On our way into Birdsville we pass a stunning piece of public art. The Dreamtime Serpent traveling on the Mithika Country. It is making pathways connecting the river systems in the Channel Country of the Diamantina Shire. The Serpent is created with all the different types of gravel and gibberish that are found throughout the shire.
Arriving in Birdsville we check out a few free camps but in the end the reports of midges sound too fierce and they look dense. We are sufficiently scared off and retreat to the caravan park. Coming into town we see the sign for the road conditions on the Birdsville Track. This is of particular interest to us because the road we are planning to travel next, Mungaranie to Marree is still closed due to flooding! We’ve been watching reports and are pretty confident it will open in the next few days but we’ll be here until it does.
With the arrival of water comes the arrival of water birds, frogs, insects and snakes. It’s the birdlife and setting sun that lure us down to the lagoon. Beautiful hues of pink, organe and purple.
The next day we spend exploring Birdsville and Big Red. We start at the visitors centre, another great centre, full of wisdom, knowledge and experiences. A chance to learn more about the area, stories from locals and history of the Diamantina.
The kids enjoyed a play in the playgroup space, while Ken and I used the internet to plan and make bookings for our visit to Lake Eyre and the highlight was a fabulous video that runs on request. A quality production that leaves you with a great sense of the Diamantina Spirit. The spirit that is infectious in these parts and makes living, working, playing and surviving out here a joy.
Birdsville hosts a couple of highlights on the social calendar in these parts and has a rich history of people who love to party! The Birdsville Hotel is a great place to start. No one passes through town without visiting the pub and in times of flood when they may be cut of from supplies for months in stifling heat gathering for a party and whatever cold beverage is still available is the thing to do.
There is a great story of the formation of the green lizard guild. During one particular flood the town had been cut off for sometime and the pub ran out of beer. All that was left was creme de menth and so it was that the green lizard drink was created. It wasn’t long before a party was in full swing and the whether it was the drink or the heat the Green Lizard Association was formed. Entry was gained by drinking copious amounts of Creme de Menth then throwing yourself through the front window of the pub. The association still exist today with meetings held every few months.
The Birdsville Cup, a famous outback horse race, is the social event of the outback calendar. Folks fly in from cattle stations all over Queensland, the Northern Territory and even Western Australia. In more recent years a music festival has been attracting folks from all over as well The Big Red Bash takes place just out of Birdsville at the base of Big Red the red dunes that start the Simpson Desert.
We took a drive out to visit Big Red for the sunset. On our way we there we came across a muster in progress. For us city folk this was quiet exciting and done the old fashioned way, on horses, with whips. We pulled over to watch, fly the drone and not get in the way. The cattle crossed the road right in front of us and and one of the stockmen came over to ask if we were recording footage on the drone and if he could get a copy. At first I was a little worried he might be a little miffed with us but it was all good and he was just keen to see how it looks from the aerial view.
Big Red was awesome. Red sand dues with view across well more red sand dunes apparently this is the first of about 147 more across the Simpson Desert. The kids had an absolute ball with the boogie boards riding down the dunes and we met and had a beer with another of the stockmen for the muster. Turns out he was from Brisbane on a gap year and had fallen in love with the lifestyle. It was one of those memorable moments as a family and a unique experience.
Washing done, shopping done, sightseeing done and the road to Marree is open so we are off on the Birdsville Track. Finally the flies deserve a mention, there are millions of them, and they are soooooooo annoying. Enough said.