Covid Roadtrip No. 2

Getting There (2620 km by car)

With the delta strain of Covid-19 surging in Sydney, the city went into lockdown and several states, including South Australia immediately blocked their borders to people from New South Wales. Unfortunately, they also include the Australian Capital Territory in this blanket ban, despite the fact that we had not had a case of Covid in the community for over a year. This put an end to our initial roadtrip plan, which was to cross into South Australia and then head north up through the Red Centre to the Top end of the Northern Territory.

It was time for Plan B, which was to reverse the trip, travelling up through Queensland and then crossing into the Northern Territory from the east. The Queensland government, while employing the most sensible policy of banning entry from declared covid hotspots was still threatening to close the border to all NSW (and by inference, Canberrans) should the the disease spread out from Sydney. They had done this before, so it was time to act quickly.

Armed with our border permits and covid vaccination certificates, we loaded the car and headed out from Canberra on a cold, wet afternoon to get across the Queensland border before things got worse and they closed it. By the following midday, we had passed through Bourke to cross into the Sunshine State at Barringun and, yes, it was warm and sunny. The disappointing part was that there were no police at the border to show our crisp new border passes and certificates to - so different from our first covid-times crossing into the state almost a year ago.

From Barringun, we pushed quickly northwards, staying at Charleville and Winton, as the weather got warmer. At Winton, we made a short detour to visit the Dinosaur Museum, at the Winton Palaeontology Dig Area, where the relatively recent discovery of a rich bed of dinosaur fossils demonstrated for the first time the presence of these ancient creatures in Australia.

Where dinosaurs once roamed near Winton

New walking companion needed

Winton was really the first place we noticed the huge numbers of grey nomads in this part of the country, in all manner of vehicle - 4WDs towing vans of all sizes, some compact, some huge, some pop-up, some with accommodation on the trays of their vehicles, others classical RVs. As we drove along, it seemed that road traffic comprised either grey nomads or road trains and little local traffic. I guess, with Covid preventing people from going overseas, the north of Australia is being innundated with people escaping the southern winters.

Dinosaur fossils

The iconic Blue Heeler Pub

From Winton, we pushed across the broad flat grasslands to Julia Creek and then across the always flat Gulf Country to reach Adels Grove, the main campsite near Lawn Hill Gorge. Finally after 2600 km, we had reached the first real stop of our roadtrip. We planned to stay here four nights and explore the gorge, iconic for its isolation and for being a green oasis in a dry parched landscape.

The flatness of the Gulf Country

The waterhole at Adels Grove

First time in the new tent at Adels Grove

Adels Grove was named for Albert de Lesange, who established an experimental botanical garden here in the 1920s, with this grove of tropical trees from around the world having pride of place. We pitched our tent beneath the shade of one such large tropical tree and settled down to a nice hot cuppa - we had arrived.