2017 TheBikeHike – Summer

19 December 2017 ENGLISH

Returning to Emerald proved to be a difficult transition; with summer having well and truly arrived it is constantly hot and humid with occasional thunder storms passing through to add to the humidity.

Gaby had unsuccessfully been looking for some casual Christmas work; over here the shop hours are very different to NZ with most shops closed over the weekends and only supermarkets open into the early evening. I was very busy and had a trip to Longreach in the Queensland Outback to plan for.

The construction company I work for was contracted to assist with a school demolition which also involved asbestos removal. I ended up driving a truck and trailer unit the 420km to Longreach. Driving heavy vehicles in rural Australia can be challenging at times due to speed (100kph for trucks), narrow highways with soft shoulders (don’t leave the tar-seal) and larger road trains; after Barcaldine, it was normal to see 4-unit road trains (truck with 3 trailers that are 53 metres long) and wide loads (i.e. truck and trailer units carrying oversized mining machinery to and from Mt Isa).

It was a long drive and I was well pleased to pull into Longreach without any dramas along the road.

Longreach has a population of around 3000 and day time temperatures while I was there reached 41C. Its dry, in its 5th year of drought and emus and kangaroos regularly are seen in the town looking for food and water.

What is remarkable about the town is it is the founding centre for Qantas and parked at the airport is a 747-200. Longreach was the first operational base for Qantas in 1921 and its anticipated the dry atmosphere should enable the long-term preservation of the aircraft.

Apparently landing the 747 (in 2002) at a small rural airport was quite a challenge and I certainly looked twice when I saw the aircraft on display. This area of Outback Australia requires real fortitude to live and work in such an arid environment and farming is certainly a tough proposition. I certainly give all credit to those pioneers who have carved out an existence in such a tough and uncompromising region.

19 December 2017 DEUTSCH