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It's about 55 km from Tibooburra to the Warri Gate on the Queensland border. There had been no more rain and my friend was quietly confident the track was firm enough. But to say we proceeded with caution is an understatement. The road was still closed and we were taking a risk. The New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service makes it very clear in their Sturt National Park brochure:
'Please note: driving on a closed road can lead to heavy penalties. Approximately $1100 fine per axle from road authorities plus additional fines from NSW National Parks and Wildlife if driving on a closed road within a National Park or Reserve.'And, if we were to write off the car, our insurance would be invalidated.
This wasn't a serious fight but a rough and tumble between young males. Boxing is important practice for when they're dominant males in the mob and have to defend their domain. Had we been driving faster, we would have disturbed them sooner and not seen as much action. There were hundreds of roos about, all of them alive thankfully.The landscape was... a bit grim. But always interesting. And I was just so relieved to have escaped. We were almost at the border. In the meantime, a couple of signs of note. Silver City refers to Broken Hill, a silver mining town towards the southern end of this road that cuts through Outback New South Wales from border (QLD) to border (Vic). The second sign was particularly exciting.
Soon after the signs we spotted our first rabbit in the Outback. Considering so many kilometres of fence have been constructed over the years to keep them out, or in, depending on your location, where have they all been up till now?
It was a relief to see the inevitable plethora of signs up ahead – the border. I have never been so pleased to get back into Queensland. I think the emus wanted to come with us through the gate. The Wild Dog Destruction Board needs rebranding. Whenever I see the word 'shall', I think of Cinderella: 'You shall go to the ball.' And I never understand why fine-threatening signs say 'not exceeding' whatever the amount is, which makes it sound like it won't be so bad. If I wanted to scare people into action, I'd put up a sign saying, 'Anyone leaving this gate open will be very heavily fined' – and leave them guessing. And was there a secret camera somewhere; otherwise how could anyone possible know who'd left the gate open when people pass by here once a fortnight?
Eromanga makes a strong claim, and has the signpost to 'prove' it, complete with Nankeen Kestrel.
The town might lend weight to the argument if it referred to its being at the 'pole of inaccessibility' – defined in Wiki as 'a location that is the most challenging to reach owing to its remoteness from geographical features that could provide access. Often it refers to the most distant point from the coastline.' Compared to places we'd been already, Eromanga didn't seem particularly remote. And Wiki claims that Papunya in the Northern Territory is the closest town to either of two furthest points from coast in Australia. Towns on tourist trails love to claim that they're the beef or navy bean or opal capital, or that they're the gateway to the Outback or the Channel Country, or the largest this or the highest that.
There were a lot more cows...
And one of these right by the roadside.
By the time we were nearing Quilpie the sun was going down behind us. By the time we'd checked into the Heritage Inn on Brolga Street it was almost time for dinner.