We start our road trip late in the afternoon. Paul worked a sleep over shift and doesn’t get home until mid-morning. We take our time getting ready and then head off to his aunt’s engagement barbecue for lunch. It’s so much fun and a great way to unwind at the start of our road trip. There’s something appropriate about a good old Aussie barbecue to start our Aussie bush road trip.
We leave the barbecue late in the afternoon and it’s not long before we’re out of the clutches of suburbia. The sun is getting low and turning the sky gold. Windmills dot the landscape. They create a country feel and bring my mind away from home. I feel like I’m back on the road again. And the best thing is that I’m here doing it with Paul.
Driveways are long out here in the South Burnett. Rusty mailboxes wait with equal patience for the postman and the property owner. Neither can walk to the mailbox. Distance starts to become a tyranny already here in the South Burnett … and we’re not even in the Outback yet.
History abounds here in the bush. It’s probably more visible due to the space between people and places. A street sign announces the presence of an old soldier settlement. The Soldier Settlement Scheme was a program the Australian governments offered to returning soldiers after the First and Second World Wars. Thousands of farms were allocated to soldiers who could purchase or lease them on return from war. The scheme was largely a failure after WWI due to the lack of support for soldiers who weren’t accustomed to the harsh climate of the bush. This was improved after WWII. This history probably helps explain the importance of cenotaphs and Returned Services Leagues clubs in the bush.
We only drive about two hours before pitching camp at Maidenwell. There’s a free camp across the road from the Maidenwell Pub. I’ve camped here once before and the pub put on a great feed. But tonight there’s only takeaways available due to a function that’s happening. We drive 30km down the road to Nanango instead where the only thing open is an Indian restaurant. The food is worth the drive.
The usually quiet and peaceful Maidenwell free camp is terribly loud all night. The pub closes at about 8:30pm but the locals punch on, literally in some cases. These country folk just cannot hold their grog. Screaming, shouting and fights ring through the air until just before the dawn. Then all the drunks from last night load up in their utes (pick up trucks for Americans) with passengers hanging out the windows drinking more booze and the drivers possibly still affected from the night before. Welcome to the Aussie bush on a party night. All we can do is roll our eyes and go back to sleep each time we’re woken by the drunks. Good thing we both sleep through most things.