Our next main target is Carnarvon Gorge but we need an intermediate stop. The stop chosen by our revered leader was a town called Emerald which also has a touring caravan park that accepts tents. As usual we set off early and were on the road by 06:30.
We passed a few hours at couple of river crossings working up and down the banks, sometimes working through the water. ‘T was interesting but not exactly scintillating. I did find a drying out teneral Clubtail (Gomphid), yet to be identified.
Another site called Broken River was “a site of interest”, naturally because a river runs through it, so odonata were on that menu, too. It was but a short detour off our main route to Emerald. Broken River has a short stay car park which we pulled into, then went to see the map at the visitor centre. A helpful lady was telling another pair where the best viewing platform for Duck-billed Platypus was but that midday-ish wasn’t the best time to see them – they are usually more active at dawn and dusk.
Phil had disappeared up the river and was temporarily lost to us so Roy and I wandered to the viewing platform. It was around midday so we were both a little gobsmacked to soon see a Duck-billed Platypus swimming and diving to feed in the pool beneath the viewing platform. This couldn’t be any better; we had the combined advantages of bright daylight, height and beautifully clear water – we could see the odd creation submerged, stirring up the silt looking for lunch.
The route to Emerald took us past an area of Australia that I can only describe as being raped; we drove by a couple of open-cast coal mines each of which must’ve been the size of Norwich. Goods trains over a kilometre long and powered by four locomotives, two at the front and two more in the middle, were stationary beside the road we drove on. All the wagons were loaded to the brim with coal [I suspect] destined for China, which seems to be Australia’s largest market for most things.
We stopped on a dead straight road at a ditch with water. It was dead straight in that there was no bend visible but there were several carcasses of dead kangaroos on the road. They’d been dead some time with various parts having been eaten away and believe me, having lain there in the mid 30°C temperatures for a couple of days, the aroma was not pleasant. One carcase was right beside the pool the boys were interested in. I decided not to look.
By about 18:00 we arrived at Emerald and checked in, asking for a powered site. We couldn’t see the site until we turned a corner. This was one of the scuzzier campsite that I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a few. Our pitch had no grass, as such, but did have a raised concrete plinth for the hardstanding. Beside this was an area of rough ground made of Darwin knows what where two of our tents would fit. The ground initially refused to be penetrated by pegs. We had no hammer (I had meant to pick up a stone at our previous camp but forgot) but Phil found a lump of hardwood which just about sufficed. Roy chose to pitch his tent across the concrete (it was baking hot) and his tent was just wide enough for the pegs to be forced into the ground at the side.
Beside us was a motorvan complete with young parents and a mostly uncontrolled Rugbrat. I decided not to look.
We shot back into town for dinner. There may have been urgency since some hotels stop food at 19:30. I tried to avoid chips by ordering a graziers pie which came with potato and mushy peas. They had none so I was down to fish [flathead] and chips again, which did NOT come with mushy peas. Go figure.