to Mount Garnet for the Melbourne Cup

The long track from the Gulf to the east coast. The #1’s on the map would indicate something major but the road name is the Gulf Development Road and it’s a crumbly and fun single-laner
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We spent about 10 days in Karumba. There were some late season people hanging around and we made a few friends. But still no riders.

We weren’t in a hurry to leave this part of Australia and being on the ocean, specially this ocean, is good. But as usual we felt guilty stopping for so long.

We went fishing out on the Gulf on this boat, the only guide boat left this late in the season
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Here’s the guide holding a fish
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We caught lots
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And again I realized I’m just not into it anymore, despite years fly fishing. I just lost interest one particular day, for one particular reason and had forgotten how strong the feelings at the time were.

There were some good birds out
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Another fish boat behind an Aussie ‘ute’, as they call 4X4’s
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The interesting thing is there’s a consensus about what the ‘right’ ute looks like, and how to modify it for the outback.

Here are some more. Bullbars, snorkel, radios, fog lights, utility deck, all more-or-less set up the same way. They’re the basic vehicle up here. These are pretty new and fancy. Mostly they’re near-wrecks and more fun
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There were good sunsets in Karumba
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And good places to ride
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The heat when we left was getting extreme. It was getting humid and the shade didn’t provide much relief.

This day to Croyden was the hottest yet at 43C/109F. We stopped for a water break at this old railway station. No one around
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The old water tank
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Detail
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We crossed a low range with the densest trees we’ve seen since close to Darwin
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And in the trees at one point there was the most incredible thing: termite mounds in perfect spires
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Towards Croydon the landscape went back to its usual self
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I’ll never forget stopping here. Man it was hot
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Here’s the strangest termite mound: a smear up a rock. I thought I should buy an egg in Croydon and come back, fry it on the rock and take a picture
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But it was beautiful
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Up over another low range the next day on our way to Mount Garnet. The yellow and green, man…
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Another great gas station in a town of 50
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The mounds here were different again. They looked like they had been poured or had melted
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The same type a little further ahead, but red
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This one had grown around a fallen branch
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And into Mount Garnet. Where we decided to stay a couple of days to watch the Australian event of the year. The Melbourne Cup, a horse race. At home they may not believe this, but 90% of all Australians watch this race. This is good news because I love the horse races and take my daughters once every year to Hastings Park. So I’m happy this is happening but homesick about it
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The roadhouse here is the BP station and since the cabins are brand new, it’s a good time to introduce them in detail. Here’s Lucinda parked in front of our front door
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Inside, a bit less than 2 meters by 4
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With an immaculate loo. Pretty fancy. These are all pre-fab and are just delivered to the gas station as a big unit of between 5 and 10
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To the pub to get ready for the cup. People are betting here
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I need to get up to speed and the newspaper has more than enough info to help me make a wild guess. 24 horses
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This is the one. Not the favorite by a long way but I like him. Protectionist and a Kraut horse. It’s an international race
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I also bet on Who Shot the Barman because of the cool name but made a mess of how I bet him on the ticket, I was to find out later. And another horse who looked suspiciously fast on paper

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The aborginals were pretty intense about it too
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Race time
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We get ready
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They’re off! Shivers up my spine. Nothing better
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Into the first corner
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A lap and a half later, they’re tight
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It’s Protectionist! He wins! No way!
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He paid off $56 on a $10 bet and my 20 year annual off-and-on-winning-streak continues. Taking a shotgun approach to it helps.

And as luck would have it, the next day we see the most famous bird in Australia. Certainly the noisiest. A Kookaburra. The song is like someone being murdered, but louder
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Close up. He’s a large bulky bird

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