but thankfully they were quiet very early on.
The underground mine tour came highly recommended so this morning we donned the orange overalls, gumboots, head torches and hard hats and headed 28m underground into the Hard Times Mine. We were not allowed to take any photos so you will have to use your imagination. The tour was excellent and we got to see lots of old mining equipment being used (not sure about the OH&S issues here). Jaks even got to have a turn using the drill.
We resurfaced at lunchtime, restocked both food and fuel and continued west along a relatively boring stretch of road to Camooweal.
This weekend is the Camooweal Drover's Festival and the town is beginning to fill up with competitors for the bull branding contest. Sadly we won't be able to stay but looks like it will be a hoot (if you are into that sort of thing).
We shared our dinner with Alex, a young chap on a DR400 who rode 970km today. He appreciated a few fresh veggies and something that wasn't cooked in his tiny camp stove. He has to be back in Brisbane by Friday so a few more massive days ahead for him. As for us we will continue our way west to Three Ways and then turn left.