The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere

sunset at Coronation Beach


Australia – By Douglas Adams – A bloody good read!

I have never posted anything on my blog written by someone else but I recently received this in an email and thought it was worth sharing with my blog followers. Australians will get a laugh out of it – and everyone else will probably be totally confused…..unless of course you have been to Australia, or know an Australian, and then you will be nodding your head saying “This is sooo true!”

The following is by Douglas Adams of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” fame.

Australia is a very confusing place, taking up a large amount of the bottom half of the planet.

It is recognizable from orbit because of many unusual features, including what at first looks like an enormous bite taken out of its southern edge; a wall of sheer cliffs which plunge into the girting sea.

Geologists assure us that this is simply an accident of geomorphology, but they still call it the “Great Australian Bight”, proving that not only are they covering up a more frightening theory but they can’t spell either.

The first of the confusing things about Australia is the status of the place. Where other land masses and sovereign lands are classified as continent, island or country, Australia is considered all three. Typically, it is unique in this.

The second confusing thing about Australia is the animals. They can be divided into three categories: Poisonous, Odd, and Sheep. It is true that of the 10 most poisonous arachnids on the planet, Australia has 9 of them. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that of the 9 most poisonous arachnids, Australia has all of them. However, there are few snakes,
possibly because the spiders have killed them all.

But even the spiders won’t go near the sea. Any visitors should be careful to check inside boots (before putting them on), under toilet seats (before sitting down) and generally everywhere else. A stick is very useful for this task.

aborigine-1The last confusing thing about Australia is the inhabitants.A short history: Sometime around 40,000 years ago some people arrived in boats from the north. They ate all the available food, and a lot of them died. The ones who survived learned respect for the balance of nature, man’s proper place in the scheme of things, and spiders. They settled in and spent a lot of the intervening time making up strange stories.

Then, around 200 years ago, Europeans arrived in boats from the north. More accurately, European convicts were sent, with a few deranged people in charge. They tried to plant their crops in autumn (failing to take account of the reversal of the seasons), ate all their food, and a lot of them died.

About then the sheep arrived, and have been treasured ever since. It is interesting to note here that the Europeans always consider themselves vastly superior to any other race they encounter, since they can lie, cheat, steal and litigate (marks of a civilized culture they say), whereas all the Aboriginals can do is happily survive being left in the middle of a vast red-hot desert, equipped with a stick.

Eventually, the new lot of people stopped being Europeans on ‘extended holiday’ and became Australians. The changes are subtle, but deep, caused by the mind-stretching expanses of nothingness and eerie quiet, where a person
can sit perfectly still and look deep inside themselves to the core of their essence, their reasons for being, and the necessity of checking inside their boots every morning for fatal surprises. They also picked up the most finely
tuned sense of irony in the world, and the Aboriginal gift for making up stories. Be warned.

There is also the matter of the beaches. Australian beaches are simply the nicest and best in the world, although anyone actually venturing into the sea will have to contend with sharks, stinging jellyfish, stonefish (a fish which sits on the bottom of the sea, pretends to be a rock and has venomous barbs sticking out of its back that will kill just from the pain) and
surfboarders. However, watching a beach sunset is worth the risk.

sunset at Coronation Beach

As a result of all this hardship, dirt, thirst and wombats, you would expect Australians to be a dour lot. Instead, they are genial, jolly, cheerful and always willing to share a kind word with a stranger. Faced with insurmountable odds and impossible problems, they smile disarmingly and look for a stick. Major engineering feats have been performed with sheets of corrugated iron, string and mud.

Alone of all the races on earth, they seem to be free from the ‘Grass is greener on the other side of the fence’ syndrome, and roundly proclaim that Australia is, in fact, the other side of that fence. They call the land “Oz” or “Godzone” (a verbal contraction of “God’s Own Country”). The irritating thing about this is they may be right.

There are some traps for the unsuspecting traveller, though.

  • Do not, under any circumstances, suggest that the beer is imperfect, unless you are comparing it to another kind of Australian beer.
  • Do not wear a Hawaiian shirt.
  • Religion and Politics are fairly safe topics of conversation (Australians don’t care too much about either) but Sport is a minefield.

The only correct answer to “So, howdya like our country, eh?” is “Best (insert your own regional swear word here) country in the world!”

It is very likely that, on arriving, some cheerful Australians will ‘adopt’ you on your first night, and take you to a pub where Australian beer is served. Despite the obvious danger, do not refuse. It is a form of initiation rite. You will wake up late the next day with an astonishing hangover, a foul taste in your mouth, and wearing strange clothes.

Your hosts will usually make sure you get home, and waive off any legal difficulties with “It’s his first time in Australia, so we took him to the pub,” to which the policeman will sagely nod and close his notebook. Be sure to tell the story of these events to every other Australian you encounter, adding new embellishments at every stage and noting how strong the beer was. Thus you will be accepted into this unique culture.

Typical Australian sayings:-

“G’Day.” ” She’ll be right, mate.” ” No Worries.”

Tips to Surviving Australia:

  • Don’t ever put your hand down a hole for any reason WHATSOEVER.
  • The beer is stronger than you think, regardless of how strong you think it is.
  • Always carry a stick.
  • Air-conditioning is imperative.
  • Do not attempt to use Australian slang unless you are a trained linguist and extremely good in a fist fight.
  • Wear thick socks.
  • Take good maps. Stopping to ask directions only works when there are people nearby.
  • If you leave the urban areas, carry several litres of water with you at all times, or you will die.
  • Even in the most embellished stories told by Australians, there is always a core of truth that it is unwise to ignore.

How to identify Australians:
They waddle when they walk due to the 53 expired petrol discount vouchers stuffed in their wallet or purse.
They pronounce Melbourne as “Mel-bin “.
They think it makes perfect sense to decorate highways with large fibreglass bananas, prawns and sheep.
They think “Woolloomooloo” is a perfectly reasonable name for a place; that “Wagga Wagga” can be abbreviated to “Wagga” but “Woy Woy” can’t be called “Woy”.
Their hamburgers will contain beetroot. Apparently it’s a must-have.
They don’t think it’s summer until the steering wheel is too hot to handle.
Will react in horror when companies try to market “Anzac cookies”
They believe that all train timetables are works of fiction.

This is pretty typically my Australia. Thank you Douglas Adams. Gotta love it!


The Finger!

The finger

I was given the finger the other day
But not at all in a nasty way
It’s the Aussie way of saying “G’day”.

As you drive by caravans, motorhomes and cars
Drivers lift their finger to you as you pass
To say “Hello fellow traveller, have a good day
And be safe on your journey as you travel your way”.

The laconic finger is lazily lifted
It takes no effort, you hardly shift it
Just a tick off the steering wheel as you go by
And when others don’t do it you wonder why.

Some drivers exuberantly wave their whole hand –
You’ll get different waves as you travel this land.
Some lean out the window and shout a hello
But it’s the Aussie finger that you’ll get to know.

It’s given by truckies, and farmers, and miners
And makes you feel part of a group, Aussie’s finest
They go by in a flash, but you still see the finger
And the memory of all those waves will linger.

It binds all the travellers on all roads as one
And it makes you feel good when your day’s drive is done
So lift up that finger or wave a G’day
And wish fellow travellers a good trip today.

Interesting study done about The Finger by the ABC

Derby – On the Trail of the Tin Dragon

Tasmania is the most amazing place to travel. There is so much history and at every turn in the road there is so much evidence of this history still to see. Jose and I left Swimcart Beach to travel to a rally in Bridport that we had been invited to, and I was really interested to visit Derby, where my sister had lived in the early 1980’s. She used to live in the old Bank House and I had visited her there for a very cold Christmas one year.

The house Marion used to live in is now a Gift Shop in the rooms that were the bank chambers.


I knew Derby was an old tin mining town but since my last visit they have developed this side of its history into more of a tourist attraction.We really only stumbled across this because of my interest in going to Derby as it is not well promoted as a Tourist Attraction.

The Tin Interpretation Centre at Derby is a ‘must see’ experience if you are travelling that way.It is a beautiful building with an wonderful wall of theatre that tells the story of the discovery of tin in the area and how the early miners harnessed the power of the water to successfully mine the tin. The climax is the devastating flood in 1929, which broke the banks of the dam and spilled billions of litres of water through the town. You can find out a bit more about it here.

There is also a tribute to the contribution of the Chinese miners, and I loved this part of the Centre, as you will see by the number of photos I took of the wall murals!







There is free camping at the river on the outskirts of town – a nice grassy area with shady trees and toilet facilities – and it’s close enough to walk into the little town.

We left Derby and our next stop was following a track beside the Ringarooma River which led to an old Chinese miners hut. Inside were story panels of the life of a Chinese tin miner. I found this really interesting, too, and was happy to leave my donation in the tin at the door.


By the time we got to Weldborough we were ready to sample the Tasmanian Boutique beers on tap – they also had ciders available.



While enjoying our ‘coldies’ in the beer garden we met a couple who were camped at the back of the pub and they told us of a couple of good camping spots to try as we headed west.

Weldborough is on the Trail of the Tin Dragon as it was the site of the confrontation between the Chinese miners and the ‘whites’. The Chinese had walked from Bridport and were on the way to Derby when they were stopped from going any further by an angry mob. They turned around and trudged all the way back to Bridport and came back with a police escort that quietened the mob and gave them safe passage to Derby.

We had planned to stay at Scottsdale that night but the free camp was very crowded so we did our shopping, fueled up our motorhomes, and headed off to Bridport to enter the rally early. It was hot, the roads had been winding and steep, and the roadworks everywhere had contributed to a tiring day. We were ready to stop!

This little map will show you the area I have been talking about and the route we took over the last couple of days. It will also give you an idea of the long walks the miners had when they were landed by boat at Bridport and had to get to Derby! When I think about that I realise that we have got it soooo good these days!



Wonderful Winton – Music on the Mesa

Well my van is packed and I’m ready to go……

I headed off from Mt Isa on Monday 19th August to wend my way slowly back to the Gold Coast. As Bev had taken me to McKinlay on Saturday I decided to go down through Boulia again. Although the road is only one lane it’s not a bad road and there was a tree I wanted to photograph that I saw when I went to the Camel Races.

Boulia Bike treeIsn’t it amazing? I wonder how they got all those bikes up there! Don’t you love the quirkiness of some people?

I’m so glad I decided to go this way because at my very first overnight stop I met this wonderful lady, Rosanna and her dog Layla. She drives a fifth-wheeler called Zingara, which means gypsy, and has been on the road about 3 years. We had a drink together for happy hour and the next day we headed off together towards Winton. Rosanna had stopped at the Cawnpore Lookout and advises you to park at the bottom and walk up to see the most amazing view. The road is steep and not accessible by motorhomes and caravans. Here are some of the pictures of the landscape on the way between Boulia and Middleton.

IMG_0462 IMG_0470 Red HillsOn the way we stopped at the Middleton pub, known as one of the most remote pubs in Queensland. There is a rest area opposite that you can camp at.

IMG_0473 IMG_0478

Middleton PubThere doesn’t appear to be anything else in Middleton but the pub, but that was well worth stopping at to meet the publican and his wife and their pets, Kelly the dog and Pig, the pig. Pig has been raised there and thinks it is a dog so it goes out with Kelly to round up the cattle.

Publican at Middleton

IMG_0480IMG_0482There were some fabulous flat top hills called mesas, or locally known as jump-ups along the way.

Mesa near MiddletonMesa near BouliaWhen we arrived in Winton we made our way to the Long Waterhole, about 4 kms out of town. As we drove in I recognised Nev, another Solo I had met at Goomeri, so we pulled up close by and set up camp.

Long Waterhole Winton The Long Waterhole at WintonI’d only planned to stay a couple of days but Rosanna unhitched her ute and we set off to see the sights together so I ended up staying until Saturday morning.

Winton is known as the home of Waltzing Matilda and their Information Centre has a fantastic display that illustrates the poem written by Banjo Paterson so long ago. Did you know that he heard the music first, then wrote words to go with it? I didn’t!

There are some interesting attractions at Winton, so we saw as many as we could. Arno’s Wall is one of them. It was built from stuff from the rubbish tip cemented into a wall and there is everything there including the kitchen sink – and even a motor bike!

Arno's Wall, Winton IMG_0503Behind the historic Corfield and Fitzmaurice store there is also an old open air theatre with – you guessed it – the BIG deck chair. Here’s Rosanna relaxing!


There is also a Musical Fence that you can play with sticks and pipes and they have set up a percussion area with assorted ‘stuff’. Had to have a go!

IMG_0497IMG_0495 IMG_0494 IMG_0493Rosanna and I took a couple of days to see all this – can’t rush these things – and enjoyed happy hour with Nev each night. On Thursday night Nev suggested we go into town to Tattersall’s hotel for tea, which we did and I enjoyed a massive rib fillet, cooked to perfection. Nev left on Friday after cooking us Eggs Benedict for breakfast – how spoilt are we – so Rosanna and I headed back into town to do some washing and get a haircut. Lucky we did as the hairdresser at Pinky’s mentioned that Deborah Conway and Willy Zigier were performing out at the Age of Dinosaurs Museum that night so we decided we should go along.

The museum is about 27kms from Winton, on a jump up (mesa), and is a stunning building in a stark and beautiful setting.

Age of Dinosaur MuseumWe arrived before sunset, tables were set up on the terrace so we took the last one available which was directly in front of the little stage area. Off to the bar for a beer and we settled down to wait for the music, which was due to start at 6pm.

Deborah Conway & Willy ZygierWinton ConcertDeborah ConwayThe sun set as the band was playing – absolutely magic!

IMG_0517This was just one of those out of the blue experiences – being in the right place at the right time – and we were treated to a very special night. There would have been less than 50 people there, it was free, the setting was spectacular and the performance brilliant. It will be locked away in my memory forever.

As we left you could see the lights of Winton in the distance. We headed back to our camp and enjoyed a farewell barbeque together as Rosanna was staying on and I was leaving the next morning.

I’ll remember Winton fondly for the wonderful friend I made in Rosanna and the experiences we shared, particularly the magic music at the museum!

Happy Campers:

There is a dump point in Winton and a large parking area for vans only one block back from the main street.

The Long Waterhole is about 2 kms out of town on the Jundah Road and camping is about 2kms in from the turnoff. There are no facilities at The Long Waterhole, but there was water in the creek and shady trees around. When I was there it was very windy, dry and dusty – couldn’t leave the windows open in the van or it just filled with dust. We were parked  on the southern side of the waterhole and it may have been more protected on the northern side which is accessed by the ‘high’ road from the southern entry. Take your binoculars as there is a mass of birdlife and emus wander through the camp. Don’t leave food lying around as there are also feral cats.

A bit more about Winton:

The only known dinosaur stampede in the world happened at Lark Quarry conservation park, about 110kms south west towards Jundah – 55 kms of made road and 55kms of dirt. You have to do a tour to see the stampede, where over 3300 footprints of dinosaurs of all sizes are preserved in stone. You can catch a bus out from town for $75 which includes the cost of the tour or you can drive yourself.

footprint-arrowsAustralian Age of Dinosaurs at the Jump Up. It houses the world’s largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils and the most productive fossil preparation laboratory in the Southern Hemisphere. The turn off is 13kms south of Winton on the Longreach Road and then 13kms of dirt road to get to the museum. It’s a steep road in places and there is a drop off point to unhitch a van before the road starts to climb.

Water is from Artesian Bores and really stinks of sulphur, but once you let it sit the smell goes. It is hot when it comes out of the tap and in one place near Winton, at Castle Hill Station, it is 99°C out of the ground. In Winton they cool it from 83°C to 44°C before it enters the town’s water supply.

There’s a lot to do in Winton and the people are friendly and welcoming, but it was time to move on so I packed up and headed towards Longreach, planning to stay about 25kms out of Longreach so I could go to The Stockman’s Hall of Fame the next day. The best laid plans……..