China has its Great Wall, Germany had the Berlin Wall, and Australia has the Great Barrier Fence – first constructed in the 1880s to keep out the graziers’ most feared threat, the Australian Dingo.
After being revived in the 1940s, the fence stretched a record breaking 8,614km from the Eyre Peninsula to the Darling Downs making it one of the longest manmade structures in the world.
Nowadays, a 2,500 km section of the fence is maintained by a crew of 23 Department of Agriculture and Fisheries officers who patrol a 300km section of the fence every week.
Though, it seems there is some debate over how successful the fence has been in protecting the interests of the graziers. The sheep are protected from Dingo attacks, but with the removal of a top predator the sheep are now competing for pasture with increased rabbit and kangaroo populations.
One thing was clear as we passed the Dingo Fence on the A39 Highway to Goondiwindi – it certainly wasn’t cat proof.
Just North of the town of Millmerran, we visited an old ghost town called Tullarin.
No skiing in Goondiwindi
We had put it to a vote on our next destination after Toowoomba with Goondiwindi the winner over Dalby. From the comments people were leaving it was clear that Goondiwindi was mainly chosen because of it’s unusual name.
But what does it mean?
I sought out some local knowledge and discovered that like many towns in the area the name comes from Aboriginal nomenclature. Windi; meaning duck, and Goondi; meaning droppings or dung – in reference to a local roosting area.
So, I welcome you to Duck-Droppings, Queensland. Population 6,355.
Apart from the botanical gardens and thriving main street, the biggest asset to the town is the water park, a 3km water course for skiing and wake-boarding.
We drove by expecting hoards of people enjoying the area but were disappointed that it was closed due to water quality issues – likely caused by a lack of rain.. and ducks?
We still had time to visit the border bridge over the MacIntyre River. It was built in 1914 and replaced a wooden bridge. It spans from New South Wales to Queensland.
Take a look at this video of Willow enjoying a dust bath that night. I love how the dust rises up and the light from the sunset cuts through it.
More dust shall rise
The votes were in and it was now time to head North to Moonie on the A5.
Moonie became Australia’s first (and only) inland oil town when the black gold was discovered in 1961.
I dropped into the visitor centre found some zucchini relish and a Moonie patch for my collection. I started chatting to the ladies working there and asked if they knew of any cats in the area that might have a story to tell.
I stood there as the lady behind the counter and another sitting across the shop listed off every person who lived in town, and whether or not they had a cat. It was a joy to hear but the only lead was someone across the road that fed the strays.
I have a cat, she’s a lunatic, says the lady sitting down
What’s her name? I ask.
Her name’s Lunatic.
She tells me that she appeared one day when she was a kitten.
We have to be careful with her – my husband pours a rum and coke and the next minute it’s gone.
I didn’t say it, but I suspected that Lunatic may not actually be the culprit!
The winds howled all night and when we awoke in the morning the sky was a muddied apricot colour. The gusts had lifted the dry outback dust up into the air.
With no sign of any feral cats or the woman that feeds them, we headed West.
Outback skies at night
By the time we arrived in Westmar, population 89, the skies were clear again and I had some high hopes of capturing a night shot of the road house.
We decided that the rec ground would be a good spot to spend the evening.
At nightfall, I left Willow to sleep off her dinner and walked out to the main road with my camera and tripod.
I chose my Nikon 20mm 1.8g lens which is wide and bright enough to capture great shots at night.
The moon hadn’t yet set, which meant that the stars were lack-lustre against its brightness.
I recomposed and thought that placing the moon behind the old sign would have a nice effect, with the phone box and charity bin beside it.
Now a blank sign isn’t particularly enthralling, so I used a bit of creative license and added my own word. What do you think?
I was happy with the outcome..
I returned to the van to find a sleepy little cat curled up in the middle of the bed. I gently budged Willow over so I could get under the covers, her head rising to see what was happening before falling back asleep.
Tomorrow, we would arrive in St George.
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Did you see the video of Willow rolling around in the dust? My heart melts! Have you enjoyed the stories we have been sharing from our Springtime Road Trip?