We drove north of Emerald for about 20 kilometers, turned onto a dirt road, and stopped, to put the car into 4WD. Then, we bumped along for a while, until we came to a sign for Theresa Downs on the left, and on the right, Caroa. From this dirt road, the sign proclaimed we still had another 10 kilometers to rattle our way along. But such gorgeous country! We drove through one creek bed, and as it’s the dry season right now, I realized that during the floods, last year, they were probably stuck on their property. No getting out of there by car.
We eventually passed the official sign for Caroa, a property where they grow certified organic beef cattle. And where beautiful vistas stretch out beyond you, as far as your eyes can see, and then much further, I’m sure. Also, where large Caterpillar tractors hang out until you need them next. : )
Following Andrew’s Ute down to the waterhole, where the fire was already built up, and pots containing our dinner were already cooking in holes filled with hot coals. By the way, I’m not sure what they call that particular body of water. Looked like a small pond (or large puddle), which will obviously be MUCH bigger when the rains start. I know a billabong tends to dry up when there isn’t any rain… but do they dry up completely, or can they dry up partly? Oh, and for my friends at home, don’t worry, no crocs. [Update: I was told that a lagoon would be the proper name for where we were.]
Anyway, after hanging out for a bit, we all piled into the back of the Ute, and went for a ride all over Caroa. Ok, I know we didn’t see all of it, but we sure saw a lot. The “other American” and I got a kick out of riding in the truck bed, as it’s illegal to ride around in the truck beds back home, now. Well, at least on the roads. And since I don’t live on or near a farm, I don’t get the opportunity. It brought back lots of childhood memories of truck rides.
So, we rattled and clattered along, with me trying to take as many pictures as possible, without either losing my camera, getting the lens too covered in dirt, or falling out of the truck bed. I guess I succeeded. We stopped, any number of times, so the guys could pull aside the fencing (gates?) between the paddocks. I think I got that right. One paddock we went into, because the guys thought they saw a dingo, but somehow, the Ute was unable to sneak up on him.
The grass was really long and rough, so we had to keep our hands inside the truck, for the most part, to avoid getting scratched up. Or now and then, we’d duck in, as we scraped by a tree or bush on one side. And all the way, red dirt was kicked into the air, and the truck bed was coated in dirt, too. So, when we finally returned to our bonfire site, we were also coated with dirt. Especially our backsides, from sitting in it. All clothes definitely needed washing, after that round.
My friend and I weren’t interested in using the the bush “facilities”, and she’s an Aussie, so don’t judge. Ticks and snakes are nothing to sneeze at, though I don’t think about ’em, in general. So, we went for a long walk up to Andrew’s bunkhouse, and that was a beautiful walk. We arrived back right before dark, to find dinner just about ready.
For our evening’s delectation, we had a wonderful spread of food. Lamb, beef, peas, pumpkin, baked potatoes, and gravy. Yum! We all brought our own drinks, and after getting our food, we sat around the campfire to eat. And watched as one of the guys kept lighting off sparklers. Actually, I’m still unsure if the “flares” were a different type of firework, or just sparklers tied together. But our after-dinner entertainment included (aside from “plumber by firelight”) watching the “flares” sent out on the water, on a paper plate.
I was playing around with my camera, just trying to zoom in on the sparklers, unaware that it was about to really flare up. So, when the inferno went up on the plate, I thought I was going to see nothing but flame in the picture. But it came out pretty well, I think. : )
After a bit, some of us gathered around to watch dessert being made, but I think I’ll save that for another post. I’m afraid I took way too many pictures to post here. You’ll get to learn how to make pudding, in the bush.
We rounded out our evening by roasting marshmallows. Pink and white marshmallows, which are smaller than ours at home, but I’m told that their bigger ones are… well, crappier than the small ones. I haven’t seen the others yet, so I haven’t been able to compare. At the campfire, when I asked, they said they don’t do s’mores over here, so I discovered something to commiserate with our “other American” over. Josh, another visitor from the U.S. (Colorado) is able to understand the sadness of there being no s’mores or funnel cake in Australia.
By the way, one of my friends told me, the next day, that they DO sometimes make s’mores over here, but they learned it from the Americans. It’s not a regular thing. And since they don’t seem to have graham crackers, they just use other types of sweet biscuits (hard cookies). So, there’s hope for them yet. : P
The stars were out, that night, at least, most of the time. My friend drew attention to some cloud cover that looked like ice cracking on the water. I was unable to identify any constellations, though I’m still determined to get another good look at Orion. I’m pretty sure that Orion is upside-down (or backwards), or something, here in Oz.