May 27, 2019
Today we hit the last leg of our segment from Boulia to Mount Isa where we will stop for a rest day. The wind kicked up overnight and was strong enough to cause the sides of my tent to slap against my head. Nice wake up call. Packing everything down in the strong wind was a challenge but we managed by helping each other and preventing tents and tarps from turning into runaway kites. At least it was a tail wind for the first 35 kilometres or so. Later it was more in our face before finally becoming our friend again as the road turned to a more northerly direction into Mount Isa.
While the Shire of Mount Isa is a lot less than what I think of as mountainous, it is quite hilly and a change from the flat, dry Outback we have been crossing. Boulder abound as do large termite mounds. These termite mounds dominate the landscape in some areas with their cone like structures forming large colonies of these wood eating insects.
From the beginning I had a mental picture of Mount Isa as being somewhat resort like with plenty of trees and shady streams running down steep hillsides. What I found was an industrial centre of mines, smelters and heavy industry. It is a busy place and definitely the largest town we have been through since leaving the southern coast at Port Augusta. The town is suffering a downturn despite the thriving mines and smelters. Many of these companies now fly their workers in from other areas c=reating a Monday through Friday transient economy. The number of permanent residents has seen a steady decline over the past decade and now stands at about 20,000 people.
Tomorrow I plan to visit the town, post a blog entry then sit back, relax and generally get ready for the final week long leg of our cross the continent journey. Starting May 29th we make our week long final push to the northern coast and Karunba.