Mount Isa was wonderful!! There isn't really much to do there but we had a nice grassy caravan spot and there were plenty of shops to wander around.
Its amazing how much you can come to miss civilisation after such a short time. I have no idea how I managed to survive two years in the Torres Straits! Actually I think you get used to it pretty quickly and you begin to think 'how on earth did I manage living in the big smoke???' In any case the squeals of delight that rang from our car as we drove in to Isa and saw Woolies signs and Mcdonalds signs were probably a tad too enthusiastic for people who had only spent a few days in the bush.
My mum did a tour of an underground hospital and also went with james on a mine tour. We did a tour of the Riversleigh Fossil centre, a spot of shopping and loads of bumming around the caravan reading, catching up on FB goss, washing and schoolwork. It was sooo nice to have a few days off with not much on after the crazily busy first few days.
After we had investigated all that Mount Isa had to offer (which wasn't a lot), we drove 560 kms to a camp spot just 71kms short of 3 ways.
Crossing in to the NT was amazing. The landscape changed almost immediately!! I could see the entire horizon... it was like looking at a sea of land. There were no hills, or trees or buildings ... just flat red dirt with tiny tufts of spinifex grass here and there. (spinifex grass is just one of the many grasses I learned about on our 7 hour car trip.... Ben seems to know an awful lot about grass species).
*Ben would like me to insert here that I am incorrect and that it wasn't spinifex grass just across the border... it was a mixture of mitchell and flinders grass. He would also like me to add in that while everyone was busy relaxing in Isa he was busy fixing stuff.*
The place where we camped was spectacular. It was in the middle of no where and there were no toilets or showers. The only thing it had to offer was a little bit of water. I will attach a pic of all our vans parked there at the bottom.
The nights sky was unbelievable. I have never, in my life, seen anything like it. Looking up you could see millions of stars from horizon to horizon. I felt like I was in a dome. We had a camp fire and all sat around talking. It was a perfect night.
The next day was another full day of driving. For the last hour of the 8 hours of driving I managed to convince Ben to let the kids watch a dvd on the portable dvd player. 15 hours over 2 days of sitting in the back of a car listening to mummy and daddy play 20 questions must be extremely boring for little kids. Ben and I play that game during the very brief periods when I am actually awake.
Our destination was Daly Waters Pub. It is a lovely little outback pub. Inside the pub is quite amazing. Every surface, every wall, every place imaginable is covered, completely covered, with crap. There is a bra collection, an undies collection, a thong collection, a mural of peoples drivers licence pics.... I could go on but I won't. Let's just say there was a TON of stuff.
We had the most delicious dinner of reef and beef followed by a hilarious show. The only issue I had with Daly waters was its caravan park was like a humongous dust bowl. Not that Daly Waters pub is at fault for that. As far as I can tell so far, most of the NT is a dust bowl. I am starting to get sick of it already and the worst is yet to come!!!
I am learning a lot about Ben this trip (and different types of grasses). He used to live and work in the NT, which I knew, but he has never told me much about the specifics of his jobs here or the people he knew. I am hearing all kinds of stories about a chapter of his life I knew little about.
Anyway, I have to go... I want to do a post about Matatanka thermal springs and I have decided it is so amazing that it deserves is very own blog post.