7 May—9 May 2002
The approach to Mount Isa took us by surprise. In place of the flat plains we had become accustomed to, a dramatic, rugged, low range of hills suddenly rose up out of the landscape. We wound our way through these hills to the township where we set up camp at the Copper City Caravan Park.
We’ve occupied a nice shady spot here, with our own en-suite. It’s cool during the heat of day. The kids are making good use of the pool: the water is clean and very cold, which makes for refreshing swims – too refreshing for some of the locals, who are clearly accustomed to warmer waters. I went for a swim with the girls about 8.30 last night. It was very nice indeed.
Yesterday we did touristy things. We went to the Riversleigh Centre, where fossils are studied and displayed. We went on a tour of the laboratory where the girls learned from a guide (who was a palaeontologist) about the rich discoveries in the area, and the painstaking process of identifying the fossils and preparing them for display. We then went and checked out the exhibits.
Afterwards, we went on a tour of Mount Isa Mine. The underground tours are incredibly popular and need to be booked days or even weeks in advance, and children are not permitted, so a surface tour had to suffice. Clare found it boring, but Ruby seemed to tune in to the guide. I found it fascinating and memorable. It was something to remember Mount Isa by, apart from a serviceable caravan park.
Susie and I have been staying up late in front of a fire prepared by her in a half a 44-gallon drum. It’s nice having this time together watching the fire under the stars.
Yesterday afternoon and this morning were partially occupied by shopping. We need to fill the esky before our long drive to Tennant Creek tomorrow. Ruby’s fingernail is finally coming off, following the injury she sustained at Glentulloch.
In the afternoon I got a haircut and bought some music books for the kids. I was lucky to find a music shop that stocked the clarinet books that Ruby was learning from. I also bought a beginner’s violin book for Clare.
In the evening we went to the Irish Club to have a beer for Cathy’s Law’s dad. (Cathy is a neighbour back home in Sydney whose father worked in Broken Hill but had died some years ago.) We gorged ourselves on mediocre buffet food. The beer was good, however.
Tomorrow we rise early to undertake the longest single leg of our journey.