Pre-children, it used to be a Thursday night ritual. We’d have dinner, the mister would wash up while I studied, and then I’d emerge from my bookish haze for an hour or so so we could curl up on the lounge and watch Getaway, dreaming of all the trips we would take. One Aussie destination that always stuck out to us was El Questro station, way up north. With the homestead overlooking the gorge, and the spectacular scenery, we would always sigh and say “one day” but being the tight wads we are, at $1500 per person per night (and bearing in mind this was 8 plus years ago), we considered it a “when we win Lotto” type of holiday (spoiler alert – we don’t play Lotto).
Fast forward a few years, and we have kids, a camper trailer, and some road trip experience behind us. We stare at our large wall map every few days, pondering our next trip. One day, I wonder out loud how old Beetle would have to be to tackle the Cape – a trip high on the mister’s want list. He tells me he thought our next trip would be El Questro because he knows how much I would love to go there, and the Cape can wait. He’s a keeper, this bloke of mine. Just as we started some tentative plans towards a 2014 trip, we instead had a change of plans, and July 2014 instead was a short (unblogged) trip to Fiji. We returned home, and planning began in earnest – we committed July 2015 to El Questro and the Kimberley.
January saw a list of things that I needed to make, written, then promptly ignored for six months. By the beginning of May, our plans started to gather steam – batteries were upgraded, additional wiring added fabric for projects purchased. May became June. Mr Barefoot’s hours at work ramped up as end of financial year approached. I booked a good run of jobs. Bags were cut then ignored. Blog hosting was switched. End of term events for school were scheduled. Precious spare hours were carved out over a long weekend to remove our tailgate kitchen and build a slide out. Late nights and early mornings became routine and even up until two or three days before, we weren’t sure we would get away on time. Then, blessedly, came the end of term, and with it, a daddy who managed to achieve the near-impossible, all his work finished week ahead of 30 June.
A late night of packing, some last minute bits and pieces, and we were on the road by mid morning (after a quick turn back for the GoPro charger, whoops!). Initially, our plan was to get to Charleville on day one, however the late start made for a change in plans, and we instead aimed for Nindigully, a free camping ground a bit south of St George. After seeing it featured a few times in our fave camping magazine, it has been on our list to try one day, but we never got around to it, until now. Recent rain made it a bit boggy, but it wasn’t a bad spot to spend an evening (if we ignored the young goons who thought midnight was a great time to see how loud they could rev their engines). Adding to our enjoyment of this little stopover was the lucky coincidence of my uncle traveling down from central Queensland, and also staying at Nindigully, which led to a lovely afternoon on the river bank getting a line or three wet (and occasionally tangled. I’m a bad aim, ok?).
Day two saw us up and moving reasonably early. On our last trip, we took the back road between St George and Mitchell, so this time we decided to go up through Roma – Google maps told us that is was only 13 minutes longer despite the extra 75km, so we figured why not? Cover some new ground and all that. Let me tell you a little secret, kids. Google maps LIES. We still aren’t entirely sure what went wrong, but those 510km seemed to take all flipping day, deposited only having two short stops. We finally made it into Charleville around half past four, and snagged the last grass powered site at Bailey’s Bar Caravan Park (full review to come). To us, it was the perfect spot – right next to the common area where the live music was set up and the campo em dinner was being served, we could enjoy it all without leaving home! Sadly we missed out on a spot on the observatory tour, but had a pleasant night nonetheless, and it was a good excuse to hit the hay early, ready for another big day – Longreach,mand the Qantas Founders Museum awaited!!