Budgies cleaning out hole in a tree
Wild budgies preparing a new nest, Bladensberg NP. Photo: ©Tony Neilson

Finding a decent place to stay at night

When you undertake a long-distance photography road trip, as I have recently done, there are two things that must go right.

You might think the day-two failure of my key 24-70mm lens would have been right up there. But it wasn’t. I have used Canon gear long enough to always have another option.

My new Huawei phone not receiving emails – anywhere – was a definite downer, but also not the end of the world.

No. The absolute ‘musts’ on a journey of more than 4000km through the sparsely populated, bone-dry and frequently featureless landscapes of southwest Queensland are – good coffee and a decent place to stay at night.

Coffee snob

I know I’m a bit of a coffee snob, but in this day and age where the average long black is an eye-watering $5.00-plus, you are entitled to expect something resembling what you asked for.

A good long black (like an Americano, but better) should have some ‘crema’ and be at a temperature you can drink immediately. The espresso shot should also be added to the water, not the other way around. And if the process takes more than 30 seconds, the whole thing tastes burnt.

Between Cairns in Queensland’s far north and Cunnamulla in the state’s deep south, there was only one barista (in Winton) who got it right – and she was from Vietnam!

When I asked at one joint for a long black in a small to-go cup, but half-filled, the guy said: “We only do full ones!” At another, the ‘barista’ said: “Just tip out what you don’t want.”

Brightly painted caravan at entrance to Evening Star camp
You can’t miss the entrance to the Evening Star campground. Photo: ©Tony Neilson

Two shockers

The second essential, especially if you have been freezing in a tent for many days on end, is value-for-money campground accommodation when you reach civilisation.

With 2 million (my slightly inflated estimate) grey nomad caravans clogging the roads, powered sites and cabins at caravan parks get very expensive at this time of year. And in my experience, price has little to do with quality.

I won’t bore you with chapter and verse about the really bad places, except to suggest you steer clear of the cabins at Villa Holiday Park in Roma and those at Pelican Caravan Park in Winton.

Star attraction

But if you want somewhere really nice, affordable, beautifully presented and extremely friendly, do not go past the Evening Star Tourist Park just out of Charleville. They even have a lovingly maintained grassed area for us tent dwellers instead of the usual dustbowl at the arse end of the place.

And for us birdo’s, the Evening Star circuit tracks can produce a surprising range of dry bushland species – at their most numerous and diverse in the early morning.

©Natural Images 2018

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

©2018 TONY NEILSON All Rights Reserved. All images are protected by Australian copyright law and cannot be downloaded or reproduced without my permission. Please contact me.

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